Best of Sahara & the South

Marrakech to Erg Ch'Gagga (ref. 02z)

Summary

A fantastic journey across the High Atlas to the Sahara & back in 3 days. Includes a night in a deluxe Bedouin camp - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

START / FINISH - Marrakech.

Activity code: Azawad (02z)

Duration: 3 Days [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 but with Rediscover the World a visit to the real desert of Morocco's deep south is a reality. One of the truly awe-inspiring regions of the Sahara is just a short journey south from Zagora and it is in this magical location that you can enjoy a stunning, high quality adventure. Your trip includes a night at a beautiful kasbah at the edge of the desert, a night in a deluxe Bedouin camp at the incredible wild dunes of Erg Ch'Gagga and a fantastic circuit of the desert region in a comfortable 4WD vehicle.

This Sahara trip is deluxe, fantastic value and fully-inclusive. It also includes a stunning drive  over the High Atlas Mountains via the Tichka Pass, a camel ride through the dunes of the Sahara, plenty of sightseeing along the way and all your meals.

What's the journey like?

From your hotel or riad in Marrakech your journey begins by crossing the Glaoua Plains and then climbs the winding road up and 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 wide-open vistas of semi-desert landscape and then through oases. You will stop at the magnificently exotic kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) where many Hollywood films have been shot; including, as everyone will tell you, "Lawrence of Arabia", "The Mummy" and "Gladiator" and more recently, "Game of Thrones".

Further south you will encounter the frontier town of Ouarzazate and drive down the beautiful Draa Valley to your small kasbah-like hotel near the oasis town of Zagora. Day 2 begins with some local sightseeing at the ancient library and pottery in Tamegroute and then off-road driving to visit a Bedouin camp at the palm-grove village of Oulad Brahim (for a picnic lunch). After lunch your journey continues into the real Sahara, to the dunes of Ch'Gagga for a stay at a luxury desert camp. Your final day begins with a camel ride from your camp to join your vehicle for the off road section from the remote Ch'Gagga dunes to the small town of Foum Zguid via the old track of the Paris-Dakar Rally and the dry river bed of Iriqui. The route then continues along a less-travelled route back to the High Atlas, passing through a small town famed for its carpets, Tazenacht.

Where will you stay?

In Zagora there is an overnight stay in a small kasbah-style hotel with dinner and breakfast included; the second night is at a location deep within the Sahara at Erg Ch'Gagga. The sunsets and sunrises in the rarefied air of the desert can simply take your breath away, this second night may be spent in our carpetted, deluxe tents or out in the open under an awesome canopy of the starlit heavens.

Additional Information

Full Holiday Version also includes:

  • Round trip airport transfers in Marrakech
  • 3 nights on BB at one of our fabulous riads in Marrakech
  • Private guided city tour of Marrakech (half day)

We recommend you bring the following: 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 (and/or gel); small First Aid kit; head torch with batteries; 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.

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Desert Adventure Includes:

  • Transport throughout by air-conditioned Land Cruiser with English-speaking driver
  • Experienced chamellier and trained dromedary for ride at Ch'Gagga camp
  • Lunch at Ait Ben Haddou (or Ouarzazate) on Day 1
  • Picnic lunch at Oulad Driss on Day 2
  • Picnic lunch on Day 3 at (or near) Tazenacht
  • Dinner and breakfast in desert camp
  • Deluxe Bedouin tents (carpeted, sleeping on raised mattresses)
  • WC tent & shower at camp
  • Visit of library, potteries and Kasbah at Tamegroute
  • Off-road adventure in the Valley of 1000 Kasbahs
  • Visit of Ouarzazate and the Ksour at Ait Ben Haddou.

Itinerary

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 Tichka Pass (2220m). An optional stop for a Berber tea in the rarefied air on top of the pass to admire the scenery. Continue down alongside the Oued Ouarzazate to visit the remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ksour of Ait Ben Haddou, stop for a visit of this most famous location in all of Morocco and then take 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 oasis town of Zagora.

  • Overnight at small kasbah-style hotel (e.g. Riad Lamane)
  • Meals: Lunch, Dinner.

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 at the edge of 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.

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 in the palmeraie of Oulad Brahim for your lunch under the welcome shade of traditional Bedouin tents.

Following lunch and a welcome break from the midday sun your adventure continues 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 encampment 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! Your dinner for the evening is prepared, to be enjoyed under the immeasurable canopy of the starlit heaven and calm, amazingly quiet solitude.

  • Overnight at authentic Erg Ch'Gagga Bedouin Camp
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Early birds can witness the sunrise* Then after an early breakfast set off by dromedary on a meharee with your guide/chamellier for a journey through the fantastic dunes. Afterwards it is time to rejoin your 4WD for the drive to the dried bed of Lake Iriqui, once an important meeting place for thousands of migratory birds. After passing along part of the Paris-Dakar rally track and through the village of Zaouiate Sidi Ben Abdenbi you reach the old military outpost town of Foum Zguid. 

* Please ask if you wish to be woken for sunrise; your guide will not automatically wake you. Alternatively, your guide will confirm the local sunrise time for you to set your alarm.

From Foum Zguid you rejoin the asphalt roads heading north on the quiet route over the Taguergoust Pass to the large village of Tazenahkt, renowned for the production of distinctive Berber carpets. 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.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Packed Lunch.

End of tour on arrival in Marrakech at the end of Day 3.

Day 1 - arrival into Marrakech; private transfer to your accommodation.

  • Stay at a small riad in the medina (e.g. Riad Mur Akush) for 2 nights on B&B basis

Day 2 - a private guided city tour in the morning

Days 3 to 5 - on your desert adventure as per itinerary above.

  • return to your riad in Marrakech for 1 night (or more) on B&B (or to a different location such as High Atlas or Essaouira.

Day 6 (or later) - private transfer to Marrakech Airport.

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Flexible Tailor-Made Holidays

  • We believe passionately that no two holidays should be the same.
  • With our flexible tailor-made holiday options you can travel at your own pace.
  • Rediscover a city, a resort or an island in a weekend or longer.
  • Take a small group tour or embark upon a more adventurous trip.

Trusted Service

  • ATOL cover for flight inclusive holidays.
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  • Dynamic, comprehensive travel app with all your documents, maps and much more.
  • Full financial protection for your holiday (TTA).

Why book Sahara trips with us ?

  • Transport throughout by air-conditioned 4WD with English-speaking driver.
  • Extended duration camel ride with experienced chamellier & trained dromedary.
  • Overnight in deluxe Bedouin tents (with proper beds) in a beautiful and peaceful setting.
  • NO hidden extras. NO groups. FULLY Insured.