About Best of Sahara & the South
A fantastic journey from Marrakech, over the High Atlas to the Sahara & back in 3 days. Includes TWO nights in Bedouin camps - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Activity code: ITCLFD11z
Duration: 3 Days Desert ONLY / 6 Days Holiday version
The Sahara feels like such a distant image that it would not seem possible to get there and back in three days from Marrakech. With Rediscover the World a visit to the real desert of Morocco's deep south is a reality - one of the truly awe-inspiring areas of the Sahara is just a little south of Zagora and it is here that we offer this stunning, high quality adventure which includes TWO nights in Bedouin camps and a fantastic circuit of the desert region.
This Sahara trip is great value and fully-inclusive. It includes a stunning drive in a comfortable 4WD vehicle over the High Atlas at the Tichka Pass and an extended camel ride through the palmeraies and semi-desert to your overnight Bedouin camp at the private oasis of Tellougui, arriving just in time for sunset. A second night is included at the incredible wild dunes of Ch'Gagga, there is also plenty of sightseeing and all your meals as part of the fully-inclusive package.
From your hotel or riad in Marrakech your journey will begin across the Glaoua Plains and up via the winding road over the High Atlas Mountains through the Tizi n'Tichka (2260m). From this high point you will see a dramatic change in the countryside - from high mountain ranges to semi-desert and oases. You will stop at the magnificently exotic kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, declared a World Heritage Site; here Hollywood has shot many of its films, including, as everyone will tell you, "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Gladiator". Further south you will encounter Ouarzazate and drive down the beautiful Draa Valley to the small kasbah-like Hotel Fibule Du Draa in the oasis town of Zagora for a break by the pool prior to your final journey into the nearby Palmeraie and desert fringes by camel. Day 2 includes some local sightseeing and then off-road driving to visit the Bedouin camps of Erg Lihoudi (for Lunch) and Ch'Gagga. Your onward journey on Day 3 is off road from the remote Ch'Gagga dunes via the small town of Foum Zguid and continues along a less-travelled (but asphalted) route back to the High Atlas.
From Zagora there is an extended camel ride ("Meharee") of 2-3 hours through the palmeraies beyond the small villages en route to the private Tellougui Oasis where you will spend the first night out in the desert, in a Bedouin camp; the second night is at a location deep within the Sahara at Ch'Gagga. The sunsets and sunrises in the rarefied air of the desert can simply take your breath away, these nights may be spent in our carpetted, nomadic tents or out in the open under an awesome canopy of the starlit heavens.
All travel is by air-conditioned vehicle, there is an extended camel ride into the desert with two overnights in Bedouin tents both of which are in a beautiful and peaceful setting.
WE RECOMMENDED YOU BRING: day pack (for camera, water bottles, hat, etc.); windcheater (seasonal), broad-brimmed hat (or you may purchase a 'Cheche' before you set out from Zagora); personal toiletries and towel; hygienic wipes (or gel); small First Aid kit; torch with batteries (non-essential); filled water bottle(s); sunscreen, sunglasses; nibbles and/or dried fruit. Drinking chocolate if preferred. Extra toilet rolls could come in handy! For those who wear contact lenses, perhaps it would be a good idea to bring along a spare pair of glasses.
CLOTHING: Comfortable clothes for travelling, loose clothing for the camel ride and warmer layers for the colder desert nights.
Departing from your riad or hotel in Marrakech set off south in an air-conditioned Land Cruiser 4WD over the Glaoua Plain to cross the High Atlas Mountains via the fabulous Tizi n'Tichka Pass (2220m). Continue down alongside the Oued Ouarzazate to visit the remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ksour of Ait Ben Haddou, stop for a short unguided visit and then lunch overlooking the kasbah.
Afterwards the journey continues ever southwards down the surprising and dramatic valley of the Oued Draa until you arrive at the kasbah-like Hotel Fibule Du Draa in the oasis town of Zagora. Time for a comfort break before setting off by dromedary meharee with your guide/chamellier for some 2.5 hours towards the south-west; on this section you will travel through the palmeraies, oases and kasbahs at Amezrou and Sart and the Jewish Cemetery in Asrir Ignaoun, prior to arriving in the established bivouac site nestled in the small dunes of the oasis of Tellougui. Whilst you settle in to enjoy an awesome sunset, a traditional welcoming mint tea is taken; your dinner for the evening is prepared, to be enjoyed under the immeasurable canopy of the starlit heaven and calm, amazingly quiet solitude.
