Mhamid Sahara Desert


M’Hamid is a small Sahara Desert village in the Zagora region of Morocco. M’hamid is one of the two places in Morocco where Sahara begins (another is Merzouga).M’Hamid is the real Sahara Desert and an the perfect place to have a Morocco Travel Sahara Trek and experience. M’Hamid is arguably more “authentic” part of the Sahara Desert. M’Hamid is just 7- 8 hours by car from Marrakesh and 5 hours from Ourzazate. The original name for M’hamid is Bounou, once a thriving village that evolved from a mix of local Ait Atta BerbersDrawa, and Hassani tribes. There is a kasbah located 2Km away from the road that is inhabited by black Africans who came from Mali many years ago. Other than this, the main attraction are the Erg Chegagadunes which are about 50Km from the town. The main attraction of M’Hamid istrips to desert, overnight or several day tours: by camel, 4×4, motor bike or a quad bike.
 
ITINERARY
DAY 1: OUARZAZATE –  DRAA VALLEY – ZAGORA
►Arrive in Ouarzazate.
After a breakfast of Fresh bread, jams, coffee and orange juice depart on a desert journey to M’Hamid.
Beyond the village of Aït Saoun catch a glimpse of the Draâ ksours and kasbahs, the desert plateau of Jbel Tifernine and steep canyons. Your journey through Draâ Valley continues as you cross the desert plateau of Jbel Tifernine.
Bird watchers can choose to stop at El Mansour Eddahbi barrage where at certain times of the year the reservoir attracts migrants, ruddy shell duck, mourning wheather, trumpeter finch, blackbellied sandgrouse, thick-billed lark, and raptors like lanner falcon. Moving along, enjoy the views of kasbahs, valleys and cliffs. Upon seeing Ochre pise koubas lining the valley, cemeteries filled with flat stone and a sign post stating “Cirque Touristique de Binzouli”, this is the sign that you are nearing Zagora. The landmark sign Timbuktu that reads “52 jours” – 52 hours by camelsignals you have reached the midpoint on your passage to M’Hamid, Zagora.
 

►For lunch, enjoy couscous, tajine and salad as you relax in a lovely century old kasbah hotel surrounded by a garden overlooking the palmary. For dessert try sweet boufeggous, small black bousthami or light olive colored bouzekri. These varieties of dates are famous in the Zagora region.
►After lunch, explore the Amazrou village. Walk through the desert gardens that lead to the old Jewish kasbah, La Kasbah des Juifs. Visit workshops of the local Muslim Berbers who have continued the Jewish tradition of silver jewelry making, after the exodus of the Jews.
►Before hopping back in the air conditioned/heated 4×4 to make the last ninety-eight kilometers to M’Hamid, stop in Djbel Zagora to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding valleys.
As you cross the Oued Drâa, there is a picturesque stretch of palmary which leads to the Dunes of Tinfou. Stop at this tiny hamlet and ask your guide to bury you from head to toe in these dunes that are said to cure rheumatisms and have healing properties.
Before reaching M’Hamid you will cross the village of Tamergroute known for it’s a potter’s cooperative (making forest green, glazed pottery) ksars and kasbahs as well as the prestigious Zaouia Nacri. The Zaouia Nacri is a 17th century Islamicacademic center was built by Mohammed Bou Nasri and made Tamergroute the most important settlement in the Draâ Valley. Visit the Zaouia’s library where you can see illuminated Korans, animal hides, 12th century works on mathematics, medicine and history. After your departure, in just under a few hours, you will arrive in M’Hamid.Spend the evening becoming familiar with M’Hamid’s small administrative center, and then prepare for an overnight adventure in a Berber tent under a sea of stars in theSahara desert.   
 
DAY 2:  M’HAMID  
►Enjoy a hearty Moroccan breakfast and prepare for a day of camel trekking through the Erg Chegaga dunes.
►At forty-five kilometers out of M’Hamid, the three hundred meter dunes stretch to the horizon and can only be reached by 4×4. M’hamid is the last oasis in the Draâ’ Valley. It was one of the staging points for trade caravans in the Sahara and also has ruins that are believed to be a historical site left of the first Jewish city in Morocco, Tidri.
►Since the Erg Chegaga territory is vast, trekking by camel alone can take up to a week. We will mix up the journey by riding in the comfort of a Travel Exploration air-conditioned/heated 4×4 Land cruiser and also using camels. The 4×4 features a four-wheel multi-terrain anti-lock braking system, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, active traction control and vehicle stability control that guarantees safety as you drive over the sand dunes.
►After an eventful day of camel riding across Erg Chegaga, enjoy lunch at a local auberge of tajine, bread, salad and fresh fruit for dessert.
►Spend the late afternoon exploring the area and then have dinner at a local auberge or with a Berber family. Sleep in M’Hamid.
DAY 3:  M’HAMID  
►Wake up early and watch he sunrise over the Erg Chegaga dunes, then have breakfast. Continue your day by camel and trek to the Ikiri oasis, near Erg Chegaga.
►After lunch by the oasis, return to M’Hamid and browse the small crafts shops and nearby market. Spend the evening at your leisure.
 
DAY 4:  M’HAMID – OUARZAZATE 
►After breakfast, we begin our journey back to Ouarzazate, passing the Nesrate Dunes at the foot of Jbel Tadrart. We will also Tagounit, a village that is on the route of the famous Marathon de SablesMarathon de Sables, established in 1986, is a six-day race covering 229km and is known to be the “toughest foot race in the world”.
►Arrive in Ouarzazate in the evening, dinner at a local restaurant. Option for evening or next day departure

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