Our Tours Recommended
in National Geographic Traveller
We invite you to journey with us into the Sahara desert and celebrate the holidays and New Years Eve with live music, dancing, and a traditional Moroccan feast. On tour through the desert you'll explore the old Salt Road World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou kasbahs and Telouet, Dades and Todra Gorges, and enjoy oasis walks, Berber markets, explorations, and offroad into the heart of the desert... and more. You'll also camel trek far from the crowds under brilliant winter stars to an overnight camp in the quiet roadless region of the beautiful Erg Chebbi dunes. The night sky is other worldly and you can enjoy drumming by the fire while contemplating the year gone past, climb the huge dunes and watch the moon rise, or sandboard or dune surf to your hearts content.
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 or Casablanca with added days).
What's Not included:
Your driver will meet you at your riad or hotel at 9:00am, 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, famous for soft Persian rose oil. In the desert, barren hillsides are clustered with kasbahs (fortified dwellings that house many families and their livestock). After lunch you'll visit the Tamnalt hills, and have a short drive to walk through a massive fault dividing the High Atlas mountains. Todra Gorge sheer rock walls rises to 300 m in its narrowest part. After lunch your mid-afternoon destination is the auberge (small inn) in the Erg Chebbi dunes 29km from Merzouga. Along the way off-road into the Saghro Massif deeper into the desert landscape, until the dunes appear on the horizon. Upon arrival you will meet your camel guide and ride to the camp at sunset, where a traditional tagine dinner is prepared (vegetarians welcome) under the evening stars. Climb the massive dunes and watch the moon rise before retiring to your bed in the nomad wool tent. Includes dinner and breakfast.
Our desert camp is far from the crowds coming from Merzouga. It consists of a circle of five nomad tents that each sleep about 4 people but they are very rarely full. They are equipped with carpets, foam mattresses, wool blankets, freshly washed cotton sheets and pillows - camp also has solar lighting and toilets, kitchen tent and dining tent, and carpeting around the fire pit. All camel guides are local nomads working to support their families, and our very friendly camels love to have their ears scratched.
This morning you'll wake early to have tea 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. Back on the road to Tinehir. Along the way you'll pass through folded exposed rock slabs of fossils and can stop and visit a fossil workshop for a closer look at Sahara's wonderful 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. After lunch, you can wander with a local Berber guide through palmeries, villages, gardens, and kasbahs and learn more about traditional Berber ways of life. Afternoon arrival to settle into your room in the old kasbah (mud-built fortress), before New Years celebrations and dinner. 8pm the fun begins, New Years party includes traditional clay oven whole roasted lamb (Meschui) with four course dinner, and live music.
Relax at the hotel after a late breakfast. The remainder of the day is spent driving back to Ouarzazate, via some offroad routes into the High Atlas (weather permitting). Stop for lunch in Ouarzazate, before crossing the High Atlas once more down the Tichka pass to arrive in Marrakech at approximately 6pm. You will have to book a hotel this night in Marrakech.
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