A three day/two night trip to the Sahara Desert near Merzouga is as much about the journey as it is the destination. Sitting comfortably in our air-conditioned vehicles you travel through an ever-changing Moroccan landscape - from the plains outside Marrakech leading into the High Atlas Mountains, through the Tizi n'Tichka pass, across the Valley of Roses, through the Dades Valley and finally into the dunes of the Sahara Desert on camel-back. Along the way there are many opportunities to stop and admire the glorious scenery and take in the breath-taking beauty that is Morocco.
Leaving Marrakech you spend the morning travelling through the Atlas mountains and the Tizi n'Tichka pass. Your destination, near Ouarzazate, is the historical city of Ait Ben Haddou. With much of the city dating from the 17th century this ksar, or fortified city, is a wonder to behold. Behind it's fortified walls rising up the hillside from the valley floor are a collections of homes, some simple, others like small fortresses. A guided walk through this UNESCO World Heritage site leads you through it's winding streets up to the hill's summit, pointing out historical points of interest as well as the locations for many Hollywood movies that have been filmed here. From the summit you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Ounila Valley and relax for a short while before returning down. From here it is on to nearby Ouarzazate to enjoy a lunch of traditional Moroccan cuisine. This tranquil city boasts the Kasbah of Taourirt, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the most beautiful kasbahs in Morocco, with it's many towers, gateways, and riads.
From Ouarzazate your journey continues northeast on through the Valley of Roses, where in summer-time it is alive with the sweet scent of the flower that gives this valley it's name. We arrive at your hotel in the Dades Gorge in the early evening in time to check-in and relax for a short while before enjoying dinner and retiring to your room for the night.
The next morning after breakfast it is time to visit the Dades Gorge, created by the Dades River and running between the High Atlas and Anti-Atlas mountain ranges. From here it is on to the city of Tinghir where you are met by a local guide who takes you through the city, and provides you with a history of the area and its peoples. You arrive at the establishment of a carpet-maker and are invited in for tea and an introduction to the traditional styles and techniques that are still used today by the Berber people of this region to weave these luxurious carpets. While there is the opportunity to view and purchase these works of art, there is no pressure to do so.
From here your guide takes you back to the van and accompanies you to the nearby Todra Gorge, home to some of the finest rock climbing in Morocco. Here there is time again to get out and walk along the river that cuts through the gorge, enjoying the natural splendour of the rocky craggs that rise around you. At the end of your walk you are picked up by your van which had gone on ahead and then continue on to enjoy lunch at a nearby restaurant. After lunch your journey continues on through the cities of Efroud and Rissani until you reach your destination near Merzouga. At the hostel it is now time to mount your camel and wind your way through the sands of Erg Chebbi, a large sea of dunes of the Sahara Desert. Resting at the base of one of these dunes is your camp. Here you can relax, or take the opportunity to climb the over 100 metre dune and enjoy the sun as it sets upon this vast golden ocean.
The return back is an eventful one, visiting a fossil site where you learn about the many fossils, from hundreds of millions of years ago when the Sahara was a vast sea, and the beautiful pieces made from them now. Stop again in Ouarzazate for lunch, and if there is time, take the opportunity to visit the kasbah there, and briefly visit the movie studios