Let’s follow in the footsteps of the early Timbuktu camel caravans and cross Atlas and Anti-Atlas Mountains. Let’s experience the soothing shades of the date groves in the blooming Drâa valley. Let’s meet the last nomads of Morocco. First and above all, though, let’s face the endless desert.
Days overall10 daysDays in saddle6
StandardBerber caravan (tents and desert nights)Luggageno limit kgFoodlocal cuisine, vegetarian meals available
Skillswalk, trot, gallop
The Sahara trek is a fairy-tale time travel. We follow in the footsteps of the early camel caravans, carrying south any and all goods known to men. We visit ruins of caravanserai, sleep in oases and wade through the moonlit landscapes of Anti-Atlas. The Berber guides pick routes unvisited by tourists. Instead, we are very likely to meet some of the last desert nomads.
We usually organize the Sahara treks in October, during the date harvest season. Inhabitants of the local villages work in the oases; it’s colourful, loud and joyful. With a bit of luck, we get to try freshly gathered fruit.
A typical daily route takes around 6 hours on horseback, but if the weather is fine, the last day will take only 3 hours. In this part of the world, Sahara is mostly stone plateaus with some occasional sand dunes. Every now and then, the party passes an oasis or a date grove. While we get some occasions for galloping or trotting, we mostly walk.
Moroccans don’t castrate stallions, so we’re riding meres. They are almost exclusively Arabian-Berber cross-breed. They are small and stocky, but vigorous, as though created just for the rides. They are calmer and of a bit stronger posture than Arabian horses. A horse tack is provided on-site.
- Accommodation in the Marrakesh and Zagora riads and in tents on the desert
- Breakfasts in Marrakesh
- Alimentation in Zagora and on the desert (breakfast, takeaway lunch, supper)
- Transfer to and from the Marrakesh airport (on the first and the last day of the trek)
- Transfer from Marrakesh to Zagora and back
- A company of local guides in Zagora and on the desert
- A horse with a complete tack
- Tourist insurance covering high risk sports
- A flight ticket to and from Marrakesh
- Extra meals in Marrakesh (a restaurant meal costs 5-10 Euro)
- Lunch on the way to and from Zagora (a restaurant meal costs 5-10 Euro)
- A camel ride (around 10 Euro)
- Optional – a tip for guides (around 15 Euro)
- Minor expenses (souvenirs, extra snacks, entry tickets etc.)
Each companion is provided with a ride from the airport and taken directly to the riad in Marrakesh. Considering different arrival times of the particular party members, there are no organized attractions planned for that day. You are free to take your time visiting the medina quarter.
The trail of caravans
There is a long but quite a pleasant bus drive to Zagora on that day. First, the road leads through the High Atlas and its famous Tizi-n-Tichka pass (2260 m). On the other side, you can have lunch below the Ajt Bin Haddu caravanserai or in the Berber city of Ouarzazate. In the afternoon, we still need to cross Anti-Atlas, rewarding us with an impressive view on the Drâa valley. In the evening, the party reaches the riad and meets their Berber guides.
The door of the desert
After breakfast, we pack our baggage to the car and mount the horses. The trail goes down the valley – under the palms and on a rather soft soil. In the midday, we emerge from the shadow and enter a rocky plateau to a much more desert climate. We reach the oasis in the evening.
The date grove
On that day, the party passes a small gorge and reaches a big date grove by the noon. You can spot colourfully-dressed women carrying baskets on their heads and children leading donkeys packed with freshly gathered fruits. After lunch, we enter one of the local roads. We’re not likely to meet any tourists and we can peek on the lives of inhabitants of the local villages. We spend the night in tents, not far from an old desert stronghold.
The golden sands
We head straight south. The date palms slowly give way to tamarix and cacti. We must cross a small mountain ridge and then a plateau, overgrown with dwarf trees and arganias. Finally, we reach a range of sand dunes. We spend the night at a Berber „camping” near M’Hamid El Ghizlane where you can go on a camel trip.
