LE DESTINAZIONI

Le Destinazioni

Guide pratiche e dettagliatissime su Paesi, città e destinazioni. Cosa vedere, quanto stare, in quale quartiere prenotare l'albergo, come spostarsi, che tempo fa. I miei suggerimenti su come organizzarti e tanti links utili dove cercare info aggiornate. Da stampare e portare in viaggio.

I MIGLIORI ALBERGHI DOVE ALLOGGIARE

Guida ai Migliori Alberghi del Mondo

Le mie recensioni ragionate sugli alberghi più belli da prenotare in viaggio, non necessariamente gli hotels più lussuosi ma quelli meglio situati e con il miglior rapporto qualità/prezzo. Con la descrizione dettagliata e tutti i pro ed i contro di ogni albergo, per stare bene cercando di contenere il più possibile i costi.

I POSTI DA URLO

Posti da Urlo: i Posti Più Belli del Mondo

Quali sono i posti più eccezionali del pianeta? Quei posti da urlo assolutamente da non perdere? Una serie di articoli, sintetici e veloci da leggere, con la descrizione delle attrazioni più belle, quei posti speciali che non devi mancare durante il tuo viaggio. Con le cose da sapere ed i miei consigli su perché andare a visitarle, dove si trovano, come arrivare e quanto tempo dedicare a ciascuna attrazione.

I VIAGGI

I Grandi Viaggi

Veri e propri programmi di viaggio spiegati in dettaglio, giorno per giorno, con tutte le informazioni ed i links che occorrono per poter prenotare, da solo e sul web, alberghi, trasferimenti e voli interni.

IL CLIMA

Quando Andare

Il tempo che potresti trovare, Paese per Paese, regione per regione, quasi mese per mese. Quando è meglio andare e quando è più saggio starsene a casa. I links dove controllare forecasts ed averages di temperatura e piovosità.

LA SALUTE IN VIAGGIO

La salute e le malattie in viaggio.

Sei in partenza per un viaggio? Sei preoccupato per malaria, febbre gialla e dengue e cerchi informazioni su vaccinazioni e profilassi? L’attenzione sulla malattie e sulla salute in viaggio e di conseguenza l’informazione aggiornata sulla situazione sanitaria nel Paese che si intende visitare è un vero e proprio must per qualsiasi viaggiatore.

PASSAPORTI E VISTI

Passaporti e visti

Le informazioni su passaporti e visti, formalità valutarie e doganali, ambasciate e consolati, l'ESTA, il Timatic Web e gli ultimi avvisi per il viaggiatore

The 4 Best Guided Day-Trips from Marrakech

The Best Guided Tours and Day-Trips from Marrakech

The 4 most exciting guided tours and day-trips from Marrakech. What are the best guided day-tours from Marrakech? And, above all, which are the most interesting and beautiful places in Morocco that you can reach and visit from Marrakech with day-trips leaving Marrakech in the morning and returning in the late afternoon? Where to go and which tours to choose among the numerous guided day-tours offered by the tourist agencies of Marrakech? Are you looking for an excursion by private car and a personal guide or do you wish to join a group tour? Is it better to choose a tour to Essaouira, a tour to the kasbahs at the gates of the desert or a tour to the imposing mountains of the High Atlas? My review of the 4 best guided tours and day-trips from Marrakech to visit Ait Ben Haddou and the kasbahs of Ouarzazate, the Ourika Valley with its waterfalls, the suggestive and still authentic Imlil Valley with Mount Toubkal, and lastly the excursion from Marrakech to the white city of Essaouira overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. With full descriptions, my considerations, some suggestions, all the pros and cons of each tour and direct links to check prices and easily book online by credit card.

Essaouira Guided Day-Trip from Marrakech, Morocco

Essaouira Guided Day-Trip from Marrakech, Morocco

Photo Credit: John Fielding

What Are the Best Guided Day-Tours from Marrakech?

