Archive for the ‘Fossils Sahara Desert’ Category

Things To Do In Ad Dakhla, Morocco, Your Morocco Travel Guide, Part II of II

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Ad Dakhla Sahara Desert

Are you wondering what there is to see and do in Ad Dakhla, Morocco besides kitesurfing?

Dakhla also referred to as Ad Dakhla is a fishing and surfing paradise which was once the capital of the Spanish province of Rio de Oro. Dakhla or Ad Dakhla is one of the ultimate places to go where you can witness unspoiled Sahara Desert scenery. Visiting Dakhla is ideal for Moroccan travelers who want to get away from the crowds and visit a place where it is still possible to see the authentic nomad lifestyle nearby. Another place in Morocco where it is possible to see the authentic Nomad lifestyle is in the Bouthgrar region near Mount Mgoun which is often referred to as the Valley of Nomads. The Valley of Nomads can be visited from en route from Ouarzazate when passing the Valley of Roses.

It is possible to fly to Dakhla however an overland trip in a 4×4 Landcruiser is ideal to get the real feel for the Western Sahara of Morocco. The road to Dakhla hugs the cool sea coast where there are some spectacular low cliffs that hang over the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes local fisherman live in huts on the cliffs.

Fishermen's Huts on Morocco's Southern Sahara Desert Coastline, photo by Mary Mimouna

If you can only visit the Sahara Desert in the summer, Dakhla is one of the ideal Sahara Desert tours, rather than the inland Sahara Desert of Merzouga, M’hamid or Zagora which do not have the advantage of the cool Atlantic ocean. It is possible to visit Dakhla on your own or take a 4 x 4 private tour or luxury tour just south from Agadir or Laayoune, all the way to Dakhla. The cold Canary Current off the coast means that the seacoast road (even in July and August) is quite cold most of the way (foggy in the mornings, and 75°F/25°C in the afternoons).

Atlantic Cliffs in the Moroccan Sahara, along the Seacoast Road to Ad Dakhla

In a couple of places, en route to Dakhla, the seacoast road juts inland, into a couple of Saharan towns, where the temperature can shoot up to 120°F/49°C. But it only takes 30 minutes to drive in and out of these areas, and is a fascinating experience to see how quickly and dramatically the temperature changes just a few kilometers in from the seacoast. It also makes clear why most of the road does hug the seacoast. The hot inland excursions are a great reason to make your trip in a comfortable and air-conditioned 4 x 4 to Dakhla.

Driving down to Ad Dakhla, there are several great areas of sand dunes, between the road and the ocean which make great places to climb on. They are close enough to the ocean to be cool in the mornings.

Climbing on Sand Dunes in Morocco's Western Sahara Desert, next to the Seacoast Road

Anyone with even a passing interest in geology will find the trip to Dakhla interesting. Here we collected some naturally occurring gypsum crystals that we found ourselves in a place where we merely stopped to admire the scenery.

Driving down to Ad Dakhla, you are able to drive for great distances without finding any small towns, stores, gas stations, or other evidence of civilization. When you finally arrive in Dakhla, it feels like a secret still-undiscovered oasis.

Dakhla, has a population of 70,000 and is Morocco’s largest southern Sahara city. Formerly known as Villa Cisneros (founded by Spanish settlers in 1502), Dakhla is located just north of the Tropic of Cancer, 550 kilometers south of Laayoune, and 1000 kilometers south of Agadir.

Ad Dakhla, Morocco - Now a city of 70,000

Tourists in Ad Dakhla can enjoy deep sea fishing, fishing from shore, windsurfing, camel riding, visiting an oyster farm (8 km outside of town), and kitesurfing, in addition to year-round sun. Excursions to the famous White Dune in the Bay of Dakhla are popular, where sometimes pink flamingoes can be found.

Deep sea fisherman find that common fish of the area include chad, borinto, mullet, sea perch, marlin, tuna and swordfish. The new port is now home to one of Morocco’s largest fishing fleets.

The Port in Ad Dakhla (1970's)

In Ad Dakhla itself, there is no beach (located in the lagoon about 25 km north of Dakhla, which you will see on the way in to town), but there is an oceanfront promenade.

Ad Dakhla, Morocco Waterfront Promenade

Ad Dakhla itself makes an interesting destination in the Moroccan Sahara for tourists who enjoy vast stretches of beach without crowds. Dahkla is located on a pennisula, and while there are no beaches in the town, very interesting beaches are located in the inland lagoon of water, actually on your left side, which extends for 50 km as you approach Dakhla from the north.

