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Discover the secrets of Morocco from city to Sahara
This immersive 13-day journey through Morocco will see you exploring everything from the mighty mosque of Hassan II to the immense Sahara, experiencing local hospitality along the way. Wander the charming Meknes medina, discover the high plains market of Midelt, walk the cliffs of the Tadra Gorge and travel to each destination in the comfort of an air-conditioned private vehicle. With comfortable accommodation and memorable food experiences along the way, this trip allows you to explore Morocco in style.
Uncover one of the most remote parts of the Roman Empire and the most impressive Roman ruins in Morocco at the World Heritage-listed Volubilis.
Navigating the narrow alleys and ramshackle stalls of Fes’ medina is a breeze with a group size of no larger than 12.
Stay in a mixture of elegant hotels and unique local lodgings – from an elegant, traditional riad in Fes to a desert camp.
Enjoy a Lawrence of Arabia moment while you ride a camel across the desert, with the beautiful sunrise over the dunes of Sahara as your backdrop.
Experience traditional Berber food and hospitality during an exclusive stay with a local family in the High Atlas Mountains, surrounded by rolling hills and crowning peaks.
One of the highlights of this trip is wandering around the Fes medina on Day 4. You will be on your feet for at least 5–6 hours, but the sights, smells and sounds make are well worth any weariness at the end of the day.
The camel ride on Day 7 is a romantic way to see the Sahara, but if you’d prefer, it’s possible to walk alongside the caravan on the sand for about an hour.
The remote areas of M’Goun Valley and Todra Gorge that this tour visits on Day 9 are best discovered on foot, which is why the itinerary includes a trek. You’ll need a moderate level of fitness and appropriate footwear and clothing to enjoy it. If trekking isn’t really your thing, you can speak with your leader about activities on offer in the valley.
The weather in Morocco can be extreme. Summer temperatures can be uncomfortably hot, especially for those who aren’t accustomed to the heat, so please consider carefully what time of year you travel.
In 2020, Ramadan will take place from 23 April to 22 May. Travelling in Morocco during this holy month can be a rewarding cultural experience. However, some regular services may not be available during the daytime, such as restaurants or coffee bars, and occasionally travel can be disrupted by events. Your local leader will adjust the itinerary accordingly, but please consider your travel arrangements carefully before booking travel for this period.
Travelling with Peregrine is all about embracing local customs, so please be aware that as Morocco has a tipping culture and travellers are expected to tip small amounts for most services. Your trip leader and the Money Matters section of the Essential Trip Information will provide you with suggestions as to what amounts are appropriate.
Although you shouldn’t expect any aggressive selling techniques in Morocco you may be approached by shop owners and street vendors offering their goods to you on regular occasions.
We’ve sourced our accommodation very carefully and picked the best possible hotels in line with the Peregrine style of travel, but keep in mind the service and accommodation in Morocco may differ to western standards.
Welcome to Morocco! On arrival at Casablanca Airport you will be met by a Peregrine representative and transferred to your hotel. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting with your leader and fellow travellers this evening at 6 pm. If you arrive with time to spare, then a great option for your limited time in Casablanca is to visit the Villa des Arts. This 1930s art deco gallery holds numerous exhibitions of contemporary Moroccan and international art. If you are looking for a different type of cultural experience then you may want to learn about a fascinating part of Moroccan history at the Museum of Judaism.
This morning you will visit one of the most impressive sites in Casablanca – the massive edifice of the Mosque of Hassan II. Opened in 1993, and second only in size to the great mosque at Mecca, the huge building is part on land and part on sea and can accommodate 25,000 worshippers. It is also one of the only mosques in Morocco open to non-Muslims. Later, you will leave Casablanca and drive north along the coast to Rabat (approximately 1.5 hours), the elegant capital of Morocco and its first Imperial city. It contains numerous fine Arab monuments from the Almohad and Merenid dynasties of the 10th to 15th centuries and others that are far older. The earliest known settlement is Sala. Walk through the medina and souks, then explore the lovely walled quarter known as the Kasbah des Oudaias and enjoy an included local drink. Afterwards, continue to Mausoleum of Mohammed V and the huge minaret of the Hassan Mosque. In the late afternoon, continue to Meknes (approximately 2 hours).
