Hit the sands of the Sahara and shores of Tifnit Beach with this ten-day itinerary through some of the highlights of southern Morocco. Hear the hum of the city in Marrakech before you head into the desert on a camel trek, including a night in a tent under the stars. Then get refreshed on Tifnit Beach and in the artsy city of Essaouira before you head home.

Highlights

  • Camel trek to a luxury desert camp in the dunes of the Sahara
  • Explore the maze-like souks of Marrakech and Jemaa El F'na
  • Unwind in the Valley of a Million Palms next to an 18th-century kasbah
  • Venture into the breathtaking gorges of the Dades and Todgha Rivers

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Marrakech Marrakech
Day 2 Guided Tour of Marrakech Marrakech
Day 3 Marrakech to Dades Valley via Ait Ben Haddou Boumalne Dades
Day 4 Day with the Locals in the Valley of Roses Boumalne Dades
Day 5 Dades Valley to Merzouga Camel Trek Merzouga
Day 6 Merzouga to Agdz Agdz
Day 7 Agdz to Tifnit Beach Tifnit Beach
Day 8 Free Day on Tifnit Beach Tifnit Beach
Day 9 Tifnit Beach to Essaouira Essaouira
Day 10 Free Day on Tifnit Beach  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Marrakech

Jemaa el Fna Square in Marrakech
Jemaa el Fna Square in Marrakech

Welcome to Morocco! Your specialist will be awaiting your arrival in Marrakech and will transfer you to your cozy riad.

The colorful oasis city of Marrakech offers up an old town tangle of bazaars with oriental lamps, woven carpets, and scents of spices, alongside Moorish riads and palm trees against colorful surroundings. Make your way through the alleys of the medina, where woven carpets, ceramics, parchment lamps, and huge spice stalls in all colors are stored up to the roof in the narrow, winding alleyways characterized by stairs and vaults.

Day 2: Guided Tour of Marrakech

The towering minaret of Koutoubia Mosque
The towering minaret of Koutoubia Mosque

After breakfast, meet your local private guide who will lead you through the 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 the medina life. Along the way, your knowledgeable and energetic guide will regale you with the history and stories of the medina, the souk, and the Mellah neighborhoods of the Red City.

In the afternoon you'll continue your private tour, exploring places like the Koutoubia Mosque, Bahia and El Badii Palaces, and the Saadian Tombs. You'll have the rest of the day to explore on your own. Do some retail therapy in the souks, sit down to a delicious traditional meal in one of Marrakech's fantastic restaurants, or wander the stalls of Djemaa el Fna Square, where you can feast on incredible street food as you watch musicians and snake charmers perform for the crowds. 

Day 3: Marrakech to Dades Valley via Ait Ben Haddou

Along the desert

Continue your adventure traveling over the High Atlas Mountains via the Tizi n’Tichka pass, reaching an altitude of nearly 7,500 feet (2,286 m) above sea level. They say that life is about the journey and not the destination and this is certainly true when you are on this road. There will be plenty of stops for tea and photographs as you take in the breathtaking vistas before arriving at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ait Ben Haddou.

If this impressive ksar looks familiar, it is because it has starred (or at least made an appearance) in many movies and TV shows including "Gladiator," "Lawrence of Arabia," and "Game of Thrones." After your visit here, you’ll follow the Road of 1000 Kasbahs through the Valley of Roses to your accommodations for the night in Dades.

Day 4: Day with the Locals in the Valley of Roses

Desert views

Make the short drive to the “next valley over” to the heart of the Valley of Roses.  On the way, you can visit a local market if your trip aligns with market day, and then go to the home of a local family, where you can help to prepare lunch (or just relax) and then join the family for a traditional couscous lunch. After lunch (and a little more relaxation), you can explore a little more of the Valley either by car or by foot before heading back to your hotel in time for dinner.

If you're visiting while the roses are in bloom, you can head into the fields to try your hand at picking the flowers and seeing how much you would earn from your work. Pay a visit to the local rose cooperative to observe the distillation process involved in creating the valley's signature rose products, or see a different sort of creative process at the Azlag Cooperative, where they craft ceremonial Berber daggers. Linger in a coffee shop with views of the valley or stop for a steam in a traditional hammam.

