Merzouga is a desert in Morocco.
The Merzouga desert has played a significant role in Moroccan tourism and economy in recent years. It became a must-see and most-visited attraction in Morocco because of its stunning golden sand dunes. Although it is located in the extreme southeast of Morocco and is just about 50 kilometers from Algeria, it is not an isolated location. Tourists go for days to spend the night in tents with Berbers. Some people drive themselves to the desert across considerable distances. Others arrange trips to see a variety of other locations along the route to the desert. Above all, the Merzouga desert and the activities it provides are often regarded as the highlight of all Morocco excursions.
Merzouga was named after a Merzoug family that used to dwell in the region. Tourists are the primary and most important source of revenue for the area. However, there are certain locations where agriculture is the primary source of income.
Merzouga’s desert, known as Erg Chebbi, stretches for 30 kilometers from Tighmert to Khamlia. However, if you go far enough towards Rmlia and Jdaid, you will come across several additional deserts. The most well-known is the Znigui desert, which attracts roughly 10% of Merzouga visitors.
The camel rides and glamping amid the dunes are what make the Merzouga desert renowned. Aside from the stunning sunsets and sunrises.
Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou
We will visit the medieval stronghold of Ait Benhaddou during our 5-day desert journey from Marrakech to Fes. It is located along the High Atlas Mountains, right on the point, about 30 kilometers from the city of Ouarzazate. This walled town was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1987.
Ait Benhaddou is a true living masterpiece that exemplifies magnificent Moroccan architecture. What makes it even more interesting is that it was built by Berbers yet has an Arabic influence. It is home to massive towers and walls that were primarily built to serve as defensive castles. Its towers boast one-of-a-kind ornamentation made entirely of Moroccan clay art.
It is said to have been erected in the 11th century by Thami el Glaoui, a member of one of Morocco’s wealthiest families. Despite the fact that its occupants have left and emigrated to other areas, it has remained standing for generations. Only approximately 40 families reside there now, although not in the main village; the majority of them live on the other side of the river. Their major source of revenue comes from tourists that visit the region, since the location attracts a large number of visitors, with more than 130 thousand people visiting each year.
This is more than simply a tourist attraction; it is also a destination for filmmakers and directors. Take, for example, Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia, among many others. Without a doubt, the generosity of the residents of this hamlet and Moroccans, in general, is what draws more tourists from within and outside of Morocco.
The entrance to the Sahara desert is a must-see. The 5 days desert journey from Marrakech to Fes will take you via the beautiful city of Ouarzazate. It is one of the most significant places in Morocco since it has an international airport, which makes it convenient for most tourists who enjoy desert vacations. Ouarzazate may be the most important city in terms of solar energy because it boasts the world’s largest station. This latter is only available to the public while shooting movies and television shows, for which this city is highly renowned.
It is almost halfway to the Sahara desert of Merzouga. As a consequence, it is one of the key attractions that most travelers do not miss. Its name, which is originally Berber, means “city or location without noise.” It does not make much noise, yet it is well-known across the world.
The Atlas Studios are the most popular among tourists. You will notice that there are two Atlas Studios when you visit this city. On the one hand, there is the Oscar Studio, which is the most frequented. It is roughly 5 kilometers from the city center and is located in the city’s northwest corner. This is a location that provides breathtaking vistas of magnificent designs that will transport you back in time. On the other side, the CLA Atlas Studio is a little further away than the Oscar studios. In fact, while being the city’s oldest studio, it is less frequented by tourists.
Above all, Ouarzazate is not only a popular tourist destination, but it is also a popular location for filming movies and television shows. There is, for example, the fifth season of Prison Break.
The desert excursion
On the third day of our 5 days desert tour from Marrakech to Fes itinerary, you will see a variety of locations. The desert trip shows you how Moroccan Berbers live in the desert and gives you the opportunity to live and experience it.
First and foremost, during the excursion, we normally travel to see the Berber Nomads. These individuals are still living in tents and leading a basic existence. In recent years, the majority of the people who live in Merzouga and neighboring communities in the vicinity were nomads. In other words, all Merzouga residents were nomads at first, living in tents before constructing a home and settling down. These nomads who we will meet make their living by raising their herds and selling them in the old souks of Rissani and Erfoud. Clearly, what makes these people worthwhile to visit is that they have preserved the basic and original way of life of desert people and Berber Nomads, who are famed for their kindness and generosity.