The 4 Best Guided Day-Trips from Marrakech

Are you planning a trip to Marrakech and in addition to visiting the city would you like to see something else of Morocco? But you don’t have enough time to organize a real multi-day tour and are you therefore thinking of a day trip from Marrakech? Are you looking for an excursion by private car and a personal guide or do you wish to join a group tour?

  • Among the many guided tours and day-trips offered by the agencies in Marrakech and bookable online, I have chosen 4 different tours. These are not the only ones you can book but in my opinion they are among the best and most complete guided tours available on the market to explore Morocco leaving Marrakech in the morning and returning in the late afternoon.
  • The first one is a guided tour to the very famous fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou and the fascinating kasbahs of Ouarzazate; the second and third take you to visit the villages and mountain valleys of the High Atlas, respectively the Ourika valley and the Imlil valley dominated by the imposing Mount Toubkal; the last one is an excursion to visit the white city of Essaouira overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
  • All tours are described below, in a very detailed way, with my considerations, some suggestions and all the pros and cons of each tour. Have a look and see if there is a tour you like.
  • You can book all tours easily by credit card through Get Your Guide and Viator. For the great majority of tours you get instant confirmation, while for some, tour confirmation is subject to availability and will be given within 48 hours of your booking.
  • If you are looking for a real 3 or 4-day tour to reach the great sand dunes of the Moroccan desert instead, in this blog there is one post that can help. It is The 4 Best Sahara Desert Tours in Morocco from Marrakech, with my comments and all the important things you need to know before choosing, so that you can quickly get some idea of the several different options and book the tour that best meets your way of travelling.
Ait Ben Haddou Guided Day-Trip from Marrakech, Morocco

Ait Ben Haddou Guided Day-Trip from Marrakech, Morocco

Photo Credit: Singa Hitam

Ait Ben Haddou and the Kasbahs of Ouarzazate Day-Tour from Marrakech

A very long and tiring day-tour. But also very varied, and the landscape is grandiose. From Marrakech it takes you beyond the high Atlas mountains range to discover the magical fortified kasbahs around Ouarzazate. The round trip has over 400 kilometers, and don’t expect any highway, what awaits you instead are hundreds of bends. The good thing is the spectacular landscape that comes in front of your eyes, kilometer after kilometer. 

How does the tour take place and what do you see? Departure early in the morning from Marrakech, the first stop is the mountain pass of Tizi n’Tichka at 2,260 meters of altitude and 100 km from Marrakech; during the ascent, from the pass and in the subsequent descent towards Ouarzazate you will have glorious views on both sides of the Atlas range. Then comes the highlight of the trip, the visit to the fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou, now no longer inhabited but perfectly well preserved and very photogenic, a UNESCO heritage site and set of famous films, it is here that numerous scenes by Lawrence d’Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth, Tea in the Desert and the Gladiator were shot. Then reach the town of Ouarzazate where if you wish you can visit the film studios and the Cinema Museum. At the end you travel back to Marrakech. 

