A fantastic holiday for a those wanting to experience the Saharan desert in style. Visit enchanting Marrakech, Unesco World Heritage sites, palmeries and then enjoy pure luxury in the Saharan dunes on this road-trip of a life time.
Tailor-made Luxury 11 days
…We were really happy with the service we got from Tourdust which can be best described as friendly, efficient and expert.....
Matthew McSweeney. See all Reviews
Starting in Morocco's finest Imperial city, Marrakech, there is the chance to explore all that the souks have to offer before heading out to the desert. Driving over the stunning Tizi n'Tichka mountain pass, offering panoramic views, you will visit the crumbling Telouet kasbah, before heading on to the Unesco World Heritage site of Ait Ben haddou, made famous by films such as Gladiator.
Driving deeper into the desert, you follow the Draa valley, offering an intriguing mix of fertile oases and barren desert plains until you reach Zagora, gateway to the Sahara, Passing herds of camels and nomadic farmers, you will eventually reach the Erg Chegaga dunes of the Sahara - an unforgiving yet beautiful environment. Here, you will experience this harsh environment in the lap of luxury, sleeping in wonderfully comfortable beds in generous and beautifully furnished en-suite tents,.
Whilst in the dunes, you can sand-board, go camel trekking, visit a nomadic family, or simply kick back on one of the sun loungers and relax. Evenings begin with a sun-downer and then continue with a generous meal and finally a camp fire under the Saharan stars, which have to be seen to be believed.
Once you have had your fill of the desert, you will head to an oasis to stay amongst the date palms. A walk through the fertile farmlands is a stark contrast to the barren dunes and helps to build a picture of what life is like in Saharan Morocco. You then head back to Marrakech to explore the medina and highlights of its intoxicating medina.
This holiday can be booked as a guided, or self-drive option. Please contact us for details.
Day 1: ARRIVE MARRAKECH
You will be picked up from the airport and transferred to your riad. If you are arriving on a late flight, you might want to consider pre-booking dinner on this first evening so that you can relax after your flight without having to worry about finding a restaurant.
Day 2: MARRAKECH
Today we suggest you set off and explore Marrakech's medina. You can spend all day pounding the souks and taking in the atmosphere or you could relax on the roof terrace on one of the sun loungers. In the evening, be sure to head down to the main square here food stalls, acrobats, snake charmers and story tellers congregate creating an unforgettable atmosphere.
Day 3: MARRAKECH - TELOUET - AIT BEN HADDOU
Leaving the pink city behind, you will head out over the spectacular Tizi n' Tichka mountain pass snaking its way over the High Atlas mountains. Watching the terrain changing shape in the space of a few hours is incredible. Donkeys carrying huge loads, women working in the fields and shops with large meat carcasses being hung out to dry - not to mention the cacti, almond trees and deep mountain valleys.
You will stop for lunch in the small town of Telouet, before visting the town's main attraction, the kasbah. Built in the 1800's by the Glaoui family, the kasbah enjoyed a propseprous strategic position on the trans-Saharan trading route and close proximity to the area's salt mining industry. After Morocco's independence in 1953, the Glaoui family was evicted and the kasbah was left to ruin. Visitors catch their first glimpse of the kasbah as they drive into Telouet; an imposing building standing proud on top of a small hill. On closer inspection, the walls are crubling and close to collapsing. The entrance to the building is no less delapidated, with incomplete walls and rubble. As you walk through the corridor, it is unclear what makes the building so remarkable, with its bare, neglected walls. It is only when you reach the heart of the building that you can understand the significance and fallen wealth of the kasbah. Stunning mosaics and intricate wood carvings adorn the walls, reminiscent of the Bahia Palace in Marrakech. The attention to detail is most incredible and the work and money spent on building it is unfathomable. After being astounded by the mosaics on the first floor, more treats await you, with far-reaching views of the valley and mountains beyond from the roof terrace.
After your visit, you will continue your journey by car to your accommodation, close to Ait Ben Haddou.
Total Driving Time - 4 - 4 1/2 hours
Day 4: AIT BEN HADDOU
Today is a day at leisure for you to explore the area. After a relaxing morning, you will almost certainly want to go and visit Ait Ben haddou. Best enjoyed after lunch, after the day trippers have left, you can either visit by car or on foot, depending on how active you are feeling. The walk takes about 2 1/2 hours and you follow the river through the valley.
Ait Ben Haddou itself is essentially a small, fortified town. Designated by Unesco as a World Heritage site, it has been well preserved and restored, thanks to the film industry who have used it as the set for several Hollywood films, including Gladiator. You can climb on the crumbling buildings and see up close how they have been constructed out of mud and straw and get a real insight into local architecture. Then, you can climb to the top, for far-reaching views of the wild desert and mountains. There is a small tea house along the way where you can stop for a refreshing mint tea.
