Morocco: Cities, Desert and Hiking tour

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Trip duration: 16 days/15 nights, ex Casablanca
Trip grade: Moderate plus. 4-6 hours walking on four days
Trip Dates: 23rd October – 7th November 2018 
Tour Cost: $3,895.00 twin/sharing, ex Marrakesh
Single room supplement, $890.00. Single rooms may not be possible for 2 nights at the guesthouse or refuge.
Accommodation: Luxury riads, three star hotels, luxury desert camp, local Berber guesthouse and refuge
Maximum group size: 8

About the tour

Our 2018 tour includes my favourite parts of Morocco: the High Atlas Mountains, Chefchaouen, Fes and much more. A camel trek with a night in a luxury tent in the desert, relaxing on the Atlantic coast, exploring 4 ancient cities and experiencing the Berber culture are unique aspects to this year’s tour.

It starts with your arrival in Casablanca, and a private transfer via Rabat to Chefchaouen. On foot, we will explore the cities of Rabat, Chefchaouen (the blue walled city) and Fes in the early parts of the tour with our private guide. Our accommodation will be in a combination of hotels and riads, handpicked for their uniqueness and location. Walking in the Rif mountains in northern Morocco to Gods Bridge will be accompanied with a traditional tagine lunch, one the true pleasures of hiking in Morocco.

During our days of travel in our private air-conditioned transport, we will drive through some beautiful passes and along spectacular roads, allowing you to see many aspects of Moroccan life and culture. We will have opportunities to stop and stretch our legs along short hikes, find a place to eat lunch and take in the vistas of the surrounds.

Arriving in Merzouga, we will ride a camel into the desert for an overnight stay in luxury tents and experience Berber music and culture. Along with this, the thrill of watching the sunset and sunrise over the sand dunes of the Sahara will be something to remember.

The High Atlas Mountains feels like a second home to me and I look forward to returning and hiking through the area once again. It is the home of the indigenous Berber people who have lived here for over 5000 years. Their beautiful adobes and villages cling to the spectacular steep mountain slopes, and they tend orchards and nut groves on lush, irrigated terraces. The hiking is moderate to hard, but in the hands of our trusted guide, we take a steady pace so it is immensely enjoyable. We will stay in local guesthouses and a refuge during our 4 nights in the area.

Heading for the coast, I have chosen to spend time in a small Moroccan fishing and surfing village for a bit of quiet time. Known for it’s relaxed feel, we are able to take some short hikes along the coast, visit a nearby waterfall, do a spot of fishing or take a surf before heading onto Marrakech.

The vibrant city of Marrakech has lots to offer and we will see the majority of sites with historical and cultural interest. On foot, we will visit the famous the Koutoubia Mosque, the Saadian tombs; the Palace of Bahia, the Ben Youssef Koranic School, Jemaa El Fna square Majorelle Gardens and of course the extensive souks. There are many restaurants and street food to choose from and our days will be filled with exploring this city. After the tour, day 16, you have the flexibility to either stay in Marrakech and continue on your own schedule or enjoy the private transport to Casablanca for an international flight. Most flights depart during the afternoon, which makes it easy to travel from Marrakech to Casablanca International Airport and back to Australia. Alternatively, it is easy to stay a night in Casablanca and catch a train to the airport the following day.

Itinerary

Day 1 – 23rd October: Pick up in Casablanca. Drive via Rabat to Chefchaouen: (5hours)

We will meet you at your accommodation in Casablanca and visit the Hassan II Mosque in the morning. In our airconditioned private vehicle, we will drive to Rabat, the capital of Morocco. Here you will visit the Hassan Tower, & the Oudaya Kasbah, before having lunch. During the afternoon we will continue to Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains, (the old town known for ‘blue washed’ buildings)

2 nights in Chefchaouen.

Day 2- 24th October: Chefchaouen – Akchour – God’s bridge (5hour walk).

The day will begin with a local trek through a neighbouring valley to God’s Bridge, an impressively tall natural bridge, in the lovely Rif mountains. A gorgeous national park with hidden natural wonders, many waterfalls, with clear pools and smaller cascades

Lunch will be served as a picnic of traditional Moroccan tagine cooked on a campfire. We will return in the afternoon to the enchanting ‘blue town’ of Chefchaouen with time to explore with our guide.

Chefchaouen, or Chaouen, is known for the striking, blue-washed buildings of its old town. Leather and weaving workshops line its steep cobbled lanes. You can visit the shady main square of Place Outa el Hammam with its red-walled Kasbah, a 15th-century fortress to enjoy the best of this beautiful Moroccan city. Overnight in Riad.

