Marrakech, Grand Tour of the Sahara Desert & Essaouira – 8 Days

This 8-day itinerary is a perfect combination of culture, adventure and relaxation, covering the imperial city of Marrakech and crossing the High Atlas Mountains into the desert. Explore desert towns, camp in the Sahara Desert, and relax in the seaside town of Essaouira.


  • See dancers, henna artists and acrobats in the lively Jemaa el-Fna square

  • Explore the sand dunes, oasis, hidden valleys and ancient castles in the desert

  • Under the starry sky of the Sahara Desert, enjoy traditional Berber music by the campfire

  • Climb the seaside city wall and enjoy fresh seafood on the coast of Essaouira

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1; Explore Marrakech  Fes
Day 2 Cross the High Atlas Mountains to Ouarzazate and Boumalne dades Boumalne dades
Day 3 Desert town and camping at Erg Chebbi in the Sahara Desert Erg Chebbi
Day 4 Erg Chebbi to A​​ït Benhaddou A​​ït Benhaddou

Day 5 Return to Marrakech

Day 6 Essaouira: seaside city walls, kite surfing and fresh seafood Essaouira
Day 7 Return to Marrakech Marrakech
Day 8 Marrakech: Departure Marrakech

Day 1; Explore Marrakech 

Marrakech is nicknamed the “Red City” because of its 1,000-year-old red sandstone walls and buildings, and is a major economic center. Depending on how long you are before your departure flight, take some time to explore the city.

Unlike Fez, Marrakech has Berber descent rather than Arab descent, and was once an important trading center for the Atlas tribes. Head to the bustling Jemaa el-Fna Square in Marrakech: to the north is the souk (market), to the west is the Koutoubia mosque and gardens, the Kasbah (fortress or fortifications) area has the Saadi dynasty mausoleum and Bahia Palace and Badi Palace are in the south. In the new city, you will find Majorelle Gardens.

To visit the Medina (Old Town) in a unique way, board the calèche (French for the carriage) and start adapting to the surroundings. Please pay attention to fondouks-medieval hotels that provide accommodation and supplies for merchants and travelers. Today, some have been converted into residences or large shopping areas and studios that you can explore. Find the way to the Koutoubia Mosque and escape the heat in the garden between the fountain and palm trees. Although non-Muslims cannot enter the mosque, its 12th century foundation and minaret are worth seeing.

As night fell, Jemaa el-Fna became active with musicians and storytellers, acrobats and dancers, and even snake charmers. Stroll through rows of food stalls, serving a variety of food from dinners to juice drinks, dried dates and small snacks. For a bite, or for a more relaxing experience, please look for one of the many cafes above the square and enjoy the food while watching the show below.

Day 2 Cross the High Atlas Mountains to Ouarzazate and Boumalne dades

Leaving the busy city, head east to the desert and climb the High Atlas Mountains. See if you can find Mount Toubkal, the highest peak at 13,671 feet (4,167 m). Along the way, you will pass many Berber villages-made up of traditional mud brick buildings. Enjoy lunch in Taddert and visit the local argan oil cooperative to learn how local women extract precious oil from argan to make oil for the health, food and cosmetic industries. Follow the winding road to Tizi n’Tichka pass and stop for a panoramic view.

Continue east to the desert hub and filming location in Ouarzazate. Take a tour of a film studio to discover which of your favorite movies were shot in the nearby desert area. Movie lovers may like to visit the film museum. Follow the ancient castle valley to Boumalne Dades, passing many small towns, where you will see the traditional farming methods used. As you walk through the fragrant Kela’a M’gouna, the “Rose Valley”, watch out for the nomads who take care of their animals. You will eventually arrive at Boumalne Dades, a major town connected to the Dades River.

Day 3 Desert town and camping at Erg Chebbi in the Sahara Desert

Today, you will continue driving east to your final destination: the sand sea of ​​Erg Chebbi outside Merzouga. Along the way, stop at Tinghir to admire the oasis of the river that stretches on both sides of the city. The surrounding desert landscape features impressive hills, terraces and levels. Nearby, you will have the opportunity to explore the Todra gorge, a 984 feet (300 meters) deep gorge cut by the Todra River. Continue to the desert town of Erfoud. Known for its figs and fossils, visit a craft workshop to learn how fossil-rich rocks are skillfully transformed into practical and decorative objects.

When you are close to Merzouga, the nearest town to the Sahara Desert, stop in the market town of Rissani and be sure to visit the livestock auction and the “donkey parking lot”. Leaving Rissani, you will begin to see the beginning of Erg Chebbi’s huge sandy sea towering on the horizon. After arriving at Merzouga, change gears and transfer to your private camel to start your sand dune trek and Bedouin camp. Stroll to the nearby sand dunes to watch the sunset, then enjoy a cozy meal by the fireplace and listen to traditional music.

