Escape to the Sahara on this 13-day trip that takes you around Morocco in style. Enjoy private tours of medieval medinas and bustling marketplaces, then unwind in five-star accommodations. Your luxury riads in Fes and Marrakech are the perfect places to relax and go for a scrub at the in-house hammams. You'll ride on camelback to a glamorous Sahara camp and enjoy a music-filled dinner before retiring under the stars.


  • Visit Morocco's Imperial Cities
  • Take a private cooking class in Fes
  • Stay overnight in your very own luxury Kasbah
  • Trek across the Sahara and glamp among the dunes
  • Take a hot air balloon ride above Marrakech

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Casablanca & Transfer to Rabat Rabat
Day 2 Rabat to Fes: Hassan Tower and the Roman Ruins at Volubilis Fes
Day 3 Fes: Explore the Imperial City and its UNESCO Medina Fes
Day 4 Fes: Traditional Cooking Class Fes
Day 5 Fes to Merzouga: Over the Middle Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Merzouga
Day 6 Merzouga to Tinghir: Adventuring in the Todra Gorge Todra Gorge
Day 7 Tinghir to Ouarzazate Ouarzazate
Day 8 Ouarzazate to Marrakech: Over the High Atlas & Ait Benhaddou Marrakech
Day 9 Marrakech: Medina & City Tour Marrakech
Day 10 Marrakech: Day of Leisure and Self-Touring Marrakech
Day 11 Marrakech: Morning Hot Air Balloon Ride and Afternoon of Leisure Marrakech
Day 12 Marrakech to Casablanca: the Atlantic Coast & Portuguese Ports Casablanca
Day 13 Depart from Casablanca  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Casablanca & Transfer to Rabat

A reflection of Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca
A reflection of Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

Welcome to Morocco! After you land in Casablanca, you'll be picked up from the airport by your private driver and chauffered to Rabat. Check into your luxe accommodations, then get to know the city with the help of your driver. 

Once you've worked up an appetite, grab lunch at a delicious spot that suits your taste. As Morocco's capital of Morocco and home to the royal family, Rabat oozes imperial glam, from relics of empires past to contemporary eateries specializing in fine dining. If you're hungry for traditional fare, consider taking advantage of the Atlantic's incredible bounty. Even in the medina, you'll find super fresh delicacies like briny oysters and creamy sea urchin. Whatever your palette, your driver will give you a great recommendation for where to enjoy your first meal. 

Walking off lunch by exploring the blue-painted Oudaya neighborhood that sits perched above the Atlantic Ocean. The Kasbah of the Oudayas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the crown jewel of this enclave, so explore the complex or simple amble around its lush Andalucian gardens, then head to the ramparts for a vivid sunset. 

Tonight, enjoy Rabat's robust culinary scene. You will find good Moroccan food around the city, but if you're looking for something more continental, head to the embassy quarter of the New City (just inland from the medina) for some of the best French and Italian dining in the country. 

Driving time: approximately 2 hours

Day 2: Rabat to Fes - Hassan Tower and the Roman Ruins at Volubilis

Moulay Idriss
Moulay Idriss

Today is all about royal vibes: you'll spend some more time in Rabat before hitting the road to explore some other imperial cities.

Start the regal road trip with a visit to the Hassan Tower monument, one of the most magnificent buildings of the Almohad Dynasty. A curiosity of a landmark, Hassan Tower is a minaret of a 12th-century mosque, a lofty construction project that was ultimately abandoned. All that remains today is the red sandstone tower, standing at 145 feet (44 m), and about 200 columns where a more extensive complex was meant to be.

After you wander the ruins, check out the Mausoleum of Mohamed V, which serves as a stellar taste of the intricate tilework, mosaics, and craftsmanship that you'll see throughout the land. 

On your way out of Rabat, stop to explore Meknes, a historic town that boasts a more manageably sized medina than you'll find once you reach Fes. The shopkeepers are also easy-going here, and you can truly take your time exploring souks filled with spices, slippers, and colorful treasures.  Thanks to your driver, you'll make the most of your stopover here with a visit through the scenic Ville Impériale area. Depending on how much time you'd like to spend here, you can discover an array of palaces, gardens, and beautiful architectural sites.

