Morocco holiday, Marrakech to the Sahara

“Our only guided, tailor made 7 day trip focusing on two astounding aspects of Morocco: the Sahara and Marrakech. Staying at a riad and private desert oasis. As you do. ”

Highlights

Marrakech | Stay at private oasis camp at Tellougui | High Atlas Mountains | Camel trek | Koranic Library and traditional pottery at Tamegroute | Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou | Visit to rug makers at Tazenahkt |

Description of Morocco holiday, Marrakech to the Sahara

This Morocco holiday blends the luxury of a private guided tour with a desert adventure as well as giving travellers the chance to stay overnight in some extremely comfy and authentic riad and Bedouin accommodation, as they journey from Marrakech to the Sahara.

The first port of call, Marrakech, presents a fantastic introduction to the mysteries of Morocco with a luxury converted guesthouse, within the main medina, providing a great base from where to get out and explore.

A half day guided tour of Marrakech, which includes: Ben Youssef Medersa, Saadian Tombs, Bahia Palace and the Djemma el Fna, allows travellers to get to know where they’re going and what they’re seeing, as well as being able to get some insider tips from the knowledgeable and friendly local guide.

After exploring amongst the souks and narrow alleyways it’s time to get ready for the next stage of this Morocco holiday as you set off for the Sahara on board a combination of air-conditioned 4WD vehicle and a more traditional mode of transport. One hump or two?

The Sahara stage of this week long tour takes you into the High Atlas Mountains via the Ticha Pass, and then along the Draa Valley, with several cultural pit stops en-route, including a lunch at the UNESCO listed kasbah: Ait Ben Haddou.

Arriving at the private oasis setting of Tellougui, on top of a gently swaying camel, is a real highlight with stunning sunsets and sublime seclusion adding to the customary refreshment of mint tea and an evening meal underneath a black velvet blanket studded with stars.

Day two of your desert escape features ancient scrolls at the Koranic Library and traditional pottery making in the village of Tamegroute, prior to an afternoon spent enjoying the hospitality of the Bedouins and another night under canvas deep within the folds of the Ch'Gagga sand dunes.

The early morning sunrise is definitely worth setting your travel alarm for with the drive north, back over the Atlas Mountains, taking in Berber villages, such as Zaouiate Sidi Ben Abdenbi and Tazenahkt, as well as plenty of captivating scenery as you return to Marrakech.

Your final full day is completely free for you to haggle, explore and enjoy the sights of Marrakech, perhaps even learning some cookery skills (and secrets) before finally heading for home on day seven.

Alternatively, you can extend your Marrakech to the Sahara adventure by heading west to the seaside resort of Essaouira or south to the Berber village of Ouirgane which lies within the Toubkal National Park amongst the peaks and plateaus of the High Atlas Mountains.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Welcome to Marrakech. Upon arrival you’ll transfer to your B&B riad accommodation for the next two nights before settling in and using the remaining free time to explore and get orientated.
Day 2:Your first morning in Marrakech features a guided tour of the medina with an official English speaking guide; all transport, entrance fees and access to key historical monuments is also included. This afternoon you’ll be invited to continue explorations under your own steam or simply relax and soak up the unique ambience of Marrakech.
Day 3-5:For the next two nights you’ll be staying amongst the sand dunes in private Bedouin camps, Tellougui and Ch'Gagga, as you embark on a three day excursion of the Sahara’s southern circuit. Transport includes four-wheel-drive vehicles and a camel ride as well as all meals, sightseeing and overland transfer back to Marrakech in the early evening of Day Five. Upon your return to Marrakech you’ll transfer to your B&B riad for the final two nights in Morocco.
Day 6:Your final full day in Marrakech is yours to spend as you wish with optional excursions to the coast easily accessible before you prepare for tomorrow’s departure.
Day 7:Transfer to Marrakech airport in time to make your scheduled flight home or onward journey to your next destination.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Map

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Our top tip:
A tailor made trip, so you can stay clear of the desert in the summer months and opt for a coastal activity instead.
Trip type:
Tailor made, guided.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome. Surcharge for single room.
Accomm:
Luxury riad and desert camps.
Included:
Accommodation, all breakfasts, transfers, private city tour, activities, all meals in desert.
Meals:
No shortage of lunch and dinner options in Marrakech. This is one big kitchen.
Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type

Tailor made holiday

This trip can be tailor made to create a unique holiday for your individual requirements by travel experts with intimate knowledge of the destination. Sites and accommodations can be arranged to suit you and your budget. This is a comfortable trip that will suit those who enjoy immersing themselves in new cultures and environments before relaxing in comfort in characterful local accommodation!