This morning you will discover the charming streets of Meknes’ medina. Enter via the northern gate, Bab Berdaine, and walk to the shrine of Moulay Ismail who, in the 17th century, turned Meknes from a provincial town to a spectacular Imperial city. Visit Moulay Ismail Mausoleum. This peaceful resting place of Sultan Moulay Ismail is one of the few sacred sites in Morocco open to non-Muslims. Constructed during his lifetime, Ismail chose this location as it had once housed Meknes’s Palais de Justice (courthouse), and he hoped in death to be judged in his own court by his own people. Take some time to soak up the atmosphere of this place before driving out of the city to the ruins of Volubilis (approximately 45 minutes). Volubilis was once a provincial Roman capital, a distant outpost of the empire, and the remains make an undeniably impressive sight. Take a tour around the ruins with a local guide. Have your camera or phone at the ready as the town is filled with picture-perfect mosaics along the Decumanus Maximus. After time spent imagining Volubulis as the bustling city it once was, continue to the living museum of Fes (approximately 1.5 hours). Check in to your hotel in late afternoon, and perhaps spend the evening relaxing in your elegant, riad-style accommodation.
Fes is the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco; vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses. Today head into the Old Town, known locally as Fes el Bali. Medieval Fes was one of the world’s great centres of education and culture, both Islamic and Jewish. Its religious institutions and libraries are legendary, its mosques of great renown. Walk through the twisting streets and alleyways, passing donkeys piled high with goods, and explore the specialty sections that divide the souk. Filled with historic khans, medresses and dye-pits, stalls loaded with fruits, herbs and soups, and where the squawk of chickens, smell of spice and sound of hammering of copper fills the air. Spend the day exploring the old city, visiting Al-Attarine Madrasa, the tanneries and the splendid Funduk Nejjarine, a beautifully restored 18th-century inn. Return to your hotel in the late afternoon and enjoy a memorable dinner of one of the city’s signature dishes, the salty and sweet pastille.
Today, leave the intensity of the city behind for the simplicity of the High Atlas Mountains. Drive inland through a variety of spectacular scenery – fertile valleys, cedar and pine forests and barren, rocky landscapes – to the small town of Midelt (approximately 5 hours). Midelt is a market town, originally built as a base for mining in the area and is nestled in the high plains surrounding the Moulouya River, between the Middle and High Atlas mountain ranges at an elevation of just over 1500 metres. It’s a perfect spot to break up the journey to the Sahara and is a great base for some easy walks. Many of the locals are Berber, and the town can offer an insight into their way of life. After lunch, stretch your legs for a few hours on an easy hike in the nearby hills. Be prepared for some astonishing views of the Atlas Mountains, with snowy peaks almost touching the sky. Wander through plantations of apple trees on the way back to your accommodation for a relaxing evening, resting up before the Sahara tomorrow.
This morning there’s time to take another invigorating walk before the drive to Merzouga. With a backdrop of the orange-coloured Erg Chebbi sand dunes, the charming Saharan village of Merzouga feels wonderfully isolated, like the modern world has left it behind. The Erg Chebbi dunes are the most stunning in the country and an essential part 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. The Erg Chebbi is one of the world’s iconic landscapes, with towering dunes up to 150 metres in height. Leave your gear at your overnight camp and then mount your camel and ride to the edge of the Sahara Desert, enjoying a spectacular sunset along the way. The dunes are stunning, especially as the evening light plays across them and sets off the colours. Tonight, you will camp out in traditional style with the chance to try some fantastic local cuisine while you sit around an open fire, enjoying lively music and dancing under the stars.
Enjoy a real Lawrence of Arabia moment this morning with yet another camel ride, this time for unforgettable sunrise across the desert. After breakfast drive to Todra Gorge (approximately 4.5 hours), a massive trench that rises over 250 metres to form one of the most dramatic and spectacular natural sights in Morocco. The limestone stacks make a perfect area for trekking, and so today you will take a short walk through the sheer cliffs. Then continue to the beautiful Dades Valley (approximately 1 hour), where you will stop for a break and have some time to take in the remarkable scenery – sprawling green valleys and rocks sculpted into stunning formations by the wind. Continue your journey inland to the M’Goun Valley (approximately 1 hour) where you will have a chance to observe the customs and lifestyle of the Berber people.
You have a full day to explore the beauty of this largely untouched Moroccan backcountry and the best way to do way to do it is on foot. There are a couple of circuits in the area, but the one you’ll tackle today is a 10-kilometre circuit that will take about 4 hours. Take a short transfer to the start of the trek, then set out with a local guide. The trail undulates and can be challenging in sections but is accessible to everyone with a basic level of fitness. Stop in a village en route and enjoy tea with a local family. This is a fantastic opportunity to share stories and learn a little about the way of family life in the M’Goun Valley. The surrounding mountains and the famous Rose Valley make a sensational setting.
