Day 1 : Marrakech – Ait Ben Haddou – Dades Gorges
We set off from Marrakech in the morning and travel south, climbing up the High Atlas Mountains and crossing the Tizi n’ Tichka Pass, also known as the ‘Gateway to the Sahara’, which at 2260m is the highest pass in North Africa, with stunning panoramic views from the top. We pass through beautiful landscapes and charming Berber villages perched precariously on the mountainsides.
We stop to visit Kasbah Ait BenHaddou, a beautiful fortified city of terraced kasbahs, the largest of its kind in Morocco. The site is amongst the best examples of earthen construction in existence, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It may also look familiar, as several well-known films have been shot there, including epics such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Gladiator”. We have lunch here before continuing on our journey.
Our next stop is Ouarzazate, “the Hollywood of Africa”, home to Atlas Studios, one of the largest film studios in the world, and where the films mentioned previously were made.There are many things to see in Ouarzazate: such as the beautiful medina built of the same red clay, which is so typical of the region; and Taourirt Kasbah. This sumptuous 19th century palace, comprising some 300 rooms, was home to some of the family of T’hami El Glaoui, Pasha of Marrakech until 1956, who, supported by the Colonial French government, controlled all the caravan trade routes to West Africa and ruthlessly suppressed local rebellions.
We follow the “Road of a thousand Kasbahs”, a spectacular drive winding through stunning desert landscapes, stopping briefly at Kalaat Mgouna, “the city of roses”, known for its annual festival during the rose harvest in May, before continuing to our hotel in the heart of the Dades Gorge.
Day 2 :Dades Gorge – Todra Gorge – Merzouga
We drive from Dades Gorge to Merzouga passing through the magnificent Todra Gorge, which in places measures just 10m across but with cliffs rising to more than 150 metres on either side.
Next we arrive in the desert to find our guide and camels waiting to carry us across the sandy dunes of the Moroccan Sahara. We ride our camels at sunset through the bleak but strangely beautiful desert landscape, trekking for around 2 hours before arriving at our desert camp and the traditional nomad tent we will call home for the night. Our camels are then hobbled and mint tea served while our guide prepares us a simple traditional meal of tagine.
Day 3: Merzouga – Marrakech
We take breakfast with the Bedouin family, then get back on our camels and ride back to Merzouga, admiring the unique beauty of the spectacular Erg Chebbi dunes changing colour with the light as the day progresses.
We arrive back in Merzouga late in the morning, and you will have the opportunity to take a shower in the guesthouse before we set off for Marrakech, passing again through Ouarzazate back over the Tizi NTichka pass.
We arrive back in Marrakechin the evening.
As an alternative option, this trip can be made in 4 days.