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Sahara Desert Explorer
Sahara Desert Explorer
Imperial Marrakech, the Great South, Desert Region, Dades Valley and Berber Villages
Duration: 8-Day Morocco Private Tour
Morocco Travel: In Luxury 4x4
English, Arabic, Berber, French Speaking Driver, Guide
Starting & Finishing Point: Airport in Casablanca
Travel to Imperial Marrakech, and the Desert Region of Morocco. Explore the Dades Valley, Todra Gorge and Erg Chebbi Sand Dunes. Sip Mint Tea and Bake Bread with the Berbers in a Berber Village. Thiis tour is perfect for first time travelers
to Morocco who want to explore the rural regions. Eco-friendly Morocco. Book a Tour or call (800) 787-8806
. Let us be your guide to Morocco Travel.
SAHARA DESERT EXPLORER - PRIVATE MOROCCO TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:
Visit the Marrakech’s Majorelle Gardens, The Exotic Spice Market and the Ancient Medina
Sip Tea in the Saghro Mountains with the Berbers
Explore the Draa Valley’s old Road of the Caravans
Camel Trekking in the Sahara Desert
3 Nights in Marrakech, in the Paris of Morocco
2 Nights in Skoura with views of the Valley of 1000 Kasbahs
1 Nights in Ouarzazate with views of Ait Benhaddou
DAY 1:MARRAKECH ARRIVAL
Visit La MamouniaGardens, Visit the Marrakech Photographie Museum and the Palmeraie Garden and Art Gallery created by Abderrazak Benchabbine.
La Mamounia is where Alfred Hitchcock wrote the movie The Birds. It is situated on the edge of the walls of the old city of Marrakech and is named for its 200-year-old gardens, which were given as an 18th century wedding gift to Prince Moulay Mamoun by his father. Today the gardens cover nearly 20 acres and display an incredible variety of flowers and trees. The hotel was designed in 1922 by the architects Prost and Marchisio. They combined traditional Moroccan designs with the popular Art Deco look of the 1920's. Winston Churchill called it, "the most lovely spot in the whole world." He spent many winters at La Mamounia painting the Atlas Mountains and the surrounding countryside.
Evening – Visit Djemaa El Fna Square
for an evening of adventure at dusk. Beneath the foothills of the Atlas Mountains in the city center of Marrakech lies Djemaa el Fna, a famous UNESCO-recognized city square. During the daylight, Djemma el Fna is every Moroccan travelers shopping paradise. As the sun sets, the real excitement starts. Enjoy a bowl of steamed snails in a local spice broth or, for the adventurous, sheep’s head. Enjoy the nightlife of Gnaoua trance-healers, Andalous musicians, and exotic snake charmers. Easily, this mysterious place can be compared to a land of Arabian fantasies. With its wild and colorful characters, Djemaa el Fna will bedazzle and astound you.
Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.
DAY 2:MARRAKECH HISTORICAL TOUR
Visit The MajorelleGardens.
The Majorelle Gardens, previously called the Jardin Bou Saf, bears its name from its original creator, Jacques Majorelle, the French expatriate artist who was born in Nancy France in 1886. Jacques Majorelle was the son of the celebrated Art Nouveau furniture designer Louis Majorelle. In 1947 he opened his gardens to the public and during this time also painted a magnificent ceiling space at La Mamounia, a five-star hotel with gardens and the place where Alfred Hitchcock wrote, “The Birds.” Jacques Majorelle studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Nancy in 1901 and later in 1919 he went to Marrakech to recover from heart problems. He built the garden during those years using special color of blue which he used extensively in the garden that is named after him, Majorelle Blue. Jacques Majorelle returned to France in 1962 after a car incident and died later that year of complications from his injuries. As a collector of unique plants from five continents Jacque Majorelle left to Saint Laurent one of the more unique collections of flore and fauna of this era as well as a place of inspiration and contemplation.
Visit the following Sites in the Marrakech Medina:
The Koutoubia Mosque and Gardens- The largest mosque in Marrakech. The minerat was completed under the reign of the Almohad Caliph Yaqub-al Mansur (1184-1199) and was used as the model for the Giralda of Seville and for the Hassan Tower of Rabat. The name is derived from the Arabic al-Koutoubiyyin for librarian, since it used to be surrounded by sellers of manuscripts. It is considered the ultimate structure of its kind.
