Desert

The Valleys of the South

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Day 1 : Marrakesh – Dades

Morning departure at 8 o’clock from your hotel or riad in Marrakesh to cross the High Atlas Mountains. After the Tichka pass, you leave the main road and take a side road to the Telouet Kasbah, which belonged to the Lords of the Atlas, the Glaoui family, and which now stands in ruins after the last Pasha fled the country following the departure of the French.

From there you continue along the new and stunningly beautiful connecting road for lunch at Ait Ben Haddou. This is the most famous Kasbah in Morocco and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which you can visit after lunch. The road past Ouarzazate and to the Skoura Oasis, where numerous ancient kasbahs, some sadly in ruins, stand amongst the palm trees. From here, the route goes through Kela’a M’gouna, the Valley of Roses, with a stop to see cosmetic articles locally-made from the valley’s abundant roses. You stop in the Dades gorge in a guest house there.

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Day 2 : Dades – Merzouga

After breakfast, there is time to walk by the river before continuing to Toudgha to the very different gorges there. Lunch will either be here in the gorges or later at the bivouac at the Erg Chebbi dunes. You drive there via the Ziz Valley, and the towns of Erfoud and Rissani which is where the king’s family originates.

In the afternoon after a welcoming glass of tea, you can take a camel ride of between one and two hours in the Sahara. The sunset from the top of the dunes is spectacular (250m) and afterwards there is dinner and the night in a nomad tent at the foot of the dunes.

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Day 3:Merzouga – Marrakesh

If you wake up early enough, you can watch the spectacle of the sunrise, when the colour of the dunes and the play of shadows are an awesome sight. The drive back west to the Dra’a Valley takes us along the length of the Saghro mountains via the villages of Tazzarine (featured in the film ‘Babel’) and N’Qob, where we have lunch overlooking the mountains.

In the afternoon we drive to Tanasikht, where we reach the Dra’a valley, full of large palm trees and ancient kasbahs. Here we go along the track of the ancient caravan route to Agdez, and the oldest kasbah in the valley, Kasbah Tamnougalte. Back on the paved road again, we return to Marrakesh again over the High Atlas at the end of the afternoon.

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