Dades Valley Travel Guide
The Dades is also known as ‘The valley of the thousand Kasbahs’
In Morocco’s southern valley regions, geological history is magnificently exposed for all to see.
Travelling from Marrakech over the Atlas Mountains, toward the palm oasis town of Ouarzazate. Thereafter, heading South East into the Dades Valley, located on the northern side of the Atlas range, is to experience, rather like a kaleidoscope, the Atlas’s changing character at each turn. The Atlas and Anti Atlas ranges can confidently vie with the mighty Himalayas or Swiss Alps and yet have the gentle greenness of the Scottish Highlands.
The Dades valley in some stretches is the more barren of the Southern valleys which makes palm oases Skoura all the more beautiful and dramatic, twisting Gorges like the Dades and Todra all the more spectacular, providing you with, yet again, some of the most magnificent scenery of the south.
The Dades is also known as ‘The valley of the thousand Kasbahs’, dozens of fortress cities litter this route, a reminder of the civilisations that once flourished here in the fertile valleys where roses bloom in the Skoura and El Kelaa des Mgouna oases
To find yourself in the Dades valley is to be immersed in the heart of the rose country, known also as ‘The Valley of the Roses’ where each spring roses are harvested to produce rose water and rose oil for local distribution and the remainder exported to be processed by the worlds perfume industry.
The Rose Festival that takes place after the harvest each year in May is celebrated with dance and traditional Berber music, during which time the entire town is fragrant with the beautiful and natural scent of distilled roses.
The Dades gorge is a dramatically spectacular section of the valley, separating the Atlas Mountains from the Anti Atlas, the gorge is unmistakeably mesmerising and one of southern Morocco’s great natural wonders and most spectacular canyons, with Kasbahs built into the rock, precariously overlooking the river below and where gravity-defying giant rock stacks, all shades of rustic red and baked terracotta glow in the sun.
So ’overbaked’ are these structures by the sun and worn by weather, they look as though they might well crumble before you. The river in perpetual motion has forged deeply cut gullies, inviting you to stop and stare, in amazement!
The road north from Boumalne Dades, with dramatic and ascending zig-zagging roads slicing through the mountain, creates the most magnificent views and is a spectacular way to see the natural beauty of the gorge itself, and the unnatural eclectic mix of roadside attractions and wares set out to catch the visitors passing eye!
Continuing South East, you arrive at the small town of Erfoud and should you travel during the month of October, you will find the date harvest in full swing throughout the southern region, Erfoud being the home of the famed date festival, held annually in the same month.
Into The Chebbi Dunes
Importantly, The Dades Valley comprises one of the great entrance routes into the Sahara, continuing either south-east or northeast, brings you to the oasis village of Merzouga, a populated entrance into the desert.
However, this dune area is a relatively large and stunning expanse of sand, whereby it is still possible for you to access areas of the magnificent ERG CHEBBI, in relative isolation. To choose to stay in a Saharan desert camp, or small hotel on the dunes offers you the unique opportunity of experiencing desert life under the stars and of course you have the option, should you wish, take a camel excursion whilst in the desert or camel trek into the desert
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