The Great Road Trip and Desert Adventure in Morocco

A country of dazzling diversity, Morocco has epic mountains, sweeping deserts and ancient cities. This country impressed vistors with beautiful, diverse, adventurous, and mysterious. The epic landscapes of Morocco, from its wild Atlantic coastline to the sweeping Saharan desert and rugged mountains, make it prime road trip territory.

For most people, Morocco has always been the gateway to Africa. With its vibrant colors, cacophony of sounds, blistering sun, the smells of the spice markets, and thousands of exotic sights, Morocco is truly an awe-inspiring place to visit. This unique North African country combines a stunning natural landscape with distinctive architecture, a rich culture, and famously welcoming locals.

The country is rich in history and culture. Moroccan identity and culture is a mix of Arab, Berber, African and European cultures, a really varied land with incredible things to see and lots of fantastic experience to make. Islam is the dominant religion, and Moroccan culture is a vibrant mix of various cultures. Since independence, a veritable blossoming has taken place in painting and sculpture, popular music, amateur theatre, and filmmaking.

A road trip in the stunning country of Morocco will take you from the sparkling turquoise waters of the coast, through the dramatic snow-capped Atlas mountains. You’ll head into some of the craziest cities on earth and take the long road south to the rose-gold dunes of the Sahara. Get off the beaten path and follow the old caravan routes through hidden valleys and secret gorges.

With plenty of attractive locations, historical sights, and unique cultural traditions, On the same day, you can walk with a camel in the Sahara at sunrise, snowboard in the Atlas Mountains by the afternoon, and relax in luxurious medina riads by evening. Nothing beats the freedom of the open road and exploring at your own pace.

Morocco has everything to overwhelm you with the amazing colours, smells and sounds of Islamic Africa. Imagine bustling souqs and spice markets, stunning mosques, white-washed sea side towns and medieval city centres. With panoramic views varying from snow-covered peaks in the High Atlas to the endless sand dunes of the Sahara.

Top Destinations
Being vibrant and colourful, with a rich history and culture and blessed with some epic landscapes, which makes Morocco a perfect country for a road trip. The Morrocan road trip itinerary will take you from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech to the ancient cities turned Hollywood sets of Aït Benhaddou & Ouarzazate through the gorges of the Atlas mountains and down to the Sahara Desert, with all the best places to visit like rugged canyons, spectacular mountains, seemingly endless winding roads, and seas of sand dunes.

Take on a journey through the mesmerizing landscapes of this enchanting country and showcase the top must-see attractions and experiences for an unforgettable trip. From sweeping sand dunes to desolate highways of emptiness, bustling cities, and snow-covered peaks. From exploring the ancient ksars, breathtaking desert and chaotic cities. A road trip of the country offers a unique and unforgettable experience, a visual journey to discover the beauty and mystery of Morocco.

The Tizi n’Test is one of the most beautiful drives in Morocco. An impressive feat of French engineering, this High Atlas pass reaches a vertigo-inducing 2100m. It’s only one-car wide in places, there are precipitous drops aplenty. The views will take your breath away. The pretty Ouirgane Valley could while away a few days hiking and cycling. Then follow the sinuous road to the architectural wonder of the 12th-century Tin Mal Mosque, 18km from Mouldikht and the start of the pass. The road winds down to Taroudant, framed by the peaks of the Anti Atlas and High Atlas and dubbed “mini Marrakesh” for its imposing honey-colored ramparts.

One of Morocco’s most dramatic drives is roughly halfway between Marrakesh and Ouarzazate. The Tizi n’Tichka pass reaches the heady heights of 2260m, and more challenging to drive through a harsh but no less spectacular landscape. The road climbs steeply after Ait Ourir, with panoramic views over the snow-dusted Atlas mountains around every switchback turn – try to travel in the morning to avoid distracting truck traffic. As the road winds downhill, the landscape becomes more barren as you head towards the southern oases.

Climb North Africa’s highest mountain Mt. Toubkal (Jebel Toubkal) from Imlil, passing lovely adobe villages and exploring the gorgeous Ourika and Amizmiz valleys on the way. Or just trek the High Atlas mountains. The stunning panoramic views from the top will make it worth every bit of your effort to get there. Other praised hiking routes lead through the beautiful Ameln Valley in the Anti-Atlas and the forests of the Middle Atlas.

