Exploring the highlights of Southern Morocco on this adventure-packed trip. Spend your first night in the Sahara, then visit the famed Ait Benhaddou and explore the dunes of Erg Lihoudi with a comfortable night in a luxury camp. Continue to Marrakech to visit ornate palaces, the serene Majorelle Gardens, and vibrant city markets. Finish your trip in the charming coastal city of Essaouira, where 18th-century artist studios and quiet coastal charm await.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a luxurious stay in the Sahara desert in a comfortable 'glamping' tent
  • Visit the desert city of Ait Benhaddou, set of Game of Thrones 
  • Tour the serene Majorelle Gardens & wander the vibrant Jemaa El-Fna market
  • Explore coastal Essaouira, tour artist studios, and sample fresh-caught seafood 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Morocco and on to Ait Benhaddou Aït Benhaddou
Day 2 ATVs, Camels, and Saharan Skies M'hamid El Ghizlane
Day 3 The Sahara to Marrakech Marrakech
Day 4 Sights and Souks of Marrakech Marrakech
Day 5 Majorelle Gardens and Tagine Time! Marrakech
Day 6 Ochre City to the Ocean Essaouira
Day 7 Exploring Essaouira Essaouira
Day 8 Departure Day  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Morocco and on to Ait Benhaddou

Roads crossing the Atlas
Roads crossing the Atlas

Welcome to Morocco! Arrive at the Marrakech Menara International Airport, where you will be met with your driver and guide. From the airport, hit the road and head across the Atlas Mountains towards the famed desert citadel of Ait Benhaddou. The city has been the backdrop to many popular movies and TV shows, including Game of Thrones. 

Arrive in the evening and explore the fortifications on foot with your guide. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a striking example of southern Moroccan architecture. The fort is primarily made up of residential dwellings, surrounded by imposing defensive walls which are reinforced by angled towers and an armored gate. Tour the site to see a full panorama of pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques. 

Afterward, check in to your charming and comfortable hotel, enjoy your first Moroccan dinner, and get some well-deserved sleep. 

Day 2: ATVs, Camels, and Saharan Skies

Ait Ben Haddou is a fortified city along the former caravan route
ATVs at the Kasbah

Get your blood pumping early this morning with an ATV tour of the Kasbah Ait Benhaddou. Stop by the movie studios and discover why Ouarzazate is often called the "Hollywood of Morocco." Continue the day by driving into the Sahara desert. 

At the end of the drive, leave the pavement behind and head into the desert on a camel caravan. Arrive in camp in the evening in time for dinner accompanied by traditional music. Enjoy views of the starlit skies before relaxing for the night in the comfort of your luxurious tent. 

Day 3: The Sahara to Marrakech

Camel caravan in the Moroccan Sahara
Camel caravan in the Moroccan Sahara

Rise early today for sunrise over the sand dunes. After breakfast at camp, spend the morning explore the surrounding desert. Try surfing down the dunes on a sandboard or just enjoy the peace and quiet. 

Afterward, hit the road for Marrakech, crossing the spectacular and remote landscapes of the desert plains and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. Stop for lunch along the way in a Berber village, arriving in Marrakech in the late afternoon. 

Check into your luxury riad in Marrakech's medina and enjoy a gourmet Moroccan dinner. 

Day 4: Sights and Souks of Marrakech

DJemma El Fna at Sunset
DJemma El Fna at Sunset

Enjoy breakfast at your riad, then head out for a full-day tour of the Ochre City. Start by visiting the iconic Koutoubia Mosque, then continue to the Bahia Palace and Saadian Tombs to see traditional Moroccan architecture and tile mosaics. Stop by the Mellah, or former Jewish Quarter, to learn about Morocco's little-known but significant Jewish heritage. 

Stop for a mid-day lunch on a terrace overlooking the spice markets. Try the tagine and refreshing mint tea, then head out for the afternoon to explore the souks, or markets, which spread through the winding alleyways of the medina. The shops sell everything from spices to clothing, household goods, and a variety of traditional Moroccan gifts and souvenirs. 

In the evening make your way to the sprawling Djema El Fna Square to see a colorful medley of street performers, fortune-tellers, musicians, and food vendors. 

Day 5: Majorelle Gardens and Tagine Time!

Majorelle Gardens
Majorelle Gardens

Start your day with a late wake-up and relaxed breakfast. Head out for another day of sightseeing, starting with the lush Majorelle Gardens. Wander around the colorful gardens, looking for hidden alcoves and enjoying the vibrant plants and small Berber Museum. From here head next door to the Yves Saint-Laurent Museum, which honors the global fashion icon's love for Marrakech and houses a permanent collection of the designer's best-known works. 
 
Finish your fashion-filled morning with a trip to 33 Majorelle, located next-door to the gardens and featuring a chic collection of clothes and art by trendy Moroccan designers. For lunch head to the Le Grand Cafe de la Poste, a posh venue frequented by well-to-do Moroccans. 

In the afternoon head to a cooking class to learn how to prepare a traditional Moroccan dish—Tagine, a thick stew of chicken and vegetables. Learn how to make the accompanying dishes, including Moroccan bread, fresh salad, and mint tea. End your class with a celebratory dinner to eat your own masterpiece, ending with a sweet dessert—almond paste cookies. 

Day 6: Ochre City to the Ocean

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride
Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride

Opt for an early morning start and a hot air balloon ride above the palm oases and small Berber villages that surround Marrakech. 

Stop along the way to visit an Argan oil cooperative, which has gained worldwide popularity in cosmetic and beauty products. Around 88 lbs (40 kg) are needed to extract 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of oil, which requires 8 hours of backbreaking labor by the mostly female workforce. Unfortunately, as a result of demand and labor-intensive process, the argan trees are subjected to exploitation. 

Afterward, head to Val D’Argan, a local vineyard, for lunch and a wine tasting of regional wines. Arrive in Essaouira in the late afternoon and enjoy a relaxing evening on the coast. 

Day 7: Exploring Essaouira

The charming and calm Medina is a dream to explore
The charming and calm Medina is a dream to explore

After breakfast head out for a guided visit of the city's old quarters, starting with the medina, artisan cooperatives, and the Jewish heritage sites. The brilliant blue and white architecture, easy coastal charm, and lovely beaches give Essaouira a relaxed coastal vibe. Spend the day learning about the city's Carthaginian, Roman, and Portuguese history. 

Explore the 18th-century sea walls and the wood workshops, artist enclaves, and quiet alleyways that line the city's old town. Walk along the harbor to see fishermen unloading the day's catch, then enjoy a fresh seafood lunch in a streetside cafe. 

Spend the rest of the afternoon to tour the rest of the city. Enjoy shopping for wood carvings, pottery, and other gifts in the laid-back medina and market. If you're up for an adventure, try kitesurfing or another water sport. 

Day 8: Departure Day

Classic Moroccan Mosaics
Classic Moroccan Mosaics

Bid farewell to your driver and guide, who have by now become your life-long friends, then head to the Casablanca Airport for your connecting flight home. Safe travels! 

Map

Map of Southern Morocco Luxury Tour - 8 Days
Map of Southern Morocco Luxury Tour - 8 Days