This week affords a taste of the more popular vision of Morocco -- the exotic city of Marrakech along with some of the country's most scenic pre-Saharan oases and sand dunes. Some travelers will substitute the Erg Chigaga dunes for those at Erg Chebbi, though they may find themselves spending more time traveling than they would like.
Day 1: Arrive in Marrakech
Marrakech's weather can be energy-sapping hot or surprisingly cold, depending on the time of year. Either way, give yourself time today to get used to the temperature as well as the city's general hustle and bustle. An afternoon ride on the double-decker City Sightseeing bus is a perfect, hassle-free way to get your bearings and absorb the atmosphere, passing the city's iconic sights such as the Koutoubia Mosque and Jemaa el Fna. Later this afternoon, make your way to the incomparable cuisine and entertainment spectacle taking place on Jemaa el Fna.
Day 2: Discover the Medina
Today's the day to enter the fray and discover this city's heart and soul. Hire a guide for a morning walking tour, taking in one or two historical sights, a visit to a herboriste (herbalist) and some of the souks, and a stop along the way for a mint tea. You'll no doubt be led to a few shops along the way, so make the most of the situation by taking mental notes of each item's general price and quality, preparing yourself for a return visit should you be seriously interested in something. If you haven't already done so, be sure to head to Jemaa el Fna for the late afternoon and evening show. Perhaps treat yourself tonight with dinner at one of the medina's romantic and ambience-filled restaurants such as Cafe Arabe or Narwama, or try Al Fassia in Guéliz should you prefer to "go local." Those with children should venture out to Jaafary palmeraie for the dinner extravaganza at Chez Ali.
Day 3: Amezrou Palmeraie
Today's journey up and over the Western High Atlas to Zagora is a long one, but the spectacular drive includes both mountainous and desert scenery. Overnight in the quiet palmeraie of Amezrou and enjoy the clear, starlit night.
Day 4: Erg Chigaga Desert Dunes
Make time for a rewarding morning's walk through Amezrou's mud-walled kasbah, stopping off to visit one of the village's traditional silversmiths. In the afternoon, head to the end of the tarred road at M'hamid and continue on to the imposing sand sea of Erg Chigaga. Be there in time to watch the hazy sunset atop one of its 300m-high (985-ft.) dunes. You can sleep outside under the stars or inside a traditional goat-hair Berber tent.
Day 5: Ouarzazate
A predawn rise will afford you a magical, serene sunrise before setting out on the long drive back past M'hamid and Zagora to the French-built city of Ouarzazate, Morocco's film capital. Ouarzazate has a good range of hotels and restaurants, and if there's a movie shoot in town, you might even spot a Hollywood star or two.
Days 6 & 7: Back to Marrakech
From Ouarzazate to Marrakech, detour to the mud-walled kasbahs of Aït Ben Haddou and Telouet. Upon arrival in Marrakech, finish off your shopping list or take a stroll through the lesser visited areas within the medina, such as the kasbah and Mellah, or Jewish quarter. If you've had your fill of medina madness, consider splurging on a night out in the palmeraie. Prepare to head home the next morning.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.