Highlights of Morocco
For sheer diversity, Morocco is the perfect destination. You will explore the imperial cities of Marrakech, Meknes and Fez and continue our journey to the mountain ranges to the south, where sand dunes and kasbahs are scattered among palm oases inhabited by friendly Berbers. A highlight of our trip is a camel trek in the Sahara and a night at a Bedouin camp. You will visit to Todra Gorge, the beautiful 16th-century kasbah of Ait Benhaddou and enjoy a village walk in the picturesque Tighza valley of the High Atlas. You then complete the trip with a walk along the sandy beach of Essaouira and a city tour in bustling Marrakech.
- Return flights from London
- All breakfasts and 4 dinners
- All accommodation: 6 nights 3-star hotels, 1 night auberge, 2 nights riad, and 1 night Bedouin camp, 2 nights lodge and 2 nights Kasbah
- Transfers for group flights
- Group normally 6 to 16, plus leader
- Travel by private minibus and camel
- Premium departures staying in boutique riads
Day 1: Fly to Marrakech
Arrival at our hotel in the evening. Hotel Gomassine or similar
Day 2: Visit Hassan II Mosque; to the capital Rabat.
A modern and commercial seaport, Casablanca is a complete contrast to the Morocco we are soon to explore. This morning we make our way to Casablanca to visit the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest in the world. Afterwards, we drive 3 hours to Rabat, the political capital of Morocco, but second to Casablanca in importance. Although mostly modern, Rabat has an excellent old quarter that we take time to explore, including the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art located just in front of the hotel. Rabat Hotel Bouregreg or similar Meals included: breakfast
Day 3: Explore the Roman site of Volubilis and Meknes; to Fez.
Strike out from Rabat over the Northern plain towards Meknes. The scenery changes as the land becomes more cultivated, this being one of the most fertile areas of Morocco. Sultan Moulay Ismail's old capital of Meknes is our first example of one of the imperial cities of Morocco.We meet our guide and wander the narrow streets of the old city, and explore the souk, perhaps having your first chance at bartering for souvenirs. In the afternoon we take a short drive to the largest and best kept Roman ruins in Morocco – Volubilis, once a large Roman town and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. After exploring this site we continue our journey to the ancient city of Fez, where we spend two nights. Hotel Mounia or similar Meals included: breakfast
Day 4: Guided tour of Fez, including visits to the Medersa Bou Ananiya and the medina.
This fascinating city is the intellectual and religious centre of Morocco. Founded over a thousand years ago, Fez has many mosques and medersas (theological colleges) including the 9th century al-Karaouine University, whose architecture is very similar to that seen in Moorish Spain. The medina in Fez is one of the largest in the world, an immense warren of souks, home to thousands of craftsmen with their tiny shops opening onto the narrow alleyways. Noisy and pungent, the medina of Fez is a totally absorbing and unique experience. Our city guide walks us through different sections of the souk - including those selling leather brass and copper. Of course, no visit to Fez is complete without a visit to the tanneries. Outside the medina we shall visit the Jewish District (mellah), the exterior of the Royal Palace and take a drive up to a panoramic viewpoint over the city. Hotel Mounia or similar Meals included: breakfast
Day 5: Drive to Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara.
Today we have a long journey of approximately 10 hours, however there will be frequent stops and beautiful scenery along the way. We travel over the stunning Middle Atlas, down through the picturesque Ziz Valley to the Hamada, a flat stony desert, gradually approaching the spectacular site of the golden sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. We stay in a small and welcoming auberge (inn) on the edge of the dunes from where it is easy to climb to watch the sunrise. Auberge La Source or similar Meals included: breakfast, dinner
Day 6: Walk among the dunes; camel trek; camp in the desert.
There is time today with a free morning to explore the largest sand sea in Morocco, or to relax in the shade of a palm tree by the dunes. The sand sea is famed for its pink tones that take on a spectacular rose colour at sunset. In the late afternoon, we partake in a genuine Saharan experience - a 1.5-hour camel trek through the dunes to an oasis, where we spend the night under the stars in a simple Bedouin camp. Full-service camping at Camp la Source or similar Meals included: breakfast dinner
Day 7: To Skoura via the Todra Gorge.
After sunrise, we leave our desert camp and travel by camel back to the auberge where we can have breakfast and a shower. We then head towards the little city of Skoura, nestled on a beautiful palm grove and located near Ouarzazate. From here onwards to explore Todra Gorge, and the picturesque oases they hide in (journey time approximately 4 hours). Following the 1000 Kasbahs Road for approximately 2.5 hours, you will marvel at the breath-taking vistas of impressive ancient Kasbahs nestled in lush palm groves. Our hotel is set against the backdrop of the impressive walls of the gorge itself and we can spend the evening watching the rocks change colour with the setting sun. Skoura Lodge or similar Meals included: breakfast
Day 8: Skoura, the Palm grove capital of Morocco
There is the opportunity to take a 1 hour drive to Toundout Valley and enjoy a four hour guided hike crossing through a Berber village, where you will learn a little of their culture. Alternatively, relax in and around the lodge walking through the magnificent lush palm groves. Considered as the palm grove capital of Morocco, Skoura will certainly offer peace and relaxation through its various walks discovering multiple palm groves, and Kasbahs. Skoura Lodge or similar Meals included: breakfast
Day 9: Journey to Telouet, via the famous Kasbah Ait Benhaddou.
