Behind the high Atlas mountains lies a mysterious landscape, magical and beautiful: the Sahara desert, the heart of Morocco. The desert of Morocco generates a feeling of going back in time, making us forget about the existence of the rest of the planet. What is here is a world of fortifications, of small houses, of Berber or Kasbah castles, of forts abandoned by foreign legions… These were, some time ago, part of the camel routes between Marrakech and the great trading capitals in the Sahara desert.
The trip here is a beautiful experience. The road from Marrakech goes to the highest part of the Atlas forests, at an altitude of 2,200 meters, in the area known as Col de Tichka. Then comes the spectacular descent to Ouarzazate and its beautiful surroundings.
Observing the immensity of the Moroccan desert is a unique experience. There are many excursions that offer you the possibility of visiting this arid area and even sleep one night in a tent, which is a traditional nomadic shop where you can find all the luxury of comfort, to your surprise.
Another option is to ride an all-terrain vehicle through these sand dunes and let out the adventurous spirit that you have. Quite an experience that you will repeat! The best stretches of desert are Zagora, M’Hamid, the dunes of Erg Chebbi or the dunes of Tindouf. The latter areas are located about 5 kilometers south of Tamegroute and are a good choice if you want to have a first contact with the Moroccan desert.
The desert of Morocco does not always respond to the classic image that many have in their subconscious, that is, the great dunes. However, there are some, and you can travel through them with camels, but their other arid landscapes also have an evocative beauty and will transform the way of seeing the world of any traveler.
Exploring The Drâa Valley
A bewitching place of burnished sand and scorching desert, surrounded by a sea of green palms on both banks of the river. Since ancient times, the Draa Valley is the most beautiful road in Morocco, but also the most winding. The valley of the Draa River has more than 100 kilometers, between Ouarzazate and the gates of the desert. It is a very green valley with date palms. You can walk through the palm grove, which is very nice because the temperature is lower than on the road, due to the shade of the palms, nor is there much dust, and you can rest with your feet in the water if you want to. There are many paths to walk, which are the paths that people take to cultivate their fields, to take care of their cattle, goats, and sheep, and to return home. On the riverbank, you can see the Ksar, these impressive adobe fortifications that served to defend the region.
It is highly recommended to make this route to M’Hamid, where you can reach the dune area. A wild and authentic dessert. A road with more than 150 km that lead to Zagora. Although the Wadi Draa begins in Ouarzazate, it remains invisible for 60 km, cutting its way through the earth’s crust. It is from Agdz where the river is discovered and the palm trees begin. This town marks the true beginning of the Draa Valley. To get to Agdz and therefore the Draa Valley, you have to take the winding road from Ouarzazate to Zagora, possibly the most beautiful of all Morocco.
If the landscape is arid and sterile until you reach Agdz, the end of the tour is truly amazing. The palm groves and fields seem to extend to infinity, surrounded by pretty villages and adobe Kasbahs. These houses made of mud, straw, and water are placed on top of the infertile land overlooking the palm grove.
More places to see
The Todra gorge or the dunes of Merzouga will not leave anyone indifferent either. The possibility to spend the night in magnificent traditional kasbahs overlooking a green palm grove, as in Knob or Agdz, will complete an unforgettable experience. On both sides of the track, the traveler will be surprised by the succession of colors that dye the Sahara desert, from jet black to bright orange, passing through the golden dunes, the greenery of sudden palm trees and the white tops of the Atlas that frame the landscape.
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