5 Southern Morocco Adventures Beyond the Desert

So you’ve spent a night of your Moroccan getaway in the desert, enjoyed the uncountable stars, the quiet, the disconnect. Now…what’s next? After you wake up to the sun cresting over Erg Chigaga or Erg Chebbi, you eat a quick breakfast, sip a strong coffee, and start to head back towards civilization, trekking slowly out of the dunes of the Sahara. While your camel carries you beyond the desert of southern Morocco, mull over these trip ideas and start planning the next stage of your adventure.

Explore the Gorges

The Dades and Todra Gorges are a few hours from Merzouga. With tall, imposing rock formations and palm groves, they are impossibly picturesque and worth spending one or two nights. Though both gorges have well-marked trails, the “Monkey Finger” trail of the Dades Gorge is perhaps the better option for hikers; those looking for a bit of adventure might consider rock climbing, an activity popular among “peak baggers” in the Todra Gorge.

a switchback road winding through the Todra Gorge
A serpentine road in the Dades Gorge. Photo © pawopa3336/iStock.

Chill in the Palm Groves

The expansive palm groves of the North and South Draa Valley beckon travelers needing to unwind. The seldom-visited grove north of Errachidia makes for a great overnight stop if you’re heading to Fez after a night in Merzouga. Those with more time might consider the chic digs in Skoura to hobnob with the celebrity types that pass through, while travelers wanting to go a bit further afield should consider the groves around Zagora after (or before) a night in the Saharan environs of Erg Chigaga.

landscape view of palm trees backed by Atlas Mountains in Southern Morocco
The palm groves of Skoura. Photo © Lucas Peters.

Shop for the Most Unique Pottery in Morocco

Located a few minutes outside of Zagora is the small village of Tamegroute. The local artisans source all of their raw material from the area—they get the clay and wood for their fires from the nearby palm groves, while the ingredients for the pottery’s signature green color remain a closely guarded secret, passed on from artisan-to-artisan through the generations.

bright green pottery on display in Morocco
The green pottery of Tamegroute. Photo © Amina Lahbabi.

Find a Carpet in Tazenakht

Tucked in the foothills between the High Atlas Mountains and the Sahara is the little village of Tazenakht, known for the highest-quality handwoven Moroccan Berber carpets to be found in the entire country. You can find these carpets in the souks of Marrakech and Fez, but they’re almost always marked up significantly. If you’re looking for a great deal on a carpet, make this a stop on your trip.

a boy sitting on a chair outside a rug shop draped in rugs
Tazenakht is well known for its rugs. Photo © Lucas Peters.

Search for Saffron

The striated canyons of Morocco’s Anti-Atlas range open onto fields of saffron flowers, where you’ll soon stumble upon the village of Taliouine: the capital of this precious flower. During harvest, women and children are out before first light to pluck the delicate threads. There are several cooperatives in town dedicated to “Morocco’s gold,” and they make for great places to stop and smell the saffron.

Anti-Atlas mountain range covered in green and purple
The Anti-Atlas mountains covered with saffron flowers. Photo © Amina Lahbabi.

Instead of hustling back to the bustle of Fez or Marrakesh, consider spending a few days in the eastern part of Morocco, exploring some of its less-visited regions, and make the most out of your voyage to this incredible country.

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