From Boumalne Dades, you can not miss a trip of at least half a day in the upper Dades Valley. Here, you will enter the rural Atlas, in a very picturesque landscape, dotted with ancient ksour (fortified villages) and kasbah (fortresses).
The road goes through the Tamellalt Valley, characterised by the strong contrast of colours between the green of the crops and the bright red of the rocks. The valley is a continuous succession of Berber villages hiding in the mountains.
Near the village of Aït Arbi, you can spot the Fingers of the Monkeys, extraordinary red rock formations, which owe their name to the bizarre shapes due to the erosion of the wind.
Going up the valley, the path becomes more tortuous and the landscape more arid. You will reach the spectacular Dades Gorges, carved by the force of the water. In some places, the passage is only a couple of meters wide, and the road, after a series of hairpin bends in the canyon, passes right where the river has generated a very narrow passage between high rocky walls.
Sacred heart of Morocco, due to its status as a holy city and sanctuary, Moulay Idriss Zerhoun was closed to non-Muslims until 1912, and non-Muslims were not allowed to stay overnight until 2005. Its previous inaccessibility has helped protect the town's peaceful way of life, and those who do stay are charmed.
Even though the town is easily accessible, being located only 30 kilometres from Meknes and just a few kilometres from the ruins of Volubilis, no many tourists visit it.
The core of the city is the zawiya, a religious complex including a mosque and Idris I mausoleum, regarded as the founder of Morocco and a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. The Mausoleum is Morocco's most important pilgrimage site: it’s said that five pilgrimages to Moulay Idriss equals one hajj to Mecca. This area of the town is off-limits to non-Muslims
For stunning views of the green and pyramidal roof of the mausoleum and a panoramic vista of the town, head uphill to the Grande and Petite Terrasses. It could be difficult to find them on your own, so you may have to ask a local to help you get to the exact spots.
In the town you can find the only cylindrical minaret in Morocco, built in 1939 by a local man after his return from the hajj. It is covered by a green and mosaic tiles.
A 20-minute drive from Zagora, located along the ancient caravan route that led to Timbuktu, the village of Tamegroute is worth a stop.
The village has been a cultural and religious hub for 1000 years through its zawiya. This was a historical centre of the Nasiriyya order, one of the most influential orders in the Islamic world.
Tamegroute's glazed ceramics are very well known. At Maison de Poterie you can go through the rustic pottery-making process. Oxidised copper in the clay yields the rich green glaze: this technique originated when the Nasiriyya brotherhood invited craftsmen from Fez to settle in the village in the 17th century. The seven families remained to carry on the tradition, not only create bowls, plates and vases, but also the tiles that adorn rooftops around the whole country.
Tamegroute is also known for its labyrinth of ksour (fortified villages) connected by dark covered passages which we suggest you to explore with a local.
7 km further south, you will come across the Tinfou Dunes, where, although very small compared to those of M'Hamid and Merzouga, you can have a small taste of Sahara.