Imperial Cities and the Desert
tour 8 days
Day 1: Casablanca – Rabat – Meknes
As soon as your plane lands, our driver will already be waiting for you to start your trip. We will start our trip towards Casablanca, where we will visit the Hassan II Mosque, the second largest mosque in Africa after Mecca. After the visit, we will drive to Rabat. Once we get to Morocco’s capital city, we will visit the Kasbah of the Oudayas, an ancient military fortress that was declared a World Heritage Site in 2012 by UNESCO. In this citadel, we can find the famous monumental door Bab el-Kébir, as well as one of the first palaces ever built by the Alaouite dynasty, which still reigns over Morocco. We will then visit the Hassan Tower. On the esplanade, we will see a minaret and dozens of columns, which are the remains of an unfinished mosque. The Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the first king of independent Morocco, was also built on the unfinished mosque’s esplanade. He is buried in the mausoleum, as well as his son and successor Hassan II, father of the current king. We will then leave to spend the night in Meknes, the smallest of all the Imperial cities. Night at the hotel.
Day 2: Meknes – Volubilis – Moulay Idriss – Fez
After breakfast, we will visit the fortified medina, the astonishing Bab Mansour gate, the el-Hedim Square and the Sultan Moulay Ismail’s stables and barns in the city that carries the name of this Great Sultan of the Alaouite Dynasty. We will then head towards the Roman ruins of Volubilis, and Moulay Idriss, the holy city. On our way there, we will stop to explore and discover the Roman ruins of Volubilis. This Roman archaeological site, that spreads over 20 ha, contains a myriad of archaeological remains and monuments. This is quite astonishing if we consider that just half of it has been excavated for now. The most important remains are the Forum, a basilica from the II century and the Capitoline Temple, located on the highest point of the city, as Roman tradition requires; and the Arch of Caracalla, located on the Decumanus and built in 217 to thank the Emperor for expanding the Roman citizenship to every single inhabitant of the Empire. Some thermal baths, oil presses, shops, as well as some houses, which follow the typical Roman design, have also been unearthed. Decorative mosaics have also been discovered in the residencies of the richest inhabitants. We will then have a panoramic view of the holy city of Moulay Idriss. We will arrive to Fez in the afternoon. Free time. Night at the hotel.
Day 3: Full day to explore and discover Fez
After a delicious and fulfilling breakfast at the hotel, we will start our guided tour in the new part of the city, where we will discover the Royal Palace and the Jewish quarter (Mellah). We will also go to a viewpoint where we will have an overview of the medina from the Southern tower and the mosques. We will then wander around the medina, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. We will visit the Al-Karaouine University; the Nejjarine Fountain; and the Cherratine and Al-Attarine Madrasas, both decorated in an Arabic style and devoted to the study of religion. We will soon notice that it’s a medieval city, where time has stopped on the Dar al-Magana’s clock 1200 years after its completion. The tour includes a visit to a ceramic workshop. Its labyrinth-like narrow streets are organized by unions: potters, dyers, tanners… The bustle of these people will make us travel back in time. Free time. Night at the hotel.
Day 4: Fez – Ifrane – Azrou – Midelt – Ziz Valley – Merzouga desert – Camel ride and night in a haima
We will set off southwards to cross the Middle Atlas Mountains to reach Ifrane, also known as the “Moroccan Switzerland” because of its striking resemblance with that country. One of the animals that used to live there was the Atlas lion. That’s why it has become the city’s landmark and a stone statue has been dedicated to it. We will have time to take some pictures. We will then drive through the famous cedars forest and admire the great Cedar Gouraud, the largest ancient cedar in the region. We will be able to feed the hundreds of wild monkeys that live in the area. After having lunch in Midelt, we will continue our trip through the open desert. We will witness how the landscape changes, revealing numerous sand tracks as we reach Errachidia. Our trip will continue through the magnificent Ziz Valley and the Tafilalet palm grove, famous for its dates crops. This palm grove spreads across more than 20 km, and it has more than 10 million palm trees, which makes it one of the biggest palm groves in the world. Arrival in Merzouga. In the afternoon, we will ride the camels, guided by an experienced camel driver from the area. We will admire the astonishing sunset on the dunes before reaching the campsite for the night. We will have a typical Moroccan dinner, which includes a tagine and delicious mint tea. We will enjoy some drum music by the bonfire and observe the magnificent sky and the stars. Night in a haima.