Day 5: AIT BEN HADDOU - ERG CHEGAGA
Today is a long drive. Fortunately, it is through some spectacular scenery and there are plenty of places along the way to stretch your legs and take photos. Leaving Ait Ben Haddou, you will drive over the mountains before descending into the Draa Valley, which you will follow for the rest of the day. Passing palmeries and hundreds of kasbahs, you will eventually reach Zagora, where you can stop for lunch. Famed as the gateway to the Sahara, this town was seen as the start of the trans-Saharan trading route and you can see the famous sign in the town, depicting the length of time taken to reach Timbuctu (52 days)
After leaving Zagora, you head further into the barren desert, leaving the palmeries behind. You will pass some smaller dunes, a teaser as to what lies ahead. Once you reach M'hamid, you will then start your off-road journey (if you are self-driving you will meet a driver here). This final leg of the journey takes about 2 hours. Passing nomadic farmers and herds of camels, it is a bumpy ride. Once you arrive at the camp, however, the length of today's drive will fade away. Nestled in the dunes, the camp is a luxurious retreat away from modern day life.
On your first evening, you might want to wander up to the high dunes to see the sea of sand around you, then wander down to the camp to enjoy a sundowner and await the emergence of the fantastic stars - a night sky you will never forget.
Total Driving Time- around 6 1/2 hours
Day 6: LUXURY DESERT CAMP
Today is at leisure in the camp. You might want to go camel trekking, sand boarding, visit a nomadic family or just kick back on one of the sun loungers and read a book. All meals are included in your stay.
Day 7: LUXURY DESERT CAMP - AGDZ
After breakfast, you will get back in the 4WD for the journey to Agdz, an oasis in the Draa valley.
Total driving time - around 5 hours
Day 8: AGDZ
After yesterday's drive, today is a day at leisure. You can spend the morning relaxing around the pool and then in the afternoon, you might want to take a stroll through the palmery. Walk through the towering date palms, past large cacti and then through lush farmland, with beautifully maintained plots. If you're lucky, a local farmer might invite you to take a look at his land and point out the different vegetables and plant that he's growing. Dinner tonight is included and is in your hotel.
Day 9: AGDZ - MARRAKECH
You will leave Agdz after breakfadt and start the journey back to Marrakech. Driving back over the spectacular mountain pass, you will stop for lunch with panoramic views of the High Atlas Mountains. You will arrive back in Marrakech in the afternoon.
Total driving time - around 5 hours
Day 10: MARRAKECH
Today you might want to see some of the main cultural sights of Marrakech, including the Medersa Ben Youssef, Palais el Badi and the Bahia Palace, interspersed with a leisurely lunch watching the storks nesting on the ramparts of the ancient city or perhaps some people watching at a cafe in the Spice market. In the evening, you might want to enjoy dinner in one of the restaurants over-looking the main square, or perhaps ask your host to book you a table at the atmospheric Foundouk restaurant, serving up delicious French & Moroccan fusion food.
Day 11: MARRAKECH
Another free day in Marrakech. Today you might want to catch a petit taxi out to the Majorelle Gardens, designed by Yves Saint Laurent. The gardens are beautifully laid out and offer a welcome respite to the chaos of the medina. (There is also a lovely cafe there) In the afternoon, there are plenty more cultural sites to enjoy, or you might want to put your haggling techniques to the test and indulge in some shopping in the souks.
Day 12: DEPARTURE
You will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your flight home.
This trip can be extended with a few days staying by the coast or a trek in the mountains. Please contact us for details.
Guide price is based on recommended accommodations. Alternative accommodations and upgrades are available. Please get in touch or click on 'alternatives' below for alternatives and upgrade options.
Flying from the UK... Marrakech has an international airport (RAK) which is serviced by several airlines flying direct from the UK. The flight time is around 3.5hours. On average it takes around an hour to clear airport security and then around 15 – 20 minutes to drive to the Medina or 1 – 1.5 hours to reach the Atlas Mountains.
From the South East:
Gatwick: Easy Jet, British Airways, Royal Air Maroc &Thomson
Stansted: Ryanair & Easy Jet
From the South West:
Bristol: Easy Jet
From the Midlands:
From the North:
Manchester: Easy Jet and Thomson
All airport transfers, an economy sized hire car, 4WD transfer to the desert, all inclusive accommodation in the desert, half board accommodation in Ait Ben Haddou & Agdz and Bed & Breakfast accommodation in Marrakech.
This trip is not available in the summer, as it is simply too hot in the desert. If you are planning a visit in the summer months, please contact us for alternative suggestions.
This is an ideal holiday if you are interested in combining the culture of Marrakech with a desert experience. Along the way, there is the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the history of the region and the topography.
There is a fair amount of driving involved in this trip and the distances are large, on some days you will be in the car for up to 6 1/2 hours. However, there are plenty of photo opportunities along the way and your driver will be more than happy to stop for you to stretch your legs or to enjoy a mint tea.
