The Sahara Ride, Morocco

7 NightsStrong Intermediate to AdvancedFrom €1,100 EUR?Tour costs €1,100 EUR which is approximately $1,762 AUD

Forget the caravans of camels (they tend to spit don’t they?), it will be while you’re conquering the world’s largest desert – the Sahara – astride a finely balanced Barb mare, that you’ll become spellbound by the colourful culture of this country.

Here you are, a united Globetrotting posse conquering the world’s largest desert – the Sahara! Astride your finely balanced Barb mare, you’ll become spellbound by the colourful culture of Morocco. The highlights are endless, literally endless: starry nights beside a campfire before creeping into your sleeping bag under a pin- pricked night sky. Early morning desert canters along blood-red sand dunes and creeping through date palm groves.

From my personal globetrotting experience (I’ve ridden both this Sahara Desert Ride and the Namib Desert Ride) exploring a desert from the back of a horse is a deeply spiritual experience that is hard to put into words. Let me try: you’re thrown into the present moment where every encounter, taste, smell and sound is more vibrant and unforgettable than the last.

With your charming guide Adil, he’ll expertly lead you into this solitary landscape, a desert of childhood imaginings, on his team of fit and agile Barb mounts. What a gift as a Globetrotter – to sensitively step through this landscape, traversing rolls upon rolls of dunes while getting to know Morocco on a first name basis. Forget the caravans of camels (don’t they tend to spit?!), give me a horse any day of the week. If you’re up for an adventure, love the idea of free-style camping (not glamping) and have a spontaneous, carefree globetrotting attitude then our Desert of Dreams ride is calling your name.

Fast Facts

  • Horse Breed:A mixture of Barb and Barb-Arab horses (mares only)
  • Pace:The majority of the ride will be completed at a walking pace, but there will be opportunities to trot and canter when the terrain allows. Please also be advised you will be required to walk on foot and lead your horse up a steep descent at one point within the itinerary. The walk is approximately 1 hour in length - comfortable walking shoes are very helpful for this ascent.
  • Weight Limit:Maximum of 95kg / 210lbs.
  • Type of tack:Trek saddle (in the style of an English saddle with a slightly different seat)
  • Seasons:November
  • Group size:Minimum of 8 and a maximum of 10 guests
  • Time in Saddle:On average from 5 to 7 hours daily.
  • Riding Ability:Suitable for strong intermediate to experienced riders. All riders must be physically fit and confident on forward moving horses at all gaits outside an arena.
  • Accommodation:The first and last night of the ride guests will be staying in a traditional riad (similar to a boutique hotel). For the remaining night’s of the ride whilst in the desert guests will be camping in two-man tents (tents, mattresses and pillows are provided but guests need to bring their own sleeping bags). A bucket with warm water will be available for washing (please bring a flannel cloth) and portable chemical toilet will be available while in the desert, but there will be times when you’ll need to go behind a bush. On the fourth night of the itinerary guests will stay in a nomadic camp (rooms with beds available, electricity in rooms to charge electronics). If rustic camping is not your thing, this ride probably won’t suit.
  • Ride Length:8 days, 7 nights with 6 riding days
  • Inclusions:The price includes twin-share accommodation, all meals from dinner on day 1 through to breakfast on day 8, riding, and round trip transfers from Ouarzazate to Zagora on the first and last days of the itinerary.
  • Exclusions:International and regional flights and travel insurance (compulsory).

 

DEPARTURE DATES & RATES

Departing FinishingAvailabilityTotal
30th Oct 20196th Nov 201910 spots left
€1,100 EUR ?Tour costs €1,100 EUR which is approximately $1,762 AUD - Twin Share ?Happy to share with another solo traveller of the same gender.Book

A single supplement charge will apply for guests not wanting to share. This charge will be variable as it depends on the, but you can expect to pay an extra €10-€20 per riad night. It won’t cost any extra to have your own tent but we need to be informed of this prior to departure.

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?
The price includes twin-share accommodation, all meals from dinner on day 1 through to breakfast on day 8, riding, and round trip transfers from Ouarzazate to Zagora on the first and last days of the itinerary.

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?
The price does not include international or regional flights and travel insurance (compulsory).

Accepted payment is by credit card only. There is a 2% surcharge on all credit card payments.

Why is the price quoted in EUR?
With our riding destinations, the currency is dictated by our ride partner in that country. Therefore due to fluctuating exchange rates we have to quote in the same currency.

