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Best of Morocco

Trip type: 
Cultural
Adventure level: 
2. Gentle
Max group size: 
12
Avg user rating: 
Awaiting reviews
Africa, Morocco | 16 days
Trip code: 
XMSC
New
What's included: 

Transport - Private Bus, Bus

Accommodation - Hotel (9 nts), Riad (5 nts), Guesthouse (1 nt)

Meals - 13 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 4 Dinners

Trip Highlights: 
Soak up panoramic views of the High Atlas
Explore the fortified city of Ait Benhaddou
Go camping on the sandy dunes of the Sahara
Enjoy the beach at Essaouira
see full itinerary >>

You'll follow an itinerary which has been researched and planned by our experts, saving you all the hassle of organising the trip. The itineraries are designed to minimise the time spent travelling and maximise the variety of experiences.
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
Itinerary options
Itinery Map

Itinerary for Best of Morocco

(Departures in 2014-15)
  • Day 1-2 - Casablanca
  • Day 3 - Rabat/Meknes
  • Day 4-5 - Volubilis/Fes
  • Day 6 - Midelt
  • Day 7 - Sahara Camp
  • Day 8-9 - Todra Gorge
  • Day 10 - Ait Benhaddou
  • Day 11 - Aroumd
  • Day 12-13 - Essaouira
  • Day 14-15 - Marrakech
  • Day 16 - Tour ends
Extensions and Extras: Extend your holiday and see more of the world. View additional tours for this trip »
Day
1-2

Casablanca

Fly to Casablance. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 2. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Modelled after Marseille in France, the bustling port city of Casablanca is now the undisputed economic capital of Morocco, with one of Africa's largest ports. The architectural style of the city is curious - famous for its art deco French-colonial buildings and Mauresque governmental institutions, an old medina and the phenomenal modern-day masterpiece, the Hassan II Mosque.

A pleasant way to spend the day exploring Casablanca is to wander the old medina and the city walls, then jump in a taxi to visit the Quartiers des Habous - the new medina full of shaded squares and narrow streets, lined with arcades that lead from one souk to another. This is a great place to enjoy a Moroccan coffee and maybe start improving your bargaining skills. Finish the day with a walk along the Corniche, watching the locals enjoy sunset football on the beach.

As there's not much time to explore Casablanca on this trip we recommend you arrive a day or two early to see the sights.

Optional Activities

  • Jewish Museum - MAD20
  • Villa des Arts - art gallery & museum - Free
  • Guided tour of Hassan II Mosque - MAD120

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Day
3

Rabat/Meknes

Take a train to Rabat (approx 1 hr).

Rabat's history is long and colourful: Roman settlements, pirates, the unfinished but towering 12th-century Hassan Tower and more recently its position as the modern political capital.

Store your luggage and spend a few hours strolling through the city's old quarter, then walk up to Kasbah des Oudaias and enjoy the view over the Atlantic Ocean.

Continue on to Meknes by train (approx 3 hrs).

Meknes was once an imperial city of Morocco and the capital of one of its most colourful eras, when the Sultan Moulay Ismail (a contemporary of Louis XIV) set out to build his own version of Versailles, constructing walls, gates and over 50 palaces with an unstoppable labour force of over 25,000 slaves.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

 

Day
4-5

Volubilis/Fes

This morning is free to explore Meknes. Attractions include Moulay Ismail's immense Heri es Souani Granary, a mammoth architectural feat, and the city's now crumbling imperial palaces.

The adventurous may want to try a camel burger for lunch at a local restaurant in the medina.

Board your private minibus and travel via picturesque rolling hills dotted with olive groves to the Roman ruins of Volubilis (approx 1 hr).

Volubilis was one of the Roman empire's most remote bases, which remained affluent until the 8th century. The main structures remained intact until they were damaged by an earthquake in the 18th century, after which much of the marble was taken for construction in nearby Meknes.

A local guide will take you on a walk back in time as you explore this ancient hilltop city.

Reboard your minibus and continue on to Fes (approx 1.5 hrs).

Fes is the most complete medieval city in the Arab world. The most ancient of Morocco's imperial cities, it exists suspended in time.

Descending into the labyrinthine alleyways of the Medina is like taking a giant step back to the Middle Ages. Preserved by the French for its historical value, this preservation also led to the decline of the city's importance, as both government and financial centres were set up elsewhere in the country. With the Jewish population moving away in 1956, and too many rural poor moving in for it to handle, this ancient centre of learning is only a shell of what it used to be. Still, it remains a fascinating living museum where getting lost is half the fun.

The afternoon is free to get lost in the maze of streets and alleys of the Medina, take a photo outside the Royal Palace or visit the nearby hills for incredible views.

Included Activities

  • Entrance and guided tour Volubilis
  • Guided walking tour Fes

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Day
6

Midelt

Board your private minibus and head towards the fabulously scenic Middle Atlas Mountains (approx 4 hrs). This territory is populated with wandering nomadic shepherds attending to their flocks. Your route takes us through cedar forests - home to the Barbary apes, North Africa's only monkey - and on to your destination, Midelt.

