Moroccan Cities and the Sahara Desert – 8 Days
This 8-day itinerary combines culture, adventure and relaxation, and will take you to the famous old Medina of Fes, the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert and the bright blue alleys of Chefchaouen. Enjoy traditional music by the desert campfire, hike through huge canyons, and join the activities in Marrakech’s most lively square.
Stroll through the old medina and labyrinth of souks in Marrakech
Explore the sand dunes, oasis and ancient castles in the desert
Ride a camel in the Sahara Desert and enjoy traditional music by the campfire
Stroll along the quiet blue streets of Chefchaouen
Admire the view of Toubkal Mountain from Tizi-n-Tichka Pass
|Day 1 Fes: Exploring the Imperial City & Medieval Medina||Fes|
|Day 2 Fes to Meknes, Volubilis, and the “Blue City” of Chefchaouen||Chefchaouen|
|Day 3 Chefchaouen to Fes via Meknes||Fes|
|Day 4 Over the Middle Atlas to the Desert: Erfoud, Merzouga & the Sahara||Merzouga|
Day 5 Desert Adventures Around Merzouga, Rissani Market, Todra Gorge
|Day 6 Todra Gorge, Dades Valley, Ouarzazate, Ait Benhaddou||Ait ben Haddou|
|Day 7 Ait Benhaddou, Tizi-n-Tichka Pass over the High Atlas, Marrakech||Marrakech|
|Day 8 Marrakech: Exploring the Red City||Marrakech|
Day 1 Fes: Exploring the Imperial City & Medieval Medina
Fes is the oldest imperial city in Morocco, and perhaps the most interesting and exciting city to explore. It has hardly experienced colonial development, adding to its medieval charm. Fes is the most complete Medina in the Arab world. It is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and consists of three main attractions: Fes el Bali (Old Fes, Medina, where you will spend most of your time), Fes el Jdid (“new” Fes) and Ville Nouvelle influenced by France. Meet with your guide to learn more about the history and culture of Fes, and most importantly, help you explore the Medina.
Start your journey in Fes el Bali, starting at the Bab Boujeloud gate, and you are welcome to enter Talâa Kebira. When you pass buildings influenced by Spain and Tunisia, you will find goods sold in souks (markets) and shops. One of the most unique attractions in the old medina is the tannery, and the Chouara tannery is no exception. Next, climb to the roof of a nearby leather shop to better appreciate the stone pots filled with dyes and workers in the 11th century. Follow your guide to the Al-Qarawiyyin Library and Mosque (859 AD). If you are lucky, you might peep inside.
Day 2 Fes to Meknes, Volubilis, and the “Blue City” of Chefchaouen
When you leave Fez, stop for the last panoramic view at the Mausoleum of Merenid (a giant tomb of royals/officials) on the way to Meknes.
If you wish, you can choose to stay in Meknes. This prosperous city is a good preparation for your stay in Fez: the medina is smaller, less busy, and the shopkeepers are not so aggressive. Although the city is quite large, the two main attractions are Ville Impériale (Imperial City) and Medina.
Continue to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the best-preserved Roman ruins in Morocco. It is a good place to escape the hustle and bustle of Meknes. Today, you can stroll through the huge complex of buildings and explore the large commercial houses, temples and many in-situ color mosaics with visible heating systems below.
In the afternoon, enjoy a picturesque drive to Chefchaouen, as the flat plains and rolling hills become the mountainous landscape of the Rif Mountains. Chefchaouen has been almost untouched since the 15th century, and it has some of the friendliest people in the country, creating a relaxed atmosphere. Explore the main square, Plaza Outa el-Hammam, and enjoy a meal in a nearby restaurant or cafe.
You can also hike up the hill to reach the city wall, and then follow the path to the Atlas Hotel. Enter the roof and enjoy the expansive view of the Blue City. At the end of the day, walk east of the city and board the path leading to the White Spanish Mosque. Its location is a good place to watch the sunset behind the mountain.
Day 3 chefchaouen to Fes
Get up early and you might enjoy an hour of quiet while wandering the streets in the morning before returning to Fez in 3.5 hours. Before venturing into the UNESCO-protected Medina, climb up the hill to the Mausoleum of Melenides, enjoy panoramic views of the city and determine your direction. It is best to visit the mausoleum at dusk, because the city lights start to come on and the call of the muezzin resounds through the valley. Return to the Medina and your accommodation, a traditional riad.
Day 4 Over the Middle Atlas to the Desert: Erfoud, Merzouga & the Sahara
Start early today-you will cover a lot of land as you cross the middle Atlas, through the cedar forest and into the sahara desert area. There are several towns along the way to stop before reaching the Sahara dunes near Merzouga.
After passing through the town of Azrou, ascend the Col du Zad pass and pass through the cedar forest of the Central Atlas Mountains. Look out for the Barbary macaque family on the tree and on the roadside. Enjoy a short lunch in Middelt, known as the “Apple City”; the nearby Muluya River allows orchards to grow in the desert. Continue to cross the Tizi-n-Talremt pass into the Ziz Valley. Along the road, you will see strong houses called ksars, built by merchants to protect precious commodities such as gold, salt and spices.
