For those who are staying in Marrakesh and have two days free to visit something different, I advise you to do the 2 days desert tour.
This tour starts very early, with the minibus picking us up from the hotel at 7 am. We start by seeing the greener landscape still near Marrakesh, but it gets arider along the way. We continue towards the Atlas Mountains. On the way, we pass the Tizi-N-Tichka mountain pass, a road that crosses the High Atlas at 2260 metres altitude and we will see several Berber villages. It is said that this pass is where the most beautiful views of the mountains are. We continue on to one of the impressive buildings you will see is the famous fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is famous for being the setting for several films and series, such as Game of Thrones and The Gladiator. It is located on the banks of a river and was founded in 757. It grew to the size it is today, with several small fortresses (the kasbah’s) built. Today, people live in a modern village across the river.
Following our route through the valley of the Draa River, the longest river in the country. The river rises in the Atlas Mountains and crosses the Sahara to the Atlantic Ocean. In its valley, which forms an oasis, many fruits are planted. Today, due to climate change, more than 600 kilometres of the river’s course seeps into the desert sands and continues underground to the ocean.
The day ended with the desert sunset. We left the minibus and walked for about an hour into the desert. Some on foot, others on a camel.
And when we arrived at the camp, the sky was completely dark, lit only by the light of the campfire in the centre. The camp consisted of several smaller tents and a big tent where we had dinner, with typical Moroccan food. It was really delicious. After dinner, we all sat around the campfire, with our Berber hosts in turbans playing and singing desert songs and best of all: the most starry sky we have ever seen!
UNIQUE EXPERIENCES IN Marrakesh
The peace you feel in that moment is indescribable. People of various nationalities met each other and a night very well spent. The next morning, still dark, they woke us up for breakfast at sunrise. In fact, I had woken up before with the sound emitted by the camels. The surrounding desert scenery brightening with daylight made this another of the most memorable parts of this trip! We left the desert heading to Ouarzazate. Ouarzazate province is famous for its beautiful specimens of kasbahs, and this is where the famous “Route of the 1,000 Kasbahs” is located. These buildings are fortified houses made of adobe, an architectural style with an ancient construction technique made with a mixture of clay and straw. In part, it was this style of architecture, one of the factors that made me fall in love with southern Morocco. Before returning to Marrakesh we stop at Atlas Film Studios, the largest film studio in the world.
Covering more than 322,000 square feet of the desert, Atlas Film is located just five miles outside of Ouarzazate and is a popular tourist destination, in part because the grounds are littered with old movie sets that are decaying in the harsh environment.
This tour lets you learn about Morocco’s history, enjoy unique landscapes, step into sets from the world’s most famous films and fall asleep watching the bright stars in the sky. A truly unforgettable experience!