Nature • Desert • Kasbah

Best time to visit

Fall and Spring


“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams.” writes Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in the Little Prince. The Sahara (literally the “desert” in Arabic) is the world’s largest desert, a relentless expanse of sun dividing Africa into two. The dramatic landscapes of the Ouarzazate region have starred in dozens of movies. If you have seen Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Gladiator (2000) or the TV series Game of Thrones, you are already well acquainted with this Southern Moroccan region. It’s feted by foreign directors for its stunning light and wide variety of landscapes.

Through the winding Tizi n’Tchika pass in the High Atlas Mountains, you will leave the Marrakech plains and reach the gateway to the desert, a land of sudden sandstorms, monumental Kasbahs and star-spangled nighttime sky. A great road trip starts at Ouarzazate following ancient caravan routes. Along the lush green Dades Valley, also called the “Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs”, you will meet nomadic Berber tribes bringing their flock of goats to graze near the river. Roses are to the Dades Valley what lavender is to Provence in France: it’s impossible not to buy at least one rose. If you’re lucky, you may be able to participate in the “Moussem”, a yearly festival celebrating the blossoming of roses.

A morning trek in the nearby Todra Gorges is a sublime experience. A 300m-deep fault splits the limestone into a dramatic ravine, where trekkers squeeze through in awe to watch the clear Todra River below. 

It takes time and patience to reach the wind-sculpted dunes of the Sahara. A fount of solitude and inner silence, the Sahara Desert resembles nowhere else on earth. Your Saharan experience begins at a gateway oasis where time has stopped. From Merzouga, a slow ceremonial march astride a camel re-enacts ancient caravans and allows you to be at one with your spectacular environment. Around a campfire in Erg Chegaga, one gaze at the clearest show of stars on earth, submerged by serenity. Far from human civilization, you are alone to contemplate the immensity of our grand universe.


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