3 DAYS - 2 NIGHT
This 3-day Sahara Desert tour to Erg Chegaga from Marrakech is the most exciting tour for travelers with just three days available and who wish to have a unique, full desert experience. On this 3-day desert trip, you are far out in the dunes, away from any impression of civilization.
It starts with your being fetched from your hotel or Riad in Marrakech at 08.00 to head south for the magnificent High Atlas Mountains. You cross the Tizi-n-Tichka pass, (2660m) the highest pass in North Africa. You will be astounded by the panoramas and will wish to take memorable photos. Just let your driver know where you would like to stop.
On the way you make a visit to the former presidential palace, Kasbah Telouet, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou. These are the two most famous Kasbahs in Morocco and an essential part of any desert tour. Before reaching Ouarzazate, you can visit the Atlas Film Studios, and view the sets of many Hollywood movies still in place here.
That night you will have the excitement of spending the night in a traditional rural riad or an authentic guest-house in Agdez, a small town right at the head of the Draa Valley, which leads down to the desert. From here onwards, you have the distinct impression that you are on your way to a different world – new, exciting, oriental. With a local guide to explain the history, you have the opportunity to visit the largest of the hundreds of Kasbahs in the valley, namely Kasbah Tamnougalt. From here the thrill increases as you go off-road through the Draa Valley, passing ancient kasbahs and green oases. This is part of the ancient road of the caravans which used to ply goods up from Mali and Niger having crossed the Sahara for days on end.
After reaching the largest town before the Sahara, Zagora, you will have an opportunity to visit the co-operatives of the nationwide famous green pottery and the Koranic Library with its magnificent manuscripts, have that peak experience of riding camels in the Erg Chegaga Dunes. At night under the amazing panoply of stars, you will sleep in a comfortable luxury desert camp at the foot of the most expansive Sahara dunes in Morocco. The next day the wonder continues as you drive off-road in the Sahara Desert, hunt for fossils in the dry lake of Iriqui, and get to know Berber carpet-making skills in Taznakht.
Experience the majesty and wonder of our completely unique range of Marrakech Desert tours. Discover the tour itinerary below. Your journey starts here!
1st day: Marrakech – Agdez
Your morning departure for the Marrakech desert trip is at 8 o’clock from your hotel or riad in Marrakech 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. Each addition to the building now stands in ruins exposed to the wind and the rain, having been abandoned and plundered after the last Pasha fled the country following the departure of the French in 1956. Wait to be pleasantly surprised by the traditional interior decoration as you reach the farthest end of the Kasbah.
From here you drive along the beautiful and awe-inspiring Ounila Valley, full of bends in the roads, surprises at the hues of the rock and soil, Berber villages and gardens, as well as smaller Kasbahs. Almost at the end of the road, you reach Aït Ben Haddou, where you stop for a tasty lunch.
This is the most famous Kasbah in Morocco, one of Morocco’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. The architectural style is well preserved and the earthen constructions are perfectly adapted to the climatic conditions and in harmony with the natural and social environment. Probably originating in the 17th century, it is also famous as the backdrop to many Hollywood blockbuster films.
Having driven through Ouarzazate, we continue south over the Tizi-n-Tinfifte pass to Agdez. Descending from the pass you will be amazed at the view of the extensive oasis and the number of palm trees, all indicating the beginning of the Dra’a Valley with its thousands of date palms, producing an amazing 44 varieties of dates. The date harvest starts in September and lasts a couple of months, so that is the best time to stop in Agdez for the freshest ones. We spend the night in a guest house.
2nd day: Agdez – Chegaga Dunes
After breakfast, there is time to visit Kasbah Tamnougalte, the oldest Kasbah in the Draa Valley. Some of it is still inhabited but the Jewish area has been crumbling since the departure of its inhabitants to Israel, the last woman had left in 1963.
From here we take the ancient caravan road between the river and the mountains for a short while. which was used to ply goods from sub-Saharan Africa and Morocco and goes between the mountains and the river, passing many villages and gardens. This road allows you to gain a better idea of the Berber way of life in the life-giving oases.
Just before the police checkpoint in Tansikht, the driver can stop and show you the dinosaur footprints right at the side of the road. We then arrive in the village of Tinsouline, from where you can drive just a kilometer or so off-road to the fascinating rock carvings of animals long extinct in Morocco at Foum Chenna, some 4000 years old.
Zagora is the largest town in the whole area and here we shall stop for lunch. Later we pass through Tamgroute, where a stop for the potteries famous for the green glaze, which you may have already seen in Marrakech. You can also visit the ancient Quranic library with exquisite hand-written Arabic texts.
In the afternoon we drive further south still, to M’hamid, the very gate to the desert and the end of the paved road. In the Erg Lihoudi dunes, we stop for lunch. Alternatively, lunch will be in the Ksar Bounou.
You continue to the Erg Chegaga dunes (300m) with 60km of off-road driving. This route passes different features of the desert; ‘erg’ (dunes), ‘hammada’ (stony desert), and oases. These dunes are far away from civilization, in the desert proper ……. and the silence and the expanse of the sand are overwhelming. Once there you can take a camel ride of about an hour and a half.
You have dinner and spend the night at a luxury camp with a private bathroom, king-sized beds, beautiful Moroccan furnishings and lamps tastefully arranged to enhance your enjoyment of the silence and beauty of the dunes.
3rd day: Chegaga – Marrakech
After breakfast, our desert trip takes us west through another 90km of the desert with varying scenery: Lake Iriqui, where you are likely to experience a wide mirage in the heat, the mountains, and fossils.
Lunch will be in Foum Zguid, the first village after the desert. “Foum” means “mouth” so the name is the “mouth/source” of the Zguid River. From here the drive goes north along paved roads and past amazing rock formations to the small town of Taznakht, famous for its Berber carpets and rugs.
From there we cross the High Atlas again to reach Marrakech at the end of the afternoon having had the best possible Saharan desert trip in Morocco.
- Private Transportation.
- Comfortable and air-conditioned vehicle.
- Pick up from your Hotel/Riad or Airport.
- Drop off at your Hotel/Riad or Airport.
- English speaking guide/driver.
- Fuel for the entire travel desert package.
- All-night accommodations.
- Camel trekking in Erg Chigaga dunes.
- Sandboarding in Erg Chigaga dunes.
- Free stops when you want.
- Soft Drink available for purchase.
- Lunch depends on location.