Southern Morocco and Imperial Cities (11 days)
Day 1: Airport –Marrakech
We meet you at Marrakech airport and take you to your hotel where you will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 2: Marrakech – Casablanca – Rabat
After breakfast at the hotel we leave Marrakech and travel to Casablanca, Morocco’s biggest city and economic capital. We visit the splendid Hassan II Mosque, the largest in Africa and 7th largest in the world, with its towering minaret, which at 210 metres is the world’s tallest.
Next we continue to Rabat,Morocco’s second largest city, situated on the Atlantic coast. This is the capital city and residence of the King of Morocco. Here we will have time to visit the city’s many attractions, including the beautiful Mausoleum of Mohamed V, the imposing Hassan Tower (all that remains of a once-splendid ancient mosque), ChellahGardens and Necropolis, and the Oudayas Kasbah.
Next we have dinner and spend the night in a hotel.
Day 3: Rabat –Volubilis– Meknes – Fez
We have breakfast in the hotel then set off for the magnificent Roman ruins of Volubils, complete with baths and forum. This was the ancient Mauritanian capital, founded in the 3rd century B.C., and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Our next stop is the city of Meknes, another UNESCO World Heritage site.Here we will visit the huge and beautifully intricate “Bab Mansour” monumental gate, and the wonderful Mausoleum of MoulayIsmil, one of the most spectacular buildings in the city. Depending on the time of our visit, we may be able to go inside and view the beautifully decorative tomb.
We end our day in Fez, the oldest city in Morocco and home to the world’s oldest university. We check into a riad or hotel where we will spend the next two nights.
Day 4: Fez
On our fourth day we have a guided tour of the city of Fez, where the strolling through the old town or Medina is like stepping back in time. This beautifully preserved medieval city is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, with its magical maze of alleyways and bustling markets or souks, all surrounded by high wall.
Amongst the places we visit are: the Medersa(or religious schools) of el-Attarine and BouInania, with their fine examples of Merenid craftsmanship and fabulous views of the old city from the rooftop of el-Attarine; the Nejjarine fountainwith its beautiful mosaics; the El Karaouyine mosque, and the spectacular main gate of Baba Jloud.
Day 5: Fez– Erfoud
We will pick you up from your Riad or your hotel around 8:00 a.m and set off for the town of Midelt. We travel through the Middle Atlas mountains with their dense cedar forests, passing by the lovely ski resort of Ifrane, and the attractive market town of Azrou, which is also an important handicraft centre specialising in the use of the local cedar wood.
Next we arrive in the small town of Midelt, with its breath-taking views of the High Atlas mountains in the distance, seeming to rise from nowhere. This is where we stop for lunch.
In the afternoon we will drive to the town of Erfoud, on the edge of the Sahara Desert
in the middle of the palm groves of the oasis of Tafilalets. This is where we will have dinner and spend the night in a hotel.
Day 6: Erfoud – Merzouga
After breakfast at the hotel, we can visit the fossil excavations and fossil museum at Erfoud. Next we go to the nearby oasis town of Rissani, where the dunes of the Sahara are already within sight.
Next we arrive in the desert at Merzouga to find our guide and camels waiting to carry us across the sandy dunes of the Moroccan Sahara. We ride our camels at sunset through the bleak but strangely beautiful desert landscape, arriving at our desert camp at Erg Chebbi, and the traditional nomad tent we will call home for the night. On arrival at the bivouac, we will have dinner then spend an unforgettable night around the campfire, sleeping in Berber tents or under the stars.
Alternatively, if a long camel-trek and sleeping in a tent is not for you, you can still enjoy the sunset over Erg Chebbiby taking a shorter camel-trek or a walk, then spend the night in a charming hostel on the edge of the dunes.
Day 7: Merzouga – Dades Gorges
We wake up early to watch the sunrise and take some beautiful photos of the sun rising over the dunes, before having breakfast in the open air. Then we get back on our camels and trek back to the hotel where we can take a shower.
Next we continue our journey, driving through beautiful palm groves. We stop for lunch, then go for a short walk in the magnificent Todra Gorge, which in places measures just 10m across but with cliffs rising to more than 150 metres on either side.
Then we continue to the town of BoumalneDades, at the Dades Gorge crossroads, with its river valley views and great birdwatching opportunities. This is where we will have dinner and spend the night in a hotel.
Day 8: Dades Gorges – Ouarzazate
We travel through the Dades Gorge along the “Road of a thousand Kasbahs”, a spectacular drive winding through stunning desert landscapes. We stop at a high vantage point to admire the amazing views of the gorge. Then we go for a short hike through the great oasis valley to a pretty terraced restaurant, where we have lunch.
In the afternoon we travel to the town of Ouarzazate sometimes known as ‘the Hollywood of Africa’ because it is home to Atlas Studios, where films such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Gladiator” were made. We have dinner here and spend the night in a hotel.
Day 9: Ouarzazate– Marrakech
After breakfast, we will visit one of Morocco’s most spectacular kasbahs (fortified villages), Kasbah Ait BenHaddou, a beautiful fortified city of terraced kasbahs, the largest of its kind in Morocco. The site is amongst the best examples of earthen construction in existence, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It may also look familiar, as several well-known films have been shot there, including epics such as “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Alexander” and “Gladiator”.
We then continue towards Marrakech, stopping to visit the Berber village of Telouetand Kasbah Telouet, and imposing palace and ancestral home of PachaGlaoui.
Next we climb up through the High Atlas mountains to the Tizi n’ Tichka Pass, or ‘Gateway to the Sahara’, which at 2260m is the highest pass in North Africa, with stunning panoramic views.
We arrive at Marrakech where we have dinner and spend the night in a hotel.
Day 10: Marrakech
On day ten we explore Marrakech, the most important of Morocco’s four former imperial cities, founded in 1062 by Abu Bakribn Umar, chieftain and cousin of Almoravid king Yusuf ibnTashfin.
We will see the old city (or medina), the tranquil Menara gardens, with their artificial lake, orchards and olive groves, and the Agdal gardens, all of which are listed UNESCO World Heritage sites. We will also visit the minaret of the Koutoubia, Saadian tombs and the Museum Dar Si Said.
Day 11: Marrakech – airport
We will pick you up from your hotel and take you to Marrakech airport.