On this one-of-a-kind 11 day tour of Morocco, you'll get under the skin of a fascinating country and culture like never before. Starting from Marrakech, you'll explore vast sand seas, incredible ancient fortresses, live with rural communities and experience Morocco from the local perspective. You'll try the local food, see the true, authentic side to the country and get well off the beaten track for a journey you'll remember for a lifetime.
This tour is your chance to get away from the tourist trails you’ll find on bog-standard tours, and get literally off the beaten track as you head off-road in 4x4s, to uncover the extraordinary hidden people and places of Morocco.
The off-road and Erg Chigaga Desert Cultural Tour helps you discover the very best of Moroccan culture thanks to the local knowledge and invaluable experience of your local guides. Explore Marrakech and its labyrinth Medina, as well as the picturesque gorges of Imi n’Ifri and the jaw-dropping sight of Amridil Kasbah, Morocco’s 17th-century gem.
From there, you’ll drive via The Road of a Thousand Kasbahs to the dramatic gorges of Dades and Todgha, then you’ll set your compass for Morocco’s wildest desert. Pass the Draa valley and reach Erg Chigaga, an otherworldly stretch of towering dunes and golden sand, and the largest sand sea in Morocco.
You’ll eventually travel back to Marrakech, and en route you’ll get to explore Ouarzazate, otherwise known as the Hollywood of Africa, and the 11th century UNESCO-protected red mud-brick Ksar of Ait Benhaddou. The drive will include Tizi n’Tichka and its white-knuckle series of switchbacks, providing jaw-dropping over the Atlas Mountains.
Most importantly though, you’ll get to know the real, authentic Moroccan culture as you live like nomads on the sand dunes, learn about the legendary Paris to Dakar rally trail, and stay with local families and eat the same food that they do. An opportunity you can’t find on your own, you’ll leave Morocco with countless memories of this beguiling, beautiful country.
Live like the nomads at the largest sand sea in Morocco and drink in the Saharan sunset
Discover the old Paris-Dakar rally trail and endless dunes of golden sand
Explore old fortified Kasbahs and desert oases featured in your favourite films
Watch musicians, acrobats, and snake charmers in Jemaa el-Fna Square
Get to know local life, culture and cuisine in Morocco and get off the tourist trail
Your Local Host:
My name is Aziz (meaning, the Dearest one). Our business was created to bring people together, to authentically connect you, not only to Morocco’s incredible destinations, but to the heartbeat that lies beneath. I want you to come away with an eye for the beauty of its natural environment and the hopes and challenges of our people. I want you to touch and feel good quality workmanship and to taste the Ras El Hanout in our tagines. I would like you to build authentic connections and know that your visit matters.
Welcome to Morocco’s capital of tourism and most people’s first taste of the country. After you touch down to Marrakech a shuttle will be waiting for you at the airport, identifiable by a driver holding a card with your name on it.
You’ll be taken straight to your Hotel/Riad to settle in before we start our journey.
A comfortable riad in Marrakech
Explore Marrakech, Medinas and Markets
Today is your first truly Moroccan experience as you explore with your private Marrakech-born and bred guide, seeking out bustling markets, ancient mosques and the maze-like Medinas.
You will discover the Red City from at its oldest point, wandering the Medina’s narrow, atmospheric alleyways that lead to hidden gems, tombs and religious monuments decked out in marble.
Bahia and El-Badii Palace and Saadien’s Tombs will no doubt be the highlights. Afterward, your driver/guide will pick you up to explore the Majorelle garden, Museum Saint Laurent, and Berber Museum.
While in Marrakech you will encounter thousands of motorcyclists and horse-carts in the city, creating a whirlwind of energy that is truly addictive and fun to explore.
Spend the evening in the vast square of Jemaa El-Fnaa, where it’s carnival night every night, and musicians, acrobats, storytellers and slapstick acting troupes tap into the frenetic pulse of the Medina.
A riad in Marrakech
Begin your off the beaten track adventure
Your adventure in morocco truly begins today. You will be picked up by your drive/tour guide and driven east of Marrakech to the central high Atlas, accessible through the regional hub of Demnate, a lively town to explore.
6km east of Demnate you arrive at the route to the picturesque gorges of Imin’Ifri, with a natural travertine bridge that formed over the gorges 1.8 million years ago.
The paths are clearly marked so that you can walk down into the gorges and through the toothy maw yourself for an intrepid little wander.
From there you’ll follow the road to Skoura, an incredible range of imposing Kasbahs. The Ameridil Oued is an extraordinary sight even from the road and is the grandest and most extravagantly decorated Ameridil Kasbah.
