17th Nov - 2nd Dec 2018
Morocco - our nearest neighbour, in the most fascinating continent in the world - timeless Africa. Morocco provides a superb introduction to the exciting culture and varied scenery of North Africa. On our way south both our Moroccan expeditions explore the great Imperial city of Fes, culturally important to the whole of the Arab world. This ancient city and its walled medina are home to tanneries, henna, spice, silver and gold souks - a traditional way of life lost in touristy Marrakech. For our Draa Valley and Anti Atlas Explorers we focus on the Draa Valley and the Anti-Atlas mountains range. Passing through the High Atlas with its snow cap we head towards the warmth of the deep south. We drive the old border piste from Rissani to Zagora - a Moroccan classic that runs alongside the Algerian border. After a check of the vehicles in Zagora we then drop into the Draa Valley - an ancient trade route from the heart of the Sahara. We follow these rocky sandy pistes before crossing 200 m high dunes right against the Algerian border, to find hidden oases and dry lake beds in the seldom visited southwest before arriving in Akka. We then leave the River Draa under the sand and enter the Anti Atlas mountains and drive the Gorges d'Ait Mansour - a huge cleft through these intensely folded mountains. Weaving our way through the twisted and folded Anti Atlas we pass villages where tourists are seldom seen, to see a way of life unchanged for centuries. Re-entering the Draa we then continue SW to another Moroccan classic - Tan Tan and Plage Blanche beach to see the Draa finally reach the Atlantic, before following the beach pistes to Sidi Ifni and the transit home. Our last night is spent wild camping on a beach near Assilah before returning to the Straits of Gibraltar and Europe.
Our classic High Atlas Explorer spends more time in the High Atlas, climbing on rock pistes into the heart of the mountains, whose snow capped peaks and sun baked slopes shelter remote Berber villages clinging to secret passes and valleys. Taking narrow tracks that twist and turn up mountain sides, we finally enter the narrow gorges of Todra and Dades that cleave these mountains, before crossing the great blue-black mountains of the Jebel Sarhro to enter Zagora. We follow sandy pistes to the Chegaga dunes, 200 m high and right against the Algerian border for some great dune driving. Then turning north across dry lake beds, we weave our way through the twisted and folded Anti Atlas passing villages where tourists are seldom seen, to see a way of life unchanged for centuries before coming to Ait-BenHaddou, an exceptionally well preserved fortified village, a UNESCO World Heritage site and set for many films. We then descend from the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech, to spend a day exploring this fabled city and its medina's and squares. We spend a night in a riad - a traditional auberge built around a tranquil courtyard and eat tagines in roof top tents under the stars.
These two expeditions combines the best of Morocco, from snow capped mountains in the High Atlas, remote tracks in the Anti-Atlas and the classic beach drives next to the Atlantic ... either will give you a real inside look at Morocco and its multitude of contrasts and a great introduction to North African travel.