 Day 3- 25th October: Chefchaouen – Volubilis  (3hours)… Volubilis – Fes (1½ hours)

After breakfast in the Riad our journey will take us towards Volubilis, crossing through Rif villages including Wazan. Volubilis is a partly excavated Berber and Roman city in Morocco and commonly considered as the ancient capital of the kingdom of Mauretania, We will discover the Roman ruins and uncover the Moroccan history behind this archaeological site. Following our visit to the ruins, we shall travel directly to Fes city, where we will spend the night in a Riad.

Day 4- 26th October: Sightseeing in Fes

After breakfast in the Riad, we will explore the streets and pathways of Morocco’s oldest city. Our journey will take us from the Royal Palace gate to the Jewish headquarters at Morocco’s oldest Mellah, built during the 16th century. Our route ensures you the opportunity to experience all the sites of cultural and historical interest, including the famous Al Qaraouine University, Tanneries, Attarine museum and Mulay Idriss mausoleum. After lunch, we go on to visit the tiles cooperative, the home of authentic Moroccan tiles and pottery. We wrap up the day with a walk to gain a wonderful panoramic view over the whole Medina of Fes. Overnight in Riad.

Day 5- 27th October: Fes – Ifrane – Midelt – Ziz Valley – Erfoud – Merzouga – (7 ½ hrs drive) – Camel ride and night in the desert camp

After breakfast in the hotel we will travel to Merzouga (a small village in the Sahara Desert) via Errachidia and Erfoud. We will make our way through the fascinating Tiz Ntalghamt pass and the Ziz Gorge, taking in views of the High Atlas plateau. We will have lunch and enjoy the changing landscape and Berber hospitality at the city of Errachidia. Afterwards, we continue along the luxuriant Ziz Valley, stopping for panoramic views along the way to Erfoud and Rissani.

Arriving at Merzouga in the afternoon, we will be welcomed in Berber style with a glass of mint tea, before riding a camel to our overnight desert camp. The traditional Berber hospitality and culture will engulf you under the desert sky.

Day 6- 28th October: Merzouga – Toudgha Gorges – Dades Valley (3½-4 hours)

With an early morning start, we will experience the spectacular sunrise over the dunes of the Sahara. After breakfast in the camp, we return by camel or on foot through the sand dunes. Continuing on in our vehicle, we drive through the Saghro Mountains and enjoy a short 1 hour ramble through Todra Palmeraie & Gorge before arriving at Dades Valley. The Dadès Gorges are a series of rugged wadi gorges carved out by the Dadès River. The many-colored walls of the gorges range anywhere from 200 to 500 meters.

Dinner and overnight accommodation in Dades

 Day 729th October: Dades valley – Roses valley – Ouarzazate – Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah (2½hrs)

After breakfast in the hotel, we will travel through the Dades Valley towards Kalaat M’Gouna, and onto the oasis of Skoura. We take a short walk through the spectacular fertile palm groves to stretch the legs before continuing to Ouarzazate.

The day’s route through Dades Valley is the “way of the thousand Kasbahs” passing by Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah, a walled city, along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech. This is the largest Kasbah in Morocco, built in the 17th century by one of the last Berber chieftains, and is now one of the UNESCO heritage sites and well known backdrop from many famous movies.

There are plenty of opportunities to take some incredible photographic shots in both the Valley of the Roses and the cinema city of Ouarzazate.

Overnight near Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah

Day 8- 30th October: Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah – High Atlas mountains- Tizi-n-Tichka – outskirts of Marrakech – Imlil (4½-5 hrs)

During todays drive we cross the High Atlas Mountains with panoramic views across the valleys, past ancient Berber villages all along the way. We will slightly bypass Marrakech and travel on to Imlil.

Overnight in Dar Amadine guest house.

Day 9- 31st October: Dar Amadine – Tizi Mzik (2684m)-Tamsoulte waterfalls 2550m- (day hike/trek 6hrs)

After breakfast, we explore the Imlil Valley on foot, 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 steep mountain slopes, and their tended orchards and nut groves on lush, irrigated terraces. With our trekking guide & muleteer (who will carry your overnight bag) we trek uphill to the Tizi Mzik pass (2684m). Taking in spectacular view over Imlil valley & Toubkal Summit, we continue to Tamsoulte, the highest waterfalls in the Atlas Mountains (100m of height). Tonight’s accommodation is in the refuge. (dormitory and private double rooms available). An excellent dinner and breakfast will be provided by our muleteer.