Leaving Skoura, we re-join the main road and drive west along the 'Route of the Thousand Kasbahs' via the desert city of Ouarzazate and on to the well-preserved Kasbah Ait Benhaddou. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most spectacular sights of the Atlas, made famous as the location of several Hollywood films including 'Gladiator'. After admiring the view, we may see something of the simple village houses. Continuing into the mountains we branch east through a wide flat mountain valley, finally arriving at Anmiter, where we leave our bus and take a 1.5-hour picturesque walk on a gentle uphill gradient to the village of Tigzha, where we spend the next two nights. Our luggage will be transported to the gite for us. For those who do not want to walk, mules are available (100 MAD, payable locally). Kasbah Oliver or similar Meals included: breakfast, dinner
Day 10: Full day walking in the High Atlas. Evening hammam.
We start our day with an optional walk through the villages of the Tigzha Valley, heading up into the hills on mule tracks with the peaks of the High Atlas acting as a fitting backdrop to our walk. The length of our walk will depend on the ability of the group, but it is likely to be approximately 4 hours. The afternoon is free to relax with a book, enjoy the mountain views, take a stroll through the beautiful landscape or challenge the village children to a game of football!
Tigzha is just one of four villages in this remote valley that has been supported by Exodus for over ten years on various responsible tourism projects. We will visit the village hammam, built with money raised by Exodus clients. This is a truly authentic experience and terrific fun. It is very much a traditional hammam and you are likely to get the opportunity to mix with the villagers, which further adds to the experience. A standard treatment is included, but you will need to purchase a scrubber and soap for 20MAD (£1.50) plus customary tip of 20MAD. Refreshed, we return to the riad for our final dinner in the mountains. Kasbah Oliver or similar Meals included: breakfast, dinner
Day 11: Over the High Atlas Mountains to Essaouira.
Leaving the gite, we walk back to our bus for a short drive to the palace of Telouet. This once grand building stands abandoned and crumbling but we can visit a small part of this labyrinthine, fairy-tale like structure. We continue our scenic drive over the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech, via the Tizi'n'Tichka pass, which at 2,260m is the highest road in Morocco. The scenery is spectacular and there are some wonderful views of the mountains. We stop at a women's cooperative Argan Oil farm, where you can see the trees growing, get a demonstration of the production process as well as have the opportunity to purchase products. Our journey finally brings us to the flat arid plains of Marrakech, and then onwards to the pretty seaside town of Essaouira. Journey time is between approximately 10 hours, with plenty of comfort breaks and photo stops along the way. Riad Al Madina or similar Meals included: breakfast
Day 12: Free day in Essaouira.
A free day in Essaouira, a charming old Portuguese fishing port overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The settlement dates back to the 15th century but the present town was constructed around 1760 by Sidi Mohammed ben Abdullah, who needed a base from which to suppress a revolt from Agadir. Today, the town is extremely relaxed and its whitewashed houses with painted shutters, artisan workshops, boat yards and fishermen provide a marked contrast to the desert, kasbahs and cities we have so far visited. Our hotel is situated in the heart of the old walled city, where we have plenty of time for some shopping in the souks or strolling along the beach. With many pleasant cafes and some outstanding seafood restaurants, there is plenty of choice for our evening meal. Riad Al Madina or similar Meals included: breakfast
Day 13: To Marrakech; guided tour including Bahia Palace, the Saadian tombs, finish in Djemma el Fna.
After breakfast, we drive back to Marrakech, journey time approximately 2.5 hours. In the afternoon we enjoy a guided tour to help us find our bearings and soak up the atmosphere of this amazing city. Our guide will take us to the Bahia Palace and the Saadian tombs, ending in the Djemma el Fna, where the town becomes a maze of bustling bazaars, palaces and mosques. It is worth seeing this renowned landmark in the evening, as Marrakech revolves around this open-air central square, with food stalls, juice-sellers, snake charmers and acrobats. It is a place of night-time entertainment for both local people and tourists. Hotel Gomassine or similar Meals included: breakfast
Day 14: Free day in Marrakech.
Today is free in Marrakech and there is no shortage of things to do. You might wish to visit the largest mosque in Marrakech, Koutoubia, or venture through the souks and old streets of the medina. After bartering for souvenirs, there will be time for a short visit to the Koranic School and Museum of Marrakech. After this, you can unwind by taking a ½ hour calèche ride (a bright green horse-drawn carriage) to the Jardin Majorelle. These tranquil gardens are decorated throughout in indigo blue and were once owned by Yves St. Laurent, the perfect place to escape the hectic rush of the city.
For your lunch we would highly recommend the Amal Women's Training Centre and Moroccan Restaurant, which we at Exodus support in their cause to empower women from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to training their students to become self-sufficient and improving their quality of life through acquiring new skills in a professional restaurant setting. For a superb traditional Moroccan meal and the opportunity to support this worthy cause, do pay them a visit.
This evening it's common for the group to enjoy a final meal together on Djemma el Fna. Hotel Gomassine or similar Meals included: breakfast
Day 15: Fly to London.
Trip ends after breakfast. Meals included: breakfast
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