From Casablanca To The Sahara And Back: A Moroccan Road Trip


Many visitors to Morocco never venture outside the main tourist centers and they only get a fleeting glimpse of what this North African country is about. Make the most of your visit by traveling into the interior, to small Berber villages and vast, open landscapes. A Moroccan road trip is just the way to and get under the country’s skin.

Casablanca to Marrakech

One of the most popular points of entry into Morocco is bustling and vibrant Casablanca, the seaside city made famous in the eponymous movie classic and home to the stunning King Hassan II Mosque.

Marrakech is only about 240km away. It’s located in the High Atlas Mountains and has a much more ‘Moroccan’ atmosphere than cosmopolitan Casablanca. Explore the Medina with its souks, winding alleys, historic mosques and palaces, and hammams.

Travelers often recommend that you take public transport from Casablanca to Marrakech to help you to prepare for the notoriously chaotic way of driving in the country. However, the highway is relatively quiet. In both cities, you’ll find branches of the major car hire companies such as Europcar, Avis, and National Car Hire, so get a vehicle of your choice and then follow some simple driving tips.

Marrakech to Ouarzazate

From Marrakech, it’s a little over 200km to Ouarzazate on the edge of the Sahara. You’ll be traveling along mountain roads, so drive slowly and carefully. Enjoy the spectacular scenery from the Tizi n’Tichka Pass, which is about halfway between the two cities, and remember to bring some warm clothing if you visit in winter because snow is quite common here. About 30km before you reach Ouarzazate, turn off the highway and make a small side trip to Aït-Ben-Haddou. This beautiful mud-brick town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Quiet Ouarzazate makes for a great base from which to explore the surrounding area. Here you’ll also find both Atlas Studios and CLA Studios where several blockbusters were shot.

Ouarzazate to Erfoud

The next leg of the journey stretches over about 300km. You can cover the distance to Erfoud in about 4 hours but don’t rush it. Instead, stop and take in the views of the Dadès Gorge or take a closer look at some of the many kasbahs in the Dadès Valley. Near Tinghir with its palm trees, explore the dramatic Todra Gorge. At Errachidia, turn south to Erfoud, where Morocco’s only royal palace in the Sahara is located. Make this lovely town your base for exploring the Martian landscape, fossil deposits, little desert villages, and the breathtaking Erg Chebbi Dunes. You’ll recognize the area from movies like The Mummy and Prince of Persia.

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