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Essential Morocco

Morocco, Africa

Essential Morocco

Camel safari·
Hiking
·
Start: Casablanca
·
End: Marrakech

Check out the best bits of Morocco, in Casablanca, Fes, Merzouga and Marrakech

Activity
LocationMorocco, Africa
Duration11 days
Start / EndCasablanca / Marrakech
Tour operatorIntrepid Travel

Morocco, Africa

Essential Morocco

Camel safari·
Hiking·
11 days·Intrepid Travel
Start: Casablanca
·
End: Marrakech

Description

When people throw around the word ‘exotic’, they’re usually mean places like Morocco. Hang in iconic Casablanca before a homestay in Moulay Idriss, see lots of cool old stuff in Fes, head on to Midelt, Mergouza and Erg Chebbi for walking, ruins and a sunset camel ride. Ride on through the dunes to Todra Gorge, before visiting Dades Valley and Ail Benhaddou. Finish up with High Atlas and laid-ba...

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Itinerary

Day 1Casablanca
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at around 6 pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned until this important meeting. Check the hotel reception for the exact time and place of the meeting. If you can't arrange a flight in time, you might want to arrive a day early – we can book additional accommodation for you, depending on availability. If you're going to be late, please contact the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so make sure you have these ready to give your trip leader. If you do arrive early in Casablanca, get out and explore the city. A good place to start is the Old Medina. Try some hot, syrupy mint tea along the way.
Day 2Meknes - Moulay Idriss
After breakfast it's time for an optional guided tour of the Hassan II Mosque. Please advise your leader if you would like to take this option. Entrance fees are paid locally. More than 6,000 craftsmen joined forces to build this beauty in 1993. It's one of the few mosques in Morocco that foreigners are allowed to enter. You'll be joining other people for this tour, but you can upgrade to your own guide if you like – just talk to your leader. Later, head to the station and take a local train to Meknes (approximately 2.5 hours). When you arrive, you'll jump into a taxi and pop over to the whitewashed village of Moulay Idriss, one of Morocco's most important pilgrimage sites. You'll stay with a local family here this evening. Staying overnight here has only been allowed for foreigners since 2005. Lucky you!
Day 3Fes
Take a drive through the beautiful rolling hills to Volubilis for a guided tour of these epic Roman ruins. After Volubilis, head back to Meknes where you'll meet your local guide for a tour. Prepare for an unusual lunchtime – you'll be able to get a camel burger. Now that's a burger bar with a difference! Fear not if you’re a vegetarian, there will be an option for you too. Travel by train from Meknes to Fes (approximately 40 minutes). It's an amazing living museum, like stepping into medieval times. Fes is the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco; vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses – with a huge, well-preserved medieval old city that’s the mother of all medinas. With the free afternoon, take a walk around, perhaps find a quiet place and listen to the evening ‘call for prayer’. It’s a cool thing to do.
Day 4Fes
Getting lost in Fes is half the fun, but you'll have an orientation walk this morning to help you get the lay of the land first. Join your local leader to browse markets stalls, meet craftsmen and see beautiful mosques. Look out for the Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's coolest buildings, which has recently been restored and is now open to visitors. You'll also visit the famous tannery and its dye pits (which are also famously stinky, but well worth it), and a ceramic factory where you can see potters working in the traditional way. Then enjoy some free time and maybe check out the exquisite carvings and magnificent tile work at the Medersa el Attarine (near the spice and perfume market). Fes is a shopping heaven for those who want to pick up a souvenir or two. Today is going to be a big day so remember to keep hydrated and pack some snacks.
Day 5Midelt
Travelling south across a bunch of different terrain, you will reach Ifrane, a mountain resort established by the French in 1929. After a short stop for coffee and a leg-stretch, continue further south. Then, at Midelt, the landscape opens up, giving way to awesome views to the west. This smallish market town, surrounded by farmland and orchards, is a great spot to break up the journey to the Sahara. It was originally built as a base for mining in the area. You'll see Berber people and nomadic shepherds tending to their flocks. You'll stay the night in Midelt. But first it's time for a nice walk (approximately 1.5–2 hours). The walk itself is easy, but the terrain is rocky in some places, so wear your best walking shoes. Bring your camera too, or your smartphone or whatever, because the scenes along the way might just make your Instagram account explode.