Your next stop is Morocco's oldest town, Moulay Idriss, which from a distance resembles a sitting camel. Considered a holy city by many, the city was founded in the 8th century by Moulay Idriss I, Morocco's first major Islamic ruler. Learn about the conception of the Idrisid dynasty, and be sure to visit the emerald-green minaret here — it's the only round minaret in the country.  Your driver will also help you select a great place to enjoy lunch amid the charm of this hilltop town.  

The royal treatment continues with a trip through the centuries in Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you'll find the country's best-preserved ruins from the Roman empire. The sprawling complex features examples of merchant homes (and their ingenious heating systems), intact mosaics, temples, and more. If you're inspired to dive deeper and want to extend your time here, your expert English-speaking guide will give you a private tour tailored to your interests.

When you've had your fill of sightseeing, you'll end your day in Fes at a luxuriously-appointed five-star riad. An oasis in the imperial city, your accommodation will feature a stunning central courtyard where you can lounge and keep cool and, depending on where you stay, may even house its own hammam on the ground floor. If you're interested in a more bespoke spa experience, you can enjoy a relaxing massage in one of Fes's hammams in the evening.

Regardless of where you choose to soak and scrub off the day, a delicious dinner awaits to cap your imperial adventure. You can hang back at your luxe riad or head out to one of the city's best dining spots; your driver and your specialists will help you pick a great restaurant! 

Driving time: approximately 4 hours

Day 3: Fes - Explore the Imperial City and its UNESCO Medina

Markets of Fes
Markets of Fes

Your tour guide will meet you after breakfast to start your exploration in the Fes medina. This UNESCO-protected old quarter is full of charming alleyways and narrow roads. Your local guide will share riveting stories and show you secluded corners of the medina, allowing you to observe both the small details of daily life and the grandiose of the madrasas and palaces. You'll also get a glimpse of the local side of Fes, especially once you're armed with plenty of recommendations for lunch and dinner.

In the afternoon, get to know the artisan community here with visits to iconic tanneries and mosaic workshops. You'll meet local craftspeople, watch them at work on their trades, and learn about the history and importance of their artistry, not just within Fes but beyond the old city's wall. 

Head back to your riad for a little reprieve. Relax for the rest of the day or return to the streets of the medina and test your new knowledge of the city. Or, if you're eager for more cultural immersion, consider a private cooking class with a talented English-speaking chef and teacher. You'll learn how intricately tradition ties to food and how to use unique North African ingredients like briny preserved lemons, the exotic complexity of Ras el Hanout (an essential spice blend), and tiny pearls of couscous. After your lesson, sit down to feast on your creations!

Day 4: Fes - Traditional Cooking Class

A traditional Tajine
A traditional Tajine

Morocco sits at the geographical and cultural crossroads of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It is no surprise then that Moroccan cuisine is famous for fusing the flavors of these regions into something unique, dynamic, and delicious. What better way to relax for a day than by taking a private traditional Moroccan cooking lesson from a master?

Take a leisurely morning with breakfast at your riad, some relaxation, and possibly a stroll around the neighborhood. You'll then be taken to your five-hour cooking class, which begins with a visit to a nearby souk to shop for produce — just as the locals do. 

As you prepare a traditional four-course meal, complete with fragrant spices, vibrant saffron, and the ubiquitous preserved lemon, you'll learn about traditional Moroccan cooking methods and will hopefully create amazing memories. At the end of class, sit down to enjoy your delicious dishes, which you can recreate once you're home from your trip. 

Spend the rest of the day however you like — you could relax at your riad and take advantage of its hammam, or venture back out to explore more of Fes. Tonight, enjoy dinner on your own; your cooking teacher, specialist, and driver are bound to have some great recommendations for excellent eateries in town. 

Day 5: Fes to Merzouga - Over the Middle Atlas Mountains to the Sahara

Get ready to ride across the dunes!
Get ready to ride across the dunes!

Today, get an early start so you can answer the seductive call of the Sahara; you'll be covering a lot of ground to reach the desert, but your journey will be well worth it. 

After an early breakfast, you'll start your road trip by crossing the Middle Atlas Mountains through the town of Azrou and its majestic Cèdre Gouraud Forest, where troops of Barbary Macaque monkeys lounge in ancient cedar trees near the road. Then, stop for lunch in Midelt, which sits on a cold, high desert plateau. Despite the harsh landscape, Midelt is known as Morocco's "Apple City" for its productive orchards. The agricultural abundance is thanks to year-round water from the Moulouya River. 

