Authentic Southern Adventure Tour

Private Tour – dates to suit you

This 15 day (14 night) tour is a wonderfully varied trip around Southern Morocco. It has something for everyone. The first part of the trip combines the imperial city of Marrakech and the coastal town of Essaouira. After Essaouira the trip takes you to parts of Morocco that are off the beaten track:- this includes the coast south of Agadir (which includes beaches you can only dream about), then to a stunning gorge where you will probably be the only visitors, the remote desert of Erg Chigaga and then returning to Marrakech. It’s an eclectic mix of the best things that Morocco offers – discreet luxury, wild and colourful landscapes, all with a certain rawness that makes you feel alive.

Marrakech & the Atlas Mountains

Day 1:  Marrakech

Marrakech is Morocco´s 4th largest city. It was founded in 1062. The red walls of the city were constructed in 1122 and during the 12C the ruling dynasty, the Almoravids, built several merdasas (koranic schools) and mosques. In the 17th century the wealthy Saadian sultans constructed various sumptuous palaces, some of which are open to the public today. The main square, Djemaa el-Fna is a hive of activity and possibly the busiest square in Africa.

Accommodation will be provided in a stylish and comfortable riad in the medina. We recommend that on the 1st night you take dinner at the riad, perhaps exploring the neighbourhood in the vicinity. If you arrive early in the day we can help arrange activities in the afternoon – perhaps a half day private tour, a food tour or one of the activities included in the ´day trips´ section .

Day 2:  Marrakech

We recommend taking a full day´s private guided walking tour. The guide will meet you in your riad at 9am.

Like all our private tours, it is adapted to your wishes:- explore the maze of colourful souks, see the impressive Koutoubia Mosque with its imposing minaret, learn about Morocco’s history of education and scholars at the Ali ben Youssef Medersa, visit some of Marrakech’s most important kings at the Saadian Tombs and enjoy the opulence of the stunning Bahia Palace. Later on in the day experience the excitement and energy of the street performers at Marrakech’sDjemaa el-Fna square – including Morocco’s legendary storytellers.

The gates of the El Bahia Palace, Marrakech

The beautiful Jardin Marjorelle, Marrakech

Day 3: Marrakech

Free day.

Your time can be spent indulging in an endless array of activities – shop in the exotic souks, relax in a hammam, visit one of the gardens, or perhaps take a cooking course with our friend that owns a saffron farm in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Additional ideas and options are provided in the ´day trips´ section.

Day 4:  Essaouira

The route to Essaouira takes about 2h45. At about half way the character of the scenery changes. The towns change in colour from sand coloured pise buildings to blue and white, whilst the landscape gradually becomes increasing lush and covered with argan oil trees. There are several cooperatives en route where you can discover how the oil is made and also purchase some good quality products too. En route you will probably see the goats in the trees, which although somewhat stage managed, is still an impressive and enjoyable stop.
Accommodation is in the medina, where there are several stylish guest houses, all with terraces with sweeping views of the Atlantic.

Essaouira through a hole in the fortress wall!

The medina at Essaouira

Day 5:  Essaouira

Essaouira is quite different in character to any other town in Morocco. It’s blue and white buildings are in stark contrast to Marrakech´s sand coloured pise constructions. The medina is protected by 18th century seafront ramparts. The medina is both colourful and relaxed, a wonderful place to wander around the souks and visit the art galleries and boutiques. It is also gaining a reputation as a gastro centre, with new niche restaurants opening seemingly every week. Essaouira has a stunning crescent shaped beach. Being known as the windy city of Africa, the beach is better suited to hiking and activity, rather than sun worshippers. But this ´rawness´ all adds to Essaouira’s unique atmosphere.

You can divide your full day between the delights of the medina, visiting the fishing port, or enjoying the beach hiking, surfing, horse riding (best done at a beach 3 km south of Essaouira, which you can walk or take a vehicle to) or quad biking. Lunch and dinner can be enjoyed at one of the many restaurants on the seafront or in the medina. A guide is not required in Essaouira. However, if you require any assistance in organising anything, we are always on call and happy to help.

