Morocco imperial Cities & the Desert – 9 Days
Explore Morocco’s deserts and cities on a 9-day all-around tour from Casablanca. Stroll through the medieval medinas of Fes and Marrakech, explore the modern cities of Casablanca and Rabat, and adventure along ancient caravan routes and oases in the desert.
Stroll the ancient medinas and souks in Marrakech and Fes
Admire the sunset overlooking Chefchaouen’s “Blue City”
Explore desert dunes, oases, hidden valleys and ancient castles
- Visit local artisan workshops and leather, ceramic and fossil collectives
|Day 1 Arrive; in Casablanca To Rabat||Rabat|
|Day 2 Rabat To Chefchaouen||Chefchaouen|
|Day 3 Chefchaouen to Fez Via Meknes||Fez|
|Day 4 Exploring Fez with tour guide||Fez|
|Day 5 Fez To Merzouga||Erg Chebbi|
|Day 6 Desert towns, lush oases, and film worthy landscapes||Ouarzazate|
|Day 7 Aït Benhaddou Kasbah and Tizi n’Tichka Pass To Marrakech||Marrakech|
|Day 8 Marrakech: Exploring the Red City||Marrakech|
|Day 9 Return to Casablanca; Departure||Departure|
Day 1: Morning in Casablanca, afternoon in Rabat
Welcome to Morocco!
If you only visit one place in Casablanca, the commercial capital of Morocco, make it the Hassan II Mosque. Set in a picturesque location by the sea, its 690-foot (210 m) minaret is the tallest structure in Morocco and the tallest in the world. While the exterior and surrounding area is impressive, what makes this mosque even more unique is that it is one of the few mosques in the country that allow non-Muslims to enter. Take a morning tour of the mosque and marvel at the fine artefacts: hand-carved stone and wood, intricate marble floor details and gilded ceilings.
Venture north to the imperial city and current capital Rabat (other imperial cities are Meknes, Fes and Marrakech). Explore the medieval fortifications of the Chella necropolis and stroll through Roman and Islamic ruins. Enter Rabat’s old town center through the gates of the Kasbah des Oudaias. From there, visit a 20th-century Andalusian garden for a peaceful space away from the crowds. Explore the Hassan Tower, the incomplete mosque, and the minaret of the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. This is a 12th century project that has been abandoned and today only the tower and about 200 columns remain.
Day 2: The Blue City of Chefchaouen
Explore Plaza Outa el-Hammam, the main square named after the number of hammams (public baths) that used to surround it. Find a restaurant or café for a bite to eat before browsing the many shops offering traditional goods. Visit the Great Mosque and the kasbah (old fortress or fortification), see the gardens, museums and even some old cells of the kasbah. As evening approaches, follow the path to the White Spanish Mosque (20-30 minutes) for the last view of Chefchaouen at sunset.
Day 3 Chefchaouen to Fez Via Meknes
Wake up early to wander the quiet streets for the best chance of taking pictures of the unobstructed, then join your driver and continue on to Fes. Stop along the way to stretch your legs and explore the UNESCO-protected Roman ruins of Volubilis. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Volubilis is a sprawling complex worth a visit. It was built in the 3rd century BC, abandoned in the 11th century, and is well preserved. Marvel at the merchant’s residence and its visible heating system, temples and colorful mosaics in situ, including the labor of Hercules, visible below.
Stop in Meknes on the way to Fes. Meknes is a smaller version of Fes, the medina is calmer and the owners are less eager to make sales. Although Meknes is huge, the two main attractions are the Ville Impériale (Imperial City) and the manageable medina.
Continue to Fez, navigating along the impressively large and complex medina that stretches down the hill. Before venturing in, take time to visit the ruins of Merenid Tombs and enjoy panoramic views of the old town. Overnight in a beautiful riad of the medina (with inner courtyard garden).
Day 4 Exploring Fez with tour guide
Fes is the oldest imperial city in Morocco and perhaps the most worth exploring. Its medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the largest urban car-free zones in the world, and it remains relatively unspoiled since its founding more than 1,000 years ago. Often considered the cultural capital of the country, it consists of two ancient medinas, Fes el Bali and Fes el Jdid, and the modern Ville Nouvelle, built during the French colonial era (1912-1956). Meet your guide and spend half a day learning about the history and culture as you navigate the labyrinthine streets of the medina.
Start at the famous Bab Boujeloud gate at Fes el Bali (789 AD), then enter the main road at Talâa Kebira. Discover how Spanish and Tunisian refugees influenced the architecture of the medina, and watch artisans at work as you pass shops and souks (markets) to scan local goods for gifts and souvenirs. Visit the Chouara Tannery and find the nearby leather shop, admiring the many dye-filled stone wells and people at work (techniques and processes that have barely changed over the centuries).
Next, head to the 14th-century Al Attarine Madrasa, a fine example of Moroccan architecture and craftsmanship, showcasing intricate zellij tiles. From there, head to one of the oldest still operating universities in the world, Al-Qarawiyyin University (859 AD), next to the Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque. Although the mosque is only open to Muslims, there are several places where you can get a glimpse of its interior. Cooking enthusiasts may wish to take a cooking class and learn how to prepare a typical Moroccan meal before retiring for the evening.
