I always dreamt of travelling to Morocco … the scents, colors, culture … all of it appealed to me. Unfortunately my husband wasn’t feeling too much about driving through the crazy Moroccan desert. Yet, somehow, he took a chance on me; so we booked the tickets, arranged the cheapest car with the most expensive insurance and flew to Morocco!
Day 1: Marrakech
We flew in 5 hours from Dusseldorf Weeze to Marrakech. After getting through customs and finding our car in the pouring rain we were off to find our beautiful riad in Marrakech.
Traffic turned out to be total mayhem The rain was pouring so hard Daany could hardly see where we were driving; the traffic was all over the place: big roads with donkeys, bikes, motorbikes, people walking, cars, buses.
We couldn’t find our riad and in the end I told Daany to stop so I could search it by foot.
I was running through the rain getting soaken wet and luckily found the place. Running through the souk it felt like entering heaven when I got to the riad. Luckily the owner sent a random person he picked from the streets with me back to the family and the car so it could get parked.
When we arrived at the parking, we needed to give cash and the keys to a total stranger and who would put the car in the parking.
WELCOME TO MARRAKECH, CAPITAL OF MAYHEM
Day 2: Tizi-n-Tichka, Aït-Ben-Haddou, Ouarzazate
After a refreshing sleep we rose even more fresh with our feet into water; because of the heavy rainfall the room flooded. Luckily the shower was warm and we were invited to a breakfast on the roof. It was beautiful: a sumptious breakfast, freshly squeezed orange juice and staples of pancakes the kids loved.
We were ready to hit the road … only question was … will we get our car back …
With our bags we went up to the garage to get the car … as soon as the valet saw us, he smiled and got the car. With great charm and blessings for the road he waved us goodbye
It didn’t take long before we got out of Marrakech. All together it isn’t such a large city and daylight helped with getting out of the city safely. We weren’t too relaxed about what the mountain road would look like since the rain was still falling down heavily and there were mud streams everywhere. But guess what … the mountain road were in perfect conditions, there was no dirt on the streets and there were lots of cafées and restaurants next to the road. It was also there where we ate our first tajine with big pot of Moroccan herb tea.
It was late afternoon when we arrived at Aït-Ben-Haddou. Parking is easy and everywhere. To get to the old town you simply follow your eyes or the many signs will show you the way.
The kasbah isn’t too big so you can just enter and ‘get lost’. We enjoyed the many salespeople who seemed to be more interested in showing you a good time than into selling you all kinds of stuff.
Day 3: Morocco’s desert based Hollywood
After sleeping in until late we went to Moroccan Hollywood. We had no idea what to expect but the place was magic, and so big. We walked through the sets of practically every bible-movie ever made, Prison Break, Game of Thrones, … Take note that it has different sites. Make sure to get to the main site first as they do amazing tours.
INSIDERS TIP: We went there on a chilly day, had blazers and scarves and yet we all got the worst sunburn ever. Apparently the sun is extremely powerful over there. Before you visit pass by one of the numerous pharmacies in Ouarzazate and get SPF 100. If you get sunburned anyway buy Biafine (another product I only saw in Morocco), it helps healing faster.
Day 4: Roadtripday Old Kasbah Ouarzazate – Kelaat M’Gouna – Boumaine Dades
When you are in Ouarzazate don’t forget to visit the old kasbah, it is a 15 minute walk away from the beautiful new center and the market. The old Kasbah is probably what you would like from Marrakech but without the hassle and crowd.
INSIDERS TIP: We stayed at ‘Le Tichka’ Ouarzazate. It has safe parking, great breakfast, a bar with alcoholic drinks and a beautiful garden and pool. Both the new town and old town can be reached by foot. It is also very affordable.
From Ouarzazate we continued our trip through the land of a 1000 kasbahs, stopping at several places. The kasbahs are great and there is so much fruit, tea and food on the way it will feel like a culinary roadtrip too.
You can find many womens coöperatives making rose oil. Not all are open for visits, best thing is to just sit down for a nice berber omelet and tea and ask where to go best. On the road in the center of Kelaat M’Gouna you can also find an amazing viewpoint that is supereasy to reach.
