Hit the sands of the Sahara and the shores of Tifnit Beach with this 10-day itinerary through some of southern Morocco's highlights. Hear the hum of the city in Marrakesh 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 coastal city of Essaouira before you head home.


  • Camel trek to a luxury desert camp in the dunes of the Sahara
  • Explore the maze-like souks of Marrakesh and Jemaa el-Fna  
  • Unwind in the Valley of a Million Palms next to an 18th-century kasbah
  • Venture into the breathtaking gorges of the Dadès and Todra Rivers

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Marrakesh  Marrakesh 
Day 2 Guided Tour of Marrakesh Marrakesh
Day 3 Transfer to the Dadès Valley via Aït Benhaddou Boumalne Dades
Day 4 Spend a Day with the Locals in the Valley of Roses Boumalne Dades
Day 5 Transfer to Merzouga, Camel Trek & Desert Camp Merzouga
Day 6 Transfer to the Ancient Kasbah of Agdz Agdz
Day 7 Transfer to Tifnit Beach & the Coast Tifnit Beach
Day 8 Free Day on Tifnit Beach Tifnit Beach
Day 9 Transfer Up the Coast to Essaouira Essaouira
Day 10 Transfer to Casablanca, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Marrakesh

Jemaa el Fna Square in Marrakech
Jemaa el-Fna Square in Marrakesh

Welcome to Morocco! Your specialist will be awaiting your arrival in Marrakesh and will transfer you to your cozy riad (a traditional townhouse with a central courtyard).

The colorful oasis city of Marrakesh offers up a tangle of bazaars and busy squares alongside Moorish riads and palm trees against colorful surroundings. Make your way through the alleys of the medina (old town), where woven carpets, ceramics, parchment lamps, and huge spice stalls in all colors are stored up to the roof in the narrow, winding lanes characterized by stairs and vaults.

Day 2: Guided Tour of Marrakesh

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 historic center of Marrakesh. As you explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you'll come across lively souks and maze-like alleys. You're sure to be dazzled by displays of djellabas (robes), brightly colored babouches (slippers), 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 neighborhood 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 Marrakesh's fantastic restaurants, or wander the stalls of Jemaa el-Fna, a central square where you can feast on incredible street food as you watch musicians and snake charmers perform for the crowds. 

Day 3: Transfer to the Dadès Valley via Aït Benhaddou

Cross the High Atlas to reach the UNESCO-listed Aït Benhaddou

This morning you'll join your driver and strike out on a scenic five-hour road trip. Your adventure takes you 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. You can take your time along the route, stopping for tea and photographs as you soak up the breathtaking vistas before arriving at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Aït Benhaddou.

If this impressive ksar (fort) 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 a Thousand Kasbahs through the Valley of Roses to reach your accommodations for the night in Boumalne Dades.

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

Learn about local life in the Valley of the Roses today

Join your driver for a short drive to the "next valley over" to spend the day in the heart of the Valley of Roses. On the way, you can visit a local market if your trip aligns with market day. Continue to the home of a local family, where a warm welcome awaits. Learn some secrets of Moroccan cooking as you help prepare lunch, then sit down with the family for a traditional meal of couscous. After lunch and some downtime, you can explore a little more of the valley, either by car or by foot.

If you're visiting while the roses are in bloom, don't miss the chance to 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, then return to your hotel in Boumalne Dades for the evening. 

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

Day 5: Transfer to Merzouga, Camel Trek & Desert Camp

Switch to camel for the journey to your luxury desert camp

It's time to head for the desert as you join your guide this morning for the four-hour drive toward Merzouga. Along the way, you'll traverse the Todra Gorge, where you'll have the chance to stretch your legs with a walk through the most impressive part of this canyon. Next, continue on to the city of Tinghir, where you'll take a guided tour through the city's Palmery and old Mellah (Jewish neighborhood).

After your visit to Tinghir, continue toward the giant dunes of the Sahara, where you'll switch to a more traditional mode of travel and make your way via camel to your luxury desert camp for the night. Climb the nearest dune to watch the sunset and the stars come out, then 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'll remember for a lifetime.

Day 6: Transfer to the Ancient Kasbah of Agdz

Watch the sunrise over the dunes near Merzouga

This morning, you'll want to be sure to wake early to watch the sun set the dunes aflame as it rises over the horizon.  Afterward, 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. Here you can stop to visit the musician's village of Khemliya, a village comprised entirely of Gnaoua musicians, where you'll be treated to a short private concert over a glass of tea. Then it's time to get back on the road as your driver takes you four hours west, crossing the Saghro Mountains to reach the Draa Valley, known as the "Valley of a Million Palms."

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 for the old salt caravans that traversed the Sahara from Timbuktu to Marrakesh. You'll be staying nearby and will have a guided tour of the kasbah and the adjacent Palmery (palm orchards), followed by time to rest and relax in this peaceful setting. 

Day 7: Transfer to Tifnit Beach & the Coast

Break up today's drive with a stroll around elegant Taroudant

Set out on another epic road trip today as your driver takes you on a five-hour journey west to the coast. You'll continue through the Draa Valley to the coastal range of the Anti-Atlas mountains and watch as the landscape changes once again. Pass through the region of the country where saffron is grown and keep an eye out for local nomad families as they prepare to head toward 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 Marrakesh, 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

Watch the sunset from Tifnit Beach

Today, you'll have the whole day free to relax and enjoy the golden sands of Tifnit. Take advantage of the surfboards, beach chairs, and volleyball setup on the beach. Head into town and take 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 in this coastal escape.

Day 9: Transfer Up the Coast to Essaouira

Stroll along the coastal ramparts of Essaouira

A scenic four-hour drive takes you up the coast to the charming beachside city of Essaouira. Archaeological 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'll pass groves of argan trees from which Morocco's "liquid gold" (argan oil) is produced—with the unique help of local goats who often climb the spreading branches to reach the argan fruit.

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:  Transfer to Casablanca, Depart

Say your goodbyes to Essaouira's 18th-century Skala de la Kasbah

Savor your final morning in Essaouira and enjoy one last walk along the waterfront ramparts. Then it's time for another four-hour transfer north along the coast to reach Casablanca and the Mohammed V International Airport, where you'll catch your flight home or onto your next adventure. Safe travels!

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Map of Southern Morocco Nature & Culture: Marrakesh, Boumalne Dades, Essaouira & More - 10 Days
Map of Southern Morocco Nature & Culture: Marrakesh, Boumalne Dades, Essaouira & More - 10 Days