Day 6:  Mirleft

5 hours south of Essaouira – this is where the adventure to Southern Morocco really begins. The beaches are pristine and empty. The coastline is rugged, whilst the interior is arid. Mirleft is a small fishing village and whilst there is little evidence of any city planning, part of its attraction is in the fact it is not sanitised at all. Dining is strictly a Moroccan affair, with fresh seafood eaten in rustic cafes. It feels authentic, it is authentic.

You can choose to stay in Mirelift, or about 10km south of the town in a guest house adjacent to a beach.

Mireleft

The famous Legzira rock arch

Day 7:  Mirleft

Whilst there are 5 beaches in or near the town, perhaps the best beach to head to is Legzira, famous for its rock arch (although one has just collapsed). You can also hike from here to Sidi Ifni, a 10km walk of which half is on the beach and half on an escarpment.
We also offer the option of going fishing. Many of our drivers are obsessed with fishing and will happily spend all day (and night) with their rod, either perched precariously on the rocks or knee deep in water on the beach. They are quite adept at catching fish too, so your evening will probably be spent around the camp fire on the beach, eating your freshly caught catch of the day.

Day 8:  Guelmim and Plage Blanche

Plage Blanche is 50km of sandy white beach backed by dunes. It is totally unspoiled (and we mean totally) and utterly undeveloped. You might, on some bad days, encounter one or two other people. It is hard to imagine that places like this really exist anymore. But like all the best places off the beaten track you need to work hard to get there. Arguably the best route is a 3 hour off road drive south of Sidi Ifni, which is hard on the joints but you are rewarded by some spectacular arid scenery. It is real 4×4 territory. From Plage Blanche there is a road to Guelmim, which is hard to locate, but your driver will find. This day is a true off the beaten track adventure.

Guelmim is referred to as the capital of Southern Morocco. It is a well-kept town and has a feeling of relative prosperity. On Saturdays it hosts the largest camel market in Morocco. Accommodation is in Tighmert, 15 minutes from Guelmim, an oasis with a few charming guest houses. Tighmert also houses an excellent nomadic museum, which provides a meaningful insight into how the nomads in the region live.

The market at Guelmim

Crystal clear rock pools at near Amtoudi

Day 9:  Amtoudi

We would happily return to Amtoudi again and again.. Amtoudi has two prize assets. Firstly, its gorge. It’s pristine, with crystal clear rocks pools (perfect for a dip on a hot day) squeezed between the imposing rock faces of the Anti Atlas. The opening to the gorge is through an intensively lush and cultivated oasis. You can then follow the river through the increasingly narrow gorge on a 3 hour circular trip. Everything about the walk is spectacular – green, lush and unspoiled, with the mountains providing a spectacular and colourful backdrop. The gorge is probably best visited on arrival in Amtoudi, a late afternoon stroll. Whilst you will require a guide, you are unlikely to encounter many other people.

There is only one place to stay in Amtoudi and this is an utterly charming guest house, perched on the opposite side of the river with spectacular views downstream. It might not be described as luxury, but it’s delightful.

Day 10:  Amtoudi

The second of the prize assets are the igoudar (singular is Agadir). Amtoudi has two outstanding examples. Igoudars are communal granaries, used to secure food and valuable possessions and were constructed to protect the wares of the local Berber tribes from floods and marauders. Whilst there are quite a few igoudar in Southern Morocco many have been destroyed through time and the effects of the harsh climate. Luckily the igoudar in Amtoudi are being restored and renovated with the assistance of the Global Heritage Fund. They provide an outstanding example of Authentic Berber living from a bygone age.

Perched on top of the cliff face they are not easy to get to, being a 2 hour hike on a narrow and rocky track. You can also take a mule.

The trip to the igoudar is best done in the morning. You can then enjoy the rest of the day relaxing at the guest house, or perhaps visit one of the crystal clear pools in the gorge for an evening dip.

Grain stores (Igoudars) above Amtoudi

Tata

Day 11:  Tata

Located at the foot of Jebel Bani, Tata was an oasis settlement along the trade route from West Africa. The geology in the area is of outstanding beauty. An evening walk in the oasis against the backdrop of the sand coloured mountains is a tranquil experience. Accommodation is in quirky guest house with beautiful views of the sand coloured mountains and oasis.

