Exploring Morocco’s Southern Loop
A self-drive tour through Morocco is the ideal choice for adventurers who prefer to explore their chosen destination at leisure rather than as part of an organized tour group. Morocco’s roads are well marked and well maintained, both English and French are widely spoken, and this exotic North African country is just a short flight or ferry trip from Europe, making it easy to incorporate into a European holiday. There are numerous self-drive tours to choose from, one of which is the Southern Loop Tour, starting and ending in Marrakech and incorporating the spectacular Atlas mountain range and magnificent Dades, Tafilalet and Draa valleys. The roads along the route are of good quality and a variety of accommodation options are available.
The first leg of the journey from Marrakech to Ouarzazate covers a distance of around 220 km, winding its way through the picturesque Tichka mountain pass at a height of 2260m. A detour to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah, located around 30 km before Ouarzazate is a highlight of this part of the journey.
After spending the night in Ouarzazate, travelers will cover a distance of 120 km along the Dades Valley to the lush oasis of Boulmane. At this point, travelers can take the time to explore the awe-inspiring Dades Gorge and the oasis town where they will spend the night before heading to Tinerhir and the nearby gorge of Todhra the following day. Todhra is a sheer-sided canyon carved through up to 40 kms of mountain along which a river once ran. Today, visitors can walk along the river bed and the rocky cliffs are popular with thrill-seeking rock climbers. From Todhra the route continues between the Atlas and Sahro to Erfoud through the palm grove of Jorf. Erfoud and the nearby Merzouga desert village in the iconic Dunes of Erg Chebbi are prime attractions with the filmmaking industry and it is advised that travelers take an entire day to explore this strikingly beautiful area with the largest sand dunes in Morocco.
From Merzouga to Agdz the route goes through Rissani to Alnif, through the Tazzarine palm grove, along the Draa Valley to Agdz, where travelers will spend the night. The following day includes a drive up the Draa Valley and a walk through the gardens, before heading across the south-western side of Jebel Sahro, with the next stop being Ouarzazate. Attractions in Ouarzazate include the Taourirt Kasbah and the recently renovated Glaoui palace. After exploring Ouarzazate, travelers will return to Marrakech having seen some of Morocco’s most spectacular scenery and experienced the culture and hospitality of its people.