Cover Morocco's south on this two-week adventure beginning and ending in buzzing Marrakech. You'll head into the High Atlas to meet with Berber locals and trek the Imlil Valley before crossing Tizi n'Tichka and visiting iconic Aït Benhaddou. Continuing south, you'll overnight in Skoura, trek its impressive oasis, camp amid the dunes of Erg Chigaga, and then head west to lesser-visited Taroudant beyond the Anti Atlas. Then it's off to Essaouira on the Atlantic Coast for relaxation and a tajine cooking class.

Highlights

  • Sip mint tea with locals and hike amid Berber villages in the Imlil Valley
  • Marvel at the intricate tile work of the Sufi zawiya in Tamegroute
  • Ride a camel amid the dunes and sleep under the stars in Erg Chigaga
  • Taste traditional Moroccan food at a private cooking class in Essaouira
  • Learn to make traditional "babouche" footwear from a skilled artisan

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Marrakech Marrakech
Day 2 Free Day in Marrakech Marrakech
Day 3 Mountain Hike in Imlil & Lunch with a Local Family Imlil
Day 4 Imlil Valley Guided Hike Imlil
Day 5 Transfer to Skoura Oasis via Aït Benhaddou & Ouarzazate Skoura
Day 6 Skoura Oasis Walk, Pottery Factory & Lunch with a Local Family Skoura
Day 7 Transfer to Zagora via Saghro Mountains & Draa River Valley Zagora
Day 8 Zagora to Erg Chegaga Desert Erg Chigaga Desert
Day 9 Desert Adventures, Discover Nomadic Life Erg Chigaga Desert
Day 10 Taroudant via Foum Zguid across the Anti-Atlas Mountains Taroudant
Day 11 Explore Taroudant, Transfer to Essaouira via Agadir Essaouira
Day 12 Private Morning Cooking Class, Free Afternoon in Essaouira Essaouira
Day 13 Return to Marrakech, Food Tour, Henna or Babouche Workshop Marrakech
Day 14 Depart Marrakech  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Marrakech

Marrakesh, Koutoubia Mosque
Sunrise over Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech

Welcome to Morocco! You'll be met by your driver and guide, 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 of Marrakech to familiarize yourself with the city. You may choose to visit museums like the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and Berber Museum, along with the Majorelle Garden. Alternatively, indulge in a traditional hammam, which includes being covered in black beldi soap, scrubbed with an abrasive kessar mitt (to remove dead skin), and relaxing in a steam room.

And come dusk, you might follow your nose to the enticing smells that waft from food stalls in Jemaa el-Fna, the city's landmark plaza filled with markets, street food, and performers. Watch locals prepare authentic delicacies and taste the flavors of Marrakech as the sun goes down and the street performers come out to entertain. 

Day 2: Free Day in Marrakech

Menara Pavillion in front of lake at dusk
Discover the 12th-century Menara Gardens 

Explore Marrakech's sights, sounds, and smells on an optional half-day guided tour. Known as the "Red City," you'll discover why as you wander past the historic red sandstone walls and buildings. Your local guide will lead you through the colorful and bustling medina (old town), starting at Jemaa el-Fna. From here, you can stroll to a few of the best souks (markets), including spices at Souk el Attarin, Moroccan slippers at Souk Smata, brass, silver, and other blacksmith goods at Souk Haddadine, and dyed cloth at Souk des Teinturiers

Next, you'll stroll through the intricate woodwork and ornamented ceilings of the Bahia Palace before visiting the city's largest mosque, Koutoubia Mosque. The tour ends with a visit to the 12th-century Menara Gardens, a UNESCO-protected and historic public park. Meanwhile, for an alternate perspective over the city, you may consider a sunrise hot air balloon ride dining on breakfast as you take in the desert landscape. Or, join a guided tour of Le Jardin Secret, a hidden space in the heart of the medina made up of a complex of palaces set within a garden. An outstanding example of Islamic art, science, and architecture.

Day 3: Mountain Hike in Imlil & Lunch with a Local Family

Imlil
Imlil sits quietly in the High Atlas 

The next day, you'll transfer from Marrakech to your accommodation in Imlil in the High Atlas. After an early departure, you'll drive through a picturesque valley known for its lush meadows and beautiful green gardens. Even in the winter months, you can catch glimpses of several varieties of plants, shrubs, and trees. Then, make a stop in the city of Asni. Although it's home to only 20,000 inhabitants, Asni plays an essential role for the regional residents. Every Saturday, the town holds a weekly souk for those who need to exchange goods and stock up on food.

Next, you'll drive between the hills of the Atlas Mountains and the Moulay Brahim Gorge. Enjoy the impeccable scenery on this stretch. Your next stop is the village of Imlil in the heart of Toubkal National Park. Once you arrive, sip a glass of mint tea with your guide before starting your easy hike to Armed, the highest and the biggest village in Imlil Valley. Armed is a traditional Berber village with authentic farming techniques and building structures. Spend some time with a Berber family as you hike down through the village of Aït Souka

Day 4: Guided Hike in Imlil Valley

Morocco, Imlil Valley - Small waterfall.jpg
Trek through the Imlil Valley
Discover the incredible scenery of the Atlas Mountains and Mount Toubkal, which stands at 13,671 feet (4,167 m). With the help of a private hiking guide, you'll walk for about 3-4 hours within the Imlil Valley, meeting locals and learning about the area's history. Enjoy the scenery as you pass by forests, streams, and panoramic vistas. This easy hike will take you through a couple of traditional Berber villages, where you can sit with the locals and hear their stories.

