Desert lovers rejoice! This is a perfect holiday within a holiday for those who are staying in Marrakesh and want to get away from the cities to explore the more remote areas adjacent to the sahara. For those travelling to the desert for Morocco’s famous sand bathing, this is also a great option as you will have a free day to tour the Sahara on foot.
We begin out private tour of Marrakesh with an official local guide on the first day. Your driver can either pick you up at the airport or another location in the morning and then we head out to explore the “red city of Morocco.” The Marrakesh private tour includes a visit to the Majorelle gardens, the Koutoubia tower and the Saadian tombs. Visit the Bahia Palace and the new quarter of Guéliz. We’ll also explore the souk around Jemaa el-Fna, Marrakesh’s famous square where storytellers, henna artists, acrobats and other performing artists all convene. Tonight we stay in a traditional Moroccan riad near the medina where dinner is served.
Today is the tour of Moroccan Kasbahs! After breakfast at the riad we leave the city in an eastward direction, heading out along the ancient trade route between Marrakesh and the whole of the Sahara, known as the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs. You will feel like you have been transported back in time as we explore these impressive fortresses where travellers and traders periodically stopped for rest and protection. The most well-preserved of these communities is Ait Benhaddou, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the afternoon, there is time to visit nearby Taourirt Kasbah and to check out the cinema museum in Ourzazate, Morocco’s film-making centre. We will spend the night in the city of Ouarzazate with dinner at a local hotel.
Today is the tour of valleys and gorges. First we travel to the Rose Valley, which is quite the sight when the roses bloom. Here we can visit a rose collective where local women produce rosewater, perfume, and skincare products from the fragrant blossoms. There is even an annual rose festival in May. Next we arrive in the Dades Gorges, with iconic winding roads and a peculiar geological formation aptly named “monkey fingers.” Finally, we will reach our final gorge of the day, the Todra Gorge. These steep cliffs are much beloved by rock climbers from around the world. Here we will spend the night and have dinner at a local hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel we will continue towards the desert. We arrive in Rissani, the last major urban area before reaching the dunes. Rissani has lively markets several days a week and if we are lucky enough to visit on one of those days, we can see everything from livestock to cloth to spices for sale. And, of course, there are tasty roasted meats and other traditional Moroccan fare for lunch. Here you can also get outfitted in your turbans in preparation for our travel to the dunes in the afternoon. We proceed to Merzouga village, which will be our home base for the next few days. Arrive at a charming desert hotel right at the edge of Morocco’s tallest sand dune formation, Erg Chebbi. We’ll have dinner and spend the night here in this friendly village.
After breakfast, we begin our 4×4 tour of the Moroccan dunes. We will travel around Erg Chebbi to truly appreciate the size of this spectacular Saharan desert. We may even run into some nomadic families with whom we might be able to share some tea or lunch. In the afternoon, we travel to Khamlia Village to enjoy a small concert. Khamlia is famous as an important centre of Gnawa music and there are many talented percussionists working in this area. Afterwards, we return to our desert hotel in Merzouga to meet your camel guide. He will set you up on the caravan and lead you deep into the heart of Erg Chebbi, to our desert camp. Here you will enjoy a home-cooked Moroccan meal, a campfire, and drumming. You can sleep under the stars or in one of our classic Berber nomad tents.
After the beautiful desert sunrise, hop on your camel caravan to return to the desert hotel in Merzouga where your breakfast awaits. Today is a free day to explore on foot. Some possibilities include taking a dip in the hotel’s azure pool, checking out the lush community gardens with their traditional desert irrigation system, or visiting the local cafes and shops in Merzouga village. If you have come to the desert to experience sand bathing or the famous “sand shower,” this is the day to do it. Or if a dune adventure is more your style, there are quads available for rental. Merzouga is a small, friendly village and it is easy to explore alone and find your way back to the hotel in the evening, where we will have dinner and stay one last night.
Today we bid the dunes farewell after breakfast, but we continue our journey through other desert landscapes as we embark on the less-touristic route back to Marrakesh. We will pass through the Berber villages of Alnif and Tazzarine, where the desert starts to get rockier. Stop at a cafe along the way for lunch and enjoy the peace of being off the beaten path. At the date palm oasis of Tamnougalt, we can see another kasbah in the afternoon before proceeding to Adgz for the night. Here we will take in the unforgettable view of Jbel Kissane, Morocco’s distinctive mountain that becomes fiery orange at sunset.
On our final day together, we depart after breakfast, along the route of the Draa River. This beautiful palm-tree-lined valley with lead us northwards, further into mountainous terrain. We will join our familiar route at Ouarzazate and stop for lunch before travelling the famous winding roads of Tizi n’Tichka Pass over the High Atlas Mountain Range. Finally, in the evening we arrive back in Marrakesh and conclude the tour when we drop you off at the airport or another destination of your choice in the red city.