Marrakech is an intoxicating city which delights all of your senses. Away from the main square, the medina is made up of many small winding streets, or derbs. Everyone, without exception, gets lost when they visit Marrakech. The best way to deal with this is to relax, embrace the experience and take a mobile phone with you so that you can call you riad if you get lost.
It was totally awesome!! Climbing the Toubkal summit by moonlight is just breathtaking!!! Yes it was absolutely freezing and so glad I took layers of thermals and hat and gloves!!
The Riads you booked were great, we both loved them, although we preferred the second Kasbah in Imlil we stayed in to the Kasbah Toubkal on our first night, our room was great especially after being in hostels for several nights!! Boy were they cold!!!!
El Fenn is fabulous, Lilly Allen had been staying with her band that week and left the day we arrived! Love that place, we are planning to go back next year! Caravanne was like walking into a little boutique hotel, loved that place as well.
There's something special about the mountains, loved it!
The desert camp was really well organised, although to be honest I think two nights are enough as there is not a lot to do and it is blisteringly hot by 9.00!! But we were looked after really well and had my first glass of wine for two weeks, went down very well!!! The sundowners were so much fun, especially trying to walk through the dunes after a couple of wines!!
Really great adventure and thank you so much for putting such a fab trip together for us!
Liz Rowsell reviewing Sahara, Souks and Mountains Explorer on 14 October 2015
We had a a wonderful time in Morocco. We were delighted with our guide Mustapha. He was a brilliant pairing for us as he tuned into what we liked and didn't, taught us lots about history, culture and geology and really looked after us at all times. I would recommend him to anyone in the future. Hamid our muleteer and Sayed our driver were also excellent.
We loved the itinerary that Rebecca put together for us. She was right about how much we could fit in and so we will have to return another time to try Essaouria!
Apart from the additional bed-fellows during the trekking (which was in itself a learning experience!), we were really happy with all our accommodation. We loved the fact they were small, often family run and that the staff would look after you completely. It was so reassuring to see the clear process of quality assurance by Tourdust. It was great to meet Anna at Riad Adore and to know that the company really is passionate about its customers having a great time and the lengths they go to test that for themselves.
We were really happy with the service we got from Tourdust which can be best described as friendly, efficient and expert. The team showed genuine interest in us and our trip and I felt that Rebecca was almost as excited as we were by the time all arrangements were in place. The information pack provided was invaluable too and I must admit I printed the lot because it turned out to be more useful than guidebooks. We usually travel independently and like to do so. We'd forgotten how relaxing it can be to have someone do all the hard work of planning and scheduling and even making a decision of where to stop for lunch. I'm certain that these things made the holiday the special experience that it was.
I am struggling to think of just one thing which could have been improved. The only thing I can think of is to add 'hat and gloves' to the itinerary for the Toubkal summit. Although I think this is included in the winter trekking advice, I don't think its listed otherwise. It was darn cold up there due to the wind chill, but Mustapha had a spare pair so I was ok. If I missed it on the list then apologies.
We will definitely be using Tourdust again and look forward to hearing about any new destinations that you add (we are interested in Cuba next!!)
Matthew McSweeney reviewing Sahara, Souks and Mountains Explorer on 10 November 2014
We have just returned from Morocco after a splendid trip. Thank you very much for organizing such an excellent trip. The planning and detail put into every aspect of the trip was very obvious and ensured we had such a great holiday.
The four days trekking were superb, culminating in our ascent to the top of Mount Toubkal with its spectacular views and breathtaking scenery. Our guide, Yusuf, was very able and professional and we were particularly impressed by our cook, Abdullah, who produced excellent food, meal after meal, without exception.
We were also impressed by the very high standard of accommodation, particularly Kasbah Ellouze and Dar Hannane whose manager, Mohamed, and assistant manager, Azziz, were incredibly friendly and helpful.
Purely for information and feedback purposes, the only slight hiccup, in an otherwise flawless holiday, was the fact that the driver we had for the two day trip to Ait Benhaddou had little or no English.
Once again, thank you so much for all the planning and detail you put into this trip. As per your e mail, on a score out of five, we would award five out of five to Tourdust and would have no hesitation in thoroughly recommending your company to any prospective traveller.
None of us are on Facebook but please feel free to use any of the above comments in any of your promotional material.
We would love to use Tourdust again in any future trips and with that in mind look forward to being in touch with you both again.
Charles Fox reviewing Sahara, Souks and Mountains Explorer on 06 October 2014
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Enjoy a Sahara Desert Tour from Marrakech to the Erg Chebbi Dunes & the High Atlas Mountains.
Small Group Classic 3 days
Four day boutique tour to the desert dunes at Erg Chebbi with plenty of time to explore Ait Benhaddou, the Todra Gorge and the crumbling Kasbah Telouet.
Tailor-made Classic 4 days
A holiday combining camel treks, desert camping, Atlas mountain trekking and the wonderful city of Marrakech.
Tailor-made Adventure 2 weeks