Day 5: Transfer to Skoura Oasis via Aït Benhaddou & Ouarzazate

Streets in The fortified town of Ait ben Haddou near Ouarzazate on the edge of the sahara desert
Streets in the fortified town of Aït Benhaddou near Ouarzazate on the edge of the Sahara

From Imlil, you'll head for the desert going up and over the High Atlas, from which you often can see the highest peak, Mount Toubkal, on a clear day. You'll see Berber villages and their traditional mud-brick homes, farmland, and village activities. En route, you'll stop at Taddert for refreshment and to visit the Argan Oil Co-operative, where you can see the process and taste a sample of the oil. Continuing, near the top of the Tizi n'Tichka pass, you'll take in the panoramic vistas over the mountain range and the twisting road down the mountainside.

As you descend, you'll notice the climate as it becomes drier toward Ouarzazate, a town growing rapidly due to the movie industry. Here you have the option to tour one of two movie studios, portraying landscapes all over the desert, Africa, and the Middle East. Then it's off to medieval Aït Benhaddou, Morocco's most famous kasbah and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old ksour dates back to the 11th century, when it held an important position. Explore the old town's alleys and passageways, or climb up the old granary for incredible views. You can see the kasbah, its surrounding areas, and historic camel caravan routes.

Reach Skoura in the afternoon, and check in at your accommodation.

Day 6: Skoura Oasis Walk, Pottery Factory & Lunch with a Local Family

Morocco, Skoura - The Skoura palmerai and distant snow-capped Atlas mountains.jpg
The Skoura oasis and distant snow-capped Atlas mountains
Plan your trip to Morocco
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Immerse yourself in the unique culture of Skoura. The southern regions of Morocco offer a green oasis of vegetation, perfect for quaint towns to thrive. Your local guide will lead you through the area on a leisurely one-hour walk, stopping in a few villages to meet with locals. Admire the unique architecture, listen to stories about regional history, observe traditional farming techniques, enjoy live entertainment, and more. You'll receive a complete lesson on the people and their lifestyles, including a visit to a traditional pottery factory and old kasbahs.

At lunchtime, you'll join a family in their traditional home. While enjoying local cooking, learn more about Moroccan cuisine and the history of this unique culture. End your meal with an authentic tea ceremony, then drive back to your accommodation.

Day 7: Transfer to Zagora via Saghro Mountains & Draa River Valley

Zagora's Great Mosque

Today, meet your driver in the morning after breakfast and continue east to the small but grand city of Zagora. You'll cross up and over the Jbel Saghro mountains through the Tizi n'Tinififft pass. Along the way, you will pass through Agdz, a busy service center, before your route continues into the fertile soils of the Draa River Valley. You'll follow the valley in a southerly direction through dense palm tree clusters until you reach Zagora. Its wealth, achieved from successful date cultivation, is evident in the wide central avenue and the quality of many of its buildings.

When you arrive, your driver will bring you to your accommodation to relax, rest, and get ready to discover the palm groves of Zagora.

Day 8: Transfer to Erg Chigaga Desert

Morocco, Tamegroute - The building and the courtyard of the shrine Zawiya Nasiriyya
See the intricate tile work of the Sufi zawiya in Tamegroute

Spend time exploring Zagora and the surrounding area after breakfast. See the Jewish Quarter of Amzerou and the large palm groves, then continue toward the village of Mhamid. On the way, visit Tamegroute, a 16th-century Saadian settlement where you'll want to see the Sufi zawiya, an underground kasbah, and a traditional factory for green pottery, typical for this region of Morocco. The little town of Mhamid is both the end of the Draa Valley and "the end of civilization." You'll switch vehicles to a jeep for a 40-mile (65-km) off-road adventure through dunes, plateaus, and a lost oasis.

You'll take a break and picnic beneath palm trees in the Ras Nkhel oasis before carrying on to your final destination, Erg Chigaga, and its massive dunes, arriving just before sunset. Hop on your camel to traverse the dunes, which now shimmer in various shades of red and yellow in the evening light. You'll reach camp to enjoy a traditional dinner and spend a memorable evening around the campfire with drum music. Dance around the fire or watch the night sky in search of the countless shooting stars. When it's time for bed, you'll sleep in a nomad tent or just outside, under the canopy.

Day 9: Desert Adventures, Discover Nomadic Life

Morocco, Erg Chigaga - Bedouin tent
Vist with Bedouins and see how they live in Erg Chigaga

In the heart of the wild regs (desert plateaus), you'll accompany nomads in their daily task of searching for grazing lands and water, and food preparation. You'll see how they spend the night beneath wooden tents in the middle of nowhere, and you'll get to feed the camels and other animals, learn how to weave a camel wool carpet, and cook using traditional utensils and a wood fire.

