Group self-driving tour by 4×4

Group self-driving tour by 4×4

Embark on a Thrilling Adventure – group self-driving tour

Discover the excitement of group self-driving through the enchanting landscapes of Morocco led by our experienced guide. Join a small group of fellow adventurers and journey through the southern parts of Morocco to unique destinations, including exhilarating desert drives.

If you’ve hesitated about doing this kind of trip independently, our group self-driving option is perfect for you. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery, rugged terrain, and vibrant culture of this North African gem. Explore remote dunes, charming valleys, and ancient gorges while indulging in the ultimate off-road experience in the Sahara Desert.

self-driving in Morocco

Ten Nights of Unforgettable Exploration

Experience a mix of camping under the stars and staying in cosy guesthouses at each stop. Our carefully selected guesthouses are nestled in rural Morocco, offering you the best of each location and its surroundings.

Begin your group self-driving journey with a night at a convenient hotel in Marrakech before venturing into the wilderness for the next 9 nights, returning the vehicles to Marrakech airport.

Spend a night camping in a mobile camp at the Draa Valley and the following two nights at a fixed desert camp at Erg Chigaga dunes. Get ready to navigate through Morocco’s stunning landscapes in your own 4×4 vehicle.

Our overnight stops during the group self-driving tour will be –

Ait Ben Haddou, Dades Valley, Tagounite, Erg Chigaga dunes (2 nights), Tissint, Tafraoute (2 nights), Taroudant.

Self-driving in Morocco

4×4 driving in Morocco

We limit the group self-driving tour to 5 guest vehicles (two passengers per car). The group trip is not suitable for children. Should you wish to travel with children, please contact us for a bespoke trip offer.

The group travels in convoy behind our lead guide vehicle, and remains in contact through radio (which we provide). Your guide will schedule regular stops.

Self-driving in Morocco

We provide Toyota Prado (TX) vehicles which are automatic. You do not need any previous experience of off-road driving for the group self-driving tour.

The off-road element through the desert is approx. 200km (split across 3 travel days through the Iriqui National Park). Your guide will be on hand to provide tips on handling the desert terrain (which in fact is less than 20% sand driving).

Self-driving in Morocco

Visit Morocco in October or February

Please contact us for dates of our next scheduled departures. We plan for 11 October (2024), and 21 February (2025).

Pricing starts from Eur €2600 per person (based on two people per vehicle and per room/tent).

We travel in Autumn and early Spring when conditions are most comfortable to travel.

Self-driving in Morocco

 

For further images of the South of Morocco please refer to our Instagram feed.

Tangier and Assilah

Tangier and Assilah

Pauline de Villiers Brettell, author of the longstanding blog ‘Tea in Tangier‘, and resident of Assilah, has written the following guest post about why you should make time to visit the North. Pauline shares some of her favourite places to visit.

We include Tangier and Assilah on our Essence of Morocco tour itinerary. Please click here for the full itinerary and for further details of the 16 days route. We can adapt the itinerary to offer this in reverse order, or to extend it.

Tangier and Assilah

 

Tea in Tangier and Atay in Assilah

Why Tangier and its neighbours should be included on your Moroccan itinerary

Tangier has quietly been undergoing a transformation over the past several years and is now emerging from its previously somewhat dissolute reputation. It is quite literally spreading its newly paved and painted wings. Historically Tangier has always stood a little apart from mainstream Morocco and it still, in my opinion, offers something a little different to the stereotypical image of Morocco. The obvious reasons for this being both its proximity to Europe, and Spain in particular, along with its distance from the desert. As a result, paellas are often on the menu, beach life is pretty laid back, and Spanish is more often than not a comfortable second language. This was one of the things that drew me to this part of northern Morocco in the first place. I felt like it was taking me back to a more exotic version of my South African roots, yet I was within touching distance of Spain (another country that is close to my heart). Tangier has always been a busy port city, but with the creation of the Tanger-Med port beyond the Tangier city boundaries, the medina port is now a more tranquil base for sea-bound tourism.

Tangier and Assilah

Tangier

Start your journey through Morocco in Tangier

Tangier is the perfect starting point to your Moroccan adventure if that is your point of entry.

The medina is a lot smaller than cities like Marrakech and Fez. It is also a lot easier to navigate because you have a clear sense of geography with the sea on one side and the city behind. Uphill takes you to the Kasbah, downhill you will end up in the port. Although there may be fewer of the “big-five” type of attractions here – no Majorelle gardens or Fez tannery or dunes of the Sahara – there is still a city to experience in a quieter way, which can in fact be more interesting.

