The desert in Morocco
There is no more characteristic landscape of Morocco than the desert with its undulating sand dunes and its ksour (adobe fortifications) rising majestically from a hidden oasis of palm trees. It is the ideal place to disappear in the company of a camel (nicknamed as “ships of the desert” in Arabic) and a guide with blue tunic, contemplate the sea of dunes and sleep in a nomad camp under a starry sky.
The Sahara desert (sahra means in Arabic “desert”) has more than 9 million square kilometres, and covers several countries. Because of its high tourist attraction and its millions of visitors annually, Marrakech is the main port of departure to visit the Moroccan desert.
No other region of Morocco illustrates in a such beautiful way the transition, both in human and physical terms, between mountain and desert as this trip from Marrakech, crossing the vast plains and lonely mountain ranges South of Tizi n’Tichka, through Draa Valley and Dades Valley (dotted with oases and adobe-builded palaces) and following the caravan routes to the two most important areas of the Moroccan Sahara desert: Zagora and Merzouga.
Zagora Desert is more arid and has less dunes than Merzouga.
The main advantage of Zagora is that it’s closer to Marrakech, so it’s the most appropriate place for short excursions, 2 days and one night. There are about 360km from Marrakesh to Zagora, and the journey is about 6h long.
ZAGORA (2 days/1 night)
Day 1: Marrakech – Ait Benhaddou – Draa Valley – Zagora (6 h)
Departure from Riad Aguaviva at 7AM. We will cross the High Atlas, where we will push out into Ait Benhaddou Kasbah. After a brief visit, we will continue the road towards Zagora.
We will cross the Anti-Atlas and head into the Drâa Valley. While descending the palm groves become more dense and the moon landscape turns into bare volcanic hillsides. Here begins one of the most fascinating roads in Morocco: Drâa Valley’s towns have a more intrinsically African atmposphere than others in the High Atlas, since this area was a key point for the caravan routes across the Sahara, carrying down salt and carrying up slaves.
We arrive at Zagora with enough time (5PM) for riding a camel (1h) to our Berber camp to discover first Sahara dunes and enjoy the sunset in the desert, an absolutely impressive sight. After a traditional dinner, we spend the night in an authentic Berber khaima (tent).
Day 2: Zagora – Draa Valley – Ouarzazate – Marrakech
This day we will have to get up early to enjoy a memorable event: the sunrise in the desert. After watching it and having a good breakfast, we will return to Zagora riding a camel (1h) or in a 4×4 to continue the tour.
We will again cross the Draa Valley and will have a small visit to Agdz (caravanserais oasis with a still virgin palmeral), ancient kasbahs in adobe and a huge community garden, to reach Ouarzazate, where you can visit Taourirt Kasbah. In the afternoon, we will head back to Marrakech.
We will arrive there at arround 6-7 PM.
NUMBER OF PEOPLE
6 or more
Lunch, drinks at dinner, tickets and tips not included.