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Deep Desert

For a more adventurous holiday in Morocco, the desert in the south east of Morocco is well worth the long journey. It is a highly scenic and atmospheric region with breathtaking sights such as gorges, stony desert, stunning earth architecture and peaceful palmeries, as well as the spectacular Saharan sand dunes.

 

Overview

The Region

The Moroccan Sahara offers far more than sand dunes. For visitors who find the time to travel to this area of great beauty and peace - we suggest a minimum of 5 days - the reward is an exciting mix of scenic gorges and valleys, dunes, beautiful oasis towns and a culture distinct from that in the north of Morocco. Many areas have a stunning backdrop of the Atlas Mountains, which you need to cross to access the desert from Marrakech, Taroudant and Fez.  

The Sahara, the largest arid desert in the world, starts in Morocco with a mixture of sand and rock.  It is a vast area, but one that is readily accessible from other parts of Morocco if a visitor has sufficient time to travel the vast distances involved.

Weather

The climate of this area varies a great deal due to its vast size and variations in altitude – much of it is mountainous - but a safe rule is that the deep desert is too hot for most visitors in June-September though cooler areas such as Skoura in the north are more comfortable. The climate becomes more extreme as you go inland and further south.

 

Location

The Deep Desert is a vast area that lies to the south east of the High Atlas mountains.

The area is one of the most remote in Morocco and is a significant journey from any of the normal access points:

  • Marrakech, the bustling centre of Morocco more than 5 hours to the north west;
  • Fez, the fascinating Imperial city more than 6 hours to the north; and
  • Taroudant, the medina town in the heart of the Moroccan south more than 5 hours to the west.

The main sand dunes are even further from these named places.

Places in the Region - Closer/ More Easily Accessible Parts:

  • Ait Benhaddou (a UNESCO World Heritage site) - a striking fortified settlement (ksar) under half an hour’s drive from Ouarzazate (off the Marrakech road). It houses some of the best conserved kasbahs in Morocco and has been the backdrop to many films including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator (the film studios nearby are well worth a visit).
  • Skoura - an oasis and peaceful palmery with many superb ruined kasbahs around 45 minutes' drive to the northeast of Ouarzazate, and a good base from which to visit the Dades Valley.
  • The Todra Gorge - east of the Dades Valley and Gorge and the “Valley of the Roses” and “Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs” - with stunning, varied and colourful landscapes with superb kasbahs.

Places in the Region - Further/Remoter Parts:

  • Merzouga - a village due east of Ouarzazate about 6 hours by road; it enjoys a fantastic setting on the edge of the impressive reddish gold Erg Chebbi, sand dunes which rise to heights of around 160 metres.
  • Zagora - the gateway to the desert about 3.5 hours' drive south of Ouarzazate along the dramatic Draa Valley; there are some lovely places to stay in the attractive palmery just to the south of the town. Nearby are small sand dunes at Tinfou and the larger dunes at M'Hamid are a further 80 minutes' drive.
  • M’Hamid - the end of the road and close to the Erg Lehoudi dunes on the edge of the Sahara, accessible by picturesque routes through the mountains from Marrakech (about 9 hrs) or Taroudant (7 hrs) and Ouarzazate (about 5 hrs).

Accommodation

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Etoile Filante d'Or

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Ouarzazate

Etoile Filante d'Or is a colourful auberge offering good food and reasonably priced rooms just 200m from the beautiful World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou. In addition to site seeing, a number of activities can be arranged here.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£45 per night, half board Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

2** Classic Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Auberge le Festival

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Todra Gorge

Auberge Le Festival is s charming, simple auberge that blends in with the mountains in a spectacular tranquil location beside the Todra Gorge, beyond where most tourists venture. It offers the option to sleep in amazing cave rooms, with solar generated hot water and electricity.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£75 per night, B&B Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

3*** Boutique Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Chez Le Pacha

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > M'Hamid

Chez Le Pacha is a magnificent, large traditional earth kasbah which combines traditional style with comfort and very good facilities, including a beautiful spring-fed swimming pool set in large shady grounds. Set on close to the Saharan dunes, it offers comfort to those wanting to experience the desert.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£75 per night, half board Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

3*** Boutique Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Junior Suite

Dar Daif

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Ouarzazate

Dar Daif is one of the best authentic guest houses in the area in a very peaceful hamlet setting. It is a superbly restored complex of buildings with a swimming pool, traditional hammam and gardens offering wonderful views.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£85 per night, half board Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

3*** Boutique Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Kasbah Azul

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Zagora

Kasbah Azul enjoys a peaceful location in Agdz - a beautiful palmery between Ouarzazate and Zagora on the edge of the magical Draa Valley. The property is a stylish yet rustic guest house set in large gardens with a swimming pool, ideally located for breaking a journey to the desert.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£125 per night, half board Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

3*** Boutique Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Kasbah Ellouze

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Ouarzazate

Kasbah Ellouze is very atmospheric building in a traditional kasbah hamlet - a backdrop for many films. Its terraces overlook gardens and orchards and it offers rides on their own camels. It enjoys a remote feel but is only 3 kms from the beautiful World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£70 per night, half board Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

