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Morocco Desert Tour

Souks, Snakes & the Sahara

9 days / 8 nights

Tour Ref:   SV006
Tour start:   Marrakech
Tour end:   Marrakech
Tour type:   Family, Cultural, Desert
Regions:   Southern Valleys, Imperial Cities (Marrakech), Atlas Mountains, Sahara Desert
Available:   mid-September to early June upon request

Tour summary

A 9-day Morocco desert adventure tour that has plenty to entertain all members of the family. From the excitement of haggling in the ancient medina of Marrakech with its snake charmers and endless souks, this circular tour takes you over the High Atlas Mountains in 4x4 witnessing rural life of the mud-built villages to visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kasbah Ait Benhaddou and the famous Atlas Film Studios. The trip continues on toward the Sahara desert, encountering ‘Blue Men’ nomads of the Sahara. Activities include decorating pottery, riding on camels and sandboarding in the dunes. You spend a night in a desert camp with campfire and music before travelling back off-road across desert and a dried lake on the old Paris-Dakkar rally route. The tour also allows for free time for your own exploration and relaxation. With stays in traditional riads and small guesthouses, this Morocco adventure tour is perfect for families, children aged 5 yrs upwards, teenagers, students, friends and people of all ages and fitness levels. NB Extra activities and days can be added to increase the adventure-fun factor and pump up the adrenalin level. Accommodation can be upgraded to make this a luxury desert experience in the Sahara.

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


Meet & greet at MARRAKECH airport and transfer to your riad - a guesthouse converted from a traditional Moorish-designed family home centred around a small courtyard patio or inner garden. You can choose to stay in the old city medina, in a hotel in the modern new town outside the ramparts, or a few kilometres out of town in a boutique hotel or villa in the exclusive palmeraie. Depending on your arrival time you will then have the rest of the day to explore the vibrant city of Marrakech unguided or just enjoy the facilities of your hotel. The old medina of Marrakech is a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys, with different neighbourhoods and streets specialising in various arts, crafts and produce. Take time to relax in your traditional guesthouse, enjoy the roof terrace and soak up the sounds and smells of Morocco’s favourite city. Dinner will be served at your riad/hotel this evening.

Stay: Traditional riad, boutique guesthouse or hotel in Marrakech

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2


Half day morning tour with city guide of Marrakech - also known as the ‘red city’ for its famous pink-hued ramparts. Our English-speaking city guide will meet you at your hotel in the morning and take you through the souks of the medieval medina, introducing you to artisans, bakers, carpenters, spice merchants, apothecaries and also including visiting the landmark monuments of Ben Youssef Madersa, the Bahia Palace and the Koutoubia Mosque. Your tour ends at the famous Place Jemaa el Fna square where you can enjoy lunch from a roof terrace overlooking the bizarre activities of the acrobats, storytellers, musicians and snake charmers. Rest of the day is at leisure or we suggest you take a horse-drawn carriage to the new town are of Gueliz to visit the exquisite Majorelle Gardens, owned by Yves St. Laurent and originally private home of the painter Jacques Majorelle. We suggest you return to the square for an evening dinner at one of the outdoor food grills to sample anything from grilled meats, fried fish, fried aubergines, boiled snails, harira soup, spiced ginger tea, boiled sheep’s head and other local delicacies. Even if you decide to eat elsewhere, the experience of the Place Jemaa el Fna at night is an intoxicating one - with smoke swirling up from the grills, the pounding rhythms of the street musicians, the call to prayer ringing out from the mosques as the excited crowds gather for this nightly ‘circus’.

Stay: Traditional riad, boutique guesthouse or hotel in Marrakech

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 3

Marrakech - High Atlas Mountains - Kasbah Ait Benhaddou - Ouarzazate

Morning departure from 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 m. 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. After a couple of hours you then continue to Ouarzazate, known as the ‘Hollywood of Morocco’ due to its popularity as a film location and the two professional studios which are in use year-round by international film crews. You will visit the Atlas Film Studios to take a look around the huge film sets that were constructed here for many blockbuster movies. You then head to your hotel or guesthouse to relax and have dinner.

