Atta Desert Camp – A Dunes Spectacular – Trek the Nomad Way
Camel trekking in the south of Morocco to the majestic Erg Chegaga dunes can be enjoyed for most of the year. However, during the extreme hot months of summer ie end June/July/August, trekking in these desert areas should be avoided. Camel treks usually allow for 6-7 hrs walking per day with breaks for picnic lunch and perhaps refreshments in-between. The terrain on this tour varies from palmeries, soft sand amidst low dunes, shallow water courses with small scrubby bushes to harsh hammada – extensive flat stretches of small black rocks – and a mountain climb. A reasonable degree of fitness is expected, with strong hiking footwear and the ability to carry some of your own gear e.g. water, clothing. Apart from your camel guide, groups are usually accompanied by a pick-up truck to transport some of the camping equipment and food and will have an English speaking guide/driver.
Marrakech – Atta Desert Camp (Erg Chegaga) – Marrakech
Options: To meet in Marrakesh or Tagounite – (The Gate of the Desert). This itinerary is set out to begin in Marrakech with your arrival at the airport but can be customised to suit you.
Day 1: Marrakech / Casablanca
Arrival & transfer to riad/hotel.
Day 2: Marrakech – Tagounite
Transfer by vehicle from hotel/riad in Marrakech to the village of Tagounite in the lower Draa Valley. This is a stunning drive over the renowned Tizi-n-Tichka Pass of the High Atlas Mountains, the highest vehicle pass in North Africa, offering unforgettable vistas of valleys and mountain ranges where Berber families have lived and farmed for centuries. The road drops down to the drier south and follows the dramatic Draa Valley to Tagounite, passing through huge lush palmeries, mud brick villages and occasional Kasbahs, flanked by barren mountains. Overnight in mobile camp or guesthouse at Tagounite.
Day 3: Tagounite to end of palmery below mountain pass Beni-Selmane
After breakfast, load the camels and trek through villages to end of the palmery for first overnight camp. You will stop for lunch in the shade about half way. Village peoples in this area are of mixed races, coming from Berber, Jewish, Arab and Haratin (the dark skinned peoples from Africa) heritage as a result of a colourful history of travel and trading over traditional overland camel routes for generations.
Day 4: End of palmery in Draa Valley – Tizi-Beni-Selmane Pass – Erg Lehoudi Dunes.
After breakfast, trek towards the mountain range leaving the palmeries behind. The walk is across open ground to reach the mountains and you will cross near the Tizi-Beni-Selmane Pass, possibly stopping for lunch at the base of the mountain range. After lunch and crossing the Pass, trek across black flat hammada towards Erg Lehoudi Dunes and the mobile overnight camp. While the hammada is hard, stony and barren these small dunes are inviting, with soft golden sand, small acacia and tamarisk trees, with good camping.
Day 5: Erg Lehoudi Dunes – Oued Naam (Ostrich River)
This morning, if you are early enough, beat the sun up…watch it rise above the horizon and bathe the surrounding dunes in its soft early morning light. After breakfast continue the trek through gentle dunes circling small clumps of acacia and tamarisk trees, following trails and water courses. A refreshment break may be had in this tranquil place, then lunch further on. Continue walking another 3-4 hours until overnight camp is reached at Oued Naam
This area was until quite recently forbidden to the public, being under military control due to its closeness to the Algerian border. Once access was allowed, the famous international Paris-Dakar Motor Rally raced through on its way south until it was moved to South America.
Day 6: Oued Naam – Oued Laatash (Thirsty River)
After breakfast trek across hammada with refreshment break and then stop for lunch depending on progress and shade available. Camp overnight at Oued Laatsh.
Day 7: Oued Laatash – Kharet Lgarzim
The terrain today becomes softer as it weaves between small dunes, water courses and oases. It may be possible depending on the time of year, to see nomad families nearby with their herds of goats, sheep or camels. Picnic around the well with the big tamarisk trees – enjoy the shade. Continue through small dunes. Overnight camp will be close to the dunes in Kharet Lgarzim
Day 8: Kharet Lgarzim –Erg Chegaga- Atta Desert Camp
After breakfast enjoy the gentle landscape as you trek 10 kms towards the large dunes of Erg Chegaga and the Atta Desert Camp. The route crosses an old lake bed, and its feeder rivers and water courses after rains become green and lush. Begin to relax – and when you reach the Atta Desert Camp enjoy typical Berber hospitality with Moroccan tea and hot showers. Your stay here includes wonderful Berber meals, entertainment, European bedding in the nomad style tents with solar power.
Day 9: Erg Chegaga- Atta Desert Camp
After breakfast explore the desert around the camp with 4×4 vehicle … visit nomad school and sacred oasis; at the camp try sandboarding. If you are interested in astronomy and this is your last night in the desert, take advantage of the pollution-free night sky and marvel again at its intensity and immenseness. Relax with another gourmet Berber meal!
Day 10: Erg Chegaga-Atta Desert Camp – Marrakech
Wake up before the sun and climb our highest dune sheltering the Camp to catch that last magical memory of a quiet desert dawn. After breakfast, transfer back to Marrakech on a different route to that you on which you came south. Dinner and breakfast in your hotel/riad.
Day 11: Marrakech – Marrakech
After breakfast in your hotel/riad, explore the fascinating, exotic Marrakech with us on a city tour – half day or full day, with guide. Part of this will be a walking tour and part with vehicle depending on what you wish to see and for how long. We customise the day to suit your timeframe and interests. Dinner and breakfast in your hotel/riad.
Day 12: Marrakech – to departure point
We will transfer you to the airport for your flight home.
All our tours can be customised to your requirements, so if you wish to add a day here or there, or end your tour elsewhere, the itinerary can be easily adjusted.