Departure from Agadir at 8 o’clock by 4WD to Taroudant, known as “the little Marrakesh”. It is spectacular for its massive ramparts and beautiful medina. We continue to Tilouine, the heart of the saffron growing area of Morocco and cross the two passes of Tizi-n-Tighatine and Tizi-n-Ikhsane before reaching Kourkouda and Taznakht. This small town is famous for its Berber gelims and carpets and where we stop for lunch. From here we continue south driving to the edge of the Sahara to Foum Zguid for the night.
After breakfast we drive into the Sahara across the now dried-up Lake Iriqui, which used to be fed by the Dra’a river and be full of fish and water birds. In the middle of this lake we can search for fossils. The off-road piste takes us past the various features of the desert; the stony desert, “reg” and the “hammada”. Lunch will be in Cheggaga, far away from villages and ‘civilisation’. Here you can clamber up to the top of the high dunes to watch the sunset. At the foot of the dunes, we have dinner and spend the night in a bivouac of nomad tents.
After breakfast in the bivouac, the itinerary crosses another 60 km of desert road via the Sacred Oasis to arrive in M’hamid. Here you will be taken to visit the old village on the opposite side of the Dra’a River. Later you continue to drive up the Dra’a Valley, the longest valley in Morocco. You travel through Zagora, the largest oasis in the Dra’a Valley, particularly famous for its dates. We follow the ancient caravan route used by the caravans that crossed the Sahara for days and weeks bringing treasures from Mali or Mauretania. The road passes between the river and the mountains past all the Kasbahs and the local gardens, giving you a clearer impression of life here in this area of Morocco. In Agdez, we stop for the night at a traditional guest house.
After breakfast, we visit Kasbah Tamnougalte, the oldest and most famous Kasbah in the Dra’a Valley. Part of the Kasbah is still occupied by a few families, living much as they have done for centuries. Other parts, especially the “Mellah”, the Jewish area, are slowly crumbling after the last people left for Israel at the end of the 60’s. We return about 20 kilometres south to reach the bridge crossing the Dra’a at Tansikht. We have lunch in a small Berber town, N’qob. Further on we turn north in Alnif and pass the Saghro mountains. The main tribe in these mountains was the Aït Atta, who were the last people to resist the French occupation. We first reach Tinghir from where we visit the Toudgha gorges before turning back down to the main road to spend the night in the Dades Valley.
After breakfast we continue up the valley as far as the gorges, where it is possible to walk awhile. Before reaching the main road again at Boulmane Dades, we turn right to go off-road past Boutaghrar. All along this side road, there are Berber nomads living in caves and you can stop to partake tea with them. The road continues to the Rose Valley, where there is a Rose Festival each year at the beginning of May. The blossoms are distilled to make wonderful oils, soap and lotions, which are sold throughout the country. The next town on the road is the Skoura Oasis, where numerous ancient kasbahs, some sadly in ruins, stand amongst the palm trees. Here there is time to visit the very interesting Kasbah Amridil, which used to be deposited on the old 50 dirham note. Finally reaching Ouarzazate, you spend the night in a riad or guest house.
The first visit of the day is about 30 kilometres away at Aït ben Haddou, the most famous Kasbah in Morocco and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Back on the main road we turn left passing the still intact film set for “the Hills have Eyes” and the new 130 kilometre long reservoir, Tiouine. We reach Taznakht, famous for its Berber gelims and carpets and continue to Agadir, crossing the Tizi-n-Ikhsane and Tizi-n-Tighatine passes. We stop to have lunch in Taliouine, where there is an excellent little museum about the art of growing saffron. The road takes us on to Taroudant again and follows the often dry Souss River and innumerous argane trees on all the slopes of the hill-sides back to Agadir, which we reach by the end of the afternoon.