Stay: Riad/guesthouse near Ouarzazate

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 4

Ouarzazate - Agdz - Draa Valley - Zagora - M'Hamid

Today’s journey continues south, heading to the edge of the Sahara desert. Along the way we pass over rocky and arid terrain at the junction of the Anti-Atlas and Jbel Saghro regions. The mountain pass twists along through valleys and deep ravines till eventually you reach Agdz - the regional centre of date cultivation in the Draa Valley oasis. The Draa Valley is dominated by the impressive Jbel Kissane mountain to the east and the oasis stretches along the route of Morocco’s longest river - the Draa River, until it disappears underground at M’Hamid el Ghizlane. The route is one of the most beautiful road trips in Morocco, passing villages, palm trees, small gardens full of henna, wheat and vegetables,crumbling rust-red kasbahs and fortified villages, village mosques, daily scenes of agricultural life unchanged for centuries. You will take off-road with your 4x4 Morocco adventure vehicle to explore some of the scenes up close along the banks of the Draa River. In the provincial town of Zagora you will stop for lunch in the gardens of a delightful riad. The afternoon continues with a visit to the local pottery at Tamegroute, famous for its green-glazed ceramics. As a special cultural activity, you will learn to make and decorate your own pottery items using locally grown natural henna pigment. You will have time also for a short guided tour of the Koranic Library, which houses a magnificent collection of ancient, hand-illuminated manuscripts dating back to the 14th century, when this little village was a major centre for Islamic teaching. The road narrows to a thin ribbon of tarmac and eventually runs out after crossing the Jbel Bani ridge. The Sahara desert encroaches from either side and in M’Hamid el Ghizlane the tarmac road ends. At the end of today’s desert adventure tour you spend the night in a kasbah-style hotel or boutique guesthouse in the delightful palm oasis at Ouled Driss, just outside the village. Dinner at the hotel.

Stay: Hotel or boutique guesthouse in the palmeraie near M'Hamid

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 5

M'Hamid - Sahara desert - Erg Chigaga dunes

The morning is free for you to relax and enjoy the pool and facilities of your desert accommodation in M’Hamid. You may also wish to book quad biking in the palm groves for the morning, We suggest you also have lunch here (not in price) before heading off for more desert adventures in the 4x4. You travel from the village of M’Hamid el Ghizlane for around 3 hours off-road on desert tracks through small dunes, stony desert (reg) and flat desert (hamada) and lunar landscapes to reach the magnificent billowing dunes of Erg Chigaga - the highest sand dunes in the Moroccan Sahara. Our Erg Chigaga desert camp is approximately 50 kilometres from the village by desert pistes and around 40 kilometres from the Algerian border. It is remote! On reaching the Erg Chigaga desert camp you will have time to take a camel ride through the dunes, enjoy sand-boarding down the dunes as well as climbing to the top of the highest dune to admire the sea of sand as it stretches to the horizon. You are welcomed and looked after by our wonderful team of local nomads, all descended from families of ‘Blue Men’ - the nomadic tribespeople of this region of the Sahara. The camp is very comfortable, clean and secure and dinner is served in a large restaurant tent. Entertainment and traditional drumming are enjoyed around the campfire, or you can simply relax on the carpets and gaze at the infinite stars overhead. This night is often the highlight for many people who head to Morocco for a desert adventure tour. NB We recommend adding an additional night here for those who want to experience camel trekking and setting up a wild camp with nomads in the Sahara desert.

Stay: Bivouac desert camp at Erg Chigaga dunes (standard or luxury)

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 6

Erg Chigaga - Sahara desert - Lake Iriqui - Foum Zguid - Tisselday

After breakfast at the Sahara desert camp, the adventure continues off-road in your 4x4 vehicle. Crossing the dried Lake Iriqui, through river beds and rocky desert for about 3 hours on the old Paris-Dakkar rally route until you reach the main tarmac road at Foum Zguid. From here you then head to the village of Tazenakht, famous as a regional centre for Berber hand-woven carpets off different tribes of the High Atlas. Lunch is taken here and you have the option of visiting a carpet co-operative, if you wish. Then you continue across magnificent vistas of the Anti-Atlas and Jbel Siroua heading north until reaching Amerzgane. Here you will spend the night in a stylish and cozy Berber guest-house clinging to the foothills of the High Atlas, near the village of Tisselday. Dinner at the guesthouse.

Stay: Traditional Berber guesthouse in Tisselday

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 7

Tisselday - High Atlas Mountains - Tizi n'Tichka pass - Marrakech

Morning time is free to relax or explore on foot into the hillsides above the guesthouse. We suggest you have lunch here (not in price) before heading back towards Marrakech. The drive takes about 4 hours along the twisting Tizi n’Tichka Pass, along the dramatic mountain road that you crossed on Day 3. Stopping as you wish for photos and refreshments you will reach your riad or hotel in Marrakech at around 6.00 p.m. Dinner will be booked at your hotel in case of late arrival.

Stay: Riad/boutique guesthouse or hotel in Marrakech

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 8


Free day in Marrakech to explore the medina and sights, do some last minute shopping or perhaps take a horse-drawn carriage to visit the famous Majorelle Gardens in the new town. You may wish to enjoy add-on activities this day such as: cookery class, hot-air balloon ride, horse riding, quad biking, golf, hammam/spa treatments.

Stay: Riad/boutique guesthouse or hotel in Marrakech

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 9

Marrakech - Departure

Departure transfer to Marrakech airport or you can choose to continue your holiday in Morocco with us by adding on one of our Suggested Morocco Adventure Tour Itineraries.

Stay: N/A

Meal plan: Breakfast

  • It is possoble to reduce this tour to 8 days / 7 nights by returning from the Sahara desert to Marrakech in one day, but be prepared for a 9 to 10-hour drive!

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