TRAVERSE THE SAHARA DESERT ON HORSEBACK & DISCOVER AUTHENTIC MOROCCO
Discover Morocco’s secrets on a horseback adventure through ancient argan forests, along ocean cliffs and across windswept beaches.
This ride takes you through the iconic and stunning desert scenery of the hottest desert in the world. Trek through tall and mysterious sand dunes, crest small desert mountains revealing views of the vast emptiness beyond and weave your way through the undulating hills. The rolling hills give way to great ground for long canters and many ‘release-your-inner-cowboy’ gallops across the sands. These ever-changing Saharan landscapes occasionally give way to small oasis, a treasure trove in this harsh environment.
Arrive after a satisfying day of horse riding to your cosy and comfortable inn for the night. For dinners, enjoy delicious home-cooked Moroccan cuisine – A real treat after many hours in the saddle. You will get a first-hand insight into the ways of the Berber communities that inhabit the desert.
Awake each morning as the sun sets the dunes on fire, highlighting their orange tones, and climb aboard your steed. The horses are mainly stallions, with the herd made up of Barb and crossbred Barb/Arabians. The horses are responsive, forward going, fit and know their job well. As with any trail ride, there is a mix of paces. You will relax and soak-up your surroundings with some slower riding as you cover rocky or very soft ground. However, these are interspersed with fast canters and on occasional epic gallops! The riding is for those who are confident in the saddle, able to control their mount in open landscapes and at a fast pace. Canters on trail usually start in line before spreading out later in the week once your mounts have settled into the ride! It is advisable to be physically fit both on and off your horse as sometimes you will need to proceed on foot up or down steeper terrain.
This trail rides begin in Ouarzazate, also known as the ‘door of the desert’. Leave civilisation behind as you escape into the depths of the desert and far off the beaten track. The Draa Valley through which you ride has provided the set of many films due to its stunning and iconic nature. Lawrence of Arabia was shot here and showcases the beautiful colours of the Sahara Desert. Embrace the freedom of the desert as you fly across the sands, grit getting stuck between your teeth as you can’t keep the grin from your face.
- Experiencing a stunning and beautiful part of the Moroccan Sahara Desert, far off the beaten track
- Thrilling ‘let the dogs loose’ gallops across vast open landscapes
- Comfortable and authentic accommodation with all the creature comforts, warm hospitality, and local cuisine
- Getting to explore the red dunes of Merzouga on horseback
- Fast, fun and challenging riding on fit Arabian and Barb stallions
READ MORE REVIEWS
”I loved it. Morocco is such a beautiful country. The guides were awesome, the horses were well trained, the views were breathtaking. And galloping on the beach was utterly exhilarating! I Can’t wait for my next trip. South Africa/Botswana is up next.SaffaMorocco
Thank you for all your help along the way. This was the perfect intro to riding trips for me.
This trail ride will take you through a small piece of this vast desert located in the south-east of Morocco. Climb aboard your horses at the ‘door to the desert’, the aptly known town of Quarzazate. From here, you will leave modern civilisation as you head out in the depths of the desert and the high dunes of the Draa Valley.
Ride the most beautiful part of the Moroccan desert, far off the beaten track with many opportunities to gallop in the open space. The following is the proposed itinerary but please note that changes are possible due to weather and local conditions. On occasions, the itinerary may run in reverse or you may be in the saddle for longer durations than stated below.
Today you will arrive in Morocco. Book your international flights to either Ouarzazate or Marrakesh airports where you will be met by one of the team. If you fly to Marrakesh you will need to arrive before 14:00 to allow for the four-hour transfer (extra cost) to Ouarzazate. In Ouarzazate you will be transferred to your hotel and have the afternoon at leisure. Enjoy your first traditional dinner with the rest of your group as you get acquainted. It is then off to bed for an early night to get ready for the adventure ahead!
It will be an early start, meeting in reception at 7am, but you will no doubt be rearing to go. It’s a long drive as you hit the road and head towards Zagora through the Drâa valley. This is a scenic journey taking you through Tansikht and then along the Jebel Sagho mountain chain to cross Nkob and Tazzarine. Leave the asphalt road behind for the final 60km of dirt track. The drive is around 6 hours in total – 420km is tar and 60km is dirt. Stop for a picnic lunch en-route under the shade of the trees.
At the end of the track, you will be introduced to your guide and ground team. They will introduce you to their herd of stallions and give you time to get acquainted when you saddle up. Set out on your first ride across the dune fields and rocky wadis to reach your cosy inn for the night.
About 2 – 3 hours in the saddle.
