Epic Morocco


Morocco is a vibrant labyrinth of ever-changing scenery, rich culture and fascinating history. From the bustling medinas to the tranquil seaside villages and expansive Sahara Desert, this is a place of diverse beauty. Across 16 epic days you'll be thrust into the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and Fes, be swept away by the vast, endless beauty of the Sahara (on a camel’s back no less) and welcomed into the homes and hearts of Amazigh locals. Enjoy surfing in Taghazout, wandering through blue-washed walls in Chefchaouen, learning about sacred sites in Moulay Idriss and rubbing shoulders with locals in Ait Benhaddou. On this trip, you'll get a taste for adventure, nature, culture and culinary wonder and return home with more than just a full camera roll.

16 days, from

$940

per person

GROUP SIZE

16 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: XMYCC
Style: Basix
Theme: 18 to 35s

Details

Countries Visited:  Morocco
Accommodation: Hotel (9 nights), Desert Camp (1 night), Guesthouse (3 nights), Surf Camp (2 nights)
Transportation: Camel , Private vehicle , Public bus , Taxi , Train
Included Meals:

  • 15 breakfasts
  • 1 lunches
  • 3 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 16

  • Explore the labyrinth of the colourful and chaotic Fes medina with a local guide leading the way. Plus, visit a local tannery and admire its multi-colored dye pits.

  • Ride camels far out into the Sahara Desert, and camp beneath a blanket of stars - an experience you won't soon forget.

  • Set off on a tour of the Marrakech medina, through the bustling souks that are the lifeblood flowing through the city and sample some sweet and savoury specialities with a local expert.

  • Stay in the old fishing town of Essaouira, a place where the medina brushes up against the Atlantic Ocean and take the chance to bliss out and practice your surf and yoga skills.

  • Explore the Atlas Mountains - trek the day away and spend the night in a family-run gite (mountain home), where you'll be treated to Berber hospitality; share a meal with the family and learn about their culture.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Casablanca

Salaam Alaikum! Welcome to Morocco. There are no planned activities until your welcome meeting at 6 pm, if you have time, why not check out Casablanca, the largest city in Morocco. Modelled after Marseille in France, this bustling port city has an eclectic architectural style, a fusion of Art Deco French colonial buildings and Mauresque (Moorish) government institutions, all mixed in with an old medina and the city's modern-day landmark - the Hassan II Mosque. A great way to spend the day exploring Casablanca is to wander around the Old Medina and city walls, then jump in a taxi and visit the Quartier Habous – the new medina full of shaded squares, narrow streets and lined with arcades that lead from one souk to another. This is a great place to enjoy a Moroccan coffee and maybe start working on your bargaining skills. Finish the day with a walk along the Corniche and watch the locals enjoy games of football on the beach during sunset. 

Day 2: Meknes - Moulay Idriss

After breakfast, opt to take a guided tour of the Hassan II Mosque (entrance fee payable locally), more than 6000 craftsmen joined forces to build this beauty in 1993 and it's one of the few mosques in Morocco that foreigners can enter. Later, head to the station and take a local train to Meknes. Upon arrival, jump into a taxi and head to the whitewashed village of Moulay Idriss – one of Morocco's most important pilgrimage sites – then go for a stroll and indulge in a rather unusual lunch, a camel burger! However if you’re a vegetarian, don’t get the hump, there’ll be an option for you too! You’ll also witness a demonstration on the art of mint tea making, this sweet treat is a Moroccan speciality. Tonight, you'll get to hang out with a local family, an experience that’s only been allowed for foreigners since 2005 – lucky you!

Day 3: Fes

Take a drive through the beautiful rolling hills to Volubilis and enjoy a guided tour of these epic Roman ruins, then head back to Meknes where you'll meet your local guide for a tour of the city. Continue your adventure on a 40-minute train ride to the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco – Fes. Vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming, Fes is a visual and pungent feast for the senses, with a huge, well-preserved medieval old city that’s the mother of all medinas. Later this afternoon, enjoy some free time and perhaps check out the exquisite carvings and magnificent tile work at the Medersa el Attarine, near the spice and perfume market. Alternatively, Fes is a shopping heaven for those who want to pick up a souvenir or two.

Day 4: Fes

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 leader through this vibrant labyrinth of a city, alive with the many craftsmen, markets, ceramics and 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. Today is going to be a big day so remember to keep hydrated and pack some snacks.

Day 5: Midelt

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 an opportunity to stretch your legs, 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 and watch 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 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 6: Merzouga

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 Errachidia. 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 your overnight camp set next to a simple Auberge (that's French for ‘inn'), and get ready for a once in a lifetime 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 vast expanse of sand, and loops back to your private camp for an overnight stay. In the camp, you'll have a thin mattress, blankets and sheets (and auberge not so far away, just in case). 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 mind-blowing 'I am so far from home' kinda moment.

Day 7: Todra 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 and experience the amazing interplay of light as the Sahara slowly comes alive all around you. Head back for brekkie, collect the rest of your gear together and then travel west to Todra. 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 8: Ait 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. Quench your thirst with a mouthful of mint tea (the best in the world!) at Tawesna teahouse, whose profits are devoted to the projects of the women association in the village. This experience is more than just a cuppa – it’s about discovering a culture, sharing a true moment, contributing to women economic inclusion and sustainable tourism – be part of it! 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’s probably because you’ve 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 and climb up to the turrets for a view over the river. You'll spend the night just outside the walls.

