Days
14
Price from
£670GBP

Rock around Morocco through Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech

Arrive in Casablanca then head on to Meknes and Fes. Next up is Midelt, Merzouga and Erg Chebbi for walks, ruins and desert camps. Then Todra Gorge, Dades Valley and Ait Benhaddou (ie ALL THE COOL STUFF). Finish with a visit to High Atlas then a few days in rad Marrakech.


Start
Casablanca, Morocco
Finish
Marrakech, Morocco
Country
Morocco
Code
GEKC
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
16 reviews
Ages
Min 18 , Max 39
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Pre-2005, you wouldn't have been able to spend a night in holy Moulay Idriss if you weren't a Muslim. These days you can stay with an awesome local family and eat their delicious home-cooked fare no matter your beliefs

  • It's easy to get lost in a labyrinth (think less David Bowie film, more medieval maze), especially when there are enticing distractions at every turn. Never fear, your local guide knows the city of Fes like a lifelong friend

  • Don't get in a hoof when you're offered a camel burger in Meknes. Like all good food in the medina, this exotic lunch is cooked before your eyes at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant

  • Sleep under the stars in the Sahara, watch the sun rise over the dunes, ride a camel through the desert and explore the spectacular Todra Gorge. Is this all a dream?

  • Souq and ye shall find. The Marrakech marketplace is even more chaotic than you'd imagine. Take a deep breath before you start haggling your socks off with the locals

Is this trip right for you?

  • The train journeys on this trip can get pretty busy at peak periods, so we’d strongly recommend you pack your rucksack lightly so you can get on and off the trains quickly.

  • There are some steep steps up to the guesthouse in Moulay Idriss, which requires a moderate level of fitness. Mules can be provided if you need some assistance in carrying your luggage from the taxi to the accommodation.

  • There are a few long minibus journeys on this trip, some in excess of three hours - especially from Fes to Midelt and Midelt to Merzouga. While conditions can feel a bit cramped in the van, the scenery is stunning and regular stops will be made to break up your journey.

  • While temperatures in the desert can be pleasant during the day, when the sun goes down it can get very cold. Please make sure you bring some warm clothing and base layers.

  • For some, the camel ride is one of the highlights of the trip. If you don't feel comfortable with this activity, it's possible to simply walk alongside the rest of the group. The ride to the desert camp takes about an hour and is idyllic in the late afternoon light.

  • At the desert camp, there are four berber tents and one large communal tent. Mattresses, sheets and blankets are provided, but it's also recommended that you bring your own sleeping sheet. You may even want to bring a sleeping bag if you're travelling during the colder months.

  • In a full-day tour around the Medina of Fes (Day 4), you'll be on your feet for a good five to six hours. Keep in mind that this is one of the highlights of Morocco and well worth the exertion!

  • The camel trek through the Sahara (Day 6) is an amazing way to experience the desert, but it may be painful on your backside. If you'd prefer, it's possible to walk alongside the caravan on the sand for about an hour. Remember that you'll need to make the (quite easy) walk back in the other direction the next day.

  • The Todra Gorge visit (Day 7) takes you to a remote area of Morocco. It is an amazing place to discover on foot, but to do so you'll need a moderate level of fitness and suitable footwear and clothing. If trekking isn’t your thing, have no fear, as there are plenty of other activities to do in the valley.

  • In 2016, Ramadan will take place from 7 June to 6 July. It may cause some disturbance to your travel schedule. Some regular services may not be available or open during the daytime, such as restaurants or coffee bars. Please consider your travel arrangements carefully.

  • Although you shouldn’t expect any aggressive selling techniques in Morocco, please be aware that you may be approached regularly by shop owners and street vendors.

  • We've sourced our accommodation carefully and picked the best possible hotels in line with the Geckos style of travel, but please note that service and accommodation in Morocco may be different to western standards.