Following your nomadic experience, you'll ride your camel once again and return to your camp to take in the setting desert sun before dinner and retire for the evening.

Day 10: Taroudant via Foum Zguid across the Anti-Atlas Mountains

Lake Iriqui
Stop for a photo-op of dried-up Lake Iriqui

Rise early to experience the first rays of sunshine over the desert, enjoy breakfast, and then head out in your 4WD to discover the old Paris-Dakar route to Foum Zguid. You'll cross Lake Iriqui, a dried-up salt lake in the Iriqui National Park that becomes a swamp during rainy periods. In this unique park, you have the chance to spot wild animals, including lizards, snakes, gazelles, and with a bit of luck, even hyenas. You'll stop for lunch in the Berber village of Taznakht and then continue over the Anti Atlas Mountains to the town of Taroudant.

Taroudant is a caravan city known as "Little Marrakech" or "Grandmother of Marrakech," thanks to its high city ramparts, historic old town, and lively souks that resemble its namesake. Take a little time to explore before settling into your riad (house with a garden/courtyard).

Day 11: Explore Taroudant, Transfer to Essaouira via Agadir

Morocco, Taroudant - Fortress wall in the city of Taroudant
Taroudant's fortress wall 

You'll have today to explore friendly Taroudant's surrounding ramparts and historic medina, the town's highlight. Admire the old walls and gates like Bab Selsla, Bab Targont, and Bab Ouled Bounouna. Walk or bike around the perimeter of the walled town. Then head into the souks, and peruse the artisan shops. You'll also find tanneries similar to those in Fes and Marrakech. Stop for a bite to eat at a restaurant or café, or sip mint tea in one of the hotel gardens. Outside of Taroudant, visit Agadir Tasguent. An easy hike takes you to an old fortress with exceptional views. Or, visit the mansion, Palais Claudio Bravo

In the afternoon, you'll make your way west to Agadir on the Atlantic coast and north to Essaouira, the "white pearl." Spend time exploring this quaint artists' town, a peaceful contrast to frenetic Marrakech. Consider visiting the medina's souks, relaxing in Mulay El-Hassan, the central square lined with restaurants and cafés, or checking out the port to see the 16th-century Portuguese Castelo Real, Borj el Barmil, and the Skala de la Kasbah. Then there's the UNESCO-protected Mellah (Jewish district), where you can stop in at the 18th-century Rabbi Haim Pinto, or you may like to visit the beach to swim, relax, or take a surf lesson.

Day 12: Private Morning Cooking Class in Essaouira

Cooking class, woman making tajine (or tagine)
Learn to cook tajine in a cooking class in Essaouira

Discover Morocco's flavorful cuisine with a cooking class at a traditional riad in Essaouira. With a local chef and culinary enthusiast, you'll learn how to prepare one of Morocco's most popular and authentic dishes: tajine. This dish is named after the signature ceramic pot used to cook it. Typically, tajine features meats, vegetables, and/or fruit, such as dates or apricots, to add sweetness to its savory flavors. This hands-on experience ends with a delicious lunch, a conversation with your host, and a cup of traditional mint tea. 

You'll have the rest of the afternoon free to explore the charming and historic city of Essaouira on your own. If you'd like to include an additional activity, you can spend this time on an ATV adventure, indulge the senses in a traditional spa and hammam experience, try your balance at sandboarding just outside of the city, horseback ride, or take a windsurfing/kitesurfing lesson. 

Day 13: Return to Marrakech, Food Tour, Henna or Babouche Workshop

Morocco, Essaouira medina
Notice the Andalusian influence of blue-painted doors and shutters in Essaouira's medina

As you transfer from Essaouira to your accommodation in Marrakech, keep your eyes peeled for goats in the nearby argan trees. Goats climb the trees naturally to eat their fruit and leaves. However, many farmers now "encourage" them to do so, as the passing travelers have become an additional income source.

Upon arrival, settle into your lodging before heading into the bustle of Marrakech for a private food tour through the city's medina. You'll taste 10 traditional delicacies, ranging from Morocco's unique sweets to an authentic and savory tajine. Learn about the country's essential ingredients, cooking techniques, and culinary culture. Alternatively, you might like to participate in a henna workshop to learn how to draw designs on your hands, arms, or feet or learn to design and craft your own babouche (traditional slippers).

Day 14: Depart Marrakech

Colorful wares in Jemma el-Fna, Morocco
Colorful wares on display in Jemaa el-Fna
This morning after breakfast, depending on your flight schedule, you may be able to enjoy one last stroll of Jemaa el-Fna before transferring to the airport in time for your departing flight.

More Great Morocco Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Morocco? Check out these other Morocco itineraries, explore different ways to spend two weeks in Morocco, or discover the best time to visit Morocco.

Map

Map of South Morocco Adventure: Marrakech to Essaouira, Imlil, Skoura & Erg Chigaga - 14 Days
Map of South Morocco Adventure: Marrakech to Essaouira, Imlil, Skoura & Erg Chigaga - 14 Days