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Roadtrip Morocco: itinerary for 7-9 days

Are you tempted by Morocco? Would you like to take a look from Marrakech at desert on your own and at the same time explore the Atlas Mountains, the beautiful Dades Gorge, see the castle where the famous Game of Thrones series was filmed and visit the historic town of Aït Benhaddou? Our article will make planning easier, give you tips on cheap and beautiful accommodation and advise you on which company to go camel trekking in the Sahara with. At the end of the article you will find out how much the whole trip cost us.

Morocco roadtrip

We spent only 7 nights in Morocco , but we managed to travel 1400 km and take about a thousand photos. Although some of the crossings were really long, there was a lot to look at the whole time. The landscape changed every hundred kilometres, the cactus valleys were quickly replaced by the Atlas Mountains with their snow-capped peaks, and we passed through the desert and the small Moroccan Grand Canyon.

Camel trip
Camel ride at sunset

When to go to Morocco:

The most ideal time is from October to May, when the desert is still not so hot. We went to Morocco in December and it was absolutely perfect, night temperatures dropped to about 5°C, but during the day it was around 18°C, which we consider great weather for trips.

Day 1: Arrival in Marrakech, the most visited city in Morocco

If you arrive in Morocco in the afternoon and evening, we do not recommend going from Marrakech to Ouarzazate in the dark , because the road is really fabulous and you would miss beautiful views.

View of Jemaa el-Fnaa
View of Jemaa el-Fna

Car rental tip:

We rented a small car from the Moroccan company AirCar (Fiat Panda). We recommend having a credit card in the driver’s name, we had quite a few problems with this, even though they wrote that it is possible to give a deposit from a debit card in this location in Morocco, we ended up having to use my card and pay extra for a second driver.

We rented a small car - a Fiat Panda - and it was quite enough
We rented a small car – a Fiat Panda – and it was quite enough

Accommodation Tip:

If you are renting a car right at the airport, book accommodation outside the centre of Marrakech. Driving downtown is really stressful, worse than driving through Manhattan in New York (read our
article
on safety in Morocco).

Transfer to Aït Benhaddou
Transfer to Aït Benhaddou

Day 2: From Marrakech to Aït Benhaddou

Try to leave as soon as possible, although the crossing to Aït Benhaddou takes 3 hours 43 minutes according to the navigation, with stops for sightseeing, photos and food, it will take you the whole day.

Ksar Aït Benhaddou is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ksar Aït Benhaddou is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Aït Benhaddou is a charming ksar that has been listed by Unesco since 1987. There is no electricity or other modern conveniences in the old part, so we were glad to catch it in daylight. The small town is built on a hill and formerly a small building on the top was used to guard the grain. And since the ksar is located between the Atlas and the Sahara, the red arid land is flanked by majestic mountains in the distance.

The red, arid land is lined with majestic mountains in the distance.
The red, arid land is lined with majestic mountains in the distance.

Tip for accommodation

Our accommodation in Aït Benhaddou cost only 550 CZK including breakfast, but it was worth it!
Our accommodation in Aït Benhaddou was only 600 CZK for two with breakfast, but it was worth it!

Day 3: Ouarzazate and Dades Gorges

Ouarzazate is often called the “Gateway to the Sahara” or the “Hollywood of Morocco”, as it is home to some of the largest film studios in the world! Gladiator, The Mummy and Game of Thrones were filmed here.

You might expect crowds of tourists here, but in December there were none at all. We practically had the studios to ourselves.

The place where Games of Thrones was filmed
The place where Games of Thrones was filmed

Attention, there are two studios in Ouarzazate (CLA and Atlas), if you are interested in the castle where Games of Thrones was filmed, buy a ticket to CLA studios (the ticket to the castle is included in the entrance to CLA studios), you can buy it on the spot for 40 MAD. The studios themselves are rubbish, in fact it’s quite a bizarre sight as there are only dusty costumes, but the medieval styrofoam castle where Games of Thrones was filmed is worth it!

We haven’t been to the Atlas studios, but according to the reviews, they’re still a bit more boring than the CLA studios buildings (which we can’t really imagine).

The Dades Gorges competition

We then headed to the Dades Gorges, a romantic gorge in the High Atlas Mountains in southeastern Morocco. These areas were once the ocean floor. Again, it’s not worth going here in the dark (the journey from the studios takes about 2.5 hours), in which case the road is your destination, because the whole thing is breathtaking! It reminds a bit of the American Grand Canyon, although it is only a miniature compared to it. With a length of about 150 kilometres and an average depth of 200 metres, the Grand Canyon is almost 446 kilometres long, with a width of 500 metres to 29 kilometres.

The Dades Competition, view from the Timzzillite Chez Mohamed restaurant
The Dades Competition, view from the Timzzillite Chez Mohamed restaurant

Most people drive up to the Timzzillite Chez Mohamed restaurant, where you can see the winding road through the gorge. Have a traditional mint tea at the top and relax before heading back to your accommodation.

Accommodation Tip:

Day 4 (or 4-5): Hurrah for the Sahara

If you have more than 7 days for this roadtrip, you are at an advantage. Otherwise, you have a long crossing to the Sahara to catch the sunset in the desert. Again, you drive back through the gorge, the desert and even the oasis. Sitting in the car is therefore not annoying, on the contrary. We’d almost like to go slower and keep stopping.

The way back through the Dades Gorge
The way back through the Dades Gorge

How to get to the Sahara

We rode camels to the desert from Merzouga via the company
Mohou Tours
. The price of 40 EUR included 3 hours of camel riding (1.5 hours there and 1.5 hours back), dinner, accommodation in a campsite and breakfast. There is even a hot shower at the campsite! You can leave your belongings in your hotel room and take a shower the next day.

