We invite you to journey into the Sahara and celebrate New Years Eve with live music, dancing, and a traditional Moroccan feast. On tour you'll explore the old Salt Road World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou kasbahs and Telouet, plus the Dades valley and Todra Gorges in the heart of Moroccos exotic desert and mountain regions. You'll camel trek under brilliant winter stars to an overnight Sahara camp in the roadless Erg Chebbi dunes, where the crystal clear winter sky is other worldly and you can climb the huge dunes, or contemplate the years past by the camp fire.
SAMPLE ITINERARY New Years Desert Tour
4 days Marrakech to Marrakech
Flexible 4 or 5 days (or longer) can start December 29, 30 or 31; also starts from or to Fes.
What's Not included:
Your driver will meet you at your riad or hotel to depart Marrakech, and transport to the gateway of Sahara over the Tichka Pass of the High Atlas mountains. Stop to enjoy the impressive views and break for coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice. At the height of the pass you will turn off the main road toward Telouet to visit the old Glaoui kasbah. This was once a beautiful palace but now stands crumbling to ruins because no one wants to remember "the vulture" sultan and his son "Thami" who lived here until the 1950's. Back in the cars you'll follow the old Salt Road camel caravan route to Sahara until reaching Ait Benhaddou, a UNESCO world heritage site. This village of clustered Berber Kasbahs has been used as a backdrop for more than 20 films and was one of the most important fortress strongholds on the old Salt Road where caravans brought slaves, gold, ivory and salt from Saharan Africa to Marrakech and beyond. Spend the night in an auberge with views of Ait Benhaddou. Includes dinner and breakfast..
Pass through Ouarzazate and many Berber villages sprinkling the Skoura oasis and the Valley of the Rose. In this barren region hillsides are clustered with kasbahs (fortified mud dwellings that house tribal families and their animals). Visit the Tamnalt hills also known as the monkey fingers before continuing onward to the Sahara dunes. Your destination is the Erg Chebbi, 29km from Merzouga. Here you will meet your camel guide and ride at sunset to the camp where a traditional tagine dinner is served (vegetarians welcome). Climb the massive dunes and watch the moon rise before retiring to your bed in the nomad tent. Includes dinner and breakfast.
Our desert camp in the north of Erg Chebbi is far from the crowds going to Merzouga. It consists of a circle of traditional nomad styled tents that each sleep 4 people, 2 to each side divided by a wall. They are equipped with wool carpets, foam mattresses, wool blankets, freshly washed cotton sheets and pillows - camp also has solar lighting and toilets, a kitchen tent and dining tent. All camel guides are local young men working to support their families.
This morning you'll wake early and get ready to ride the camels by a different route back to the auberge. Stop to watch the sunrise before returning for a leisurely big breakfast and hot shower. Along the road to Tinehir, you can stop and visit a fossil workshop for a closer look at Sahara's amazing varieties of ancient life. Take a walk through the massive Todra fault dividing the High Atlas mountains. Todra Gorge sheer rock walls rise to 300 m in its narrowest part. Arrive to settle into your room in the old kasbah (mud-built fortress) before New Years celebrations and dinner. 8pm the fun begins. The New Years party includes roast lamb (Meschui) with a multi course dinner, and live very danceable music by local musicians.
The remainder of the day is spent driving back to Ouarzazate. Stop for lunch in there before crossing the High Atlas once more down the Tichka pass to arrive in Marrakech in the evening. You will need to book a hotel for this night in Marrakech.
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