Day 12:  Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Camp

From Tata the trip to the desert camp is about 4 hours. You enter the desert at the frontier town of Foum Zguid (a good stop for lunch and a plate of the best French Fries in Southern Morocco). From here it is 2h45 through Hamada (rock fields), dried out lakes and small dunes to the camp.

You will reach the camp well before sunset, in good time to enjoy evening sundowners on the dunes adjacent to the camp.

Our own Luxury Desert Camp at Erg Chigaga

Sundowners in the desert

Day 13:  Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Camp

All day at Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Camp. There are plenty of activities for those that want to be active. Conversely you can just chill out and enjoy the camp and the pristine desert environment. Activities include camel treks, sand-boarding, guided walks, lunch at the private oasis, quad biking (this activity takes place 20 minutes from the camp), sundowners on the dunes and informal singing and drumming around the fire. Your camel trek can be done at anytime, sunrise often being the best time, when the desert has a magical stillness and serenity.

Day 14:  Ait Ben Haddou

Departing after breakfast the route out of the desert is via M´hamid. After about one hour you arrive in Tamegroute (famous for its green-glazed pottery and ancient Koranic library) and then follow the Draa river (home to 3 million palm trees and hundreds of kasbahs) to Agdz. The best kasbahs to view en route are Tamnagoulte (just outside Agdz), Oulad Othmane,(which has excellent views of the Draa Valley) and Ouled Driss. Families live in all these kasbahs, which helps provides an aura of authenticity to the experience. After Agdz the drive to Ouarzazate is through some amazing geological features.

You will arrive at Ait Ben Haddou in the early evening, which is always a good time to visit the Kasbah. The hordes of tourists have dissipated and the sun setting on the Kasbah provides a stunning photo. Accommodation is in a beautifully understated guest house.

The stunning kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou

Heading for the airport over the Tiz n”Tichka pass

Day 15:  To Marrakech airport

The trip from Ait Ben Haddou to Marrakech is about 4 hours. Assuming you have an afternoon flight, the morning trip is a perfect way to end your trip to Morocco. If you have a morning flight it would of course be preferable to overnight in Marrakech.

The route is via the Ounila Valley, which is laden with ancient kasbahs dotted around small but verdant oasis. There are endless photo opportunities and you may stop wherever you are inspired. The Glaoui (who was known as Lord of the Atlas) inspired Kasbah of Telouet features some magnificent tile and zeillij work. You then take the main road over the Tiz n’Tichka pass, which cuts through the High Atlas Mountains. It’s a stunning mountain road through stark mountain scenery and Berber Villages and a fine way to end your trip to Morocco.

And there concludes your trip to Southern Morocco – an eclectic adventure.

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Highlights include:

  • Enjoy the Imperial city of Marrakech and all it has to offer including it‘s wild, crazy and highly entertaining Djemaa el-Fna. By day acrobats, snake charmers, dancers and musicians wow the crowds and by night local restaurants have a cook off
  • Relax in Essaouira, eat some wonderful seafood, stroll on the beach and explore the peaceful medina, a World Heritage Site where there are beautiful arts and crafts to be found
  • Explore the wonderful beaches near Mirleft with their rocky outcrops eroded into caves and arches. Do some fishing or simply enjoy the fish that the locals have caught!
  • Get off completely off the beaten track and discover the totally unspoiled and beautiful Plage Blanche where you may not encounter another person all day
  • Observe the largest camel market in Morocco (Saturday only) in Guelmin or visit the fascinating nomadic museum at Tighmert
  • Enjoy the wonderful walks from Amtoudi to the gorge and granaries
  • Stroll in the oasis at Tata with the imposing backdrop of sand-coloured mountains
  • Take a camel trek in the beautiful, unspoilt Erg Chigaga dunes in the Sahara desertand camp under the stars in this dramatic and wild landscape at our own luxury desert camp
  • Marvel at the beautifully preserved Kasbah of Ait Ben-Haddou and see how many of the classic films shot there you can recall