Desert Tour in the “Great Sahara” to Zagora / Mhamid, Chigaga
with a good four-wheel drive, at least 2 participants, (for only one person it will be more expensive) .
Duration: 3 days / 2 nights
Booking a few days ahead.
Costs: 265 € per person, (camel ride on demand ca. 14 €)
Included: 2 nights, half board, private driver,
in the morning at about 7.30 clock departure from Marrakech over the Tizin Tichka Pass (2250m) (National Road N9) then descending a scenic road, the former caravan route from Timbuktu to Telouet, a village in a valley at about 1800 m. Historically it is perhaps the most important place of recent Moroccan history. Here resided the Tami Glaoui Pacha, who collaborated with the French during the protectorate and built there an extraordinary beautiful dream castle. People like Charlie Chaplin, De Gaulle, Churchill, Majorelle, etc. came there and made their prosternation there. My friend Mohamed Ramon (ask for him) speaks English very well and guides you through the castle. Then around 11 o’clock through the Ounila Valley, passing many small and picuresque oases and Kasbas, always along the caravan route on to Ait Ben-Haddou, World Heritage Site and probably the most impressive Ksar Morocco, filming location of many films such as “Gladiator”. Continue via Ouarzazarte (depending on the season and length of day: Stop in the Atlas Film Studios, where films such as The Medicus, Kundun, The Diamond of the Nile, Moses, Asterix and Cleopatra, etc. have been produced). Then continue on the N9 via the anti-Atlas pass Tizin Tinififft through impressive lunar landscapes with exceptional views down to Agdz. (Depending on the season or the length of the day, you can make a detour down to the cascade of Tizgui, an insider’s tip in the middle of the cliffy desert, a pond with a waterfall invites you to swim in. Omar, the keeper of the oasis, offers tea. Then you pass on a piste trough the perhaps the most beautiful and completely untouched part of the Draa Valley, drive along dreamlike old ksars and oases with sensational photo motifs over Aslim and enter from the back to Agdz). Passing through Agdz after 20 km you arrive at the day destination of the eco-Kasbah Timidarte with its palm oasis, which is perhaps the most beautiful and touristic completely unspoilt oasis of Morocco. In this village, as many as hundreds of years ago, 3400 people live exclusively in clay houses that are still being built today. There are no cars except for the school bus. Delicouous cooking is done exclusively with products from the oasis. It is a place of silence and heavenly peace with wonderful, hospitable Berbers.
Morning after breakfast tour of the historic Ksar the oasis with swimming in the river (completely harmless to health). This oasis is a highly sensitive ecotrope with a sheer incredible biodiversity, date palms, fruit trees, fields and complex irrigation system. Alternatively you could visit the Kasbah Tamnougalte, the most important Kasbah of the Draals Valley, the former “market place” of the caravans.
At 10.30 o’clock departure on the N9 direction Zagora, possibly lunch in the excellent and cheap chicken bbq Al Ghiwane of our friend Mohamed opposite the big mosque of Zagora. Continue to Tamegroute (15 km) Visit to Tamegroute: the oldest, very archaic potteries in the world, where even today 7 families with 7 studios and 7 ovens produce the archaic green desert ceramics, which can also be bought in Marrakech. Visit to Tamegroute’s highly interesting desert library and coranic school and the underground Kasbah, where the locals can survive in the summer with their animals sheltered from the heat of the desert (up to 55 degrees). Visit the Zaouia Ben Nasser, the tomb of a saintly marabout, to which mainly mentally ill people make pilgrimages and often spend years in the courtyard of the mosque until they are healed. In front of the grave mosque usually an imam is sitting, who recites the Koran by heart with a wonderful voice and is happy to be listened to and who will bless you no matter which religion you belong to. A very special place.
At 2 pm continue on the national road to the end of the tarred road in Mhamid. From there about 70 km offroad through interesting and varied desert landscape with the chance to encounter nomads and camels and wild donkeys. Have a stop at the sacred oasis (Oasis sacrée), a tiny little picture book oasis in the middle of the desert. Continue to camp at the large dunes of Chegaga. Welcome tea and get the comfortable cabin-like tent with good beds. Showers and western toilets available. Then on foot or with the dromedary for sunset on the dunes far away from the mass tourism of Merzouga. In the evening good food and campfire with Berber music. To sleep you can also put the bed in front of the tent (in winter a bit cold, in spring, autumn and summer very pleasant). Starry skies with Milky Way and shooting stars and enjoy silence.)
Get up at sunrise, breakfast and a long interesting route, discover fossil fields (asks the driver) to Foum Zguid. From there join the tarred road to Tazenacht the center of Berber carpets (R 111 / R108) and from there via the N 10 to Tizgzaouine where you turn left on the N9 (coming from Ouarzazarte) and in about 60 km reach Tizin Tichka where the circle closes. From there down to Marrakech. Arrival in the evening.
a) The desert trip can only be made with two overnight stays, since it is almost impossible to get from Marrakech to the desert until the sunset and there is no time to visit the gorges or the Ksar. Agencies that offer that are dubious! And the whole thing is just stress. The money for it is “thrown out the window”.
b) On this very individual tour you will see many highlights on the way, also away from the mass tourism. The drivers are very nice Berbers, who speak as well also English and do to stop any time you wish for photo stops. The accommodations are clean and very special and the route is certainly one of the most interesting in Southern Morocco.