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Morocco holiday, Marrakech to the Sahara

Environment

To ensure the best possible service to our customers we engage services that make as low an impact as possible on the environment and local culture, whilst helping to generate long term employment and benefits for local people. Raising awareness of the culture, politics and economy of areas visited encourages responsible tourism practice and indirectly aides the preservation of the Kingdom's most precious resources. We take our responsibilities to the environment seriously and strive to make improvements where we can; there is always more work to be done but little by little one travels far. We have a policy of always using local suppliers wherever we can, so as to bring as much income to the local area as possible

We believe that it is vital to work with local operators for our desert tours, firstly as they will be able to offer an insight into the desert environment; secondly to enable any profits to be ploughed back into the community. On this break the desert trip is organised by Lahcen from the Fibule du Draa, who is well renowned for his work in the region to supply sports facilities for the local young people.

All food on our desert trip is sourced locally and we use a local restaurant near Ait Ben Haddou. We also include a visit to the pottery cooperative at Tamegroute where customers can purchase souvenirs from pottery made on site. We have worked with our desert supplier for many years and have a well established and excellent relationship. We firmly believe in paying fairly for his services and that of his guides, offering the ‘cheapest’ price simply isn’t an option for us.

All our desert trips are based on individuals or a small group - we feel that this offers a more personal experience and therefore minimises the impact on rural and desert areas. Your visit to the Souks and Sahara will give you a taste of the incredible hospitality of Morocco as well as contributing indirectly to the local economy.

We ask all our customers to respect the environment. Litter, in particular, is damaging to the fragile desert environment and we encourage people to take their litter home. All our trips are tailor made for individuals to minimise the impact of large groups on rural and desert communities.

The following applies to our UK and Morocco partner offices - We work under the principles of reduce, reuse then recycle. We are committed to continuous improvement in all areas within this policy. Paper: We use both sides of the paper before recycling. Recycling: We recycle as many materials as possible including paper, cardboard, printer cartridges, cans and plastic. Energy Use: We turn off (not leave on standby) electrical items overnight or during holidays. Purchasing: We buy recycled / biodegradable products, including recycled printer toners, where possible and refill containers.

Community

All our guides and drivers in Morocco are local people. We believe that it is vital to work with local operators for our tours, firstly as they will be able to offer an insight into the local people and their culture and history; secondly to enable any profits to be ploughed back into the community. We have worked with our local Morocco agency for many years and have a well established and excellent relationship. We firmly believe in paying fairly for their services and that of the guides.

Travelling with one of our excellent English-speaking drivers allows you to experience much more of the country and its people. Your driver will gladly discuss both your daily schedule and general matters about Morocco and the places you pass; he can suggest great places to eat traditional cuisine, bring to your attention projects which help local communities, particularly in rural areas.

Most of the riads we use are locally owned or are partnerships with a European owner and a Moroccan National. All staff members at these properties are local and all food and materials are sourced locally. Your visit will give you a taste of the incredible hospitality of Morocco as well as contributing indirectly to the local economy.

Local staff are also encouraged to undertake courses as and when applicable. e.g. The Mule Care Initiative Workshops held on the 1st and 2nd March in Imlil, sponsored by Expedition Providers Association & The Donkey Sanctuary.

Through our long term partnerships in Morocco we have been able to support and encourage volunteering for local causes such as conservation projects. For example, the Berber Cultural Center in the village of Imi'n tahnoute, Association des Bassins d’Imlil for the Protection & Sustainable Development of the Valley Populations around Imlil & the Toubkal National Park, Solidarity & Preservation of Cultural Heritage in the village of Demnate. We also facilitated the opportunity for our local staff to support an initiative alongside Elaine Moran, a volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Demnate. Elaine has the funding to provide materials to repair and maintain pathways but needs manual labour and transportation for work crew which is where our partner agency can help.

Our partner agency in Morocco regularly donates money to local causes. This is done on a case by case basis and is generally not by making monetary donations to large organisations but more by assisting local people/families at times of need. e.g. providing a sheep to a family who cannot afford one at the time of Eid El Kebir, purchasing flight tickets to enable a student to attend study placement awarded overseas, paying for medical treatment or prescription medication, purchasing clothing for a person to attend interviews and obtain employment, offering temporary accommodation/purchasing meals for the homeless as well as initiatives for staff welfare and contributions to local animal and childrens’ charities.