The Lagoon, at Ad Dakhla, Morocco

These beaches are vast and shallow, where at high tide the water comes nearly to the road. Yet, at low tide, you can walk out nearly a kilometer.

A wide range of migrating birds and other wildlife are all over the beach in Dakhla, looking for sand crabs and other delicious morsels to eat. It’s an amazing experience to be able to walk on a vast nearly flat beach empty of humans, yet filled at times with a wide range of migrating birds and other wildlife, looking for sand crabs and other delicious morsels to eat. Occassionally you can find tracks through the wet sand of other small animals. Dolphins can also frequently be seen in the Bay of Dakhla.

The town of Dakhla itself is a nice place to wander around. The Catholic church (left) was built during colonial times. A small souk is also interesting to visit.

The Souk in Ad Dakhla

If you happen to visit Ad Dakhla in February, you can attend their large music festival.

Ad Dakhla Music Festival

Many tourists going to Dakhla are particularly interested in taking an overnight excursion to the Mauritanian border, to take a look around Nouadibou, the Mauritanian town on the other side. This can be done in a bus or in your luxury 4 x 4, but in either case, you need to go as part of the convoy which leaves about three times weekly from Dakhla. (North of Dakhla, there is no need for a convoy.)

Nouadibou, Mauritanea - border town with southern Morocco

Part I – Ad Dakhla, Morocco – Best Kitesurfing in the World

For more information about what to see and do in Dakhla and Morocco’s Sahara Desert

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert, Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Chigaga 4×4 Sahara Desert Tours to the Erg Chegaga Dunes, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

The Erg Chegaga Dunes of Morocco are the perfect place for a Sahara Adventure allowing Moroccan Travelers to escape the city lights and find themselves literally in the middle of no where. Erg Chegaga is considered by many to be the “real” Sahara Desert with it’s authentic rustic colored sand dunes and unique flora and fauna. Until recently cell phone coverage was not available in Chigaga and a Sahara journey to the Erg Chegaga Dunes was intended for those who wanted to discover the rocky and desolate areas of the Sahara. Historically speaking, the French and the British were primarily interested in visiting Chegaga however in the past several years that has changed.  Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans and also Moroccans who are interested in an authentic Sahara Desert adventure that takes them deep into the vast Sahara frequent Morocco’s Erg Chigaga Dunes. Centuries ago, the Sahara Desert was covered with water that flowed through and over it. Morocco’s Sahara akin to its rocky piste region of the Onila Valley and Telouet were created by the geologic submergence of water and wind that pressed up against its basalt rock and has today created some of what make up the most magnificent landscape scenery in the Maghreb.

Chegaga-Sahara-Desert

The result of this deluge of water created a Sahara Desert of artifacts found near remains of giraffe, elephant, buffalo, antelopes, rhinoceros, and warthog, as well as the remains of fish, crocodiles, hippopotamuses and other aquatic animals. According to archeologists, the Sahara was much more densely populated thousands of years ago when the desert’s climate was not as harsh as it is today. Fossils, rock art, stone artifacts, bone harpoons, shells and many other items have been found in areas which today are considered too hot and dry to inhabit.

Chegaga-Sahara-Desert-Bivouac

The Sahara is the world’s largest non-arctic desert, and technically the world’s third largest desert. At over 9,000,000 square kilometers it covers most of North Africa, almost equivalent to the size of the United States of America. The Sahara desert stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean.The Sahara has a history that can be traced back to over 3 million years. Erg Chigaga is the only authentic Sahara Desert where the Erg Chigaga dunes lie within a wilderness where the only accommodation is in desert camps. This region is home to the Ait Atta Berber nomads. The Berbers are one of the oldest known inhabitants of the Sahara Desert. They are the people that occupied (and still occupy) more than two thirds of the Sahara’s total surface. The Erg Chigaga Sahara Desert is not built up in the same way as the Merzouga Sahara & Zagora Sahara. Aside from sand dunes and camels, there are only nomad families, wells for water usage, one school, twisted tamarisk trees, apple trees, the Black Sahara (hammada), Iriqui salt flats and Sacred Heart Oasis. Erg Chigaga is for the dye hard Sahara Desert Travelers.

