6 DAYS, 5 NIGHTS

ATLANTIC, HIGH ATLAS, AND SAHARA DESERT

Navigate medina souks, traverse the High Atlas Mountains,
and experience the tallest sand dunes in the Sahara Desert.

ABOUT THIS EXAMPLE
MOROCCO TOUR

Discover the vibrant heart of Morocco within bustling medinas nestled within ancient city walls. Follow the windswept coastlines and traverse towering mountains, retracing the paths of caravans and Berber tribes predating colonization.

Marvel at architectural wonders reflecting a captivating fusion of Berber, Arab, and Moorish influences. Immerse yourself in the warm hospitality of locals, and be awed by the natural splendor of Morocco’s majestic gorges.

Venture into the legendary Sahara Desert, the epitome of desert grandeur. Let us tailor this journey to your preferences and create an unforgettable experience that is uniquely yours.

*This is an example itinerary. All trips are custom-crafted to your interests and needs.

Your example 6-day, 5-night
Morocco itinerary

Get inspired with this trip — then get in touch to plan your own bespoke private tour of Morocco.

ATLANTIC, HIGH ATLAS, AND SAHARA DESERT

Day 1 — Marrakech to Essaouira
Day 2 — Essaouira to Taroudant
Day 3 — Taroudant to Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou
Day 4 — Ait Ben Haddou to Dades Gorges
Day 5 — Todra Gorges to Merzouga
Day 6 — Merzouga to Fes

ATLANTIC, HIGH

ATLAS, AND SAHARA DESERT

Day 1 — Marrakech to Essaouira Day 2 — Essaouira to Taroudant Day 3 — Taroudant to Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou Day 4 — Ait Ben Haddou to Dades Gorges Day 5 — Todra Gorges to Merzouga Day 6 — Merzouga to Fes

TRADITIONAL COASTAL SCENES

You depart Marrakech in the morning and head west, toward the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll observe a transition from arid landscapes to argan forests. Essaouira’s coastline is adorned by magnificent 16th century Portuguese fortresses and craggy rocks. The aroma of the sea fills the air and hundreds of seagulls dance over the waves.

The medina, or old city, comprises a labyrinthine of narrow alleyways lined with charming whitewashed homes, eclectic shops, and inviting art galleries scattered throughout.

Whether you choose to stroll along the ocean, or explore the medina, you will find Essaouira to be an unforgettable encounter.

BUSTLING SOUKS & PANORAMIC VISTAS

Depart Essaouira and head south while hugging the coast. As you journey, the rugged Atlantic coast will be a constant companion, offering occasional glimpses of majestic lighthouses dotting the landscape. Continuing eastward, you’ll traverse the picturesque Sous Valley, eventually arriving in Taroudant, a bustling market town nestled beneath the towering peaks of the High Atlas Mountains.

Locals know the walled Berber town of Taroudant as the “Grandmother of Marrakech,” due to the similarity of its ramparts and mud-red walls to those of the famous Red City. If you climb the stairs on the walls, you’ll find a stunning panoramic view of the city as the peaks of the High Atlas Mountains form a breathtaking backdrop.

SAFFRON, CARPETS, & AN UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

After breakfast, you’ll weave your way into the heart of Morocco’s Saffron Valley. The small town of Taliouine produces over 7,000 pounds of saffron every year. Soon after passing through Taliouine, you will arrive in the small town of Taznakht, the capital of Berber carpets.

Your journey continues along some of the most striking landscapes in the country. By afternoon, you will arrive at Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, a registered UNESCO World Heritage site, located on the southern slopes of the High Atlas. You will have time to leisurely explore the ksar (plural for kasbah). The night will be spent near the famous kasbah.

THE VALLEY OF ROSES & SPECTACULAR DADES GORGES

In the morning, you will drive through Ouarzazate, known as the Moroccan Hollywood, for the numerous movies filmed in the city. Shortly after, you will pass through Skoura Valley, a fertile oasis lined with palm groves, olive trees, and remnants of 12th-century kasbahs. Continuing through the verdant Skoura Valley, you’ll soon find yourself in the enchanting Valley of the Roses. If your visit coincides with the first weekend of May, you’ll be treated to the vibrant festivities of the annual Rose Festival.

Leaving Skoura behind, you’ll venture into the breathtaking Dades Valley and Gorges, renowned for its awe-inspiring scenery. You’ll spend the night amidst the stunning landscapes immersed in the beauty of the south of Morocco.