It gives you an amazing view over the valley and there are many little bars on the foot of it.
After a little stop-over we drove up to Boumaine Dades what also would our stay for the night.
On top of the famous winding road is a restaurant-hotel and perfect viewpoint. I would not recommend staying in the hotel since it is very big and all of the tourbusses stop there. Not exactly the most relaxing place.
We booked an Air Bnb right in front of the Monkey Fingers. It was a stunner with great view. The host made us food and arranged a guide taking us for a hike through the canyon.
Day 5: Canyons and culture: Boumaine Dades – Todgha Gorge – Vallee de Ziz
Early morning the guide showed up at our Air Bnb with a donkey and showed us the way through the canyon. Though we are quite brave when it comes to hiking we were happy to have a guide with us. First of all there are no signs showing you the way and from time to time it seems like there is no way you can go further, luckily the guide always has some tricks up his sleeve.
INSIDERS TIP: If you want a real berber camping experience ask your B&B owner about possibilities of staying in caves or berbertents in the canyon. It is no tourist highlight but a real and amazing experience. You can see a million stars and enjoy evenings by the fire. Make sure to book it through a local and not a touristic site or office.
The hike took around 3,5 hours round and around 11 am we got back to the B&B, we packed up and headed to the Todgha Gorge.
Our expectations were superhigh and the place is superinstagrammable and spectacular, but we didn’t like the vibe too much as it was supercrowded. There were also so many vendors and some were very aggresive.
While the kids enjoyed the river near the Monkey Fingers and I enjoyed a foot bath with some local women, at the Todgha Gorge there definitely was a vibe of no women or girls playing or swimming in the river. Morocco is a Muslim country and though they aren’t judgemental when it comes to people with other believes it just didn’t feel good to us.
From the Todgha Gorge it is only a short drive up to the Vallee the Ziz. We arrived at Maison Vallee de Ziz in the night and were immediately treated to the best food we had in the whole of Morocco. It was also a superrelaxed place after hassle and business of the last couple of days.
Day 6-7: Relax and enjoy the fresh oasis.
The vallee the Ziz is the longest oasis you can find in the Sahara. It is mostly used to grow vegetables and you will find little canals and traditional kasbas throughout it. Little donkeys helping with the work and children playing.
Maison Vallee the Ziz is a guesthouse where you are no longer a customer but a welcome guest. The rooms are comfortable, the rooftop terrace gives amazing views of the stars, the pool is refreshing and the food is always there and amazing.
They also really love kids and spoil them rotten.
After a day of relaxing Hassan took us to a kasbah near by where we could meet his family and learn more about local life. He also introduced us to the system of canals and how families had to live as a community and needed to work together.
Day 8-9: Roadtrip to Merzouga and a night bivouak in the desert.
Early morning we were picked up by a comfortable 4×4 car and driver. Maison Vallee de Ziz arranged us with some food for on the road and treats for the kids.
The driver showed us the best places on the road from Errachidia to Merzouga.
First stop was a camelmilk farm. It is far from cheap but a treat and apparently superhealthy? Because they let the babies drink first there isn’t so much milk and the prices are high.
Next up we went to a company that produced the special fossil marble Merzouga is so famous for. Basically it is a marble with superbig fossils in it. If you are interested in it you can even buy it and get it delivered at a very decent rate.
If not, they are happy to show you around and explain a bit more.
Since it was marketday in Merzouga the driver also took us to the town. The first thing the driver said when we entered was: “Welcome to Afrika.” It was definitely what you imagine from Africa. Mayhem all over, animals everywhere and lots of sand and dust.
Personally we didn’t like the market. There was the famous donkey parking where people would leave their donkey and go and buy their food.
But there were also so many animals for sale, suffering in the heat, tied up and waiting for slaughter. It was very hard on our animal activist youngest daughter too. Personally I wouldn’t go, nor recommend it, especially if you are very sensitive to animal suffering.
I did like the herbmarket but we left fast.
Since our knowledgable guide saw we didn’t appreciate the market so much he took us somewhere light. A tribe of singing and dancing Berbers from Senegal.