Day 10- 1st November: Tamsoult – Tizi Oussem (hike 1½ hrs)

After breakfast we can enjoy an easy walk down the valley to the village of Tizi Oussem. The rest of the day is free to explore for yourself, observe the Berber lifestyle, or just relax and enjoy the mountain scenery

The night will be spent in a typical local family guesthouse. A fabulous dinner and breakfast are again provided by our muleteer.

Day 11- 2nd November: Tizi Oussem (1850m) – Id Issa village (1800m) – Tizi Oudid (2000m) – Mattat – Agersioual – Dar Amadine : (6hours walking)

The morning’s trek starts by enjoying the sunshine on this colourful valley & it’s typical Berber villages. With another longer hiking day ahead, we walk from Tizi Oussem & continue down to Id Issa village. From here, we head up to the Tizi Oudid mountain pass, and then down to Matat village. A rest stop and lunch will be provided along the way. Continuing on in the afternoon we pass through Aguersioual village and return to our guesthouse in Imlil, at Dar Amadine for the night and a well deserved dinner.

 Day 12 – 3rd November: Imlil – Touradant –Taghazout (6hrs drive)

After Breakfast, it’s a short walk back down the mountain path to the village of Imlil (15mins) to meet with our transport.

We will drive the beautiful and scenic road across the western high Atlas to Touradant via the amazing Tizirt pass. Arriving at the coast we overnight in Taghazout, a small surfing village, where the high Atlas meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Day 13 – 4th November: Taghazout – sightseeing and relaxing

This is a pretty, fishing village looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean to the west. There is surfing (if you are so inclined), many surf shops, fishing or hiking along the wonderful coastline. You are welcome to sit and relax in one of the many great cafés and restaurants along the sea front. In the evening take photos of a spectacular sun set over the Atlantic

Overnight Taghazout.

Day 14 – 5th November: Transfer from Taghazout back to Marrakech, (3½ hrs drive)

After breakfast you will have some free time before leaving for Marrakech. On our way – since this is the land of Argan culture – we have the opportunity to visit the women’s co-operative of Argan oil where they extract the oil that is famous for its culinary, cosmetic and medicinal properties.

Arriving in Marrakech in the afternoon, this vibrant city is built around the beautiful 12th century Koutoubia Mosque. Over the next two days, we explore the medina (old town) and the labyrinthine souks (markets), and enjoy the entertainment each night as the Jemaa el-Fna square comes alive with snake-charmers, musicians, story-tellers, fire-eaters and hundreds of small outdoor restaurants. Overnight in Riad or Hotel Marrakech

Day 15 – 6th November: Sightseeing Marrakech overnight in Marrakech

After breakfast in the Riad, we continue exploring Marrakech known as “the Red City of Morocco” with our guide. Our guide will ensure that we see the majority of sites with historical and cultural interest – including the famous the Koutoubia Mosque, the Saadian tombs; the Palace of Bahia, the Ben Youssef Koranic School and a revisit to the Jemaa el Fna square. We will enjoy lunch at a restaurant near the square, and continue the afternoon with a visit to the Majorelle Gardens and a short visit to the new city of Marrakech and the Koutoubia tower. Overnight in Riad or Hotel Marrakech

Day 16 – 7th November: Transfer back to Casablanca, end of tour.

This morning after breakfast, we end the tour departing with our transport for Casablanca. There are some options individually here – you are able to fly out of Casablanca internationally this same day, stay overnight in Casablanca and explore for yourself, or make other arrangements. Please contact me and I can help with arrangements.

Optional

Stay in Marrakech and make own arrangements

Able to assist with individual ongoing travel arrangements

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.

Included

  • Locally escorted by Kim Petherick and expert local English-speaking mountain guides
  • Accommodation: 15 nights in clean hotels (3 star), luxury riads, desert camp, guesthouses and a refuge
  • Camel ride & Night in Desert (Camel Per Person)
  • Mountain Guide in the Rif and Atlas Mountains.
  • City Guides in Chefchaouen, Fes and Marrakech
  • Mules and muleteers in the Atlas Mountains as required
  • All meals in the Atlas Mountains
  • Private ground transport
  • Sightseeing and excursions, as outlined in the itinerary
  • All Breakfasts and Dinners
  • Return airport transfers to Casablanca

 

Not included

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Visas (if required). Not required for Australian passport holders
  • Approx. 10 lunches – will stop along the way and can be purchased easily.
  • Alcoholic drinks
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