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Morocco Desert Tour

Marrakech to Fes, via Great Southern Valleys & Sahara

4 days / 3 nights (* see notes)

Tour Ref:   SV010
Tour start:   Marrakech
Tour end:   Fes
Tour type:   Family, Cultural, Desert
Regions:   Southern Valleys, Sahara Desert, Atlas Mountains
Available:   All year upon request

Tour summary

A 4-day desert adventure tour from Marrakech, via the Sahara Desert and finishing in Fes. This classic desert tour takes in the famous Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou as well as going off-road in 4x4 vehicle into the High Atlas Mountains above the Valley of Roses across to the Dadès Gorge. You travel through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, sip tea with cave-living nomads, walk in the Todra Gorge, ride a camel in the Sahara and sleep in the desert dunes of Erg Chebbi. Our tour offers an action-packed itinerary with plenty of options to add on extra days and activities. You will travel with a local Sahrawi guide/escort to assist you. Suitable for those with a limited time available and accessible to all ages and all fitness levels.

Please note: All our Morocco tours can be customised to allow extra days for shorter daily car journeys, extra activities, relaxation days, exploration days etc. We can also adapt tours to connect with different start/end locations in Morocco. Let us know your wishes and we will build your perfect Morocco tour itinerary.

Price: Contact us for a personalised quotation.
Prices will vary according to number of people travelling in vehicle, number of days, time of year, category of accommodation chosen and activities requested.

NB Our Morocco tours are private tours organised upon request.

Day-to-day tour itinerary

Day 1

Marrakech - High Atlas Mountains - Kasbah Ait Benhaddou - Ouarzazate - Skoura

Morning departure from your hotel/riad in Marrakech and you head into the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains. Passing mud-built villages clinging to the hillsides with pine forests, juniper, oleander, prickly pear, almond and cherry orchards lining the route. The road winds ever higher over the Tizi n’Tichka mountain pass - the main thoroughfare to the south. In winter you reach the snow-line and pass across small plateaus before reaching the highest point at 2200 metres. The road then twists down through valleys of apple trees and small fields cultivated by local Berbers, with stunning mountainscapes of richly coloured earth in shades of olive green, burnt sienna and ochre. You then reach the most famous kasbah in Morocco - the Kasbah Ait Benhaddou - a fortified hilltop village which once controlled the trade caravans that passed through from sub-Saharan Africa. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage site and has achieved fame as a backdrop in many Hollywood movies filmed here - Gladiator, Prince of Persia, Jewel in the Nile and Lawrence of Arabia. You have lunch in one of the restaurants overlooking the kasbah and then enjoy a walking tour into the narrow streets of the old kasbah and admire the views across the surrounding landscape from the grain store at the very top of the fortifications. From here you travel south towards Ouarzazate and then head east to the Skoura oasis. This palm grove was established in the 12th century by Sultan Moulay Yacoub el Mansour. You will have time to visit the 17th century Kasbah Amerhidil which has been recently restored within the oasis and depending on time, you may also visit the Museum of Skoura which houses exhibits of local tribal costumes, agricultural implements, manuscripts and photographs. You can stay in a charming guest-house with panoramic views over the oasis, a renovated kasbah or a boutique guest-house nestled deep in the palm groves. NB It is possible to add an extra day here for horse riding or walking in Skoura oasis.

Stay: Traditional guesthouse or boutique guesthouse in Skoura

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 2

Skoura - Valley of Roses - Dadès Gorge - Valley of Thousand Kasbahs - Todra Gorge

