Let a private driver take you through the epic landscapes of southern Morocco on this 16-day tour. Starting and ending in the "Red City" of Marrakesh, you'll trek through the picturesque Toubkal National Park and wander the winding alleys of Aït Benhaddou. Then, ride a camel to a luxury camp in the Sahara and sip mint tea with villagers before heading to the palm trees of Zagora. Soak in the sunny beaches of Essaouira and end with a traditional hammam experience back in Marrakesh before departing.


  • Shop for cool souvenirs in the lively souks of Marrakesh's old medina
  • Ride a camel at sunset in the Sahara and stay two nights in the dunes
  • Learn to make your own tajine at a traditional Moroccan cooking class
  • Get washed and polished at a hammam before taking a food tour 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Marrakesh, Traditional Moroccan Dinner at a Local Home Marrakesh
Day 2 Explore the "Red City" of Marrakesh Marrakesh
Day 3 Transfer to Imlil via Asni & the Moulay Brahim Gorge Imlil
Day 4 Guided Trek through Toubkal National Park Imlil
Day 5 Transfer to Aït Benhaddou, Tour the Ksar of Aït Benhaddou  Aït Benhaddou
Day 6 Transfer to Boumalne Dades, Trek Through Berber Villages  Boumalne Dades
Day 7 Transfer to Merzouga via Tinghir, Rissani & Sunset Camel Ride Merzouga
Day 8 Desert Adventures Around Erg Chebbi Merzouga
Day 9 Transfer to Zagora via N'kob & the Draa Valley Zagora
Day 10 Fossil Exploration in Zagora Zagora
Day 11 Transfer to Ouarzazate, Berber Carpet Weaving Demonstration Ouarzazate
Day 12 Transfer to Taroudant via a Saffron Factory & Craft Cooperative Taroudant
Day 13 Transfer to Essaouira via Agadir Essaouira
Day 14 Morning Cooking Class, Tour Essaouira Essaouira
Day 15 Transfer to Marrakesh, Hammam & Spa Experience, Food Tour Marrakesh
Day 16 Tour Majorelle Gardens, Depart Marrakesh  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Marrakesh, Traditional Moroccan Dinner at a Local Home

Private Transfer Between Marrakech & Marrakech Airport
Sample tea and other Moroccan delights in the Medina of Marrakesh

Welcome to Morocco! Upon arrival in Marrakesh, meet your driver at the airport for your transfer to your accommodation in the city. Morocco sits at the geographical and cultural crossroads of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, creating a mix of cultures in one exciting city.

Check into a traditional riad (a Moroccan house with a courtyard) and get your bearings before heading to the UNESCO-listed medina (historic fortified old city/quarter) for a full-on sensory experience. You'll be dazzled by the displays of djellabas (robes), bright babouches (leather shoes), intricate lanterns, and mounds of exotic spices.

In the evening, meet a local family for dinner in the medina to experience Moroccan food at its finest. Witness a tea ceremony and taste the famous mint tea, get your first taste of Morocco's national dish, tajine (braised meat stew), and enjoy that famous Moroccan hospitality and generosity. 

Day 2: Explore the "Red City" of Marrakesh

Marrakesh, Koutoubia Mosque
Discover the famous sights of Marrakesh, nicknamed the "Red City"

Marrakesh is known as the "Red City," thanks to the natural red pigment in its architecture. Today, you'll immerse yourself in the vibrant sights, sounds, and smells as you wander through its bustling center. Get your bearings at Jemaa el-Fna Square, the city's landmark plaza filled with markets, street food, and performers. For shopping, you'll find the souks (markets) to the north, selling everything from spices to rugs.

To the west of the square, you'll find the Koutoubia Mosque, where you can stroll through the peaceful gardens and admire the beautiful architecture. To the south, explore the Bahia Palace, a sprawling complex dating to the late 19th century filled with colorful, intricate details. Visit the ruins of El Badi Palace, built in 1578, and the Tombeaux Saadiens (the Saadian Tombs), the historic royal necropolis.

For dinner, return to Jemaa el-Fna Square, which begins to fill in the late afternoon with musicians, storytellers, acrobats, dancers, henna artists, and snake charmers. As it gets dark, rows of food stalls will appear, serving anything from full meals to fruit drinks, dried dates, and small snacks.