Reviews of Morocco holiday, Marrakech to the Sahara

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 24 Nov 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Climbing the sand dunes at Ch'Gagga to watch the sunset, and amazing view of the stars at night. Also, the warmth and hospitality of all the hosts at the camps and our great driver Hasan.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Have lots of coins on you for tips. Be aware that there are some long, very bumpy off-road drives.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The trip definitely includes opportunities to contribute financially to local communities, at the camps and also at Tamegroute, an amazing pottery making community.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Wonderful trip in a beautiful place, a small adventure I'll always remember.

Reviewed on 18 Sep 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


We loved the three day desert tour. Trekking through the oasis on the slightly comical, docile camels was really good, with the wonderful backdrop of the mud-walled kasbah village and the date palm trees. Once we arrived at our "glamping" site we were treated to delicious freshly-cooked tagine and then left to relax under the stars. The next day we moved on to the proper desert for off-road driving across the dunes and another night in a camp. Watching the sunrise from the top of the golden sand dunes was as atmospheric as we hoped. In hindsight, early September is probably unwise for a Sahara trip in terms of the climate - our local guide thought we were mad to want to have lunch out in the dunes rather than at a comfy hotel, and although it was a thirsty, sweaty two hours we had no regrets - all part of the Bedouin experience!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


It is worth extending your stay with a few more days in Marrakech - we enjoyed being able to take our time wandering around the Medina and also having free time to spend in the riad (we stayed at Les Trois Mages which has beautiful rooms, a rooftop pool, great food and charming staff). I downloaded an app called Hip Marrakech which had a really useful GPS map of the Medina as well as some good restaurant suggestions. Don't be afraid to walk everywhere: the hassle from local "guides" is annoying but mostly non-threatening and the city is best explored on foot.

Our main (and seemingly obvious) tip for the desert trip is to stock up on about five times as much water as you think you will need...although the tour description said bottled water was included with meals, we found this wasn't always the case, plus we simply underestimated the effect of the intense heat even when most of the day was spent in a car.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I think it benefited local people as we put a fair bit of money into the local economy by eating and shopping at the markets. I can't say that the environmental impact was particularly good as we spent several days driving in a 4x4. There was noticeable litter in the desert which presumably comes from tourists.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Amazing! Marrakech was fascinating and we loved the nightlife in Djemaa el-Fna square. We had great guides at every stage of the holiday and learned a lot about the Moroccan culture. All the organisation from the holiday provider went very smoothly and I would use them again.

Reviewed on 20 Mar 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The visit to the local pottery where every thing was made traditionally
starting from making clay from the mud was really interesting. The adobe villages and the palmerie were also fascinating.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


When you change your currency try to get as much small notes and coins so
you have money available for tips and for going to the toilet.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. All local people were employed and local food provided. There was
also lots of opportunity to buy local products.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The holiday was luxurious and well organised. We had lots of privacy and
personal service. Our main driver was very knowledgeable about the area as
is a qualified guide and he was very attentive to our needs. He made our
long road trip a pleasure. All of the people who received us at the
accommodations, lunch stops and activities were all very welcoming friendly and efficient

Reviewed on 13 Feb 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Sitting on a high dune in the Ch'Gagga desert at sunset without anyone else around apart from my husband and then later that evening stargazing at a sky with no light pollution.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do some background reading on the history of Islam (if you have a very shallow knowledge like we did) and then take advantange of the time you have with your guide to really understand the culture and history of this wonderful country.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes we met many local people through our guide and in the Riads that we stayed in. We did alot of driving, 1200 kilometers in 4 days, but at least our vehicule was not spewing out nasty fumes which unfortuantely was very noticeable in Marrakech.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A lot of driving, but some beautiful roads through the Atlas mountains and worth it when we got to the desert and it was deserted!! Merzouga and the dunes at Erg Chebbiare probably easier to get to but many more tourists because you don't need a 4x4 to get there. We loved the fact that for one night we experienced what real silence is really like.

Reviewed on 23 Jun 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The reliability of all of our arrangements in advance...so well organized. Two sets of people meeting up in Morocco from diverse parts of the world..friends for over 40 years! And it went without a hitch!..Australia and UK.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do your research...don't just go with the famous names holiday companies...we met real guides...real people who helped to make it a special holiday!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Absolutely..we stayed in lovely places and met many local people. We felt more at ease in a less formal environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent...great places to stay, lovely people...we talked with our guides..we were not just talked to! We were out of our comfort zone when we arranged it for us to share with old friends...who had flown half way across the world...but we were not disappointed!
We are all over 60...no problem with the holiday we booked..we would use you again

Reviewed on 17 Nov 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


I loved the overnight in the Sahara Desert as well as the hike in the Atlas Mountains

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Prepare for tipping - you need to tip everyone.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent.