3*** Boutique Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Kasbah Mohayut

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Merzouga

Kasbah Mohayut is a friendly, family run property with a pool and a great base from which to visit the Merzouga dunes, of which its roof terrace has fabulous views. It offers colourfully furnished traditional earth constructed rooms at the kasbah and high quality camps in the dunes - accessed on camel back.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£60 per night, half board Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

3*** Boutique Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Ksar Ighnda

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Ouarzazate

Ksar Ighnda is an exceptional intimate hotel with a luxury spa and pool set in beautiful gardens, Ksar Ighnda offers a choice of 5 room types (to suit a variety of budgets), all with beautiful colour schemes. Conveniently located a short drive from the World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou, it offers a level of luxury not often encountered in the desert.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£95 per night, B&B Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

3*** Boutique Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Les Jardin de Skoura

Les Jardins de Skoura

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Skoura

Les Jardins de Skoura is a restored millhouse in the lush Skoura oasis. It is tastefully decorated using traditional materials and has a pool in spacious gardens with olive trees. It has a good choice of rooms including family options and is a good place to stop en route to the desert or for local sites.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£70 per night, B&B Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

3*** Boutique Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Les Jardins du Draa

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Zagora

Les Jardins du Draa is a friendly little guest house that enjoys a peaceful location in the beautiful Amerzou palmery, just outside Zagora. It is noted for its excellent food and has a swimming pool, large terrace with panoramic views, beautiful gardens with Berber tents and an outdoor bar.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£85 per night, half board Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

3*** Boutique Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Riad Lamane

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Zagora

Riad Lamane is a delightful small hotel in the Amezrou palmery just outside Zagora. Tastefully designed and newly furbished in local materials, it is luxurious relative to many others in the area, with a good sized swimming pool set in lovely gardens and great views of the Draa oasis and the mountains from roof terrace.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£85 per night, half board Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

3*** Boutique Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Les Tourmalines

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Ouarzazate

Les Tourmalines is a modern, medium sized guest house, located in a stunning lakeside setting 20km east of Ouarzazate. It has a large swimming pool and gardens overlooking the lake. It is a comfortable base for exploring the Draa, Dades or Todra valleys and the sites of the Ouarzazate region.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£80 per night, B&B Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

4**** Chic Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

L'Ma Lodge

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Skoura

L'Ma Lodge in Skoura is set in one hectare of pretty spacious grounds in a tranquil palmery with superb views of the oasis and the mountains beyond.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£105 per night, half board Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

4**** Chic Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Sawadi

Sawadi

Rating

> Destinations > Deep Desert > Skoura

Sawadi is a kasbah-style hamlet in a tranquil palmery with superb views of the oasis and the mountains. Most rooms are bungalows built in traditional style, it is ideal for families with a mix of exotic trees, a large pool, farm animals and adventure playground, and it is respectful of environmental concerns.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£90 per night, half board Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

4**** Chic Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Attractions

Things to do or see

The region has a wide range of interesting settlements - the oasis towns of the desert were historically the arteries for much trade in Morocco, providing routes into the rest of central Africa - beautiful oases and stunning desert landscapes to explore, with a number of opportunities to see dunes, trek or ride camels.

Places in the Closer/ More Easily Accessible Parts:

  • Ouarzazate - the largest town of the desert and less than 5 hours from Marrakech. We recommend that you stay in the countryside or other towns nearby, such as near Skoura or Ait Benhaddou.
  • Ait Benhaddou - a striking fortified settlement (ksar, a UNESCO World Heritage site) under half an hour’s drive from Ouarzazate (off the Marrakech road). It houses some of the best conserved kasbahs in Morocco and has been the backdrop to many films including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator (the film studios nearby are well worth a visit).
  • Skoura - an oasis and peaceful palmery with many superb ruined kasbahs around 45 minutes' drive to the northeast of Ouarzazate, and a good base from which to visit the Dades Valley.
  • The Dades Valley and Gorge - starting east of Skoura, including the famous “Valley of the Roses” and “Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs”, with stunning, varied and colourful landscapes with superb kasbahs. The dramatic Todra Gorge lies further east.
  • Agdz - a small town with an attractive palmery, situated under 2 hours' drive south of Ouarzazate or may be reached by a lovely drive via a relatively low mountain pass 4 hours' drive east from Taroudant.

Places in the Further/Remoter Parts:

  • Merzouga (6 hours from Ouarzazate) enjoys a fantastic setting on the edge of the impressive reddish gold Erg Chebbi, sand dunes which rise to heights of around 160 metres.
  • Zagora - the gateway to the desert (3.5 hours from Ouarzazate) along the dramatic Draa Valley; there are some lovely places to stay in the attractive palmery, small sand dunes at Tinfou and larger dunes at M'Hamid (80 minutes' drive).
  • M’Hamid - the end of the road and close to the Erg Lehoudi dunes on the edge of the Sahara, (9 hours from Marrakech, 7 hours from Taroudant and 5 hours from Ouarzazate).

 

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