A lot of my recommendations to people visiting Tangier seem to involve tea or coffee and generally a slower pace. e.g. take mint tea on the terrace of The Continental hotel admiring the view and taking in the Sheltering Sky hotel aesthetic; or coffee in Café Tingis in the Petit Socco in the middle of the medina simply watching the passers by and getting an idea of who’s in town. There is still a small town feel to Tangier despite its sprawling development.

Move up to the Grand Socco for again more tea or coffee, possibly a bit of cake at this point at the Cinema Rif. You will need the cake to fuel your journey up the Rue de la Kasbah – but make it a slow walk and stop off at various design studios on the way before reaching the top and turning right into the kasbah. I love the kasbah area as it is light and airy compared to the medina of Tangier and has wonderful views across the straits. Being thirsty after the climb, this is the spot I find a place for my favourite Tangeroise drink, lemon and mint juice. Explore the Tangier kasbah at your leisure and you will find a wonderful combination of museums, galleries and boutiques in which to peruse and purchase.

Tangier and Assilah

Tangier

Beaches are obviously something that sets this Moroccan city apart from its landlocked sisters. Tangier is spoilt for choice with the Atlantic on one side and the Mediterranean on the other. The beaches are the centre of all activity in the summer months with a melting pot of people and a cosmopolitan mix of costume. For the best beach experience my advice is to do a bit of research and find the more remote beaches with good summer chiringuitos for a great day out from Tangier.

Although I love Tangier, it is not where we base ourselves when we are in Morocco. My home from home is in fact the small seaside medina of Assilah, just a 40 minute drive up the coast. I am biased, but I love the quieter pace of life and the village feel of Assilah. Everything is within walking distance, such as markets, restaurants, and shops. The medina is tiny, yet full of wonderful quality artisanal crafts, some are made locally while others are brought in. Several people I know in Tangier travel to Assilah to do any carpet shopping. Feel free to contact me for some recommendations if you find yourself uncertain of where to turn when in pursuit of the perfect Moroccan carpet to wrap up and take home.

Tangier and Assilah

Assilah

Assilah is also a great place for independent travel – there are some beautiful riads to rent on platforms like Airbnb and recent years has seen a few more chambre d’hote type of accommodation opening in the medina itself. Stroll out of the medina in the evening and choose to eat at one of the restaurants serving fresh fish with a cold glass of Moroccan Gris. Find a café you like and make that part of your morning routine and you will soon be greeted like a local. A visit to Assilah is more about stepping down the pace and immersing yourself in medina life rather than a place to visit sites and tick off items in your guide book.

Again, do a little research and discover places hidden up and down the coast like Chez Mounir or Chez Abdou – both a little off the beaten track but well worth the visit. Find out about the local country markets (souks). These can be a bit of an eye-opener (I try and avoid the chicken section!) You will find a lot of utilitarian plastic for sale, but amongst it all are local olives, wonderful oils and cheeses and other seasonal produce. One of my favourite purchases at the Monday market were some donkey saddles, which like so many things in this part of the world come with an element of beauty alongside practicality.

And of course there are the paintings and murals in the Assilah medina, a result of the ongoing annual Art Moussem that takes place in the summer. Every year the walls are whitewashed in preparation and ladders bearing brush and paint-wielding artists are found unexpectedly around corners as they put their stamp on a corner of the medina. Until next year . . . when they will be painted over in preparation for the next artist.

Tangier

Tangier

So, put Tangier and Assilah on your itinerary, the walls are white rather than red, the closest you will get to the Sahara is the dreaded shawki winds that make everyone grumpy, but you will discover a laid back blue and white skyline punctuated with clear Tangier sunshine that will draw you into the north and maybe, like us, you will simply never leave!

 

Further images on Pauline’s Instagram feed. Details of Dar Ambrosia accommodation here. Local guide options with Pauline and Jonas in Tangier and Assilah here.

Landscape photography in Morocco

Landscape photography in Morocco

Visiting the Erg Chigaga

A guest article by landscape photographer, Michael Breitung. More on Michael’s landscape photography below. This version has been updated for some new images from 2023/2024 (first published in 2020).

We are running another photography tour together from 1st February 2025, after a series of successful trips. Further details here.

