Between steep mountains, golden deserts and lush oases, Morocco offers an incredible variety of landscapes. The warm welcome of its inhabitants makes it an iconic place for the traveler in search of a change of scenery. Let yourself be carried away by the stories of the Berber populations and offer yourself an authentic Moroccan immersion. In this article, discover where to sleep, how long to stay and 3 iconic stages for a road trip in the south of Morocco. A change of scenery guaranteed, without giving up ecological tourism! We share with you all our tips to organize a sustainable tourist stay in this fascinating Maghreb country.
Step 1: Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains
Start your road trip in southern Morocco in Marrakech. The red city is full of beautiful and varied discoveries:
- The souks of Marrakech, to put all your senses on alert. Take the opportunity to support the local crafts, marvel at the oriental scents of the spices and admire the shimmering colors of the fabrics;
- The Museum of Marrakech. Discover the history of the city in a building with magnificent architecture;
- Jemma el-Fna Square, to enjoy the lively atmosphere of the city;
- The iconic monuments of the city: Medina of Marrakech, Bahia Palace or Koutoubia Mosque;
- The Medersa Ben Youssef. The building, which historically housed a school of theology, is sumptuous and worth a visit.
Discover the Atlas Mountains
South of Marrakech are the High Atlas Mountains, with the highest peaks of the Maghreb chain that stretches from Morocco to Tunisia.
Take advantage of your visit to get a closer look at its highest point: Mount Toubkal, which rises to an altitude of 4168 meters. To explore the region with peace of mind, head to Imlil, the best place to find a guide to take you to discover the Atlas.
Where to sleep around Marrakech?
For this first part of your stay between Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains, we recommend you to stay at Tagadert Lodge. Located in Oumnas, halfway between the red city and the rugged peaks, the guesthouse offers an ideal starting point for exploring the region.
Stay in a traditional Berber house, where everything is designed to provide you with a relaxing vacation: from the flower gardens to the pleasant swimming pool and the tasty Moroccan table d'hôtes.
Stage 2: The Drâa Valley
What to see in the Drâa Valley?
After Ouarzazate, take the road to Agdz and Zagora to go into the Drâa Valley. It is here, in a hilly and desert environment, that the Biosphere Reserve of the Oases of Southern Morocco, classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, is located.
Lush palm grove vegetation, splendid kasbahs and beautiful landscapes await you in this unique region.
Here are some ideas for exploring the Draa Valley:
- Admire the ancient kasbahs of the 16th century, architectural jewels of the region;
- Hike to the waterfalls of Tizgui, for a refreshing break in the heart of gorges lined with oleanders;
- Climb the J'bel Kissane, a mountain culminating at 1485 meters above sea level. Enjoy a breathtaking view of the valley from the top;
- Take a walk in the splendid gardens of the Drâa palm grove.
Where to sleep in the Drâa Valley?
Bab El Oued, ecolodge in Agdz
Discover Bab El Oued, an exceptional ecolodge that invites you to slow tourism and disconnection. Stay in one of the 7 chic and unusual lodges and enjoy the outdoor spaces: solar heated pool, oasis area of more than 2 hectares and panoramic terrace.
Enjoy tasty, healthy and balanced meals, prepared with organic products grown on the estate.
Kasbah Azul, guest house in Agdz
Discover Kasbah Azul, a typical Berber ecolodge, which blends charm and comfort to perfection.
Nestled in the heart of a private oasis, the guest house promises a relaxing and soothing stay. Take time to enjoy the scents of the garden, cool off in the pool and indulge in the hammam or a massage.
An organic and local French-Moroccan inspired table d'hôtes awaits you for your meals at Kasbah Azul.
Stage 3: The Valley of the Roses and the Dades Valley
What to see around the Valley of the Roses?
The Valley of the Roses, located around Kelâat M'Gouna, owes its name to the cultivation of the rose, which makes the prosperity of this region of Morocco.
