15 days around Morocco
On your first day, you will be picked up and taken to your accommodation in to unwind and relax. If you have time to spare, or if you wish, you can have a free walk, either to do some shopping or to walk around. This day will be a start of our journey. Accommodation will be in a hotel or a Riad and dinner will be included.
Day 2 – Chefchaouen
Your adventure tour in Morocco truly begins with a jump start today. You’ll be picked up by your personal driver and will travel to Chefchaouen, or ‘Chaouen’ as it’s known locally. This town is a visual delight in blue; walls, doors, windows; stairways, alleyways and archways – everything is a combination of soft pastel sky blue and deeper, more powerful hues. In the afternoon, you are free to explore at your own pace or simply relax. Outa el Hammam is the main square, and a place to watch the world goes by. Walk up the tiny alleys away from the more tourist orientated areas and you will find the every-day life of the town.
Day 3 – Exploring Chefchaouen
In the morning, you will be fully ready to discover more about the ‘Blue Town’ on this free day. Meander the mystical medina, which, despite the number of intriguing shops, is still mainly residential, and where for every shop selling tourist gifts there are twenty supplying the neighborhood with its daily requirements; shoe repairs, groceries, stationery and sweets, a tailor sewing an elegant djellaba, butchers, bakers (one of the centers of life in each quartier) although candle-stick makers don’t seem to have survived Moroccan life as lived by the people of Chaouen. Of course, there is the new town, which has some lovely examples of Andalusian architecture and a charming park at the end of Avenida Mohammed V. Your driver is at your disposal if you would like to make a short excursion into the Rif Mountains.
Day 4 — Volubilis — Moulay Idriss– Fez
You say goodbye to Chefchaouen and head south to Volubilis, the most important and extensive remains of a Roman city in Morocco, and one of the most distant of the Empire’s domain, thanks to the powerful Berber tribes who showed themselves to be more than a match for the conquering legionnaires. Once one of the most important regions producing grain to feed the voracious Roman appetite, and wild animals to keep the crowds entertained as they tried to devour gladiators in the arena, this prosperous provincial city was home to some 200,000 residents at the height of its glory. The importance of the city is reflected in the Capitoline temple, the Basilica, said to be one of the most beautiful in Africa in its day, and its 1,300 square meter Forum, with sumptuous mosaics still to be seen in some of the most luxurious homes.
You move on to Moulay Idriss, which, from a distance, looks like a sitting camel. The oldest town in Morocco, it was founded by Moulay Idriss I in 789, having fled Mecca because of religious and tribal conflicts. It was here that the Idrisid dynasty was founded, and the town has the only round minaret in Morocco. You end today in on of Morocco’s four imperial cities, Fez, where you can prepare for tomorrow’s fascinating tour around this delightful medieval city.
Day 5 – Exploring Fez
Today will be a great opportunity to see UNESCO protected Fez Medina through the eyes of a local, with your own private guide. Your tour lasts from 9:30am until 5:30pm with a break for lunch. Before you head out in the morning, you can discuss with your guide which sights you would like to see most, it really would be worth your while to put yourself in his hands and allow him to show you the mysteries and secrets of the nine thousand streets and alleyways that make up this amazing historic city. In the evening, you will return to your accomodatio, where you will have dinner.
Day 6 – Ifrane | Ziz Valley | Erfoud
Depart early from fez you will begin your ascent. We pass through Ifrane, a winter ski resort in a totally un Moroccan style built by the French in the 1930’s to resemble a Swiss village; we then visit the cedars forest in Azrou, where you will see the monkeys , drive across the Middle Atlas Mountains. Most of the day will be spent winding your way through the beautiful forests, springs, jagged rock faces, and Berber villages as you cross the Atlas Mountains before continuing ahead to the Ziz Valley. In this oasis valley, you will have lunch with our local host in his family’s traditional Moroccan home. This is your chance to learn about Moroccan family life, but not by simply asking questions, more by just being there – and any children in your group will have a great time petting the family donkey and goats, and maybe even feeding the chickens.
Before lunch, you can enjoy a short walk through the date palms and farms of what is the biggest date-producing region in Morocco. And you will be surprised to see that not all date palms tower over you, because there are 283 recognized varieties of date grown in the country, the most delicious (and expensive) of which are known as Mejhoul. After a relaxing night in the hotel, you’ll be fully rested for the next day’s Sahara adventure.