The Jewish Mellah. Founded in 1558 by Moulay Abdallah, the Mellah district was designated as the Jewish quarter in Marrakech. At the time of the Spanish religious wars, Jewish refugees escaping the country were offered this little piece of security by the Sultan.
Shop in the Old Spice Market. The Rahba Kedima is a colorful market filled with a wide array of typical Moroccan spices including cumin, cinnamon, saffron, dried pepper, and many more.
El Bahia Palace
- The El Bahia Palace in Marrakech
is a beautiful building and an excellent example of Eastern Architecture from the 19th century that represents trends and standards of the wealthy who lived at that time. It was built for Ahmed Ibn Moussa (or Ba Ahmed) between 1894 and 1900 in the Alawi style that was popular at the time. Craftsmen were brought from Fes to work on this monumental task which took approximately fifteen years to complete
The Saadian Tombs - The Saadian tombs in Marrakech date back from the time of the sultan Ahmad al-Mansur (1578-1603). The tombs were only recently discovered (in 1917) and were restored by the Beaux-arts service. The tombs have, because of the beauty of their decoration, been a major attraction for visitors of Marrakech. .
Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.
DAY 3: TAKE THE ROAD VIA THE TIZZIN’ TICHKA PASS TO AIT BENHADDOU & SKOURA
Visit an argan cooperative where argan oil, butter, and cosmetics are made with the argan nut by hand as Berber women crack the nuts and the grind them one by one. Enjoy a complimentary tasting. This cooperative is run entirely by women. Continue on to Marrakech.
Lunch Recommendation:Dine on local Moroccan fare made with fresh, argan oil from the local cooperative run by women.
Continue the road to Skoura. You will pass the olive groves of the Oued Zat as you ascend onto the Tizi-N-Tichka Pass Road. Built by the French in the 1920’s, the Tizi-N-Tichka Pass can be described as having mountainous barriers, Mediterranean and oceanic influences and desert borders.
During the French period, Ouarzazate expanded considerably as a garrison town and became the administrative center of the Zagora region. Ouarzazate became famous when its nearby Kasbah, Aït Benhaddou
, appeared in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia
Visit Ait Benhaddou Kasbah.32 km from Ouarzazate lies the picturesque village of Aït Benhaddou, situated in Souss Massa-Draa 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; for Jesus of Nazareth, the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt.
Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Hotel in Skoura.
DAY 4:SKOURA - EXCURSION TO THE VALLEY OF ROSES, VALLEY OF NOMADS AND DADES VALLEY
Visit Skoura and its “Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs.” Skoura is a fertile oasis lined with immense palm groves that provide great views of the Atlas Mountains alongside desert landscapes. It is renowned for the cultivation of roses.
Next visit the Amerhidil 17th Century Kasbah and fortified residence once belonged to the most powerful family responsible for protecting the village and its lands called the Glaoui. Today it is owned by the Sheikh of Amerhidil.
Continue towards the perfumed Valley of Roses,just north of El Kelaa Des Mgouna. On the way to the Valley of Roses
, your driver will stop for you to view the Capp et Florale distillation factories laid out in the small kasbah town that manufacture the entire nation’s production of eau de rose. The rose water and other products such as hand and body soaps, oil, cream, perfume, and dried flowers are for sale and also popular among Moroccans.
Your journey will then take you through the Dades Valley which covers 125 km between Ouarzazate and Boumalne du Dadès in the High Atlas Mountains. Once you reach Boumalne, at first sight you notice the limestone cliffs with uniquely shaped erosions and superb scenery and the valley’s pise (windy roads
DAY 5: SKOURA – EXCURSION TO THE TODRA GORGE EN ROUTE TO THE CAPILTOL OF FOSSILS, ERFOUD AND THE TOWN OF RISSANI . CONTINUE TO YOUR DESERT BIVOUAC CAMP IN MERZOUGA
Visit The Todra Gorge, a spectacle with its gigantic rock walls changing color to create magical effects with the sunlight. In the morning, when the sun permeates through the bottom of the gorge, the rock changes from pink rose to deep ochre gradually throughout the rest of the day.