Day 5: Dades Valley to Merzouga Camel Trek

Going camelback

Make your way to nearby Todgha Gorge where you will have an opportunity to walk through the most impressive part of the canyon. Next, you will continue on to the city of Tinghir, where you will have a guided walk of the palmeraie and old Mellah (Jewish neighborhood).

After your visit to Tinghir, continue on to the giant dunes of the Sahara where you will transfer to a more traditional mode of travel and make your way via camelback into the heart of the dunes to your luxury desert camp for the night. Climb the nearest dune to watch the sunset and the stars come out. Enjoy dinner, traditional music, and stargazing into the evening. Whether you sleep in the warmth of your Berber tent or under the stars of the Sahara, this is likely to be a night that you will remember for a lifetime.

Day 6: Merzouga to Agdz

Among the dunes

This morning, you'll want to be sure to wake early to watch the sun sets the dunes aflame as it rises over the horizon.  Afterwards, breakfast will be served at the camp and you'll have time to prepare for your day before taking your camels back to the edge of the dunes.  

Once you've reached the edge of the dunes, you can visit the musician's village of Khamlia, a village comprised entirely of Gnaoua musicians, where you'll be treated to a short private concert over a glass of tea.  From here, you'll travel on the other side of the Saghro Mountains through the Draa Valley, known as the Valley of a Million Palms, and you'll see how it earned that name.

In the heart of the Draa Valley, you'll stop for the night near the oasis town of Agdz at Kasbah Tamnougalt.  No one knows exactly how old this kasbah is, but it dates back to at least the 18th century and was an important stop on the old salt caravans that traversed the Sahara from Timbuktu to Marrakech.  You'll be staying nearby and will have a guided tour of the kasbah and the adjacent palmeraie, followed by time to rest and relax in this peaceful setting. 

Day 7: Agdz to Tifnit Beach

Park in Taroudant

This morning you'll continue through the Draa Valley to the Small (or Anti) Atlas Mountains and watch as the landscape changes once again. You'll pass through the region of the country where saffron is grown and may see a nomad family or two as they prepare to head towards the desert for the winter.  

About halfway between Agdz and Essaouira, you'll reach the bustling market town of Taroudant.  Known as the "little sister" of Marrakech, this friendly town is great for wandering, and you can climb the city wall to get a view of the medina. After a brief stop here to stretch your legs, you'll continue on to the cliffside beach retreat near Tifnit Beach. This secluded location is the perfect spot to relax.

Day 8: Free Day on Tifnit Beach

Sunset at Tifnit Beach

Today, you'll have the whole day to just relax and enjoy the beach. Take advantage of the surfboards, beach chairs, and volleyball setup on the beach. Head into town with a walk along the beach to buy some fish from the "fresh catch of the day" and then grill it oceanside, or try your hand at catching your own.

Keep an eye out for the diverse bird population while you linger on a patio. There's limited cell phone service, so take the time to unplug and just relax while listening to the waves.

Day 9: Tifnit Beach to Essaouira

Along the shore

Head up the coast to the charming beachside city of Essaouira. Archeological evidence shows that this area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, but the city as it is now was designed in the 18th century by the French engineer Thédore Cornut. On the way to Essaouira, you will see groves of argan trees from which Morocco’s liquid gold (argan oil) is produced—with the unique help of local goats.

Once you arrive, make your way to the shore for a seafood lunch of freshly caught fish. Afterward, you will have the afternoon to discover this beautiful city and its adjacent beach. Essaouira became a favorite spot for the hippie movement in 1967, drawing dropouts, artists, and tourists to its shore. The wide, bright alleys of the medina are home to traditional souks, city gates, art galleries, and locally created crafts, leading to the central Mulay El-Hassan Square and its restaurants and hotels. 

Day 10:  Essaouira to Casablanca & Depart

Essaouira's 18th-century Skala de la Kasbah

Transfer to Casablanca and the Mohammed V International Airport to catch your flight home or onto your next adventure.

Map

Map of Southern Moroccan Nature & Culture: Marrakech, Boumalne Dades, Essaouira & More - 10 Days
Map of Southern Moroccan Nature & Culture: Marrakech, Boumalne Dades, Essaouira & More - 10 Days