Marrakech can make a good base for tours all over Morocco, from exploring the High Atlas, over riding the camel or quad, to 1-4 days Sahara treks. Hop on a camel back for a trip through the golden Sahara sand dunes at Erg Chebbi, near Merzouga. Spend the night in a desert tent, under the incredibly starred sky. Somewhat less easy to reach but therefor also less crowded are the dunes of Erg Chigaga near M’hamid.

Visiting Marrakesh, Merzouga Sahara Desert, Fes, Chefchaouen, Tangier and Casablanca. Featuring best free and must see attractions: El Badii Palace, Bahia Palace, Jemaa El-Fna, AIt Benhaddou, Fes El Bali, Chouara Tannery, Musee Batha, Borj Nord, Akchour Waterfall, Cape Spartel, Hercules Cave, Hassan II Mosque.

The city of Agadir is primarily a tourist resort that is popular with European travelers and Moroccans alike. It has a beach with all the appropriate facilities for beach-tourism. The city is especially attractive, it is clean and orderly with very friendly locals. Surrounded by the Anti Atlas, the Sahara Desert, many natural parks, and secluded beaches which are all easily accessible from Agadir.

The mild winter climate and good beaches have made it a major “winter sun” destination for northern Europeans. Some of the most popular beaches in Morocco are located to the north of Agadir. Areas known for surfing are located near Taghazout village to Cap Ghir. Many smaller and clean beaches are located along this coast. Some of them between Agadir and Essaouira are: Agadir Beach, Tamaounza (12 km), Aitswal Beach, Imouran (17 km), Taghazout (19 km), Bouyirdn (20 km), Timzguida (22 km), Aghroud (30 km), Imiouadar (27 km).

Agadir is known for being the capital of Amazigh culture. Agadir is also a place for many festivals related to Amazigh culture, such as The New Amazigh Year, celebrated on January 13th every year throughout the city, especially in the downtown area. The Bilmawen Festival is another old Berber tradition celebrated in the suburbs of the city. Additionally, the Issni N’Ourgh International festival is a festival for Amazigh films. Agadir is also the birthplace of many of the pillars of Shilha and Amazigh music, such as Izenzaren, Oudaden, and many others.

Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco, has the most important harbour in North Africa and is gateway to the magic of the Orient. Casablanca is considered a Global Financial Centre among the Emerging International contenders, and it is considered the largest financial center in Africa. The leading Moroccan companies and many of the larger American and European corporations doing business in the country have their headquarters and main industrial facilities in Casablanca. Recent industrial statistics show Casablanca is the primary industrial zone of the nation. Casablanca also hosts the primary naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy.

The most famous of Moroccan cities is well known by the same name Movie Casablanca. Admiring the impressive colonial architecture, Hispano-Moorish and art-deco outlook of the city centre in this vibrant and modernist metropolis. Casablanca is home to the huge Hassan II mosque, the second largest mosque in the world with only the Grand Mosque of Mecca surpassing it. Visitors also come to see the city’s rich architectural heritage.

Popular sites also include shopping centers such as Morocco Mall, Anfa Place, the Marina Shopping Center, and the Tachfine Center. Additional sites include the Corniche and the beach of Ain Diab, and parks such as the Arab League Park or the Sindibad theme park.

Chefchaouen is a gorgeous mountain city in northeastern Morocco. It is the chief town of the province of the same name and is noted for its buildings in shades of blue, for which it is nicknamed the “Blue City”. The picturesque medina, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Rif Mountains, is filled with white-washed homes with distinctive, powder-blue accents, and the call to prayer rings out of several mosques around the town in chorus. During the holidays, the city sees a considerable influx of Moroccan and foreign tourists, attracted by its natural landscapes and historical monuments.

The city history is seen in the brightly painted medina (old town) with its blue-white facades, the narrow streets of the Bab Souk district, and the interior gardens of the Kasbah and its ramparts and towers, while the city is surrounded by diversified landscapes including mountains, forests, and beaches. A nearby attraction is the Kef Toghobeit Cave, one of the deepest caves in Africa.

Villagers from neighboring regions of Chefchaouen practice crafts and various trades such as knitting, tanning, construction, and weaving. The traditional souk (bazaar, marketplace) has small shops and stalls selling traditional handiwork such as colorful porcelain utensils, textiles and clothing, leatherware, and various souvenirs. The weekly market was a place for strengthening social ties between the townspeople and their rural environment.

