Enjoy Morocco's backroads on a loop that takes you from Marrakesh to the Sahara Desert and back again. Travel from Marrakesh to Aït Bouguemez, the gateway of the High Atlas mountains. Gain an understanding of Berber culture as you volunteer in a local village in the region. Move through the Sahara by camel before teaching little kids English. Listen to Gnawa, a traditional healing music, as you watch the sunset over the desert. Finish your trip in the vibrant city of Marrakesh.


  • Venture off to visit Berber villages and volunteer with an NGO in the region
  • Discover the Valley of the Roses on foot before helping on a local farm 
  • Spend time in Merzouga and explore by camel as you listen to Gnawa music
  • Get lost in the souks and the frenzy of the never-boring Marrakesh

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Marrakesh Marrakesh
Day 2 Transfer to Aït Bouguemez Valley Aït Bouguemez
Days 3-4 Berber Culture & NGO Volunteering Aït Bouguemez
Day 5 Transfer to the Valley of the Roses Boutaghrar
Day 6 Hike in the Valley of the Roses, Farming in Boutaghrar & Rose Harvesting Boutaghrar
Day 7 Transfer to Merzouga, Visit Sahara Towns & Camel Ride Merzouga
Day 8 Sahara Eco-Adventure & Traditional Music Merzouga
Day 9 Transfer to Aït Benhaddou via Dadès Valley Aït Benhaddou
Day 10 Transfer to Marrakesh Marrakesh
Day 11 Guided Tour of Marrakesh & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Marrakesh

Marrakesh, Koutoubia Mosque
Sunset over Jemaa el-Fna in Marrakesh

Welcome to Morocco! Upon arrival at the airport in Marrakesh, you'll be met by your driver, who will transfer you to your hotel for check-in. Relax and get some rest ahead of your busy week, or head out for a short city tour to get acquainted with the city.

Orient yourself around Marrakesh's main square, Jemaa el-Fna, which is the center of everything. The souks (markets) are to the north. The Koutoubia Mosque and gardens are to the west. The kasbah (old fortress or fortification) area home to the Saadian Tombs, Bahia Palace, and El Badi Palace are to the south. On the southwest corner, you'll find the calèches (horse-drawn carriages), which offer a unique way to tour the medina (old quarter).

Day 2: Transfer to Aït Bouguemez Valley

Private Transfer to Aït Bouguemez Valley
Ouzoud Falls

Meet your driver for today's five-hour ride east into Aït Bouguemez. Known as the "Happy Valley," this region is the gateway to the dramatic High Atlas mountains and has been home to Berber villages for centuries. After leaving Marrakesh, the vast plains will give way to mountain valleys as you make your way to Azilal, a provincial capital in central Morocco. In the heart of this area is the UNESCO-listed M'Goun Conservation Area, the first geopark of Morocco. It's an exceptional geologic site, rich in minerals and boasting dinosaur skeletons dating back to the Triassic Period.

Continue to Aït Bouguemez, visiting Ouzoud Falls and the natural bridge Imi N'Ifri, both in M'Goun. You'll arrive in the valley, passing through a high mountain road, and drive to a local ecolodge once there. Here, you'll be welcomed with a cup of hot tea, a symbol of hospitality from the Berbers of the High Atlas. After checking in at the lodge, you'll head out on foot to visit nearby Berber villages comprised of adobe homes with irrigated terraces.

Days 3-4: Berber Culture & NGO Volunteering

Berber Culture & NGO Volunteering
Visit a women's co-op

Over the next two days, you'll volunteer in the remote village of R’bat. Located in the heart of Aït Bouguemez, life in this corner of rural Morocco is defined by hardship and hard work. Berber men tend to plots of land, while women gather alfalfa for the cows. You'll immerse yourself in this culture by staying in the home of a local family and doing volunteer work.

On the first day, you'll participate in a welcoming tea ceremony with locals and share a home-cooked meal. During a cooking class, you'll learn to prepare authentic Moroccan staple dishes, including tajine and couscous. However, most of your day will be spent with a local NGO participating in activities such as language exchanges, assisting farmers, and helping build an education center. One highlight is visiting a women's co-op that trains women to create organic soaps and other cosmetic products using local herbs and plants. 