Leaving the Dades Valley today, set off on the Road of 1000 Kasbahs. Your first stop is Skoura Oasis (approximately 1 hour), home to several privately owned kasbahs, including the Kasbah Ameridhl, with its extravagant decorations and mud-brick fortifications. Continue to Ait Benhaddou (approximately 2 hours) – a hilltop site almost unchanged since the 11th century. Its grand kasbah is one of the most beautiful in Morocco and fortified village is a fine example of clay architecture. If you think you recognise the place, you probably do, as the town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Walk through the winding streets of the Old Town, making your way to the top of the hill for some scenic views. Afterwards, visit Tawesna – a local teahouse on the river – for afternoon tea. This community-run establishment provides women with a small income to support themselves and their children. These women use natural ingredients sourced from local cooperatives to prepare tea and pastries, taking great pride in sharing their stories and giving visitors an authentic Berber experience.
Leave Ait Benhaddou after breakfast and drive for several hours through the winding roads of the Atlas Mountains. We can take our time as the scenery is magnificent and keen photographers may call for a few photo stops! Our destination today is Ouirgane, small town and rural commune in Al Haouz Province of the Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz region of Morocco. Nestled in the tranquil foothills of the High Atlas Mountains lays this pretty Berber village that provides visitors with an alternative and lesser-visited base for walking. With its gentle winter climate and moderate summer, it is a great place to stroll around the nearby red-earth hills and pine forests, watch a wide variety of bird life or just sit back and relax at an invigorating altitude of 1000 metres – all with the amazing view of Jebel Toubkal in the background.
Today you will drive for couple of hours through the winding roads of the Atlas, bound for Marrakech. There’s no rush as the scenery is magnificent and there will surely be calls for several photo stops along the way. On arrival in Marrakech, check in to your beautiful riad, which is beautifully decorated and cosy. This evening why not head to the great square of Djemaa el-Fna, one of the largest public spaces in the world and unique to Marrakech. When night falls it transforms into a hive of activity. Henna-painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies. Enjoy a bite of famous Moroccan pastries with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and then finish your day with a cup of tea on one of the roof-top restaurants overlooking the square.
After breakfast today, meet your local guide and set off on a morning tour of the old medina, through the bustling souks that are the lifeblood flowing through the city. Explore tranquil courtyards filled with the scent of orange blossom and the many salons and chambers that make up Bahia Palace. This splendid mansion was built in 1866 for a former slave who rose to power within the government. Onward, stop by the Koutoubia Mosque; its famous minaret is the prototype for others of its kind around the world. Then walk back through the streets of the old medina to Djemaa el-Fna. The rest of the day is free to explore further or shop in the bazaar. Perhaps visit Le Jardin Secret, a traditional medina garden revived for the 21st century. Once owned by a powerful local chief, U-Bihi who was poisoned by Mohammed IV. This historic riad has one of the most beautiful courtyards in Marrakech, combining exotic and traditional Islamic gardens that are fed by original khettara, an underground irrigation system. Visit a pavilion with exhibits on the riad’s history including a documentary on the restoration process, then climb its tower for views across the medina. Other possibility is to visit the tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques. Otherwise, head back into the medina, where every step brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. Watch skilled artisans perfect their craft, practice your haggling skills or take a break from the hustle to sip on tea or share a tajine, filled with the pure scent of Morocco. Join your group tonight and dine on Moroccan specialities with your friends in one of the traditional riads in Marrakech.
Your trip ends today after breakfast. If you have arranged a private airport transfer, you will be advised of the pick-up time. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring here. Speak to your leader about the wealth of extra activities to do around Marrakech if you are staying on.
Marrakech – Luxury Spa Hammam & Massage – MAD750
Marrakech – Palmery Cycling Tour – MAD350
Marrakech – Heart of the Atlas Mountains Cycling Day Tour – MAD2000
Marrakech – Magical Marrakech City Cycling Tour – MAD350
Marrakech – Quad Biking Barrage Lalla Takerkoust – MAD1650
Marrakech – Asni & Ouirgane Day Trip with Lunch – MAD1806
Marrakech – Oukaimeden Day Tour – MAD1882
Marrakech – Imlil & Aroumd Day Tour – MAD1817
Marrakech – Cascades d’Ouzoud Day Tour – MAD2207
Marrakech – Quad Biking the Rock Desert & Palmgrove – MAD715
Marrakech – Tajine Cookery Class Urban Adventure – MAD640
Marrakech – A Taste Of Marrakech: Inside the Medina Urban Adventure – MAD605
Marrakech – Ourika Valley Day Tour – MAD1817
Essaouira – Food & Culture Urban Adventure – MAD1554