Visit Morocco on an all-encompassing adventure from Casablanca to Marrakech
Travel to Morocco and visit the best of the country’s attractions from Casablanca to Marrakech. Travel from the snow-capped Atlas Mountains to the endless sands of the Sahara, and from the medieval old town of Fes to the spice markets of Marrakech, the rich history and natural beauty of Morocco await. Observe the vibrant collision between old and new expressed in architecture and artwork. Learn about fallen cities and cross paths with nomadic tribes. Jump in and discover the many mysteries and legends concealed within this moody, ever-changing landscape.
13 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners
Camel, Private Bus, Public bus, Taxi, Train
Camp site (1 night), Gite (1 night), Guesthouse (2 nights), Hotel (8 nights), Riad (2 nights)
Camp Fire, Merzouga
Entrance and guided tour Volubilis
Guided walking tour Fes
Horizon Association for People With Disabilities visit
Museum El Khorbat
Casablanca Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco. Your adventure begins today with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Modelled after Marseille in France, the port city of Casablanca is famous for its French-colonial architecture, its old medina and the phenomenal modern-day masterpiece, the Hassan II Mosque. As there's not much time to explore Casablanca on this trip, we recommend you arrive a day or two early to see the sights. A pleasant way to spend the day is to wander around the old medina and city walls, before jumping in a taxi to visit the new medina of the Quartiers des Habous. Finish the day with a sunset walk along the Corniche, watching the locals playing football on the beach.
Rabat/Meknes Today take a one-hour train to the capital of Rabat. Rabat's history is long and colourful, having been host to Roman settlements, pirates and more recently the Moroccan parliament. Store your luggage and spend a few hours strolling through the city's old quarter. Then walk up to the Kasbah des Oudaias and enjoy great views over the Atlantic Ocean. Afterwards, continue to Meknes on a three-hour train. The imperial city of Meknes was built when Sultan Moulay Ismail (a contemporary of Louis XIV) set out to create his own version of Versailles, using over 25,000 slaves to construct walls, gates and over 50 palaces
Volubilis/Fes This morning is free to explore Meknes. Visit Moulay Ismail's immense Heri es Souani Granary, a mammoth architectural feat, and the city's now crumbling imperial palaces. The adventurous may want to try a camel burger for lunch at a restaurant in the medina. Board a private minibus and travel for one hour through rolling hills and olive groves to the archeological site of Volubilis. World Heritage-listed Volubilis was one of the Roman empire's most remote bases. When it was damaged by an earthquake in the 18th century, much of the marble was taken for construction in Meknes. Enjoy a tour of the ancient hilltop ruins with a local guide. Afterwards, make the two-hour drive to Fes, where you'll spend a free afternoon.
Fes Fes is the most complete medieval city in the Arab world. Today take a guided group walking tour of the old city, known locally as Fes el Bali. Step back into the Middle Ages in the labyrinth of the Medina, which is alive with craftsmen, markets, tanneries and mosques. Look out for the Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's most beautiful buildings, which has recently been restored and is now open to tourists. You'll also see the famous tannery, known for the iconic view overlooking its dye pits, and a ceramic factory where you can see potters working in the traditional way. In the evening enjoy a delicious dinner of Moroccan specialities like harira (chickpea soup) and chicken-stuffed pastilla with couscous. Watching the sunset over the Medina while a dozen prayer calls vie for attention is an experience you'll likely remember for a long time.
Midelt Board the private minibus and head towards the scenic Middle Atlas Mountains (approximately four hours). The area is populated with wandering nomadic shepherds attending to their flocks. Pass through cedar forests which are home to Barbary apes, North Africa's only monkey, and on to your destination of Midelt. Nestled in a valley, Midelt is surrounded by farmland and orchards. Stretch your legs as you explore the nearby village of Bremmem and take a closer look at local farming life. Visit Kasbah Myriam, an embroidery workshop run by Franciscan nuns with the aim of providing sustainable employment and education to local Berber women. This is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir. You could also check out an optional traditional music performance in Midelt.
Sahara Camp Today it's a five-hour drive towards the mighty Sahara Desert. Since we'll have the convenience of our own private minivan, there will be many opportunities to stop and admire views of Kasbahs and palmeries (valleys lush with date palms, fields and orchards) along the way. Pause in frontier towns like Erfoud and Rissani before reaching the end of the road at the small Saharan settlement of Merzouga. Store your main baggage, saddle up your day pack and mount a camel for a one-hour sunset ride into the desert. The Erg Chebbi dunes are the most stunning in the country, with dunes towering as tall as 150 metres. Located just 20 kilometres from the Algerian border, this is true frontier country. Spend the night in a desert camp under the stars. Our local friends will prepare a hearty feast, so all you need to do is sit back and relax. The camp is a simple affair, with bedding and basic toilet facilities provided. The blankets provided are usually sufficient for most travellers between April and October, but you may like to bring your own sleeping bag for extra warmth, especially during the months between November and March.