Day 5: Merzouga desert – Rissani – Todgha Gorge – Valley of the Roses – Ouarzazate
Don’t forget to wake up at the crack of dawn to walk up the highest dune next to the campsite to enjoy the sunrise and the relaxing landscape that nature offers. After having a delicious breakfast, we will say goodbye to the desert and head to Rissani, Morocco’s former capital. This traditional village was at the origin of the ruling family in Morocco, and the meeting point for trade caravans that came from as far as Timbuktu, in Mali. We will visit its bustling market and the Moulay Ali Cheriff mausoleum. We will see many hooded men and veiled women there. We will then move on to both Touroug and Tinejdad palm groves. An hour later, we will reach one of the most astonishing places in the south: the Todgha Gorge. The Todgha’s riverbed has formed a series of breathtaking vertical limestone river canyons of great proportions, a unique place and a true paradise for climbers. You will be able to roam around and enjoy the gorge. We will reach Ouarzazate in the afternoon, after several stops along the way to discover the “Road of the Thousand Kasbahs”, the Valley of the Roses and the great palm grove of Skoura. We will spend the night in Ouarzazate. Night at the hotel.
Day 6: Ouarzazate – Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah – High Atlas Mountains – Marrakesh
After breakfast, we will resume our journey to Ait Ben Haddou, where we will visit its world-famous kasbah, declared a World Heritage Site in 1986 by UNESCO. Some world-famous films and TV series, such as Gladiator, Asterix and Obelix, The Mummy, The Jewel of the Nile or Game of Thrones, have been shot at this studio. We will continue our trip to Marrakesh after visiting the kasbah. We will drive through the Tizi n’Tichka mountain pass, which stands at an altitude of 2 260 m, the highest point of the country. Throughout the trip, we will enjoy breathtaking scenery, and we will make several quick stops to take some pictures of the Berber villages that can be spotted in between the bends. We will arrive to Marrakesh in the afternoon. Drop-off at the hotel. Free time. Night at the hotel.
Day 7: Full day in Marrakesh
After breakfast, you will have a guided tour around Marrakesh, where you will discover many places of historical and cultural interest, including Koutoubia Mosque’s minaret, the Saadian Tombs, the astonishing Bahia Palace, and the Ben Youssef Madrasa, a Koranic school. At last, you will be able to wander around the medina’s labyrinth-like narrow streets. Here, you will have the opportunity to witness the multiple artisans working on their masterpieces, right before reaching the famous Jamma el-Fnaa Square. After eating lunch on your own, we will visit the Majorelle Garden, and make a quick visit around the Gueliz district, the new part of the city. After eating dinner on your own, we strongly recommend you to walk around the Jamma el-Fnaa Square. You will be able to enjoy its beauty at night, as well as its magicians, storytellers, tooth pullers, and food vendors. Night at the hotel.
Day 8: Marrakesh – Casablanca
Breakfast and free time until the agreed time for your airport transfer in Casablanca. Airport drop-off. End of our services.
- Start of the trip: Casablanca
- End of the trip: Casablanca
- Accommodation in charming hotels with private room and bathroom
The price includes
- Airport or hotel transfers in Casablanca.
- Private transport with A/C
- English-speaking driver/guide at your service during the whole trip
- Accommodation type: bed & breakfast, except in Ouarzazate and Merzouga (breakfast & dinner)
- Official guide in Fez and Marrakesh
- Camel ride in the desert
- Night in the desert in a haima with breakfast & dinner
- Dinners, except those in Ouarzazate and Merzouga