Private Departure - Highlights of Morocco    *alt*

9 days, from £799
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Description

Discover the highlights of captivating Morocco on this fast-paced, adventurous trip. From the iconic imperial cities of Marrakech, Fez and Meknes, with their vibrant souks, medinas and ancient Roman ruins, to the golden sand dunes of Erg Chebbi and the friendly Berber villages in the Atlas Mountains, this trip provides an excellent introduction to a charming, exotic country only a few hours away from home.

Tour comfort rating: standard

Tour pace rating: full-on

Itinerary


 Day 1 Join tour Marrakech

Join tour Marrakech. Depending on the schedule of your flight, you may wish to start exploring the 'Red City' independently.
Meals included: none
Single room option


 Day 2 Morning sightseeing in Marrakech; drive to Beni Mellal

Morocco's famous 'Red City', Marrakech is the spiritual heart of the country, a cultural melting pot of the mountain Berbers and the desert peoples of the south. Blessed with some of the most stunning architecture in Morocco, its mix of tradition, colour and history makes for a fascinating guided walk through its medina this morning. You'll wander through its bustling souks and pay a visit to the remarkable setting of the Bahia Palace, a fusion of Moroccan and Islamic styles that was intended to be the greatest palace of its time. You then depart Marrakech, for the beautiful Cascades of Ouzoud, before continuing on through Azilal and on towards Bin el Ouidane Lake. Our final destination today is the city of Beni Mellal, lying at the foot of Mount Tassemit.
Meals included: Breakfast
Single room option


 Day 3 Drive to Fes, sightseeing tour of Meknes en route

Today you drive along the northern slopes of the Middle Atlas Mountains, stopping off first in Azrou to take a short hike through the Atlas Cedar Forest, home to endangered Barbary macaques. From here you then continue into the Oued Boufekrane River Valley and on to the city of Meknes, once the heart of the Moroccan Sultanate. Built by the tyrant, Moulay Ismail, the city was once filled with palace and grand gateways and although much of Ismail's capital has crumbled to dust, it still exudes a sense of its former regal grandeur. In the company of a guide you will visit the old granary of Heri es-Souni and the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail himself. In spite of the sultan's infamous blood lust and cruelty, many still see his reign as a golden age and the tomb is held in high regard. From here it is just a short drive on to Fes, where you will spend the next two nights.
Meals included: Breakfast
Single room option


 Day 4 City tour in Fes; optional trip to Volubilis and Moulay Idriss

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fes el Bali is probably the oldest of the great imperial cities and certainly the most complete medieval city in the Arab world. This morning you enjoy a tour of the city that has long been regarded as Morocco's 'artisan capital', taking in the medina and the souks and paying a visit to the Royal Palace (Fes El Jedid). Craftwork made and sold in the Fes medina is considered amongst the finest in Morocco and a wander through its artisan districts reveals an array of weavers and brass workshops, coppersmiths and tanners, producing beautiful pieces much as they have for generations. You also take a drive out to the North Borj (tower) for some great panoramic views of the city. This afternoon is then free to perhaps visit the holy city of Moulay Idriss and the ancient ruins of Volublis, once the capital of the Roman province of Mauritania Tingitana.
Meals included: Breakfast
Single room option


 Day 5 Drive over the Middle Atlas Mountains to Merzouga

Today we have a long, but very scenic drive over the Middle Atlas Mountains to Merzouga. These are the lands of the fiercely independent Berbers, the 'Lords of the Atlas', whose timeless traditions still hold sway up here in their mountain strongholds far away from the cities. The road takes us through Ifrane and Azrou, into the Gorge du Ziz and across the broad plateau towards the desert settlement of Erfoud. Following the meandering course of the Ziz River you then head into the dunes of the Sand Sea, the traditional homeland of the Alaouite, who ruled this region for some 300 years. Your final destination today is the settlement of Merzouga, lying on the edge of the Erg Chebbi, an area of high dunes that are amongst the most spectacular natural landscapes anywhere in Morocco.
Meals included: Breakfast
Single room option


 Day 6 Optional camel ride; drive to Tinerhir and hike the Todra Gorge

This morning you have the option to take a camel ride into the dunes to watch the sunrise.The word 'erg' is Arabic for 'great sand dune area' and although many people imagine the Sahara as an endless sea of rolling golden sand dunes, they actually cover only about one-fifth of its surface. Leaving mid-morning you then drive along the southern slopes of the Atlas towards Rissani and from there continue on to the town of Tinerhir, set amongst the dramatic ochre-coloured cliffs of the Todra Gorge. This afternoon you'll take a hike through the narrow gorge, wandering through a landscape of towering, sheer sided walls that in some places are up to 300 metres high and little more than 10 metres wide.
Meals included: Breakfast
Single room option


 Day 7 Drive to Bou Tharar via the 'Road of a 1000 Kasbahs'; visit a Berber village

Returning to Tinehir this morning, you then drive along the famous 'Road of a 1,000 Kasbahs' to Boumaine-Dades. The Dades Valley can boast some of the most authentic Berber settlements anywhere, with each of the oasis towns offering up its own distinctive charm and character. Many of the original kasbahs lie in ruins now, but enough remain to provide a real flavour of Morocco's ancient heritage. Your journey today also takes you via the town of El Kelaa Mgouna and the famous Valley of the Roses, before finally arriving at the Berber village of Bou Tharar, located at the entrance to the wonderfully scenic Mgoun Gorge. This afternoon you'll take a hike through this stunning area, paying a visit to some of the local Berber villages that lie scattered amongst the desert landscapes.
Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
Single room option


 Day 8 Drive to Marrakech via Ouarzazate and the Tizi n'Tichka Pass

Leaving Bou Tharar after breakfast this morning you drive on to the oasis town of Skoura, where you pay a visit to the kasbah. From here you then continue to Ouarzazate, a desert outpost lying to the south of the High Atlas, sandwiched between the high mountains and the expansive sands of the Sahara. Driving over the Tizi n'Tichka Pass you then make your way back to Marrakech, where you have a free evening to enjoy the many delights of the city. Marrakech is a city like no other, a place where trade and barter still renders its centre a delightful chaos of noise and colour and at its heart you'll find the spectacular Djemma-el-Fna, a site not to be missed.
Meals included: Breakfast
Single room option


 Day 9 Tour ends Marrakech

The tour ends today in Marrakech. Depending on the schedule of your flights, you may wish to spend some additional time in the souks or in the Djemma el Fna Square before departure.
Meals included: Breakfast


Tour Map