Antarctica & Arctic
The grandeur of the Sahara Desert is truly experienced on this trip as we journey from Marrakech across the High Atlas Mountains to the palm groves of the Draa Valley and the gateway to the desert at Zagora.
Destinations > Morocco > Marrakech & the Sahara
7 nights accommodation including 1 night in a Bedouin camp, local transportation, selected meals and guide.
Selected dates 18 Aug ‘18 - 21 Dec ‘19
We journey from Marrakech across the High Atlas Mountains to the palm groves of the Draa Valley and the desert gateway of Zagora. En route we’ll enjoy the UNESCO listed 16th-century kasbah of Ait Benhaddou, before continuing for a camel trek and a night under the stars of the Sahara. Finish with free time in Marrakech.
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Experience varied scenery from the Sahara Desert to the High Atlas Mountains
Journey into the desert Bedouin style, by camel
Visit Tijhza and experience a traditional hammam
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Arrival at our hotel in the evening.
With time to explore Marrakech at the end of our journey, we leave the Red City behind and head into the Atlas Mountains. Our destination for the day is the well-preserved Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most spectacular sights of the Atlas, made famous as the filming location for several Hollywood films including 'Gladiator'. The route takes us over Tizi N Tichka pass, the highest in Morocco, arriving mid-afternoon. We will then have time for an afternoon walk around the town. (B)(D)
After a short transfer, our adventure begins in Ouarzazate, nicknamed the 'door to the desert' because it used to be a crossing point for African traders on their way to Europe. It is now the site of the Atlas Film Studios, the setting for many Hollywood films, as well as Game of Thrones and BBC's Atlantis. It's also home to the impressive Kasbah Taourirt. Originally this kasbah was later owned by T'hami El Glaoui who is better known as the Lord of the Atlas. The Krupps field gun that secured the Glaoui power is now displayed outside the kasbah.
We then head south along the Draa Valley, a huge palmery containing over four million palm trees, bordered by many ksours (fortified villages). Here we embark on our camel trek and venture further into the desert, where we spend the night at a simple Bedouin camp for some spectacular star-gazing. Surrounded by silence and millions of stars lets us appreciate the immensity of the Sahara Desert. (B)(D)
After waking in the silence of the desert we take a return camel ride and a short drive to Zagora. Here there is time to rest, have a shower and enjoy the pool. Later in the afternoon we can take the optional walk in to the valley and around this famous desert outpost. (B)
Travelling west through the valley, we arrive at the High Atlas Mountains. These mountains were once controlled by feudal lords the most powerful of which was the Glaoui, with Telouet as their residence. Now Telouet stands abandoned and crumbling, and we are only able to visit the exterior of this labyrinthine, fairy-tale structure. A short drive takes us to Animeter, where we go on a picturesque walk (1-hour) on a gentle uphill gradient to our well-equipped gite at Tijhza where we spend the night.
In the evening we will visit the village hammam, built with money raised by Exodus clients. This is a truly authentic experience and terrific fun. It is very much a traditional hammam and you are likely to get the opportunity to mix with the villagers, which further adds to the experience. A standard treatment is included, but you will need to purchase a scrubber and soap for 20MAD (£1.50) and pay a customary tip of 20MAD. Refreshed, we return to the gite for our final dinner in the mountains. (B)(D)
There is time to relax this morning on the riad terrace, which has wonderful views across the fertile Tijhza Valley. Alternatively, we offer an optional 3-4 hour trek through the villages of this remote area, passing fields cultivated by the Berber women, with the peaks of the High Atlas as a fitting backdrop. After lunch, we leave the gite making the scenic drive over the High Atlas Mountains back to Marrakech, with some stunning scenery along the way. Once again we cross Tizi'n'Tichka, at 2260m which is the highest road pass in Morocco.
Back in Marrakech we check-in to our hotel. In the evening we visit Djemma el Fna, the open-air central square around which Marrakech revolves. The name literally means 'place of death', as the sultans once displayed the heads of their enemies here. Now, with the food stalls, snake charmers, juice-sellers and acrobats, it is a place of night time entertainment for locals and tourists alike. (B)
Today we set off on foot on a guided tour to see the spectacular sites of Marrakech. Our city guide will lead us to the Bahia Palace and the Saadian tombs, which date back to the 16th century. We continue through the labyrinthine of souks, bartering for souvenirs, or we can visit the largest mosque in Marrakech, Koutoubia.
Alternatively, you may prefer to head off on your own today and take a calèche ride (horse-drawn carriage) to the peaceful Majorelle gardens, owned by Yves St Laurent and decorated throughout in indigo blue; or simply enjoy a hammam (traditional Moroccan steam bath). (B)
Our tour ends after breakfast. (B)
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