MOROCCO, WESTERN SAHARA PROVENCES, RIO DE ORO 12 days: Marrakech – Dakhla
MOROCCO, WESTERN SAHARA PROVENCES, RIO DE ORO 12 days: Marrakech – Dakhla
Discovery International group
from 4 to 16 participants
PRICES per person: - GROUP OF 7 OR MORE GUESTS: 3236 € - Group of 5 or 6 participants: 4106 € - Single room supplement: 366 €
GUIDE: English, French, Italian speaking
Deposit at the booking:
The deposit is intended as 30% of the total. For more information, you can view our information.
MOROCCO, WESTERN SAHARA PROVENCES, RIO DE ORO This itinerary is part of Sahara & West Africa Grand Expedition from Marrakech to Dakar and Cotonou. A great expedition crossing part of the Sahara from north to south. Starting in Marrakech and ending in the Rio de Oro region.
A great expedition crossing part of the Sahara from north to south. Starting in Marrakech and ending in the Rio de Oro region. The itinerary is the outcome of many years of field research and cross the former Western Sahara, now Moroccan Sahara Provinces that was closed to travels for decades due to a long “sands war” between Polisario Front and Moroccan army. We are proud to be the firsts to operate expeditions in this unknown region.
TRANSPORTS: experience a “peaceful raid” from north to south through a continuous changing landscape.
– On virgin sands, tracks and roads will be in airconditioned 4WD vehicles.
– On water, sail on fishing boats in a large emerald sea loch between the dunes.
TIME TRAVEL: FROM PREHISTORY TO RECENT TIME. Marrakech, traditional “caravans terminal” is the right starting point for our “modern caravan”. Fossils thousand years old, prehistorical Roc Art, historical sites as Dakhla the former headquarters of Spanish Rio de Oro colony are part of a travel experience in space and time.
TRIBAL CULTURES. Western Sahara sands are home to the Moorish camel herders and the best place to encounter the legendary Reguibat nomads. Fishermen lives on the edge, between the desert and the ocean.
NATURE. Experience travelling along the “uncertain border” between land and water, dunes and Ocean. Following a “flyway” in the time of bird migration, will be a constant and discreet refrain along the whole itinerary, in the time when millions of birds leave Europe and Russia heading to winter in Africa. Traveling North to South, or vice versa, is a continuous change of latitude, a continuous change of climate, flora and fauna: from the green side of the Atlas Mountains to the rare or absent or vegetation of the Sahara to the green miracle of the oasis. Some unexpected micro-climates are created by the moist winds from the ocean on the dry desert environment: a multitude of “spontaneous gardens” with flowers, succulents and lichens formations.
COMFORT is a must to fully enjoy a travel experience out of the beaten tracks.
Transports: modern air-conditioned 4×4 vehicles will be the main transport.
Overnights: always in comfortable hotels. Four stars (****) in Marrakech, Dakhla. The rest of the hotels are recent with air-conditioned self-contain rooms. In the remotes areas of the Western Sahara, we will enjoy two nights in our mobile camp, with modern tents, installed over rush mattings, equipped with mosquito nets, portable beds, and chairs. A comfortable restaurant-tent will be set for dinner. A tent will be dedicated to “facilities” and a logistic 4WD vehicle will be added to transport the equipment.
The different accommodations have been carefully chosen prioritizing comfort, food quality, typical architectural style, friendly service, and scenic locations. An enjoyable camp e under the stars of the desert is a must of the “Saharan experience”.
SAFETY is our main concern. The itinerary is based on a long experience in the area and is led by the experts. The expedition is safe and constantly monitored from our local connections with direct information from the field.
CLIMATE. Autumn and spring are the best seasons in the Sahara; climate is mild and pleasant; nights are cool but not cold and days are warm but not hot.
Day 1: MARRAKECH Morocco Individual arrival.
Meeting at 8 PM and overnight at Novotel (four stars ****) international standard, in the heart of Marrakech.
Day 2: HIGH ATLAS Morocco We will leave the main road to discover the least frequented Berber villages in the High Atlas Range and join the gems diggers in quest of Amethyst, Tourmaline…. With their help we will be able to find our own gems… Our itinerary cross Tizi-n- Tichka pass at 7460 ft. In the southern side of the Atlas we will stop at Ait Benhaddou a beautiful adobe Ksar (fortified village) still partially inhabited and one of the great examples of Adobe Architecture in Morocco. Ait Benhaddou is along the ancient caravan route linking Marrakech with the Sahara. Over the years, in this Ksar have been shot many famous movies, such as Lawrence of Arabia, Sodom and Gomorrah, Oedipus Rex, The Sheltering Sky, The Jewels of the Nile, Jesus of Nazareth, Alexander, Gladiator, and more…
Arrival in Ouarzazate, large oasis at the edge of the desert. Dinner and overnight in an international hotel, Wi-Fi.
Day 3: ROCK ART OF OUADI DRAA Morocco Our way will follow the first part of the Ouadi (river) Draa. This important river with is floods has created on his side a miles large strip of vegetation with a continuous of palm grove hiding vegetables gardens that goes south following the river for hundreds of miles in the desert, a long unique oasis with two millions and two hundred thousand dates Palm trees.
