Day 1: Drive from Fez to the Erg Chebbi Dunes
Following an early morning pick up at our accommodations in Fez by our professional driver at an already appointed time, we will drive south to the Erg Chebbi Sand Dunes on the edge of the vast Sahara Desert Sand Sea. On our way, we will enjoy watching the beautiful scenery change as we pass through different natural environments. The first thing we will notice in this journey is the alpine climate of Middle Atlas Mountains. It is painted with rich natural features, such as oak and cedar trees, lakes, and Barbary ape colonies forming a splendid painting orchestrated by Mother Nature. We will make a stop in the university town of Ifrane. The visitors named it the Switzerland of Morocco. French architects designed it in the 1930s as an escape for French settlers from the overwhelming Medinas. After lunch in Zaida, a town known for barbecue with local spices, we will arrive at the provincial town of Midelt, where we will stop for lunch. Once we cross the mountains, the climate will become ever drier as we enter into the picturesque arid Ziz Valley. Soon thereafter, we will find ourselves overlooking the Taffilalet Oasis. The unforgettable scenery of palm groves, underground rivers, and traditional mud-brick architecture. Upon our arrival to the edge of shores of the sand sea, a blue camel-man will guide us to his camel friends’ caravan. Atop the friendly camels, we will dive deep into the sand dune to grasp the picturesque sunset in the Sahara. This natural show displays one of the most beautiful artworks of Mother Nature: a shadow of light pink and orange shadowing the blue desert sky combining the reflection of the golden sun with along with all these colours. Upon our arrival to our Nomad Camp fire, we will be stunned by the meditative mythical music of the nomads. We will join our Nomad hosts in their dinner. Overnight in the cosy goat-wool tent or under the Milky Way and the Poles Stars.
Day 2: Explore the Sahara Desert
This morning will give us the first chance to appreciate the glowing sunrise in the Sahara Desert. After a local nomad breakfast containing Moroccan pancakes, mint tea, orange juice, olives, olive oil and other healthy breakfast food, we will be able to spend our day exploring the desert surrounding Merzouga as we like. We can also arrange multiple activities including a visit to the historical towns and palm groves around the Taffilalet Oasis (Rissani, Merzouga, and Erfoud). On the other hand, we can take a 4×4 excursion into the desert to explore black volcanic rock formations and fossils, visit a nomadic family living in a tent, ride quad-bikes around the sand dunes. For better understanding of the myths of the desert creations, we can visit Khamlia village to surrender to the meditative Gnawa music. Alternatively, we can simply relax around the desert tents. In the late afternoon, once the day’s heat has subsided, our camel man will carry us to our Nomad camp in the heart of the sand dunes away from the worries of the world. Here our Berber hosts will cook us traditional nomad meals while in a family like vibe. They will also explain some of the secrets behind the power they hold in standing stout in the face of the harsh weather of the Sahara. Overnight in the cosy goat-wool tent or under the Milky Way and the Poles Stars.
Day 3: Drive from Erg Chebbi Dunes to Ouarzazate
A nomad myth says that Mother Nature gave birth to two twins and named them Sunrise and Sunset. Our camel-man have a better knowledge of the timing of the Sunrise. He will wake us up to not miss a mesmerising show of Nature. After breakfast, he will carry us atop his camel friends back to our hotel in Merzouga following invisible pathways in the desert. We will have time to shower and refresh ourselves in a hotel before we begin our journey towards Ouarzazate. The road will be a panoramic show of beautiful desert landscapes and traditional mud brick towns with mosque minarets supervising them in a father-like posture. We will have a break in Tinrghir, an ancient Berber (Amazigh) town built of traditional mud brick architecture. Then, we will turn off the main road to make a stop in the amazing Todra Gorges. The 300m high cliffs attracts climbers from around the world to fight gravity and fear as they scale vertically. Our journey will take us on foot to have a better sight on this fascinating area. Driving a little further on, we will arrive at the Dades Valley. It is a region famous for its sprawling palm groves growing over an underground river. Along our way, we will visit the famous little town of Kalaat M’gouna. This village is famous by its high quality rose water and a traditional Rose Festival in May where a local jury elects a beauty queen. Our last stop will be in Skoura oasis, another mud brick town in heart of 25km² of lush palm groves. We will finish this exciting day in Ouarzazate. We will have dinner and spend the night in a beautiful hotel overlooking the sand castles of the Skoura valley.
Day 4: Drive from Ouarzazate to Marrakesh
After breakfast and before heading north to Marrakesh, we will start our day exploring the sights in Ouarzazate. This city is clean, quiet, and sunny. It is the administrative capital and the biggest city of a province well known for its Kasbahs. The same ones that might have inspired Jimmy Hendrix during his visit to Morocco in 1965 to write his famous song “Castel made of Sand”. The etymology of the word ‘Ouarzazate’ comes from the Berber expression meaning ‘without noise’. As part of its effort to join the human struggle against climate change, the province of Ouarzazate had settled the world largest solar power plant. In a collaboration with many other entities and organizations such as the NASA, its value is estimated at around $9 billion. These solar plants will provide 75% of the Moroccan national needs of energy. Our journey today will start in the old town of Taourirt with its large ancient Kasbah. Its noble founders have moved out, leaving its many towers to families of White storks. The next stop will be in Morocco’s largest movie studios. Over the years, thanks to their prime desert location, these studios have helped turn out classic film like Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000). Recently, certain episodes of Game of Thrones were filmed here. Leaving Ouarzazate, we will turn off the main road to visit the UNESCO world heritage site of Ait Benhaddou. An ideal model of the many sand castle villages and Kasbah’s that dot the south of Morocco. The ancient town of Ait Benhaddou enchants its thousands visitors with its curious towers. They stand stout in face of surrounding desert resisting its harsh weather forging a place in Morocco’s history. During the 20th century, this Kasbah was the stronghold of Ethami Glaoui as one of the most powerful men in Moroccan History. His fame was worldwide inviting V.I.P.s from all over the world to attend his affluent ceremonies. George Orwell paid him a visit in one of these Kasbah as well as in Marrakesh. Towns like Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou played an important role in Morocco’s past as key stops on the lucrative sub-Saharan trade routes. They were a safe stopover as well as a link over the vast deserts and mountain ranges for commercial caravan coming from Timbuktu to the heart of Morocco: Marrakesh. Lunch will be at one of the numerous restaurants that overlook the picturesque town. Then we will proceed our drive to Marrakesh. We will notice the atmosphere’s change as we climb higher into the High Atlas Mountains. We leave the arid desert plains and hills to forests, mountain streams, and maybe snow-capped mountains. We will follow the road to the very top of these mountains. Then, we will stop at the Tizi Ntichka pass before heading down the other side. First constructed by the French in 1936, but remodelled and modernized many times since, the Tizi Ntichka pass is a true feat of civil engineering. Once over the mountains, it will be a straight shot to the ochre mysterious city: Marrakesh. Our professional driver will drop you off at your accommodation.