Journey South: Sampling of Desert, Plains, Buttes, and River Valley

Trip Highlights

. "red city " of Marrakech, gateway to the South: High Atlas, kasbah country, the Sahara

. Telouet, off the Tizi n' Tichka pass, old kasbah complex of Glaoui, last of the Atlas chiefs, renown for its Andalusian-style plaster-work, mosaics, painted ceilings, and carved door

. sacred village in the desert, and oasis watering hole which attracts nomads and animal herd

. land of fossils, undulating dunes, hammada of the plains, orchards washed by roaring river cutting through red cliffs

. medieval stone village set in dramatic buttes; tea with Berbers in exquisite Valley of the Roses, black African village at the edge of the desert

Trip Details

10-day trip, begins in Marrakech and ends in Ouarazazate

. 5 nights in maison d'hotes/auberges; 3 nights in the field

. all meals included

. easy to moderate with beginning to advanced yoga : average 3-4 hours hiking a day on flat terrain


Days 1-3 Transfer in Casablanca to Marrakech where we explore important historic places in the medina, caravansary, the labyrinthine souks, dine privately in our riad, visit fantastic Jemaa El Fnaa, the largest public square in North Africa, to watch dancers, musicians, acrobats, and snake charmers entertain the world.

Days 4-7 Stop at Telouet, renown for its Andalusian-style plaster-work, mosaics, painted ceilings, and carved doors, off Tizi n' Tichka, southeast passage crossing the Atlas, heading to the Sahara; camp in a palm oasis. We spend 3 days in the desert hunting for fossils, climbing the vast sea of sand dunes in the early am to examine tracks of nocturnal animals; visit a holy village, and pause for tea; picnic at an palm-shaded oasis to watch the passage of nomads and animals at a nearby well. Our evenings in camp our special: we might have an impromptu concert given by a wandering musician, sip our mint tea contemplating the star-filled heavens, and go to sleep in pristine silence. Trek through stark Jbel Bani, a range of plateaus rich in minerals and fossils, continuing east in our Land Rover to Tinfou/LaLa Kabare, an isolated village whose ancestors were runaway slaves and where African influences run strong. For a respite, we overnight at a hotel edging the desert that enjoys all modern comforts. Heading towards the magnificent wilderness of Sarhro, we sojourn with a Berber family in a setting reminiscent of our Southwest.

Days 8-9 Journey around Sarhro, the Land of Liquid Rock where time seems frozen in a primordial age, awesome rock shapes punctuate the vast plains and dramatic buttes. Stop at a medieval-like stone village to meet some of its inhabitants carry on everyday life. Continue into this remote region, making our way to Bab n'Ali, a wondrous rock formation seen miles around. Stay at a family-run auberge, a contemporary kasbah decorated in Moroccan style where the food and hospitality warm the soul. If you wish, relax in an hammam (steam bath) before dinner. Our last day we spend in the exquisite Valley of the Roses, known for its red cliffs, rich valley agriculture (grows roses for perfume), and gentle Berbers. We will visit an authentic castle and the family who proudly inhabits it. Night at a new inn, replica of an old Kasbah.

Day 10 Ouarzazate/Casablanca/US

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