Breakfast tucked away after an incredible sunrise*, you now venture further south with your driver to visit Tamegroute with its Koranic Library and pottery co-operative. This ancient village has been a seat of learning since the 11th Century – you’ll stop to visit the incredible library, with its 13th century illuminated Koranic scrolls written on gazelle hide, some works of Pythagoras, some original maps of Alexandria together with some very early mathematics text books. After that you will visit the pottery co-operative just outside Tamegroute, to see pottery being produced in the simplest of manners, in the simplest of kilns. If you have ever been to Fez, or have seen photographs of this Imperial City, here in Tamegroute you’ll see the famous green glaze associated with Fez's tiled roofs, for the founders of the 17th Century Abou Ben Naceur 'Naciri Brotherhood' in Tamegroute invited craftsmen and potters to this remote area with the intent to turn it into a thriving caravan hub city.
* Please ask if you wish to be woken for sunrise; as Day One will have been a long day your guide will not automatically wake you. Alternatively, your guide will confirm the local sunrise time for you to set your alarm.
Afterwards cross the Foum Takkat gorge and into the Kettoua palmeraie with its ancient Jewish Kasbahs of Nesrat, Beni Hayaoun and Beni Sbih. Continuing on to the village of Tagounite and crossing through Tizi Ben Salman and arrive at the nomad encampment of Erg Lihoudi for your lunch under the welcome shade of traditional Bedouin tents.
Following lunch and a welcome break from the midday sun your adventure continues back with your driver ... after these further kilometres into the harsh and naked countryside you arrive at the now-famous and more impressive dunes of this western extension of the Sahara - Dayet Ch'ggaga and your Nomad bivouac site, in "the middle of nowhere". Whilst dinner is being prepared, you might take time out to stretch your limbs, set up your photo-shoot for the oncoming sunset as the rarefied heavens turn from bright blue to cobalt, to yellow to gold, to purple and black, (the sands and stones change their colour too, in step with the lowering rays), or take a shower & simply crash out!
Early birds can witness the sunrise* - then after an early breakfast drive to the dried bed of the Lake Iriqui, once an important meeting place for thousands of migratory birds. After passing through the village of Zaouiate Sidi Ben Abdenbi you reach the old military outpost town of Foum Zguid and then the village of Tazenahkt, renowned for the production of distinctive Berber carpets.
* Please ask if you wish to be woken for sunrise; as your guide will not automatically wake you.
Stop where you wish, your driver will be happy to make a few suggestions, to enjoy your picnic lunch. You continue through Amerzgane and then cross back over the Atlas Mountains to arrive in Marrakech in the late afternoon.
Day 1 - arrival into Marrakech; private transfer to your accommodation.
- Stay at e.g. Ksar Anika - 2 nights BB
Day 2 - private guided city tour (am)
Days 3 to 5 - on desert adventure as per itinerary above.
- stay at e.g. Ksar Anika - 1 night BB.
Day 6 - private transfer to Marrakech Airport.
"Seeing the Sahara and experiencing sunset in this magical and barren place. Our guide for the Marrakech walking tour was lovely and knowledgeable and showed up some truly wonderful sites. Our guide/driver down to the Sahara, Wadii, was simply amazing. His humour and friendliness were infectious and every moment of the trip was pure magic. I would recommend him a million times over for any kind of trip in Morocco, be it a desert adventure or trip around Marrakech."
E Tilley, March 2019
"Seeing the Sahara and experiencing sunset in this magical and barren place. Our guide for the Marrakech walking tour was lovely and knowledgeable and showed us some truly wonderful sites. Our guide/driver down to the Sahara, Wadil, was simply amazing. His humour and friendliness were infectious and every moment of the trip was pure magic. I would recommend him a million times over for any kind of trip in Morocco, be it a desert adventure or trip around Marrakech."
E Tilley, UK, March 2019
"Our holiday was first class, Rediscover the World understood our requirements and delivered. Highly recommended."
M Lillington, UK, May, 2017
"Thank you for your help in organising this holiday, we had a fantastic time! The desert tour and camel trek was a real highlight, and the riad in Marrakech was perfect - beautiful rooms and helpful staff. All the logistics ran smoothly and the local guides were very good (although the stop in Tamagroute was not so interesting). Overall a great experience and I will contact you if we decide to visit any of the other destinations offered by RTW."
T Hall, UK, Sept 2016
"The desert camps conjured up marvellous food. The visit to The Islamic Library and pottery workshops was actually advertised locally as free, and the guides explained (not hinted, but told ) we were expected quite openly to tip heavily. The weather was poor, we had hailstorms in the Sahara."
S Holdsworth, UK, May 2016
"Our main driver was very well informed and attentive to our needs. He made our long drive a pleasure. The service throughout and was excellent and personalised. We had lots of privacy and quiet seclusion. The visit to the local pottery where everything was made traditionally starting from making clay from the mud was very interesting."
A Gonzales, UK, March 2016