Day 3: Transfer to Imlil via Asni & the Moulay Brahim Gorge

From Bustling Medina to Mountain Tranquility: Marrakech to Imlil Transfer
Visit the charming town of Imlil in the High Atlas mountains

Enjoy a comfortable 1.5-hour transfer from Marrakesh to your accommodation in Imlil, a small village in the High Atlas mountains. The drive begins through a picturesque valley known for its lush meadows and beautiful green gardens. Make a stop in Asni, known for its weekly souk, where locals exchange goods and stock up on food.

Next, drive between the hills of the Atlas mountains and the Moulay Brahim Gorge, taking in the incredible scenery around you. You'll soon arrive in Imlil, in the center of the mountainous Toubkal National Park. Enjoy a glass of mint tea with your host, and rest up for a day of hiking tomorrow. 

Day 4: Guided Trek through Toubkal National Park

Hiking with mules
Trek through the dramatic landscapes of Toubkal National Park

Embark on a memorable guided hike through Toubkal National Park, starting in Imlil, to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the High Atlas mountains and engage in authentic Berber encounters.

As you set off on your hike, your knowledgeable local guide will lead you on scenic trails, allowing you to discover the pristine landscapes, rugged mountain peaks, and verdant valleys. Along the trail, you'll have the chance to meet and interact with friendly local Berber communities. Learn about their traditional way of life and gain insights into their customs, traditions, and daily routines.

Stop for lunch with a Berber family in a village, prepared with locally sourced ingredients and featuring the flavors of authentic Berber cuisine. Then, trek back to Imlil and enjoy another night in the sleepy yet charming town.

Day 5: Transfer to Aït Benhaddou, Tour the Ksar of Aït Benhaddou 

The  Aït Benhaddou Kasbah
Explore the gorgeous and historic Ksar of Aït Benhaddou

Enjoy a comfortable private transfer from Imlil to your accommodation in Aït Benhaddou, which takes about 5.5 hours. Head over the High Atlas mountains and enjoy views of Mount Toubkal, which stands at 13,671 feet (4,167 m). Enjoy panoramic vistas over the mountain range near the top of the Tizi n'Tichka Pass.

After you settle in, head out to explore the spectacular Ksar of Aït Benhaddou. This UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the 11th century and is one of the most incredible human-made sites in the region. The town is best known for its kasbahs—fortified citadels or quarters in a city encircled by walls and towers.

While you walk through the center, explore the old town's alleys and passageways. Stop into shops, grab a bite to eat, or sip a cup of traditional mint tea. Then, hike up to the old granary for incredible views of the kasbah, surrounding areas, and historic camel caravan routes. Most other tourists will depart in the afternoon, giving you the place to yourself, ideal to explore at your leisure.

Day 6: Transfer to Boumalne Dades, Trek Through Berber Villages

Lush Dades Valley and Kasbahs
Walk between Berber villages in the lush Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs

Today you'll make the 2.5-hour transfer from Aït Benhaddou to your accommodation in Boumalne Dades. Along the way, enjoy the beautiful desert scenery. Pass through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs and near Kelâat M'Gouna, named after the nearby Mount M'Goun and known as the "Valley of the Roses." The traditional mud kasbahs and red-orange rocks contrast perfectly with the verdant stretch following the Dades River.

Once you arrive, immerse yourself in the region's culture with a walking tour. Your local guide will lead you through the foothills of the mountains, offering a green oasis of vegetation for an easy four-hour walk. Along the way, you will stop to meet with locals in a few Berber villages.

Admire the architecture, listen to stories about regional history, observe traditional farming techniques, enjoy live entertainment, and join a local family for a traditional meal, fusing Berber and Moroccan cuisine. End with a tea ceremony, then drive back to your accommodation in Boumalen Dades.

Day 7: Transfer to Merzouga via Tinghir, Rissani & Sunset Camel Ride

Desert and Oasis in Boumalne Dades
Ride a camel to get to your luxury camp in the Sahara Desert

Say farewell to Boumalne Dades and hit the road for a 4.5-hour transfer to your Bedouin-style tent in Merzouga. Stop en route to explore several communities in the Sahara Desert. Visit the desert town of Tinghir, where you'll find fantastic views of neighboring villages along an extensive river oasis. Continue to the otherworldly red limestones at Todra Gorge, and from here, head to Erfoud for your first look at the ever-shifting Saharan dunes.

Next, make your way to the town of Rissani, entering through its impressive gate. Visit Maison Tuareg, a storehouse filled with traditional arts and crafts, including carpets, jewelry, leather goods, and more. You'll soon see the ever-changing sand waves of Erg Chebbi in the distance, an extensive set of dunes covering 14 square miles (35 sq km), with some rising over 650 feet (200 m). Switch from car to camel for a ride through the dunes to your luxury camp, arriving at sunset.

