Atlas – Merzouga – Draâ Valley Tour
Duration: 7 Days
Morocco Travel: In Luxury 4×4
English, French, Berber Speaking Driver
Starting & Finishing Point: Your Hotel In Ouarzazate
The Atlas- Merzouga- Draa Valley tour is the perfect Sahara adventure (Book a Tour or call (+212)-649 582 295. Let us be your guide to Morocco Travel.
DAY 1: OUARZAZATE
►Pick up at the airport in Ouarzazate and Transfer to your Boutique Riad and Hotel in Ouarzazate for some rest and relaxation before beginning a day of site seeing in Ouarzazate.
►Kasbah Taorirt was built by the Glaoui. Its location was strategic for trading routes and in the 1930’s when the Glaoui ruled the South it was then one of Morocco’s largest Kasbahs. Explore its nooks and crannies and discover some local female painters who sell their art inside as well as the many quality silver shops just steps outside the Kasbah.
►After visiting Kasbah Tourirt, return to your hotel in Ouarzazate for a relaxing afternoon by the pool or ask your guide about an extending your tour to the souk. At the souk you will have the opportunity to take in the smells of local spices such as Cumin, Saffron and cinnamon as well as Berber amber andmusk while visiting smallcaftan and Moroccan Baboosh (shoe) shops.
►Enjoy couscous or a tajine for lunch at a local restaurant in Ouarzazate.
DAY 2: OUARZAZATE – ATLAS FILM STUDIO – AIT BENHADDOU – OASIS OF FINT
►Take the road to Visit the Atlas Film Studios,Aït Benhaddou & the Oasis of Fint.
►Visit the Atlas Film Studios. 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 ofCleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’sKundun, Gillies MacKannon’sHideous 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.
►After visiting the Atlas Film Studio, we will take the road by pise to the picturesque village of Aït Benhaddou located 32 km from Ouarzazate. Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa 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.
►Your guide will lead you on a private tour through this Berber village of towered and crenulated kasbahs that once guarded the lucrative caravan route through the Atlas Mountains. Explore the kasbahs by foot with the option to ride a donkey across a river.
►Make sure to bring along your camera to photograph this spectacularsite and the stunningviews that surround this kasbah’s crenellatedtowers and dark red pise walls. By the river, you will find observe a collection of kasbahs whose walls are decorated with blind arches and geometric designs. Make sure to take a walk behind the kasbah and visit the series of ksars, individual plain earth houses still inhabited by Berber families.
►Your guide will share the fascinating history of Aït Benhaddou which once served as the former caravan route between the Saharaand Marrakech in present-day Morocco. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river; ten families however still live within the ksar. Aït Benhaddou was once a significant stop for traders carrying gold, salt and slaves along the famous Southern Caravan route moving through the Sahara. Only six miles away, is the village of Tamdaght, dominated by the canyon walls of a Glaoui Kasbah. The Kasbah is famous and you will find its towers inhabited by storks. Walk outside the Kasbah’s lush terraced gardens and witness the same desert scenery that used in Gladiatorand Alexander the Great.
►After lunch, we will depart Aït Benhaddou and 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.Visit this Oasis of Fint that hovers under the Atlas Mountains. Journey on a one-hour walk inside the Oasis where you will have a cup of tea with the headmaster’s family Azziz Ouaziz and tour the surrounding area where date palm oases and dramatic desert scenery are king.
►For lunch, relax on a terrace with clear views of Aït Benhaddou and enjoy a traditional Moroccan meal of mfouar (steamed wheat), Takila (a Berber tajine), couscous and fruit. After lunch, browse the village shops then climb back in the comfortable air-conditioned/heated 4×4 and head to the village of Tamadaght.
►Take the road to Kasbah Tifoultoute which stands majestically on the banks of Oued Tifoultoute. From a distance this old Kasbah is impressive with its castle-like architecture. In the 1960’s the Kasbah was converted into a hotel for the cast ofLawrence of Arabia. Tour the Kasbah and have lunch at its restaurant which is known for delicious mint and herb teas. See panoramic views from the rooftop.
►Overnight at a Boutique Riad and Hotel in Ouarzazate.
DAY 3: OUARZAZATE– SKOURA – EL KELLAT DES M’GOUNA – TINERHIR
►After breakfast at your hotel, we will depart Ouarzazate, taking the “Road of One Thousand Kasbahs” and passing by the large lake of Ouarzazate to drive to Skoura.
►Skoura is a fertile oasis lined with immense palm groves that provide great views of the Atlas Mountains alongside deserted landscapes. It is renowned for the cultivation of roses. The palm groves were laid out in the 12th century by the Almohad sultan Yacoub el-Mansourand named after its original inhabitants, the Berbers of the Haskourene tribe. The most beautiful Kasbahs in southern Morocco can be found here. Many of them are still partially inhabited.
►The small, sleepy town of Skoura has a big market Souk every Monday and a small group of administrative buildings. Most impressive in Skoura are the many Kasbahs that ripple through its dry rocky oasis. Skoura is referred to as the “Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs.”
►You will visit the 17th Century old Ben Morro Kasbah, which has been converted into a guesthouse and see the most imposing of the Kasbahs in this area, Amerhidil Kasbah. This 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.