Day 6Merzouga
On your way to the desert, stop at the spectacular narrow defile known as the Gorges du Ziz. Then head to the large town of Er Rachidia. Pass the 500-year old ruins of the Ksar of Meski then descend into the Ziz Valley, a particularly fertile region that produces figs, olives, dates and tamarisk – a fruit grown for its tannin and used in the curing of leather skins. Arrive in Merzouga, drop your main bags off at a simple Auberge (that's French for 'inn'), then take your day pack filled with overnight essentials. Time to experience a desert full of awesome. The mode of transport: camel, of course. Brace yourself for one heck of a sunset. This ride takes about an hour, going through the sea of sand to your private desert camp for an overnight stay. In the camp, you'll have a thin mattress, blankets and sheets. Make sure you bring a sleeping sheet if it's winter (you'd be surprised how cold it can get). Sleep under the stars and have a really romantic 'I am so far from home' kinda moment.
Day 7Todra Gorge - Dades Valley
Hope you remembered to set your alarm this morning, because you'll be getting up well before the crack of dawn. Climb to a nearby sand dune to catch the sunrise. Watch the Sahara come alive! You'll also enjoy another fun camel ride through the sand dunes while the sun is rising higher and higher. Head back to the Auberge, collect the rest of your gear and then travel west to Todra. Then you'll come across a bright tablecloth of green that might seem so out of place you'll think you are dreaming. This valley is pretty impressive, with all its palm trees and mud-brick villages. Arrive at your hotel at the top of the valley, then take a hike into the gorge where sheer cliffs rise more than 1000 feet above you.
Day 8Ait Benhaddou
From Todra Gorge, travel along the ‘Road of 1,000 Kasbahs’ and enjoy views of the Dades Gorge. You'll also travel past the town of Skoura, home to the beautiful little houses rising like a mirage beyond a dry riverbed. Continue to the medieval mud-brick town of Ait Benhaddou, which is at its best in the late afternoon sun. If you wonder why Ait Benhaddou looks familiar to you, it is because you have seen it before! Perhaps not live, but certainly on the silver screen. Gladiator, Game of Thrones and loads of other movies and shows were filmed in this kasbah. Explore the many old streets and climb up to the fortress for a superb view over the old town. You can also – for a small fee – enter one of the most interesting of the old houses, climbing up to the turrets for a view over the river. You'll spend the night just outside the walls.
Day 9High Atlas - Marrakech
Continue west, passing a few Berber villages. Take in those epic views of the countryside. Wind your way up towards Tizi ‘n Tichka. This is a whopping 2260 metres above sea level, the highest pass on the road to Marrakech. It often gets covered with snow during the winter months. Leaving the Atlas behind, you'll descend into the plains that surround Marrakech and arrive late afternoon. Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Take an orientation walk around the old medina and the city's seemingly endless mosaic of souqs. Each is devoted to a separate trade: pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets and spices. Sample some of the best street food in the world on the way. Then enjoy some free time. This is a good chance to get lost in the fun of Jemaa el Fna, where there are so many fire-eaters, fortune-tellers, actors, musicians and hawkers vying for your attention.
Day 10Marrakech
This morning you will meet your local guide and set off on a tour of the old medina, through the bustling souks that are the lifeblood flowing through the city. 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. The rest of a day is free so where to do you start? Cycling trip, maybe a half day trip out for some walking? No? Luxury Hammam and Spa, cooking class, quad-biking? Options are endless. Or, if you want to keep it simple, make a beeline to the food stalls for some tagine or some other Moroccan treat (nothing says 'I can't give you any money' like a face full of fava-bean dip). You might also like to visit the 16th-century ruins of the El Badi Palace, the famous Majorelle Garden or the adjacent Museum of Islamic Art. In the evening you will no doubt be drawn back to Jemaa el Fna for a final night out with your new pals.
Day 11Marrakech
Your trip ends on today after breakfast. Check-out time is usually around noon and you are free to leave at any time. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you want to spend more time exploring Marrakech.