As the day presses on, you'll cross a landscape of steep mountain ranges, broad valleys, and narrow canyon passes. Your driver will take you through the Ziz Valley, an essential branch of the ancient Saharan Trade Route. Gaze out the window to see the area's ksars, fortified houses built by merchants to protect the gold, salt, and spices that passed this way.

After crossing through the incredible Ziz Gorge, you'll see early signs of Saharan dunes. These wind-blown sand formations are in constant motion, often leading them to encroach upon farms, roads, and buildings. You can also see an ancient method of water "mining” here, an ingenious way to transfer water from the mountains to farmland before modern pumps. Along the way, pay attention to the area's nomadic shepherds and their tents. 

You'll also pass through Erfoud, a bustling market town known for dates and fossils discovered in hillside mines. If you like, you can stop at a local artisan collective to learn about the area's fossils and learn how locals transform them into an array of beautiful products. As you continue, the massive dunes of Erg Chebbi will emerge in the distance. This vast sand sea covers 13 square miles (35 square km), with some dunes rising over 650 feet (200 m). 

Near the iconic outpost of Merzouga, you can take a short break as you prepare for the trip to your desert camp. Today you'll trek across the Sahara for a once-in-a-lifetime experience in North African luxury. You'll mount a camel for a spectacular ride across the dunes as the sun sets; with an unobstructed view (you can even spot Algeria in the distance), take in the golden glow across the landscape. 

As night falls, you'll maintain visibility as the moon reflects off the sand, guiding you and your camel to your unique accommodation for the night: a luxurious camp nestled at the foot of the Erg Chebbi dunes. Sink into total relaxation in your impeccably-appointed glamping tent, where you'll be treated like royalty. Enjoy incredible meals prepared by local Berber tribesmen and cozy up by the fire serenaded by live music. Gaze up at the heavens from your romantic spot or see if you can stargaze from atop the dunes before you turn in for the night.

Driving time: approximately 9 hours

Plan your trip to Morocco
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Merzouga to Tinghir - Adventuring in the Todra Gorge

Todra Gorge
Todra Gorge

If you are an early riser, you'll be rewarded with sunrise over the dunes. You'll then enjoy a beautifully prepared breakfast in camp before you travel back across the desert to Merzouga. 

Once you meet your private driver, you'll begin your 3.5-hour drive to Tinghir, an oasis city that sits at the foot of the Atlas mountains. Consider stopping in the desert community of Rissani before setting out across the plains. The town is an excellent place to take a walk around a traditional market, where many animals are bought and sold. Be sure to stop by the "donkey parking lot" while you're here. 

Once you hit the road, you'll enjoy a spectacular journey across Morocco. You'll travel through a remote, empty land that borders the Sahara. The views are vast and extensive, with desert plains, high mountains, and plateaus all around. This landscape gives a real feeling of wildness, excellent in its grandeur. Along the drive, you'll see forests of umbrella-shaped Acacias that have adapted to thrive in this harsh environment. You can also elect to break up the trip with a stop in the town of Alnif to see the local fossil workshops. 

Enjoy the change in landscape when you reach the lush Tinghir; there's a weekly market in town for local farmers who grow figs, dates, and wheat and live in the area's Ksars (fortified villages). Take some time to relax with a delicious lunch and use your afternoon to explore this scenic spot before you press on. 

Your road trip today continues through a green valley that gets increasingly tighter until you enter the vertical Todra Gorge. Get out and explore rustic trails that take up and out of the canyon. Then rewind your way down into the Todra oasis, where you will spend the night in a beautifully-appointed Kasbah, a fortified hilltop town featuring mud bricks and furnished with the finest local products and fossils.

Lounge in luxury, then explore the valley for dinner; there are several unexpectedly ambitious restaurants here. The locals are quite friendly, so feel free to explore the oasis a bit after your meal.

Day 7: Tinghir to Ouarzazate

Ochre hues in the Dadès Valley
Ochre hues in the Dadès Valley

Today you'll travel along ancient trade routes from Tinghir to Ouarzazate through the Valley of A Thousand Kasbahs. Along the way, you will see many iconic fortified towns, so if you're inspired to take in the view or explore a sight, feel free to stop for photos wherever you please!