Beyond the rosebushes as far as the eye can see, the valley has many beautiful surprises in store for you and the discovery of several iconic places:
- The rose garden. Start your discovery with an unforgettable walk at sunrise. Beautiful colors and calmness guaranteed!
- Hiking in the valley. Waterfalls and refreshing gorges await you. Why not climb to the top to admire the panoramic views of the surroundings?
- The Dades Valley. With houses that melt into the rock, breathtaking views and Grand Canyon-like views, take your time as you wind your way through the Dades Gorge to fully enjoy the show.
Where to sleep in the Valley of the Roses?
For your stay between the Valley of Roses and the Dades Valley, stay at Maroc des Merveilles.
Enjoy the exceptional welcome of Abderrahman and his family in their traditional Berber house in clay. Quiet atmosphere, tasty cuisine and an authentic stay with the locals await you.
Abderrahman will be happy to help you discover the magnificent sites of the Valley of the Roses between beautiful landscapes, hundred-year-old kasbahs and luxuriant gardens. Let yourself be guided!
When to go on a road trip in the south of Morocco?
It is possible to go on a road trip in the south of Morocco all year round.
However, we recommend you to prefer the period between October and May, to avoid the 45°C heat peaks and not to suffer from the heat during your excursions.
Finally, avoid the month of Ramadan, during which the pace of activities and businesses is greatly slowed down.
How much time should I allow for a road trip in southern Morocco?
As a fan of slow tourism, we can only recommend a stay of at least 2 weeks for your escapade in Morocco.
You will have time to be surprised by the different places you visit and to follow the advice of the locals to explore Morocco differently.
Traveling slowly is also the opportunity to enjoy without stress moments of rest well deserved. Relaxing in the pool, hammam, massage, resting in the garden: let yourself the possibility to include real moments of disconnection to your Moroccan escapade!
To complete the 3 steps suggested above with a desert getaway, you can go to Mergouza which is the starting point of many excursions in the dunes of the Sahara. However, avoid the quad bike as a means of transportation and prefer more authentic and ecological alternatives such as camel caravans.
How to drive in Morocco ?
To get around during your road trip in the south of Morocco, the easiest way is to rent a car.
Note that driving in Morocco is a bit sportier than in Europe, with a widespread use of horns. Driving on busy roads in big cities can be quite stressful if you are not used to it.
You have 2 options depending on your driving skills:
- Rent a car as soon as you arrive in Marrakech and drive to Ouarzazate on your own to start the trip in the south of the country;
- Take the bus between Marrakech and Ouarzazate before renting a car in Ouarzazate. Count 4 hours of journey with the bus company CTM. With this 2nd solution, you will avoid the important traffic of Marrakech.
How to get to Morocco ?
Getting to Morocco by plane
Morocco is easily accessible by plane with direct flights from Paris, Lille, Marseille or Toulouse in France.
It takes about 3 hours to fly from Paris to Marrakech.
Getting to Morocco without a plane
It is possible to reach Morocco without a plane if you wish to avoid this mode of transport. You will have to be patient to get there and back, but that is also what sustainable tourism is all about: putting the journey back at the center of the adventure!
To leave from France, go to Marseille. A ferry leaves from the Phocaean City to Tangier Med, the port of Tangier. Count on 40 hours of travel with the shipping company La Méridionale to make the crossing.
Once in Tangier Med, cabs will take you to the city center and the Tangier train station, where you can take a train to Marrakech. It takes about 5 hours with one change. Train tickets can be booked on the website of the Moroccan railway company ONCF.
To find out more, visit our article on holidays by train, we give you all the information you need to reach Morocco by train.
To cut your long journey short, take the opportunity to discover Tangier, one of Morocco's largest cultural cities, located at the junction of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
For a unique and unusual travel experience, why not travel to Morocco by cargo ship? Discover our complete guide to cargo ship travel.
Are you tempted by this road trip to southern Morocco? Explore the riches of the gates of the Sahara desert!
Photo by gemmmm on Unsplash
Photo by Henrik Le-Botos