CAMEL TREKKING, SAND DUNES, AND A STARRY NIGHT SKY

In the morning, you’ll pass through the stunning Todgha Valley where you’ll have an opportunity to take a walk. Next, you’ll drive through the small towns of Tinghir and Tinjdad and into Arfoud. Arfoud is the International Capital of Fossils as well as a filming site for the movies The Mummy and King of Persia. Each year in October, the city hosts the International Date Festival.

After spending some time in the city known as the “Gate to the Sahara Desert,” you will continue your journey off-road to the impressive Erg Chebbi Sand Dunes. Your night will be spent in a tent under the vibrant stars.

WILDLIFE, LAKES, & HIGH MOUNTAIN PASSES

Following breakfast, you’ll bid farewell to the Sahara Desert and set off towards the expansive Ziz Valley, famed as one of Morocco’s longest valleys. Along the journey, you’ll encounter pastoral scenes of sheep and goats grazing beside the road and ascending the hillsides, under the watchful gaze of Berber shepherds.

Continuing your journey, you’ll reach Midelt, a quaint city nestled amidst the rugged plateaus between the Middle Atlas and High Atlas Mountains. Renowned as Morocco’s apple capital, Midelt charms visitors with its scenic vistas and vibrant local culture.

Continuing your journey, you’ll cross the Middle Atlas Mountains, where you might spot Barbary Macaques playing amidst the shaded cedar forests. Not far from the forests, you’ll enter the city of Ifrane, home to the world famous Al Akhawayn University.

You will reach the imperial city of Fes in late afternoon or early evening.

See additional add-on experiences

See what extra adventures await – then get in touch to start planning your own custom tour of Morocco.

A transformative experience

Their website promises a transformative experience and I can attest to the truth of this claim. The care that this company takes in preparing customized itineraries that accommodate all manner of needs/desires (my partner is an above-knee amputee) is impressive, and resulted in great experiences for us.

Barbara (New York, NY)

What’s included in your
Morocco tour

We take care of all the details of your custom tour of Morocco so that you don’t have to.

Experienced Local
Moroccan Tour Guide

Fluent in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, and local dialects.

Private Transport

Spacious, fully-equipped, driver & fuel.

Handpicked Accommodations
Choose Comfort, Premium, or Luxury ranked by us based on guest satisfaction.
Meals

All breakfasts included. Lunches and dinners included where indicated.

Airport Transfers

Airport transfers included.

Camel Trek

Ethical and authentic camel trekking experience (optional).

Sahara Desert Camp
Comfort or Luxury.
Private Guided Tours

Private city tours, food tours, kasbah tours, hiking tours, and more.

Local Encounters

Always genuine, always unique.

OUR PROMISE

Whatever you want your custom tour of Morocco to include, we’ll create something fully unique for you — and only you.

Few words adequate to describe the wonder!

There are few words adequate enough to describe the wonder of a visit to the Moroccan Desert, especially when your host was a Nomad who grew up calling it home.

Deborah K

Answers to your
FAQs

To see all our most frequently asked questions, check out our full FAQ page.
How should I pack for Morocco?

For the most part, Moroccans are very good at accepting cultural differences. That said, as a Muslim country, modesty is important. In general, larger cities are more tolerant than rural areas. However, just like anywhere, showing too much skin can attract unwanted attention. It can also cause discomfort to locals. We recommend the following, especially in smaller cities, villages, and the countryside:

Women
Long skirts or dresses that cover the knees
Maxi dresses with scarves to cover shoulders
Jeans or pants
Loose fitting tunics and blouses
Shirts with sleeves, short sleeves are fine
Cuddl Duds – for warm layers in winter

Men
Long pants
Jeans
Shorts are acceptable, but less common among adult males

General
Clothing that doesn’t expose the décolletage, shoulders, or thighs
Comfortable shoes
Flip Flops
Scarves, hats, or turbans for sun protection
Ear plugs in case of unwanted noise
Small packs of Kleenex for unstocked restrooms
Hand Sanitizer
Covid Rapid Tests
Electrolytes – not found in Morocco (the Nuun brand is an easy one for traveling)

Can I drink tap water, is it safe?
We do not take chances and ensure that you have access to bottled water at all times. Water used for tea and coffee has been boiled and is considered safe to drink.
When is the best time to visit Morocco?
The geography of Morocco is such that all throughout the year there are locations where the climate is mild. For instance, during the summer months when it is extremely hot in the interior of the country, the coast is a cool respite. Summertime is the best time to hike and explore the higher altitudes of the Atlas mountains. In winter, the Atlantic coast is warm. The desert is very hot in the summer, but pleasant at other times of the year.
How does Open Doors Morocco determine pricing for tours?