Itinerary

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*Please note, this is a suggested itinerary only and subject to change at the discretion of your guides due to weather and other influencing factors.

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  • Day 1

    A gateway to Africa and a country of dizzying diversity, Morocco is a land of epic mountain ranges, ancient cities, rich sweeping deserts and warm hospitality. Essentially Africa and the Middle East rolled into one, lyrical landscapes carpet this epic slice of North Africa like the richly coloured rugs you’ll lust after at local stores in Marrakech.

    Your hosts will meet you at Ouarzazate Airport at approximately 2.00pm (or if you have chosen to arrive a day or two early you can be collected from your hotel in Ouarzazate) where you’ll begin your 3 hour overland transfer. It’s during this drive that you’ll get your first taste of the vastness of the desert dominated by the majestic Atlas Mountains and interspersed with kasbahs, oases, dunes and small villages. You are heading in the direction of the famed desert outpost of Zagora. It’s here that the Saadians launched their expedition to conquer Timbuktu in 1591, and desert caravans passing through gave this isolated town a cosmopolitan character.

    Tonight’s accommodation will be at a riad (a traditional Moroccan house converted into a hotel with a central courtyard). Your evening meal will be your first opportunity to sample one of the greatest cuisines in the world. Moroccan cooking abounds with subtle spices and intriguing flavour combinations – think tart green olives paired with chopped preserved lemon rind stirred into a tagine of tender chicken, the surprise of rich pigeon meat pie dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar, or sardines coated with a flavourful combination of coriander, parsley, cumin and a hint of chilli. Oh my word, I am literally drooling now just thinking about it. The unique food in Morocco is one experience you will want to try!

  • Day 2

    YAY- it’s FINALLY time to swing a leg over a Barb horse and head out into the desert. You’ll be following the famed Draa Valley, a picturesque world of expansive palm groves, earth-red kasbahs and Berber hamlets. Formed by a narrow ribbon of water from the High Atlas mountains that flows south to the Sahara, it’s a long, green oasis in a dry, rocky landscape. Inhabited since prehistoric times, the villages of the Draa Valley prospered at the end of the 16th century thanks to the trans-Saharan gold, salt and spice trade under the direction of the Saadien dynasty. Watchtowers and ksours rise up in front of you as you ride through the middle of palm groves and it’s in this setting that you’ll begin to understand how this very fertile land resisted continuous attacks. Known as ‘the date basket of Morocco’, this fertile corridor is home to many date palms, orchards and irrigated fields.

    You’ll ride through palm groves and Berber villages, breathing in the smells, sights and sounds of this exotic landscape, before arriving at the first campsite in the late afternoon. You can expect a Moroccan ‘shower’ (a bucket with warm water) every night while camping in the desert and a chemical toilet will be available.

  • Day 3

    You’ll continue on through the Draa Valley in the direction of the gorges today, struck
    by unparalleled scenery and interesting rock formations. Amongst the vast palm groves, there are small clusters of farms, single dwellings, villages – everyone here lives off the land, a life far-removed and out of sight of the larger centres of Zagora or Ouarzazate. It’s an unspoilt part of the world and a unique privilege to discover it on horseback. A saddle bag-packed picnic will be enjoyed amongst the palm groves before you begin the descent into Tagounit where you will camp the night under a glistening starry sky.

  • Day 4

    This morning’s ride will take you across the Col of Foum Al Hisn as you reach the vast sand dunes that surround the village of M’Hamid. Once a lonesome oasis, M’Hamid has shed its wallflower qualities and is now the last major town of the Draa Valley before the immense arid expanses of the Hamada take over. Border tensions between Algeria (just 40km south), Morocco and the Polisario had isolated this caravan stop until the 1990s, when accords allowed M’Hamid to start hosting visitors again.

    From here it doesn’t take long to reach the dunes of the Sahara, and you’ll spend the night in a traditional nomadic camp where you’ll be welcomed with warmth by the locals, eager to help you understand their land and culture. This camp consists of rooms with beds, and shared bathroom facilities (hot showers & flushing toilets – yes!). There is electricity in the rooms so this will be your chance to charge all your electronics as required.

  • Day 5

    It’s time to be enveloped by the towering dunes of the world’s largest desert – the Sahara! A scape of solitude and the desert of childhood imaginings, to ride this ancient land on horseback has our globetrotting hearts beating fast and hard with excitement. Covering a territory roughly equivalent to the United States, a journey into the Sahara can be as varied as the desert itself. But instead of the more traditional march across the sands of a great camel caravan of Saharan lore, your horses will carry you over dune after dune after dune. The heat of the day will see the pace slow to one more suited to the Sahara’s unforgiving climate, allowing you to appreciate the finite details and pass through this spectacular terrain at one with your surroundings.