Fossils- Sahara- Desert


3 DAY ERG CHEGAGA (CHIGAGA TOUR) FROM OUARZAZATE

OUARZAZATE – ERG CHEGAGA (CHIGAGA) – M’HAMID SAHARA DESERT

DAY 1: OUARZAZATE – AGDZ – DRAA VALLEY – ZAGORA

►Your Driver will pick you up at your Riad/ Hotel in Ouarzazate at 9:00am to travel to Morocco’s Erg Chegaga Sahara Desert in a 4×4.

►Visit Kasbah des Cigognes which offers a panoramic view of the lake. Continue the road through the Draa Valley, passing Agdz. Once in Agdz continue the road by piste through the Tizi n’Tinififft Pass.

►Have lunch in local restaurant.

►After lunch cross directly through the Draa Valley and witness its incredible volcanic rock, plantations of palmarys and ksours. Arrive in Zagora.

►Diner and Spend the night at a Riad located within the palmary of Zagora.

DAY 2: ZAGORA – TAMAGROUTE – CHEGAGA (CHIGAGA)

►Breakfast at your Riad in Zagora.

▶Visit the old Kasbah Ait Lkaid in the village of Amzrou. At the end of the main road you will find the famous road sign to Timbuktu that reads “52 jours” – 52 hours by camel.

▶Next visit Zagora’s unique, beautifully glazed forest green pottery at the local cooperative in the desert town of Tamagroute. The holy village of Tamegroute’s claim to fame through out history is the beautiful pottery created that has a glaze made of henna and is sun dried.

▶Visit the old Zaouia in Zagora and its underground channels where people live and work.

▶Before taking the road to the Chegaga Sahara Desert, visit he Koranic Library that once held 40,000 volumes and theological college dating from the 11th century. The library contains a collection of illuminated Korans, the oldest of which are written on gazelle skins.

►Take the road to M’hamid. Have lunch in the M’hamid Sahara Desert.

▶ Continue the road by piste to Erg Chegaga then go by dromedary camel trek for 1 hour at sunset into the Erg Chegaga Dunes to camp overnight in a Biouvac tent. Your Tuareg guide will share some of the Sahara Deserts’ secrets. As you glide across humpback on these silent, mystical dunes there will be countless opportunities to photograph the endless rolling dunes.

DAY 3: ERG CHEGAGA (CHIGAGA) – FOUM ZGUID – TAZENACKT – TAZNAKHTE -OUARZAZATE

▶Breakfast in the Erg Chegaga Dunes. Then take the road to Foum Zguid. You will pass deep, desert landscapes, dromedaries along side Nomad families that live in tents.

▶Visit Iriqui, the dry lake and Sahara desert plateau of Akassia. Enjoy lunch at an Oasis.

▶Take the road through Tazenackt, the region that is famous for Berber carpets. Then continue the road back to Ouarzazate This ends your Sahara Tour & Camel Trek to the M’hamid and Erg Chegaga Sahara Dunes in Morocco’s Sahara Desert.

Tuareg-Man-Erg-Chegaga-M'hamid-Dunes

3 DAY ERG CHEGAGA (CHIGAGA TOUR) FROM MARRAKECH

MARRAKECH – ERG CHEGAGA (CHIGAGA) – M’HAMID SAHARA DESERT

DAY 1: MARRAKECH – ZAGORA

►Your Driver will pick you up at your Riad/ Hotel in Marrakech at 9:00am to travel to Morocco’s Erg Chegaga Sahara Desert in a 4×4.

►Departure from Marrakech to M’hamid Sahara Desert.

►En route from Marrakech to Zagora, stop to visit the Argan Cooperative where women make Argan Oil, Argan butter and cosmetics. Have a complimentary tasting and sample the products.

►Stop in the Tizin’ Tichka Pass, which boasts breathtaking views of the Tichka region as you continue your journey to the Sahara Desert for tea.

►Arrive in Ouarzazate. Visit the Ait Benhaddou Kasbah. Lunch in Ait Benhaddou at a restaurant with views of the Kasbah.

►Take the road by piste to visit the picturesque village of Aït Benhaddou located 32 km from Ouarzazate. Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Aït Benhaddou is one of many locations in this region used for shooting Hollywood films.

►Your guide will lead you on a private tour through this Berber village of towered and crenulated kasbahs that once guarded the lucrative caravan route through the Atlas Mountains. Explore the kasbahs by foot with the option to ride a donkey across a river.

►Your guide will share the fascinating history of Aït Benhaddou, which once served as the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakesh in present-day Morocco. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river; ten families however still live within the ksar.