Like the old adage says, “You get what you pay for.” We have no interest in being the cheapest tour in Morocco. You receive an excellent value and return home with amazing memories and new friends in Morocco. Our tours are not cookie cutter, one size fits all tours. While we have example itineraries on our website, everything is customized. Because we put a great deal of focus on each of our tours, we limit the number of bookings at one time. This enables us to build great individualized itineraries and match people with our excellent hosts. We do not compromise on the quality of our local hosts.

We believe in paying our local hosts fair living wages. This is also something we will not compromise. One of the primary reasons we started Open Doors Morocco was that we saw the disparity in the tourism industry here. In most cases, the locals work the hardest, yet are compensated the least. The majority of Moroccans working in the tourism industry are not able to support their families on their income. At the same time, we won’t compromise on the expectations we lay out for our hosts. We have high standards for our local hosts and they rise to the occasion because they love their jobs and engaging with their foreign guests. You can read an outsider’s review on our vision by visiting Sixnie and Salt: Ethical Tourism: What is it? And Why Should You Care about It?

Please note that we do not offer itemized cost breakdowns.

The company is certainly not the least expensive option, but it is very, very, very much worth it!
– Emily D.

Why is it better to book with Open Doors than to travel independently?

There are many reasons to select Open Doors Morocco for your Morocco vacation. First, our primary goals are to create amazing experiences for our guests, while relating ethically with the Moroccan nationals. Those who choose to travel independently in Morocco, stand to miss out on many things that can only be experienced with a local host. We prefer to use the term, “host” rather than “guide” because they are far more than guides. Your ODM host is the touchstone between you and the Moroccan culture. They love introducing guests to their country and being involved in cross-cultural experiences. You will have the opportunity to meet some very special Moroccan people as you travel throughout the country simply because you are with a Moroccan.

Depending on where you are in the country, we may hire an additional guide. For instance, we always hire a guide in the city of Fes. The Fes Medina is a labyrinth and it requires a guide who is licensed specifically for the Fes Medina.

We have never used a guide in any of our travels, but this was the only way I could talk my husband into this trip. I’m so glad we did. We would not have been able to navigate on our own and see as much otherwise.
– Vicky L.

Secondly, traveling with us enables you to forget about the details. We will handle everything from touchdown to departure.

Finally, at Open Doors Morocco we believe in paying our tour hosts a thriving wage. We don’t pay our tour hosts peanuts for their knowledge and expertise. They are passionate about their work and sharing their country with others. The work hard and should be adequately compensated for their work. This is unusual in the tourism industry and it’s something we don’t compromise on.

We enjoyed Said’s company immensely, his knowledge, insights and stories were golden. We discovered spots we wouldn’t have on our own, and I doubt with anyone else.
– Disco Donkey

What types of accommodation do you use?

We do not book in the large “cookie cutter” hotels unless specifically requested. We use accommodations with a Moroccan style that we know personally and have been rated by our guests as excellent. That said, there are various levels of accommodations in Morocco. We will book Standard, Comfort, or Luxury accommodations. Depending on your location, luxury is not always available.

Standard accommodations are clean and simply decorated, yet still beautiful. Comfort (or Superior) accommodations are slightly more plush. Finally, luxury accommodations are the most plush.

In addition to traditional accommodations, we also offer home visits in various parts of the country. These home visits are available for those wishing to experience life in a Moroccan home. Our home visits are well vetted. Some people like to stay in a home visit for 1-2 nights out of their trip. Staying in a home visit is one way to help the local economy. It’s also a sure fire way to make sure you are pampered and spoiled while you are there. Moroccans are amazing hosts!

The care that this company takes in preparing customized itineraries that accommodate all manner of needs/desires (my partner is an above-knee amputee) is impressive, and resulted in great experiences for us.
– Rosemary Y.

How much time do I need in the country in order to experience the Sahara?

There are few words adequate enough to describe the wonder of a visit to the Moroccan Desert, especially when your host was a Nomad who grew up calling it home.
– Deborah K.