Nestled in the picturesque valley between the Middle and High Atlas mountain ranges, Midelt boasts a dramatic setting surrounded by farmland and orchards.

Stretch your legs, explore the nearby village of Bremmem and take a closer look at local farming life.

Visit Kasbah Myriam, a carpet and embroidery workshop run by Franciscan nuns with the aim of providing sustainable employment and education to local Berber women. The wares they produce are beautiful and of high quality, so it's the perfect place to buy a memorable souvenir.

Included Activities

  • Walk and visit of Bremmem village

Optional Activities

  • Folklore music performance - MAD300

Accommodation

Guesthouse (1 nt)

 

Day
7

Sahara Camp

Take a stunning drive towards the mighty Sahara Desert (approx 5 hrs). You have many opportunities to stop and admire the panoramic views of the Kasbahs and palmeries (valleys lush with date palms, fields and orchards) en route, since you have the convenience of your own private minivan (there are not many options for public transport in these parts). You can pause in some of the frontier towns such as Erfoud and Rissani before you reach the end of the road and the small Saharan settlement of Merzouga.

You'll store your main baggage before saddling up your day packs and mounting camels to head off into the sunset for a memorable night in your Sahara camp (approx 1 hour each way).

The Erg Chebbi dunes are the most stunning in the country and an experience essential of any visit to Morocco. An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that's formed into picturesque undulating crests and valleys, and the Erg Chebbi is one of the world's classic landscapes of towering dunes, up to heights of over 150 metres. Located at the end of the sealed road and just 20 kilometres from the Algerian border this is wonderful frontier country.

The camp is a simple affair with bedding and basic toilet facilities provided. Your new local friends will prepare a hearty feast so all you need to do is soak up the experience. Your camp does provide blankets which are sufficient for most travellers between April and October. For extra warmth and comfort, you may choose to bring your own sleeping bag - we recommend this particularly in the months from November to March.

Accommodation

Camp site (1 nt)

Day
8-9

Todra Gorge

For the early risers the morning begins with a sunrise over the majestic dunes, before riding your camel back to your small auberge for a basic breakfast and freshening up.

It's another classic drive with dramatic changes of landscape to Todra Gorge (approx 4 hrs).

Todra Gorge is a spectacular canyon with sheer rock walls up to 300 m high, now gaining fame as a rock-climbing destination.

You have a full day to explore this stunning region.

A guided hike through the gorge and a loop over a nearby mountain pass is highly recommended. You might even be fortunate enough to meet some of the local nomads and join them for a glass of mint tea.

For lunch you can join some local ladies in their mud-brick kasbah. This provides a fantastic opportunity to get an idea of how locals live in this largely unchanged culture.

The adventurous can try some rock climbing (easily arranged by your group leader on arrival in Todra).

Simply lounging on the terrace by the hotel pool with gorgeous views of the lush palmeries and soaring cliff faces is a great way to spend your day here.

Included Activities

  • Museum El Khorbat

Optional Activities

  • Guided trek - MAD250
  • Berber lunch in a local family guesthouse - MAD70
  • Rock climbing - MAD200
  • Henna tattooing - MAD50
  • Hamam (public baths) - MAD100
  • 4WD journey to Dades Gorge - MAD1500

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Day
10

Ait Benhaddou

Say goodbye to the Gorges region and travel further south towards Ait Benhaddou (approx 4 hrs). This scenic drive offers a glimpse of times gone by via the ruins of ancient kasbahs, former colonial military outposts, austere mountains, wide-open spaces, and valleys of palm trees and irrigated fields. En route you can pause for lunch in Ouarzazate.

The film capital of Morocco, Ouarzazate is the location where productions such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky and Black Hawk Down were filmed.

Time permitting, you can take a tour of the Atlas Movie Studios.

Make a short visit to Project Handicapped Horizon, an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of people with disabilities. Some of the amazing services they provide include the building and fitting of prosthetic limbs, custom-made wheelchairs, and physio and social therapy for sufferers of accidents and illness. They also operate an artisans workshop which trains local people in trades such as pottery, weaving, metal work and jewellery making. This is a wonderful visit and we're very proud to support this project through The Intrepid Foundation.

Centuries ago, Ait Benhaddou was an important stop for the caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. Today, its grand kasbah is still one of the most beautiful in all of Morocco and a World Heritage site. This fortified village is a fine example of clay architecture and is also famous for its role on the silver screen, featuring in numerous films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Jewel of the Nile and Gladiator.

Why not join a simple cooking demonstration of Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine.  Your new local friends will explain the secrets and subtleties of these traditional meals as the ladies of the kitchen prepare a feast.

Included Activities

  • Cooking class and dinner

Optional Activities

  • Atlas Movie Studios - MAD50
  • Kasbah Taourirt - MAD20

Accommodation

Guesthouse (1 nt)

Day
11

Aroumd

Journey over the spectacular Tizi n'Tichka Pass (2260 m) to the scenic Toubkal National Park (approx 5 hrs). The route is an epic journey as you farewell the landscape of the Sahara, passing over the desolate high altitudes of the Tichka, before traversing some stunning lush valleys and winding our way to the end of the road at Imlil.