Without any doubt the most exotic of all the day-trips from Marrakech.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: departure (and return) is scheduled directly at your hotel, be found in the hall 15 minutes before the indicated time; if you stay in one of the many riads in the Medina of Marrakech accessible only on foot, you will be notified of a nearby point, among those reachable by vehicle, where you will be picked-up; ask the staff of your riad to contact the local supplier (contact in the voucher/confirmation) the day before, to reconfirm the tour and explain you the exact point of pick-up.
  • Duration of the tour: you leave around 7 in the morning and return to Marrakech between 19 and 20.
  • Guide: professional French and English speaking driver/guide, the local supplier is Click Excursions, usually highly rated on TripAdvisor.
  • Features: shared group tour with other participants, you can participate even if you are traveling alone. If you wish you have the option to book a private tour with car and guide at your full disposal.
  • Price: the cost includes transport by air-conditioned minibus or coach with driver/guide. Admissions to Ait Ben Haddou, studios and lunch are not included but these will not throw your budget into crisis; the drivers are generally very cooperative and able to suggest good and inexpensive restaurants where to have lunch.
  • Pros: to be a full day tour the cost is really extremely low.
  • Cons: this is a very long day, it’s 4 and a half hours to go and a little less than 4 hours to return (on the way back there are fewer stops), to enjoy the trip you have to be an enthusiastic traveler, one of those who do not doze off (at least on the way to go) and remain glued to the van window looking at the view, which changes every few kilometers; as in any excursion, sometimes you find a good driver/guide who talks enthusiastically and almost continuously, and at other times you find the taciturn one who utters no more than four words, but you can’t know this before and you discover it in the morning of the excursion.
  • Good to know: do not expect to see the desert dunes, there is no sand desert around Ouarzazate, to find the dunes you need to travel hundreds of kilometers more; the Tizi n’Tichka pass can be closed in Winter due to snow, it does not happen every day but keep this in mind, in case you will generally be offered an alternative trip or a refund.
  • Recommended: if you go to Marrakech and you do not want to rent a car, or if you cannot participate in multi-day tours, and it is your only opportunity to take a close look at the world of kasbahs beyond the Atlas and admire the beautiful landscapes along the road.
  • Another option: a shared bus tour that departs from Marrakech to visit the famous Ait Ben Haddou first and then travel to Ouarzazate visiting the studios, the restored Taourirt kasbah and the Tiffoultoute kasbah, both in the surroundings of Ouarzazate; see GetYourGuide | Ouarzazate Full-Day Tour from Marrakech with Lunch to check description and price, take into consideration that lunch is included in the cost, minimum 2 participants.
  • The unusual and very profitable variant with the Kasbah of Telouet: no Ouarzazate and no studios, but if you want to discover one of the most suggestive and less touristy corners of this part of Morocco then this is the right tour; you visit the famous Ait Ben Haddou but the highlight of the day is to drive the little known and winding road that connects Ait Ben Haddou to the Telouet kasbah, partly in ruins but definitely fascinating, passing by the tiny village of Tamdaght with its authentic kasbah and still inhabited, whose existence is known to a very few tourists only; this was the original track traveled by the caravans coming from the Sahara that crossed the Atlas to then descend to Marrakech, and for a long time it was the center of power of the El Glaoui family, who imposed duties on anyone who passed; the excursion is on a totally private basis, here is the link to investigate GetYourGuide | Private Day Trip to Telouet & Ait Ben Haddou; the tour includes transport with 4WD or minivan with English, Spanish or French speaking driver/guide while lunch and entry to the kasbahs are not included and you will have to adjust them directly on site, you will not spend much.
  • Video: the fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou in the images by Amazing Places on Our Planet, the evocative views from the top of the kasbah over the village and the surrounding rocky desert is at minute 2’09”:

Ourika Valley Day-Tour from Marrakech

The well-known Ourika valley is the busiest and closest to Marrakech of all the valleys of the High Atlas. There are two attractions in the Ourika Valley and both can be visited during a pleasant guided day-trip from Marrakech. 

The first is the village of Seti Fatma at 1,500 meters above sea level, it is the highest village in the valley and it is here that the road ends. The place is full of bars, restaurants and nice little shops overlooking both sides of the stream that flows into the middle of the village. The second are the famous waterfalls, in all there are 7 waterfalls in the Ourika Valley, and the first one can be reached in just over half an hour via a not difficult path that climbs up one side of the mountain. The path to the first waterfall is within the reach of anyone, but keep in mind that you proceed uphill and it requires a little effort, there are sections where you pass over rocks and boulders, nothing difficult but a minimum of attention is required. On Mondays and Tuesdays it is possible to stop along the way at two very interesting Berber markets. 