To visit the desert, you need a minimum of three days, four is better. In fact, a desert trip wrapped up into a longer tour is the best way to see it. There is so much to experience that it’s difficult to process in a short time period, especially since the desert is far from the primary tourism cities.

As a word of warning, now and then someone will come to us asking to see the “Marrakech Desert” just an hour outside the city. There is no desert directly outside Marrakech, and any tour operator who tries to sell you a tour to the Marrakech Desert is lying to you. The “Marrakech Desert” consists of hills with dust on them.

Additionally, if you run across a tour for $100 – $200 USD, you would be wise to ask questions. It’s impossible to operate a private tour for this amount of money. These types of tours are those that will take up to 17 people per vehicle, and in our opinion is not the best way to experience the desert. A private tour, in a high quality 4×4 with the capability to drive off-road is the best means of travel for this adventure. In addition, when the vehicle is driven by an experienced ODM host, who not only has been to the desert once or twice, but grew up in the desert, your experience is so much richer and authentic. It’s similar to the difference between hiring someone from Delaware to take you on a tour of California and hiring someone born and raised in California to lead you. In other words, how many times in your life will you get to see the Sahara Desert?

Should I exchange money before traveling to Morocco?
Morocco’s currency is the dirham. For the most part, Morocco is a cash country. Plan to use cash, and be pleasantly surprised when you find opportunities for credit cards. It is possible to order the Moroccan dirham from your bank prior to travel. However, this is not necessary and is usually more expensive. There are ATMs all throughout the country. Also, your host will be happy to take you to a money exchange cashpoint that will give you the best deal. We do not recommend using the ATMs or the the exchange counters in the airport as you will pay a higher exchange rate. If you are an American citizen, the bank Charles Schwab, offers an excellent checking account. They do not charge any foreign fees on purchases or ATM withdraws. If you are charged for using a foreign ATM, they will refund the charge to you at the end of every month. It is good practice to notify your credit card companies and / or bank as to the dates of your travel to Morocco. Traveler’s checks cannot be used in Morocco.
Should I purchase a Travel protection plan / insurance?

While Open Doors Morocco does not require guests to purchase travel protection, we highly recommend that they do. Those who choose to protect their trip are responsible for arranging this on their own. We work with Arch RoamRight, and you can request a quote HERE. Arch RoamRight offers a free child policy with each parent policy purchased. Whichever company you choose, we encourage you to look for a policy that covers emergency medical expenses, emergency evacuation, trip interruption and delayed arrival, trip delay, baggage delay, missed connection, in addition to the other elements you believe are important.

Further, if you feel nervous about cancellations due to global pandemic, a personal health issue, or other reasons, we recommend highly looking into a “Cancel for no reason” policy. We recommend that you purchase your coverage at the time of booking and double check the small print to ensure it covers all you want it to cover. Many policies will cover pre-existing conditions as long as the policy is purchased within a certain number of days that the deposit is paid.

I have special dietary restrictions. Can you cater to these?
Open Doors Morocco is happy to accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences. Please let us know at the time of booking if you have any dietary requirements or allergies and we will pass the information on to your guide and hotels. For those who have significant dietary restrictions, it is a good idea to bring along a card stating your dietary needs in French and Arabic. We are happy to help with translations. Having a card will help when you find yourself eating in a location where your guide isn’t with you.
Will Open Doors Morocco help me book airfare?
Open Doors Morocco does not book airfare, nor are we responsible for changes or delays in your reservation or flight. However, we are more than happy to provide tips and even research suggested flights.
Who will be my local host / guide?
Open Doors Morocco makes host assignments one month to a few weeks before your trip. We will communicate this information as soon as the assignment has been made. All of our hosts are friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced and share Open Doors Morocco’s passion for transformative travel. Each of our hosts offers a unique personality, perspective, and passion to share with you during the trip.
What type of vehicles do you use?
The majority of the time we use Toyota Land Prados. These are the same as Toyota Land Cruisers in the United States. Although the legal limit is six guests in these vehicles, we have found that four guests is the limit in terms of comfort. In much of Morocco, 4x4s are the best means for transportation. However, there are exceptions depending on the make up of the group. For families, we often use Mercedes minivans. If the desert is included in a trip where a van is utilized, it will be necessary to switch out to 4x4s in the desert. A mini bus is often utilized for a group tour. If a group is traveling to the desert, it is necessary to switch out to 4x4s at that time. Some small groups travel in a caravan of 4x4s.

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