The first significant stop on your way will be the town of Boumalne Dadès, an oasis town at the mouth of the Valley of A Thousand Kasbahs. If you turn north, you can visit the Dadès Gorge, which cuts through a dramatic landscape of rust and mauve-striped mountains. The valley below is an irrigated oasis filled with fig, almond, and olive orchards and dotted with crumbling kasbahs and Berber villages. Ask your driver for lunch options in Boumalne Dadès.  

Heading south from Boumalne Dades brings you through the Valley of Roses, the heart of rose oil production in Morocco. Every spring, the landscape smells heavenly during the harvest of the perfumed Provence Rose. 

End the day in Ouarzazate, a town famous for its involvement in the Moroccan film industry. There is more to Ouarzazate than movies, though, and you will drive a short way from town to the iconic ksar of Ait Benhaddou. It's believed that the site dates back to the 11th century when it held a prominent position along the trans-Saharan trade route between Marrakech, Ouarzazate, and the southern desert.

Tonight you'll retire to your very own kasbah across a dry riverbed from Ait Benhaddou. If you're tempted to pry yourself away from your luxe accommodations, consider a nighttime stroll — when the moon is out, the entire valley glows from the light reflecting off the white sand. The sight is definitely enchanting.  

Driving time: approximately 3 hours

Day 8: Ouarzazate to Marrakech - Over the High Atlas & Ait Benhaddou

Ait Benhaddou
Ait Benhaddou

Today you will cross the High Atlas Mountains that separate Ouarzazate from Marrakech. In the process, you'll trade the quiet of the desert for one of the most vibrant cities in Morocco. You may want to explore Ait Benhaddou one more time in the morning light before you leave the Sahara for good. 

You'll wind your way into the High Atlas Mountains through the towering Tizi-n-Tichka pass. Near the top, you'll enjoy incredible panoramic views of the mountains and the plains of Marrakech below. Be on the lookout for Mount Toubkal — North Africa's highest peak — to the west. As you descend the north-facing slopes, you'll notice a dramatic change in climate and landscape. You will begin to cross deep river valleys and see abundant almond and walnut orchards.  

Once in Marrakech, you'll check in to your luxury riad, the perfect play to unwind after your travels. You may want to spend the rest of the afternoon at a slower pace and sip a pot of fresh mint tea by the pool or in the shade of a jasmine bush. If you're inspired to head out in the evening, you'll be right in time to watch the medina's main square, Jemaa el Fna comes alive with musicians, performers, snake charmers, games, food stalls and more.

You can wander the square to find incredible fare from street vendors, or watch the spectacle from afar while you dine: there are many cafes surrounding the square where you can sit and enjoy the activity over a delicious meal. Or head to the new city to explore Marrakech's modern food scene. The Red City is the culinary heart of Morocco, so no matter where you dine, you're sure to have a memorable meal. 

Driving time: approximately 4 hours

Day 9: Marrakech - Medina & City Tour

Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech
Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech

Marrakech is the second oldest imperial city in Morocco and was once a primary trading point for caravans originating in southern Africa and Asia. The Red City is surrounded by palm groves, has beautiful views of the snowcaps of the Atlas Mountains, and is home to many markets and souks. 

After breakfast, meet your local private guide who will lead you through the stunning old city of Marrakech. As you explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will come across lively souks and maze-like alleys. You're sure to be dazzled by displays of djellabas, brightly colored babouches, intricately-pierced lanterns, conical mounds of exotic spices, and the intense hubbub of medina life. Along the way, your knowledgable and energetic guide will regale you with the history and stories of the Medina, the Souk, and the Mellah neighborhoods of the Red City. Your guide will also have some great recommendations for the best places to grab lunch!

In the afternoon you'll continue your private tour, exploring places like the Saadian Tombs and the Bahia Palace, built in the late 19th century. Bahia means “brilliant,” and its intricately carved and painted wooden ceilings are just that. Make sure to also check out the fountains and excellent floor tile work. You'll then visit the ruins of the El Badi Palace, whose beautiful architecture hails from the Saadian dynasty. Depending on when you visit, you may be able to attend one of the many events that take place at this site, such as the Marrakech Folklore Days.

