Four day excursion from Marrakesh

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Feb 23rd, 2006, 09:27 AM
  #1
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Four day excursion from Marrakesh

jenmaroc, are you there? I read a number of your posts and you seem very well informed. We'll be in Morocco for a week starting March 4. We've planned three nights in Marrakesh, and then want to take an excursion out towards the desert -- but don't want to spend excessive time in a car. What do you recommend?
Thanks!
Will appreciate suggestions from anybody!
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Feb 23rd, 2006, 01:21 PM
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Hi Magdalen,

Really the closest access to the Sahara is Zagora - but admittedly I prefer the dunes further down the road towards M'hamid.

There is always Ouarzazate, which is closer to Marrakech, but not scenic and I find it a bit charmless.

Unfortunately, you have to cross the mountains to reach the desert from Marrakech, so to really experience the best of it, you do have to spend a fair bit of time in the car...but the scenery is great and there are little kasbahs and ancient Glaoui strongholds to visit en route.

Are you driving yourselves or seeking an tour operator?
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Feb 24th, 2006, 07:01 AM
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Great to hear from you!

I would be willling to drive ourselves, but feel it would be more relaxing to go with a tour or with a private driver/guide (though I worry about cost of the latter -- our budget is mid-level, we're not looking for luxury accommodations).

I know Ouarzazate doesn't have much to recommend it, but is a jumping off place for other excursions. I was thinkiing of taking a bus there, then a grand taxi out to Ait Benhaddou, maybe spending the night in that area. (That would be Tuesday). If we wanted to be back in Marrakech late Friday, we'd presumably have to get back to Ouarzazate that afternoon to catch a return bus. That would give us Wed and Thurs to see other areas. What do you think?
Thanks in advance!

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Feb 24th, 2006, 04:58 PM
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I took a tour from Marrakech by Sahara International (a local company that I found in the Lonely Planet guide) and was very pleased. We left early in the morning and drove all day to a little village in a mountainous area (I don't have my journal with me, or I would have names) where we stayed at a very nice hotel. Then, the next day we continued on, stopping in Ait Benhaddou for a short visit, then made it to the "real desert (Merzouga)." We hiked in, climbed the dunes, camped for the night, then woke up at sunrise and camped back to the outpost for breakfast, driving all day to get back to Marrakech.

The drive was really long, but worth every single minute to see the Sahara.

Claire
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Feb 25th, 2006, 05:56 PM
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laclaire-
Just wondering what time of year you did this trip? We are thinking of late June and I am worried about the heat in the desert.
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Feb 27th, 2006, 04:40 AM
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magdalen,
that sounds good - two days (Wed and Thursday) should be enough to have a nice trip into the oases and/or desert. Have a great trip!
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Feb 27th, 2006, 08:02 AM
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Thanks! Meant to ask if you know of any operators to recommend. There seem to be quite a few, and I don't relish spending a whole day trying to figure out what to do with the next three days. We only have a week.

You mentioned Zagora. I know it's not your favorite, but is it worth going there to get a feel of the desert?

By the way, we've decided not to drive ourselves...all in all, I think it will be more relaxing to leave the driving to someone else!
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Feb 27th, 2006, 08:25 AM
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Hi Magdalen,

I can recommend Mark, who runs desert and mountain excursions from Marrakech or Fes. His excursions are "tailor-made" but there are some recommended itineraries on his website (www.madaboutmorocco.com). I'm not sure what his prices from Marrakech would be - but its worth contacting him to see what he could arrange for you.
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Feb 27th, 2006, 04:01 PM
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Anyone have experience with Blue Men of Morocco? We are talking with them to plan a customized 10 day trip, including a night in the desert from Merzouga. They run the Haven La Chance auberge in a village outside Merzouga.

I keep asking about the temperatures in June since that is when we would have to go. We've heard we can do it but I know it will be hot! Just wondering if anyone else has been in late June.
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Feb 28th, 2006, 02:22 AM
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Expect up to 40 degrees C. during the day, probably down to 20 at night. Bear in mind there's virtually nil humidity, so the effect is not too uncomfortable.
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Feb 28th, 2006, 07:10 AM
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To jenmaroc,

I looked at Mark's website and it looks perfect for us. But then the email I sent him bounced back! Frustration! I've tried the two phone numbers listed and left a message at the British one. The other didn't answer.
Any other thoughts for me? We're running out of time, darn it!
Thanks!
Magdalen
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Feb 28th, 2006, 08:56 AM
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Karinw- I was there in June. . . the Sahara trip was towards the middle of the month and I had a very agreeable time. I do tend to do well in heat, though, but it was certainly nothing unmanageable.

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Feb 28th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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All is well....Mark and I got in touch, and it looks as if it will work out beautifully. I will report on our return!
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Mar 1st, 2006, 09:19 AM
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To counter the heat, buy a djellabah when you first get there and wear it! It is amazing how a long-sleeved, hooded, to the ankle garment can be so much cooler than shorts and a tank top. Not to mention is it more comfortable on a social level.
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Mar 15th, 2006, 08:54 AM
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Just back from our Moroccan adventure and can highly recommend Mark Willenbrock. You can reach him at www.madaboutmorocco.com or [email protected]. He was terrific, and the time we spent together was perfect in every way. If anyone needs details on our experience, I'll be happy to provide them.
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Mar 15th, 2006, 01:48 PM
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Magdalen,
Glad to hear you had a great time and that everything worked out with Mark!
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Mar 17th, 2006, 07:34 AM
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Thank you! Photos are coming soon, Magdalen
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