Erfoud is a bustling market town known for its dating festival, fossil mining and artisan factories (you may have seen some fossils in the market). While in town, you can stop by a collective of local artisans, where you can learn about the types of fossils found in the area and learn about the complete process of how fossil-rich rocks are transformed into objects of beautiful sizes.
Soon you will see Erg Chebbi in the distance, a vast sea of dunes. Sand dunes, some more than 200 m high, change color according to the time of day and become most vibrant at sunset. Stop near Merzouga, ride a camel across the dunes, and arrive at the camp before sunset. Climb up to the nearest sand dune to watch a colorful show, then return to the camp for dinner and enjoy traditional Berber music.
Day 5 Desert Adventures Around Merzouga, Rissani Market, Todra Gorge
Spend the morning exploring more of the Sahara Desert-rent a sandboard and test your skills on the dunes, take an Erg chebbi tour, take a four-wheeled ATV tour, or just relax by the pool. If you are an early riser, you will get a sunrise worth remembering. Or visit the nearby Khamleya, a traditional Saharan village where you can enjoy drumming and dancing before looking at the farmland on the beach.
When you leave the Merzouga area, stop at Rissani, another market town with a more impressive gate at the entrance of the city. This is a good place to stroll in the traditional market, especially on market days when a large number of animals are bought and sold. When you are here, be sure to park at the “Donkey Parking Lot”.
Stop in Tingil and admire the river oasis that stretches on both sides of the city. The surrounding desert landscape reveals towering hills, plateaus and plateaus. Nearby, you will have the opportunity to explore the Todra gorge, a 300m deep gorge cut by the Todra River.
Day 6 Todra Gorge, Dades Valley, Ouarzazate, Ait Benhaddou
After having breakfast at the hotel, we will drive through the Dades Valley, which is a charming part of the famous ancient castle road. We will stop at Kalaa-Mgouna, the “City of Roses” famous for its annual Rose Festival, to buy rose water and many local cosmetics.
Continue to Skoura and Bird Valley, where the main feature is the mud-brick castle, especially the Ameridil castle, which is a well-preserved castle in the area. After hiking in the valley, you will have lunch in a restaurant overlooking the entire valley. The tour continues to Ouarzazate, the “Hollywood of Africa”, whose geography and beautiful scenery have attracted many filmmakers from all over the world. Here you can choose to visit the studio, which contains props used in movies you may have seen, such as mummies and gladiators.
You will have the opportunity to spend the night on our Riad and see the castle of Tawrirte (protecting the sky, gladiators and Prince of Persia) with Hollywood as the background.
Day 7 Ait Benhaddou, Tizi-n-Tichka Pass over the High Atlas, Marrakech
This morning, you will head to the High Atlas Mountains to look at the highest peak, Mount Toubkal. Close to the top, you can enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the mountains and the road that winds down the mountain.
The first town after the pass is Taddert, where you can stop at the Argan Oil Cooperative and learn how to process olives for various purposes. Downhill along the northern slope of the High Atlas Mountains, you will notice dramatic changes in the climate and landscape, with valleys carved into the slopes. After experiencing all the tranquility of the mountains and desert, you will soon be in the vibrant Marrakech.
In the evening, Jemaa el Fna Square is lively, with musicians, performers, snake charmers, games, stalls, etc. If you want to see from a distance, there are many cafes around the square where you can sit and enjoy the performance while having a meal.
Day 8 Marrakech: Exploring the Red City
Marrakech is nicknamed the “Red City” because of its 1,000-year-old red sandstone walls and buildings, and is a major economic center. Depending on how long you are before your departure flight, take some time to explore the city.
Unlike Fez, Marrakech has Berber descent rather than Arab descent, and was once an important trading center for the Atlas tribes. Head to the bustling Jemaa el-Fna Square in Marrakech: to the north is the souk (market), to the west is the Koutoubia mosque and gardens, the Kasbah (fortress or fortifications) area has the Saadi dynasty mausoleum and Bahia Palace and Badi Palace are in the south. In the new city, you will find Majorelle Gardens.
To visit the Medina (Old Town) in a unique way, board the calèche (French for the carriage) and start adapting to the surroundings. Please pay attention to fondouks-medieval hotels that provide accommodation and supplies for merchants and travelers. Today, some have been converted into residences or large shopping areas and studios that you can explore. Find the way to the Koutoubia Mosque and escape the heat in the garden between the fountain and palm trees. Although non-Muslims cannot enter the mosque, its 12th century foundation and minaret are worth seeing.
As night fell, Jemaa el-Fna became active with musicians and storytellers, acrobats and dancers, and even snake charmers. Stroll through rows of food stalls, serving a variety of food from dinners to juice drinks, dried dates and small snacks. For a bite, or for a more relaxing experience, please look for one of the many cafes above the square and enjoy the food while watching the show below.
- include Private tour
- Daily breakfast Hotel accommodation and all transportation in Casablanca
- Airport Full transportation with air-conditioning,
- gas and driver English speaking guide and driver Overnight in Casablanca, Fes, Chefchaouen & Marrakech
- Tour Guide in Fes & Marrakech
- including breakfast
- Daily including breakfast, free time to explore scenic spots, take photos, etc.
- Customized and flexible stops
- Travel insurance
- Entrance tickets to monuments
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