6th November to the 24th November 2022
The Cedar Forest and The Atlas Mountains
Before we can get to the Sahara itself we need to cross the Atlas Mountains and it is here that we enjoy the rocky tracks that wind through the Cedar Forest from Azrou to Midelt. Moroccan cedars, some more than 400 years old, grow to heights of close to 200 feet. Living among the enormous cedars are troops of Barbary macaques. You may also see and or hear the redheaded Moroccan woodpecker, Maghreb Wood Owls and the Booted Eagle. Flora includes the large-leaf peony, the scarlet dianthus, and the blue germander, all of which attract butterflies, including the cardinal and the colourful sulphur Cleopatra.
After the forest we follow the Oued Ziz, its green valley cuts through bare, red mountains, the contrast is startling and very beautiful. Our route passes the “Stairway to the sky” an incongruous modern piece of architecture in the desert near the wells of Jorf where water flows down underground channels from the Anti-Atlas to the desert.
Just before the Sahara we spend a night with a lifelong friend in the desert village of Fezzou, camping close to the village and enjoying some legendary Berber hospitality before a nine-day journey across dunes, along sand tracks and crossing vast gravel plains
We spend nine days crossing this beautiful, challenging, unforgiving landscape of sand rivers, dune fields, mountain passes and gravel plains, camping wild each night. You will be awestruck by the magnificence of the night sky as you sit beside the warmth of a fire. The Milky Way is extraordinary out here and you will understand why the San people call it the “backbone of the Sky”. You may even be very lucky and see the elusive Cuvier’s Gazelle and Fennec Fox
Hotel Kasbah Azalay is a welcome rest after five days and nights in the sands. Here you can enjoy a gin and tonic or a beer before a comfortable bed, good food and more of that legendary hospitality from Abdelkadir, Hassan, Aziz and Hamid, before we head out once more onto Lac Iriki and the 200m high dunes of Ergg Chegega. The route through these dunes is exciting and we will be spending a night nestled deep within. Most people travel the northern route but we take the southern with is deeper sand and challenging dune fields.
Our gateway out of the desert is through one of the passes that lead north through the Jebel Bani. Here at Foum Zguid we stop for a night at Rachid’s camping where you can enjoy a hot shower and a meal in the square under acacia trees.