    But don’t worry globetrotters, for the speed demons among you there will be time to really let it rip and go for a gallop across the dunes either in the early morning or late afternoon when the mercury isn’t quite so sky-rocketing high.

    You’ll camp out in the dunes again tonight, and while you’ll have the option of a mattress in a tent, the more adventurous among you may prefer to sleep outdoors on a soft bed of sand beneath the clearest show of stars on earth.

  • Day 6

    Today will be spent further exploring the desert of dreams. Being able to travel across this landscape on horseback and not in the hustle and bustle of a noisy 4WD allows you to experience perhaps the greatest luxury the Sahara affords – silence. I think it will be the simplest moments that will prove the most rewarding on this globetrotting adventure – learning to tie a turban, singing with your guides, standing astride your Barb horses atop the mountainous dunes at sunset, and lazing beside a crackling fire by the light of a full moon.

    *Please note, today’s ride includes an approximate 1-hour ascent on foot to get over the top of a mountain range. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes when you set off from camp this morning.

  • Day 7

    Time to say goodbye to the ancient desert lands Globetrotters, and after a final gallop across the red sands, clouds of dust left in your wake, you’ll be back in the palm groves and stunning oasis of the Draa Valley. It’s here you’ll say a sad goodbye to your loyal horses who have carried you through one of the hottest and most arid climates on the planet, and your guides who have been with you every step of the way.

    Your final night will be in a riad in Zagora (similar to the one you stayed in on the first night) and you’ll share one last dinner together as a group. Be sure to savour those rich tagine flavours as you eat, because you never know when (or if) you will be able to get back to the wondrous country.

  • Day 8

    This morning after breakfast, you’ll start the 3 hour drive back to Ouarzazate. If you are flying out today, please ensure you don’t book departing flights until after 12 midday. And should you choose to stay on and continue your travels in Morocco, you can be dropped off at your hotel in Ouarzazate.

  • Transfer Information

    Complimentary round trip transfers are available from Ouarzazate Airport or hotel to/from Zagora on the first and last days of the itinerary. Please be advised, Royal Air Maroc (the main airline in Morocco), is known to be a little unreliable in terms of arrival/departure times and lost luggage – it’s a third world country after all. Because of this, we actually recommend you fly to Ouarzazate the DAY BEFORE the ride begins, to ensure you’re united with all your belongings and are ready to be picked up the following day.

    The drive from Ouarzazate to Zagora is approximately 3 hours. The road is winding in places, so if you suffer from travel sickness we recommend taking the appropriate medication with you.

    On day 8, please don’t book your departing flights from Ouarzazate until AFTER 12 midday. Globetrotting is happy to provide a competitive quote on international flights, travel insurance, car hire and hotels before and after your ride.

The Sahara Ride, Morocco - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Summer Smyth

‘I loved the variety of every day and every camp on the Sahara Ride. The dunes were amazing, as was seeing and going through the mountain ranges. The different villages and camps were great to ride through. My mare was really sweet natured to both people and other horses, and the guides were lovely and helpful. The meals were great, too – vegetarian food I’ve had in Morocco previously has been rather boring, so I was very pleasantly surprised!’

The Sahara Ride, Morocco - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Jo Seery

‘What a fantastic experience to ride the sand dunes in Morocco with other Globetrotters. Galloping across the sand dunes in the early morning and again across the plains was WOW. Haven’t gone that fast for years! And walking the mountain pass and coming to that spectacular view was truly epic, as was the descent. So many magnificent views to take in and a great insight into local life in the villages as we rode through, stopping for water for the horses or local mandarins.
My little mare, Ayisha, was a star. The meals were awesome and I enjoyed them hugely. Riding the sand dunes was my favorite part – something I have never experienced.’

 

Globetrotting Sahara horse riding holiday in Morocco

Lee Powrie

‘Amazing, challenging, extraordinary. In every way. So many highlights: the view from the top of the pass when we walked our horses, the beauty of the sand dunes, the goats on the hill running up to us at the camp, the way my horse Zeina turned her head to me when she heard my voice as I walked up to her. So many times I felt I was in a time warp – back in old testament days, horses, desert, stones, sun, and not much else – a beauty so stark it was other worldly.’

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