Ourika Valley is certainly the best known and perhaps the best selling of all day-trips from Marrakech.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: generally they come to pick you up directly at the hotel, riad or closest point reachable by a means of transport.
  • Duration of the tour: usually, departure around 9 with return to Marrakech around 16.30.
  • Guide: professional driver (explaining and narrating) for transport and local Berber guide in the Ourika Valley, both speak English, Spanish and French.
  • Features: previously conducted with car and private guide, now the tour has been reset and is now carried out in a group together with other participants, you can book even if you are traveling alone.
  • Price: includes transport by minibus with driver and once in the Ourika valley a guide to reach the waterfalls along the walking path from the village of Seti Fatma. Lunch is not included, you decide where to eat by choosing one of the many restaurants in Seti Fatma.
  • Pros: the great proximity to Marrakech allows you to reach Ourika in just over 1 hour; the extremely attractive and accessible cost of the tour, difficult if not impossible to spend less for a full day excursion.
  • Cons: the Ourika valley and the village of Seti Fatma are super touristy, and the landscape, although certainly pleasant, perhaps lacks the tranquility and drama of the scenarios offered by the Imlil valley; do not expect too much from the falls, which are nice but do not reach the spectacularity of the most famous waterfalls in Morocco, those of Ouzoud.
  • Good to know: do not come in flip flops, the path to the falls is easy but rocky, you will have to climb up and down rocks and boulders and wade the creek, not that boots are needed but at least wear a pair of sneakers that are not smooth-soled; if you intend to reach the waterfalls higher up, the excursion becomes relatively more demanding, it is you who, speaking to the guide, decide how far to go; two good periods for a trip to Ourika are from the end of February to April when the valley is in bloom and in the heart of Summer when the temperatures on the mountain are much more pleasant (ie cooler) than those in Marrakech.
  • Recommended: if you love walking and want to take a day-trip from Marrakech without spending hours and hours in the car.
  • The option of the 5 valleys tour: if you have doubts about which Atlas valley exploring, this tour solves them; of course, you spend more time on board the van and you miss the mules and the peaceful, virgin and non-touristy sceneries of the upper Imlil valley, but keep the walk up to the first Ourika waterfall and visit a total of 5 valleys at the buttresses of the Atlante; in addition to Ourika, in fact, you can take a look at the Oukaimden valley, connected with a mountain road that rises up to 1800 meters above sea level (sometimes closed due to snow in Winter) and, among the others, the valleys of Sidi Fares and Asni, the latter known for its orchards. This is the link to book GetYourGuide | Marrakech: Atlas Mountains & 5 Valleys Day Tour, the excursion is done by minivan or 4WD usually shared with a few other participants, includes the guide for the path that leads to the waterfall and lunch in a Berber house; this tour is one of the most successful excursions in Marrakech, the local operator is Morocco Attractive Tours, highly acclaimed on TripAdvisor, with hundreds and hundreds (I think even a thousand) excellent reviews. The exact same tour, and equally successful, is the one organized by another popular local operator, Morocco Inspiring Tours, this is the link to investigate GetYourGuide | The Atlas Mountains and 5 Valleys Day Trip from Marrakech. Keep in mind that the level of services offered by these last two excursions is higher than the main tour presented here, if you add to this that lunch is included for both and that each of the two tours is conducted in small groups using minivans or 4WDs, all this means that the price is obviously higher.
  • Video: the Ourika valley, the village of Seti Fatma overlooking the two banks of the stream and the rocky path that leads to the waterfalls in these images by BORE WOODS:

Imlil Valley and the Atlas Mountains Day-Tour from Marrakech

The destination of this guided day-tour from Marrakech is the green and magnificent Imlil Valley, dominated by the imposing Mount Toubkal, the highest mountain of the Atlas range. Imlil Valley is one of the most spectacular places in Morocco and it takes less than 2 hours by car from Marrakech to reach it via the towns of Tahanaout and Asni where an interesting market is held on Saturdays. During the outward journey make a stop at the Argan Oil Co-operative, the stop is short, interesting and no one forces you to buy anything, instead you learn how the local women gathered in a cooperative to transform Argan seeds into oil-based products of Argan, for which Morocco is famous. 

