Day 1 – Arrive Agadir
Arrival in Agadir. Transfer to the hotel where the rest of the day is at leisure. No meals or guided activities are included today. Overnight in a comfortable hotel – Hotel Atlas Amadir, or similar.
Day 2 – Agadir – Sidi Ifni
This morning we explore the atmospheric markets of Agadir where more than 600 merchants ply all manner of trades. Travelling by 4WD, we then depart the city and follow the Atlantic Coast on a scenic route sandwiched between reefs and creeks. We take a late lunch in a small fishing village before continuing to Sidi Ifni. If time allows we will take some time to explore the town. Overnight Safe Hotel or similar (BLD)
Agadir is a Berber and cosmopolitan town with Phoenician origins. From 1140 BC and thanks to its geographical position with a large beach protected by a gulf and to its mild climate, it has also been inhabited by Carthaginians, Portuguese, Dutch, Sephardi Jews and finally, by the French. The town was destroyed by two earthquakes in 1731 and 1960 and has always been rebuilt. Today is a known touristic destination. The market of Agadir surrounded by decorated walls, Souk El Had, is one of the largest in Morocco with more than six thousand merchants offering nearly any product and handicraft from the country.
Day 3 – The Caravan Route and Ancient Fort
Travel this morning from the Atlantic coast to the gateway to the desert and the town of Guelmim, an ancient caravan terminal. Here we will discover the remains of the ancient Trans-Sahara trade and take in the authentic camel market, where of particular interest is the sight of nomadic shepherds dressed in the djellaba. After lunch in a local restaurant we take a track to a ghostly military fort which still ‘guards’ the former borders between the French protectorate of Morocco and the Spanish Sahara. Here we feel like we are on the set of an old French foreign legion movie. A late afternoon arrival at the comfortable Ksar Tafnidilt hotel, built using local material in a beautiful Saharan style. The hotel is managed by our long term friends, Guy and Magali, a French couple. Magali is a desert expert; she won the “Rally des Gazelle,” the most gruelling off-track competition reserved for female teams. Ksar Tifnidit is a meeting point for passionate Sahara travellers. The hotel will be our base for the next 2 nights. Overnight at Ksar Tifnidit (BLD)
Day 4 - Estuaries and Desert
We leave Tifnidit crossing a steep range of dunes and arrive to the region of the Dra estuary visited only by the most intrepid travellers. Between the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean there are no paved roads. We will discover tiny temporary fishing settlements, abandoned colonial military posts, dunes, and camels. Leaving the coastline, we find our way along a river bed in a large canyon, the only possible path between high dunes, cliffs and the ocean. We return to our hotel. Overnight at Ksar Tifnidit (BLD)
Day 5 – Dunes and Lagoons (Western Sahara)
We leave our amiable hosts from the last 2 nights and cross a steep range of dunes, now in the territory known as Western Sahara. The former Spanish Sahara colony has been the site of a long war between the Polisario Armed Front and the Moroccan army and is presently part of Morocco. We visit the Naila lagoon, separated from the ocean by rows of dunes. It is the largest salt lake in Morocco (100km squared), and a protected area of great natural beauty with prolific migratory birdlife, at times hosting up to 20,000 individual flamingos, cormorants, herons and gulls. We will take time to explore this remarkable wetland area by local fishing boat and camp in a spectacular location between the dunes and the lagoon. Overnight comfortable camping (see notes) (BLD)
Day 6 – Smara and the Desert Citadel
Drive into the rocky desert region of the Seguia el Hamra with Smara our destination. On arrival explore the town including the citadel with its remains of Hispano-Moresque colonial military quarters and the interesting palace of the Zawiya built by Maa el Ainine in stone with a white plaster bas-relief ceiling. Also visit the market and other points of interest. After dinner this evening we will enjoy a local cultural performance of dance and music showcasing Saharawi culture. Overnight either in a fixed camp in large moorish tents with carpets and beds or at the recently built Hotel Sahariano (BLD).