Day 9: High Atlas - Marrakech

Continue west, passing a few Berber villages before stopping for a delicious BBQ lunch in one of the many townships along the way – enjoy mouth-watering kefta (Moroccan minced meat) and veggies served with fresh bread, then perhaps wash it all down with a local drink. Continue to take in those epic views of the countryside as you 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 and 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. With no planned activities after your arrival, 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 10: Marrakech

Marrakech is a feast for the senses, and this morning you’ll get to venture out for some street food tasting in the maze of Marrakech streets with a local expert. Set off on a tour of the old medina, through the bustling souks that are the lifeblood flowing through the city and sample some sweet and savoury specialities. 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. The rest of the day is free so where do you start? Why not head out on a cycling trip, go quad-biking or indulge in a Luxury Hammam and Spa, the options are endless. You might also like to 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. For a meaningful activity, you may want to visit AMAL Women’s Training Center for an optional meal. Amal is a non-profit organisation that helps disadvantaged women gain work experience by providing a comprehensive training in gastronomy. Every year 30 to 40 women complete the training which then helps them to find appropriate employment and improve their living conditions. Please ask your tour leader for more details. In the evening you will no doubt be drawn back to Jemaa el Fna for a final night out.

Day 11: Marrakech

There are no activities planned after breakfast this morning, why not become a Moroccan MasterChef in an Urban Adventure’s cooking masterclass with a local guide? Journey through the souks of Marrakech and shop for the best ingredients before learning the insider tricks on how to whip up a deliciously authentic tagine in a classic riad setting, while getting to know the family that lives there. To find out more about ‘Tajine Cookery Class’, visit urbanadventures.com.

Day 12: Aroumd

Wake up in the morning and catch a private bus towards Imlil, high in the Atlas Mountains. Calling dibs on a window seat would be a smart move – the 2-hour drive features some great scenery to keep you occupied on the way. Arrive at Imlil, a little village that sits at the foot of North Africa’s highest peak, and then lace-up your shoes for a scenic 1-hour trek to the mountain village of Aroumd. Tonight’s stay is in a family-run gite (mountain home) in the village. The Berbers are famous for their hospitality, so make the most of this opportunity to sit down, break bread with the family and learn about their culture. Facilities at the homestay are shared (both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements) but they’re cosy, comfortable and offer an experience that is so much more memorable than a hotel.

Day 13: Taghazout

This morning, travel to Taghazout. This cool, laid-back fishing village has quickly gained a solid reputation as one of the country’s best surfing locations. The waters stay warm all year round and the surf is top notch for both rookies and adept wave riders. If there’s time this afternoon, perhaps head down to the local beach, dip your toes in the water and tuck into a seafood dinner – be sure to ask your leader for their hottest restaurant recommendations.

Day 14: Taghazout

Kick off your adventures in the sleepy town of Taghazout with an early morning yoga session, helping you relieve any tension before diving into the water later in the day. Oddly enough, the skills required for both surfing and yoga complement each other through the principles of concentration, flexibility and balance. Good news if you were planning on hitting the waves! Don’t know how to ride a board? No stress. Today includes a half-day surfing course to teach you the basics, and if you already know the ropes, there’s always time to refine your skills in unfamiliar territory.

Day 15: Essaouira

You’ve got a free morning in Taghazout, so why not get up early and watch the sunrise, then take an optional yoga class or rent out a surfboard and hit the waves? Later, travel to the old fishing town of Essaouira, a place where the medina brushes up against the Atlantic Ocean. Its name translates to ‘little picture’, and it’s safe to say you’ll be taking many pictures during your time in this picturesque place. This artists’ town has attracted visitors like Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix who (according to local legend) spent a lot of time here in the 1960s. Join your local leader for a walking tour through the old medina, Jewish mellah, port and by the skala (sea wall). Tonight’s accommodation is a real treat and certainly one of the more stylish stays of your Moroccan adventure – enjoy!

Day 16: Essaouira

Yesterday’s walking tour should have you well up to scratch with the ins and outs of Essaouira, so now’s your chance to go exploring. Have a traditional Moroccan breakfast, and maybe wander to the harbour and its adjacent fish markets. You’ll have to be up bright and early if you want to see the daily catch being auctioned off. There’s also an opportunity to head back to the markets for a fresh seafood lunch. Get lost (not literally, of course) wandering through the medina, check out the colourful spices and traditional ingredients on display. Or perhaps grab your camera and spend some time snapping shots of the iconic blue doorways, white-washed lanes and traditional architecture this seaside village does so well. If you feel like something more active, why not go on an optional horse ride along the sandy beaches of Atlantic Ocean? Simply ask your group leader for more info.

Day 17: Marrakech

Chat with locals on a shared bus ride back to Marrakech. Once the bus arrives back in the city, enjoy some time to explore, and later on, tuck in for an awesome included dinner experience at the famous Djemaa el-Fna. This square is known as one of the largest public spaces in the world – it’s truly an unmissable part of the city. As soon as the sun sets, the square comes to life with henna-painters, performers and storytellers sharing the space with street food stands. The smells of the stalls will lure you in and the tastes will keep you coming back for more. There are all sorts of excellent pastries, fresh juices, teas and even bowls of snail soup to go round if you’re feeling a little adventurous! As the evening closes in, enjoy the company of your new friends over some of these delicious snacks as you overlook the bustling city hub.

Day 18: Marrakech

With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave your accommodation at any time. Check-out time is usually around midday. But this doesn’t mean your Moroccan adventure has to come to an end! There are a range of in-depth Urban Adventure tours that may take your fancy, and continue your exploration of this engaging country. See urbanadventures.com/destination/Marrakech-tours for more information. If you wish to spend more time in Marrakech, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).