9 independent reviews for Marrakech & the Sahara vacation in Morocco

These full and frank independent reviews are from travelers who have booked directly through Responsible Travel. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travelers below.


review 14 Dec 2015

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

This was an excellent trip. In the space of a week we visited the desert near M,Hamid, a Unesco World Heritage Site at Ait Benhaddou, the High Atlas mountains and the bustle of Marrakesh. Very varied and beautiful terrain, with two distinct types of people (Berbers and Arabs). The best bit was climbing a sand dune after a camel trek to our camp for the night.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Remember that it can get cold in the desert in December, so bring a good sleeping bag (though warm blankets are available). Camels are not the most comfortable beasts to ride!

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

Yes.

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

Excellent. No criticisms whatsoever.

review 13 May 2013

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

The camel trip was a memorable experience, as was glamping* in the desert and star-gazing. Equally memorable is the trip into the ante-Atlas mountains, and stay in the peaceful village, with gorgeous views from the gite. [* some members of our group were disappointed that the campsite is far more luxury than they were expecting - has low-occupancy tents (2 or 3 sharing max), proper toilets (although flushed with a scoop of water from a bucket and not plumbed) and a 3 course dinner was served on ceramic plates with proper cutlery. Our hosts even managed to rustle up a birthday cake !]

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Generally the quality of the accommodation is much better than you might expect from the trip notes. Sheets and blankets are provided at the gite and the camp site, so a light sleeping bag or liner should be sufficient - certainly from May- Sep (despite the trip notes recommending 3 season sleeping bag). Group flights change at Casablanca airport for both outbound and return flights, to/from Heathrow. There are limited facilities particularly for the domestic transit lounge on the outgoing flight (you'll have a 3h wait). You can get small amounts of Dirham in the UK (at poor exchange rates) but Euros also seemed to be accepted at the one and only cafe/bar in the terminal and where the group congregated! On the return leg, there was nowhere in Casablanca airport to exchange Dirham and most (Duty Free) outlets would not accept them for purchases even. Recommend you try to spend them in Marrakech. As a guide, 180 per person was plenty for the week for most people to cover meals, drinks, tips and small souvenirs. If you are not particular about returning to Heathrow or being on the group flights, there is a direct EasyJet flight to Gatwick leaving at a similar time to the group flights, for the return journey. This avoids another wait in Casablanca and Air Maroc were not the most efficient of check- in staff, to say the least! Some members of our group flew out on the Saturday, because the group flights arrive in Ouarzazate quite late and you arrive at the hotel around 2am, leave to start the first day proper at 9am. This is something I wish I'd done!

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

The tour operator runs a dedicated programme of volunteer trips in the mountain village, having recently completed building projects at the school, they are now funding and volunteers helping to build a hammam in the community. Restaurants and hotels visited were operated and seemed to employ locals. A visit to a co-op pottery benefits locals in the village.

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

A whistle-stop tour of Southern Morocco, nicely topped off with a 2 nights in Marrakesh. Great trip for anyone looking for a variety of experiences - desert, mountains, city - packed into a week.

review 21 Apr 2011

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

Too many to mention! Walking in the Atlas in general was terrific with the beautiful scenery. Sleeping outside under the stars was also amazing.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Sensible shoes! I know it's obvious, but there really is so much walking. Also if you get Abdulla as your guide, there are a lot of picnics, so some plastic utensils would have been really useful.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, as far as possible. However given the amount of water we consumed, I would have liked to know of a way to recycle the plastic bottles. Advice on this would be welcome.

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

Second to none!

review 15 Nov 2009

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

Visiting the souks in Marrakech

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Go for it

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

yes

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

great

review 7 Nov 2009

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

Walking in the mountains and haggling in the souks

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

take toilet paper and very warm clothes for the Sahara plus something to read as you spend quite a while driving

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

a little

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

Very enjoyable. The traveling to the Sahara isn't worth the journey as you don't get to see the real Sahara with its sand dunes etc. I would recommend a trip to the coast and take a camel ride there.

review 13 May 2008

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

Essaouira was just charming and tour guide (Youssef) in Marrakech really gave us a good overall flavour for the city considering limited time. Loved the place. All parts were memorable in their own way, was really pleased that we were able to experience dessert, mountains, coast and city all in 1 trip!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

If you are looking for a time efficient, hassle free vacation which allows you to experience so much in a short time this is definitely the one for you. Oh and don't forget the toilet roll!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, all guides were local, ate local produce and food and our guide was able to tip all those who helped/assisted us on the trip which was great.

