Day 1 Casablanca to Chefchaouen visiting Rabat (We can start from any city)
Firstly, in Casablanca, we will visit the Hassan II Mosque, the largest in Africa. The build statistics are awe inspiring and the design, absolutely stunning. Then on to Rabat, the capital of Morocco, this city is a fascinating mix of old and new. The older parts include the unfinished Hassan Mosque dating from 1184 which we will visit along with the beautiful Royal Palace and remains of the Merinid tombs dating from the 14th century. Then drive to Chefchaouen, the road ascending into the valleys of the Rif Mountains, the valley forms a dramatic entrance to the vividly blue-colored small city? Here you can watch woman and children washing carpets and clothes in public washing units- complete with scrubbing blocks, by the side of the driver, before laying them out to dry on the roof-tops. There are public ovens and baths and through every other doorway, you will see craftsmen hard at work using traditional methods. Just far enough off the beaten track to discourage most tourists but offering something more authentic to those that seek it; the calm, arty environment is a welcome alternative from a hectic city tour. The steep streets are cobbled and virtually traffic free.
Overnight in blue city.
Day 2 Chefchaouen- Volubilis- Meknes- fes
In the vast open massive fields, we stop to explore Volubilis, Morocco’s most well preserved roman ruins. Explore Meknes, including the old medina, Bab Mansour- build by a sultan who executed the designer for his honesty in admitting he perhaps could have done better, and the ancient palace. Explore the market, where the locals buy everything from clothing to food to furniture. If you are there on a weekend, you will also see the expansion with many additional sellers setting up shop on the sidewalks, their wares arrayed on blankets on the ground. Then overnight in Fes which contains a labyrinthine 8th century medina, the oldest intact Arabic City, which will take you back to medieval times. This is a working city and trades of every kind are practiced in the narrowest streets imaginable, tiny shops displaying all manner of traditional crafts and heavily laden donkeys are the only transport. This is a confusing and extraordinary city rightly identified as the intellectual and cultural capital of the country. Overnight in Fes.
Day 3 Fes – Sightseeing with official guide.
Your city guide will meet you and show you the 16th century southern tower and fortress which faces the northern one, offering a panoramic view over the city. You will visit the royal palace, the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) and the impressive Bab Bou Jeloud ( blue gate to the medina). We will visit a fascinating pottery cooperative where you will learn about the making of Moroccan mosaic “zellige” and the blue pottery of Fes. Then into the medina and the Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and University, the oldest in the world. Fes was a center for culture and learning housing the oldest university in the world and it was the demand for book leather that resulted in what is now the oldest leather tannery in the world dating back nine centuries.
Day 4 Fes to Merzouga
Depart Fes after breakfast and begin your journey south. Make a stop in Ifrane, the small ski resort town, visit the wild monkeys in the cedar forests outside Ifrane head towards the Middle Atlas mountains. There will be time to stop for the Barbary apes. Then to capital of apple, midelt, known for its apple production, after lunch, we move further and further south through the photogenic Ziz Valley as the scenery changes and the date palm groves begin. Our day ends in Merzouga, where you can relax in your hotel and watch the moon rise over the dunes.
Day 5 Desert Exploration
Today we will take a 4WD off-road tour around the dunes. On the tour, we will visit the oasis of Merzouga, and Khamlia Village, where you can hear Gnaoua music from the local people who are descendants if ex-slaves that found their way to Morocco from Senegal via the Salt Route. We will continue on to meet desert nomads in their tents and discover their way of life. We will also visit the nearby Lake of Merzouga, with its diverse population of birds (weather dependant). Afterwards, we will leave for Rissani. Once called Sijilmassa, this was the meeting place for the salt caravans coming from Timbuktu, Mali. Here you’ll be able to walk through the largest souk in the south, where you will be able to find spices, vegetables, and cloth and possibly see livestock and camels being traded. After lunch, there will be time to relax by the pool (or alternatively enjoy a quad bike or dune buggy experience in the dunes) before we set off the Desert Camp.
You will be introduced to your camels which you will ride to the camp in time to watch the sunset over the dunes. Whereas some parts of the Moroccan desert have become over commercialized, our camps are set in enviable positions where the only footsteps you will see are those of your camel. The camp fires and lanterns will be lit and a traditional Moroccan feast will be served while Berber musicians play desert drums.
Luxury Camp, at the luxury camp there are beautiful lanterns and cushions everywhere, big, comfortable beds and with en-suite facilities. Dinner is a three-course feast of authentic North African cuisine and you will enjoy camp fires, music and the stars. In the morning, we recommend waking in the desert dawn to watch the sunrise before enjoying a hot shower in your tent and a huge breakfast spread.