Second, the desert journey gives you the opportunity to meet the Gnawa people. As previously stated, these people came from a variety of nations, including Niger, Gabon, and Mali. However, the people who reside in Khamlia, around 4 kilometers from Merzouga town, have become Berbers and speak Tamazight. They adapted to Berber society and became an integral part of Merzouga. As they grew in popularity, they constructed a home and named it Dar Gnaoua, where they gathered to perform music and put on events. Many visitors and Moroccans from the surrounding region visit to see this distinct culture.
In addition, when you join this tour, you will visit the Moroccan National Auto Museum.
Valleys You will see several different lovely valleys throughout the majority of the highways that we drive over on this 5 days desert trip from Marrakech to Fes itinerary. The scenic and attractive vistas are what they all have in common. Because some of them are more significant and significant than others, we will discuss them in order of importance.
The first is the Draa or Dra valley, which is located in the High Atlas mountains to the southeast. It is Morocco’s longest river and valley, stretching for over 1,100 kilometers. It undoubtedly has large plantations of palm and olive trees. Agdz and Ouarzazate are the main cities that profit from this valley and its commodities. However, along this river are several Berber settlements that rely on this latter as their sole source of revenue.
Second, there is the Ziz valley, which is the country’s largest source of dates. It is situated halfway between Erfoud and Errachidia. Every year, the city of Erfoud has a festival to commemorate the valley and its dates.
The majority of the other major valleys are located between Marrakech and the Merzouga desert. First, there is the Ounila valley, which runs in front of the Ait Benhaddou stronghold. This area is known as the Oued El Maleh, which translates to the “salty river.” It got its name from the fact that it used to be a site where salt was sold. Second, there is the Rose Valley, which is well-known for its cosmetic items. Finally, there are several tiny valleys in Boumalne, such as Dades.
Rissani and Erfoud
There are several cities in Morocco, particularly in the southeast, that have played significant roles in the country’s history. Clearly, the cities of Rissani and Erfoud are among the most prominent desert cities in the country, as seen on the 5-day desert journey from Marrakech to Fes.
First and foremost, there lies Rissani, the capital of the Tafilalt area. Tafilalt is a Berber word that means “jug.” It is also known as Sijilmassa, and it was a major halt for caravans traveling from Niger to the north of Morocco. As a result, it became well-known and enjoyed centuries of wealth. In fact, the present royal family and the Alaouiet dynasty had its beginnings in this city.
Tafilalt is one of Morocco’s largest Oases since it boasts one of the largest forests of palm palms. Furthermore, Rissani is home to the largest traditional Souk in the Southeast, if not the entire country. People there employ conventional methods of transferring and transporting products in order to sell them. Donkeys and horses are still the primary modes of transportation for people and merchants. Rissani generates a significant amount of dates for Morocco and contributes to the development of the desert area.
Every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, people assemble in this traditional spunk since these are the only days when the souks are larger and more items are shown to the public. The majority of the purchases are from Rissani or Erfoud, indicating that this city is busy.
On the other hand, there is the lovely city of Erfoud, which is around 50 kilometers from the Merzouga desert. It is the primary source of fossils in the Southeast, with tiny workshops producing various types of fossils all year. In addition, Erfoud has a yearly festival to commemorate and display many types of dates. This event is not only for displaying Moroccan dates since people from all around the world participate.
Ifrane and Cedar forest
We will stop at the cedar forest and Ifrane on the 5 days desert tour from Marrakech to Fes.
First and foremost, there is Ifrane, also known as the “Little Moroccan Switzerland” by many. It is located in the Middle Atlas Mountains, which have one of the greatest temperatures and weather in the world. In Berber, the name Ifrane means “cave.” It is known as the “Switzerland of Morocco” because it is the cleanest city in Africa and the sixth cleanest in the world.
Obviously, the fact that it is a popular skiing destination contributes to its popularity. Every winter, it attracts a large number of tourists from inside and beyond the nation. Furthermore, Al Akhawayn University, one of Morocco’s top, is located in Ifrane. This latter is a popular tourist site not just for Moroccans but also for individuals from other countries. It is also home to the Atlas lion monument, which is the main attraction for tourists visiting this city. According to the myth, the latter was erected by a German prisoner in exchange for his release.
Another place you’ll travel by on your trip to Fes is the Cedar Forest. It is also known as Gouraud Forest and is located near the city of Azrou. This was previously home to a variety of species that are now extinct. The only item that people go to see nowadays is the Barbary macaque.