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High Atlas—Sahara Combined

A seven day journey through Morocco’s mountains and desert

On this trip you’ll discover the heights and valleys of the High Atlas before exploring the south of Morocco on your way to the endless dunes of Erg Chebbi—one of Morocco’s two Saharan seas of wind-blown sand dunes—and back. Over seven amazing days you’ll walk through the Imnan, Azaden and Ait Mizane Valleys of the High Atlas, stay in the beautiful Dades Valley, pass through the spectacular Todra Gorge—a narrow, 300m high canyon—ride a camel into the Sahara at sunset, discover the rocky landscapes and hidden oases of the Draa Valley, and visit the once prominent trading post of Ait Ben Haddou—famous for its 17th century kasbahs. Along the way you’ll pass through Berber villages where children play outside and the locals are always friendly, cross some spectacular mountain passes, soak up the sweet, pungent scent of the High Atlas junipers, travel through the gorgeous green valleys of rural Morocco that lead you to its vast desert plains, witness a caravan of camels silently passing you by, sleep under the stars of the brilliantly clear night sky and wake to a spectacular desert sunrise like no other. This journey through the High Atlas and Sahara has all the ingredients for an unforgettable nature adventure!

Trip Itinerary

We’ll pick you up from your Marrakech accommodation and drive to the ski town of Oukaimeden (2,600m). Here you’ll begin today’s 7 hour walk to the Berber village of Aguersioual (1,600m). Along the way you’ll walk down through the juniper forests to the small village of Amskerou, where you’ll stop for a picnic lunch by the river. Afterwards you’ll head up to Tizi n’Aguersioual (2,200m), a spectacular mountain pass from which you’ll have soaring views back over the Imnan Valley below. After taking in those amazing views you’ll finish today’s hike with a walk down to Aguersioual. Here you’ll spend the night in a Berber guesthouse.

Meals included:

  • Lunch
  • Dinner

From Aguersioual you’ll begin today’s 5 hour walk with a hike up to Tizi n’Tacht (2,100m) and along a scenic path that leads you through even more juniper forests to the Berber village of Id Issa. Here you’ll stop for lunch in amongst the village’s traditional stone houses. From Id Issa you’ll walk through the verdant Azaden Valley to Tizi Oussem (1,800m), following the winding river and passing many an apple and walnut tree along the way. In Tizi Oussem you’ll spend the night in another Berber guesthouse.

Meals included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

From Tizi Oussem you’ll walk up to Tizi Mzik (2,500m), a sleepy mountain village from which you’ll have amazing views over the Ait Mizane Valley and the village of Imlil below. From here you’ll continue along the mountain path to Aremd (1,920m), where you’ll stop for a traditional Berber lunch. Afterwards you’ll make your way down through the myriad apple, cherry and walnut trees to Imlil (1,800m), where you’ll finish today’s 4 hour walk. Here you’ll spend the night in another Berber guesthouse.

Meals included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

This morning you’ll leave the mountains behind and begin your journey into the desert. You’ll first drive to Ouarzazate via the spectacular Tizi n’Tichka (2,260m)—one of the highest drivable passes in Morocco. Along the way you’ll follow the winding roads that lead you through the gorgeous green valleys of rural Morocco and on to its vast desert plains. In Ouarzazate you’ll stop for lunch before passing through the Valley of Roses and on to the thousand kasbahs of Dades Valley. Here you’ll spend the night in another Berber guesthouse.

Meals included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Today you’ll journey to the vast expanse of sand that is the Sahara! Along the way you’ll visit the spectacular Todra Gorge, before visiting the Oasis Museum in Tinejdad. This group of three restored houses displays Berber antiquities and objects of traditional use collected from various tribes across the country. When you reach the desert outpost of Merzouga on the edge of Erg Chebbi you’ll meet your camel and begin an unforgettable 1.5 hour sunset ride to a nomadic camp in the middle of the dunes. Upon arrival at the camp you’ll be served a traditional Berber meal and treated to some local tribal singing and drumming by the campfire. Here you’ll spend the night in a nomad tent.

Meals included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

After waking early to watch the glorious sunrise over the still eastern dunes you’ll hop on your camel once more and ride out of the Sahara. And after saying goodbye to your camel in Merzouga you’ll begin your journey to Ouarzazate—the “Hollywood of Morocco”. Along the way you’ll pass through the Draa Valley, including the Maidir basin—one of Morocco’s richest seams of fossils—and the nearby oasis town of Alnif. In Ouarzazate you’ll spend the night in a hotel.

Meals included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Today you’ll return to Marrakech, arriving in the evening. In the morning you’ll have a short drive to Ait Ben Haddou, where you’ll have lunch on one of the many new town terraces overlooking the ancient settlement across the river. This fortified city is so famous for its 17th century kasbahs that it’s been listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. It’s even served as a filming location for Hollywood movies such as The Gladiator and Jewel of the Nile, and more recently the tv series Game of Thrones. After lunch you’ll continue along the scenic roads of the High Atlas, once again crossing Tizi n’Tichka on the way back to Marrakech, passing many a beautiful landscape and Berber village along the way.