Itinerary

Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at around 6 pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned until this important meeting. Check the hotel reception for the exact time and place of the meeting. If you can't arrange a flight in time, you might want to arrive a day early – we can book additional accommodation for you, depending on availability. If you're going to be late, please contact the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so make sure you have these ready for your trip leader. If you do arrive early in Casablanca, get out and explore the city. A good place to start is the Old Medina. Try some hot, syrupy mint tea along the way.

Notes: Some travellers in Casablanca are being approached by locals offering excursions before their Geckos trip commences. This has been particularly common in and around the hotels used by Geckos. These guides are in no way connected to Geckos and we cannot guarantee the safety or quality standards of their tours. We strongly advise customers not to join any tour offered by unauthorised guides. Geckos assesses the safety of all optional excursions offered by our local leaders. If you would like more information on the excursions available, please contact us before you travel, or see the Geckos-branded notice in the reception of your hotel.
Optional Activities
  • Casablanca - Guided Tour of Hassan II Mosque - MAD120
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After breakfast it's time for a guided tour of the Hassan II Mosque. More than 6,000 craftsmen joined forces to build this beauty in 1993. It's one of the few mosques in Morocco that foreigners are allowed to enter. You'll be joining other people for this tour, but you can upgrade to your own guide if you like – just talk to your leader. Later, head to the station and take a local train to Meknes (approximately 2.5 hours). When you arrive, you'll jump into a taxi and pop over to the whitewashed village of Moulay Idriss, one of Morocco's most important pilgrimage sites. You'll stay with a local family here this evening. Staying overnight here has only been allowed for foreigners since 2005. Lucky you!

Notes: Your guided tour of Meknes will be either today or tomorrow.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a drive through the beautiful rolling hills to Volubilis for a guided tour of these epic Roman ruins. After Volubilis, head back to Meknes where you'll meet your local guide for a tour. Prepare for an unusual lunchtime – you'll be able to get a camel burger. Now that's a burger bar with a difference! Travel by train from Meknes to Fes (approximately 40 minutes). Fes is an amazing living museum, like stepping into medieval times. Getting lost here is half the fun, but you'll have an orientation walk, so you won't actually get lost. Browse market stalls, meet craftsmen and see 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, which is also famously stinky, but famously well worth it. Stop for that famous view, overlooking the dye pits. You'll also visit a ceramic factory where you can see potters working in the traditional way. Then enjoy some free time and maybe check out the exquisite carvings and magnificent tile work at the Medersa el Attarine (near the spice and perfume market). Fes is a shopping heaven for those who want to pick up a souvenir or two.

Notes: The tour of Meknes will take place either today or on the previous day.
Included Activities
  • Guided walking tour - Meknes
  • Guided tour of Volubilis
  • Guided walking tour Fes
  • Medersa - Fes
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
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 a leg-stretch, 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. It was originally built as a base for mining in the area. You'll see 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 1.5–2 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.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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 Er Rachidia. 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 a simple Auberge (that's French for 'inn'), then take your day pack filled with overnight essentials. Time to 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 sea of sand to your private desert camp for an overnight stay. In the camp, you'll have a thin mattress, blankets and sheets. 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 really romantic 'I am so far from home' kinda moment.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
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 sunset. Watch the Sahara come alive! You'll also enjoy another fun camel ride through the sand dunes while the sun is rising higher and higher. Head back to the Auberge, collect the rest of your gear and then travel west to Todra. Then you'll 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 1,000 feet above you.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
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. 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 is because you have 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, climbing up to the turrets for a view over the river. You'll spend the night just outside the walls.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Continue west, passing a few Berber villages. Take in those epic views of the countryside. Wind your way up towards Tizi ‘n Tichka. This is a whopping 2,260 metres above sea level, the highest pass on the road to Marrakech. It 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. While you're here, you'll take an orientation walk around the old medina, then enjoy some free time. 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. Or, if you want to keep it simple, make a beeline to the food stalls for some tagine or some other Moroccan treat (nothing says 'I can't give you any money' like a face full of fava-bean dip). You might also like to visit the 16th-century ruins of the El Badi Palace, the famous Majorelle Garden or the adjacent Museum of Islamic Art.

