Marrakech, Desert & Coast

Private Tour – dates to suit you

This tour combines the imperial city of Marrakech, with a trip through the best of rural Morocco to the desertand ending at the Atlantic coast.

The suggested trip is of 11 days (10 nights) duration and can be amended in length in accordance with your wishes.

We have suggested staying in Essaouira on the coast, a town that has enough activities to keep you busy for several days. It has a charming medina, long beach and is a Unesco World Heritage site. However, you can also stay in other towns along the coast including, for example, the surfing town of Taghazout, windy and wild Sidi Kaouki, or the tranquil village of Oulidia, which has a lagoon that is protected from the buffeting Atlantic.

The trip assumes starting and ending in Marrakech, but can of course be adapted to your arrival and departure ports.

The iconic Koutoubia mosque in Marrakech

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 which can be found in our ´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’s Djemaa el-Fna square – including Morocco’s legendary storytellers.

Musician in Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech

Sweet vendor in the Marrakech souk

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 our ´day trips´ section.

Day 4:  Agdz in the Draa Valley

Depart from Marrakech at about 0830. Overnight at an enchanting guesthouse in the Draa valley in Agdz, located about half way between Marrakech and the desert. The drive is about 5h30 plus stops via the High Atlas Mountains, over the Tiz n’Tichka pass, before dropping into the stunning Ounila Valley and the Kasbah of Telouet. After Telouet you arrive at the UNESCO heritage Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, the route to Agdz being completed  via the administrative town of Ouarzazate, which houses a couple of film studios and a short and steep ascent (and descent) over a stark mountain range.

The day starts with wonderful views of the High Atlas. After going over the Tiz n’Tichka pass, you proceed through the Ounila Valley with its ancient kasbahs, Berber villages and palm laden 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. The adjacent café serves the most marvellous fig tajine. After Telouet and more stunning scenery you reach Ait Ben Haddou, which is one of the best preserved examples of Moroccan earthen clay architecture. Situated on the original caravan route between Marrakech and the Sahara, the Kasbah still houses several families and has been utilised regularly for a procession of epic movies. After yet more stunning scenery you will reach Agdz, where your accommodation is located in the oasis (from where you can take some gorgeous walks in the tranquil oasis). The guest house serves excellent food, has a large swimming pool and is a delightful place to stay.

The pool @ kasbah Azul

Our own Luxury Desert Camp @ Erg Chigaga

Day 5:  Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Camp

From Agdz it’s a 4h30 drive through the Draa Valley (home to 3 million date palms and hundreds of kasbahs), Zagora, Tamegroute (famous for its green-glazed pottery and ancient Koranic library) and M’Hamid (where the paved road ends and the Sahara begins). 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 (before you enter the desert at M´hamid). Families live in all these kasbahs, which helps provides an aura of authenticity to the experience.

You will reach the camp well before sunset, in good time to enjoy evening sundowners on the dunes adjacent to the camp, followed by dinner and drumming around the camp fire. Most evenings are clear – the vast and clear sky being laden with billions of stars…..

Day 6:  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 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.

Camel fun in the desert

The ramparts at Taroudant

Day 7:  Taroudant

Departing from the camp after breakfast, the first part of the journey is about 2h45 off road through dunes, dried out lakes, Hamada (rock fields) and the occasional oasis to Foum Zguid. It’s an authentic off road adventure. The geology is inspiring with weathered sandstone mountains standing clearly against the backdrop of a crystal clear blue sky. Foum Zguid is a fine place to stop for lunch. The route then proceeds via the Berber carpet making town of Taznacht (a good place to purchase a rug, although patience and a little prior knowledge about pricing helps) and Taliouine, the saffron centre of Morocco. Accommodation in Taroudant is in a guest house with stunning manicured gardens and stylishly created rooms. The setting is a marvellous antidote to the desert.

Taroudant is regarded by many as the ¨grandmother of Marrakech¨ due to its ramparts. The city walls, constructed in the 16th century, are almost completely intact and provide an inspiring arrival experience with its impressive bastions and engraved city gates. It’s an authentically Moroccan town with two souks, which function almost entirely for the local population. It’s definitely worth a visit in the early evening.

Day 8:  Essaouira

The route to Essaouira skirts Agadir, a well-known tourist town with an attractive beach, but unfortunately of little other interest unless you fancy a round of golf at the stunning Tazegzout golf course! The route north of Agadir passes through Taghazout, the surf capital of Morocco and then an escarpment high above the Atlantic to Essaouira, with idyllic sea views. Much of the route is covered by argan trees.

Accommodation is in the medina, where there are several stylish guest houses, all with terraces with sweeping views of the Atlantic.

Sea front ramparts of Essaouira

The much photographed harbour at Essaouira

Day 9:  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 being better suited to hiking and activity, rather than sun worshippers. But this ´rawness´ all adds to Essaouira’s unique atmosphere.

Day 10:  Essaouira

Essaouira is a wonderful place to stay for 2 full days. You can divide your time 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), a camel trek 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.

The beach at Essaouira

Departure with your memories safely packed

Day 11:  To Marrakech airport

The trip is 2h45 via Argan forests. If you wish to purchase some argan oil there are several cooperatives en route. This route is also knows for its celebrated goats in the trees, a bit of a tourist trap, but makes a good picture.

If flying out of Casablanca airport the trip is about 5 hours.

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Highlights include:

  • Learn all about the fascinating city of Marrakech and its fascinating past on an informative and fun guided tour, which is tailored to your interests.
  • Experience the energy of the medina and its souks.
  • Relax in the calm and comfort of your riad.
  • Enjoy Marrakech‘s wild, crazy and entertaining atmosphere at its main square,Djemaa el- Fna. By day acrobats, snake charmers, dancers and musicians wow the crowds and by night local restaurants have a cook off.
  • Try some of the fantastic array of restaurants on offer serving Moroccan and European dishes.
  • Travel to the desert and enjoy the stunning scenery.
  • Take a stroll in the serene oasis amongst the palm trees in the Draa valley.
  • Enjoy sundowners on the dunes at Erg Chigaga.
  • Take a camel trek into the desert.
  • Have dinner under the stars followed by music by the fire.
  • Visit authentic Taroudant with its beautifully preserved 16th century city walls.
  • Visit an argan oil cooperative close to Essaouira.
  • Explore the peaceful medina in Essaourira, a Unesco World Heritage site.
  • Blow away the cobwebs on the wonderful beaches.
  • Eat freshly caught fish at one of the many stalls and restaurants.