Desert Sahara of Morocco forms amazing dunes like golden ocean waves, luxuriant oases of gardens under date palms, and of thousands of fabulous Kasbahs. Is also a meeting point for the different cultures…
Where is the Sahara desert located in Morocco?
South of the High Atlas Mountains and the magic city of Marrakech starts the immensity of the desert Sahara of Morocco! which continues deep into Mauritania to the south and through Algeria, Libya, and beyond to the east. Mostly a flat, stony plateau falling away from rugged mountain ranges, it hides many secrets and treasures below its endless sky.
At the border with Algeria, it forms amazing dunes where the wind plays with the sand to draw ever-changing arabesques, like golden ocean waves; turning bright pink in the sunset. Water coming down from the high peaks has eroded the rocks to create stunning gorges such as the Todra and the Dades at the foot of the Mountains. In other parts, the flat plateau is deeply cut by startlingly fertile river valleys, like the Draa and the Tafilalet.
Desert Sahara of Morocco, people & environment!
Morocco has beautiful best cities to visit, and stunning desert to explore! This vast stretch of mostly inhospitable land is the realm of Berber Touareg tribes and their camel herds. Of luxuriant oases of gardens under date palms, and of thousands of fabulous kasbahs! With their delicately decorated towers, sprinkled over the landscape like oversized sandcastles on an infinite beach; a testimony to a rich and still largely unchanged culture.
Desert Sahara, brief history.
For centuries river beds have marked the path of ancient caravan routes through the desert. Many villages have flourished along the way, built of the same material as the earth they stand on. Blending totally into their environment (although nowadays television dishes sometimes give them away!). More often than not dominated by the landlord’s kasbah where the villagers in the desert of Morocco could seek refuge from possible enemy attacks.
Whether in humble village houses or lordly fortresses, the buildings’ thick clay walls, and almost total absence of windows protect their inhabitants! Not only from danger but also from the extreme desert temperatures which can soar over 50ºC during the day in summer; and fall well below freezing point on winter nights.
There are several desert Sahara: Desert South and East of Morocco
The region of Ouarzazate “the heart of the desert in Morocco”
One of the gateways to the South is the road through the Toubkal pass which crosses the mountains through to Ouarzazate. The town itself has little to offer other than being a comfortable and convenient rest stop on the way to the desert of Morocco; but it is, nevertheless, the nerve center of this vast region. Its many modern tourist facilities make it a good starting point for a wide range of excursions, either on foot, by car, or by camel.
It is also a meeting point for the different cultures of the Moroccan South and their handicrafts. One can visit the beautifully restored Taourirt Kasbah of the Glaoui, or, for something completely different. The vast cinema sets of Atlas Corporation Studios where a number of well known international films have been shot.
Dades Valley “Valley of the Thousand Kasbahs”!
One magnificent route takes the traveler east from Ouarzazate “the heart of the desert in Morocco”. Following the foothills of the High Atlas, where the enchanting Dades Valley, also known as the “Valley of the Thousand Kasbahs”! Threads its way through the rugged mountain terrain, bathed in a kaleidoscope of colors, sometimes opening and sometimes narrowing down to a gorge.
Fortified village after fortified village overlooking the river which snakes through the middle of the valley. Time seems to have come to a complete standstill. It’s a romantic journey that inevitably takes the traveler back to a bygone age.
Tinghir, Todra valley, and Erg Chebbi “Merzouga”.
The Dades is joined at Tinghir by the equally stunning Todra Valley which at some point is only a few meters wide yet a vertiginous 300 meters high.
Further east the Tafilalet “desert east of Morocco”, another spectacularly green oasis valley! Cuts a deep grove into the naked emptiness and ends near the Erg Chebbi “Merzouga”, Morocco’s most spectacular sand dune.
Draa Valley and Zagora, desert south of Morocco
From Ouarzazate, another incredible drive, this time heading South! along the magical Draa Valley; past fertile palm groves crammed with date palms, olive, almonds, and citrus trees, busy Berber villages, and imposing kasbahs will bring you into Zagora “desert south of Morocco”. This outpost in the deep south is a base for excursions into the Sahara by four-wheel drive or by camel. Famously on the edge of town is a signpost indicating ” Timbuktu 52 days”. By camel, of course!