This exciting 4-day tour is a great introduction to Morocco and the perfect side trip from Marrakech. You’ll journey through the Atlas mountains and gorges, spend a night in the Sahara desert and visit a famous kasbah.
Day 1: Marrakech – High Atlas – Ouarzazate – Kasbah of Toaurirt – Dadès Gorges
We pick you up from your accommodation or wherever you prefer in Marrakech at 8am and leave for the Dadès Gorges, first driving towards Ouarzazate across the High Atlas Mountains, crossing the Tizi n’Tichka Pass, at 2,260 metres one of the highest in North Africa. You can stop frequently to take in panoramic views and photograph the Berber villages that merge harmoniously with the warm ochres of the landscape.
At Ouarzazate, you can visit the Kasbah of Toaurirt, an old residence of the powerful and fabulously wealthy Thami El Glaoui (1879-1956), Pasha of Marrakech. With its seemingly endless maze of rooms, passageways and steps, this Kasbah is one of the most spectacular in Morocco.
Then lunch in town before heading off to the Dadès Gorges on the aptly called Road of the Thousand Kasbahs – via the oasis of Skoura with its swathes of palm groves, and the Roses Valley, which is named for the fragrant damask roses grown here to make rose water, and famous for its annual Rose Festival.
Beyond the Roses Valley and lower reaches of the Dadès River, you make a slow ascent to Boumalne Dadès (alt. 1500m), stopping to see the curious vertical rock formations called the Monkey Fingers or Toes.
Then on 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 Marrakech to Dadès Gorges, excluding stops: 6 hours)
Day 2: Dadès Gorges – Todra Gorges – Erfoud – Merzouga – Erg Chebbi camp
After breakfast, the journey to the Sahara begins at a mountain lookout with one of the most beautiful views of the Dadès Valley and its countless kasbahs. Coming back down to rejoin the upper reaches of the valley, you head towards the breathtaking Todra Gorges, where the Todgha and Dadès rivers have carved out steep canyons with sides up to 400 metres high. There will be time to walk through the gorges and enjoy their incredible beauty before continuing to the date-palm groves of Tinejdad and Tourog, and lunch.
The last stop before Merzouga is the oasis town of Erfoud, known as the Gate of the Sahara Desert, where you can check out its famous marble and fossils, and perhaps buy some from local traders.
As the landscape of acacias gives way to desert, you reach Merzouga, where an experienced guide will take you by camel to a nomad-style camp at the foot of the Erg Chebbi dunes for dinner under the stars and a night in a tent made of camel hair – just like the ones used by nomad families.
(Approximate travel time Dadès Gorges to Merzouga, excluding stops and camel trip: 3½ hours)
Day 3: Erg Chebbi camp – Merzouga – Rissani – N’Kob – Ouarzazate
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 and heading north to Rissani. Here the souk is particularly lively on market days — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays — and even on non-market days you can usually find interesting locally made souvenirs and pieces from farther afield in the Sahara in the medina.
West from Rissani towards the small oasis town of Alnif, nestled on the south-eastern edge of the Anti-Atlas Mountains, and after Alnif and then Tazzarine, you arrive at N’Kob, an oasis and the capital village of the Berber Ait Atta tribe, for lunch and perhaps to buy Berber sandals, henna powder and organically grown almonds.
This is the rugged terrain of the Anti-Atlas on the way to the Upper Draa Valley – known as the date basket of Morocco for its acres of date palms. You can stop along the way to enjoy beautiful views of Morocco’s longest river – the 1,100-kilometre River Draa.
Along the shores of the river is Agdz, situated on the old Marrakech to Timbuktu caravan route, where you can find traditional crafts made by local artisans. Then northwards back to Ouarzazate to relax, dine and spend the night.
(Approximate travel time Merzouga to Ouarzazate, excluding stops and camel trip: 5 hours)
Day 4: Ouarzazate – Kasbah of Aït Ben Haddou – Marrakech
After a hearty breakfast and before returning to Marrakech, visit the Cinema Museum, with its impressive movie sets and collection of props, costumes and photographic equipment used in the historical films made here. Or Tassoumate, Ouarzazate’s second oldest district, which is less touristy so you can get a feel of real, everyday Moroccan life on the banks of the Assif n’ Tidili to the south.
The last stop on the tour is at the ksar or fortified village of Aït Ben Haddou, where the Kasbah is UNESCO World Heritage-listed and famous for many films such as The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Babel (2006) and Prince of Persia (2010).
For the able-bodied, the steep climb to the granary at the top of the hill is well worth the effort for its stunning uninterrupted views across the river plains to the Atlas Mountains. After lunch in town you set off on the last stretch of the tour, back across the High Atlas Mountains through the Tizi n’Tichka Pass and on to Marrakech, where we will drop you wherever you choose.
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 Ouarzazate to Marrakech, excluding stops: 4 hours)
Tour 4 Prices
Price Per Person (AUD)
1 person / 2 people
$1745 / $845
3 people / 4 people
$770 / $755
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, or a driver to take you to an additional destination, such as Essaouira or Rabat.
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 Marrakech
- 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 Marrakech before starting the tour.