From souk to Sahara, see the best of Morocco’s south

From the colourful, chaotic Marrakech medinas to the vast, serene Sahara desert, this tour immerses you in the rich cultures and landscapes of South Morocco. Stay in traditional accommodation and explore villages off the beaten track. Feast on tagine, visit the grand Ait Benhaddou kasbah, travel through the Sahara on a camel and relax in seaside Essaouira. This ten-day tour is perfect for travellers looking to discover the diversity of Morocco’s south in a short amount of time.


Start
Marrakech, Morocco
Finish
Marrakech, Morocco
Destination
Morocco
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
XMSF
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Take a guided hike through the High Atlas Mountains and spend a night with an Amazigh (Berber) family in the traditional village of Aroumd.

  • Travel through the Sahara Desert in a camel convoy and spend the night in a Bedouin camp, listening to tales by the campfire. 

  • Recharge with two days in seaside Essaouira and explore the whitewashed houses, lively port and tiny alleyways with a local guide.

  • Explore Ait Benhaddou, a World Heritage site with a grand history and a long list of film and TV credits including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator.

  • Duck in and out of souqs and haggle with traders as your local leader helps you to navigate the 16th-century walled city of Taroudant.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip has departures that run during Ramadan. During this time, some restaurants and shops are closed, but you'll get unique insight into local customs. See Important Notes for more details.

  • This trip involves plenty of walking and is best suited to travellers with a good level of mobility. Details on physical activities can be found in the itinerary.

  • Accommodation on this trip includes a desert camp, a homestay and basic hotels.

  • When travelling in Morocco, temperatures can get very warm. Have a think about what time of year suits you best to travel.

Itinerary

Welcome to Marrakech! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm – check in reception for time and place confirmation. There's not much time to explore Marrakech after the meeting, but if you arrive early there's plenty to see and do. We've compiled a list below of suggested activities for those who arrive early.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Marrakech - Marjorelle Gardens - MAD70
  • Marrakech - Palais Bahia - MAD70
  • Marrakech - Palais Badi - MAD70
  • Marrakech - Saadian Tombs - MAD70
  • Marrakech - Medersa Ben Youssef - MAD40
  • Marrakech - Museum of Marrakech - MAD40
  • Marrakech - Hamam (public baths) - MAD250
  • Marrakech - Photography Museum - MAD40
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and emergency contact information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and emergency contact information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Take a short drive into the High Atlas Mountains to the village of Imlil (approximately 2 hours). On arrival, store your main luggage and load daypacks onto pack mules. Make the 1-hour trek to the peaceful village of Aroumd. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the remote village of Aroumd offers stunning views across the High Atlas Mountains and a unique opportunity to experience traditional (Amazigh) Berber culture. Spend the night in a family-run mountain gite where, surrounded by the smell of woodstoves and bread, you will enjoy traditional hospitality and food. Use the rest of the day to explore the village and the surrounding farmlands. If the group are up for it and weather permits, there will be a chance to hike around eight kilometres to the pilgrimage shrine of Sidi Chamharouch (approximately 4 hours return). Regardless of your fitness levels, the gentle pace of Aroumd makes it a special place to explore beyond the reach of the modern world.
Accommodation
  • Gite (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Aroumd - Guided Hike in the High Atlas Mountains
Optional Activities
  • Aroumd - Mule Ride from Imlil to Aroumd - MAD80
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
The optional walk to Sidi Chamharouch shrine requires appropriate footwear. A pair of good walking shoes with rigid and grippy sole will be sufficient. You will walk over well-trodden paths that may be muddy and unstable.

Facilities at the homestay are shared (both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements) but cosy, comfortable and definitely a unique Intrepid experience.

