Itinerary: road trip through the south of Morocco

Morocco is a beautiful and versatile country. It attracts many tourists every year, who visit the beautiful imperial cities. The south of Morocco is not yet discovered by mass tourism, there are many peaceful and quiet places. In June, one of the hottest months, we made a road trip and drove in 12 days from the southwest to the southeast, and then up to Marrakech. In this blog, I’ll tell you more about this route.


Itinerary

Agadir – Taghazout – Tamnougalt – Merzouga – Gorge du Dades – Ait Ben Haddou – Marrakech

Morocco Itinerary

Click here or on the map above to see the itinerary of our 12 days in Morocco. In this scheme, we also state our travel hours, hotels and activities we did.

Morocco is a big country, which certainly can not be seen in a week and a half. When we were preparing this trip, we had to make a number of choices. Eventually, we decide to explore the south and make a road trip through the southern part of the country. We didn’t find much information about the first part of our route, from Taghazout to Merzouga. Apparently, this is not a standard route for tourists. This made us extra curious, what would we encounter and see? In retrospect, we were very happy with our decision to visit this relatively unknown part of Morocco. The beautiful foothills of the Atlas Mountains, the endless winding roads we drove surrounded by nothing more than stone and some grass.

From Merzouga to Marrakech is a route that is much more famous. Here we came along many highlights and of course buses full of tourists. This part is also nice to see, but a completely different side of Morocco.

We covered many kilometres during these 12 days, sometimes driving for more than 7 hours. However, it was perfect and all part of the journey!


Day 1 to 4: Agadir – Taghazout

We arrive around 07.00 PM in Agadir, a city in the southwest of Morocco. Here we pick up our car and then drive in an hour to Taghazout, a small surfing village north of Agadir. The next three days we spend surfing, reading and eating, click here to read more about our time in Taghazout.

Taghazout is very small and in three days you can see everything. Do you want to learn how to surf? Then a multiple day surf camp might be something for you. We also made a trip to Paradise Valley, nice but a bit overrated special.

Tip: do you want to go to Paradise Valley? Then rent a car and leave very early in the morning (departure at sunrise). You arrive before the tourist mass and can leave again when it starts to get busy.

Read our travel guide for Taghazout here.

Marocco Taghazout


Day 5 and 6: Taghazout – Taroudant – Tamnougalt

On day five we want to leave at 06.00 because since we have seven hours of driving ahead. Unfortunately, my food poisoning throws a spanner in the works. Finally, we leave at 08.00 AM and arrive at 10.00 AM in the town of Taroudant. Here we stop so that Ries can have breakfast. The intention was to spend a few hours here, the city is beautiful, medieval with almost no tourists. However, after half an hour, we get into the car again to make up for some of the time lost this morning.

The rest of the morning and afternoon we drive through a varied landscape. First along cornfields. Slowly the landscape changes and becomes more hilly, wilder and drier. We hardly encounter an oncoming car. Our route goes first via the N10, and then on the R108. Around 3 pm we arrive in Tamnougalt, a tiny village in the middle of a small oasis. It’s beautiful. We stay at Ecolodge Bab el Oued, where we are warmly welcomed. In the end, we are so happy here, that we decide to stay a day longer.

Tip: Be sure to stop in Taroudant. Walk through the winding streets, across mosaic squares and buy fresh fruit at one of the many market stalls. The city is really worth it!

Read here what our time at Ecolodge Bab El Oued made so special.

Marocco Tamnougalt


Day 7: Tamnougalt – Merzouga – Sahara

After having been well rested at Ecolodge Bab El Oued, we leave for Merzouga around noon. Merzouga is the last city before the Erg Chebbi Sahara begins, and is located in the southeast of Morocco. We drive here in five hours (via the N9, the R108, the N12 and the N9). Our surroundings give us the impression that we are already in the desert.

When we suddenly see the orange and mountains, we realize that the desert is really different from the dusty road we have been driving over the last few hours. We booked with a guide who we meet at the post office in the scary town of Merzouga. During the day it is 45 degrees, but when we are sitting on a camel around 7 pm, the temperature has already dropped to 38 degrees. Still warm, but the Berber clothes protect us well from the sun.

Our camel ride and our stay in the Sahara is spectacular, something you will never forget! Read more about our experiences and how we booked our stay here.

Tip: In advance, contact one of the many organizations that offers desert tours, don’t do this on arrival Merzouga. We did not like how we were attacked and pushed in Merzouga and were very happy that we had already arranged everything! We booked our tour with: Omar Camel Trecking.

