The Desert and the Lake

Our day trip from Marrakech into the nearby desert is ideal for those short on time to get to the Sahara.

Agafay desert, Lalla Takerkoust lake, the Atlas Mountains, Berber villages and hospitality all make up for a great day tour. If you wish to make this part of a two day tour and spend the night in the Agafay desert.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Our day trip drives us past the airport and before you know it, the route is shaded by lush vegetation, olive and orange orchards past the occasional village. Off the tarmac and onto off road, the scenery is completely different - barren light brown plateaux, a true stone desert.

The locals call it Agafay desert and for good reason: this might as well be the Sahara as the colors and the feeling of solitude are the same. The land seems to stretch out forever as the impression of being completely disconnected from civilization takes shape. For the next couple of hours, we are submerged in this immensity undisturbed by any sign of life. Civilization finds us againg under the shape of a few adobe houses, where we can sample a tea with the locals or a camel trek.

A few hours later, our excursion from Marrakech reaches small patches of green start to show and not long after we are back on the tarmac road, sidelined by the old eucalyptus trees. We arrive on the edge of Lalla Takerkoust lake built as a dam, where Marrakech gets its electricity from. Lunch can be had here, with a superb view over the lake and for those high on adrenaline, quad biking or jet skiing can be arranged locally.

After the lake, this day trip from Marrakech takes us up into the Atlas Mountains. Time to take out your cameras! Ruins of Kasbahs once property of the local Pasha border the road. Kik Plateau is 1800 meters high and offers spectacular 360 degrees views and, in the spring, a marvellous spread of alpine flowers. Scattered Berber villages greet the view and the driver can arrange for a visit of a Berber house for you to witness the day to day life of these mountain people.

On the other side of the plateau, lies the picturesque village of Moulay Brahim with its shrine where women from all over the area come and light candles, praying for the much coveted baraka. By the river, camels and restaurants await their clients either for a Berber tagine or a camel ride. Further on lie the peaceful village of Asni and Kasbah Tamadot, Richard Branson's Morocco's retreat, in the heart of this lush area covered with apple, cherry and plum orchards sending out their harvest into the city. A very important Berber market is held on every Saturday where producers bring fruit, vegetables and livestock to sell. If you are interested in seeing a Berber souk, almost every village has one on a specific day of the week. Lunch at Richard Branson's can also be arranged but it is best done with our Atlas and the Lake day trip.

On our tour back to Marrakech, small villages with their mud- brick adobe houses greet your eye sight, stacked into the hillside or lining the water course shaded by the palm grove. The river gives place to the canyons and gorges and the local Berber granary towers over the landscape, a quiet sentinel guarding the silence of the valley. Past Tahnaoute, the tarmac road follows its course among olive or orange orchards and golf courses to reach Marrakech soon after.

You are free to choose your time of departure. However, in order to make the best out of your day out, we recommend leaving no later than 9 AM. Forecasted return time in Marrakech is 5 PM.

PRICE.............................................................................................. 65 EUROS PER PERSON ( BASED ON 2 PERSONS SHARING THE VEHICLE). DISCOUNTS APPLY FOR 3 OR MORE PERSONS.

The rate includes: private ( sole use) of the modern air conditioned Toyota 4x4 and the English fluent driver- guide, entrance fees to all sites and monuments, refreshing drinks inside the vehicle, pick up and drop off from/ to the hotel/ Riad and transport insurance.

Better still, why not make staying one night in Agafay desert part of a 2- day private 4x4 tour and discover the diverse area just south of Marrakech ? The desert, the High Atlas, the Kik Plateau, the local waterfalls, Lalla Takerkoust lake – so many contrasts just in two day. Perhaps start with the Ourika Valley, hike up into the High Atlas, have lunch with a Berber family. Freshen up by the local waterfalls, see how the argan is turned into oil into a local cooperative. Discover the 12th century mosque of Tinmel, have a tea by the Lalla Takerkoust lake, lunch at Richard Branson's High Atlas retreat or trek in the Atlas mountains. And, after all the lushness of the High Atlas, have a little bit of desert. Arrive in the Agafay desert by the afternoon and, after settling in, have the most romantic dinner by candle light under the starriest sky, out in the open. Spend a night inside your private adobe bungalow or white canvas tent and explore the surroundings next day by foot, camel, horse of mountain bike. In the afternoon get taken back to your riad in Marrakech or the airport. To arrange such a private tour and find out rates and details, please contact us here .