From Skoura, you head east for about an hour until you enter the Valley of Roses at Kelaa M’Gouna. The region is famous for its cultivation of the Damask rose which is grown in the valley and hillside terraces on the south-facing slopes of the Atlas. The petals are harvested at the end of spring and distilled to manufacture perfumes, rose oil, rose water, soaps, cosmetics. In May each year the annual Rose Festival celebrates this age-old tradition. At Kelaa M’Gouna you take the route north into the High Atlas Mountains as far as Bou Tharar. From here the journey is off-road to discover Ait Atta Berber nomads living in caves in the mountainside. We stop to share some mint tea in the simple grottoes before continuing on rocky tracks to enter the Dadès Gorge. The astounding rock formations from thousands of years of erosion of the sandstone have left the formations known as ‘the monkey’s fingers’. The valley is especially beautiful in spring when the almond-orchards are in blossom. You head up into the gorge to the famous switchback mountain pass and enjoy lunch along the route. From here you will drive for about 2 hours through the Dadès Valley, also known as the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, due to the numbers of crumbling mud-built kasbah fortresses and villages which line this route which once was the trade caravan route from the Sahara to Marrakech. At Tinerhir you reach the road that winds up into the Todra Gorge, with its immense cliffs that attract rock climbers from around the world. Palm trees, figs, oleander and pomegranate and olives line grow in the fertile valley, which is Morocco’s highest oasis. Dinner is enjoyed on the roof terrace or the dining room of a cosy traditional guesthouse that is located close to the narrow gorge, where the river runs next to the road. You will have time to walk for a while at the end of the day in the gorge or in the riverbed and gardens below. NB this is an ideal location for spending an extra few days trekking or rock climbing (2 days min).

Stay: Traditional guesthouse in Todra Gorge

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 3

Todra Gorge - Tinejdad - Erfoud - Rissani - Merzouga - Erg Chebbi dunes

The morning you head back down to Tinerhir and then east to Tinejdad where you may wish to stop to visit the fascinating community project, the Museum of the Oasis at Ksar el-Khorbat before then continuing to Erfoud and Rissani. Between Erfoud and Rissani, look out for the ‘khettara’ ancient water irrigation system that lines the road and also the Museum of Geology and Paleontology. This region is particularly rich in prehistoric fossils, ammonites and trilobites embedded in the bedrock for millennia. Polished black marble and granite is a speciality of Erfoud and you may wish to visit a marble workshop along the way. In Rissani, the birthplace of the current Alaouite dynasty, you stop for lunch before then continuing to Merzouga village to reach the Moroccan Sahara dunes of Erg Chebbi. Here you swap your 4x4 and driver for a camel and local nomad guide to take you to your bivouac desert camp in the Erg Chebbi desert dunes for the night. NB for those who want to spend more than a few hours in the Sahara, we can add an extra day here to enjoy a full-day camel trek, sample a local Berber pizza, or enjoy an afternoon performance with the Saharan Gnawa musicians in the village of Khamlia.

Stay: Standard or luxury desert camp Merzouga

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 4

Merzouga - Ziz Valley & Gorge - Midelt - Middle Atlas - Azrou - Fes

Early breakfast in the Sahara desert and return by camel to meet your 4x4 vehicle. You then drive north via Er Rachidia and the Ziz Valley and Gorge, with abandoned kasbahs and villages along the the route of the Oued Ziz. It’s a long 9 to 10-hour drive passing through the agricultural town of Midelt where you stop for lunch, and over the Middle Atlas Mountains. You may encounter snowfields in winter as you climb towards the ski resort at Ifrane - known as ‘Switzerland of Morocco’ and then through the cedar forest at Azrou, where you can stop to stretch your legs and seek out the Barbary apes that live in this protected habitat. At the end of the day you arrive to the spiritual capital of Morocco - Fes medina. After a long day on the road we drop you off at your riad or hotel. We are happy to arrange accommodation for you in Fes if required, or you can choose to continue your holiday in Morocco with us by adding-on one of our Suggested Morocco Adventure Tour Itineraries. NB keen hikers may wish to break the journey at Azrou and spend an extra night here to enable for walking in the forests and mountains the next morning before arriving in Fes medina.

Stay: N/A

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

  • Pre-tour accommodation in Marrakech and Post-tour accommodation in Fes can be arranged if required.

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