On the second day, you'll experience more local culture as you visit highlights around Aït Bouguemez, like the market town of Tabant. Located in a hidden valley, it's famous for being home to the tombs of holy men. Perched atop a conical hill above the town is a shrine to one of them, Sidi Moussa ("Lord Moses"), a pious tribesman reputed to possess supernatural healing powers. The shrine also doubles as a museum showcasing traditional crafts, plus it offers panoramic views of Aït Bouguemez and the surrounding mountains. Return to R’bat and enjoy a henna ceremony followed by traditional music and dancing.

Day 5: Transfer to The Valley of the Roses

Private Transfer From Aït Bouguemez to Valley of the Roses
Bou Tharar village

Wake up early and meet your driver for the three-hour ride south to the M'Goun Valley, also known as the Valley of the Roses. This unique area earns its name from the fact it's a significant grower of damask roses, producing between 3,000-4,000 tons during the spring months. Each morning during the harvest, women gather the flowers by hand and sell them to co-cops, distilleries, and French perfume houses. 

The drive to the valley is a scenic adventure in its own right. During the trip, you'll ascend the stunning Tizi n' Ait Imi mountain pass. Situated at 9,842 feet (3,000 m), it offers a breathtaking view of the summit of M'Goun, the second-highest peak in Morocco. Along the way, you'll also pass a succession of Berber villages, stopping at a few to spend time with locals and learn more about their culture. Continuing southeast, you'll reach the pretty town of Boutaghrar. Here, your driver will take you to a local ecolodge, and you'll have time to relax after check-in.

Day 6: Hike in the Valley of the Roses, Farming in Boutaghrar & Rose Harvesting

Short Hike with a Local Guide in the Roses Valley
M'goun Valley landscape

Revel in the distinctive culture of the region today as you enjoy a leisurely three-hour walking tour while interacting with local Berber families. The foothills of the mountains offer a green oasis of vegetation, perfect for quaint towns to thrive. With your guide, you'll stop in a few Berber villages to meet with locals. Admire the unique architecture, listen to stories about regional history, partake in fun activities, observe traditional farming techniques, and enjoy live entertainment. 

In the afternoon, you'll be welcomed by villagers in their fields to learn about farming techniques. Visit their farms, where they produce cereals, vegetables, and fruits. You'll help irrigate the fields using ancestral techniques and help harvest cereals, collect vegetables, and feed the animals (goats, sheep, and cows). At the end, enjoy a cup of mint tea just as the families do when practicing their daily work in the fields.
Plan your trip to Morocco
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

The rose harvest is a unique tradition in the Rose Valley. At that time, everyone is out in the fields picking fresh pink roses transformed into essential oils the same day. If you visit this area during May or June, when the rose harvest takes place, don't miss out on participating and helping the locals to harvest roses. Learn how to pick the roses and make rose oil as you interact with locals, have conversations, discover their way of life, and dial into their inspirational spirit.

Day 7: Transfer to Merzouga, Visit Sahara Towns & Camel Ride

Transfer to Merzouga, Sahara Towns & Camel Ride
See the sights by camel

In the morning, your driver will take you eastward on a five-hour ride from Boutaghrar to your Bedouin-style accommodation in Merzouga. This small Berber town is nestled amid the rolling dunes of the Sahara Desert near the Algerian border. The road there follows a scenic route that twists through extraordinary landmarks and vast, arid landscapes. Once you reach the Sahara region, you'll stop at a few desert villages to do some sightseeing. The first is Tinghir, an extensive river oasis amid miles of palm trees. Continue to the Todra Gorge, whose red sandstone walls rise 984 feet (300 m) high.

Enjoy a leisurely walk through the gorge or take a refreshing dip in the shallow Todra River. You'll also stop at Erfoud, a bustling market town famous for its annual date festival and fossil mining. Next, you'll enter Rissani through its iconic arched gate. You can visit Maison Tuareg, a storehouse filled with traditional arts and crafts, including carpets, jewelry, leather goods, and more. As you continue, you'll see the waving sands of Erg Chebbi in the distance. This extensive set of dunes covers almost 14 square miles (35 sq km), with some peaks rising over 650 feet (200 m).
The color and shape of the dunes change depending on the time of day, and they're gorgeous before sunset. Just outside Merzouga, you'll stop for an unforgettable camel ride through the Saharan dunes before getting to your luxury eco-camp. As the sun slowly sneaks behind the dunes, get settled into your tent and climb up the nearest dune to witness the setting array of vivid colors cast its light and dark shadows across the sands. Then, enjoy dinner by the campfire, accompanied by traditional Berber music performed by locals. 

