About Family Excursion to the Sahara
An incredible journey across the High Atlas to the Sahara designed with families in mind. Includes one night in a fabulous Bedouin camp (Erg Lihoudi), one at a small hotel with a pool (Zagora).
Activity code: ITCLFD07z
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 just a few days from Marrakech but with Rediscover the World a visit to the real desert of Morocco's deep south is a reality. One of the best areas of the Sahara in just a little south of Zagora and it is here that we offer this stunning experience which includes one night at a Bedouin camp in the fabulous wild dunes of Erg Lihoudi and a second night at the friendly Fibule du Draa Hotel in Zagora - ideal for families.
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. On your return you will stop at the magnificently exotic ksour 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 lunch by the pool prior to your final journey into the Sahara by 4WD and camel.
You will spend the night out in the desert, in a genuine Bedouin camp at the stunning dunes of Erg Lihoudi. The sunsets and sunrises in the rarefied air of the desert can simply take your breath away and the night may be spent in our carpetted, nomadic tents our deluxe Caidal 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 an overnight stay in a Bedouin tent 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 hotel or riad in Marrakech by 7am at the latest, your driver will set off south in a comfortable, air-conditioned 4WD over the Glaoua Plain to cross the High Atlas Mountains via the fabulous Tizi n’Tichka Pass. This road doesn't look too far on the map but with so many twists and turns it is a slow but incredible climb up and over by one of very few routes across the High Atlas. There will be opportunities to stop and take pictures at suitably dramatic moments.
From the top continue down alongside the Oued Ouarzazate to the ex-French Foreign Legion town of Ouarzazate and on for a further 100 miles through the delightful and dramatic Valley of the Oued Drâa until you arrive at the small, charming kasbah-like Hotel Fibule Du Draa in the oasis small town of Zagora. The town of Zagora (an Arabised version of the name Caesar) was once famously "52 days to Timbuctou" and is dominated by the tagine pot-shaped Jbel Zagora. Here you will have your midday lunch (included in tour); afterwards, setting out - around 2 in the afternoon in winter for your adventure towards the south-east deep into a sub-Saharan desert landscape of many small dunes, interspersed with the black gravelly 'Reg' stretches of the Jbel Tadrart basin.
Some 34 miles south of Zagora you will arrive (by 4WD) at the little village of Oulad Driss in the Hamada Du Draa, close to the undefined border with Algeria, around 4pm. At this remote hamlet, once a stop for the trans-Saharan caravans of salt, gold and slaves the Oued Draa finally sinks into the desert. Now you are in time to mount the waiting dromedaries for a "meharee" over the small dunes and stony plateaux for some 2-3 hours until you reach the dunes of Erg Lihoudi in time for Mother Nature's tremendous show of light and (no) sound at sunset. These dunes are the closest one can get to the Sahara in this region of Morocco.
After a welcoming traditional glass or two of mint tea, your dinner of vegetable tagine, or of chicken, couscous, mint tea, bread and fruit will be served. This night may be spent in your tents or out in the open air if you wish, under the awesome canopy of the starlit heavens around a blazing fire (subject to local conditions) to witness the magnificent sunset, the rarefied heavens turning from bright blue to cobalt, to yellow to gold, to purple to black. The sands and stones change their colour too, in step with the lowering rays.
NB. the deluxe camp is completely separate to any other "camps" in the area, sheltered by a few low dunes and right under the "grande dune". The quality of the accommodation tents is very high as is the general feel of the camp itself being large Caidal tents rather than the smaller traditional Bedouin ones.
Having witnessed an awesome sunset the night before, now is the hour for an even more startling sunrise before your Bedouin breakfast of mint tea, bread, jams and cheeses.
* 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.
After breakfast, you’ll somewhat reluctantly strike off towards the north-east and relative civilization, arriving around 10am - and now only 50 Days to Timbuktu. Here, some 11 miles north of M'Hamid, you will head off-road right at the trailing edge of the Jbel Bani, across the dunes of Ait Isfoul and through an oasis via the nearby ancient and remote Jewish kasbahs of Beni Hayoun and Beni Sbih.
Back now onto the tarmac road at Tagounite and on to an unusual tightly-knitted grouping of ksours and still-inhabited underground kasbahs; this is the ancient village of Tamegroute, a seat of learning since the XIth century, with its incredible Library of XIII century illuminated Koran scrolls written on gazelle hide, some works of Pythagoras and some original maps of Alexandria, together with some very early mathematics text books, books of poetry, dictionaries, a history of Fez and much more; a voluntary - contribution to the upkeep of the Library is always appreciated. Continue your stroll through the alleyways of the kasbah to the ancient Pottery Co-Operative, where pottery is being produced in the simplest of manners, in the simplest of kilns. If you have been to Fes, or have seen photographs of this Imperial City, here you'll see the famous green glaze associated with its tiled roofs, for the founders of the XVIIth 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.
Onwards now to the Fibule Du Draa, or the hotel of your selection, to arrive around 1pm (lunch not included). Your day is now free to relax around the pool, to stroll through the surrounding palmeraie (oasis) or to wander around this desert town to the shops found around the mosque (their souq is on Wednesdays), framed by the distant Jbel Rhart and the peaks of Jbels Sarhro to the east-north-east and Beni to the south-east; you might even get to see real Touaregs, and not just those Moroccans dressed up as the "Blue Men". You should try out, or even buy, the great variety of dates for which this region is renowned.
After breakfast, at around 9am your driver is ready to depart back up north, first of all for some 30 miles off-road adventure in the Valley of 1000 Kasbahs and back onto the main road through the Draa Valley, perhaps to stop at the ancient kasbah at Agdz or other en-route points worthy of a photo-opportunity. Just before reaching Ouarzazate detour along a piste road to visit the magnificent Oasis of Fint.
On now to visit the remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site of the magnificently exotic Ksour of Ait Ben Haddou (guide not included and not really necessary). Here you can visit these various kasbahs, so closely-knit that they appear to be but one complete building, backed up against the looming mountain in a stretch of unforgiving hammada. The thick, high, sheer, elaborately decorated pise walls, stepped-up housing, turreted, crenellated ramparts, balustrades and arched 'babs' are a sight not to be missed. Obviously, here Hollywood has shot many of its films, including, as everyone will tell you, "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Gladiator". One of the more spectacular sights in the Atlas ranges, set upon a rock above a reed-strewn Assif, commanding the area for miles around, this Kasbah controlled the route to Marrakech until the French blasted a road through the Tizi n’Tichka in the late 1920s.
Your driver will arrange a stop nearby for a light lunch at the Haj Tibou Restaurant before continuing ever further north over the Adrar n'Deren range of mountains to arrive around 7pm at your hotel or riad in Marrakech after a really incredible journey into Morocco’s Sahara.
Day 1 - arrival into Marrakech; private transfer to your accommodation.
- Stay at e.g. Ksar Anika - 2nts BB
** Lots of options for family rooms, suites, interconnecting rooms, etc. / Quote on request.
Day 2 - private guided city tour (am)
Day 3 -5 - on desert adventure as per itinerary above.
- stay at e.g. Ksar Anika - 1nt BB (as above).
Day 6 - private transfer to Marrakech Airport.
Fully-inclusive Sahara excursion by 4WD & camel meharee from Marrakech. Overnight at Erg Lihoudi desert camp & Zagora; all meals, sightseeing, accommodation & activities included. Holiday version includes extra 3nts, airport transfers, city tour & taxes.
Date range: , Option: Classic Desert Adventure ONLY
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Date range: , Option: Deluxe Desert Adventure ONLY
|2 people||3 people||4 people||5 people||6 people|
All prices are per person