After settling into your tent, climb up the nearest dune to watch the rest of the sunset. Head back to camp for dinner by the campfire, accompanied by traditional Berber music and memorable views of the starry skies.

Day 8: Desert Adventures Around Erg Chebbi

Desert Adventures Around Erg Chebbi
Climb the dunes of Erg Chebbi and have tea with a local family
Plan your trip to Morocco
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Explore the landscapes of Erg Chebbi and its surroundings today, beginning with a drive through the massive dunes via Jeep to discover the hidden secrets of this mystical land. Meet with a local nomad family for a cup of tea, and visit the Gnawa House in Khemliya Village to discover the traditional, spiritual music often used for healing. Traditionally practiced throughout Morocco, popular maâlems (master musicians) are making the music known worldwide.

Experience the life of a local nomad as you accompany them through the desert plateaus, assisting them in their daily mission to search for grazing lands and water and helping with food preparation for the evening. You'll also get to feed the camels and other animals, learn to weave a camel wool carpet, and cook using traditional utensils and wood fire.

In the afternoon, rent a sand board and test your skills on the dunes, or join a quad ATV tour for a wilder ride. In the evening, climb up dunes to watch the colorful display as the sun sets, then head back to camp for another campfire dinner and more stargazing. 

Day 9: Transfer to Zagora via N'kob & the Draa Valley

Draa Valley Palm Grove
Leave the dunes behind and head to the palm-filled Draa Valley 

Sit back and enjoy the views on a comfortable private transfer from the mesmerizing dunes of Merzouga to your accommodation in Zagora. This journey spans approximately 6.5 hours. As your skilled driver navigates the scenic Lesser Atlas mountain range, you'll be treated to captivating vistas of dramatic river gorges and picturesque villages perched on the mountainsides.

Pass through the captivating landscapes of Saghro and the charming mountain town of N'kob and watch the scenery transform into the verdant beauty of the Draa Valley. Known for its "million palm trees," this enchanting valley stretches alongside the meandering Draa River, making a landscape of palms, fruit trees, and farmlands.

Once you reach Zagora, check into your hotel and spend a relaxing evening amid the swaying palms.

Day 10: Fossil Exploration in Zagora

 Erg Chebbi  Desert adventure
Take a journey back in time at the Fossils Factory in Zagora
Today, explore the Fossils Factory in Zagora to embark on a journey through time. Guided by a local expert, this activity offers a rare opportunity to delve into the world of ancient fossils all discovered in the region. Engage in interactive learning activities that bring the past to life, including hands-on experiences with fossil identification and handling. Visit the on-site souvenir shop and purchase a piece of ancient Moroccan history to bring home. 

Day 11: Transfer to Ouarzazate, Berber Carpet Weaving Demonstration

The Picturesque Town of Ouarzazate
Wander through the picturesque town of Ouarzazate, a popular film location

Transfer 2.5 hours from Zagora to the city of Ouarzazate, known as the "Gateway to the Sahara." After settling into your accommodations in Ouarzazate, explore the town's UNESCO-listed 19th-century Taourirt Kasbah. Follow the maze of stairwells to the top floor, where you'll find a prayer room through keyhole archways, traces of stucco, and an original tataoui ceiling. From here, enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Unlike other kasbahs in the region, Taourirt Kasbah escaped ruin after catching the attention of film scouts. The town has been the site of many famous movies and shows (including "Black Hawk Down," "Prometheus," "American Sniper," and "Game of Thrones"). See sets and props at the Musée du Cinema, or take a guided tour at a film studio (Atlas Film Studios or CLA Studios) for more memorabilia.

In the afternoon, attend a carpet weaving demonstration by local Berber women. Witness the process of traditional carpet weaving, vital to these communities, and try your hand at weaving before heading back to town for dinner. 

Day 12: Transfer to Taroudant via a Saffron Factory & Craft Cooperative

Shop in the Souks (Markets) for Artisan Goods
Shop for colorful goods in the lively souks of Taroudant

Today, you'll say goodbye to Ouarzazate and make the four-hour trip to Taroudant. After breakfast, your driver will take you to the scenic Lesser Atlas mountains and the region's famed saffron fields. Your first stop is in the village of Taliouine, where you'll visit a saffron factory. Then, continue to Tazenakht, where you'll see a cooperative to watch craftswomen produce elaborate carpets using traditional patterns.