Day 5: Middle Atlas: Erfoud, Merzouga and the Sahara
Start your day early, then head south to Merzouga to reach the Sahara desert dunes for a sunset camel ride. Along the way, you’ll climb 7,146 feet (2,178 meters) above the Col du Zad pass and through the cedar forests of the Middle Atlas Mountains. See the local Barbary Macaques and admire the nearby Malwiya River before stopping for lunch in Midalte (“City of Apples”). Continue over the Tizi n’Talghomt pass into the Ziz Valley, known for its hidden oases and palm groves. Along the way, you’ll see many fortified houses called ksars – used to protect valuables including gold, salt and spices.
Continue to Erfoud, famous for its date festival and fossil mining. Here, you can visit local collectives, learn more about the process, and meet some local artisans. End your day at Erg Chebbi, a vast sea of dunes covering 13.5 square miles (35 square kilometers). Never standing still, the huge dunes move and move with the wind! Once in Merzouga, change gears and ride a camel through the dunes to the camp you have prepared for you. Climb up the nearby dunes to watch the sunset, then return to camp for a delicious dinner and relax by the campfire.
Day 6 Desert towns, lush oases, and film worthy landscapes
Catch the sunrise before heading to nearby Khemliya to experience a traditional Saharan village – where people come from Mali. Continue west through a dramatic gate into Rissani. Rissani is a market town that hosts livestock auctions and has a “donkey car park”, a place to be (listen) and experience! Head to the desert town of Tinghir before reaching the 984-foot (300-meter) deep Todra Gorge. You will have time to explore the canyon and relax in the cool waters of the shallow Todra River.
Travel through the Valley of Ancient Fortresses. Although many of the castles are now in disrepair, local families still live in some of them. You may even encounter nomads herding their animals. Head west to Kela’a M’gouna. Famous for its Rose Festival, where you can see widely cultivated farmland surrounded by fragrant rose bushes. Continue west to Ouarzazate, the gateway to the Sahara desert, popular for its film industry. Take a studio tour to learn how the nearby desert landscape has been featured in many movies.
Day 7 Aït Benhaddou Kasbah and Tizi n’Tichka Pass To Marrakech
Go to the nearby Aït Benhaddou. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Aït Benhaddou is thought to date back to the 11th century, when it featured prominently on the trans-Saharan trade route between Marrakech, Ouarzazate and the southern desert. Follow the narrow streets to the granary and admire the surrounding scenery. From there, climb the High Atlas Mountains for the highest peak, Mount Toubkal (13,671 feet or 4,167 meters). Stop near the top of the Tizi n’Tichka pass (7,415 feet or 2,260 m) for great views of the mountains.
As you descend the High Atlas, you will notice dramatic changes in climate and landscape. Soon you will be part of the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. After a long day on the road, check into your hotel and spend the rest of the afternoon as you wish. In the early evening, the main square – and the busiest in all of Africa – Jemaa el-Fna, filled with musicians, performers, snake charmers, games and food stalls, is an all-encompassing entertainment. If you want to enjoy the view from a distance, choose one of the many cafés around the square for a mint tea and a meal.
Day 8 Marrakech: Exploring the Red City
Known as the “Red City” for its red sandstone walls and buildings, Marrakech was once an important trading capital for the Atlas Mountain tribes and remains an exciting former imperial city. Explore the ancient medina of Marrakech starting from the Koutoubia Mosque and Gardens. Although the mosque is not accessible to non-Muslims, it is worth checking out its 12th-century foundations and 253-foot (77 m) minaret. Visit the fountain and swimming pool adjacent to the garden.
Indulge your senses as you explore the complex labyrinth of souks hidden behind ordinary restaurants and shops. Head to Souk el Attarin, Souk Chouari and Souk Smata for a variety of spices, woodwork and babouche (traditional Moroccan slippers). Visit the Souk des Teinturiers or the souk of the dyers to learn how fabrics and yarns are dyed using traditional methods. Next, admire the fine example of Moroccan-Islamic architecture of the 16th-century Koranic school Ben Youssef Madrasa, and notice the ornate details of its interior: carved cedar ceilings, carved plaster and zellij tiles.
Day 9 Return to Casablanca; Departure
If time permits, finish shopping at the last minute or check out the Majorelle Gardens. Not far from the hustle and bustle of the medina, a visit to these lush, expansive gardens is the perfect place to escape the heat and noise, before you head back to Casablanca for your return flight (3-hour transport).
- 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 Marrakech, Dades valley, Sahara desert, Ait Benhaddou, Rabat & Ouarzazate
- Tour Guide in Marrakech & Fez
- including breakfast
- Daily including breakfast, free time to explore scenic spots, take photos, etc.
- Customized and flexible stops
- Travel insurance
- Entrance tickets to monuments
NOTE : At Traveling Morocco Agency we offer Luxury & Standard accommodations Tour from Casablanca to Marrakech via Chefchaouen,Fes, Meknes, Sahara Desert, .
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