If you feel like the walk is too strenuous, there's the option of riding the mule (extra cost).
This morning journey along mountain roads and over Morocco's highest pass, Tizi n'Tichka (2260 metres), to Ait Benhaddou on the edges of the Sahara (approximately 6 hours). Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco's most iconic sites. It was once an important stop for caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. The town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Enjoy a guided walk through the winding streets of Old Town, making your way to the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy the views across the surrounding plains. Your evening is free, with the option of partaking in a local cooking demonstration and meal of Morocco's most famous dishes: couscous and tagine. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ait Benhaddou - Cooking Demonstration & Dinner - MAD100
  • Ait Benhaddou - Henna Tattoo - MAD50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning you'll journey south towards the Sahara, stopping in the regularly used film location of Ouarzazate along the way (approximately 5 hours in total). Continue to travel through the lush Draa Valley to Zagora, a small oasis town on the Sahara fringe that is perfect for an overnight stop. On arrival, take a stroll through the palm groves, explore the ksars and wander around the surrounding countryside.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ouarazate - Atlas Movie Studios - MAD80
  • Ouarzazate - Kasbah Taourirt - MAD20
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive along the rugged and desolate Jbel Tadrart ranges and through seas of sand and past the occasional desert oasis of date palms to the township of Tamegroute. On arrival, visit an intriguing library filled with ancient scripts of science, literature, the Koran and stories of the prophet Mohammed (subject to unregulated opening times). Afterwards, join a local guide to uncover the underground Kasbah. Afterwards, carry on driving to the frontier town of M'Hamid (approximately 1 hour). From here, take a short camel ride through the dunes, then jump into 4WD vehicles and drive to the massive Erg Chigaga dunes. Arrive in the late afternoon. Enjoy a night under the stars at your desert camp.
Accommodation
  • Desert camp (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tamegroute - Ancient Library
  • Sahara Desert - Camel Ride
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
The camel trek through the Sahara is a highlight of the trip for many. If you're uncomfortable with this, it's possible to walk alongside the camels for about an hour to the camp. You would need to walk back the same distance the next morning, but it’s a gentle and relaxing walk. The camp itself is a simple affair, with bedding and basic toilet facilities provided. The blankets provided are usually sufficient for most travellers between April and October, but if you feel the cold easily you may like to bring your own sleeping bag for extra warmth, especially during the months between November and March. Electricity is not available in the camp therefore it’s important to come prepared with fully charged phones, cameras and everything else you may need.
Travel to the market town of Oulad Brhhil by minivan. The journey should take around 8 hours in total, including several stops. This drive goes through desert scenery and along a route that's a reserve for the indigenous argan trees. If you're lucky, the group might come across the famous image of goats climbing these trees in search of nuts. Arrive at your accommodation by the early evening and relax after a long day of travel.
Accommodation
  • Riad (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Please note that this is a long travel day, and you won't arrive at tonight's accommodation until late afternoon/early evening. The riad (house) tonight is 45 kilometres outside of Taroudant and offers the chance to relax by the pool or take a steamed bath.
In the morning, take to the souqs and haggle with local traders for silver jewellery or colourful Moroccan ceramics and mosaics. Afterwards, head west to the coastal town of Essaouira (approximately 5 hours). The name Essaouira means image, which is appropriate since it's such a picturesque town. Its charm is undeniable; within the stone ramparts you'll find whitewashed houses with bright blue shutters, art galleries and wood workshops. You’ll arrive in the early evening, so there won’t be much time to look around today. 
Accommodation
  • Riad (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, join a local guide for a walking tour through the old medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall). Afterwards, enjoy free time for the rest of the day. Maybe grab a freshly-cooked plate of the day's catch at the port, or browse the plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries. If you’d prefer to relax, don't miss the opportunity to indulge in a hammam or local-style bath.
Accommodation
  • Riad (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Essaouira - Walking Tour with Local Guide
Optional Activities
  • Essaouira - Hamam (public baths) - MAD200
  • Essaouira - Berber Massage - MAD350
  • Essaouira - Horse Riding - MAD250
  • Essaouira - Seafood Market Lunch - MAD80
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free morning Essaouira, then catch a bus back to Marrakech in the afternoon (approximately 3 hours). Enjoy free time on arrival to explore or partake in optional activities. Maybe check out the Palais Bahia, a superb example of Muslim architecture, or the ruins of the Palais Badi.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Marrakech - A Taste Of Marrakech: Inside the Medina Urban Adventure - MAD605
  • Marrakech - Tajine Cookery Class Urban Adventure - MAD640
  • Marrakech - Cascades d'Ouzoud Day Tour - MAD2207
  • Marrakech - Hot Air Ballooning - MAD2050
  • Marrakech - Luxury Spa Hammam & Massage - MAD750
  • Marrakech - Ourika Valley Day Tour - MAD1817
  • Marrakech - Oukaimeden Day Tour - MAD1882
  • Marrakech - Asni & Ouirgane Day Trip with Lunch - MAD1806
  • Marrakech - Heart of the Atlas Mountains Cycling Day Tour - MAD2000
  • Marrakech - Medina, Palaces & Tombs Urban Adventure - MAD630
  • Marrakech - Palmery Cycling Tour - MAD350
  • Marrakech - Magical Marrakech City Cycling Tour - MAD350
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your adventure ends after breakfast. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring Marrakech (subject to availability).
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

9 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners

Transport

4x4, Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi

Accommodation

Camp site (1 night), Gite (1 night), Hotel (4 nights), Riad (3 nights)

Included activities

  • Aroumd - Guided Hike in the High Atlas Mountains
  • Tamegroute - Ancient Library
  • Sahara Desert - Camel Ride
  • Essaouira - Walking Tour with Local Guide

Dates & availability

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A Single Supplement is bookable on this trip for solo travellers who don’t want to share a room, subject to availability at the time of booking. The price of the single supplement does not include the following nights:
- Day 2 Armoud
- Day 5 Sahara/Desert Camp
On these nights a single room does not form part of the package and even if you have paid a Single Supplement you will be matched up with another traveller of the same gender. If a single room becomes available at check-in for these nights, there may be the option for you to upgrade to a single room and pay the surcharge locally for that night. If you would like to book a single supplement and enquire about availability please contact your booking agent.

LONG TRAVEL DAYS
This trip involves some long travel days, which can be tiresome but offer a quintessential experience of the beautiful landscape and hospitable people of Morocco.

COMMISSIONS
The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Moroccan tourism industry. In an effort to best control and monitor shopping and activities with an aim for the best experience possible, Intrepid has established a system of carefully selected shopping experiences and activities based on positive feedback from our previous travellers. On occasion these will be as part of included walking tours or outside of included activities in free time. Please note that if you feel that you do not wish to join in on these shopping experiences we assure you there is no obligation and if you indicate your desire to not partake your group leader will help to facilitate a suitable alternative during this time. Intrepid have set up a centralised system of receiving payments from these recommended suppliers, which are then distributed towards local Responsible Travel projects (such as 'say no to plastic' cotton bags for our travellers and drinking water refilling stations), traveller information packs, and leader bonuses. Further details of these arrangements can be provided by your group leader on request. While Intrepid endeavors to ensure that these suppliers and services maintain reasonable levels of quality, please note recommended suppliers are chosen based on past travellers feedback and experiences and Intrepid cannot explicitly guarantee the quality of the product. Please let us know via the feedback after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.

RAMADAN
In 2020, Ramadan will take place from 23 April to 23 May. Travelling in Morocco during this holy month can be a rewarding cultural experience. However, some regular services may not be available during the daytime, such as restaurants or coffee bars, and occasionally travel can be disrupted by events. Your local leader will adjust the itinerary accordingly, but please consider your travel arrangements carefully before booking travel for this period.

Essential trip information

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