Day 6 Sahara to Dades Valley
Nothing is quite as special as waking in the desert dawn, watching the sun rise over the dunes lighting up a new day. We will head off to Tinjdad where we will stop in Todra Gorge where the 300 m canyons will literally take your breath away and you can walk along the shallow river enjoying the changing colours. The onto Dades Valley on the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs. Called the Country of the Figs we can also trek in this area of apricots and almonds peach, walnut and pomegranate trees.
Overnight in Dades Valley.
Day 7 Dades to Ait Ben Haddou
This morning we will have some fun “Off Road” driving before we continue along the Road of 1000 Kasbahs to The Valley of Roses, famous for its cosmetics, perfumes and medicines. We drive across Skoura Oasis where you can enjoy a bike ride amongst the palms beside Kasbah Amridil which is a living museum featured on the Moroccan 50 dirhams note and in coffe table books around the world. Ouarzazate- the Door of the Desert- is a world renowned film making location. From Lawrence of Arabia in the 60’s to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen 2011- you can visit the Atlas Studios, one of the largest in the world. There will also be an optional visit to the most impressive Taourirt Kasbah. Then we head to the fortified city if Ait Ben Haddou and we can visit the UNESCO World Heritage site, the most spectacular Ksar in all of Morocco. Situated on the old caravan route from the Sahara to Marrakech.
Overnight in Ouarzazate.
Day 8 Ait Ben Haddou to Taroudant
Today we head towards Taroudant. There will be the opportunity to stop firstly in Tazenakht- Land of carpets and then Taliouine- Land of Saffron. There are a number of women’s cooperatives in this very rural area which have been set up to help the women earn a living and command a fair price for their work and here you can see the process of saffron extraction. Taroudant, which is an authentic Berber market town, os known as Mini Marrakech but as it is not so visited by tourists, it offers a much more authentic experience. You can enjoy a carriage ride around the walls, which are more complete here than in any other Moroccan town and they glow in all shades under the sun and its souks (both Arab and Berber) are reputed to be the best in the south.
Day 9 Taroudant to Essaouira
Today will show a completely different side of Morocco as we follow the Atlantic coastline to Essaouira. An authentic seaside town, UNESCO listed Essaouira is an alluring, up spoilt destination with a tangible North African Feel. With an all year round, warm, sunny climate cooled by the Atlantic breezes, Essaouira is a melting pot of locals and foreigners who came and stayed, have created a laid back, atmospheric and intriguing resort. Windsurfers love Swira’s shallow, clean waters and it’s the Atlantic Trade winds that have ensured the large scale operators stay out and the character stays in. there are times of the year when the ten kilometers of sandy beach are for looking at but not sitting on and that’s when you’ll appreciate that this is a working town with plenty to see. The fishing harbor is thriving and with the smell of citrus and spice in the air, you can have their fresh daily catch grilled for you on hot coals at the open air stands. The confusing maze of a medina, where the pretty, narrow lanes are crammed with houses adorned with cobalt blue shutters and doorways, is just as important to locals as to tourists and the woodworkers are still crafting their thuya wood as though time has stood still.
Day 10 Essaouira to Marrakech
Today you can choose your time of departure in order to make the 2 to 3 hour journey back to Marrakech. The journey will take us through orange groves and olive farms and deep into Argan country. These special trees are valued for their nutritive, cosmetic and numerous medicinal properties. The tree, a relict species from the Tertiary age, is extremely well adapted to drought and other environmentally difficult conditions of southwestern Morocco, and while now endangered, they are under protection of UNESCO.
Overnight in Marrakech.
Day 11 Marrakech
After breakfast, a local guide will provide a city tour to include gardens, ramparts, Bahia Palace and the 12th century Koutoubia Mosque. Then the famous souks with their myriad of stalls and vibrant colors. This is an amazing place to shop for gifts and the guide will help you do this. The tour will and in Djemaa el-Fna, the famous market square in Marrakech’s old quarter complete with storytellers, magicians, food stalls and snake charmers.
Day 12 Marrakech
Enjoy your free time, perhaps a traditional hammam or relaxing spa treatment or choose from a selection of cooking workshops.
Day 13 Transfer to departure airport
This is just an example- all our Morocco Tours and Morocco Desert Tours can be customized to fit your requirements- contact us for a “no obligation” discussion with a local expert.