This exciting 4-day tour takes you from the Imperial city of Fez and travels southward to Marrakech. On the way you’ll visit the Sahara Desert, Todra and Dadès Gorges and Ouarzazate.
Day 1: Fez – Errachidia – Merzouga
We pick you up from your accommodation or wherever you prefer in Fez at 8am and leave for Merzouga – stopping first at Ifrane, a picturesque mountain garden city often called the Switzerland of Morocco. At 1,665m, Ifrane is known for its snowy winters and mild summers, greenery and European-style architecture.
From Ifrane, the route runs south-west through the Cèdre Gourard Forest to the Berber town of Azrou (alt. 1,250m). You can glimpse native Barbary macaque apes in the ancient cedars, and perhaps see some up close in Azrou, where there will be a short stop to enjoy the town, see mountain Berbers going about their everyday lives, and buy some of their crafts – such as rugs and homemade hats.
On to Midelt (alt. 1,508m) in the high plains between the Middle and High Atlas ranges, and then through the spectacular Ziz Gorges. The scenery reveals hints of the desert as you approach the city of Errachidia, where you will lunch before travelling through the luxuriant Ziz River valley towards the oasis town of Erfoud, famous for fossils and marble.
You drive past Erfoud and Rissani, which you will visit on Day 3, to Merzouga, stopping along the way to take in the panoramic views and photograph Berber villages.
When you arrive in Merzouga, you can have an afternoon’s rest before enjoying dinner in your luxury riad near the dunes.
(Approximate travel time Fez to Merzouga, excluding stops: 7 hours.)
Day 2: Merzouga – Tour (local dunes and villages) – Erg Chebbi camp
This is a whole day in the desert. After a hearty breakfast in your riad, you leave for the local dunes and villages. First the giant sand dune of Merzouga, 160m high and believed to be the hottest spot in the Saharan Erg Chebbi. You then take a road formerly used for the Paris-Dakar rally, stopping at the Tisserdmine oasis village and its local fossil quarries.
There are nomad settlements along the road to the village of Khamlia, and you can learn about their customs and manners, and stop at a lookout point with wonderful views over Erg Chebbi. In Khamlia you will be ready for a relaxing cup of tea while you listen to a performance of Gnawa music. The Gnawa repertoire of religious spirituals and rhythms from the ancestral traditions and folkloric music of black Africans brought to Morocco centuries ago as slaves is celebrated all over the country.
When you get back to Merzouga, there’ll be time for lunch and a rest before an experienced guide takes you by camel to a nomad-style camp at the foot of the dunes for dinner under the stars and a night in a tent made of camel hair – just like the ones used by nomad families.
Day 3: Erg Chebbi camp – Merzouga – Todra Gorges – Dadès Gorges
After an early start to witness the spectacular desert sunrise from the top of a high dune close to the camp, you return by camel to Merzouga to shower and breakfast before leaving the desert for an arid pre-desert landscape of acacia on the way to Rissani to visit the medina and souk, which is particularly lively on market days — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
From Rissani to the oasis town of Erfoud to check out the local fossils and marble, and then to the date-palm groves of Touroug and Tinejdad. An hour later, you’ll reach the breathtaking Todra Gorges, where the Todgha and Dadès rivers have carved out steep canyons with sides up to 400 metres high. Before or after lunch here, you’ll be able walk through the gorges and enjoy their incredible beauty.
In the afternoon, you continue towards the Dadès Valley or Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs, where small kasbahs are scattered across the river plain. In the upper reaches on the way to nearby Boumalne Dadès (alt. 1,500m), there are curious vertical rock formations called the Monkey Fingers or Toes, and from there you’ll go to your riad in the Dadès Gorges for dinner and the night, or to Kalaat M’Gouna in the heart of the Roses Valley. Early booking is advisable for May each year, due to the annual Rose Festival.
(Approximate travel time Merzouga to Dadès Gorges, excluding stops and camel trip: 3½ hours)
Day 4: Dadès Gorges – Ouarzazate – Aït Ben Haddou – Marrakech
After breakfast, the journey to Marrakech begins at a mountain lookout, for one of the most beautiful views of the Dadès Valley and its countless kasbahs. You then take the aptly-called Road of the Thousand Kasbahs through the Roses Valley, which is named for the fragrant damask roses grown here to make rose water, and famous for its annual Rose Festival, and the large oasis of Skoura with its swathes of palm groves. The road continues to Ouarzazate and the Kasbah of Toaurirt, one of the most spectacular in Morocco and the old residence of the powerful and fabulously wealthy Thami El Glaoui (1879-1956), Pasha of Marrakesh.
Then comes the ksar or fortified village of Aït Ben Haddou, where the Kasbah is UNESCO World Heritage-listed and famous for many films made there, including The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Babel (2006) and Prince of Persia (2010).
After visiting the Kasbah, there’ll be time for lunch in town before crossing the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakesh through the majestic Tizi n’Tichka Pass, at 2,260 metres one of the highest in North Africa. The views are stunning and Berber villages merge harmoniously with the warm ochres of the landscape. In the afternoon, at the end of our tour, you will be dropped wherever you choose in Marrakech.
We hope you will have made the most of the opportunities on this tour to meet local people and learn about their traditions and customs.
(Approximate travel time Dadès Gorges to Marrakech, excluding stops: 6 hours)
Tour 3 Prices
Price Per Person (AUD)
1 person / 2 people
$1795 / $995
3 people / 4 people
$895 / $795
5 people +
Customise Your Tour
We can easily customise this tour for you. You may wish to:
- Add an extra day in the Sahara, to explore the dunes of Erg Chebbi, take a camel ride into an oasis, and spend the night in a traditional Berber tent.
- Add an additional one or more night’s accommodation at a hotel or riad of our recommendation at the start or finish of your tour.
- Arrange airport transfers.
- Do the tour in the opposite direction.
Interested in this tour?
Simply send a booking enquiry, call or email us to find out more.
- Pick up at start of tour from hotel/riad (or place of preference) in Fez
- Transfer at end of tour to hotel/riad (or place of preference) in Marrakech
- All accommodation on the tour, including desert camp
- All breakfasts and dinners on the tour, unless otherwise specified
- Air-conditioned 4x4 all-terrain vehicles, fuel and other running costs
- English-speaking driver
- Camel rides to and from camp with an experienced camel person
- Accommodation in Morocco before or after the tour
- Airport transfers
- Flights to or from Morocco
- Lunches and drinks (including bottled water)
- Entrance fees to tourist attractions
- Tips and personal expenses
ADVICE: After a long-haul flight from Australia, we suggest you recuperate for a couple of days in Fez before starting the tour.