Visit of a site with hundreds of graffiti depicting hunters, warriors, hors raiders and wildlife; silent witness of peoples living in these regions thousands of years ago, before the desertification.
Lunch in a restaurant at the charming oasis of Zagora, our itinerary will continue along the Draa valley to Mhamid. South east of Mhamid the water of the river will vanish in the desert.
Dinner and overnight at the comfortable hotel Pacha in the oasis, air-conditioned Self-contain rooms, Wi-Fi. Or similar. Mhamid is the last permanent outpost before the total desert.
Day 4: DUNES AND FOSSILES Morocco From Mhamid, the Sahara adventure starts; our 4×4 driving out of any tracks will cross a region of high dunes the Erg Chegaga that we will be able to cross in the middle.
After we reach Iriki dry Salt Lake and a site where each of us will be able to find his own fossils.
Dinner and overnight at Bab Rimal the best hotel in the region.
Air-conditioned self-contain bungalows, swimming pool, Wi-Fi. Or similar.
Day 5: THE OASIS TRAILMorocco On the road again, to cross a region of spectacular scenery, rocks, mountains and large oasis.
We will live the road to discover how, for centuries, the water is shared between the different gardens in the palm grove. An ancient water hourglass still mark the time of irrigation for each garden.
Walk in the oasis to discover this green miracle surrounded by an arid environment.
Lunch in a local restaurant, evening arrival at the best hotel in the region. Borji Biramane, air-conditioned self-contain bungalow, swimming pool, Wi-Fi
Day 6: CARAVAN TERMINALS & STONE ARCHITECTTURE Morocco In the rarely visited region of Assa we will have discovered an ancient Arabo-Berber stone architecture. The same stone architecture is found thousand miles south, on the other side of the Sahara in the Mauritanian oasis of Chinguetti and Ouadane, that were linked with Assa by a caravan route.
Also, the small town of Guelmim, is an ancient caravan terminal. Here we will search for the remains of the Trans-Sahara trade…
From this point onward, the itinerary will follow the “fling route” of the paleo-artic birds that migrate from north Europe and Russia to winter in Africa every year during this season. The migratory birds travelling as us from north to south will be a discrete refrain until the end of our itinerary.
A spectacular ghost military fort still “guards” the former borders between the French protectorate of Morocco and the Spanish Sahara, the scouting of the fort will make us feel like being on the set of an old French Foreign Legion movie. Evening arrival at the charming and comfortable Ksar Tafnidilt hotel, built using local material in a beautiful Saharan architecture. The hotel is managed by our friends, Guy and Magali, a French couple. Magali is a desert expert; she won the “Rally des Gazelle,” the most challenging off-road competition reserved to female teams. Ksar Tafnidilt is a meeting point for passionate Sahara travellers, that exchange here the last news on tracks condition, border formalities and more. The hotel will be our base for two nights. Self-contain air-conditioned rooms.
Day 7: ESTUARIES AND DESERT Morocco Once left Tafnidilt, we cross a steep range of dunes to reach the Dra estuary region, visited only by brave travellers who dares to find their way on the sandy tracks between the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean. Here, we will discover tiny temporary settlements of fishermen, ghost colonial military posts, dunes and camels in a virgin landscape, and if lucky, we drive for miles on a wild beach between high dunes and ocean.
We live the coastline, following a riverbed (Ouadi) in a large canyon: the only possible path between tall dunes, cliffs and ocean.
Evening return to our comfortable base, the Ksar Tafnidilt hotel.
Day 8: DUNES AND LAGOONS Morocco From Tan-Tan, the road follows an exciting itinerary through a crag on the edge between Sahara and Ocean… The Naila salt lagoon, separated from the ocean by rows of dunes, with an estuary on the sea, is the largest Salt Lake in Morocco (100 square Km). Protected area of great natural beauty is an important resting point on the birds’ migratory way, it can host up to 20.000 individuals as flamingos, cormorants, gulls, herons…
We will board local fisherman boats to explore this emerald water enclosed in a wide frame of yellow dunes and brown escarpments.
Late afternoon arrival at the tiny town of Tarfaya on the Juby Cape, less than 100 km away from the Canary Islands. Tarfaya is a former “Aeropostale” base, pioneered airmail from Europe to Africa and Latin America. Interesting museum and the remains of colonial Spanish architecture. In Tarfaya, Saint Exupéry the famous aviator and writer, author of “Le petit prince” was familiar.
Hotel Casamar, self-contain, air-conditioned rooms, Wi-Fi
Days 9 & 10: WESTERN SAHARA: THE FORBIDDEN TRACK Morocco In Laayoune we will meet our local guide, a nomad from a Sahrawi tribe who will lead us through a three-day off-road expedition crossing the Western Sahara from north to south. The former Spanish Sahara colony has been the site of a long war between the Polisario Armed Front and the Moroccan army. Nowadays, it is part of Morocco. Since the second half of the seventies, due to this long “sand war,” this region has been off-limits to travellers. Until today no peace treaty has been signed, but it is decades there is no fights in the region we cross. We are proud to be the “first” to bring intrepid travellers to the vast, sandy regions of Saguia El Hamra, Tiris Zemmour and to the spectacular Rio de Oro sea-look. In this Saharan expedition, we will cross large dunes to discover wells frequented by long lines of camels belonging to the legendary Reguibat nomads.