The heart of the Sahara
The party turns west and then north. These are rather secluded lands and with a stoke of luck we might spot gazelles and even wild ostriches. It is quite common to meet the caravans of the nomad Bedouins. The desert is sandy and rocky here. We set up a camp by the dunes with a mountain view on the horizon.
We reach one of the Anti-Atlas mountain ranges to a moonlit landscape. There is scarcely any galloping on that day as we need to cross the mountains. At one point, we even need to walk, leading the horses behind. In the evening, we descent into the lowlands on the other side. At night, distant lights of Zagora can be seen.
Back to civilization
After breakfast, we mount our horses one last time. We’re heading north, towards the Drâa valley. We reach our destination around lunch and part with our horses. We spend afternoon visiting Zagora and have the farewell supper in the evening.
Back to Marrakesh
After breakfast, we get on the bus and drive back to Marrakesh. It’s worth-while to stop by for lunch in Ajt Bin Haddu or in Ouarzazate. After the drive is over, everyone can take some spare time.
The party leaves Morocco. Each companion gets a lift to the airport.
In Marrakesh, the party spends the night in a riad just next to the Jemaa el-Fnaa palace, the heart of the city. The medina quarter spreads all around. The architecture is very specific: the outer walls of the buildings lack any windows for a heat protection. All rooms are facing the main court, commonly decorated with a pond or a fountain. Inhabitants traditionally spend their time on terraces placed on the houses’ roofs.
The riad in Zagora is also a high-standard one. It’s placed in an oasis spread along the Drâa river. The living quarters are surrounded by lush vegetation: palms, bushes and colourful flowers. The garden becomes especially charming in the evening, illuminated by lanterns and candles.
On the actual desert trek trail, the party spends the nights in the tourists or Berber tents with thick foam mattresses. Each party member is entitled to a single shower a day. We are equipped with a shower tent, a water bucket (can be heated on request) and a flushing cup. Apart from the first and the last day, there is no electricity. It is possible to charge a mobile phone with a car charger, if needed.
In Marrakesh and Zagora, continental breakfasts are provided (bread, cake, jam, eggs, coffee, orange juice, etc.). All other Marrakesh meals and a lunch on the way to and from Zagora needs to be purchased individually. We want to encourage party members to taste the local food and don’t want to make any restrictions.
On the desert, a cook is responsible for the field kitchen. The breakfasts are rather simple: Moroccan flat bread, jam, peanut butter, honey, cream cheese, argan oil and amlou, an argan paste (traditionally, Berbers eat bread dipped in oil and paste for breakfast). The lunch are different kinds of vegetable and fruit salads (sometimes with pasta) and fish. Various traditional tajin dishes are served for supper.
In Morocco, we drink bottled water (which should also be used for toothbrushing by persons with a sensitive intestinal tract), refreshing Berber tea (with mint and sugar) and sweet beverages. A bottle of wine is served for supper.
Please note that Morocco is a Muslim country. There is little or no access to the alcohol, especially in Zagora and on the desert. We recommend buying a bottle of strong alcohol on the airport and drinking it in small doses everyday (a different bacterial flora can lead to an upset stomach).
We use Moroccan English-type saddles. For hard seats, we also use fur blankets on the saddles. The bridles are traditional; we also use bits. The gear is pretty much like the European gear.
Additionally, every horse is equipped with two large bags. We use them to transport water supplies (on the first day, everyone receives a large bottle of water; don’t throw it away – we will be refilling them from the drinking water supply), lunch and other handy items (some cash, passport, etc.). The bags are waterproof and can easily contain a softshell jacket.
What you should take with you
We provide all necessary comforts for our Moroccan treks. We have a spacious car and the staff packs it with the camping equipment and luggage every morning and transports them to the next location.
- cash, preferably EUR
- electronic devices, e.g. camera
- sleeping bag
- flashlight; head flashlights are quite handy
- head cover against the sun
- riding equipment (Jodhpur boots, gloves, etc.)
- light raincoat
- flip-flops for showering
- swimming suit
- indigestion remedies (probiotics, diarrhea medications, strong alcohol)
- toilet paper
7 November 2020 - 16 November 2020