Some of the highlights on this school trip include a Marrakech city tour, mountain hiking with Berbers, camel trekking, and desert glamping, learning to cook a traditional Tagine, learning about desertification, rural migration, irrigation systems in the Sahara, and visiting a village school in the Atlas mountains.
Day by day
Welcome on your arrival at Marrakech airport. Transfer and installation at your 3 * hotel or riad in the Medina. Depending on arrival time, time for sightseeing in the Medina and stroll in the Souks. Free diner in a local restaurant and overnight at hotel LE CASPIEN or Riad Passali
Leave the busy city behind as you head for the rose valley. This journey takes you up and over the High Atlas. You can often see the highest peak, Mount Toubkal 13,671 feet (4,167m), on a clear day. The N9 road continues to snake upwards to the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass ( 2,260m), the watershed of the High Atlas. From near to here great panoramic views can be seen, over the mountain range and the road recently traveled. As you descend the pass you will notice the climate as it becomes drier toward Ouarzazate, a town growing rapidly due to the movie industry. The nearby regions have been featured in many movies, portraying landscapes all over the desert, Africa, and the middle east. Your journey then travels along the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, a Kasbah being a fortified “fort” where chiefs and landowners once lived. Many kasbahs are now in disrepair (having been made of pise mud). Between the small towns of this area you can see various farming activities, many still using traditional methods. Nomads to are often encountered, herding their sheep, goats, and camels. At El Kelaa Mgouna, the intensely cultivated plots of farmland are bordered by rose bushes. The rose petals are used in the cosmetic industry. In May a Rose Festival takes place, celebrating the year’s production. Continue to the village of Ait Youl in Dades valley (1500m) for overnight in a local lodge.
After helping to load the mules and meeting with our local travel companions, we begin our hike along the Djebel Riguit, then a surprising arid passage to reach the beautiful green valley of M'goun. We arrive at the village of Ighrem Akdim with its gardens and extraordinary kasbahs.
Positive elevation: +250 m.
Negative elevation: - 300 m.
Walking time: 5h30
We leave this beautiful valley, to climb 200 m to a pass. Very beautiful view of the Mgoun chain, the descent allows us to gradually enter the landscapes of the valley of Ait Ahmed.
Positive elevation: +200 m.
Negative elevation: - 150 m.
Walking time: 5h
In the morning, discover the beautiful Berber villages: Amejgag, R'bat… superb earthen fortress villages dominating the valley and terraced fields bordered by rose bushes. Overnight near the village of Alemdoun in a plateau offering an amazing view over the M’goun range and surrounding valleys.
Positive elevation: +100 m.
Negative elevation: - 250m.
Walking time: 5h
After breakfast, descent along the Assif through the gorges of Agouti, sometimes it is necessary to take off your shoes for the passage of the gorges. On our way we will discover the Kasbah El Hot (fortress house), local architecture preserved, tea and lunch on the rooftop of the Kasbah then follow the Oued to the village of Boutaghrar nestled in its circus tucked under the crests of Jebel Tadaout and Talaouit. Night in a lodge.
Positive elevation: + m.
Negative elevation: - m.
Walking time: 5h
Full day activities with the locals, exploring the beautiful village of Boutaghrar ( cooking class, visit village school, play football with local youth, Henna ceremony, Tea ceremony, farming etc.) Evening Berber music performance and dancing with the locals.
Continue to the desert with a great view of the nearby towns the cling to the side of the green river oasis, filled with green palm trees. The surrounding desert landscape reveals impressive buttes, mesa, and plateaus. The Todra Gorge is (300m) high and was made by the Todra river, cutting down through red stained limestones. Here you can enjoy an easy walk through the gorge, or relax in the cool water of the shallow river. As you drive through the arid, parched landscapes of the desert you have the option to stop in several small towns, which have lively, colorful markets on different days of the week (your guide can recommend one based on the day). Erfoud is known for its figs and fossils. Here you can visit a craft workshop where the fossil-rich rocks are carefully and skilfully changed into objects, some practical (e.g. tables) and some decorative (e.g. plates and bowls). You will see the full process from when the large rocks are taken from the ground, cut, carved, and polished. As you approach you will get your first glimpse of the massive sand sea of Erg Chebbi, looming on the forward horizon. Here the sand dunes rise to over (200m), covering 35 square kilometers. Here you take a camel ride into the desert, and enjoy the sunset as you sit atop a large dune. Have a meal and spend the night in Erg Chebbi (in a Bedouin tent). At night, join the local guides for a campfire complete with traditional music and stargazing. If you are an early riser (if not, maybe make an exception this time), then a Saharan sunrise can be just as thrilling as a Saharan sunset.
