Departures: Year round Duration: 5 – 7 days
Experience some of the geographical and geological wonders that this incredible country can offer, as well as experiencing the true warmth of its people – the Berber and the Arabs. Travel from Marrakech, through the High Atlas Mountains and spectacular Todra Gorge to the Sahara, the largest desert on earth.
Day 1 – UK – Marrakech
- Fly from the UK to Marrakech and meet your guide. Depending on your flight time there may be some time to take in the sights and sounds of the largest souk in the country and the bustling city square, Djemaa el Fnaa. Overnight and dinner in Marrakech.
Day 2 – Marrakech – Tizi n’Tichka – Ouarzazate
- The exhilarating Tizi n’Tichka mountain pass is the gateway to the Sahara, and twists and turns its way over the High Atlas mountains to a summit of 2,206m. Plate tectonics, fold mountain formations, volcanic rocks and tilted and folded uplifting strata are all clearly visible in this rugged landscape.
- On the drive to Ouarzazate, visit a local argan nut farmer to see the process that has been used for generations to extract argan oil which many Moroccans believe has amazing health benefits. As you journey through the mountains look out for evidence of water irrigation techniques and terracing as people have learnt to adapt to the difficult terrain.
- Overnight and a typical Moroccan dinner in Ouarzazate, a former Foreign Legion base. There will be time to explore this fascinating place later in the itinerary.
Day 3 – Ouarzazate – Valley du Dades – Todra Gorge – Erfoud – Sahara Desert Camp
- After breakfast travel along the beautiful Valley du Dades which follows the Kasbah routes and is known as the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs. Travelling along the fringes of the desert you will stop to see how locally grown roses are used to produce perfumes and rose water and to see the huge Palmeraie, fringe desert, rock formations and date palm trees of the Skoura oasis.
- Todra gorge forms a steep, narrow trench through the High Atlas and is a perfect example of fluvial erosion. The rocks in the gorge change colour throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky.
- After lunch there will be time for a short walk along the gorge or a visit to the Palmeraie before continuing on to see the underground water wells and tunnels at Khatarras and fossil factory at Erfoud.
- From here meet your desert guides for your 4×4 transfer to the Sahara desert auberge. Overnight and dinner at the nearby encampment.
Day 4 – Sahara Desert Cap – Jbels Sarhro – Agdz – Ouarzazate
- Rise before the sun and mount your camels for a morning trek across the Great Dunes of Erg Chebbi, stopping to watch the sun rise over the Sahara desert in the east. Observe how this incredible animal has adapted to walking on the constantly shifting sands. Breakfast awaits your return to the auberge.
- After breakfast, your desert guides will accompany you on the 4×4 transfer back to Erfoud to meet your coach for the onward journey to Ouarzazate via the southern route between the Jbels Sarhro (Dry Mountains).
- Travel via N’Kob, which has caves with pre-historic drawings. The town of Agdz is famed for its dates. Watch and take pictures and buyers haggle with sellers for large packs of the sticky fruit. There may also be the opportunity to visit the local Berber Souk before your onward journey to Ouarzazate, via the winding Tizi n’Tinifitt pass.
Day 5 – Ouarzazate – Ait Ben Haddou – Marrakech
- After breakfast it is time to explore the former Foreign Legion town of Ouarzazate. This town has a thriving film industry and you will have time to visit one of the film studios and museums to see where scenes from Gladiator, The Kingdom of Heaven and The Hills Have Eyes were shot, before a visit to the UNESCO heritage site of Ait Ben Haddou – one of the most elaborately decorated and crenellated collection of kasbahs in the High Atlas. Cross the small river and climb the steps to the top of this incredible fortress for amazing views.
- Travel across the Tiz n’Tichka Pass to Marrakech and prepare to visit the famous, bustling square – Djemaa El Fnaa. Watch the snake charmers, acrobats, water-sellers, dancers and musicians that make this a colourful and much-photographed location.
- By night the square turns into a huge open air food market. You have the option of finishing your trip with a Fantasia Spectacular, a thrilling evening including dinner, which showcases the tribesmen’s skills with their Arab stallions. With amazing horsemanship and noisy rifle cavalcades this is a wonderful end to your trip.
- Overnight and dinner in Marrakesh.
Day 6 – Marrakech – UK
- Breakfast and, depending on your flight time home, there might be time to visit sights such the Saadian Tombs, Bahia Palace and Koutoubia Minaret, not to mention some last minute souvenir haggling in the souk before your return transfer to the airport.