A riad in Skoura
Rose Valleys and Kasbahs
Today you’ll travel through the valley of a thousand Kasbahs, and after 50km you’ll find the renowned bottles of local rosewater for sale in Kelaa M’gouna, a small town famous for its roses and daggers.
After that, we go off-road and into the Atlas and the M’goun Mountains, where you can glimpse some best views along hidden livestock tracks, to the ancient rust-red and crumbling Kasbahs & Ksour that line the valley of Dades.
Another essential stop is the natural wonder of Monkey’s Toes before you head to your accommodation, where after a cup of mint tea at your hotel you have the option of hiking the beautiful canyons of the Dades gorges.
A riad at the Dades Gorges
Gorges and Ancient Towns
This morning you’ll have the chance to see Todgha Gorges by as the sun rises, with their gigantic rock walls changing colour to magical effect as the day unfolds.
Later on, you leave Todgha Gorges and head towards the rambling settlement, Ksar of N’kob. With prehistoric rock-carving sites and 45 mud-brick ksours it’s a stunning place to explore and stay, and is a place that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.
A hotel in N’kob
Gateway to the Desert
Today, you’ll strike out southeast to Morocco’s wildest desert via the Draa valley, a 125km belt of palm trees, oases and small settlements that eventually merges into the Sahara near M’hamid.
We’ll stop in what was once the most important settlement in the Valley of Draa thanks to its green pottery artisans and craftsmen. The Zawiya Naciria is still a site of pilgrimage and refuge for the mentally ill, and you’ll also find a working Quranic school with a library that was once the richest in Morocco, made up of ancient illuminated texts containing 4000 books.
Leave Temegroute through a dauntingly bleak landscape of sun-scorched rubble to the end of the paved road at M’hamid El-Ghizlane. Here, you reach the climax of the tour and the gateway to the towering dunes of Erg Chigaga.
A riad in M’hamid El-Ghizlane
Get Off the Beaten Track
Be prepared to begin your off-road journey to Erg Chigaga, a splendid stretch of towering dunes and a golden sand sea, and incidentally the largest sand sea in Morocco.
At night, you’ll stay in a traditional Berber camp, where you’ll drift off to sleep while watching the twinkling stars after dinner by the campfire.
On this section of the tour, you’ll feel as far off the beaten track as it’s possible to get, with no civilisation for miles around and only the sounds of the desert accompanying you at night.
A luxury desert camp in Erg Chigaga
Camel Explorations in the Desert
Riding a camel is by far and away the best way to live the nomad life, explore the desert and listen to the eerie wind whispering its way through the dunes.
Today you will have the chance to live a real desert experience with your camel guide, heading out to discover the fauna, flora and history of the desert.
Lunch will be served in what must be the definition of the middle of nowhere, set amongst in the 300 meter-high dunes offering endless views to the horizon.
The desert camp
Farewell to the Desert
Wake at dawn to watch the sun starting its daily arc, the cool blue morning sky replacing the Sahara shadows before becoming a glowing ball of fire.
You’ll leave Erg Chigaga and head north to Ouarzazate via a rough-road through 80 km of a long dry lake bed. Lac Iriki has been made well-known thanks to the Paris-Dakar rally.
Pass through the Sahel region to Foum Zguid, and then 85km north to Taznakht, a handy stop for a quick bite, coffee, petrol and, yes, the classic Moroccan carpet. Finish up your journey in Ouarzazate, where you can rest and recharge after a full day of exploration.
A hotel in Ouarzazate
Fortified Cities and Mountain Passes
This morning you leave Ouallywood (as we affectionately call it) and head to Marrakech through some of Morocco’s most stunning landscapes, beginning with Ait Benhaddou, the UNESCO-protected red mud-brick Ksar from the 11th century.
After lunch with a local family and a visit to the Ksar you’ll drive along craggy cliff tops to tiny Berber villages in North Africa’s highest mountain range, stopping off at the splendid Glaoui Kasbah in Talouate and the lush green Ounilla Valley.
You’ll drive virtually the full length of the incredible Tizi n’Tichka pass (2260m) before you arrive back in Marrakech.
A riad in Marrakech
Today is not goodbye, it is merely “take care and see you sooner rather than later” for another adventure.
Your guide will drop you off directly at the airport when you have checked out of your riad, and your whirlwind adventure will come to an end.
The tour starts and ends at Marrakech, where your host will pick you up from Marrakech Menara Airport.
From there, you’ll head southwards for 6 days from Marrakech towards Erg Chigaga and the border with Algeria, before heading back to Marrakech to complete your itinerary.
Accommodation is organised at all stages of the tour, as well as private transport throughout so that you can simply sit back and enjoy the journey.