Duration: 7 Nights, 8 Days
Although Marrakech is Morocco’s main attraction (and rightly so), there are a lot of hidden wonders to explore beyond the red city. Our Hip Best Of The South Tour is perfectly curated so you can take you away from the big names and large towns, showcasing some the kingdom’s historic towns and seaside retreats, giving you a more complete view of the Morocco’s identity.
On this tour you will get to take in the panoramic views of the Atlas Mountain range; the historic trading route through Ouarzazate; the elegant wonders of Taroundant, “The Grandmother of Marrakech”; the Oasis town of Tafraoute; exquisite silver Berber jewellery of Tiznit; the sandy beaches of Merlift; the Unesco-listed town of Essaouira; before visiting the argan co-ops, winery’s and olive pressing houses en route back to Marrakech.
As this tour starts and ends in the red city, Marrakech acts as the perfect base from which to launch into this 8-day adventure across Morocco. If you need somewhere to stay, take at look at our huge selection traditional riads and luxury accommodation in the heart of the Marrakech medina.
- Day 1:
Depart from Marrakech, crossing the Atlas Mountains to Ouarzazate for your overnight stay.
Bright and early at 9.00am, our driver will meet you at a dedicated pick up point close to your accommodation accommodation in the heart of Marrakech. From here, you will drive southwest towards the majestic Atlas Mountains. The Berbers call the Atlas range idraren draren – “The Mountains of Mountains” – and it is easy to see why. As you leave the hustle and bustle of the red city behind you, the omnipotent Atlas Mountains stand tall as an unmoving monument, dominating the skyline, stretching as far as the eye can see.
As the road starts to curve and climb up the Atlas range, the scenery begins to change offering stunning panoramic views of lush valleys and arid gorges, peppered with small earthen Berber villages and dazzling minarets. However, the site which offers the most stunning views and the most amazing photo opportunities is the Tiz n’Tichka pass, your stop for lunch. Reaching an elevation of over 2,000m above sea level, the Tiz n’Tichka pass is the highest mountain pass in North Africa and offers amazing 360 views of the surrounding Atlas Range. If you are travelling from November to March, snow can often fall on the pass, but it is usually warm all year round thanks to the bright Moroccan sun.
After passing the Tiz n’Tichka, you will join the ancient caravan route between Marrakech and Sub-Saharan Africa and head towards the Ouarzazate province for your overnight stay. This route was once used to trade gold, salt and slaves, and the Ouazazate Province was once used as a crossroads for African traders seeking to reach northern cities in Morocco, Europe and beyond. Traces of this industrious and prosperous past are easy to find. Indeed, you will experience this first hand whilst staying overnight in one of the many small oasis towns built upon this rich, fascinating tradition.
Approx 4-5 hrs travel
- Day 2:
Travel from Ouarzazate via the mountain passing the Tiz n Bachkoum, Tiz n Zbein and passing the Barrage d’Aoulouz before arriving at Taroundant for your overnight stay.
On your second day you will leave behind the Ouarzazate province and head east, climbing the winding roads towards the Tiz n Bachkoum and Tiz n Zbein. Both of these mountain passes offer stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape in all of its varying forms, from the expansive flat plains to the stunning panoramic views. During today’s travel, you also pass the barrage d’Aoulouz, a majestic dam dating back to 1990. Of course, as always there will be lots of stops for photos and fresh air along the way.
You’re resting place for the next two nights is Tarounday, a city of historical commercial and political importance that is often known as ‘the Grandmother of Marrakech’ due to its sleepy and tranquil state.
Approx 5 hrs travel
- Day 3:
Explore the city of Taroundant.
Surrounded by a majestic honey-gold circuit of walls, Taroundant is one of the most elegant towns in Morocco and undoubtedly deserves more time to explore than just one evening. The town has a friendly, laidback vibe, with a good-natured bustle of a Berber market town. It is safe and easy to explore the winding souks, street cafes and the vibrant Place Assarag (a smaller version of Marrakech’s great Jemaa El Fna), all accompanied by a distinct lack of tourists give you an authentic taste of Moroccan city-life.
- Day 4:
Depart Taroundant, visiting Tafraoute and Tiznit en route to Merlift. .