Notes: As this is a combination trip, this may be the last day for some of the group. There will be an opportunity to get together for a meal this evening.
Included Activities
  • Guided walking tour of Marrakech
  • Palais Bahia
  • Saadien Tombs
Optional Activities
  • Palmery cycling tour - MAD350
  • Heart of the Atlas Mountains cycling day tour - MAD900
  • Quad Biking the Rock Desert & Palmgrove - MAD660
  • A Taste Of Marrakech - MAD509
  • Quad biking Barrage Lalla Takerkoust - MAD1650
  • Magical Marrakech City Cycling Tour - MAD350
  • Hot Air Ballooning - MAD1990
  • Hammam & Massage in a luxury spa - MAD750
  • Tajine cooking class - MAD546
  • Asni & Ourigane with lunch - MAD1806
  • Cascades d'Ouzoud day tour - MAD2207
  • Oukaimeden day tour - MAD1882
  • Ourika Valley day tour - MAD1817
  • Imlil & Aroumd day tour - MAD1817
  • Essaouira Food & Culture day trip - MAD840
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
Travel west (approximately 2–3 hours) to the coastal town of Essaouira. Avoid embarrassment: pronounce it 'Essa-weera'. This part of the trip is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure, designed to give you freedom and flexibility. You’ll have plenty of free time to do what you like, but you’ll also be provided with recommendations. Essaouira is a very photogenic old port town of whitewashed houses, bright blue shutters, enclosed alleyways, cool sea breezes and fresh seafood. Embrace the chilled-out pace. Grab a traditional Moroccan breakfast, and maybe wander to the harbour and its adjacent fish markets (you’ll have to get up early if you want to see the daily catch being auctioned off). You might like to check out the Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah Museum for a look at its collection of artefacts, woodwork, carpets and stringed instruments. In the medina there are loads of shops to browse. If you want to take a refreshing dip, the Plage de Safi is a good spot if it’s not too windy.
Optional Activities
  • Horse riding - MAD250
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
Use the morning to see the last of Essaouira, then catch a bus back to Marrakech in the afternoon (approximately 3 hours). Check into your hotel and head out into the centre of Marrakech with the group for one final night together. Your Moroccan adventure ends after breakfast on Day 14. Checkout time is usually around 12 pm, but you’re free to leave any time before then. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring Marrakech (subject to availability). If you're interested, speak to your leader before Day 10.
Optional Activities
  • Cascades d'Ouzoud day tour - MAD2207
  • Hot Air Ballooning - MAD1990
  • Hammam & Massage in a luxury spa - MAD750
  • Imlil & Aroumd day tour - MAD1817
  • Ourika Valley day tour - MAD1817
  • Oukaimeden day tour - MAD1882
  • Asni & Ourigane with lunch - MAD1806
  • Heart of the Atlas Mountains cycling day tour - MAD900
  • A Taste Of Marrakech - MAD509
  • Tajine cooking class - MAD546
  • Quad Biking the Rock Desert & Palmgrove - MAD660
  • Palmery cycling tour - MAD350
  • Magical Marrakech City Cycling Tour - MAD350
  • Quad biking Barrage Lalla Takerkoust - MAD1650
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)

Meals

13 breakfasts, 3 dinners

Transport

Camel, Local bus, Minibus, On foot, Taxi, Train

Accommodation

Basic hotel (11 nights), Desert camp (1 night), Guesthouse (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Guided walking tour - Meknes
  • Guided tour of Volubilis
  • Guided walking tour Fes
  • Medersa - Fes
  • Guided walking tour of Marrakech
  • Palais Bahia
  • Saadien Tombs

Reviews

Our Morocco Highlights trips score an average of 4.81 out of 5 based on 16 reviews in the last year.

Morocco Highlights, September 2016

geraldine packer

Morocco Highlights, August 2016

Nicola Panel

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Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.