Marrakech and Sahara Desert Grand Tour – 5 days

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Duration

5 days 4 nights

Tour Type

Daily Tour

Group Size

56 people

Languages

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About this tour

Discover the beauty of Morocco with this exciting 5-day itinerary. Start and finish in Marrakech, visiting the rocky peaks of the High Atlas Mountains and the colossal sand dunes of the Sahara. You’ll wander medieval medinas and souks, admire palaces and mosques, and explore ancient kasbahs and desert cities.

Highlights

  • Explore Jemaa el-Fna square, the busiest square in Africa
  • Climb the High Atlas mountain range and spot Mount Toubkal
  • Swim in the natural pools at the base of the Todra gorges
  • Ride a camel on the dunes of the Sahara
  • Day 1 Arrival, exploration of the Red City
  • Day 2 Over the High Atlas Mountains and into the desert
  • Day 3 Desert cities, fossil laboratories and camp in the Sahara
  • Day 4 Date palms, film locations and Aït Benhaddou Kasbah Benhaddou
  • Day 5 Return to Marrakech, departure

Included/Excluded

  • Free transfer from Marrakech airport to your accommodation
  • Pickup from your accommodation in Marrakech
  • Modern minivan with air conditioning
  • Visit of Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, Dades gorge valley, Todra gorge
  • Sunrise and sunset camel rides on the Erg Chebbi sand dunes
  • 1 night in standard tent in Merzouga desert camp
  • 1 night in Merzouga hotel (half board)
  • 1 night in the Dades valley hotel.
  • Breakfasts and dinners
  • Lunches, drinks and personal expenses, tips (optional guide of Ait Ben Haddou usually 3 euros)

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive, Explore the Red City

Welcome to Marrakech! Nicknamed the "Red City" for the natural pigment of the sandstone used to build its walls and buildings, Marrakech has always been an important economic centre. Orient yourself in the main square of Marrakech, Jemaa el-Fna: the souks (el Attarin, Haddadine and Smata) are located to the north, the Koutoubia mosque and gardens to the west and the kasbah (ancient fortress or fortification) which houses the Saadian Tombs, the Bahia Palace and El Badi Palace lie to the south. At the southwest corner, you'll find the calèches (French for horse-drawn carriage) which offer a unique way to tour the medina (old town). In the Ville Nouvelle you will find the Majorelle Gardens, a perfect place for a break away from the crowds. Start the day at the Koutoubia Mosque with its impressive minaret. Note the open spaces and courtyards along many of the lanes – these fonduks or caravansaries were once inns used by traders and merchants and their animals. Wander the souks and be sure to visit the Souk des Teinturiers (Dyers' Souk) to see how workers use traditional methods to dye cloth and wool. Next, visit the 16th-century Ben Youssef Madrasa Islamic School to appreciate the carved cedar ceilings, zellij (intricate tile work), and Islamic calligraphy. Discover the 500-year-old Saadian Tombs or visit the 19th-century Bahia Palace, one of the largest and most luxurious palaces of its time. And if time permits, visit the 17th-century El Badi Palace for a comparison (be sure to check out the Sunken Gardens).

Day 2: In the High Atlas Mountains and in the desert

Leave the bustling city behind and head east into the desert, ascending the High Atlas Mountains. See if you can spot Mount Toubkal, the highest peak at 13,671 feet (4,167m). Along the way, you will come across many Berber villages, consisting of traditional mud brick buildings. Lunch in Taddert and visit the local argan oil cooperative and learn how the local women extract the precious oil from the argan nut to produce oil used in the healthcare, food and cosmetic industries. Follow the winding road up to the Tizi n'Tichka pass and stop to appreciate the panoramic view. Continue east, traveling through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, many in ruins because they were built with pisé mud (rammed earth). As you make your way to Boumalne Dades you will pass many small towns where you can see traditional farming methods in use. Watch out for nomads tending their animals as you make your way through the fragrant Kela'a M'gouna, the 'Valley of Roses'. You will eventually arrive in Boumalne Dades, a major city on the Dades River, and your home for the evening.

Day 3: Desert cities, fossil laboratories and camping in the Sahara

Today you will drive further east to your final destination – the sandy Erg Chebbi sea outside Merzouga. On the way, stop at Tinerhir to admire the riverside oasis that stretches on both sides of the city. The surrounding desert landscape reveals impressive hills, plateaus and plateaus. Nearby, you will have the opportunity to explore the Todra Gorge, a 300m deep ravine cut by the Todra River. Continue to the desert town of Erfoud. Known for its figs and fossils, visit an artisan workshop and learn how fossil-rich rocks are artfully transformed into practical and decorative objects. It's a good idea to buy fresh figs here too! As you approach Merzouga, the closest city to the Sahara, stop by the market town of Rissani and be sure to visit the cattle auction and 'donkey parking'. Leaving Rissani behind, you will start to see the beginning of the huge Erg Chebbi sand sea, looming on the horizon. Once you reach Merzouga, switch gears and transfer onto your very own camel to begin your journey over the sands and to your Bedouin-style camp. Hike to the top of a nearby dune to watch the setting sun, before enjoying a hot meal by the fire.

Day 4: Date palms, film locations and Aït Benhaddou Kasbah

Wake up early to appreciate the sunrise in the desert and explore the Sahara further: rent a sandboard, join the Erg Chebbi tour around the sand dunes or an ATV quad bike tour or relax by the pool in nearby Merzouga. Head south to Khemliya, a traditional Saharan village (with its people originally from Mali). Here you can listen to traditional music, play drums and dance before taking a casual stroll through the village and its sand farmed plots. You will have a second chance to stop in Rissani to visit Maison Tuareg, a warehouse selling traditional arts and crafts, including carpets, jewelery and leather goods. From there, pass through the umbrella-shaped trees of the acacia forests before reaching Alnif for lunch. Continue through the Draa Valley, thick with date palm groves and another opportunity to collect a box of dates for the journey. Continue west to the desert hub and famous filming location of Ouarzazate. Popularized by the growing film industry, you will have the chance to visit one of the two film studios and imagine how nearby regions have been portrayed in many films. Some popular film credits include Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Prometheus, American Sniper and Game of Thrones. To learn more about the area's history and filmmaking, stop by the Musée du Cinema. Continue west to medieval Aït Benhaddou. A UNESCO protected site, Aït Benhaddou is Morocco's most famous kasbah and once held an important position along the trans-Saharan trade route between Marrakech, Ouarzazate and the southern desert. Spend the night in the old city and wander the empty alleyways after the daytime crowds have gone. Pay a nominal fee to enter some of the kasbahs and climb to the roof for a nice view.

Day 5: Return to Marrakech, Depart

Before the crowds enter the old kasbah, explore the narrow passageways and alleyways to get a real feel for this 11th-century walled city. Leave Ait Benhaddou behind and return to Marrakech, traveling once more up and over the High Atlas Mountains and through the Tizi n'Tichka pass. After exploring the peaceful desert cities of Morocco and various deserts, you will soon return to the bustling city of Marrakech. You might want to take the afternoon at a slower pace: find a cafe near Jemaa el-Fna and enjoy your last Moroccan (local) meal before catching your flight home.

Tour's Location

From: $800,00

Owner

Omar

Member Since 2023

Information Contact

Email

traveling.morocco15@gmail.com

Website

https://viaggiodesertomarocco.com/

Phone

+212617777800

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