Todra Gorge Today it's a four-drive drive through dramatic changing landscapes to Todra Gorge. The gorge is a spectacular canyon with sheer rock walls reaching up to 300 metres high. A short walk in the area may take in the gorge, surrounding farmland and a ruined village. The Dades Valley follows the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and is dotted with mud-brick villages perched on hillsides. You'll spend the next two nights in a traditional Berber house.
Todra Gorge Today visit the oasis museum of El Khorbat and then enjoy free time to explore the Dades Valley. A guided hike through the gorge and over a nearby mountain pass is highly recommended. You might even be lucky enough to meet some local nomads and share a glass of mint tea with them. For lunch you can join some local ladies in their mud-brick kasbah, a fantastic opportunity to see how people live in this largely unchanged culture. Simply lounging by the hotel pool with views over the lush palmeries and soaring cliff faces is also a great way to spend your day here.
Ait Benhaddou Today travel south for four hours to Ait Benhaddou. The scenic drive will take you past ancient kasbah ruins, former colonial military outposts, austere mountains and valleys of palm trees and irrigated fields. Pause for lunch in Ouarzazate, where productions such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky and Black Hawk Down were filmed. Time permitting, you can take a tour of the Atlas Movie Studios. Make a short visit to Horizon Association for People With Disabilities, an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of people with disabilities. Some of the services they provide include the building and fitting of prosthetic limbs and custom-made wheelchairs, and physio and social therapy for sufferers of accidents and illness. They also train locals in pottery, weaving, metal work and jewellery making. We're very proud to support this project through The Intrepid Foundation. Continue on to your destination of Ait Benhaddou. Centuries ago, this was an important stop for caravans carrying salt across the Sahara. Today its grand kasbah, a fine example of clay architecture, has been listed as a World Heritage site. In the late afternoon, why not enjoy a cooking demonstration to learn the secrets behind Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine?
Aroumd Bid farewell to the Sahara and journey over the spectacular Tizi n'Tichka Pass (2,260 metres above sea level) to Toubkal National Park (around a five-hour drive). At the end of the road in Imlil, store your main luggage and load a daypack onto a pack mule. Take a one-hour trek up to the peaceful village of Aroumd, far from the reach of the modern world. If you don't feel comfortable with the walk, you can ride a mule instead. Spend the night in a family-run mountain home (gite) in Aroumd. Perched on a rocky outcrop, you'll be blessed with great views of North Africa's highest peak - Mount Toubkal. Bathroom and sleeping facilities in the gite are shared, but are cosy, comfortable and a unique Intrepid experience.
Essaouira Take a morning walk through the valleys and trails of the stunning Atlas Mountains. Afterwards, head westwards for five hours towards the Atlantic Coast and the old fishing town of Essaouira. This laidback artists' village is a former Portuguese trading colony and was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations. Surrounded by sandy beaches and dunes, and filled with whitewashed houses, art galleries and wood workshops, it's a great place to explore. Visitors who have been seduced by its charms include Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent a lot of time here in the 1960s. Spend the night in a restored riad - a traditional nobleman's house and an oasis of charm and tranquillity away from the bustle of the Medina. The riad features a central courtyard and is beautifully decorated in the traditional Moroccan style. This is likely to be one of the most memorable stays of your journey.
Essaouira Today, join a local guide for a walking tour through the old medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall). Afterwards, use your free time to get under the skin of the town. Everything in the small centre is within walking distance. Perhaps wander along the harbour and head to the fish markets, browse the shops and art galleries or relax on the beach. Essaouira is a famous wind and kite-surfing destination, so why not give that a try? If you’d prefer to relax, pamper yourself with a good scrub, mud pack and argan oil massage at a local hammam (Moroccan bath).
Marrakech Today board a local three-hour bus to Marrakech. Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Join the thronging crowds for dinner at the famous public square of the Jemaa el Fna. Every night the square comes alive with snake-charmers, musicians, story-tellers, fire-eaters and hundreds of small outdoor restaurants. This will be an unforgettable introduction to bustling Marrakech.
Marrakech Enjoy a free day to discover Marrakech. Explore the city's Medina and seemingly endless mosaic of souqs. Each is devoted to a separate trade - pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets and spices. You could visit the well-known Koutoubia Mosque with its superb minaret, or the lesser-known tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle (now owned by Yves Saint Laurent). There's the Palais Bahia, a fine example of Muslim architecture, and the ruins of the Palais Badi, reputedly once one of the most beautiful palaces in the world. The Saadian tombs are a recently uncovered gem of the Medina. All of the above can be a challenge to locate, but that's all part of the experience of exploring the phenomenal medinas of Morocco.
Marrakech Today your Moroccan adventure comes to an end. As there are no activities planned, you are free to depart the accommodation at any time.