They are called the Desert Pigeons of Khamlia. They make traditional music, offer you tea and dance with you. They also sell their music which is really nice. They experience is free but they appreciate a little contribution for their work, yet there is only a box in a discrete place.
After a long and busy day we were dropped off at a stunning hotel from where we would be taken into the desert on the back of a dromedaire to the desert camp. We had some drinks and time to relax by the pool (a pool in the Sahara, very decadent, indeed).
Slightly before sunset a car picked us up and drove us to the place where the camels waited for us. We rode into the sunset through the highest sanddunes of the Sahara.
In the middle you will do a stop to play, relax or just enjoy the sunset.
After 2 hours you’ll arrive at the desertcamp where they will prepare a feast for you to enjoy. In the meantime you can relax on top of the sandy hills with tea or try some sandboarding.
After dinner late at night the drums are played by the fire. Be prepared for a short nights sleep in the worlds most luxurious campsites (boxsprings into traditional tents and candles everywhere). You will be woken super early in the morning to get back on the camels and enjoy the sunrise.
While the evening before there was an ambiance of exitement, the mornings were totally silent and mindful. I loved it above anything I’ve ever done before.
Back in the hotel we had some time to freshen up and to enjoy breakfast before we would drive back to Maison Vallee de Ziz.
But when the driver showed up he pulled another rabbit out of his sleeve: A visit to a real nomadic Berber family. First we found it really weird to just visit people we didn’t know but he assured us they would be happy with the company. The family already live in one place for 8 years because their daughter was attending school. Yet they still lived and slept in their tent and only had a ‘kitchen’ building.
We were invited in their tent where we enjoyed some tea and fresh bread and talked to each other by using hands.
After this visit (and even more snacks given by Hassan), the host from Vallee the Ziz we picked up our rental and started driving in the direction of Ouzoud with a overnights stay in Zaida.
When we arrived in Zaida we came up to the weirdest hotel ever seen. The women were sleeping in hotelrooms and were annoyed when we arrived. In the end the man from the house came and started sceaming to the women who throw the blankets back on the beds and told us we could sleep there.
Politely we asked for a fresh pillow but when we opened the bed and saw chicken poo on the sheets we just took our stuff and left.
In this region there aren’t a lot of hotels so we drove 2 more hours in the direction of Ouzoud until we saw a small hotel.
The owner seemed super surprised to have guests and immediately started preparing rooms with fresh sheets and small treats for the children.
Day 10: Ouzoud
Since we were much closer to Ouzoud now we arrived early in the morning. On the parking we were greeted by a man that told us he was a guide and would show us around for 25 eur. Since I read online taking a guide was a nice extra, we agreed.
The man told us so much about the place, Morocco and life in general.
The waterfalls are definitely worth a visit. The colors are amazing and the walk through the forest is the best experience. There are markets and hippy style bars everywhere. We walked to the forest to the falls (about 1 hour) and took the stairs back to the car.
INSIDERTIP: Try to do a two day trip and stay in the hippy hostel next to the waterfall. It will allow you to enjoy the moments there are no tourists and you can enjoy sunrise and sunset, and it seriously is a cool spot that kids will just love.
After a beautiful day, great food next to the falls, a henna tattoo, we travelled to our last stop. A beautiful 5* resort in Lalla Takerkoust.
Day 11-13: Lalla Takerkoust
After a very busy 10 days with lots of exploring we are now up for 2 full days of relaxation in the area of the Toubkal. We booked the best looking hotel we could find within our budget.
The hotel itself was stunning at least. Pure Aladdin magic. I enjoyed some spa treatments and the massage probably was one of the best I ever had. Food was delicious too and the staff was wonderful.
On the last evening we went out to have some food next to the lake. The restaurant was wonderful with colorful cushions and candles everywhere. Sunset over the lake made the evening complete.
Day 14: Marrakech
On the last day we would fly in the evening so we decided to explore a bit more in Marrakech en visited the Bahia-palace and strolled a bit through the city enjoying the best orange juices in the world.
Morocco, you were beautiful.
20 thoughts on “Roadtrip through the Moroccan Atlas”
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Haha the chicken poo on the sheets 😂😂
It was awful … I’ve never seen my kids run away from a tv and a bed so fast!
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