Discover the kasbahs, tribal villages and cool oases of the Draa Valley on this cycling holiday in Morocco. Cycle through the remote hamada desert of the Sahara and enjoy an exhilarating High Atlas descent through the Berber heartland. Overnight Sahara camp - Ride camels through Saharan sand dunes and camp overnight under the stars Thrilling descent - Enjoy a scenic descent from the stunning High Atlas mountain pass of Tizi N'Fedrhate Marrakech - Discover Morocco's vibrant Red City, with its atmospheric medina and lively Djemma-el- Fna Square
Arrive in Marrakech. Morocco's famous Red City, Marrakech is the spiritual heart of the country, a cultural melting pot of the mountain Berbers and the desert peoples of the south. Blessed with some of the most stunning architecture in Morocco, its mix of tradition, colour and history makes it the ideal starting point. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Marrakech at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK), which is around 20 minutes from the hotel. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting. Should you miss the meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to relax beside our hotel's swimming pool or take a stroll around Djemma El Fna Square.
This morning we start by driving into the heart of the Atlas Mountains. Our journey takes around 2 and a half hours and takes us over the dramatic High Atlas pass of Tizi n' Tichka, at an altitude of 2,260 metres, we stop here for a photo then continue on to the intricately decorated Kasbah Telouet. Built in the 1860's by the El Glaoui family and located on the former caravan route from the Sahara to Marrakesh. Not far from here, we get on our bikes and firstly have some time to get familiar with the set up making any necessary adjustments. We then cycle to the spectacular fortified city of Ait Ben Haddou - classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered by many as one of Morocco's most picturesque settings. Richly decorated and studded with crenelated towers, the town's spectacular kasbah may be recognised from scenes in Jesus of Nazareth, Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator and, most recently, Game of Thrones. Our hotel is located a short walk from Ait Ben Haddou, allowing us to check in and freshen up then visit the site after the crowds have gone. Our total cycling distance is approximately 38 kilometres (370 metres total accumulated ascent and 340 metres descent).
Leaving Ait Ben Haddou by bus, we drive over the dramatic Tizi n'Tinififft mountain pass, rising to an altitude of 1,800 metres amid the lunar landscape of the Anti-Atlas. We continue down into one of the most stunning natural wonders of Morocco - the Draa Valley, where we have the opportunity to enjoy an exhilarating cycle ride. Dotted with kasbahs and ksours (fortified villages), the Draa Valley is the largest date palm oasis in Morocco. We begin cycling before the small town of Agdz and head south on descending terrain though lush oases. We will get back into our vehicle for the last part of our journey to our overnight stop at Alnif which takes about 2 hours. Our total cycling distance is approximately 42 kilometres (460 metres total accumulated ascent and 340 metres descent).
This morning we drive from our hotel along the southern foothills of the Jebel Sahro mountain range, against the spectacular backdrop of the 2,712- metre Amalou n'Mansour peak. This drives takes around 2 hours, we head to a remote part of Morocco that forms part of the stony hammada desert. Our first stop is Rissani where we have time to explore the Tuesday markets and mausoleum of Moulay Ali Cherif - great grandson of the founder of the Alaouite Dynasty. On the outskirts of the town we hop on our bikes and cycle along the desert road towards the imposing Erg Chebbi sand dunes. Once we arrive in Mergouza we swap our bikes for camels and go on an exciting camel trek to explore the contrasting and more classic desert landscape around Erg Chebbi. This spectacular natural wonder is home to the largest expanse of sand in Morocco, with giant dunes peaking at an impressive 150 metres. Landscapes like this only cover about one fifth of the Sahara's surface, the rest is made up of vast rock and gravel plains. Our camel trek takes us to our desert camp where we will spend the night. The camel trek takes approximately one and a half to two hours, and you can walk alongside your camel if you prefer. Our desert camp allows us to experience the tranquility of this desert setting. The camp comprises of a traditional goat hair tent separated into bedroom compartments of twin, double and single beds. Mattresses, blankets, towels and pillows are provided. There is a wash block with three showers and three 'sit down' flushing toilets. Our total cycling distance is approximately 37 kilometres (80 metres total accumulated ascent and 80 metres descent).
This morning, we recommend rising early to watch the spectacular desert sunrise as it casts shadows across the rolling dunes. After breakfast, we return to Merzouga by camel. Then we get back on our bikes and cycle to Erfoud. Today's cycle ride is in the Rissani region - homeland of the Alaouite dynasty, which reigned in this area for 300 years. Cycling through an expansive desert landscape, we will see people going about daily life and, depending on the time of year, you may see shepherds moving herds of goats and camels to higher ground for grazing in the summer months. Our total cycling distance is approximately 54 kilometres (450 metres total accumulated ascent and 20 metres descent).
This morning, we set off by bus towards Tinerhir in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. We stop to see the ancient \ foggara\ subterranean irrigation system and lean how this ancient system provided water for the surrounding villages. After about 2 hours on the bus we get on our bikes and cycle through a lush oasis, abundant with date palms, olive groves, fruit orchards and almond trees, all scattered through a fertile landscape of grain and vegetable crops. Once arriving at Tinerhir we have one climb to a great viewpoint before a free wheel down to the Todra Gorge - renowned as one of the most spectacular canyons in the region. Here, ochre-coloured rock walls rise vertically to a height of 160 meters, leaving just a narrow pass through which the track and river struggle for right of way. We have time to explore these deep, narrow mountain chasms on foot before continuing our journey by vehicle along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech to reach our overnight stop in El Kelaa des M'Gouna. Our driving time for this second section is about 1 1/2 hours. Known as the 'town of the roses', it is surrounded by a landscape of scented blooms each spring. These are harvested in May during the locally famous Festival of the Roses, before being processed into rosewater and sold throughout the Islamic world. Our total cycling distance is approximately 43 kilometres (880 metres total accumulated ascent and 20 metres descent).
After an early breakfast, we drive into the High Atlas to the Tizi n'Fedrhate Pass at an altitude of 2,150 metres. This journey takes around 2 and a half hours. From here, we start cycling down into the northern foothills of the Atlas Mountains, through some of the most dramatic scenery of this entire trip. Amid the silence of the mountain valleys, the hardy Berbers cultivate fields of barley, wheat, olives, figs, beans, peas and almond groves. Here, tradition is strong and social organisation remains uncompromisingly tribal. These 'Lords of the Atlas' present us with a unique view of a way of life lost to the rest of North Africa, where music and dance, even language and religion, are far removed from their Arab neighbours. Later, we get back into our vehicle for a drive of around 2 hours back to Marrakech, arriving late in the afternoon. Our total cycling distance is approximately 34 kilometres ( 170 metres total accumulated ascent and 1570 metres descent). Please note: Today's cycling route may have to be altered in adverse weather conditions.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Marrakech. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Marrakech at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK), which is a 20 minute drive from the hotel depending on traffic. Depending on the time of your flight, you might be able to spend some additional time exploring the city independently.
7 Break Fast(s) 1 Dinner(s)
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