Rise bright and early ready for a day in the saddle. After breakfast, saddle up and ride out of Tafraoute Village, heading to the Ahbouche Ktkouyte plateau (Tafraoute Lake). This morning’s route takes you across flat sandy ground which is great for some faster canters.
You will be riding in the foothills of Tattihate, taking in the breath-taking landscapes of the Sahara Desert with its endless dunes and rock formations in the background. This evening will be spent in a comfortable desert riad located in Mharech Valley.
About 4 – 6 hours in the saddle.
This morning you will head further south into the desert, often meeting local desert nomads along the way. There is some slower riding as you traverse the thicker desert sands. You will cross the picturesque Chouiref plateau and head towards the abandoned village of N’Oubahllou, then on to the orange dunes of Remlia. After the dunes of Remlia, weave and wind your way between the mountains, dunes, and small palm groves.
Spend the night in a comfortable inn after watching the sunset from the top of a high dune.
About 4 – 5 hours in the saddle.
Today you adventure along the splendid Ouzina sand hills. The scenery will move from striking dunes, to vast plateaus and then rocky mountains. Another day in the Sahara draws to a close in the village of Taghaouchtn-Jdaid, one of the rare places with permanent water.
About 4 – 5 hours in the saddle.
On your ride this morning the landscape will change once more. It will become dotted with tamarisk (small salt cedar trees). The trail will lead you through this alien landscape to the foot of the highest dunes in Morocco called the Chebbi Erg.
It is in this beautiful setting you will spend the night at a comfortable riad at the foot of the dunes.
About 5 hours in the saddle.
You spend the last morning riding through the Chebbi Erg for your last taste of the Moroccan dunes. After bidding a sad goodbye to your faithful steed and the team that lead you through this beautiful country, you will hop back into the 4WD. Drive in the direction of Erfoud, Boumalne Dades, across the 1,000 Kasbah Valley until you reach Ouarzazate.
Upon arrival in Ouarzazate, you will settle into the hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Your final night’s dinner will be at a restaurant in town. You will share laughs and stories about the week’s adventures with your group.
About 3 hours in the saddle.
After breakfast transfer to Ouarzazate airport for your return flight. If departing from Marrakesh your flight should depart after 16:00 (to allow for the four-hour transfer) or add a few extra days to explore the bustling city life.
GUESTHOUSE / CAMP
Each night is spent in a comfortable desert hotel or inn – Otherwise known as riads. Rooms are either twin/double or triples – Single rooms cannot always be guaranteed at all the riads so please check with us. Bathrooms may be shared. In Ouarzazate, you stay in a 3* hotel with a swimming pool – a great start and end to your trip. Staying in the riads is an authentic Moroccan experience, run by locals and located in the small communities of the desert.
FOOD AND DRINK
All meals are included and will be traditional Moroccan dishes. Lunch is usually cold whilst dinner is a hot meal. A typical dinner would begin with hot and cold salads, followed by a hot tagine which may be served with couscous or flat bread. Water is provided but other drinks are payable locally. Please bring metal water bottles and not plastic.
Alcohol is not provided and not easily purchased during the trail, nor is it always sold at the smaller riads or guesthouses. There are some shops where you can buy alcohol in Marrakesh but the choice is very limited and can be expensive. You can bring your own alcohol from home or buy from duty-free if you wish.
The Sahara Desert
The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world and is only beaten to the title of ‘largest desert’ by Antarctica and the Arctic. This vast landscape runs all the way from the Atlas Mountains in Northern Africa to the Sahel in the South. The Sahara Desert has a surface area that totals more than 3,000,000 square miles – A similar size to the whole of the USA!
This trail ride will take you through a small piece of this vast desert located in the south-east of Morocco, including the Mharech Valley and the dunes of Remlia and Chebbi Erg – the highest sand dunes in Morocco.
HOW WE CARE FOR OUR HORSES
Our horseback adventures are hand-picked for their quality and care of their horses. Here’s how the horses in Morocco are kept in tip-top shape for your safaris. Our horses are on top of the hierarchy and receive very special care:
- The horses are mainly Barb and Arab Stallions which are well trained, fit, forward going and well-behaved on the trail
- The tack is good quality English-style or trail saddles that are fitted to each horse and cleaned daily
- The stables are airy and designed in a traditional way with the horses in mind. On the trail the horses sleep out in paddocks or on a picket line near the tents
- Water and food are brought by vehicle and the horses get 2-3 hard meals, plus plenty of roughage to eat during lunch stops and throughout the night
- Riders groom and tack up their own horses on the trail but there is always an experienced guide to assist where needed
- The Morocco herd is moved throughout the year to different trail locations. This allows them to follow the cooler weather and avoid desert summers or cold mountain winters