Aït Benhaddou was once a significant stop for traders carrying gold, salt and slaves along the famous Southern Caravan route moving through the Sahara. Only six miles away, is the village of Tamdaght, dominated by the canyon walls of a Glaoui Kasbah. The Kasbah is famous and you will find its towers inhabited by storks. Walk outside the Kasbah’s lush terraced gardens and witness the same desert scenery that used in Gladiator and Alexander the Great.

►Continue the road through the Draa Valley. Arrive in Zagora.

►Spend the night at a Riad within a Palmary of Zagora.

DAY 2: ZAGORA – TAMAGROUTE – M’HAMID- ERG CHEGAGA (CHIGAGA)

►Breakfast at your riad.

▶Visit the old Kasbah Ait Lkaid in the village of Amzrou. At the end of the main road you will find the famous road sign to Timbuktu that reads “52 jours” – 52 hours by camel.

▶Next visit Zagora’s unique, beautifully glazed forest green pottery at the local cooperative in the desert town of Tamagroute. The holy village of Tamegroute’s claim to fame through out history is the beautiful pottery created that has a glaze made of henna and is sun dried.

▶Visit the old Zaouia in Zagora and its underground channels where people live and work.

▶Before taking the road to the M’hamid Sahara Desert, visit he Koranic Library that once held 40,000 volumes and theological college dating from the 11th century. The library contains a collection of illuminated Korans, the oldest of which are written on gazelle skins.

►Lunch in Zagora, take the road to the M’hamid Sahara Desert. Visit the M’hamid Sahara Dunes then continue the road to Erg Chegaga.

▶ Arrive in Erg Chegaga then go by dromedary camel trek for 1 hour at sunset into the M’hamid Dunes to camp overnight in a Berber Biouvac tent. Your Tuareg guide will share some of the Sahara Deserts’ secrets. As you glide across humpback on these silent, mystical dunes there will be countless opportunities to photograph the endless rolling dunes.

DAY 3: ERG CHEGAGA (CHIGAGA) – FOUM ZGUID – TAZENACKT – MARRAKECH

▶Breakfast in the Erg Chegaga Dunes. Then take the road to Foum Zguid. You will pass deep, desert landscapes, dromedaries and Rocky Mountains.

▶Take the road through Tazenackt, the region that is famous for Berber carpets. Then continue the road by pise to visit Kasbah Telouet and its famous Pacha Glaoui. Kasbah Telouet was once an important stop on the Southern Caravan route for traders carrying spices, slaves and other commodities. Telouet’s Kasbah also known as Dar Glaoui once served as the royal headquarters and residence of the Glaoui tribe. Until Morocco’s independence in 1956, the Glaoui had power in the central Moroccan and French administration.

►Lunch en route.

►Arrive in Marrakech in the early evening. This ends your Sahara Tour & Camel Trek to the M’hamid and Erg Chegaga Sahara Dunes in Morocco’s Sahara Desert.

Wind-Storm-in-M'hamid-Sahara-Desert

4 DAY ERG CHEGAGA (CHIGAGA TOUR) FROM MARRAKECH

MARRAKECH – ERG CHEGAGA (CHIGAGA) – M’HAMID SAHARA DESERT

DAY 1: MARRAKECH – ZAGORA

►Your Driver will pick you up at your Riad/ Hotel in Marrakech at 9:00am to travel to Morocco’s Erg Chegaga Sahara Desert in a 4×4.

►Departure from Marrakech to M’hamid Sahara Desert.

►En route from Marrakech to Zagora, stop to visit the Argan Cooperative where women make Argan Oil, Argan butter and cosmetics. Have a complimentary tasting and sample the products.

►Stop in the Tizin’ Tichka Pass, which boasts breathtaking views of the Tichka region as you continue your journey to the Sahara Desert for tea.

►Arrive in Ouarzazate. Visit the Ait Benhaddou Kasbah. Lunch in Ait Benhaddou at a restaurant with views of the Kasbah.

►Take the road by piste to visit the picturesque village of Aït Benhaddou located 32 km from Ouarzazate. Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Aït Benhaddou is one of many locations in this region used for shooting Hollywood films.

►Your guide will lead you on a private tour through this Berber village of towered and crenulated kasbahs that once guarded the lucrative caravan route through the Atlas Mountains. Explore the kasbahs by foot with the option to ride a donkey across a river.

►Your guide will share the fascinating history of Aït Benhaddou, which once served as the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakesh in present-day Morocco. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river; ten families however still live within the ksar.