Day 8: Sahara Eco-Adventure & Traditional Music

Sahara Eco-Adventure & Traditional Music
Experience traditional music

Experience the fascinating traditions of the Sahara today. During this five-hour volunteer project, you'll have an opportunity to contribute in a way that will leave a lasting impact on the community. You'll partner with a local NGO called The Association of Imodda for Development and Culture. This organization plays a role in helping to reduce waste, improve access to education, and lower illiteracy and poverty in the area. Meet with desert nomads to provide them with food and clothing. Hear their stories, and spend time with their kids as you teach some English and play games. 

Next, visit a cultural center in the village of Khamleya. Listen to live performances of Gnawa, the Sahara's traditional healing music. At its core, Gnawa is spiritual and personal, yet it has also reached the mainstream due to the efforts of popular maâlems (master musicians). The music is denoted by lively drum beats performed by a maâlem with the backing of musicians and dancers. In the late afternoon, you'll return to camp. At the right time, climb to the nearest dune to watch the setting sun display onto the rolling dunes its brilliant hues of red and gold. Then it will be time for dinner.

Day 9: Transfer to Aït Benhaddou via Dadès Valley

Transfer to Aït Benhaddou via Dadès Valley
Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs

Your driver will pick you up this morning for the five-hour drive west to Aït Benhaddou. This village, comprised of earthen buildings, is situated on the ancient caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakesh. On the way, stop at Khamleya, an authentic Saharan village populated by people originally from Mali. As you pass through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, you'll notice many former defense fortresses. Witness nomads tending to their animals, especially as you travel through Boumalne Dadès. Enter the Dadès Valley, where cultivated plots of farmland are fringed with rose bushes.

Your final stop before Aït Benhaddou is the picturesque town of Ouarzazate. A former French protectorate, today it enjoys much popularity, primarily thanks to the film industry. This area is known as Morocco's Hollywood, as its sprawling deserts and palm-lined roads have been featured in several Hollywood productions, including "Lawrence of Arabia," "Gladiator," and "Game of Thrones." There's even a movie studio here. For a more detailed history of film production in Ouarzazate, you can visit the Musée du Cinema. Afterward, continue 30 minutes to Aït Benhaddou, where you'll stay overnight.

Day 10: Transfer to Marrakesh

Aït Benhaddou to Marrakesh
Tizi n'Tichka pass on the way to Marrakesh

Get ready for a change of scenery as you make the four-hour drive northwest from Aït Benhaddou to Marrakesh. The route follows mountain roads in the High Atlas, and the first town you'll reach after crossing the scenic Tizi n'Tichka Pass is Taddert. Stop for a tour to see the inner workings of an olive oil cooperative. After tasting a few products, you'll leave the mountains behind as you descend into the foothills and deserts before arriving in Marrakesh.

Check in to your hotel and relax before hitting the town in the early evening. This is when Jemaa el-Fna, the main square, comes alive with musicians, performers, snake charmers, games, food stalls, and more. Wander around the plaza and browse the vendor stalls, or pull up a seat in a nearby café for highly entertaining people-watching. 

Day 11: Guided Tour of Marrakesh & Depart 

Guided Tour of Marrakesh - Historic Monuments and Majorelle Gardens
Majorelle Gardens

Embark on a five-hour guided tour to discover Marrakesh's captivating sights, sounds, and odors. Start with a visit to the beautiful courtyard and gardens of the 19th-century Bahia Palace, then continue to the Koutoubia Mosque, which dates to 1147. Pass through the medina's historic gates and meander through twisting alleyways amid souks and hidden fondouks (historic inns which once hosted travelers and merchants). Later, head to Jemaa el-Fna Square. Wander through this landmark plaza's labyrinth of alleys and passageways as you follow your guide to the best souks.

Discover the beauty of the Majorelle Gardens, a botanical garden and museum complex that offers a refreshing reprieve from the heat of Marrakesh. This compound dates back to the 1920s when French artist Jacques Majorelle planted the garden and painted the surrounding buildings a brilliant shade of blue. Later, fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent restored the gardens to their current splendid state. Your Morocco tour ends this afternoon as your driver transports you from your hotel to the airport. Have a safe and comfortable journey home or to your next destination!

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Map of Morocco's Atlas Mountains & Sahara Desert - 11 Days
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