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Dadès Gorges
The Dadès Gorges are a series of rugged wadi gorges carved out by the Dadès River in Morocco. The river originates in the High Atlas range of the Atlas mountains, flowing some 350 kilometres (220 mi) southwest before joining the Draa River at the edge of the Sahara. The drive through the Dadès Gorge is one of the most scenic in Morocco, with its eye-catching rock formations, earthen Imazighen (Berber) villages, and crumbling kasbahs.

Head east from the palm-fringed oasis town of Skoura, stopping to explore the ancient Glaoui kasbah in the village of Aït Youl – looming over the road, the ochre fortress has an unexpectedly lush backdrop of fig and almond trees. And pick up some rose-related products as you pass through Kalaat M’Gouna, which hosts the fragrant Rose Festival in May.

From Boumalne Dadès, follow the gorge’s twists and turns. Soon you’ll spot the Monkey’s Fingers rising from the parched river bed – an otherworldly sandstone cliff sculpted by time and the elements. To the north the gorge narrows and the road rises in a series of hair-raising hairpin bends. The many-colored walls of the gorges range anywhere from 200 to 500 meters (650 to 1600 feet). The name was given to the river by King Anu the ruler of ancient Iberia in the first century A.D.

Essouira, known as “the jewel of the Atlantic”,experienced a golden age and exceptional development of Morocco, and becoming the country’s most important commercial port but also its diplomatic capital between the end of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. Medina of Essaouira was designated by the UNESCO a World Heritage Site in 2001.

In addition to the new town, Essaouira offers a picturesque medina (old town) surrounded by seawalls and city walls, designed by a French architect in the 18th century, a harbor with fish market, and a long beach with numerous water sports opportunities. The windy beach is known for kitesurfing, windsurfing, camel ride and long beach walks. The city with a souk witch nice little cafes and plenty of good restaurants.

Fez has been called the “Mecca of the West” and the “Athens of Africa”, also considered the spiritual and cultural capital of Morocco. Being home to the world’s oldest university (Qarawiyyin University), dating to 859, and the world’s oldest continuously-operating library, dating to 1359. It has an ancient World Heritage listed walled city, which many compare to the walled city of Jerusalem. Get lost in its lovely labyrinth of narrow Medieval streets, enjoy its huge medina, see the beautiful city gates, the ancient University of Al-Karaouine and the Bou Inania Madrasa.

Fez is the medieval capital of Morocco, and a great city of high Islamic civilization. Fez has the best-preserved old city in the Arab world, the sprawling, labyrinthine medina of Fes el-Bali. Fez El-Bali dates back to the Middle Ages and contains narrow streets, a pungent mixture of scents, the penetrating sound of craftsmen and fine examples of the Moorish art of building. Travelling through the Atlas Mountains, the small town of Ilfrane boasts tranquil parks and ponds, modern residential areas and shady avenues which take the traveller by surprise.

Ifrane is a tidy little university town, inside surprising cedar forests in Morocco’s Middle Atlas mountains. Ifrane is dotted with peaked-roof, alpine-inspired architecture, and often called Morocco’s “Little Switzerland.” Ifrane was conceived as a “hill station” or colonial type of settlement. It is a resort town set high up in the mountains so that Europeans could find relief from the summer heat of the interior plains of Morocco. Ifrane is also a popular altitude training destination.

Year round, you can spot barbary apes along the hiking trails within Ifrane National Park, or stroll easier trails to see waterfalls at Source Vittel. During the winter months, you can even get in some casual downhill runs via the two ski lifts at Michlifen Ski Station, a few miles outside of town.

Marrakesh, known as the “Red City”, is one of the four Imperial cities of Morocco and is the capital of the Marrakesh-Safi region. Marrakesh comprises an old fortified city packed with vendors and their stalls. Marrakesh has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco, with some 18 souks selling wares ranging from traditional Berber carpets to modern consumer electronics. This medina quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today it is one of the busiest cities in Africa and serves as a major economic center and tourist destination.

The city is divided into two parts: the Medina, the historical city, and the new European modern district called Gueliz or Ville Nouvelle. The Medina is full of intertwining narrow passageways and local shops full of character; it also contains the large square Djemaa El-Fna, where many hotels are located and tourists, locals and vendors congregate. In contrast, Gueliz plays host to modern restaurants, fast food chains and big brand stores.