Landscape photography in Morocco

An endless sea of sand painted in golden hues by the setting sun – to witness moments like this I travelled to the Erg Chigaga in Morocco. Here in Germany it was still winter, but in Morocco February already felt like spring and in the desert we had comfortable temperatures of between 20 –25°C during day and down to 5°C at night.

Planning for Landscape Photography

Visiting the desert had been my dream for some time when I started planning our trip to Morocco. As I researched the different options, the Erg Chebbi came up most of the time. It’s a lot less remote than the Erg Chigaga and also much more visited. For me, visiting the desert meant finding tranquillity and for this the Erg Chigaga seemed to be the better option. Also, from my perspective as a landscape photographer I was certain that the vast expanse of the Chigaga would provide me with many photographic opportunities.

Camp Al Koutban, landscape photography Morocco

To plan my stay in the desert I first used Google Earth to get an overview of where to find the higher dunes and of where the different Berber Camps were located. Here I came across the Camp Al Koutban (pictured above, to the right of the dune). While most of the camps are located close to the edge of the Erg, the Camp Al Koutban was right in the middle of the dunes with the largest dune in the area just a 45-minute walk away. I got in contact with Wild Morocco, who provide several tour options into the Chigaga and all-around Morocco. We decided to book a 5-day itinerary and adjust it to our needs. In the end we spent one evening at the Hara Oasis Lodge, 2 nights in the desert, one evening in Ait Ben Haddou, before ending our trip in Essaouira.

Hara Oasis

From Marrakech it was a long drive across the Atlas Mountains towards Agdz. Along the way there were plenty opportunities to enjoy the views and around noon we visited one of the larger Kasbahs in the region, the Telhouet Kasbah. It was fascinating to see the different architectural styles intermixed in those historic buildings. Then we drove on towards the Draa Valley until we finally reached the Hara Oasis lodge in the afternoon. This place was exactly what we needed after our first two days in Marrakech. The atmosphere at the lodge was so relaxed and calm that we were sad to leave after just one night.

Jebel Kissane, Agdz, landscape photography Morocco

Camp Al Koutban

But this sad feeling was quickly replaced by the excitement of finally visiting the desert. Yet again, a few hours of driving lay between us and our destination. The good thing about such remote places as the Erg Chigaga is that you can only get there by 4×4. This means you don’t have to fear busloads of tourists suddenly being dropped at a viewpoint next to you. Surely during high season the Chigaga will also get a bit more crowded because of the number of camps in the area. But if you decide to visit in one of the off-season months as we did you can literally have the dunes for yourself.

Erg Chigaga night skies, landscape photography Morocco

The camp itself was pure luxury. We had a huge tent fitted with carpets, a comfortable bed and many blankets. In a separate building the toilets and showers were housed. It was even possible to get a warm shower in the evening. In the middle of the camp a campfire was setup. The highlight of the camp besides its unique location though was the food. Here we got the real taste of Morocco: the flavour of the food was rich and it was perfectly spiced.

The Dunes

The dunes were spread right around the camp, but to photograph the endless desert I had to hike to some of the higher dunes in the area. An excellent viewpoint could already be reached in about 15 minutes. Here I photographed the Milky Way over the desert one morning.

Milky Way above Erg Chigaga dunes

But there was an even higher dune a bit further away. A 30-minute walk brought us to the foot of the supposedly highest dune in the Erg Chigaga. It took us around 15 minutes to climb it and once we crested the top of the dune I was speechless. This was exactly what I had come to see. With such a great view we weren’t the only people up there the first evening. But the dune is big enough to provide some space. Still I wanted to have this view for myself, so I went back the next morning to enjoy the orange glow of dawn on the dunes.

Erg Chigaga dunes, landscape photography Morocco

Ait Ben Haddou

We could easily have stayed another two days in the desert, but again it was time to leave. Our last stop on our way to the coast was Ait Ben Haddou. But not before a long off-road drive through a spectacular landscape with huge canyon walls. With the right light, those views would again have made for some great photos – maybe another time (*we include a night wild camping here during the photo tour). We arrived in Ait Ben Haddou in the afternoon, just as most of the day visitors left. An hour before sunset we explored the Kasbah, took the typical photo across the river and enjoyed the calm atmosphere. With only a few people left exploring the alleyways we enjoyed our visit. I can only imagine how packed this place can become during day when the busses of the day tours stop here.