Smara was established in 1898 by the sheikh Maa el Ainin, born at Oualata in Mauritania to an important Sufi religious family. In 1887, Moulay Abdelaziz, the sultan of Morocco, named him Caid of Tindouf (in the actual Algeria). Smara was built with the support of the Sultan of Morocco that sent fonds, technicians, materials and architects. Before the edification of the town, the site was a caravanserai on the pathway to Mauritania. The town of Smara became a key market for local nomads and for the caravans linking the Magreb with sub-Saharan Africa. In 1908, Sheik Maa el Ainin claimed himself as a religious leader (Imam) declaring Smara a holy town and called the jihad against French and Spanish colonisation. Smara, the only town founded by a Saharawi the rest of the towns in this part of the Sahara was founded by the Spanish. Smara has always been the epicentre of the Saharawi insurgencies. To settle one of the many rebellions, Smara was attacked by the French camel battalions from Mauritania in 1913 and in 1934 by the “Tercio” (Spanish foreign legion) and in 1973 the Polisario front was founded in Smara. During the Spanish colonial period, the administration didn’t have a strong presence in the inland and the Smara region was under control of Sheikh Maa el Ainin and of its Saharawi rebel tribes. Sheikh Maa el Ainin became the most relevant political-religious leader of a vast region called Trab al-Bidan covering south Morocco to Western Sahara, Mauritania and a large strip of desert from north Mali to southwest Algeria. It is said that he married 116 wives from different tribes, creating an alliance with each of the tribes. A young French intrepid traveller and explorer, Michel Vieuchange, disguised as a Berber woman was able to reach the town in 1930 taking more than 200 photos and filling up seven books of notes. Michel Vieuchange died of dysentery and exhaustion when he was 26 years old on his way back. His brother published the posthumous book “Smara: the forbidden city”. Today Smara is a pleasant small town with a well-supplied market
Days 7 - 9 - Sahara – The Forbidden Track
In Smara we will meet our local guide, a nomad from a Sharawi tribe who will lead us through four days of true desert adventure crossing the former Western Sahara from north to south. During this authentic Saharan odyssey, we will cross imposing dunes discovering wells frequented by camels belonging to the legendary Reguibat nomads and we will meet these stalwarts of the desert. We will also have the privilege of visiting an area rich in ancient petroglyphs only recently discovered and still being studied by local archaeologists. It is believed that these sites hide the highest concentration of art in North Africa. Overnights spent camping under the stars of the timeless Sahara (BLD)
Note regarding camping in the Sahara
Our modern tents are provided with mattresses and are totally closed with mosquito nets at the windows. Tents are placed on a large mat that further isolates them from the soil. A warm dinner will be prepared by a local cook and served at tables. Your tent will be equipped with beds and carpets providing a more comfortable camping experience. A large restaurant tent and a toilet tent (facilities tent) will be installed at each camp: A 4WD logistic vehicle carrying camp and kitchen staff will accompany the expedition in the remote areas.
Day 10 – From the Desert to the Ocean
Our off-piste trans-Saharan expedition traverses a region of dunes, wells and the camps of nomadic camel herders. Later in the afternoon, we join a road that takes us closer to the ocean, in the evening arriving at a comfortable ocean front hotel in Dakhla. Overnight Hotel Doumss or similar. (BLD)
Day 11 – Rio De Oro - Depart Dakhla
The exceptional beauty of this landscape makes the Dakhla peninsula a truly special place. The Rio de Oro (Golden River) is a 25-mile long sea loch situated between cliffs and dunes. Different colours paint the scenery: the intense blue of the ocean, banks of yellow sand, and green seaweed fields. The brown rocks and white dunes form an island during high tide. The small town of Dakhla was founded by Spanish navigators in 1502 and was called “Villa Cisneros”. We visit the traditional fishing harbour and have lunch at an oyster farm (other food will be available) then drive along the shore where we will see ocean waves lapping the sand dunes. Return to the hotel for a shower and freshen up before a transfer to the airport for an evening departure with the captivating beauty of the Sahara now entrenched firmly into your soul. (BL)
- Arrival and departure transfers provided on a shared or private basis depending on location. On occasions the transfer will be operated by a hotel shuttle bus (*please see notes below)
- Arrival and departure transfers
- All accommodation as per the itinerary
- Camping equipment
- Services of English-speaking guide / tour leader
- Full board from Day 2 to Day 10
- Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
- Drinking bottled water in the vehicle
Note – Airport Transfers
We include airport transfers in the price of your tour if you are arriving on the first day and leaving on the last day of the advertised itinerary. These will be provided by our local representative or on occasions by the hotel used for the first and last nights of the tour. When the transfer is provided by the hotel this will often be via a shared shuttle bus operated by the hotel. If you are planning to arrive before the start date, and/or leave after the end date of the tour, Undiscovered Destinations can arrange private transfers at an additional cost. Please check with us at the time of booking.
Please note that if you have arranged extra pre and/or post tour accommodation, either through Undiscovered Destinations or directly with the hotel or an agent, airport transfers are not included in the price of your tour. Please contact us if you would like Undiscovered Destinations to arrange private airport transfers at an additional cost.
- International flights
- Any airport taxes
- Travel Insurance
- Visas (contact us for details)
- Additional drinks
- Items of personal nature
- Tips (Discretionary)