More info

Last modified (date)

26 Nov 2018

Trip title

Essential Morocco

Trip code

XMYM

Validity

Validity: 01 Oct 2018 to 31 Dec 2019

Introduction

When people throw around the word ‘exotic’, they’re usually mean places like Morocco. Hang in iconic Casablanca before a homestay in Moulay Idriss, see lots of cool old stuff in Fes, head on to Midelt, Mergouza and Erg Chebbi for walking, ruins and a sunset camel ride. Ride on through the dunes to Todra Gorge, before visiting Dades Valley and Ail Benhaddou. Finish up with High Atlas and laid-back ... Read more

Style

Basix

Themes

18 to 29s

Transport

Camel,Minibus,On foot,Taxi,Train

Physical Rating

2

Physical preparation

Although the trip is graded easy, the walk on Day 7 is approximately 10 km. There are other walks, like Midelt and dune climbing, and in addition a lot of walking around the cities and towns. The walking is not extreme by any means, but we recommend bringing comfortable walking shoes.

Joining point

Moroccan House Hotel Casablanca

Finish point

Hotel Amalou

Group leader

All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid Adventures endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other ... Read more

Safety

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and upd... Read more

Visas

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. Visas are currently not required for Australian, New Zealand, US or Canadian passport holders wishing to visit Europe. Some EU nationals ... Read more

Why we love it

Pre-2005, you wouldn't have been able to spend a night in holy Moulay Idriss if you weren't a Muslim. These days you can stay with an awesome local family and eat their delicious home-cooked fare no matter your beliefs

Is this trip right for you

In a full-day tour around the Medina of Fes (Day 4), you'll be on your feet for a good five to six hours. Keep in mind that this is one of the highlights of Morocco and well worth the exertion! The camel trek through the Sahara (Day 6) is an amazing way to experience the desert, but it may be painful on your backside. If you'd prefer, it's possible to walk alongside the caravan on the sand for ab... Read more

Health

All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themsel... Read more

Food and dietary requirements

Moroccan food is, generally speaking, excellent though not particularly varied. Breakfasts usually consist of bread and jam with coffee or tea. Meals eaten out are reasonably priced - kebab and bread cost only about MAD 30. In main towns it is possible to find very good French and Moroccan restaurants where a meal and French wine will cost anything from Mad 220 upwards. Generally dinner is likely ... Read more

Money matters

CURRENCY The currency of Morocco is the dirham (MAD), divided into 100 centimes. Bank notes come in denominations of MAD 200, 100, 50 and 20. Smaller values are issued as coins in values of 10, 5, 1 as well as 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c. Changing money is easy and you will find banks and exchange bureaux in Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech. Please note that sometimes Australian dollars are not accepted in ... Read more

What to take

Remember - the lighter you travel the better! A soft-sided duffel bag is the ideal form of luggage. It is recommended that you keep your luggage weight around 15kg and certainly no more than 20kg. A small or medium-sized backpack (45-50 litres) is another good option, but preferably one without a frame. Many hotels used in Europe do not have lifts, so you must be able to carry your own luggage. B... Read more

Climate and seasonal

CLIMATE: Please note that as a desert country, Morocco can have extreme weather. Winter (approx November to March) can be very cold. Particularly in the mountains or near the desert, night temperatures can drop to 5 degrees Celsius or less. Even in the hot months out in the desert it can get cold at night. It is recommended to bring a good sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket fo... Read more

A couple of rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who... Read more

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. Below link will take you to the feedback site: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

Emergency contact

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential nega... Read more

Responsible travel

Travelling responsibly is all about making good choices. It's about ensuring you have an incredible trip while also having a positive impact on the local environment, community and economy you're travelling in. How can you be a Responsible Traveller? See our tips below: - Choose to travel with a responsible travel company like us! We've already offset the main carbon emissions of your trip, so yo... Read more

The Intrepid Foundation

Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of ... Read more

Accommodation notes

We've sourced our accommodation very carefully and picked the best possible hotels or hostels in line with the Intrepid style of travel. Yes, we do cool, mostly central and often very original accommodation in Morocco, but remember, occasionally we are not in the right centre of action, which means you may need to hop on a public transport to get to the city centre (or grab a lovely old Merc taxi ... Read more

Transport notes

There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. High passes, windy roads and rough surfaces make for some challenging travel experiences. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort. ... Read more

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and th... Read more

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit... Read more

Itinerary disclaimer

Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of this Essential Trip Information a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes th... Read more

Accommodation

Desert camp (1 night),Guesthouse (2 nights),Hotel (7 nights)
11days
€665per person
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Casablanca
Feb 6
Marrakech
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Marrakech
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