Ait Ben Haddou at dusk, landscape photography Morocco

The last part of our journey with Wild Morocco brought us to the coast, to the windy city of Essaouira. The five days had gone like a breeze, much too fast. It didn’t take long for us to miss the silence, the great food and the vast nature. The Erg Chigaga and Camp Al Koutban are definitely a place to visit again.

About the Author

Michael Breitung is a freelance landscape photographer from Germany who loves to travel. His travels have taken him all across the world and he had the chance to visit and photograph many wonderful places. Wide scenic landscapes, waterfalls, mountain vistas and coasts are his favourite subjects. You can see more of his landscape photography on his homepage https://www.mibreit-photo.com

Tea has a special place in Morocco

Tea has a special place in Morocco

Tea-drinking is a big deal in most corners of the globe, from the Far East, Russia, India, to the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and North and East Africa, to say the least. Each nation has its own tea customs and rituals, and not everyone drinks the same blend of tea. Morocco is a nation of tea-drinkers (apparently it was the English who introduced tea here in the 19th Century!) and the preparation and serving of tea is not to be taken lightly. You can’t just “put the kettle on”, you need to savour the process and take time over it.
(more…)

The Spirit of Community in Morocco

The Spirit of Community in Morocco

Morocco’s culture and spirit of community

“So, what can I expect when I visit Morocco, tell me something more about Morocco’s culture?” It’s so close to Europe, yet so much further beyond in terms of culture and history. The Arabic name given for Morocco by medieval historians and geographers is ‘al-Maghrib al-Aqsa’, translated as furthest Westerly Kingdom (of the Maghreb countries, in North West Africa). Morocco is just 13km from mainland Spain, and even shares a land border with Spanish territory.

I would urge you to read something of my insight into Morocco’s culture. What follows is what you glean when living in a small community in Morocco, not from the books or the media, or from a short visit. We’ve previously touched on some of the cultural aspects in other blog posts, such as the tea ceremony, and social etiquette with greetings. The guide-books will also help you steer clear of any basic faux-pas, or you can certainly ask your driver/guide during your trip about Morocco’s culture.

Morocco's Culture and Spirit of Community

Use the below as a benchmark to guide your expectations of the Kingdom (and, certainly, of the warm welcome you can expect to receive!). Please do ask us about travelling during Ramadan, Eid al-Adha, and other religious festivities, as they can be quite magical times to visit the Kingdom and should not be ruled out as no-go periods. Such national holidays are a vital part of Morocco’s culture and if you get to experience them, so much the better.

Note: I first wrote this post about seven years ago. Since then, we’ve all gone through the covid pandemic and the devastating earthquake in September 2023. Without going in to detail, the overriding feeling I have taken is the sense of solidarity and support from within Morocco’s mountain communities and the country as a whole – the nation has each other’s backs, to put it bluntly! If that doesn’t speak volumes about Morocco’s culture and spirit of community then what does?…

Morocco's Culture

Morocco’s culture and spirit of community

  1. Gratitude and happiness are derived and enjoyed from what you have in life, not from that for which you yearn. In other words, you are content with your lot in life. Take pleasure from the simple things (such as the beauty of nature) and be thankful to God at all times.
  2. Treating a guest generously and selflessly. A Moroccan proverb says ‘The guest is always a guest, even if he stays for winter and summer’. Moroccans regard travellers and foreign residents as guests in their country and Moroccans take the safety of visitors as a point of honour.
  3. Charity begins at home and is then very much continued outside of the home. One of the pillars of Islam and embedded in Morocco’s culture/spirit of community.
  4. The ability to share freely, e.g. a small meal will always go a long way and a stranger is never allowed to go hungry. Often those who have the least to share, are the most generous.
  5. An open-door policy and acceptance, the knowledge that you are welcome in a stranger’s home, and at face value.
  6. The family unit is key and many generations still share the same home; this promotes selflessness. There may only be one bread-winner supporting a large family (and he will likely be your driver, guide, chef, support team). Respect for elders, especially your parents, is integral to Morocco’s culture.
  7. Knowing your neighbours and treating them as an extension of the family. You may have to call upon them in times of need. This also leads on to the fact that everyone knows each other’s business (good or bad!).
  8. Above all, bear in mind that underpinning all of this is the Muslim faith and the piety of Moroccans. Please ask us about travelling during Ramadan and Eid.
  9. Please see note above on solidarity and support from within.

Please contact us for any further insights in to Morocco’s culture and community spirit.

Please visit our Instagram feed for further images.