4×4 Sahara Desert
We are a little biased towards what we consider to be the authentic Saharan experience, given our connections to the desert and our background (read more in the section About Us).
As a result, most of our itineraries encompass tours via the Erg Chigaga dunes, which are approx. 60km west, off-road, of the village of M’hamid El Ghezlane (see map below). Erg Chigaga sits alongside the course of the Draa River, at this point underground, and which we follow at stages throughout our trip. The dunes, or dune sea (“erg”), reach 300m in height and span approx. 40km. We can also include one night at the dunes of Erg Chebbi on a 7 day program. The dunes here are smaller than Erg Chigaga and are more accessible from the nearest road, but this will allow you to cover a great tract of the south-east of Morocco as the two ergs are more than a full day’s drive apart.
It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that travelling into the desert is like crossing a frontier into another land. There’s a real sense of excitement as you see the first traces of sand covering the road in front of you, once you get closer to leaving the tarmac behind and to heading off-road along rough tracks & pistes towards the virtual unknown. The journey south to the desert is a wonderful adventure in its own right as much as being in the heart of the dunes is. Some of our programs may entail up to 9hrs of driving in a day through spectacular scenery. Our routes cross the Atlas and Anti-Atlas mountain ranges via winding roads to dramatic passes, follow the Draa River valley and date palm oases, traverse barren hamada (stone plateaus) or follow corridors of rock walls. Some of the most impressive views en route can be appreciated from the passes across the ridges of the Jebel Bani, a great mass of the Anti-Atlas range cutting east/west via Foum-Zguid towards Tata.
Highlights of the desert
The terrain of the Sahara is shaped by wind (the wind can be fierce occasionally!), sometimes rain, and includes not only sand dunes, but also hamada, dry valleys & lakes and salt flats. You may also be surprised at seeing so much vegetation in the desert, including Tamarisk and Acacia trees and palms – April and October are green times of year here.
Once we come off-road our driving time each morning/afternoon will be no more than 2hrs at a time and we will be mostly following the rough outline of a piste for vehicles, necessary to respect the delicate environment around us and to make your ride as comfortable as possible. That’s not to say that we can expect to meet a lot of traffic in the desert! This is still wild territory and the driving thrilling – after all the former Paris-Dakar route passed close by.
However, we will likely stop to meet nomadic families that still live in the region and come across other evidence of human existence here; including the abandoned settlement and agricultural land of Erg Smar close to the Draa River bed (where once approx. 35 families lived), a nomads’ cemetery, nomads’ former souk, a marabout (shrine of a holy man), deep wells, and grazing land for animals still used today.
Our vehicle will carry all of our equipment, food & water and we will be able to stop for lunch, or even camp, where we choose. For the most part we will camp in a fixed camp near Erg Chigaga or use wild camps near Erg Smar or in the shelter of dunes en route.
We also offer you the option to spend a day trekking with camel support (approx. 5hrs trek) to reach an overnight camp should you wish to take a break from the car on one of your days.
- Our indicative programs run for 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 days (maximum of 3 nights camping in desert)
- Special remote route 5 days (2 nights wild camping in desert)
- Please allow 1 day for travel to reach the desert from the start point and 1 day to return back
- Our start/finish points are usually either Marrakech or Ouarzazate – please specify alternative at time of booking
- All tours are full board basis
- Optional trek with camel support on 4, 6, or 7 day programs – please specify request at time of booking
- Tours run from October to April