Morocco is a stunning country, and there's so much to experience—so many cultures, languages, traditions, and delicious food! One of the best ways to see a slice of Morocco during the summer that I spent there was a road trip that started and ended in Marrakech.
After flying into Casablanca and getting a henna tattoo near the Grand Mosque, Marrakech served as our base and quickly became one of my favourite cities. We stayed in a classic riad, the Dar Kandi, and toured the shops of Jemaa el-Fna in search of the perfect tea service and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Marrakech served as our base and quickly became one of my favourite cities.
The first part of the trip from Marrakech was to Merzouga at the edge of the Sahara Desert. It took us four days in a tour van with plenty of stops and remained one of my favourite experiences in this magical country. Although the roads are navigable, the drives are long. Fortunately, the scenery is unforgettable.
Game of Thrones fans will appreciate that Ben Haddou is even more stunning in real life.
One of our first stops was at the Ait Ben Haddou Oasis. It’s phenomenal watching this cluster of red clay buildings and a stunning green palm-filled oasis pop up out of the arid desert that surrounds it. Game of Thrones fans will appreciate that Ben Haddou is even more stunning in real life. Ouarzazate, also called "Oaullywood" because of how many films have been set in the area, is a short half-hour drive away.
We spent the night in Ouarzazate and dined on succulent caramelized chicken tajine at Jardin des Aromes. Sipping on traditional mint tea in a place that time seems almost apart from time was incredible. If you get the chance, make sure to sample some shbekia with your tea. It’s a sweet, decadent, swirled sesame dessert that’s deep-fried, drizzled with honey, and topped with sesame seeds.
The following day, we began the trek to the dunes of Erg Chebbi, passing small villages with occasional views of the Atlas Mountains. We took the six-hour drive in shifts, stopped for lunch, and stretched our legs in Erfoud. In Merzouga, we stayed in the stunning Riad Mamouche.
We had our favourite couscous of the trip here and enjoyed the stunning courtyard and beautifully lit pool for a bit before calling it an early night. The following day, we met our Berber guide well before sunrise to begin our camel trek. In long sleeves and pants, he instructed us on how to tie pashminas over the nose and mouth to keep out the sand out. Then we mounted camels and headed off into the darkness.
The darkness and the hypnotizing sway of the camel’s strides evoked a simple peace that I’ve rarely experienced.
It was my first time riding a camel, and chasing this sunrise on camelback was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had. The darkness and the hypnotizing sway of the camel’s strides evoked a simple peace that I’ve rarely experienced. And watching the sun come up in front of us was awe-inspiring and unforgettable.
Our guide helped us down as we stopped the trek to take in the sunrise and watch the Sahara transform into a golden playground. As it got hotter, we marched back to the riad for breakfast. Later, we took the dessert quads out to ride the dunes. If I return to Morocco, I’ll take a run out on the Sahara in a 4x4, too.
After Merzouga, we made the slow trek to a Berber village and spent the night high in the Atlas Mountains with a fantastic family. We took backpacks and rode mules up the side of the mountain before enjoying a simple but tasty meal of couscous with roasted chicken and vegetables with our delightful host family.
After saying our goodbyes, we headed back to Marrakech. To round out our adventure, we detoured to the Ourika Valley before returning to Marrakech. Then we headed out to Agadir for a weekend of hammam treatments and relaxing by the sea.
Road tripping in Morocco is simple—directions are easy, the roads that we travelled were well-maintained, and the people are hospitable. The country offers so much to see and do, and going by car lets you set your own pace. It's always remarkable to me that this small country contains so many varied terrains, and these distinctive cities have so much culture and history packed into them.