A night in the desert was the most magical experience of 2018
A night in the desert was the most magical experience of 2018

Accommodation Tip:

It doesn’t matter which company you go to the desert with because they all take you to the same camps. There is no need to even choose the luxury option, even in basic campsites there is a normal bed, super dinner and shower. So don’t be lured by overpriced companies that charge you $100 per person for a basic camp!

If you would like to stay more days in Merzougy, go to
Chez Belkecem.
The gentleman who owns the place is perhaps the nicest Moroccan we’ve met. Plus, he told us he was taking people to the desert for 25 euros. Oh, and he likes Czechs because they write nice reviews on Booking.

Our camels in Morocco
Our camels in Morocco

Day 5 (or 6-7): from Merzouga to Bin el Quidane Dam

If you’re used to long crossings and have no problem with an 8-10 hour crossing, you can do as we did, for the rest of us we recommend splitting your journey. Again, no need to worry about getting bored along the way. The scenery you will cross is breathtaking. The only thing we were sorry about was that we finished the trip in the dark.

First head towards Azrou via the romantic Gorges du Ziz, some choose to go via Todra Gorge, but it’s a longer and less passable route. Both routes are beautiful and it is definitely worth splitting them into two days. In this case, you can make a stop in some of the gorges.

Bin el Quidane Dam
Bin el Quidane Dam

Tips for accommodation

With a stop in Gorges du Ziz you can stay in Luna del Fuego or the Kasbah Hotel Camping Jurassique. It takes 6 hours to get to the town of Bin el Quidane the next day, but the crossing is much more bearable and the drive is, as we have already written, breathtaking.

In Bin el Quidane we can recommend with all ten of us a wonderful romantic accommodation
Dar l’eau Vive
where you can have breakfast overlooking the dam on warmer days.

Day 6 (or 7-8): Ouzuoud Falls and Marrakech in the evening

POur last stop before Marrakech was the beautiful Ouzuoud waterfalls. Be careful when you arrive, they’ll all be waving at you to park near them and showing you that you can’t go any further. Ignore them, Drive as far as you can and turn around when the nearest parking lot to the falls is full. It was half empty in December.

Ouzuoud Waterfalls
Ouzuoud Waterfalls

Beware

The Ouzuoud Falls are a popular day trip from Marrakech, so there are a lot of people trying to make money from the tourists. Often they will offer to take you on a hike around the falls, where you will end up taking a boat ride under the falls. If you have more time, feel free to go. But agree on the price in advance.

And keep in mind that you can go to the waterfalls alone. Although they will tell you that they take you the less touristy route (the back way), when we were there, there were fewer tourists on the shorter “touristy” route through the shops than on the “non-touristy” one.

You don’t want to drive in the centre of Marrakech

When you arrive in Marrakech, we recommend returning the car at the airport and taking a taxi or public transport. Parking is difficult (and expensive) in Marrakech and you can easily get around the city centre on foot.

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Tip: Never eat directly at the waterfalls, they will charge you 2-4 times more than normal. We unfortunately succumbed to the vision of a lunch with a spectacular view, paid a lot of money and it was still the only meal in Morocco that we really didn’t like. You’d better just have tea. You can eat at the little square before you go down to the waterfalls.

Where to stay in Marrakech:

In Marrakech stay in a riad, this is a type of traditional Moroccan house where you have a fountain or pool in the middle.

Hostel in Marrakech
Hostel in Marrakech – Riad Sijane

Day 7 (or 8-9) Marrakech

In the world of social networking, Marrakech is one of the most popular places in Morocco. If you are short on time, you must at least visit the large square – Jemaa el-Fnaa, go to the Jardin Majorelle, visit the Museum of Photography or the Bahia Palace. Local spas or Hammas are also popular . Probably some of the most beautiful are the Royal Mansour or those in La Mamounia.

Markets in Marrakech
Markets in Marrakech

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How much does a trip like this cost

The whole eight days for two people cost us 23 260 CZK.

  • Flights from Prague (with hand luggage up to 10 kg): 4 667 CZK
  • Food: 5496 CZK
  • Accommodation: 4 400 CZK
  • Car rental: 2 554 CZK
  • Night in the Sahara: 2 100 CZK
  • Petrol: 1 809 CZK
  • Entrance to CLA Studios: 215 CZK
  • Entrance to the gardens in Marrakech: 190 CZK
  • Other costs (parking, etc.): 1829 CZK

A sample of prices in Morocco:

  • Lunch or dinner for two with drinks: 120 – 150 MAD (320 – 400 CZK)
  • Tea or coffee: 7 – 15 MAD (19 – 36 CZK)
  • Water or lemonade: 10 – 20 MAD (27 – 54 CZK)
  • Litre of petrol: 10.5 MAD (28 CZK)

Roadtrip map of Morocco from Marrakesh to Sahara
Click on the image to download the map to your phone
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Tips and tricks for travelling

What to pack

Take a look at our
travel packing guide
to help you prepare. Choose the right travel backpack, check out the travel gadgets and don’t forget anything important at home.

Where to get tickets

Search for cheap airline tickets at
Kiwi
, they’re our favourite portal. Be sure to read our instructions how to get cheap airline tickets.

Car rental

We commonly use a grader
RentalCars.com
to help us choose a car provider.

Reservation of accommodation


Booking.com
is our most popular hotel search engine. We always compare hotels with local apartments and rooms on Airbnb (
725 CZK discount
). Read,
how we find cheap accommodation
.

Don’t forget about insurance

Travel insurance is an absolute must. For shorter journeys, choose AXA (
50% discount
) and for longer journeys the British insurer
True Traveller
. Take a look at
comparison of all insurance companies
and choose the one that suits you best.

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