10th to 26th November 2020
Morocco: The Cedar Forest and The Sahara
It is cold here deep in the Moroccan Sahara as the glow far in the east heralds the beginnings of a new day. The air is still, but as the sun creeps above the horizon, far quicker than you would imagine, a breath of cold air flows over us. Within minutes the awesome power of the sun has already pushed the temperature from near freezing to 20 degrees celsius. The day is going to be hot as we head off into the dune fields and gravel plains of this beautiful desert.
- Hotels and Riads
- Camp sites
- Enthusiastic and knowledgeable wildlife experts
- Comprehensive roadbooks
- Bonfires and BBQ’s at wild campsites
- 24 hour support
What’s not included:
- Ferry from England to Spain or France
In Morocco you will be able to experience the Berber culture as you pass through mountain villages and the Arab culture in Meknes and Marrakech.
You will have the acclaimed Impala Support Teams on hand at any difficult spots along the way.
The Imperial Cities of Meknes and Marrakech
Meknes sits close to the high atlas and is a beautiful Moroccan city that was the capital of Morocco in the 17th century. Our riad is situated in the old city beside Place lalla aouda the so you will be able to enjoy the Medina, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, the Dar Jamai Museum or take a drive to the Roman ruins of Voulibilis which is less than an hour north.
In Marrakech we use Riads close to the old city so you will have time to immerse yourself into the maelstrom that id the Place D’Fna ( the place of the dead). Here there are outdoor theatres, water sellers, snake charmers and a surreal garden center. Close by is Jardin Majorelle, it was created by the French Orientalist artist, Jacques Majorelle over almost forty years, starting in 1923, and features a Cubist villa designed by the French architect, Paul Sinoir in the 1930s. In the 1980s, the property was purchased by the fashion designers, Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé who have restored it back to its former glory.
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, owls and eagles. Flora include 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 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 life long friend in the desert village of Fezzou, camping in his families garden and enjoying some legendary Berber hospitality
We spend nine days crossing this beautiful, challenging and unforgiving landscape of sand rivers, dune fields and gravel plains, camping wild. You will be awestruck by the magnificence of the night sky as you sit beside the warmth of a fire. 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 and 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.