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Dades Valley

The stunning, colourful valley of the Dades, dividing the High Atlas from the Djebel Sarhro range, begins at the lush oasis town of Skoura. The whole valley is lined with kasbahs lending it the name “the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs". The first section is known as the “Valley of the Roses” due to its fame for rose growing, the petals from which are harvested to make an essential oil of renowned high quality.

Overview

To reach the extremely scenic upper reach of the valley, including the spectacular Dades Gorge, you branch north off the main road, arriving at mouth of the gorge after 25 km with the option of continuing a further 35 km and eventually snaking up to the High Atlas. The diversion, even to the part before the gorge, is well worth the effort for the stupendous crumbling kasbahs and unusual rock formations and fossils.

Continuing along the main road to the east, you may wish to take a diversion into the “Vallee des Ouiseaux”, well known to birdwatchers for vultures, owls and bustards. After another 15 km along the main road is the best known canyon in Morocco, the Todra Gorge.

The Djebel Zagora (the mountain opposite the town) and the Draa valley palmery are worth exploring on foot or mountain bike.

Climate

The general rule is that the deep desert is too hot for most visitors in June-September.

Location

The valley of the Dades begins 1 hour (40km) east of Ouarzazate at Skoura.

The Skoura oasis is set not far south of the High Atlas Mountains about 5 hours’ drive from Marrakech or Taroudant.

Travelling on from Skoura into the desert regions, it is around 45 minutes' drive from Ouarzazate and about 6 hours' drive to the Saharan dunes at Merzouga, or around 5 hours' drive from the dunes near M’Hamid.

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