Aït Benhaddou was once a significant stop for traders carrying gold, salt and slaves along the famous Southern Caravan route moving through the Sahara. Only six miles away, is the village of Tamdaght, dominated by the canyon walls of a Glaoui Kasbah. The Kasbah is famous and you will find its towers inhabited by storks. Walk outside the Kasbah’s lush terraced gardens and witness the same desert scenery that used in Gladiator and Alexander the Great.

►Continue the road through the Draa Valley. Arrive in Zagora.

►Spend the night at a Riad within a Palmary of Zagora.

DAY 2: ZAGORA – TAMAGROUTE – M’HAMID- ERG CHEGAGA (CHIGAGA)

►Breakfast at your riad.

▶Visit the old Kasbah Ait Lkaid in the village of Amzrou. At the end of the main road you will find the famous road sign to Timbuktu that reads “52 jours” – 52 hours by camel.

▶Next visit Zagora’s unique, beautifully glazed forest green pottery at the local cooperative in the desert town of Tamagroute. The holy village of Tamegroute’s claim to fame through out history is the beautiful pottery created that has a glaze made of henna and is sun dried.

▶Visit the old Zaouia in Zagora and its underground channels where people live and work.

▶Before taking the road to the M’hamid Sahara Desert, visit he Koranic Library that once held 40,000 volumes and theological college dating from the 11th century. The library contains a collection of illuminated Korans, the oldest of which are written on gazelle skins.

►Lunch in Zagora, take the road to the M’hamid Sahara Desert. Visit the M’hamid Sahara Dunes then continue the road to Erg Chegaga.

▶ Arrive in Erg Chegaga then go by dromedary camel trek for 1 hour at sunset into the M’hamid Dunes to camp overnight in a Berber Biouvac tent. Your Tuareg guide will share some of the Sahara Deserts’ secrets. As you glide across humpback on these silent, mystical dunes there will be countless opportunities to photograph the endless rolling dunes.

DAY 3: ERG CHEGAGA (CHIGAGA) – FOUM ZGUID -  SKOURA

▶Breakfast in the Erg Chegaga Dunes. Then take the road to Foum Zguid. You will pass deep, desert landscapes, dromedaries and Rocky Mountains.

▶Take the road to Skoura which is known for its Valley of 1000 Kasbahs. Visit Skoura. Dinner & Spend the night at a Guest House that has views of the Skoura Palmary and 1000 Kasbahs.

►Lunch en route.

►Arrive in Marrakech in the early evening. This ends your Sahara Tour & Camel Trek to the M’hamid and Erg Chegaga Sahara Dunes in Morocco’s Sahara Desert.

DAY 4: SKOURA – AIT BENHADDOU – MARRAKECH

►Breakfast at the Guesthouse in Skoura. Visit Ait Benhaddou.

► Located 32 km from Ouarzazate lies the picturesque village. Aït Benhaddou of Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa-Draa on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Aït Benhaddou is one of many locations in this region used for shooting Hollywood films.

►Your guide will lead you on a private tour through this Berber village of towered and crenulated Kasbahs that once guarded the lucrative caravan route through the Atlas Mountains. Explore the Kasbahs by foot with the option to ride a donkey across a river

►Make sure to bring along your camera and photograph this spectacular site and the stunning views that surround this Kasbah and its crenellated towers and dark red pise walls. By the river, you will find observe a collection of Kasbahs whose walls are decorated with blind arches and geometric designs. Make sure to take a walk behind the Kasbah and visit the series of ksars, individual plain earth houses still inhabited by Berber families. Your guide will share the fascinating history of Aït Benhaddou which once served as the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river; ten families however still live within the ksar. Aït Benhaddou was once a significant stop for traders carrying gold, salt and slaves along the famous Southern Caravan route moving through the Sahara.

►For lunch, relax on a terrace with clear views of Aït Benhaddou.

and enjoy a traditional Moroccan tajine. After lunch, browse the village shops then climb back in the comfortable air-conditioned/heated 4×4 and head to the village of Tamadaght.

►Next take the road back to Marrakech, passing the Tiz N Tichka Pass with its impressive High Atlas Mountain views.

►Enroute stop at the Argan Cooperative where you can see women make Argan oil, butter and cosmetic products from the Argan nut. Continue the road and arrive in Marrakech in the early evening. This ends your Travel Exploraiton Morocco Sahara journey.

For more information about 4×4 Chegaga Sahara Desert Tours or Morocco Travel Vacations

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806  or 1 (917)703-2078  and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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