Impressions of Morocco itinerary

 

Day 1 - Marrakech
Welcome to Morocco! On arrival at Marrakech Airport, you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel. While this is an arrival day and you may arrive at any time, please note that hotel rooms are generally only available after midday, and that there will a Welcome Meeting with your leader tonight.

Marrakech is an ancient, exotic city wrapped in European modernity. This evening, why not head to the great square of Jemaa el Fna, one of the largest public spaces in the world and unique to Marrakech. When night falls it transforms into a hive of activity. Snake-charmers, henna-painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies.

Tonight, enjoy a traditional Moroccan dinner.

Included activities:
• Group Arrival Transfer (group flight only)
• Welcome meeting
• Welcome dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Opera Plaza or similar

Meals included: Dinner

 

Day 2 – Boumalne Dades
This morning journey along mountain roads and over Morocco's highest pass, Tizi n'Tichka (2,260 meters), to Dades valley (approximately 7 hours) where you will spend the night and have time to take in the remarkable scenery – sprawling green valleys and rocks sculpted into stunning formations by the wind.

Accommodation: Hotel Xaluca Dades or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day 3 – Merzouga (Sahara Desert)
Today drive to Todra Gorge, a massive trench that rises over 250 metres to form one of the most dramatic and spectacular natural sights in Morocco. The limestone stacks make a perfect area for trekking, and so today you will take a short walk through the sheer cliffs. Then continue to Merzouga. With a backdrop of the orange-coloured Erg Chebbi sand dunes, the charming Saharan village of Merzouga feels wonderfully isolated, like the modern world has left it behind. The Erg Chebbi dunes are the most stunning in the country and an essential part of any visit to Morocco. An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that's formed into picturesque, undulating crests and valleys. The Erg Chebbi is one of the world's iconic landscapes, with towering dunes up to 150 meters in height. Located at the end of a sealed road and just 20 kilometres from the Algerian border this really feels like frontier country.

You will leave your gear at a simple auberge and then ride camels into the edge of the Sahara Desert, enjoying a spectacular sunset along the way. The dunes are stunning, especially as the evening light plays across them and sets off the colours. Tonight, you will camp out in traditional style, with the chance to try some fantastic local cuisine while you sit around an open fire, enjoying lively music and dancing under the stars.

Included activities:
• Todra Gorge visit
• Camel ride to camp
• Dinner at camp

Accommodation: Yasmina luxury camp or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day 4 – Ait Benhaddou
Enjoy a real Lawrence of Arabia moment this morning with a sunrise camel ride across the desert on the return journey to the auberge. Then drive to Ait Benhaddou on the edges of the Sahara (approximately 7 hours). Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco's most iconic site. It was once an important stop for caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. Today its grand Kasbah has been listed as a World Heritage site, with its fortified village being a fine example of clay architecture.

If you think you recognize the place, you probably do, as the town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Enjoy a walk through the winding streets of old town, making your way to the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy the views across the surrounding plains. In the late afternoon, enjoy a cooking demonstration to learn the secrets behind Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine.

Ait Banhaddhou is a perfect location for shooting star trails, not least as the North Star is directly above the ruined kasbah! This means that you can shoot with a perfect cirle of stars. Depending on the weather, we will have a star trails session tonight!

Included activities:
• Kasbah Ait Benhaddou visit
• Cooking demo & dinner at La Fibule d’or

Accommodation: Kasbah Valentine or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day 5 – Armed
Bid farewell to the Sahara and journey again over the spectacular Tizi n'Tichka Pass (2,260 metres above sea level) to Toubkal National Park (approximately 5 hours), photographing snow-dappled mountains and valleys in full flower along the way. At the end of the road in Imlil, store your main luggage and load a daypack onto a pack mule. Walk into traditional mountain village life with 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.

Perched on a rocky outcrop, the remote village of Aroumd offers stunning views across the High Atlas Mountains and a unique opportunity to experience traditional Berber culture. Spend the night in a family-run mountain home (gite) in Aroumd. Surrounded by the smell of woodstoves and bread, meet the host family and enjoy Berber hospitality and food. Facilities at the homestay are shared (both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements) but cosy, comfortable and a unique Intrepid experience.

NB. Please note, single supplements do not cover the Armed Gite, where single rooms are not possible!

