Marrakech & the Sahara vacation in Morocco

“From the High Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert, this is an overland introduction to central Morocco culminating in one of the world's most exciting cities, Marrakech.”

Highlights

Draa Valley | Zagora | M'Hamid | camel trek in Sahara Desert | Ouarzazate | Kasbah Ait Benhaddou | High Atlas Mountains | Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator film locations | early mornings over the Tijhza Valley | Tizi'n'Tichka pass | guided tour of Marrakech or free day to explore | Optional activities include hammam visits, horse drawn carriage rides and longer treks in Tijhza Valley |

Travel Team

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21 Dec 2019
US $879
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22 Mar 2020
US $949
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12 Apr 2020
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03 May 2020
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Our top tip:
There's plenty of walking and driving involved so bring sensible footwear and an empty pillowcase to fill with comfy clothes in order to cushion lumps and bumps. Also, don't forget a toilet roll and a torch.
Trip type:
Small group. Avg 12. Min age 16.
Activity level:
Leisurely/Moderate.
Accomm:
5 nights en-suite hotel, 1 basic gite, 1 Bedouin camp - communal sleeping arrangements.
Included:
Accommodation, transport (including camel), listed activities and tour leader throughout.
Meals:
All breakfasts and 3 dinners.
Solos:
Single rooms available in hotels only (surcharges apply).
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Marrakech & the Sahara vacation in Morocco

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

Accommodation and Meals:
We spend 5 nights in en suite hotel rooms, 1 night at a gite and 1 night camping at a traditional Bedouin camp. Our local operators generally prefer to select accommodation which is locally owned in order to support smaller businesses and their employees. This ensures that most income generated is reinvested into the area and the community. Our suppliers are encouraged to create awareness of energy and water savings as Morocco can be arid in places. Consumption is often reduced by putting signs in the rooms and ensuring that employees are thoroughly aware of the issue. Most vegetables come from the region of Sous; meat is locally supplied by butchers and fruits can be found at markets or farms in the countryside. The main Moroccan dishes most people are familiar with are couscous, meat and vegetable tagines, fish chermoula and bocadillos, which are available from street stalls almost everywhere.

Local Craft and Culture:
We stop at a number of desert towns and mountain villages, including Zagora, Telouet and Tijhza before ending in Marrakech. On the way down to the Sahara camp we stop in one of the oldest villages in the area, Tamegroute. Here, clients can look around the village and learn about their traditional methods of making ceramic items. We can purchase souvenirs and rest assured that we are contributing to a sustainable industry which allows customary craftsmanship to continue. Another cultural highlight is Marrakech, where clients are encouraged to haggle for souvenirs, take a ride in a traditional Caliche, or to visit the world renowned Marjorelle gardens. In the evening, the Djemma el Fna central square comes alive with musicians, snake charmers, traveling acrobats and food stalls. This is the perfect opportunity to interact with local people, purchase locally produced handicrafts and to support small street vendors by trying authentic food.

Campaigning for Change:
In conjunction with Baraka Community Partnerships, we have sponsored the development of a small village called Tijhza for many years with a variety of projects. These include supplying a pipeline system and water tower to the village and a toilet block for the school. Thanks to our volunteer groups, Tijhza now also has electricity and an annual medical clinic, which has had a hugely positive effect on the welfare of the village. More recently, we have achieved our aim of building a Hammam to alleviate some of the hygiene issues in the area and to provide a sustainable source income for many inhabitants. Unfortunately, devastating storms struck in November 2014, leaving much of the village severely damaged. We were able to raise emergency funding to provide supplies and to re-build many of the homes affected.

Community:
Passing through Berber villages up in the High Atlas Mountains, hiring local guides, staying in local gites and using markets and mule transport has a positive impact on the local economy. There are also opportunities for us to stop at women’s co-operatives in the south east of the Atlas and in the Essaouira region. These co-operatives help local women to be more independent and take care of their children- especially if they are in difficult family situations. Stops can also be made at a care center for those with disabilities, which aims to teach handicrafts skills and sell souvenirs. Also as we stay in Tighza, which is remote and still recovering from damages, our presence is really appreciated. Many clients like to leave behind items such as reading and writing materials and winter clothes which are taken in and re-distributed by a local association.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

4 Reviews of Marrakech & the Sahara vacation in Morocco

4.5 out of 5 stars
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In depth story review

“After dinner at the camp, we were entertained beside the fire by some Tuareg drumming, which was simply mesmeric.”

Reviewed on 27 May 2019 by

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


The walks in the mountains and the local people.

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


Take a good guide book and explore the cities on your own. Learn French!

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?


Loved every minute, it's a marvellous country and very real - the only 'touristy' bit was the sahara visit.

Reviewed on 14 Dec 2015 by

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.

Reviewed on 13 May 2013 by

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.

Reviewed on 21 Apr 2011 by

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!

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