Next take the road to Erfoud. Visit Erfoud and the capital of fossils. Visit Royal Palace gate; the panoramic view from the top of the Borj-Est that rises 935 metres (3067 feet) above the city; Fossil sites in Carriere des Fossiles and the Maadid Ksar. Erfoud is a city located in south-east Morocco. Although many ancient fortified villages have existed in the region for several centuries Erfoud was built up by the French troops after the victory of Tafilalet Battle, that took place between 1916 and 1932. Erfoud is a very active city, full of commerce, restaurants and street cafés, hotels, banks and handicraft and souvenir shops. While maintaining its name as a modern Moroccan Sahara Desert town, it still preserves a certain authenticity of an true Arab city with an impressively “wild” market and gorgeous surrounding landscapes filled of oases, dunes and rocky mountains.
Continue the road to Rissani, Erfoud and the village of Khemlia to visit the Sahara Desert region before heading to Merzouga’s Dunes for a Camel Trek. Star your visit at Rissani in the Sahara desert town that is from the ancient Alawi Dynasty and the birthplace of King Mohammed VI, the current King of Morocco. Visit the old Mausolem of Moulay Ali Sharif, the first King of the Alawi Dynasty. Next visit Maison Taureg House and then the old Ksar of Rissani.
Visit the Musicians of Khemlia in Merzouga, a century-old Gnaoua group that performs ancient trance music. Tea and nuts will be served (if time allows on this day or the following day).
Arrive in Merzouga before sunset and then go by dromedary camel 45-60 minutes, at sunset, into the Erg Chebbi Dunes. Arabian Nights dinner and a luxurious night in the desert. Arabian Nights Dinner and Overnight at a Luxury Desert Camp
DAY 6: MERZOUGA - ALNIF - AIT OUZZINE - NKOB - OUARZAZATE
Walk the desert dunes and explore Merzouga’s flora and fauna by piste.
Visit the old ksars and then continue the road to the village of Ait Ouzzine, located in N’kob, which is nestled within the Middle Atlas Mountains. Aït Ouzzine is a Berber villageinhabited by over 300 families who live in beautifully painted crenulated kasbahs, with their own henna fields, water wells, livestock, and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani.
Meet a Berber family, sip tea in the Sagro Mountains, and dine on couscous. Then explore and tour the village by foot. Walk in the green fields and see how the traditional Berbers live with their gardens of herbs, livestock, and henna plants.
Go Local- Berber Village Cooking Class. Learn how to make a Moroccan tajine or Couscous.
After lunch, you can have your hands and feet painted with hennaor your hair adorned with saffron by a local village artist and relax. Experience the tradition of Berber perfume made from musk and amber along with the villages own spices.
End the afternoon in Ait Ouzzine with mint tea and almonds. Take the old road of the caravans back to Ouarzazate. Explore the region of the Draa Valley where Moroccan pirates once occupied this vast land and caravans crossed its rugged terrain onto Marrakech carrying dates, spices and other goods.
DAY 7: OUARZAZATE - OASIS OF FINT -KASBAH TAOURIRT - ATLAS FILM STUDIOS - MARRAKECH
Visit the Ouarzazate region’s Oasis of Fint and Atlas Film Studios.
Visit the Oasis of Fint. Take the pise (windy road) towards the Oasis of Fint passing the "Plateau de pierres". On this road you will find a shining Oasis of palms. Take light trek around the Oasis palmerie region that hovers under the Atlas Mountains. Journey on a one-hour walk inside the Oasis. Option to have tea with the headmasters family Azziz Ouaziz and tour the surrounding area where date palm oases and dramatic desert scenery are king.
Visit the Atlas Film Studios. The studios are flanked by Holly-wood style Egyptian figures and cover 30,000 sq m of desert. David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia at The Atlas Film Studios in the early 1960’s. Since then many famous directors have followed in his footsteps to exploit the magnificent scenery. International blockbusters shot here in recent years include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara.
Go by piste to visit Kasbah Telout, one of Morocco’s hidden jewels and a famous Kasbahs that is the origin of the Pacha Glaoui Family. Kasbah Telout is hidden among a tiny road in a small village that is 20 minutes outside Tichka. It’s history stands alone with its original zellij tile, authentic, preserved silks and grand remnants of the Glaou family. Unlike the other Kasbahs in Southern Morocco, Telout was occupied by the Glaoui’s instead of the slaves and has stunning views. This Kasbahs has yet to be coined a UNESCO World Heritage site and while it appears in parts to be in ruins on the exterior, its interior is one of true splendor.
Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.
DAY 8: MARRAKECH DEPARTURE
Breakfast at your Hotel. Departure for Marrakech’s Menara Airport