During two days, enjoy morning hikes through the dunes and delicious pick-nick lunches under the Tamarisk trees. Afternoon, drive through the dunes of Erg Chebbi by Jeep to discover the hidden secrets of this magical land; meet with the local nomads and enjoy a cup of tea with a local family, visit the Gnawa house in Khamleya village to explore the spiritual healing music; Traditionally practiced throughout Morocco and originating from the sub-Saharan region, Gnaoua music is spiritual music at its roots, although popular Maâlems (master musicians) are making the music quite mainstream. Headed by a Maâlem with a group of musicians and dancers, the beats are repetitive yet lively. Afterward, you can rent a sandboard and test your skills on the dunes, (around the sand dunes), join a quad ATV tour (Optional and at own arrangement). Late afternoon, climb up the nearest sand dune to watch the colorful display on the sand sea as the sun sets to the west, then head back to camp for dinner and a night by the campfire enjoying traditional Berber music from the locals. Before you head to bed, take a look at the unhindered night sky.
Before setting our drive across the desert plains, an excellent stop is in Rissani. It is a good place to take a walk around a traditional market, especially on market days when many animals are bought and sold. Along the drive you will see Acacia forests with the “umbrella-shaped” trees that specially adapted to the harsh environments. Stop for lunch on the way under Acacia trees or inside a palm grove. Then it is through the Draa Valley, a rich with date palmeries on the valley floor. Stop by a stall to pick up a small box for the drive. The growing town of Ouarzazate is a common stopping point along the desert routes, as it offers a bit more access than some of the nearby smaller towns, such as Ait Benhaddou (with less charm and quiet). The town was made popular by the growing movie industry, and you have an option to tour one of the 2 movie studios if you like (Atlas Corporation Studios or CLA Studios), including an up-close look at some props and sets. The nearby regions have been featured in many movies, portraying landscapes all over the desert, Africa, and the middle east. Some popular film credits include Lawrence of Arabia, The Last Temptation of Christ, Alexander, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Prometheus, American Sniper, and Game of Thrones. To learn more about the history and filmmaking process in the area, an optional stop at the Musée du Cinema.
Morning visit of Aït Benhaddou, the most famous Kasbah in Morocco and a UNESCO world heritage site. The old ksar dates from the 11th century when it held an important position along the trans-Saharan trade route between Marrakech, Ouarzazate, and the southern desert. As you head up and over the High Atlas, near the top of the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass (7415ft, 2260m), you can enjoy great panoramic views over the mountain range, as well as the road ahead that snakes down the mountainside. The first town after the pass is Taddert where you can stop at an Argan Oil Cooperative to learn how Argan is processed for a variety of uses. Descending the north facing slopes of the High Atlas you will notice a dramatic change in climate and landscape, with river valleys carved into the hillsides. After all the tranquillity of the mountains and the desert, soon you will be in the midst of the hustle, bustle, and clamor of vibrant Marrakech.
Morning guided tour of Marrakech, your driver will pick you up from your hotel in Marrakech towards the old Medina where your official guide will be waiting for you. Start with the most beautiful palaces and monuments in Marrakech, the Bahia Palace. Built at the end of the 19th century, the name literally means "brilliance". You will also visit the Koutoubia Mosque (exterior) with its remarkable minaret, a major attraction for visitors to Marrakech.
Enter one of the historic gates of the old Medina and walk to discover the medieval way of life of its inhabitants and their daily occupations. Discover the hidden quarters and the historic caravanserai called Fondouks once used as hotels for caravanners. Visit the souks and Jamaâ El Fna Square, a veritable open-air theater, which always amazes its visitors.
Depending on your flight time you may have more time to explore the city, or you can drive straight to the airport.