Day 1: CASABLANCA – FES
Airport/Riad pickup, or from your preferred pickup point. Our first visit is to the Mosque of Hassan II, the second largest mosque in the world after Mecca. This is an exceptional monument which is notable both for its volume and for the materials used in its construction; polished marble, mosaics and granite. The minaret exceeds 200 meters in height and is without doubt one of the major attractions for tourists in Morocco.
We will continue our trip towards Rabat, the administrative, political and financial capital of Morocco, where we will be able to stroll through it's clearly defined neighborhoods and visit several important monuments such as; the Citadel of the Oudayas, the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the Hassan Tower and the most tranquil souk to be found in all of Morocco, with a straight design very different to the medinas of other cities, which can be comfortably explored. Indeed, the medina is one of the places to get lost in this city and just like in any medina there is mix of aromas and products of all kinds; artisan crafts, spices and food etc.
You may like to admire its doors, or ´gates’. Bab Rouah, the biggest and most beautiful, opens onto an interior which is accessible to the public and houses exhibitions of photography or painting. The Bab El gate leads to the liveliest area of all and is a pedestrian zone, perfect for strolling among the narrow streets full of shops, gardens, walls and local neighborhoods each with their own particular varieties of products.
Arrive in Fes mid-afternoon where we will spend the night.
Day 2: FES
Today we will visit the city of Fes, known as the cultural centre of Morocco and the oldest city in Africa. Fes retains all its original walls and the ancient gates remain undamaged.
The medina of this city is the largest in Morocco and with more than 9400 labyrinthine streets is the largest pedestrian only zone in the world. Visiting Fes is like travelling back to ancient times, when the neighborhoods were divided by guilds, when there was no transport within the medina and you could only go there on foot, dodging the donkeys loaded with merchandise.
The points of interest in Fes are:
Chouara Tannery, Mosque of Quaraouiyine, Bab Boujloud Gate, the Royal Palace of Fes,
Moulay Idriss Mausoleum, Seffarine Place and the madrassas.
We will stop for lunch and continue in the afternoon by visiting the cooperatives of tile-makers, then finally on to the ruins of Merenid outside the medina, where a spectacular view of the whole of Fes awaits us.
Day 3: FES – VOLUBILIS – MEKNES
After a hearty Moroccan breakfast our journey continues toward Meknes on the borders of the Mamora forest, one of the important green areas in Morocco and an excellent place for a walk in nature to enjoy all the fauna and flora. We will visit the Roman city of Volubilis, home to the best preserved and most impressive ruins in Morocco. Volubilis was declared a UNESCO site in 1997. During this hour and a half long tour we will be in the hands of an expert guide. Although there are some areas limited to the public, we will be able to move freely through the complex. Many of the mosaics are well preserved and one of the most spectacular areas is the Capital, including the Basilica and the Forum that are built on the highest part of the city.
We will then continue to the Imperial city of Meknes and in a similar way to Fes, the quaint and tightly packed Medina makes it much easier to walk and find your way around. It is very traditional, with winding alleys full of life and market stalls, restaurants and craft cooperatives. However, its size hides treasures of sublime architectural beauty, like its symbol, the Bab Mansour of 1732; the largest door in Morocco and in the whole of Africa. You´ll be able to relax in this small but historically big city and even taste the typical local dish of snails, or take tea with fritters.
Day 4: MEKNES – CEDAR FOREST – ZIZ VALLEY – MERZOUGA
After breakfast we will continue towards Merzouga by crossing the mountains of the Middle Atlas, where dramatic landscapes and inhospitable lands full of life and stories await us.
During the journey we will take in the scenery, have plenty of photo opportunities and stop in the places that are worth visiting, for example; the town of Ifrane, famous worldwide and known as the “ Moroccan Switzerland”, due to its alpine character and European style houses whose sloping roofs have nothing to do with the traditional architecture of Morocco.