You'll store our main luggage and load daypacks on to pack mules before taking a 1 hour walk up to the peaceful village of Aroumd where you spend the night. If you don't feel you can complete the walk, don't worry and take the option of riding a mule up to Aroumd.

A family-run mountain home (gite) will be your accommodation for the night and perched on a great rocky outcrop you have an incredible sight to appreciate from your terrace: views of North Africa's highest peak - Mount Toubkal. Facilities at the mountain gite are shared - both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements - but are cosy, comfortable and a unique travel experience.

Regardless of your level of fitness, the gentle pace of Aroumd makes it a special place beyond the reach of the modern world - and it is an opportunity not to be missed.

Optional Activities

  • Mule ride - Imlil to Aroumd - MAD50

Accommodation

Gite (1 nt)

Day
12-13

Essaouira

Take a morning walk through the surrounding countryside, featuring the nearby valleys and tracks of the stunning Atlas Mountains. Leave the mountains behind and head westwards towards the windswept Atlantic Coast and the old fishing town of Essaouira (approx 5 hrs).

The name Essaouira means image, which is appropriate since it's such a picturesque town. Its charm is undeniable - within the stone ramparts you'll find whitewashed houses with bright blue shutters, art galleries and wood workshops. This laidback artists' town is a former Portuguese trading colony and was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations. The town faces a group of rocky islands - called the Mogador - and is surrounded by an expanse of sandy beaches and dunes. It's still a busy fishing port and its pretty harbour is filled with tiny colourful boats which go out early every morning for the day's catch. Visitors who have been seduced by its charms include Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. More recently, filmmaker Ridley Scott chose the ramparts as an important location for his film, Kingdom of Heaven. Join your local guide for a walking tour through the old Medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall).

Stay in a wonderfully restored riad - a traditional nobleman's house unique to Morocco that has become very popular with travellers as an oasis of escape, charm and tranquillity from the hustle and bustle of the Medina. Your riad features a central courtyard and is beautifully designed and decorated in traditional Moroccan style. You'll love the cosy, friendly atmosphere and it will be one of the most memorable stays on your journey in Morocco. You have a free day to to soak up the romantic ambience. Everything in the small centre is within walking distance and the beach is clean. Wander the harbour and its adjacent fish markets where you can witness the daily auction. A freshly-cooked plate of the day's catch is highly recommended. Browse the plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries that make this little town a particularly pleasant place to unwind for a few days. It has a growing reputation for its unique art and is becoming even more famous for its burled Thuya wood - delicately formed and inlaid in tiny shops, which are built into the thick walls of the Portuguese ramparts. The scent from the oils used to polish the richly coloured wood permeates the air and makes walking down the streets incredibly pleasant.

Essaouira is a world-famous windsurfing destination. Give it go or you may like to try your hand at the increasingly popular sport of kite surfing.

Don't miss the opportunity to go to a hammam or local-style bath to be spoilt with a good scrub, a mud pack and a relaxing massage with argan oil.

Included Activities

  • Half-day hike in the Atlas Mountains
  • Walking tour

Optional Activities

  • Hamam (public baths) - MAD200
  • Berber massage - MAD350
  • Windsurfing / kitesurfing - MAD300
  • Quad biking in dunes - MAD350

Accommodation

Riad (2 nts)

Day
14-15

Marrakech

The morning is free for further exploration around Essaouria.

Board a local bus to Marrakech (approx 3 hrs).

Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Be enticed by the alluring scents and brilliant colours of the spice markets, the sounds of the musicians, the rich folds of carpets, delectable foods, acrobats and perfumed gardens.

Join the thronging crowds and enjoy dinner at the infamous Djemaa el Fna - the ultimate el fresco experience. This is undoubtedly an unforgettable introduction to bustling Marrakech where we can wander though the singers, drummers, dancers, snake charmers, fortune tellers, tooth pullers, storytellers, jugglers and even old medicine men, who all make up what has been dubbed the 'greatest spectacle on earth'.

Explore the amazing Medina and the seemingly endless mosaic of souqs. Each is devoted to a separate trade: pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets and spices. A wander amongst them is a sensory delight.

The monuments of Marrakech are numerous and range from the well-known Koutoubia Mosque and its superb minaret - famous throughout the Islamic world and the 'sister' to the Giralda in far-away Seville, to the lesser-known tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle (now owned by Yves Saint Laurent). There's the Palais Bahia, a superb example of Muslim architecture, and the ruins of the Palais Badi, reputedly one of the most beautiful palaces in the world in its time. The Saadian tombs are a recently uncovered gem of the Medina. All of the above can be a challenge to locate, but that's all part of the experience of exploring the phenomenal medinas of Morocco.

Included Activities

  • Dinner at Djemaa el Fna

Optional Activities

  • Koutoubia Mosque and minaret - Free
  • Marjorelle Gardens - MAD50
  • Palais Bahia - MAD10
  • Palais Badi - MAD10
  • Saadien Tombs - MAD10
  • Medersa Ben Youssef - MAD40
  • Museum of Marrakech - MAD40

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Day
16

Tour ends

Your adventure ends today and you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home to London.