In the afternoon, you'll arrive in Taroudant, known as the "Grandmother of Marrakesh" thanks to its surrounding ramparts and historic old town. Settle into your traditional riad, then join your guide on a tour of its medina. Admire the old walls and gates, such as Bab Selsla, Bab Targont, and Bab Ouled Bounouna, and walk (or bike) around the perimeter of the walled town.

Stop for a bite to eat at a restaurant or café and sip a glass of mint tea. Then, outside of Taroudant, visit Agadir Tasguent, an easy hike to an old fortress with exceptional views. 

Day 13: Transfer to Essaouira via Agadir

Anti-Atlas Mountains on the way to Taznakht
Enjoy some fresh sea air in Essaouira on the Atlantic coast

Leave the Atlas mountains behind and make your way to the Atlantic coast. The four-hour trip from Taroudant to Essaouira passes through Agadir along a scenic coastal route. Drive north, savoring the views of the blue waters, before arriving in Essaouira, Morocco's "White Pearl."

Once you settle in, enjoy walking the impressive seawalls, discovering delights in the medina area, or people-watching in the active fishing harbor. Visit one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in Morocco, home to Rabbi Haim Pinto, a well-preserved synagogue and historical site dating back to the early 18th century.

Essaouira is also a prime destination for surfing, with trade winds that prevail year-round. Grab a board or just lay on the sand of Essaouira Beach, purchase locally-produced argan oil, and grab a drink in Mulay El-Hassan Square, the city's central hub. At dinner, head down to the port to purchase fresh fish or sample the famous grilled sardines. 

Day 14: Morning Cooking Class, Tour Essaouira

A Traditional Tajine
Learn to make traditional Moroccan dishes such as tajine in a cooking class

Discover Morocco's incredible and flavorful cuisine with a cooking class at a traditional riad in Essaouira. With a local chef, 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 and typically features meats, vegetables, and fruit, such as dates or apricots, to add sweetness. When finished, sit down with your host to enjoy the fruits of your labor and a cup of traditional mint tea.

Use the rest of the day to explore more of Essaouira. This quaint city has a long history of influences, including Berbers, Phoenicians, Romans, Portuguese, and French, evident in the architecture, food, customs, and language. Enjoy the city's charm as you twist through the wide and bright streets filled with souks, street vendors, leafy plazas, and whitewashed houses with ornate wooden doors.

Dramatic, wave-lashed ramparts surrounded the medina and were famously used in the opening scene of Orson Welles' 1951 film "Othello," with part of its old walls still standing today. As you stroll, stop into various traditional shops, where you'll find perfect souvenirs, and head back down to the beach for surfing, sun, relaxing, or even kitesurfing. 

Day 15: Transfer to Marrakesh, Hammam & Spa Experience, Food Tour

Jemaa el Fna Square in Marrakech
Return to Marrakesh for more sightseeing and a hammam experience

Take the morning sea breeze in Essaouira before making the three-hour transfer back to Marrakesh. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for goats in the nearby argan trees as you travel through the region's rolling plains. Goats climb the trees to eat the olives!

Once you reach Marrakesh, settle into your accommodation before heading to the ultimate pampering escape in a hammam (bathhouse). Begin with an ancient Moroccan bathing ritual that combines heat, steam, and meticulous body cleansing. Then, enjoy a relaxing and refreshing massage, a nourishing body mask, and a cup of soothing herbal tea.

Spend the rest of the day exploring the flavors of Marrakesh on a food tour through the city's medina. Follow your guide on a culinary journey to some of Marrakesh's beloved local hotspots. Taste various traditional delicacies, ranging from sweets like chebakia (sesame cookies) to msemen (Moroccan pancakes) and pastilla (sweet-and-savory pie). Along the way, learn about the country's essential ingredients, cooking techniques, and culinary culture. 

Day 16: Tour Majorelle Gardens, Depart Marrakesh

Majorelle Gardens
Finish the trip with a tour of the Majorelle Gardens

For your last morning in Marrakesh, take a break from the heat in the beautiful Majorelle Gardens, the former home of a French artist. The brightly colored buildings complement the 300 species of subtropical flowers, plants, and trees. Although not lush (this is the desert, after all), you'll find plenty to admire, such as bamboo, lilies, and palms, plus fountains and pools. After strolling through the idyllic setting, enjoy a refreshing drink in the charming coffee shop.

Later in the day, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and transport you to the airport. Have a safe and comfortable journey home or to your next destination!

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Map of Southern Morocco Adventure: Sahara Desert, Atlas Mountains & Atlantic Ocean - 16 Days
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