Owing to its altitude (1630 meters) Ifrane is surrounded by trees and most striking is the nature that surrounds this small city, in particular the National Park, which is well worth a stop to visit one of the more interesting inhabitants; the Barbary monkey that survives in extensive cedar forests. Gradually the landscape begins to change again, leaving behind trees and greenery and becoming a barren landscape but, before that manages to catch your attention, we will make a stop in Midelt to eat.
Our route will continue through the Ziz Valley; a stretch of palm trees that loses itself in the remote distance and follows the course of the river, some 9000 palm trees and a Moroccan hidden treasure. It is a real pleasure, especially for lovers of nature, to be able to admire the immensity of the mountain and the erosion that the waters have produced over the years, waters that formerly came from the High Atlas Mountains with great force. Green palm trees contrast with the red earth of the mountains and the ochre colour of typical small Berber houses that are scattered over the course of this valley in a spectacular landscape that is not to be missed. Gradually we note that the landscape is changing and little by little the desert sand begins to welcome us by presenting small dunes as we approach Merzouga. The riad is located at the foot of the dunes where we can enjoy the peace and tranquility of the desert at Erg Chebbi.
Day 5: MERZOUGA – ERG CHEBBI (desert)
After regaining our strength with breakfast, it´s time to enjoy the grand tour and the magic of the dunes. We will take an early trip through the heart of the desert in our 4×4, passing by Lake Dayet Sriji (Lake of the Flamingos) where the water level does depend on the winter weather and where many birds, mainly the flamingos hibernate. We will then stop at Khamlia: which is known as the ´town of the blacks´, with a population of 334 inhabitants of Gnaoua and Berber ethnicity originating from Black Africa, who moved to the Sahara where they began to settle alongside Berber nomads, it’s people are warm, friendly and quiet and music is an important part of their culture. In Khamlia we are invited to enjoy their hospitality, to take a cup of tea and listen to Gnaoua music whilst resting in the wonderful landscape of the desert. Our journey continues between the dunes (where it passes the original Paris-Dakar route) and we may meet some of the semi-nomadic families that live in the area in this sea of sand and stone; an adventure that you will enjoy every second of!! Mid-afternoon we will come back to the hotel where camels then lead us to the foot of the large dune and during the next hour and a half there are an astounding number of photo opportunities. At night the desert takes on a very different colour. Depending on the season it can also become quite considerably cooler after sunset. Dinner is served to the rhythm of the drums and the traditional desert style, singing and playing by the big campfire will keep us companionably entertained until it is time to go to sleep. The best and only thing to do is let all your worries go and enjoy this magical and authentic night under the starry sky of the desert.
Dinner and accommodation in Haimas (traditional tents) in our desert location.
Day 6: ERG CHEBBI – TODRA GORGES
Undoubtedly one of the greatest spectacles in the desert is the sunrise, so today we rise early to contemplate the wonderful dawn; the changing colour of the dunes as the sun appears over the horizon are unmissable; an unforgettable visual spectacle. Our camels return us to the riad and after a good shower and breakfast, we will continue toward Rissani. Rissani is very famous for its market, this city exhibits itself with dignity and pride and it was the last commercial stage before the desert in the days of the trading caravans. There is a unique atmosphere to soak in as we stroll through the souks of Rissani, not found anywhere else in Morocco, at twilight the city roofs filter the last rays of the sun in an explosion of colours that overtake the senses, rivalling even the by now well-known aroma of the rich combination of spices in the souk.
Our route then continues towards Todra where we make a stop, to visit this large palm grove with its Kasbahs and typical adobe villages. Here owing to the river that runs through the entire oasis, palm trees full of dates, olive trees and several crops grow along the shores. Finally we arrive at the impressive Todra Gorge where we will stay overnight.
Day 7: TODRA GORGES – DADES VALLEY – VALLEY OF ROSES – OUARZAZATE
After breakfast we visit the Todra Gorge and contemplate the great red vertical walls of the canyon, formed by limestone rock. The last 600 meters of the gorge are the most spectacular, the canyon narrows to approximately 10 metres wide and 160 metres high, a paradise of stone cradling a river of crystalline waters. This picturesque environment dotted with kasbahs and full of palms makes it an obligatory stop, as this one of the most beautiful landscapes of Morocco. Then onto the Dades Valley following the route of the thousand kasbahs; these magnificent buildings are completely integrated with the landscape, curious looking fortified citadels built from adobe, a number of them with high towers and decorated walls of Berber origin that sometimes appear as mysterious white silhouettes.
