Moroccan Desert Adventure
Day 1 Marrakech
Arrive at any time. In the evening there will be a brief meeting where you will meet your CEO and fellow group members to go over the details of your trip. On arrival, check the notice board (or ask reception) to see the exact time and location of this group meeting. Afterwards, there will be the possibility to go out for a meal as a group in a nearby local restaurant. If you arrive late, no worries, your leader will leave you a message at the front desk. A great place to start your exploration of Marrakech is Djemaa el Fna square, the heart of Marrakech, that changes its offerings throughout the day. In the morning you’ll wander past the fresh orange juice stalls, water sellers in colourful costumes with traditional leather water bags and brass cups, and snake charmers reminiscent of an era past. As the day progresses the snake charmers are replaced by Chleuh dancing-boys, story-tellers, magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicines. As the sun sets, the square fills with dozens of food-stalls, packed with locals and the entertaining chefs and waiters. Grab a spot on a bench with the other diners and try the Tanjia (slow cooked lamb), Harira soup, grilled seafood, famous Moroccan couscous, tajine, snails or even sheep’s head for the truly adventurous, and wash it all down with some spiced tea. To really get a taste of everyday life in Marrakech, head into the maze of tiny streets and alleyways of the ancient medina. Tourists and locals alike will find everything they desire in the souks, whether it’s spices, traditional jalabas and slippers, or famous Moroccan lanterns, the selection here is exhaustive, and don’t forget to bargain, it's definitely part of the fun!!! For history and architecture buffs Marrakech is sure to dazzle. The Koutoubia Mosque, Bahia Palace, Saadian Tombs, Ben Youseff Medersa and Almovid Koubba are all easy to get to and well worth a visit. Once you’ve tired yourself out, relax at one of the tea houses around the square, indulging in the ubiquitous sweet mint tea, watching the hustle and bustle from your shady spot.
Day 2-3 Nkob/Merzouga (2B,1D)
Drive to Ouarzazate via the ‘Road of 1000 Kasbahs’ (approx. 30mins driving). From Ouarzazate, travel through the Draa Valley to Nkob, stopping occasionally along the way. On Day 3, travel east to the edge of the Sahara, passing through the village of Tazzarine and Alnif before stopping off at the town of Rissani where you'll have some time to explore the town. Afterwards, head out to the dunes and to the auberge where you'll prepare for a night at a Berber camp in the sand dunes. Day 2 Approximate travel time (including stops): 9 hours Day 3 Approximate travel time (including stops): 7 hours
Day 4 Todra Gorge (1B)
We depart early from the camp to our first stop for the day at Tineghir where we visit the town and go for a walk through the palm groves. From here we make our way on to the breathtaking Todra Gorge where we spend the night nestled between the sheer cliff walls among the palm trees and gurgling river. The Todra River has carved out cliff-sided canyons through the mountains with the final 600m of the gorge being the most spectacular as the canyon narrows to a flat stony track as little as 10m wide in places with sheer and smooth rock walls up to 300 m high on each side. Today the Todra river looks more like a stream as it runs its way through the gorge, with hotels and restaurants huddled against the steep walls. Walk though local village farmland near Todra to learn about the local way of life. The hike in the gorge is an easy one—there is a well-maintained dirt road to walk along. The scenery is spectacular. Nestled in between the sheer cliffs of the gorge, you will have the chance to enjoy a relaxing evening indulging in local Berber cuisine and maybe even listening to the beats of the African drum. Please note that in Todra Gorge we utilise a simple, family run hotel. As with all accommodation located within the gorge itself, electricity is supplied via a generator. Whilst this does mean that there is no electricity available between midnight and 7am, we find that the experience of staying in such a beautiful location more than makes up for it! Approx travel time: 4hrs
Day 5 Aït Ben Haddou (1B)
We travel along the "Route of a 1000 Kasbahs", passing through Kelaa M’Gouna where rose oils and rose water are produced before stopping in Ouarzazate for a short visit of this former Foreign Legion stronghold and site of the Atlas Film Studios before heading on to the village of Aït Benhaddou. Aït Ben Haddou is a wonderful example of a kasbah, a type of fortress. Carefully restored over the years and now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site it is now considered to be one of the best preserved kasbahs in Morocco. A few families still call the kasbah their home, but the majority of locals have gradually moved to the nearby settlement. During our visit to the Kasbah, lose yourself in the narrow, winding passageways and feel the magical atmosphere of this incredible structure. Opt to take a tagine cooking course in your free time. Approx travel time: Todra to Aït Ben Haddou, 5hrs
Day 6-7 Essaouira (2B)
Orientation walk through the city, then you are free to explore Essaouira's funky coastal ambience. In the morning, don't miss the colourful and lively spectacle of the return of the boats to the port, with their baskets full of fish. Afterwards, head up to the ramparts on the old city wall for a great view over the city and out to sea. Browse the shops and art galleries or take a stroll along the long, sandy beach. This is the perfect place to unwind and relax with a cold beer or shisha pipe (waterpipe). The active might choose to take a surfing or windsurfing lesson, hire a fishing rod or just take a long walk on the beach. In the evening, head to one of the local barbeque fish cafes where you can pick out the catch of the day and have it cooked to perfection for the perfect sea food dinner. Essaouira is also famous for its music scene and a great chance to check out a live performance.
Day 8 Marrakech (1B)
Continue onto Marrakech where the tour ends upon arrival at approximately 12pm, please book ongoing travel after 2pm.