Moroccan Berber Special – Hidden Desert Jewels – An Authentic Camel Trek
This trek is for those of reasonable fitness as the time each day for walking is 6-7 hours. Tours run most of the year, however in the summer months from end of June/July/August these tours do not operate due to extreme heat. The terrain is generally small rolling dunes although the going can vary from soft sand to clay and stone. A guide can be arranged who will speak your language and may be additional to the camel guide. A vehicle to assist in transporting camping gear and food can also be included in the price if required.
Options to get to the Camp are:
- We transfer you from Marrakech to the Camp. This is a distance of approximately 500kms so needs a full day for the drive. The route is over the dramatic High Atlas Mountains, then along the beautiful Draa Valley to Tagounite and on to the Camp. The last 55 kms require a 4×4 as it is over desert terrain.
- Drive yourself to Tagounite, just north of M’hamid where we meet you and garage your vehicle in a secure facility; alternatively if you are a competent off road driver and can navigate with GPS it is possible to find the camp yourself. But we suggest the first option is the safer one here.
- You take public transport to Tagounite and we meet you for transfer to the camp.
- Fly to Zagora where we meet you for transfer to the Atta Desert Camp. There are regular flights from Casablanca or Marrakech.
- By helicopter from Marrakech to the Camp – flight approx. 1hr 40mins.
Day 1: Tagounite – Atta Desert Camp
Transfer by 4×4 across protected wilderness areas to reach Erg Chegaga where the Atta Desert Camp is nestled. These dunes (the word “Erg” meaning dunes) reach heights of 300m and are undoubtedly the most awesome of the Moroccan desert landscapes to be easily accessed. Relax and enjoy comforts of the camp, perhaps try sandboarding or climb the dunes to take in the setting sun before a wonderful Berber dinner followed by traditional desert entertainment. Relax with a hot shower and comfortable bed before embarking on the next few days of remote and unforgettable trekking.
Day 2: Atta Desert Camp – Erg Sedra
Your camels will arrive at the camp after breakfast to begin your approximately 10km first days trek through the gentle undulating small dunes and dry river beds that surround Chegaga. The majesty of these great dunes will be evident once you leave their embrace and venture out across the plains. Your camel guide knows these areas intimately and though it may appear a bewildering, even lost, wilderness to the visitor, to the peoples here it is home and they know every oasis, water course, small dune and tree.
The area near to Atta Desert Camp is known to flood in times of heavier rain due to being an old lake bed with its feeder rivers, and therefore low-lying. If recent rains have fallen, the landscape will change dramatically from gold to green with desert plants bursting into life providing welcome relief for the nomads and their flocks of goats, sheep and camels. You will stop for a picnic lunch around a well with big tamarisk trees – enjoy the shade and perhaps other refreshments. The first mobile overnight camp will be at Erg Sedra.
Day 3: Erg Sedra – Erg Zahhar
Wake to the silence of a desert dawn, as the sun spreads its soft early light across the landscape. After breakfast, trek towards the Draa River bed (usually dry), marked by its stony bed and banks lined with large tamarisk trees, then cross to continue towards the next overnight camp site. Perhaps stop for lunch in the shade these trees provide – enjoy a refreshing Moroccan mint tea! We continue towards the memorable larger dunes of Erg Zahhar, these peaceful remote areas seldom accessed by anyone other than those on camels. Continue the trek for another 3 hours. Enjoy a freshly prepared dinner, then sleep again in your tent or under the immense canopy of the desert night sky.
Day 4: Erg Zahhar – Erg Smer
Today the trek re-crosses the Draa River heading towards the small dunes of Erg Smer. The terrain changes little, the route crossing the river, small dunes and clay pans with low scrub, tamarisk & acacia trees. Explore for a while old Ksour, ruins of ancient fortified villages strategically placed to long ago provide protection and security for their inhabitants. These once imposing fortified villages with highly decorated towers and walls were built using materials available at the time – largely mud, stone and straw – so once abandoned and no longer maintained, they soon began to crumble. The Ksour will take you back to the simple lives of hardy people. Camp for the night in the protection of Erg Smer.
Day 5: Erg Smer – Erg Chantouf
The sounds of silence and early morning light will once again wake you. After your camp breakfast, load the camels and continue towards your next camp at Erg Chantouf. The terrain is still quite flat, with soft sand and small trees. We cross this vast landscape, pacing ourselves to that of our camels as thousands of desert travellers have done before who traversed these ancient tracks. We trek for about 3 hours, then rest for lunch. Take time to explore around you, look for unusual desert creatures who call this majestic landscape home for it is far from empty, then continue for about another 3 hours walking to make the overnight camp.
Day 6: Erg Chantouf – Aawina El Kahla
From your overnight camp set out towards a small oasis and ever bubbling spring known as Aiwanina Kahla. The terrain is generally quite flat with small dunes. The spring provides fresh sweet water all year to those passing who know it is here and to nomads in the area. It derives its name from the black stones and dark sands in close proximity to the bubbling waters which are crystal clear. Camp overnight near the spring.
Day 7: Aawina El Kahla – Atta Desert Camp
Your last day on this memorable trek will be to close the final link in the unique chain of oases and arrive back at your starting point – you will have walked a full circle, seen a wonderful ancient landscape, and as you travel back to Erg Chegaga and the Camp with its modern day comforts you will appreciate the timeless serenity of these majestic dunes, and perhaps have an understanding of the Berber peoples who live within its fragile environment and of the environment itself. We hope you will feel privileged to have experienced such a special place.
Once back at the Camp say farewell to your guide/s and camels and relax again in the relative luxury of clean beds, hot showers and restaurant meals – or eat under the stars if you wish!
This is eco-tourism at its best… we aim to take only pictures, leave only footprints, and kill only time. We hope you join us.
Day 8: Atta Desert Camp – Transfer
We transfer you back to your pick up point.
As with all our tours this can be customised to suit your requirements and timeframes…. just let us know.