►We will also visit the Kasbahs of Aït Abou, built in the 1800’s and the oldest Kasbah in the palm grove, is six stories and walls 25 m high. Its outside buildings have been turned into a garden filled with pomegranate, apple, pear, fig, quince and olive trees that provide the necessary shading for growing crops.
►Pass by Skoura, drive north heading towards the Amagoun Mountains and Berber villagesstanding among splendid landscapes and the Valley of Roses. Your driver will stop for you to view the Capp et Florale distillation factories laid out in ElKelaa Des Mgouna, a small Kasbah town that manufactures the entire nation’s products of eau de rose. The rose water and other products such as hand and body soaps, oil, crème perfume and dried flowers are for sale and also popular among Moroccans. The factories produce 3000-4000 petals a year. With ten tons of petals required to produce a few liters of precious oil, the harvest is understandably a labor of love and the culminating Festivities of the annual Rose Festival are all the livelier for it.
►Once in the Valley of Roses, you will immediately notice that the fresh mountain air in this part of southern Morocco has a hint of fresh roses which makes it a particular nice place to go for walks, short hikes and a long drive through the Hdida Valley to the plateau of Imi-n-Louh. Your driver will stop along the way so you can meet the friendly locals, many who are nomads and spend their winters in the nearby caves. There are many photo opportunities in this Dadès Valley town of ancient kasbahs.
►For lunch, we will relax on a petite terrace at Kasbah Itran, a local auberge that overlooks two large abandoned crenulated Jewish Kasbahs and a river.
►Overnight at a Boutique Riad in theTodraGorge.
DAY 4: TINERHIR – MERZOUGA
►Rise early, and drive to Merzouga passing the unusual flora and fauna of the Sahara.
►Arrive and find your Berber biouvac tent awaiting where you will spend the night near the Erg Chebbi Dunes. You will find the Merzouga Erg Chebbi Dunesat 22 km long, (North-South) 5 km and 150 meters high. Considered by many to be the largestdunes in the Sahara, the dunesconstantly shift due to the considerable desert winds. The locals believe that these dunes were sent as a punishment for turning away a wearytraveler from the desert. They say that after they sent away this traveler, the gods made the dunespileup right outside their town; to teach them a lesson and to never send away weary men and women ever again.
DAY 5: MERZOUGA – RISSANI – N’KOB
►Your camels await you for a trip across the Erg Chebbi Dunes. You will be taken on a 2hourcruise on the back of a dromedary intothedunes to camp at an oasis. Your Tuaregguide will share some of the Sahara Deserts’ secrets. As you glide across humpback on these silent, mystical dunes there will be countless opportunities to photographthe endless rolling sand dunes that appear before you in heaps for thousands of miles. You will witness the sunriseacross the eastover the dunes. Upon return from your trek, enjoy a quiet breakfast and then continue your adventure within the SaharaDesert.
►Just before lunch, you will depart Merzouga and ride across the palm groves to visit the ksours along the kasah studded road to Rissani. The 19th century AbbarKsar, once a residence to Alouniteprinces and the OuladAbdelhaminKsar, built for the brother of SultanMoulayHassan, is popular to visit. Also interesting to see is the Mausoleum of MoulayAliCherif where the father of the founder of the Alouite Dynasty is buried.
►After the famous structures, you will see Rissani, an ancient capital for the AlaouiteSultans and the most important market town for Sub-Sahara camel caravans was built on the ruins of Sijilmassa. Stop in Rissanifor a lunch and visit its souks where stalls are piled high with pyramids of dates, vegetables, spices, rugs, carpets, pottery, jewelryandmetalwork. The Rissanisouk is one of the most famous in the area and surrounded by donkeys, mules, sheep and goats enclosed in corrals. After a tour of Rissani, we are off to Alnif. Alnif is known for its rocks, fossils and minerals found in shops along the roadside Trilobites are the areas main export.
►Pass by Alnif and head towards to N’kob for an overnight stay at Ksar Jenna, a beautiful Maison de Charme in a riad style, built with the materials of the Moroccan tradition such as taddelakt and zellig. Ksar Jenna has wide open spaces, 7 rooms with every comfort, with large bathrooms and large common spaces, plunged in an oasisofquiet, in the heartofaluxuriantgarden, with lots of palmtrees, bougainvilleas, rosebushes, jasmines.
DAY 6: N’KOB – AGDZ – DRAA VALLEY OUARZAZATE
►After a large Moroccan breakfast at Ksar Jenna, discover the village of Aït Ouzzine in the city of N’kob. Past the kasbahs, you will see rugged territories of sheer rockfaces, plateaux and blackish rocky assortments in N’kob.
►Just 5 kilometers after N’kob is Aït Ouzzine (the nice village). Aït Ouzzine is a Berber village inhabited by over 300families who live in beautifully painted crenulatedkasbahs, with their own henna fields, waterwells, livestock and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani.
►Lunch will be served to you in Aït Ouzzine by a traditional Berber family. The menu will include a traditional meal of fresh baked bread with spices and a chicken and vegetable tajineand fresh local fruits for desert. After lunch, you can go for a walk in green fields of Aït Ouzzine and visit the village elders to sip mint tea.
►Take the road via the Draa Valley to Ouarzazate. En route pass the road of the old carvans, Kasbah Tamnagoult.
► Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Hotel in Ouarzazate.
DAY 7: OUARZAZATE
Early morning flight departure from Ouarzazate. This ends your Morocco Travel experience.