Day 7 – Sahara Desert (Erg Chebbi)
Today you are going to experience one of the most memorable moments of your Morocco adventure as you make your way into the dunes of Morocco’s Erg Chebbi region of the Sahara Desert. You will have this morning to relax and/or explore Erfoud and Rissani before preparing for a memorable night under the stars. An hour’s camel ride weaving along the tops of the dunes brings you to your camp, with its Bedouin-style tents and thick Moroccan carpets to keep the sand from between your toes. A typical tajine will be your your dinner, eaten by candlelight. You will probably choose to drift off to sleep while watching the twinkling stars.
Day 8 & 9 – Tinjedad | Skoura (Valley of Kasbahs)
Rise with the dawn to watch the sun beginning its daily arc with a cool blue morning sky as it illuminates the desert shadows before becoming a glowing ball of fire. You will return to a local hotel, where a welcome hot shower and breakfast awaits. Your first stop en route is Tinjedad where lunch is available. If time allows, we will visit Ksar El Khorbat, a roofed-over town whose dark streets are streaked with intermittent patches of sunlight, and which houses a delightfully worn-at-the-edges cultural museum. Tonight, you will be staying in the Skoura palm grove, known as the Valley of Kasbahs.
On your second day in Skoura, you will have the day free to relax in this garden oasis, enjoy a walk, and reflect upon the experiences you have had this far. An extra day in this off-the-beaten path bit of paradise comes highly recommended!
Day 10 – Ouarzazate | Ait Ben Haddou | Telouet | Marrakesh
When you leave Skoura your road takes you in the direction of Ouarzazate, the Hollywood of Africa, where the Atlas Studios is reputed to be one of the largest movie studios in the world. Although many of our travelers opt not to visit the film studio, the Kasbah de Taorirt in town is worth a stop. It was once owned by the Glaoui family, one of the richest and most powerful in the area, whose vast wealth came in part from levies charged on the camel trains that passed through their territory carrying gold, spices and slaves from Timbuktu on their journey to the markets of Marrakech and beyond.
Your most vivid memory from today will be of your visit to Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO world heritage site, which, as well as being the best extant example in the area of a walled town protected by Kasbahs, the homes of the wealthy and powerful, has been the backdrop to many Hollywood blockbusters and major historical television programs, including Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia. If you are a fan of A Game of Thrones you will recognize Ait Ben Haddou from the final scene of series three. (The series has used a number of locations around Morocco.)
From Ait Ben Haddou, you may wish to continue to the lesser-visited (and possibly more impressive) area of Telouet. Here, you can meander about the former palace of the Glaoui family and even enjoy lunch with a private local (once celebrity) Berber singer chanting of days gone by. The last leg of today’s journey is over the High Atlas Mountains on the impressive zig-zag of Tiz n Tichka pass, eventually to arrive in Marrakesh where you may have time to explore the famed Jemaa el-Fnaa Square before dinner is served in the riad.
Day 11 – Marrakesh Guided Visit
This is your discovery day in the Red City, aided by your private guide who will meet with you in the morning at your riad to discuss the day’s possibilities. Leave the everyday behind as you dive into the souks, the markets that have provided Marrakschis with all their needs for over one thousand years. Vibrant colors, rich aromas, cat-calls and music, merchants in djellabas, street chefs in white hats, whatever your image of the exotic is you will find it in Marrakech. A visit to the Museum of Photography or the Majorelle Gardens are also highly recommended.. The tour lasts from 9:30am until 5:30pm and includes lunch.
Day 12 – Marrakesh to Essaouira
From Marrakesh, you will head to the most laid-back beach town in Morocco. In addition, whatever you may have heard to the contrary, Jimi Hendrix did not write Castles Made of Sand in Essaouira, because it was written two years before he visited in 1969. Nevertheless, a good story anyway, and one that the locals play on to the most. Essaouira has only recently been discovered by the tourist trade, so it’s still life as lived by the locals, so follow their lead by taking a stroll along the ramparts.
Day 13 – Exploring Essaouira
You will have the day free to explore Essaouira. The beach is a nice place for a stroll or run. It is also a great spot to enjoy a horseback ride at sunset. Some locals do offer camel rides on the beach as well. For the sports-oriented traveler, Essaouira is home to some fine wind and kitesurfing schools. Beyond the beach, you can spend hours in the medina – artisans, little shops, hidden vistas, and other gems are worth exploring. Tonight might be a great time to enjoy a local fish dish should the catch of the day be tempting.
Day 14 – Essaouira to El Jadida
At your leisure, you can travel up the coast to the town of El Jadida for an overnight before tomorrow’s departure. El Jadida is our new cove for Casablanca airport departures since its quieter, more relaxing, offers a wonderful guesthouse stay with scrumptious dinner and is relatively the same distance to the airport as Casablanca.
Day 15 – Depart Casablanca
Your Morocco adventure will be coming to an end today. We truly hope you enjoyed your journey.