HIGH ATLAS - ERG CHIGAGA PRIVATE TOUR HIGHLIGHTS.
►1 Night in the Skoura Palmeraie in the Valley of 1,000 Kasbahs
►1 Night in Zagora, in the heart of the Dunes of Tinfo
►Sip Tea & Eat Couscous with a Berber Family
►1 Night in Ouarzazate, the Hollywood of Morocco
Day 1: Marrakech Departure, Take the road to Skoura. En route Visit Kasbah Telouet and Ait Benhaddou (Driving Time: 5 1/2 Hours)
Take the road back to Skoura. En route visit the Argan Cooperative in the High Atlas Tichka Mountains and see how Berber women make Argan oil, Argan butter and cosmetics from the Argan nut. Have tea with a Berber family. Next, visit the Telouet Kasbah which was once an important stop on the Southern Caravan route for traders carrying spices, slaves and other commodities. Telouet’s Kasbah also known as Dar Glaoui once served as the royal headquarters and residence of the Glaoui tribe. Until Morocco’s independence in 1956, the Glaoui had power in the central Moroccan and French administration. Today the Telouet Kasbah’s earth toned, dark red walls are crumbling, Explore Aït Benhaddou. Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Aït Benhaddou is one of many locations in this region used for shooting Hollywood films Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Hotel in Skoura.
Day 2: Skoura Departure, Take the road of Draa Valley and the road of the Old Caravans to Zagora (Driving Time: 3 Hours)
Begin your Sahara excursion to Zagora
. Depart to Zagora
, a Saharan desert town
in the southern Draa Valley
. At mid-day we will stop in the Berber village of Ait Ouzzine
. Just 5 kilometers after N’kob
is Aït Ouzzine
(the nice village). Aït Ouzzine, Nkob
is a Berber
village inhabited by over 300
families who live in beautifully painted crenulated
kasbahs, with their own henna
livestock and gardens.
This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley
(Tansikht) and Rissani.
a local Berber
family, partake in a cooking lesson
of how to make traditional
bread and a tajine.
foot. Walk in the green
fields and see how the traditional Berbers
live with their gardens
stock, and henna
Lunch will be served to you in Aït Ouzzine
by a traditional Berber
family. The menu will include a traditional meal of fresh baked
with spices and a
chicken and vegetable
tajine and fresh local fruits for desert. After lunch, you can have your hands
painted with henna
by a local village artist and relax. End the afternoon with mint tea and almonds. Then rest at your hotel before having a traditional dinner with the Berber
family of couscous
and grilled meat.
Zagora is favored by travelers for its desert dunes, palmerie, 45 varieties of dates and its Hollywood sunset mountain backdrops. Take the road by pise (windy road) to discover the land where caravans once transported sugar, tea, dates and other dry goods to Ouarzazate.
En route pass the Sahara Desert town of Agdz and the heart of the Draa Valley
known for its 45 qualities of dates. Stop for a picturesque view in Agdz and its stunning palmeraie along with local trade routes famous for bringing dates, spices and other goods from the South to Marrakech.
Continue to Zagora
. Arrive and visit Amzrou. Walk the palmeraie
and hamlet set amid lemon, almond
and olive trees
, and gardens of the village of Amzrou
. Visit the former Mellah (Jewish quarter), where a mosque now stands. Amazrou is inhabited by Arabs, Haratines and Berbers who continue the Jewish tradition of silver making. Amezrou, also home to the old Jewish Kasbah, was once the center of life for a community of talented jewelers. Most of the Jewish people are no longer there, however Berber craftsmen have taken over the tradition and their workshops are open to the public.
Explore the Zagora’s Dunes of Tinfo and visit the old Kasbah Ait Lkaid in the village of Tamegroute. At the end of the main road you will find the famous road sign to Timbuktu that reads “52 jours” – 52 hours by camel.
Enjoy lunch at a local kasbah hotel restaurant in the town of Zagora
. The Dunes of Tinfo
(as well as many other sand dunes in Morocco) are famous for their healing qualities
for rheumatoid arthritis
. Ask your guide to bury you in the sand from head to toe for this a 20-minute spa-like experience
Visit Zagora’s unique, beautifully glazed forest green pottery
at the local cooperative in the desert town of Tamagroute
and pass by the Koranic library
. The holy village of Tamegroute's claim to fame through out history is the beautiful pottery created that has a glaze made of henna and is sun dried. Tamegroute has a Koranic Library that once held 40,000 volumes and theological college dating from the 11th century. The library contains a collection of illuminated Korans, the oldest of which are written on gazelle skins. Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Charming Guest House in Zagora near the Dunes of Tinfo.
Day 3: Zagora Departure to the M'hamdi Sahara Desert. Visit M'Hamid El Ghizlane. (Driving Time: 2 Hours)
M’Hamid is the last Oasis in the Great Sahara Desert and historically where caravans gathered before setting off on journeys to Timbuktu. M’Hamid is also referred to as Bounou which historically was a village of various Southern tribes such as the Ait Atta Berbers, Drawa and the Hassani.
The three hundred meter dunes that stretch to the horizon in M’Hamid
, can only be reached by 4x4. M’hamid
is the the last oasis in the Draâ' Valley
. It was one of the staging points for trade caravans in the Sahara and also has ruins that are believed to be a historical site left of the first Jewish city in Morocco, called Tidri. Due to security, the road leading there is supervised by the Moroccan army. There is a dirt road near to it that passes by the ancient cemertry called Toum le Riam. "Thousands of mounts of rocks are believed to be the tombs of Jews
killed by the Almohads in the 12th Century, accroding to Rick Gold of "Visiting Morocco." The Jews of Tidri venerated the tomb of a holy man names Isaac Akkoium who is said to have been the founder of Tidri. Muslims also venerate the Akkouim under the name of "Sidi Moussa"
Lunch in M’Hamid. Then continue the off road to the Erg Chigaga Sahara Desert. The dunes are some of the most expansive and the furthest in Morocco. The color of the dunes are rustic and some refer to this part of the desert as the Black Sahara. Sunset Camel Trek & Overnight in a Luxury Desert Camp in the Erg Chigaga
Day 4: Erg Chigaga Departure to M’Hamid El Ghizlane, then continue via Zagora and the Todra Gorge or Draa Valley back to Ouarzazate. (Driving Time: 5 Hours)