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

Great experience, fantastic place would definitely go back again. Made so much easier by the fact that everything was so well organised. (The only thing i would say is that there was a lot of traveling on Day 3 from Dessert to Ait ben hadou - which was quite tiring). Great group, great guides and definitely recommend it!

review 3 Dec 2006

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

The most memorable part was sleeping in the Sahara dessert and waking up to watch the sunrise. The town of Essouaira was fantastic also.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

I would tell them to book their own flights, as they are not good flights booked by the operator (arrive very late at night and leave at 9am via Casablanca which makes a possible 4 hour flight a 7 hour flight) I would also tell them to spend a day or two in Marrakesh before or after as there was not enough time to explore this city.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I do think it benefited local people however I struggle to understand how they can justify using bottled water - bought in 600ml containers rather then by a 20L one (or equivalent) and encouraging people to refill water bottles - the environmental impact in producing bottled water is huge - 400 billion plastic water bottles are produced and disposed of every year and it costs.

Read the operator's response here:

We use Royal Air Maroc who fly use Casablanca as their hub which does mean that all flights will have a transit stop in Casablanca. The reason we use this airline is because we have an excellent working relationship with them, this means they are able to confirm seats for us when we require them. There are a huge amount of low cost carriers who fly direct to Morocco. However they only fly into Marrakech, as this trip starts in Ouarzazate we would be unable to use these carriers, starting in Ouarzazate also means we are able to cover more on the ground and reduce traveling time. We are aware of the situation of the numerous amounts of bottles being used by tourists to the country. This is something we are addressing and are in discussions with our local operator. Unfortunately the 20 litres are unavailable in Morocco, the largest we can source is 5 litres, so we are looking into using these as well as trying to filter and purify local water. Thank you for your comments and I am pleased to hear that overall you had an excellent trip.

review 16 Apr 2006

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

The most exciting part of my vacation was experiencing the most authentic of Moroccan treats - the hamman. Sadly this wasn't part of the pre-arranged tour, I guess it wouldn't have suited everybody, but it's well worth it!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

People booking this vacation need to know that you will spend the majority of the time (60%) on a bus.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The vacation benefited some local people but I did not feel it was environmentally friendly at all. We covered 1500 miles in a bus, created tonnes of plastic water bottle waste and the amount of food we were given at hotels was enough for a party twice the size, so much was wasted.

4. Any other comments?

I did enjoy the vacation and loved the country but would only give it three stars.

Read the operator's response here:

Unfortunately to fit in all the sights on this trip it is necessary to cover the ground. We use appropriate vehicles that are regularly maintained and this ensures that they run as efficiently as possible. For the plastic bottle issue we are looking at providing a supply of drinking water that clients can fill their own bottles from to help mitigate this problem. Thank you very much for the feedback, it really helps us to make changes as we continually re-evaluate our performance.

review 12 Mar 2006

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

Riding camels into the desert, and sleeping out - night sky without light pollution.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Read the information carefully before you go! We didn't! Morocco in March is VERY COLD - hotel bedrooms may be unheated. Pack accordingly.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Not sure. Better to have 16 in a bus than in eight separate cars and we ate at Moroccan restaurants, so probably yes.

4. Any other comments?

Excellent food except at the gite (which would be better described as a very basic youth hostel). It would have been nice to have two nights in one place, as there was slightly more bus travel than was comfortable, especially as the bus was small for 16 plus day sacks. We were the only retired couple on the bus, and the only ones with grandchildren, but felt entirely at home with the very friendly group and are now busy exchanging photos and e-mails. Would recommend it, but perhaps a month later when it would be warmer.

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Unedited reviews from other travelers

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation 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
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