Morocco: Marrakesh and The Atlas Mountains

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Trip duration: 10 days/9 nights, ex Marrakesh
Trip grade: Moderate plus. 4-5 hours walking on four days
Trip Dates: 22nd – 31st October 2017 
Tour Cost: $4,190.00 twin/sharing, ex Marrakesh
Single room supplement, $995.00. Single rooms may not be possible for 2 nights at the trekking lodge
Accommodation: Luxury riads, four star hotels, luxury kasbah and trekking lodge
Maximum group size: 8

About the tour

 

Our 2017 tour focuses on my favourite parts of Morocco. It starts with your arrival in Marrakech, a vibrant city built around the beautiful 12th century Koutoubia Mosque. We walk through the medina (old town) and the labyrinthine souks (markets), visit palaces and gardens, and the huge Djeema el-Fna square. This UNESCO “Masterpiece of World Heritage” comes alive each night with snake-charmers, musicians, story-tellers, fire-eaters and hundreds of small outdoor restaurants.

After two nights in Marrakesh, we head over the Atlas Mountains for a night at Ait Ben Hadou, (Berber: Ath Benhaddou) a walled city, or ksar, along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech. We explore the area on foot, famous for many movie backdrops and fertile oasis continuing to travel through Ouarzazte for a night in Skoura.

After this we head into the High Atlas Mountains and Imlil Valley, the home of the indigenous Berber people who have lived here for over 5000 years. Their beautiful adobe houses and villages cling to the spectacular mountainsides, and they tend orchards and nut groves on lush, irrigated terraces. We will be staying in the Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco’s premier mountain retreat. Our local mountain guides will lead us along the valleys to remote villages where little has changed for centuries. Leaving the trailhead at Imlil, we will walk to a luxurious trekking lodge in the Azzaden Valley, with our guide, pack-mules and muleteer. From here we will explore trails and villages in the Azzaden before returning to Imlil and Marrakech. This immersion in the mountains and the Berber culture was a special feature of our 2017 tour. Extensions to climb the highest mountain in North Africa, Mt Toubkal at 4167m or to visit other parts of Morocco can be arranged for you.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Marrakesh

You will be met at the airport and enjoy a private transfer to our four star hotel or luxury riad.

The remainder of the day is free for you to explore Marrakesh; the souk, famous gardens, and the huge Jemaa el-Fna square. In the evening we will regroup for dinner. Overnight: Marrakesh. Demeures d’Orient (D)

Day 2: Exploring Marrakesh

This morning we have a private guided tour of Marrakesh. We will walk through the medina (the old town), craft quarters and souks (markets), and visit the beautiful Bahia Palace, a splendid mansion built in 1866 for a former slave who rose to a position of importance in the government of Moulay Hassan. In the afternoon you are free to continue exploring the medina, or perhaps visit the famous Majorelle Gardens. This evening, we can head over to the square, one of the largest public spaces in the world and unique to Marrakesh. Overnight: Marrakech. (B) Demeures d’Orient

Day 3: Travel to Ait Ben Hadou (5hrs)

After breakfast we travel to Ait Ben Hadou about five hours away from Marrakesh over the mountains. We will spend the late afternoon walking the site of Ait Ben Haddou Ksar, the most famous in the Valley Ounila. The Ksar is essentially a collective group of housing. Inside the defensive walls, reinforced by corner towers and pierced by a baffle gate, houses regroup – some modest, others look like small urban castles with their high towers corner and upper sections decorated with patterns in clay brick. It is an extraordinary complex of buildings and community areas that offer a complete panorama of construction techniques in pre-Saharan land. Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou is a striking example of South Moroccan architecture on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains. Movie buffs may recognise it from Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth (for which much of Aït Benhaddou was rebuilt), Jewel of the NileGladiator and Game of Thrones. Overnight: Kasbah Ighnda, Ait Ben Hadou (B&D)

Day 4: A short day of travel – Ait Ben Hadou to Skoura (1.5hrs)

Today we will travel to Skoura via Ouarzazate (war-zazat). Ouarzazte is again famous for movie backdrops as well as palm groves. We will explore the area on foot and enjoy a picnic lunch (weather permitting) before continuing to Skoura, a flourishing oasis, and more exploring on foot before the evening at the Kasbah. Overnight: Kasbah Ben Damiette Skoura Half Board  (BL&D)

Day 5: Travel to the Atlas Mountains (6hrs)

After breakfast we travel to Imlil in the High Atlas Mountains, a journey of around 6 hours with rest stops. We will check in to the multi-award winning Kasbah du Toubkal, meet our local Berber guide and have a short local walk this afternoon. Overnight: Imlil (B&D)

Day 6: Walking to the Azzaden Valley

We set off with our local guide, mules and muleteer to walk up over a pass into the lovely Azzaden Valley. The views are spectacular. This is a more strenuous day with around 5.5 hours of walking. We enjoy a picnic en route and stay at a luxury trekking lodge tonight. Overnight: Azzaden Lodge (BL&D)

Day 7: Exploring the Azzaden

A choice of walks further into the stunning Azzaden Valley with our local guide, visiting other Berber villages. Overnight: Azzaden Lodge (BL&D)

Day 8: Return to Dar Imlil

After breakfast we walk back to Imlil via a different route, again with superb views of the High Atlas and lunch en route. We have a choice of trails. Overnight: Kasbah du Toubkal, Imlil. (BL&D)

Day 9: Walking in the Imlil Valley

We will have the option of either a day walk or separate morning and afternoon walks along footpaths and mule tracks through the lush irrigated terraces to other Berber villages around the valley. Overnight: Kasbah du Toubkal, Imlil. (BL&D)

Day 10: Return to Marrakesh
After breakfast we return by private transfer to Marrakesh, or the airport. (B)

Included:

  • Locally escorted by Kim Petherick and expert local English-speaking mountain guides
  • Additional local guides at some locations
  • Mules and muleteers in the Imlil and Azzaden valleys as required
  • Accommodation: 9 nights in luxury hotels (4 star), riads and a trekking lodge
  • Private ground transport between Marrakesh, Ait Ben Hadou, Skoura and Imlil
  • Sightseeing and excursions, as outlined in the itinerary
  • 9 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 8 dinners
  • A 5% contribution to the Imlil Village Association
  • Return airport transfers

 

Not Included:

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Visas (if required). Not required for Australian passport holders
  • 4 lunches and 1 evening meal
  • Optional camel, mule, horse, bicycle rides in Ouarzazate
  • Alcoholic drinks
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