Meals included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

Trip Details

Inclusions:

  • Professional English speaking guide
  • Accommodation (Berber guesthouse x 4 nights, nomad tent x 1 night, hotel x 1 night)
  • Late model transportation with A/C
  • All meals (breakfast x 6, lunch x 7, dinner x 6)
  • Mules and muleteers during hike
  • Oasis Museum entrance fee
  • Camel ride in Sahara
  • Traditional Berber music at Sahara campsite

Note: Travelling companions will be roomed together in hotels unless they request separate single rooms. For a single room there is an extra charge of €20 per person per night. Travelling companions will also be roomed together in Berber guesthouses. It is not possible to book a single room when staying in a Berber guesthouse.

Exclusions:

  • Aeroplane ticket
  • Travel insurance
  • Drinks
  • Tips

Note: This trip starts in the morning on Day 1 and ends in the evening on Day 7. If you would like us to arrange airport transfers, accommodation, optional activities or anything else before, during or after your trip, please let us know as we are more than happy to do this.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Begin your experience with an early morning transfer from your Marrakech accommodation to your balloon’s launching site. Upon arrival hop in the basket and gaze away as this sunrise flight takes you soaring over the foothills of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. Touch down for a freshly prepared Berber breakfast before returning to Marrakech in your 4×4 vehicle. At the end of the day take home a flight certificate as a souvenir of your experience.

Price: €195 per person.
Duration: 5 hours (1 hour in-flight).

Majorelle Garden

Visit this enchanting garden in the heart of the city, designed by French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886–1962). Stroll along the shady paths past exotic trees and plants, streams and pools whilst watching the numerous birds who call this peaceful paradise home.
Price: €5 per person.

Marrakech City Tour

Discover what lies behind Marrakech’s ancient red walls on this guided exploration of the city’s old town. Begin by visiting Koutoubia Mosque, the Saadian Tombs, Bahia Palace and the old Jewish Quarter. Then stop off at Djemaa el Fna. Here you can sit down and enjoy a well-deserved cup of mint tea whilst gazing out over Marrakech’s central square—a vibrant meeting place for young and old. You’ll see acrobats, fortune tellers, musicians, snake charmers and traders all coming together in one truly amazing spectacle. Finally, wander the narrow, aromatic alleys of the spice souk. And if at the end of the day you’re a bit peckish and still feeling adventurous, why not visit one of the many restaurants showcasing traditional Moroccan cuisine located just a stone’s throw away?

Price: €25 per person (minimum 2 persons required).
Duration: 4–5 hours.

Tagine Cooking Class

Get ready for the ultimate tagine experience during this one of a kind activity in Marrakech. Begin by learning the Arabic for the key ingredients of Morocco’s most famous dish as you join your teacher in the souks. Here you’ll mix with the locals when shopping for your meat, vegetables and most importantly, spices. Head back to the traditional riad kitchen and learn how to brew a pot of refreshing Moroccan mint tea, before following your teacher’s step-by-step instructions to prepare your very own mouthwatering lunch. At the end of the day take home a copy of the recipe as an everlasting memory of your authentic Moroccan cooking experience.

Price: €55 per person (minimum 2 persons required).
Duration: 4–5 hours (including 50 minute walk).

The list below is a suggestion of what you might find useful to take on this trip. It is not an exhaustive packing list. If you need further advice, please contact us or consult your nearest outdoor store.

Clothing & Footwear:

  • Thermal underwear
  • Comfortable walking clothes that are suitable for layering
  • Comfortable clothes and shoes for campsite/gite
  • Down/fleece jacket
  • Lightweight raincoat/windbreaker
  • Lightweight rain trousers
  • Well broken-in mountain trekking boots with good ankle support
  • Sandals/shoes suitable for walking through water
  • Synthetic/woollen socks
  • Hat
  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Swimsuit
  • Sarong/scarf/loose cotton trousers that can easily be pulled on over shorts to cover shoulders/legs when walking through villages

Equipment:

  • 3 season sleeping bag (compulsory)
  • Daypack
  • Pack raincover/poncho
  • Trail snacks
  • Water bottle/hydration bladder
  • Water purification pen/tablets
  • Walking pole
  • Penknife
  • Sunglasses
  • Head torch
  • Camera, memory card and charger
  • Spare batteries
  • Personal items (including hand sanitiser, lip balm, microfibre towel, sunscreen, toilet paper, toiletries, wet wipes etc)
  • Medicine and copy of doctor’s prescription which states medication and quantity carried
  • Personal first aid kit (including blister tape, insect repellant, oral rehydration salts, plasters, tweezers, diarrhoea tablets etc)
  • Small repair kit (including duct tape, extra shoelaces, needle, thread etc)
  • Rubbish bag

Note: Please bring a soft backpack weighing less than 20kg as mules will be carrying your luggage during the hike.