After an early start, your first stop of the day is Tafraoute, an oasis town made up of a cluster of slender minarets and low pink homes nestled in the gorgeous Ameln Valley. Due to it’s geographical position, the village of Tafraoute remains hidden from the road until the final approach. Indeed, this is a realm set quite apart from the hubbub of Morocco’s big cities; a world comprised of proud tribes, Berber traditions and folklore that pre-dates the Arab conquest. In this way, there is a lot to be learnt from Tafraoute about the Morocco of times gone by.
After exploring Tafraoute, you will then continue on to Tiznit, a historic trading centre, famous for exquisite Berber silver jewellery. With a whole souk devoted to the silver stuff, this is the perfect place to buy a present; either for yourself or for a loved-one back home. But remember, as always, if you want to get a good price you have to be willing to get bartering. Then, you will continue on to the seaside town of Merlift, your home for the next two nights.
It is approaching Merlift that you will catch your first glimpses of the ocean and rugged cliffs of Morocco. From here the character of your tour changes and, over the next few days, as you begin to get acquainted with the delights of Africa’s coastline – a wonder to behold.
Approx 6 hrs travel
- Day 5:
Explore the city of Merlift, either taking in the beach or activities such as surfing, quad biking or fishing.
Merlift has developed a strong reputation for beautiful beaches and high waves. In this way, it is just perfect for peaceful getaways as it is for surfing and other extreme sports; and here at Hip Marrakech, we have scheduled a day for you to explore Merlift in whichever way you want.
Day 5 gives you an opportunity to explore Merlift . You can take it easy and explore one of the town’s sandy beach. Alternatively grab your surfboards and head for the sea and ride some waves, either with the help of one of the town’s many surf schools or, if you consider yourself as a seasoned pro, why not hire some gear and go solo. For those up for a bit of adventure but don’t want to get wet, the town also offers the chance to try your hand at quad biking and fishing. Indeed, there is more than enough time in the day to fit in a bit of everything.
- Day 6:
Depart for the coast of Essaouira, stopping en route to visit Agadir.
You will begin day 6 by leaving Merlift and heading south for the coast of Eassouria. En route, you will stop off at Agadir, a port popular for holidaymakers from Morocco and across the world. Due to an earthquake in 1960 which devastated the town, but its reconstruction showed modern Morocco at its best and, half a century on, the results are still impressive with modern restaurants, seaside cafes and the largest souk in North Africa under one roof; this can only mean one thing… shopping!!!
Next it is on to the Unesco-listed town of Essaouira, a place that feels at once familiar and exotic. With its fortified walls, fishing harbor and seagulls soaring over the town, it feels like a seaside town found in Brittany. Yet, with with narrow alleyways winding through the city; the scent of sea air mixed with aromas of spices and thuya wood and midday palm-tree shadows on red city walls, Essaouira has an undeniably Moroccan DNA.
Approx 5 hrs travel
- Day 7:
Explore the city of Essouira.
The wonders of Essaouira definitely deserves more time to explore; so we have added an extra to explore the city. Why not try your hand at kite surging or ride a camel along the beach? If you feel like a bit more relaxation, there are plenty of local cafes and delicious restaurants in which you can chill and chat.
During May, Essaouira hosts a Gnaoua Festival where local artists showcase their unique mix of traditional sub-Saharan music, infused with jazz, pop and rock. However, if you are not lucky enough to visit the city during these summer months, Essaouira still has a musical vibe and the sound of drums and Gnawa singing reverberating from shops and houses – a delight to behold.
- Day 8:
Return to Marrakech, visiting argan coops possibility Val Du Argan winery and olive pressing house.
On your final day, you will begin your journey back to Marrakech from Essouira. But the adventure does not stop here, as there is plenty more to explore en route. Your driver will stop off at a traditional Argan co-op, which make a huge range of oils, lotions and edibles in the traditional technique. If you have time, you will also stop off at Val Du Argan, a family estate which has been producing wine and pressing olives since 1994. This is the perfect opportunity to taste their delights and maybe even buy some last minute souvenirs.
If you need somewhere to stay, take at look at our huge selection traditional riads and luxury accommodation in the heart of the Marrakech medina.
Approx 3 hrs travel