Our next destination; the Valley of Roses, is famous for its large scale cultivation of roses, creating an impressive scene of pure living nature, harmonious colours and a landscape worthy of our admiration. We will then continue our journey towards the Skoura Palm Grove which, with more than 700,000 palm trees, stands out as an important enclave of greenery and life in this arid plateau. There is a large concentration of kasbahs spread throughout the oasis and its vicinity. This location exudes a special beauty and it often seems that time has stopped and we are in another, more antique age.
Arriving in Ouarzazate we stay overnight.
Day 8: OUARZAZATE – AIT BENHADDOU – HIGH ATLAS – MARRAKECH
This morning we wake up and have breakfast in Ouarzazate. The charming medina is situated in the old part of the city with many narrow streets full of life and a central square which has been converted into a fantastic place to enjoy watching the daily life of its people. Another a clear point of interest is the Kasbah of Taourirt; a fortified palace where getting lost in the many connected by winding corridors and stairways is a joy. From the top of its towers we have a panoramic and impressive view of the medina.
Continuing toward Marrakech we stop for lunch at Ait Benhaddou; one of the best preserved Ksours and a place which enjoys the status of being a UNESCO site. Highly ornate adobe houses are encompassed within a strong defensive wall and reinforced by turrets. This spectacular kasbah, miraculously still standing, is high on a hill and surrounded by the desert landscape of the Anti Atlas; without any doubt one of the most magical places of Morocco.
Our drive now brings us to the Atlas and we will be crossing the pass of Tizi n'Tichka which is 2260 meters in altitude. This great mountain range is filled with extraordinary landscapes for us to admire and is Berber territory, with typical small villages and forts etc.
We arrive at Marrakech in the middle of the afternoon where you will transfer to your Riad.
Day 9: MARRAKECH
Today we visit the great city of Marrakech in the hands of a local guide to discover its fascinating history, through the famous Koutoubia, Bahia Palace, the Saadian Tombs and the Menara Gardens. The afternoon will be free to discover for yourselves the charms of this city; eat at a typical restaurant in the medina (to be paid for by the client), walk through the streets of the medina, get lost in its large souk or savour more traditional Moroccan food in the Djemma el-Fna Square. Visiting this city allows you to observe the essence of Morocco; always in constant change. The former beauty of Marrakesh is still evident today, with the smell of fresh mint, the tastiest spices, the sound of the snake charmers and the bustle of its impressive souk, the largest in all of Morocco. All this and much more is Marrakesh, the capital of the south and the epicenter of tourism and handicrafts.
The main focal point of this city is the medina, the souk and its beautiful plaza Djemaa-el Fna. To get lost in the Medina is very common, but involves no risk. By getting ´lost´ in the small streets, intrepid explorers will be able to discover shops of the most varied products, food stalls where the traditional soup of snails is served, or by following the intense smell of mint, will reach a place selling a multitude of delicious and pungent herbs.
The Djemma el-Fna Square is the square that all the alleyways of the Medina lead to. This is a very busy square which can overwhelm those who are visiting for the first time. However it is a magical place, in which it is difficult to stop only a short time. In the morning the square is full of juice and dried fruit stalls. In the evening jugglers, magicians, snake charmers and storytellers meet in this captivating location which has recently been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Overnight accommodation in the riad.
Day 10: MARRAKECH – CASABLANCA
Departure for Casablanca and transfer to the airport. End of trip.
Tour Include :
- Private Transport with A/C
- Driver/guide english speaking
- Hotel (breakfast & dinner included)
- Camel Ride & Night in Sahara Desert
- Camel Per person
- Sandboarding in The Dunes
Not included :
- Monuments tickets