Arrived in Imlil you meet your Berber guide, after a refreshment with hot mint tea the walk begins, you are free to decide whether to go on foot or go up on the back of a mule in the direction of Armed, one of the most beautiful and highest villages in the Imlil valley. The path is easy and very panoramic, there are streams, small waterfalls and the mountains that rise imperiously above you. You visit the tiny villages of Ait Mizan, Targa and Imoula, and from the Tamatert viewpoint you have a splendid view of the terraces planted with barley, corn, walnut and cherry trees. In the village of Ait Souka the lunch awaits you, and not in a restaurant but in a private pension house, it is a Berber family who prepares, and the cuisine is tasty and authentic. Once you have rested, return to the car following a path that develops on the opposite side of the valley. 

But the surprises are not over. On the return trip to Marrakech make a stop at the Moulay Brahim Gorges, here you take a short camel ride following the picturesque banks of the river. Then your guide will accompany you to your riad in Marrakech. 

An intense day-trip, worth every penny it costs, in a decidedly less touristy place than the Ourika valley.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: they will pick you up directly at your riad in the Medina of Marrakech, or at your hotel if you are staying in the Ville Nouvelle. At the end of the tour they bring you back.
  • Duration of the tour: you leave around 9 am and the tour lasts the whole day, the return to Marrakech is scheduled at around 6 pm in time for dinner.
  • Guide: driver for transport from/to Marrakech plus official Berber local guide during your stay in the Imlil valley, they speak English and French; the local provider is Marrakech Day Trips and the reviews on TripAdvisor are enthusiastic.
  • Features: usually, the excursion is on a private basis with exclusive driver, car and guide. But it could happens that you have to share with few other participants.
  • Price: includes transport from/to Marrakech, the assistance of a guide, lunch, refreshments with mint tea and coffee, mules to visit the villages of the Imlil valley and a camel ride along the river in the Moulay Brahim Gorges; to note that the cost is absolutely reasonable, the quality/price ratio of this tour is high.
  • Pros: more than one, starting with the picturesque small villages, the view of the Toubkal, the beautiful landscapes of the valley above Imli, and above all being able to admire them without effort traveling through the valley on the back of a mule; the experience of being accompanied by a true Berber guide, in its own valley, who tells you about customs and traditions; taste traditional Moroccan cuisine, and not in a tourist restaurant but in a real and authentic house of a Berber family in a small village in the middle of the mountains, and it is not something that happens every day; the pleasant temperatures, Imlil rises to 1,800 meters above sea level and even in the heart of Summer is much cooler than Marrakech; lastly, compared to other day-trips, the approach by car is short, only 67 km separate Marrakech from Imlil and the journey by car takes less than 2 hours, stopping at various points along the way.
  • Cons: none, this is one of the most profitable day-trips you can do in Marrakech, the place is much less touristy than many others, once you leave Imlil with the mules in the direction of the small villages apart from some trekkers you will meet very few other travelers; just know that the camel ride along the river at the end of the tour is very short, usually less than 10 minutes, but as you may have guessed others are the real highlights of the trip.
  • Good to know: the tour is possible any day of the week, but if you can schedule it on Saturday is better, because on Saturday in Asni there is a very suggestive market, so while you are on your way to Imlil you can stop and visit it; due to the characteristics of the tour, you may have a late lunch, you should bring snacks in order to have something to eat during the morning and during the journey with the mules between the villages of the valley. Imlil valley is magnificent in Spring with a superb view of the snow capped Atlas mountains, and it is not bad even in Summer when temperatures are far more pleasant than in Marrakech; if you come in Winter you can count on the possibility of finding snow on the ground, it will be an unexpected landscape but come equipped with winter shoes, gloves and a down jacket!
  • Recommended: to everyone, this is one of the most beautiful day-trip in Morocco, and if you go with mules (already included in the cost of the excursion), unlike what happens in Ourika, you won’t even struggle.
  • Video: the grandiose and still authentic Imlil valley and the rugged landscapes of the Toubkal in these images by It’s One World Travel:

Essaouira Day-Tour from Marrakech

The mythical Essaouira, with its fascinating Medina and ramparts overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, can be reached with this interesting and very convenient day tour that provides pure and only transport from Marrakech. 

