morocco itinerary 5 days
Day 1: Arrive, Explore the Red City
Welcome to Marrakech on Day 1! Marrakech, known as the “Red City” due to the natural pigment in the sandstone used to construct its walls and buildings, has always been a significant economic hub. The souks (el Attarin, Haddadine, and Smata), the Koutoubia Mosque and Gardens, and the kasbah (old fortress or fortification) area housing the Saadian Tombs, Bahia Palace, and El Badi Palace are located to the north, west, and south, respectively, of Marrakech’s central square, Jemaa el-Fna. The calèches (French for horse-drawn carriages), which provide a distinctive way to tour the medina, are located on the southwest corner (old quarter). The Majorelle Gardens are located in the Ville Nouvelle, making a great getaway from the crowds. Visit the Koutoubia Mosque, with its impressive minaret, to begin your day. Observe the courtyards and open areas that line many alleyways; these are fondouks or caravanserai, which served as inns for travelers and their animals in the past. Visit the Souk des Teinturiers (Dyers’ Souk) while exploring the souks to observe how employees use conventional techniques to dye cloth and wool. Visit the Ben Youssef Madrasa Islamic school from the sixteenth century to see its intricate tile work, carved cedar ceilings, and Islamic calligraphy. Visit the 500-year-old Saadian Tombs or the Bahia Palace, one of the most significant and opulent palaces of its era, built in the 19th century. Visit the El Badi Palace from the 17th century if you have time for comparison (be sure to check out the sunken gardens).
Day 2: Over the High Atlas mountains and into the desert
Depart the bustling city and travel up the High Atlas mountains in an easterly direction toward the desert. Try to locate Mount Toubkal, the tallest peak at 13,671 feet (4,167 m). You will pass a lot of traditional mud-brick Berber villages along the way. After lunch in Taddert, tour the neighborhood’s Argan Oil Cooperative to learn how the women there extract valuable oil from the argan nut to create oil used in the food, cosmetics, and health industries. As you approach the Tizi n’Tichka pass, continue on the winding road and pause to take in the expansive view. Continue east and pass through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, many of which are dilapidated due to their pisé mud construction (rammed earth). You will pass a lot of small towns on your way to Boumalne Dades, where you can see traditional farming practices being practiced. As you travel through fragrant Kela’a M’gouna, the “Valley of the Roses,” keep an eye out for nomads caring for their livestock. Eventually, you’ll reach Boumalne Dades, a significant town spanning the Dades River, and your overnight accommodation.
Day 3: Desert towns, fossil workshops, and camping in the Sahara
To reach your ultimate destination, the sand sea of Erg Chebbi outside of Merzouga, you will travel further east today. Stop in Tinerhir along the way to admire the river oasis surrounding the town on both sides. Impressive buttes, mesas, and plateaus can be seen in the desert landscape. You will have the chance to visit the Todra Gorge nearby, a 984-foot (300-meter) deep ravine carved out by the Todra River. Continue to Erfoud, a town in the desert. Visit a craft shop in this region known for its figs and fossils to see how the fossil-rich rocks are expertly crafted into functional and decorative items. Additionally, it makes sense to purchase fresh figs here! Visit the livestock auction and “donkey parking lot” in the market town of Rissani as you get closer to Merzouga, the settlement most comparable to the Sahara. After leaving Rissani, you can find the beginnings of the enormous sand sea known as Erg Chebbi. Once you arrive in Merzouga, change up and board your camel to start the trek across the sands to your Bedouin-style camp. Take a short hike to the top of a nearby dune to observe the sun setting, then relax with a hot meal by the fire.
Day 4: Date palms, movie locations, and Aït Benhaddou Kasbah
Get up early to take in the desert sunrise and continue exploring the Sahara. You can rent a sandboard, go on an Erg Chebbi dune tour or an ATV tour, or relax by a pool nearby Merzouga. Go south to the traditional Saharan village of Khemliya (with its people originally from Mali). Here, you can take in the local music, dancing, and drumming before taking a stroll through the village and its sand-based farms. You will have another opportunity to visit Maison Tuareg in Rissani, a storefront that sells regional arts and crafts like carpets, jewelry, and leather products. Afterward, proceed through acacia forests with their umbrella-shaped trees to reach Alnif for lunch. Continue through the Draa Valley, which is covered in date palmeries and offers another chance to buy a box of dates for the trip. Continue to the west until you reach Ouarzazate, a famous filming location in the desert. You can tour one of the two movie studios, which have become increasingly well-known thanks to the expanding film industry, and see how frequently the nearby areas have appeared in films. Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Prometheus, American Sniper, and Game of Thrones are notable movie credits. Visit the Musée du Cinema to learn more about the area’s history and the filmmaking process. To reach medieval Aat Benhaddou, keep going west. Benhaddou, the most well-known Kasbah in Morocco and a protected UNESCO site, once played a significant role along the trans-Saharan trade route between Marrakech, Ouarzazate, and the southern desert. After the daytime crowds have left, spend the night in the old town and explore the deserted alleys. Enter some kasbahs for a small fee, then climb to the rooftop for lovely views.
Day 5: Return to Marrakech, Depart
To truly experience this 11th-century fortified city, explore the constrained alleyways and passageways before the crowds fill the old kasbah. Leave Ait Benhaddou behind and make your way back to Marrakech via the Tizi n’Tichka Pass and another trip up and over the High Atlas Mountains. You will soon return to the bustling city of Marrakech after exploring Morocco’s quiet desert towns and various deserts. Consider taking the afternoon more slowly; locate a café close to Jemaa el-Fna and savor your final Moroccan meal before boarding your flight.
Why not add to your cultural experience of your Moroccan holiday with this 3 days desert tour from Fes to Marrakech? The best part of this desert trip takes place in the most famous dunes of the Sahara Desert in Morocco, Erg Chebbi. The whole trip provides a golden opportunity to see this spectacularly diverse and beautiful part of Berber Morocco.
3 DAY DESERT TOUR MARRAKECH TO MERZOUGA
Don't miss one of the most popular routes in Morocco for travelers wishing to travel to the Moroccan Sahara Desert. This 3 day desert tour marrakech to the Merzouga desert offers a comprehensive insight into the life of nomads and Berbers.
2 DAYS DESERT TOUR FROM MARRAKECH
If you don't have a long Morocco vacation or want to spend only a short part of your Morocco adventure on a desert trip, go for this two-day Zagora desert tour. It is the perfect short adventurous excursion. This 2-day Zagora desert tour from Marrakech takes you over the High Atlas Mountains and the famous Tizi-n-Tichka Pass to the Zagora desert in the south.