Days 9 and 10 camp under the stars in the immensity of the Sahara.
Our mobile camp, that follow the convoy on a specific assistance 4×4 vehicle, is comfortable: large tents over rush matting, camping beds and chairs. Restaurant tent, with tables, chairs. Toilet tent.
Day 11: FROM THE DESERT TO THE OCEAN Morocco
Morning continuation of our Trans-Saharan expedition. In the afternoon, a road will bring us to the ocean.
Arrival at Hotel Buena Vista ****, facing the ocean will be our base for two nights.
Day 12: RIO DE ORO Morocco The astonishing beauty of Dakhla peninsula makes of it a unique place. The Rio de Oro is a 25-mile-long sea loch between cliffs and dunes. Pastel colours paint the scenery: the blue ocean, yellow sand, emerald seaweed fields and dark rocks. Experience a unique event: during the high tide the ocean will flood the desert: a white dune and rook hills will become temporary islands. The small town of Dakhla was founded by Spanish navigators in 1502 as “Villa Cisneros.” Visit to the colourful fishing harbour, lunch in an oyster farm.
Driving along the shore to discover where the waves lap the sand dunes. Day rooms and transfer to the airport.
UNIQUE DEPARTURES: This itinerary is part of the Trans-Sahara and West Africa Grand Expedition from Marrakech to Dakar and Cotonou.
EXPEDITION LEADERS: With a great experience of the desert and of the visited areas.
EXPLORATORY ITINERARY: The journey is an expedition; participants must be flexible and ready to enjoy the unique encounters but also some unexpected situations that are part of the “African Experience”.
TRANSPORTS: On land: roads, tracks and virgin sand dunes our main choice will be four-wheel-drive air-conditioned vehicles, as well as brief but funny rides on: colourful local bush Taxi, traditional calash and donkey chariot. On water: to explore lagoon will charter local fishing boats.
VACCINATIONS: No vaccination request
VISAS: Morocco, visa not required for most nationalities. Please check.
Mauritania, visa required. We will obtain visas at the border (cost 55 Euro).
Senegal, visa not required for most nationalities, please check.
Lunches: Cold meals (picnics) or restaurants.
Diners: In the hotels, enjoy a great variety of fish specialties among other possibilities, vegetarian or different meals available on request, please mention on booking.
Mobile Camps: Simple dinners made of local fresh products; bottled water included. Wine included, except in Mauritania.
HOTELS: are carefully chosen, due to a possible lack of rooms availability in some hotels, the tour leader may have to replace hotels with others as similar as possible.
CAMPS: In the remotes areas of the Western Sahara, two nights at our mobile camp. Modern tents, installed over rush mattings, equipped with mosquito nets, portable beds, and chairs. A comfortable restaurant-tent will be set for dinner. A tent will be dedicated to “facilities”. A logistic 4WD vehicles caring the equipment will be added to the convoy.
LUGGAGE: due to the natured of the itinerary including boat rides and camps, please limit your personal luggage in 45lb (20 kg), soft sacs are recommended.
INSURANCE: mandatory for medical assistance (health care), repatriation, physical and material damages.
TransAfrica will not be held responsible for any material and physical damage during or in consequence of the tour. Discover an insurance policy proposal: https://transafrica.biz/en/travel-insurance-en/;
NOTICE: The itinerary is designed to experience fascinating places where the visit of a foreigner remains an exceptional event. We need to be tolerant and flexible to fully enjoy and truly appreciate the unique nature and wild life, the spontaneous hospitality of the local populations, African magic and mystery.
Itineraries, visits, overnights and accommodations are subject to changes, improvements and adaptation due to : tides time, recent experiences and news from the fields, force majeure. The changes are decided by the organizer.We are not responsible for any delay and cancellation due to external conditions.
Transfer airport/ hotel and hotel/ airport at arrival and departure, EXCEPT the first day from the airport to the hotel In Marrakech.The fixed price for a Taxi from the airport to any hotel in Marrakech is 200 Dirhams or 20 Euro.
Full board during the expedition. Lunch the last day.
Drinks at meals during the nights in the mobile camp. No alcohol in Mauritania
All transfers in 4WD
Tour Leader (languages spoken English, French and Italian)
Tours and visits as per the program
Participation cost to events, as scheduled
Accommodation as per the program
First aid box
All services included in the program
Prices do not include:
Transfer from Marrakech airport to the hotel in Marrakech on day 1.
Transfer from the airport in Marrakech / hotel
Dinner on the arrival and departure day
Drinks and mineral water at meals, except for those at the nights in the mobile camps
Fees for personal photos and videos
Personal insurance (compulsory)
Tips for drivers, guides and hotel staff
Any item of personal nature such as phone calls, laundry, etc.