That is true, the guide is missing, but a guide is not all that necessary, because Essaouira lacks palaces and monuments and its Medina is much more compact and manageable than that of Marrakech. Of course, upon arrival in Essaouira there is often a guide waiting for you, but he only gives you a brief introduction to the city, which you can then visit on your own. And the highlight of the visit is to explore its alleys and white streets calmly and a bit at random, walk along the ramparts, take a tour of the small fishing port and conclude with a walk on the beach: just document a minimum and you will also succeed alone. And you will spend very little. 

Essaouira is 190 km from Marrakech, if you consider the travel time to and from, calculate that you will have between 4 and a half hours and 5 hours to visit the city. Keep in mind that Essaouira is the city of the wind and temperatures are usually cooler than in Marrakech. On the way back to Marrakech a stop – not really essential – is made at a cooperative that produces and sells the famous products with Argan oil, you are not obliged to buy absolutely anything.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: the pick-up and then the return to the hotel or riad is included; if you are staying in one of the numerous riads inside the Medina that can only be reached on foot, you will be informed of the closest point to be found, I suggest you ask the staff of your riad to contact the local supplier the day before (you have the contacts on the confirmation voucher) and then get explained where to find you, usually it works well without particular hitches.
  • Duration of the tour: you leave Marrakech at 8 am and return around 7 pm.
  • Driver: English speaking (and French, of course), the drivers are usually friendly, helpful and ready to provide information. Generally, but not always, upon arrival in Essaouira you are awaited by a local guide, who will briefly introduce you to the city, then set out on your own to discover the Medina.
  • Features: transport is by shared vehicle with other participants, depending on the number it can be a minivan or a larger bus.
  • Price: includes pure transport from and to Marrakech. The guide (except for a brief presentation of Essaouira upon arrival) and lunch are not included.
  • Pros: the super low price; and if you consider that they come to pick you up and bring you back to the hotel, the value is perfectly competitive with the bus; to reach the gares routières of the CTM or the Supratours that operate a bus service to Essaouira, you will usually have to add the cost of the petit-taxi from your hotel, both outward and return, and this must be taken into consideration.
  • Cons: for what you pay, no one;  however, just take note the 3 hours of travel outward and 3 hours back, not exactly a few.
  • Good to know: transport is shared, this means some loss of time on departure and return to collect/drop off the participants staying in other hotels/areas of Marrakech.
  • Recommended: if you want to visit Essaouira in a day, without having to rent a car and without having to go and look for where (and when) the bus leaves.
  • Essaouira with a private car and a true guide: if you want to go to Essaouira and prefer the transport to and from Marrakech with a private car with a driver all for you in total exclusivity, then the service to book is GetYourGuide | From Marrakech: Essaouira Private Full-Day Trip, the local supplier is the acclaimed Camel Safaries and once you arrive in Essaouira you will have an English speaking guide at full disposal to visit the city.
  • Video: Essaouira, the narrow streets of the Medina, the suggestive ramparts of the Skala de la Ville (at minute 3’09”) and the port in this video courtesy by swissclimber1, you can immediately get an idea of the city:

Important!

  • Before booking read the full description of the tour you like in the official page of Viator and GetYourGuide carefully, please check what is included and what is not, meeting points, times of departure and cancellation policies. 
  • After booking, if you have any queries or doubts, immediately contact Viator or GetYourGuide Customer Service in order to receive assistance.
  • And the day before the tour, please reconfirm the pick-up time with the local supplier. You receive phone and email from the local supplier of the tour immediately after your booking. Maybe your hotel can help.  
  • Read the reviews. If the majority of the reviews are positive that’s a good thing. And always check all the info you read here in the official page of each tour, things change and the official site provides the latest updates.

Published:  April 2nd 2022

Creative Commons 2.0 GenericFront cover photo credit: Ait Ben Haddou, near Ouarzazate, Morocco by Nina. Photos come from Flickr: Creative Commons Attribution Licensed Photos. Please read here the Summary of the Legal Code. Terms of license are valid at the time of publishing this post.