Marokko Merzouga desert camp


Day 8: Sahara – Merzouga – Gorges du Dades – Ait Ben Haddou

After a beautiful sunrise in the Sahara, we are back at our car in Merzouga around 9 AM. Today again, we have a long day of driving ahead, but we take it easy because we have time enough.

First, we drive from Merzouga (via the N13, N12 and the R113) to Tinghir. Actually, we would stay here  at Riad Dar Bab Todra, but because we stayed a day longer at Ecolodge Bab El Oued, we only stop here for lunch. Tinghir is close to the Gorges du Dades, a huge gorge between the mountains. We drive here and stop to walk through the cool water that goes through this gorge for miles. This used to be a wild river, now a calm babbling brook surrounded by families who are picnicking.

After a few hours chilling at the water, we get back in the car to drive in 2.5 hours via the N10 to Ouarzazate. This city is known as a film city with two large, well-known studios where for instance Game of Thrones is filmed. We don’t stop here, but drive to Ait Ben Haddou, where we sleep tonight. At sunset, we walk towards the famous Kasbah, which is the setting for many films. The old medieval town is built on a hill, along which a river runs. Inside the town, there are many vendors trying to sell you something, however, do walk onwards to the top of the city. There you will find an amazing view!

Tip: Visit the Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou at sunrise. There is almost no one and you can wander through the narrow streets in peace during this magical moment.


Day 9: Ait Ben Haddou – Ouarzazate – the Atlas Mountains – Marrakech

The next morning we drive to Ourzazate, where we visit the CLA film studio’s. The studios don’t seem to be that populair by tourists anymore, we are the only ones. When we enter, a guide approached us to give us a tour of the studio. The price is just a few dirham and we are more than happy to pay this since otherwise we wouldn’t know what we are seeing here in the studio’s. After the film studios that we do not find very special, they are a bit run down, the guide directs us to a large castle that has been specially built for filming. This is much more impressive and really worth a visit.

Around noon we start driving towards Marrakech: a trip that goes straight through the Atlas Mountains over the Tizi n’ Tichka pass, one of the most dangerous roads in the world. This danger is confirmed when we drive across an accident which just happened a few minutes before we passed. It takes five hours, and we come across at least 100 hairpin bends. Nevertheless, this route is beautiful and there is a great view after every turn!

In the evening we arrive in Marrakech where we hand in the car.

Tip: if you have a bit more time (and a car with which you can drive on unpaved roads), drive in an hour from Ouarzazate to Fint Oasis, a beautiful little oasis in the middle of the arid mountain landscape.

Marocco Ouarzazate CLA studio


Day 10-12: Marrakech

Our last three days we spend in Marrakech, where we mainly relax and rest. We have a wonderful hotel, Riad la Parenthèse, an oasis of calm in this busy city. Marrakech is known for the busy Medina and the beautiful palaces. The city is really beautiful and enormously photogenic. Here you will find a photo impression.

Three days is just enough for Marrakech, we have the time to see everything we want, without having to rush. A perfect end to this great road trip through Morocco.

Here you can read all our tips for Marrakech.

Morocco Marrakech buildings


What would we do different next time?

Apart from spending more time in Morocco, we wouldn’t want to change a thing from this trip. In 12 days you can see a lot of the country, provided you are willing to make kilometers. For us, this varied journey was the perfect mix between relaxation and exciting activities!

But, we certainly wouldn’t mind doing this route in two or two and a half weeks. This would give us more time to stop along the way. If we would have had that extra time, I would definitly go to the coastal town of Essaouira. This city is about two hours’ drive north of Taghazout and seems to be beautiful.

Marocco Ouarzazate


General tips

  • We heard bad stories about the quality of the roads in Morocco beforehand. We found the roads in very good condition, except for some roads in the Atlas Mountains.
  • Don’t drive before sunrise or after sunset: Morocco has no street lights and as soon as it is dark, driving is dangerous.
  • Pay close attention to police checks. If you see pawns and stop signs in close succession, start driving slow, since this often means a police checkpoint. We came across dozens of checks, and have been fined once ourself because we stopped just a few centimeter after the stop line. Don’t drive fast and really stick to the traffic rules, otherwise, it can be an expensive holiday! A fine generally costs about 45 euros.
  • Arrange a car with good air conditioning. It can get very hot in Morocco.

Morocco Marrakech streets


Click here for all my blogs on Morocco

Click here for all my blogs on Morocco


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Itinerary South Morocco


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