Accommodation: Gite Dar Armed or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Optional Activities:
• Mule ride - Imlil to Aroumd - MAD50

 

Day 6 – 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, a city where the medina brushes up against the Atlantic Ocean. Sandstone walkways contrast with whitewashed houses, bright blue sky and the sand of the surrounding beaches and dunes. This artists' town was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations, and its charm has seduced people like Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. It is one of North Africa's most attractive places, and you will soon find yourself slipping into the easy-going rhythm of this Moroccan town with a European seaside twist.

Stay in a restored riad, or Moroccan mansion, a traditional nobleman's house unique to Morocco that’s a calming oasis away from the buzz of the medina. Your riad is beautifully designed and decorated in traditional Moroccan style, cosy yet historical. This is likely to be one of the most memorable stays of your journey.

Included activities:
• Short hike in the Atlas Mountains
• Lunch in the gite

Accommodation: Riad Maison du Sud or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day 7 – 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. The narrow streets of Essaouira are ideal for casual exploration. Their size discourages cars, and on a walk through the town it feels as though little has changed since the days of sea pirates. The fishing port is a serious commercial operation and there’s much fun to be had observing the daily catch and its subsequent auction. A freshly-cooked plate of the day's catch is highly recommended.

Browse the plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries that make this little town a particularly pleasant place to unwind for a few days. It has a growing reputation for its unique art and is becoming even more famous for its burled Thuya wood, delicately formed and inlaid in tiny shops that are built into the thick walls of the Portuguese ramparts. The scent from the oils used to polish the richly coloured wood permeates the air and makes walking down the streets incredibly pleasant. If you’d prefer to relax, don't miss the opportunity to indulge in a hammam or local-style bath.

Included activities:
• Guided tour of Essaouira old medina

Accommodation: Riad Maison du Sud or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

Optional Activities:
• Hamam (public baths) - MAD200
• Berber massage - MAD350
• Horse riding - MAD250
• Seafood Market Lunch - Essaouira - MAD80
 

Day 8 – Marrakech
Morning is at leisure in Essaouira.

In the afternoon, board your private minivan to travel back to Marrakech. After checking into your accommodation, the rest of the day is officially free, but time permitting we can head into the main square for some night photography!

Accommodation: Riad Goloboy or similar

Meals included: Breakfast
 

Day 9 – Marrakech
After breakfast, today, meet your local guide and set off on a morning tour of the old medina, through the bustling souks that are the lifeblood flowing through the city. Explore tranquil courtyards filled with the scent of orange blossom, and the many salons and chambers that make up Bahia Palace. This splendid mansion was built in 1866 for a former slave who rose to power within the government. Continue to the Marrakech Museum, itself a former palace, which houses a fine collection of Moroccan art and sculpture. Stop by the Koutoubia Mosque; its famous minaret is the prototype for others of its kind around the world, including La Giralda in Seville. Then walk back through the streets of the old medina to the Jemaa el Fna to be transferred for visit of the tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle. The rest of the day is free to explore further or shop in the bazaar. Otherwise, perhaps head back into the medina, where every step brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. Watch skilled artisans perfect their craft, practice your haggling skills or take a break from the hustle to sip on tea or share a tajine, filled with the pure scent of Morocco. For your final evening, why not feast in one of the many great restaurants lining the square.

Included activities:
• Guided tour of Marrakech old medina including entrance to Bahia Palace, Marrakech Museum
• Visit to Majorelle Gardens

Accommodation: Riad Goloboy or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

Optional Activities:
• Palais Badi - MAD10
• Saadian Tombs - MAD10
• Medersa Ben Youssef - MAD40
• Urban Adventures - Tajine cooking class - MAD546
• Hammam & Massage in a luxury spa - MAD750
• Palmery cycling tour - MAD350
• Hot Air Ballooning - MAD1990
• Urban Adventures - A Taste Of Marrakech - MAD509
 

Day 10 – Depart
There are no activities planned for the final day and you can depart the accommodation at any time - up until the check-out time. If you are on the group flight, then your transfer to Marrakech airport is arranged.

If you would like to spend more time exploring this incredible city, the Intrepid can organise further nights accommodation for you.

Included activities:
• Group Departure Transfer

Meals included: Breakfast

 

 

 

To keep the trip cost as low as possible, we will need to manage the bookings so that no one is left with a single room, without paying the single supplement. If you are a solo traveller then every effort will be made to ensure that there is someone for you to share with. This has usually always been possible, but if you are flexible about the choice of accommodation when filling out the booking form, then that will give you more chance to secure a place.

Plese note that the gite accommodation on this itinerary will involve shared bathroom facilities. Single supplement rooms are also not possible in the gite.