In the newer part of the city, Ville Nouvelle, you'll see the Majorelle Gardens, an iconic garden retreat built over forty years by French painter Jacques Majorelle and later inhabited by famed designer Yves Saint Laurent. Stroll through two and a half acres of peaceful water gardens, visit Morocco’s only museum dedicated entirely to Berber art and culture, and explore Yves Saint Laurent’s gallery, all within the walls of this stunning urban oasis.

Day 10: Marrakech - Day of Leisure and Self-Touring

Marrakesh, Majorelle La villa
Majorelle Gardens


Take today to rest and rejuvenate at your riad or head into the city for some solo exploration. Shop in the city's souks or spend the day immersing yourself in the Marjorelle Gardens and the wonderful collections within the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. You can also discover the beautiful Menara Gardens with a camel ride and peer into its ancient reflecting pool.

If you're feeling inspired to get to know Marrakech on a deeper level, you could choose to meet a local family and learn how to cook a traditional meal in their home. This opportunity gives you a chance to connect through food and conversation as you learn about your Morrocan host family and their history. 

Tonight, dive into the city's vibrant culinary scene; Marrakech is the epicurean capital of Morroco and the city is home to many chefs who go on to cook for the royal family. Whether you choose to sample your way through food stalls in Jemaa el Fna Square or sit down for a multi-course affair at a more upscale eatery, you're bound to enjoy incredible flavors made with unique local ingredients.

Day 11: Marrakech - Morning Hot Air Balloon Ride and Afternoon of Leisure

Soaring over Marrakech
Soaring over Marrakech

Marrakesh sits where the High Atlas Mountains meet an expansive plain. What better way to observe these stunningly contrasted landscapes than taking a hot air balloon ride over the Red City at sunrise?

You'll have a pre-dawn wake-up call this morning; you'll then drive through the dark to the mountains and board your hot air balloon. Once aloft, watch the sun climb over the highest mountains in North Africa and illuminate the city far below. After your flight, enjoy a delicious and scenic Berber breakfast before you return to Marrakesh.

You'll have the rest of the day to yourself to spend however you like. Take a private cooking class with one of the city's culinary masters, do some self-guided exploring, or visit a market for some additional shopping. Your private driver can escort you to any location you desire in the city and your specialist can help arrange any additional private tours or bespoke experiences that speak to you. 

Tonight, enjoy dinner back at your luxury riad or head out to one of the city's great eateries.

Day 12: Marrakech to Casablanca - the Atlantic Coast & Portuguese Ports

El Jadida
El Jadida

Today, you will leave early to head to Casablanca via the coastal route and will visit two old  Portuguese fortified cities along the way. Your first stop is El Jadida, where you will tour the hauntingly beautiful Portuguese cistern. You can also stay to walk the ramparts and explore the Church of the Assumption.

Next is Azemour, which has inspired many Moroccan artists over the decades, some of whom have chosen to live here. Life here is still traditional despite its proximity to the cosmopolitan art market of Casablanca. You'll find that the crumbling 16th-century medina squeezed between the Oud Er-Rbia (Mother of Spring River) and the ocean provide plenty of artistic inspiration.

As you travel, take advantage of the Atlantic's incredible bounty and savor a traditional fish lunch. Your driver can take you to the local authentic fish markets, where unassuming food stalls serve some of the freshest grilled and fried seafood you can find. The traditional way to eat here is to buy the fish yourself in the market and have the grillmasters cook it for a small fee. You can also choose to although order fish straight from many of these food stalls. 

Once you arrive in Casablanca, check into your chic downtown hotel, then see how the locals live with an exploration of Casablanca's trendier neighborhoods. Start your discovery in Maarif, home of the French-style eponymous market, and Ain Diab, a prime beachfront community that is home to the Morocco Mall and miles of walking paths. The waterfront, or Corniche, is a great place to people watch, especially when the entire city comes out to promenade right before sunset. 

Driving time: approximately 5 hours

Day 13: Depart from Casablanca

Farewell Casablanca!
Farewell Casablanca!

It's time to say goodbye to beautiful Morocco. Depending on the time of your departure flight, you may be able to do some last-minute sightseeing in Casablanca or enjoy tea at one of the traditional cafés. When the time comes, you'll head to Casablanca's Mohammed V International Airport for your flight.


Map of Casablanca Round Trip: Luxury Escape to the Sahara - 13 Days
Map of Casablanca Round Trip: Luxury Escape to the Sahara - 13 Days