Reviewed on 18 Oct 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The trip to the Sahara was amazing - we marvelled at the fantastic stars and the contrasts the country offer.


2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Stay in the desert if you can - a bucket list must - wash facilities are basic but there were camp showers (rough and ready with cold showers and water buckets to flush to loos). Camp beds with clean sheets and were well fed with freshly cooked local food. We felt safe (as a couple)and were well looked after. Unable to charge things but used the 4x4 to charge the phone - perhaps would take a solar charger next time. Not sure we did as well as we might have re: haggling but paid what we felt happy with and after all, there is alot of poverty in this country and we have so much.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We tipped and bought food and items from locals, by travelling further south we are more aware of the country and its historical and cultural significance, as well as the poverty some still live in.
Unable to comment on how much of the price of the holiday reached the locals who looked after us.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Amazing - so glad we went

Reviewed on 10 Aug 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The scenery in the Sahara is spectacular. Marrakech is an incredibly bustling city and the guided walks in the High Atlas are fantastic too (they can be a bit hard in the summer heat).

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I would go at a less hot time of the year as walking in the desert in summer is impractical.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I certainly believe it benefitted the local community. This was confirmed by our guides and by the Camel Drover.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Great if a trifle hot. The scenery was beautiful and varied as was the accommodation. Marrakech Riad was charming whereas the first Guest House was quite basic. All the people we met were very helpful with the exception of the snake charmers in Jemaa El Fna - be wary of them.

Reviewed on 17 May 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Being in the remote High Atlas with our son so he could appreciate how much different the lifestyle is in some parts of the world. He held a baby goat that was born an hour earlier during the daily trip to the high pastures.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Don't hesitate to ask for changes to an itinerary on the website. It was a wonderful surprise to find that even our little family group of 3 could ask for a tailor made holiday at affordable prices.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, especially in the High Atlas. We stayed in small gites and had local guides and mule man/chef. With tourism down in Morocco this year we felt appreciated and were very well taken care of by the locals.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Wonderful time as a family. Will definitely come back to Responsible Travel for the next holiday in a region with which we are unfamiliar. Maybe Burma...

Reviewed on 01 May 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The visits to the Kasbahs and local cooking class

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for lots of driving and circuitous roads

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


To some extent

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Quite enjoyable... and culturally informative; increased understanding of the country's topography

Reviewed on 05 Apr 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It's difficult to choose what was the most memorable part of our holiday: wandering through the colorful and lively souks of Marrakech with our experienced guide? Enjoying the secluded and refined atmosphere of the Riad Ksar Anika? riding a dromedary at sunset? Or listening to Berber music around the fire in the moonlit desert?

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Everything is very well organized, no need to worry about anything, during the desert trip the driver, the cameleer, the cook and the guides will take care of everything (like frequent flat tyres) and spoil you completely. The tour operator suggested bringing nibbles or dried fruit on the excursion, but the meals were so large and delicious (even in the desert camp!) that we took our nibbles back home to Italy!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Very much so.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent! Very good value!

Reviewed on 07 Sep 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


There were several good pieces including the hospitality of the Riad landlord, and the warmth and friendliness of the desert tour driver/guide. Most memorable was seeing the beautiful scenery along the Marrakech/Zagora route, and sleeping outdoors in the desert under a moonlit sky.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Probably best to book a desert trip when the temperature is not 40 - 45 C !

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. Bought items, and tipped quite a lot!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Good. Worst part was when my driver didn't meet me at the airport upon arrival, and I had to take a taxi at my own cost to the Riad. Then when I got to the drop-off point, I was abandoned with having to seek my way to the Riad (which was difficult to find).

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you so much for your feedback and we are really happy to learn that you had a good holiday in Morocco. We were, of course, extremely sorry to hear about your arrival transfer, which we learned about from our Morocco office on the day. The flight you (and another couple) were on coincided with the arrival of a flight from Mecca and, due to the large amount of people on the flight and meeting the flight, the terminal building was closed to all other people. Naturally this was not ideal but our representative at the airport informed our Morocco duty office to advise that he and the drivers were waiting outside in the car park. The other couple on the flight called the emergency number and were able to very quickly rendezvous with their driver. Had you travelled with our driver he would have made sure that you got to the riad and would have made arrangements for someone to assist with your luggage. We are really sorry that these circumstances intervened at the start of your holiday but we are glad that you were happy with all other arrangements and had a good holiday.

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