Wandering through the lively souqs, admiring the old gates and defense walls, see the Saadian Tombs, the remnants of the El Badi Palace and visit the Koutoubia Mosque with its 12th century minaret. When evening falls make sure to head back to Jamaa el-Fnaa, the largest square in Africa, as it fills up with steam-producing food stalls. Indulge in the bustling activity there, listen to Arabic story tellers, watch magicians and Chleuh dancers.

The city of Meknes is often called the “Versailles of Morocco” for its beauty. Sultan Moulay Ismaïl created a massive imperial palace complex and endowed the city with extensive fortifications and monumental gates. Its Spanish-Moorish style centre is surrounded by tall city walls with impressive gates and you’ll be able to see the 17th century blend of European and Islamic cultures. Meknes is a vibrant, modern city bustling with nightlife, restaurants, with numerous historical monuments and natural sites; it is also the nearest city to the Roman ruins of Volubilis (Oualili).

Rabat Lying northwards along the Atlantic coast, andis one of four Imperial cities of Morocco, and the medina of Rabat is listed as a World Heritage Site. Rabat, Morocco’s capital and home to its government and royal family. Rabat was founded in the 12th century by the Almohads. The city grew at first but went into an extended period of decline following the collapse of the Almohads. The King’s Palace, the Palais Royal, is a town in itself. Surrounded by walls and protected by royal guards, since 1864 it has been the main residence of the Alaouite Dynasty which has been in power since 1666.

To the south of RABAT lies Chellah, City of the Dead. The Merinde necropolis has a square tower and is surrounded by a wall made of crushed loam, proof that the Cathagers built a trading centre here in the 3rd century B.C. Amongst the tombs, the sarcophagus of Sultan Abou El-Hassan stands proud with its artistic engravings.

South Atlantic Coast of Morocco
The South Atlantic Coast of Morocco, home to some great beach towns, is more laid-back than its northern counterpart. The coast road with beautiful wild beaches and impressing cliffs, small village with the most beautiful beach for swimming and also very recommended to do a boat trip for birdwatching. The South Atlantic Coast are a great place for activities like surfing, kiteboarding, stand-up paddleboarding.

For a more laid-back experience of medina life, catch a sea breeze at the coastal towns of Asilah or lovely Essaouira. The blue-washed town of Chefchaouen is an old time travellers’ favourite and a great starting point to explore the Rif Mountains. Other impressive mountain scenery can be in found in the Atlas Mountains.

Tangier is an important port city in Morocco. Tangier is a fascinating Moroccan city to visit, and has a sense of exotic mystery, interesting history, beautiful vistas, unspoiled beaches, and friendly people. Many civilisations and cultures have influenced the history of Tangier, starting from before the 10th century BCE. Starting as a strategic Berber town and then a Phoenician trading centre, Tangier has been a nexus for many cultures. Tangier is an interesting mix of the cultures of north Africa, Spain, and France.

Tangier, long a haven for artists, writers, and rock stars, is having a revival. After years of neglect its historic buildings are being restored and new ones are being built. By the early 21st century, Tangier was undergoing rapid development and modernisation. Projects include tourism projects along the bay, a modern business district called Tangier City Centre, an airport terminal, and a football stadium. Tangier’s economy is set to benefit greatly from the Tanger-Med port. When you’ve explored the stylish shops, galleries, and restaurants that are popping up around this legendary port city,

At the foot of the Rif, the age-old and often-overlooked town of Tetouan still has a Spanish vibe, with its white architecture and stately squares. It’s home to the renowned Royal Artisan School, and you can discover its rich cultural heritage and the work of its master crafters on a half-day tour with Green Olive Arts. From Tetouan, the road rises through dramatic mountain scenery studded with giant oak and cedar trees, passing Riffian villages where traditional dress is still worn, including the distinctive reed hats complete with pom-poms.

Western Sahara
Western Sahara is an area on the west coast of North Africa. While there is a long coastline, much of it is rocky. Mostly low, flat desert, with large areas of rocky or sandy surfaces rising to small mountains in south and northeast. Low-lying sand dunes cover the territory. Just as with their ancestors over the centuries, even today nomads and their camels traverse the endless Sahara. For a distance of over 40 kilometres, the magic landscape of the sand dunes compares with the largest in the world.

On your way to the desert, make sure not to miss the stunning Todra gorge near Tinghir. The ancient fortified city of Aït-Benhaddou is another must-see sight. Although rainstorms damage the mud-brick kasbahs time and again, this mostly abandoned village remains an impressive sight and has been the décor for a range of movies, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.

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