This exciting 5-day itinerary highlights the best of Morocco, including: Fes, the Desert, and Marrakech. The tour begins in the imperial city of Fes, traverses the Middle Atlas mountain range through the Sahara Desert. Spend the night like traditional Berbers in a bedouin desert camp before heading over the High Atlas mountains and finish your trip in bustling Marrakech.
Embark on a camel trek to your bedouin desert camp in the Erg Chebbi dunes. Climb the dunes to watch a romantic sunset, then enjoy a traditional dinner by the campfire where local Berbers will entertain you with music. If the weather agrees you can spend the night under the stars. Wake up early to watch the sunrise over the dunes before heading to the traditional Saharan town of Khemliya where we will enjoy traditional Gnawa music. We’ll carry onto the market town of Rissani to witness the ‘donkey parking lot’. Then walk along the deep Todra Gorge near Tinerhir. Head through the valley of a thousand kasbahs to Ouarzazate. In the afternoon take a tour of the Atlas movie studio, where you’ll see the sets of movies such as Gladiator. Overnight in Ouarzazate and on the fourth morning visit Morocco’s most famous kasbah (walled city) and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aït Benhaddou.
Follow the winding road up the High Atlas mountains through the Tizi n’Tichka Pass. Visit an Argan Oil Cooperative to understand the production of this amazing product. By the evening you’ll arrive in the bustling red city of Marrakech. On the last day you’ll take a guided tour of Marrakech visiting the spice markets where you can shop up a storm. We’ll also visit the beautiful Ben Youssef Madrasa school of Islam. Depending on the time of your flight you’ll have time to visit the famous Square Jemaa el-Fna and the nearby Koutoubia Mosque. Other sites of interest include the 17th-century El Badi Palace and Bahia Palace. If you have time you can wind down your holiday with a relaxing afternoon at the Majorelle Gardens.
What You’ll Do
The oldest imperial city of Morocco, Fes, boasts the most complete medina in the Arab world. It has been largely untouched for hundreds of years revealing life back in medieval times. Spend half a day with your guide navigating the pedestrian only, maze-like alleyways. Starting at the impressive Bab Boujeloud gate, you’ll visit Al-Qarawiyyin, the oldest university in the world. Marvel at the intricate zellij (mosaic tilework) at the Al Attarine Madrasa. Browse leather products and experience the pungent smells of the 11th century traditional Chouara tanneries (don’t worry the shopkeepers will give you fresh mint to sniff). Check out the Mellah (Jewish quarter and cemetery) and if there’s time watch the sunset from the Merenid Tombs.
After an early breakfast we’ll travel south toward Merzouga. On the way we’ll climb the Col du Zad pass (7 146 feet or 2 178 m) passing through the quaint European town of Ifrane and the cedar forests of Azrou. In winter Ifrane is a ski destination and sightings of Barbary macaque monkeys are common alongside the cedar forests. We’ll stop for lunch at the city of apples, Midelt, flourishing from the nearby Moulouya River. Pass the scenic Ziz Valley, known for its palm trees and its ksars (fortified houses). In Erfoud you can visit a local collective to learn about fossil mining.
We’ll continue on to the beautiful ever moving sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. Saddle up your camel and head out into the desert to your camp for the night. Climb the dunes to practise sandboarding and watch the sunset. You’ll enjoy a delicious dinner, relaxing around the fire. Sing along with local Berbers before retiring to your tent.
Wake up early to watch the sunrise on the dunes before heading back to Merzouga to freshen up and eat breakfast. Today we’ll visit the traditional Saharan village of Khemliya famed for its Gnawa music such as the band Pigeons du Sable. We then continue on to the market town of Rissani, entering the dramatic gate. Venture through the livestock market to see the unusual site (and sounds) of a donkey parking lot. Driving through the desert town of Tinerhir we will reach the 984 feet (300 m) deep Todra Gorge. You’ll have time to relax, rest your feet in the water and have some local cuisine.
After lunch we’ll travel through the valley of a thousand kasbahs (old fortresses). Although most are now in disrepair some as still occupied by local families. Head west to the town of roses, Kela’a M’gouna, where hundreds of roses grow alongside the farmland. Continuing west we’ll head to the Ouarzazate, the gateway of the desert, made famous as a movie location. Join a studio tour to learn about the various movies filmed here.
Pretend you’re in Game of Thrones when visiting the Red City aka Aït Benhaddou, Morocco’s most famous kasbah (walled town) and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the passages of this 11th century mud-brick city. From there, travel through the winding roads of the High Atlas mountains, featured on the British car show, Top Gear. Mount Toubkal is the highest peak (13,671 feet or 4,167 m). We’ll stop near the top of the Tizi n’Tichka Pass (7,415 feet or 2,260 m) to have a snack and admire the views.
Stop at an Argan Oil Cooperative in Taddert to learn the process of making this liquid gold. We’ll then descent the High Atlas to Marrakech. After settling into the hotel you’ll have the afternoon free to explore. Navigate from the main square, Jemaa el-Fna, that’s alive with food and juice stalls, musicians, henna artists, snake charmers and a wide variety of souks selling stunning items. To the west of the square walk towards a tall mineret to see the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque. Although non-Muslims are not allowed in Moroccan mosques, wandering around the impressive gardens is well worth your time.
Unlike Fes which has an Arab feel, Marrakech has a Berber influence. Today you’ll take a tour of this intoxicating city starting at the spice market Souk el-Attarin, or Souk Smata. You can purchase gifts of slippers, rugs, and leather goods. Enjoy the fine Moroccan architecture and intricate craftsmanship of the Ben Youssef Madrasa school of Islam. As you walk through the medina, note the Fondouks—medieval inns that have been converted into homes and shopping areas.
Depending on your flight, you can consider visiting the 500-year old Saadian Tombs, the extensive courtyard and gardens of the 17th-century El Badi Palace, or the intricate woodwork and painted ceilings of the 19th-century Bahia Palace. Spend a relaxing afternoon visiting the Majorelle Gardens before transferring to the airport for your return flight home.
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