Day 4 Erg Chebbi to A​​ït Benhaddou

Before exploring more deserts, wake up early to watch the Sahara sunrise: rent a sandboard and take an Erg chebbi tour (around the dunes) or a four-wheeled ATV tour. Head south to Khemliya and explore this traditional Saharan village. You will have a second chance to visit Maison Touareg in Rissani, a warehouse selling traditional carpets, jewelry and leather products. From there, walk through the umbrella trees of the acacia forest, and then arrive at Alnif for lunch. Continue through the Draa Valley, which is full of date palm trees and has the opportunity to take a box of dates for a drive.

Travel west to Aït Benhaddou in the Middle Ages. The UNESCO site of Aït Benhaddou is the most famous castle (fortress or fortification) in Morocco. Once upon a time, it occupied an important position on the trans-Saharan trade route between Marrakech, Ouarzazate and the southern desert. After the daytime crowds leave, spend the night in the old town and stroll through the empty alleys. Pay a nominal fee to enter several castles and climb up the roof to enjoy the beautiful scenery. You can choose to stay overnight or stop in Ouarzazate 45 minutes in advance.

Day 5 Return to Marrakech

Before the crowds flood into the old castle, explore the narrow passages and alleys to truly feel this fortified city built in the 11th century.Leaving Ait benhaddou, returning to Marrakech, crossing the High Atlas Mountains and the Tizi N’Tchka Pass. As you descend along the slope facing north of the High Atlas, you will notice dramatic changes in climate and landscape.After experiencing all the tranquility of the mountains and desert, you will soon be in the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.

You may want to spend the time of the afternoon at a slower step. Jemaa el-Fna gets active in the evening with musicians, performers, snake charmers and games. Since the square has the best experience at night, you can stroll around the stalls and stalls and enjoy the wonders. Have a bite to eat at one of the many food stalls, or if you want to see what’s happening from a distance, choose one of the cafes around Jemaa el-Fna for a mint tea and a meal. Take a walk at night, walk a short distance, admire the floodlit Koutoubia Mosque, and then return to your accommodation.

Day 6 Essaouira: seaside city walls, kite surfing and fresh seafood

After breakfast, head west to the Atlantic coast and the leisurely seaside town of Essaouira. The route along the way will take you through vast rolling plains and unique argan forests. If you are lucky, you might see goats eating argan on the tree, which is a sight to see when the pasture is limited or unavailable.

Arrive in the charming port city of Essaouira, in stark contrast to the frenetic Marrakech, and spend the rest of the day according to your choice. Peruse the UNESCO-protected Medina, spend some time on horseback riding or kite surfing lessons along the coast, or stroll along the coast Skala de la Kasbah (18th-century seaside city wall).

Designed by European engineers, old brass cannons line the walls and provide a viewing channel of the Atlantic Ocean. Fans of Jimi Hendrix might want to take a taxi to Diabate at the end of Essaouira Beach, where he is reported to have been there for a while. Walk back to Essaouira and enjoy a meal of freshly caught seafood.

Day 7 Return to Marrakech

Essaouira is known as the “Wind City” because of its strong Alizée trade winds blowing over its crescent beaches and is a popular kite surfing destination. Spend a day watching kitesurfers, or, for the more adventurous, enjoy a lesson before parting and returning to Marrakech. Along the way, you can choose to stop at the Argan Oil Cooperative to see how to extract precious and expensive oil from nuts.

Spend some time exploring the Dar sidi Said Museum (also known as the Moroccan Art Museum), and admire exhibits of clothing, antiques, jewelry, and exquisite Spanish-Moorish carved cedar decorations. Afterwards, enjoy your senses as you explore the complex open-air market (market) hidden behind ordinary restaurants and shops. Check out Souk el Attarin, Souk Chouari and Souk Smata, choose spices, wood products and babouche (traditional Moroccan slippers). Visit the Souk des Teinturiers (dyeers’ open-air market) to learn how to dye fabrics and yarns using traditional methods.

Day 8 Marrakech: Departure

Based on your flight details, before visiting the Marrakech Museum, explore the only surviving Almoravid monument, the 12th century Almoravid Koubba. Located in the Dar Mnebbi Palace in the 19th century, the museum is home to large-scale exhibitions of modern and traditional art. It includes artifacts of Berber and Moroccan Jewish and Islamic culture.



  • include Private tour
  • Daily breakfast Hotel accommodation and all transportation in Marrakech
  • Airport Full transportation with air-conditioning,
  • gas and driver English speaking guide and driver Overnight in Essaouira, dades gorge, Sahara Desert & Marrakech
  • Tour Guide in Marrakech
  • including breakfast 
  • Daily including breakfast, free time to explore scenic spots, take photos, etc.
  • Customized and flexible stops


  • Lunch
  • Travel insurance
  • Entrance tickets to monuments
  • Tips

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