The Dades valley is a stunning area of Morocco covered with two tone kasbah's and earth palaces from where comes its nickname "The valley of a thousand kasbahs". Much of the valley is visible only if you leave your vehicles and venture on by foot but just driving through is a stunning and unforgettably beautiful experience.
A peaceful town with a palmeraie, Erfoud is famous for its fossils and dates. You can buy fossils in every shape and form, from a trilobite keyring to a polished basin of fossil-filled black marble (this might be tricky to take back on the airplane). 50 kilometres further on, at the foot of the majestic Erg Chebbi dunes, Merzouga is a great place to camp under the stars and experience the absolute silence of the desert night.
Once used as a base for desert safaris, Ouarzazate is now making a bid to be a destination in its own right. Strategically located within reach of some of the finest ksour (fortified towns) and oases of the south, Ouarzazate is also famous as the centre of the Moroccan film industry.
Site of the iconic sign ‘Timbuctu 52 jours’, the desert outpost of Zagora has been a caravan halt for at least 500 years. You can shop for jewellery with Berber, Muslim and Jewish motifs in the nearby mellah of Amazraou. If you’re feeling energetic, a climb up the Jebel Zagora will give you a splendid view over the Draa Valley.
M'hamid is a small desert town about an hours drive south of Zagora and the place from where the real desert fun commences! The stepping off place for desert camps at Erg Chigaga and other areas of the Sahara. Can be dusty when there is wind and I have experienced a major sand storm in M'Hamid once which I have to say was quite scary. This little gateway town to the Sahara is a very exciting and beautiful place to visit. Beyond stretch 4,800 kilometres of desert.
Freelance travel writer, Susannah Osborne, travelled to Marrakech with Lawrence of Morocco in September 2012, writing for the Financial Times.
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