Drunk on Colour

Camel ride and camping in the Sahara
Marrakech
The mud-brick kasbahs of Ait Benhaddou
Todra Gorge and the Dades Valley
The Road of 1000 Kasbahs
Fes - the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco
UNESCO World Heritage-listed Jamaâ El Fna
When asked to describe riding a camel, most people's answers range from, "Camels are bastards" to "Most uncomfortable ride of your life".
Meknes' UNESCO World Heritage-listed old medina
UNESCO World Heritage-listed Essaouira medina
  • 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. 

    How to survive a camel ride in Morocco:

    -          approach with caution, they can smell fear a mile away

    -          lean back as it stands up

    -          wear long pants and socks (but not with sandals, that’s just embarrassing)

    -          camels are open to PDA so don’t be alarmed if your camel gets caught up in a make-out session

    -          bring some painkillers (your butt will ache in places you never knew existed)

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Casablanca

    Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco.

    Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with the hotel reception or the hotels noticeboard for confirmation of where and when this meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early, so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to 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 please ensure you have all these details to provide to your trip leader.

    If arriving earlier, you will have a chance to explore Casablanca - the largest city in Morocco. Modelled after Marseille in France, this bustling port city is now also the undisputed economic capital of Morocco and one of Africa's largest ports. The architectural style of the city is eclectic, combining Art Deco French colonial buildings and Mauresque (Moorish) government institutions with an old medina and the city's modern-day landmark - the Hassan II Mosque.

    A pleasant 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 Quartiers des 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 - Casablanca-Meknes

    After breakfast we can make a quick visit to the impressive Hassan II Mosque., built in 1993 by a team of over 6000 craftsmen. Located on the shores of the city it is an imposing edifice and one of the few mosques in Morocco that foreigners are allowed to enter.

    Later we make our way to the station where we catch the local train to Meknes, a journey of about four hours. Meknes was once an imperial city of Morocco and the capital of one of its most colourful eras, when the Sultan Moulay Ismail (a contemporary of Louis XIV) set out to build his own version of Versailles, constructing walls, gates and over 50 palaces with an unstoppable labour force of over 25,000 slaves.

    Pop over to the whitewashed village of Moulay Idriss to stay with a local family.

    Breakfast

    Day 3-4 - Fes

    Travel by train from Meknes to Fes (40 min).

    Descending into the labyrinthine alleyways of the medina is like taking a giant step back to the Middle Ages. Preserved by the French for its historical value, this preservation also led to the decline of the city's importance, as both government and financial centres were set up elsewhere in the country. With the Jewish population moving away in 1956, and too many rural poor moving in for it to handle, this ancient centre of learning is only a shell of what it used to be. Still, it remains a fascinating living museum where getting lost is half the fun.

    An orientation walk of Fes around the medina uncovers a living monument to an ancient past and a place still very much alive with the many craftsmen, markets, tanneries, ceramics and mosques. Look out for the Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's most beautiful buildings which has recently been restored and is now open to visitors.

    We'll also visit the famous tannery, known for the iconic view overlooking its dye pits, and a ceramic factory where you can see potters working in the traditional way.

    1. Enjoy some free time and perhaps check out the Medersa el Attarine, built in 1323, or take a trip out to the nearby spa town of Moulay Yacoub or the ancient Roman city of Volubilis.
    Breakfast

    Day 5-6 - Midelt - Merzouga - Erg Chebbi

    Travelling south through a variety of terrain, we reach Ifrane, a mountain resort established by the French in 1929.

    Further south, at Midelt, the landscape opens up and we enjoy expansive views to the west. Midelt is a fantastic place for an overnight stop. We rest here for the night, and enjoy an easy but spectacular walk. En route to the desert, we stop at the spectacular narrow defile known as the Gorges du Ziz and then head to the large town of Er Rachidia.

    Past the 500-year old ruins of the Ksar of Meski before descending into the Ziz Valley, a particularly fertile region producing figs, olives, dates and tamarisk – a fruit grown for its tannin and used in the curing of leather skins.

    We reach Merzouga, where we drop our main bags off at a simple Auberge before heading into the desert on camels for the magical sunset.

    Spend the night at a simple desert camp.

    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 7-8 - Todra Gorge - Dades Valley - Ait Benhaddou

    Rising early, we enjoy another fun camel ride through the sand dunes. Sunrise is a magical time of the day and we experience the amazing interplay of light as the Sahara slowly comes alive all around us. Returning to the Auberge we collect the rest of our gear and then travel west to Todra.

    Almost imperceptibly, a bright tablecloth of green appears before our eyes as we enter a lush valley packed with palm trees and mud-brick villages. At the top of the valley we reach our hotel and then take a short hike into the celebrated gorge where sheer cliffs rise over 1000 feet above us.

    We spend the night at a local hotel in the gorge.

    From Todra Gorge, we travel along the ‘road of 1000 kasbahs’ and enjoy a walk in the impressive Dades Gorge.

    We also stop to visit the beautiful family-owned mud-brick home at Skoura, rising like a mirage beyond a dry riverbed, and continue to the fabulous medieval mud-brick town Ait Benhaddou, at its best in the late afternoon sun.

    Ait Benhaddou has featured in 'Game of Thrones' (where Daenerys freed all those slaves) and classic films like 'The Mummy'. 'Prince of Persia' and 'Alexander' (actually, 'classic' might be pushing it!). We explore the many old streets and climb up to the fortress for a superb view over the old town. We can also – for a small fee – enter one of most interesting of the old houses, climbing up to the turrets for a view over the river. We spend the night just outside the walls.

    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 9 - High Atlas - Marrakech

    We continue our journey west, passing numerous Berber villages and enjoying expansive views of the countryside. Leaving the main road we arrive at the village of Telouet, home to the infamous Glaoui family whose repressive regime was something of a legend. We visit their crumbling mud-brick citadel, one of the most spectacular in the region, where several rooms are still in a good state of repair.

    We then wind our way up towards Tizi ‘n Tichka (2260m), the highest pass on the road to Marrakech and often covered with snow during the winter months. Leaving the Atlas behind we descend into the plains that surround Marrakech, which we reach in the late afternoon.

    One of the main attractions of Marrakech is Jemaa el Fna, where we find fire-eaters, fortune-tellers, actors, musicians and all manner of hawkers. In the centre of this vast throng are hundreds of foodstalls selling hot tagine, spicy dips and numerous other tasty dishes.

    Breakfast

    Day 10 - Marrakech

    Marrakech is lovely city, with palm-lined streets, earthy colours and the Atlas Mountains rising in the distance. There is much to see and do and we enjoy an orientation walk around the old medina. Our time is then free to explore the souks and alleyways that lead off to the north of Jemaa el Fna. Alternatively, some may wish to visit the 16th century ruins of the El Badi Palace, the famous Majorelle Garden or the adjacent Museum of Islamic Art.

    Breakfast

    Day 11-12 - Essaouira

    In the morning we say goodbye to our tour guide and catch the local bus to Essaouira, arriving around midday, where you walk to your hotel in the centre of the town. Essaouira means ‘little picture’ and it is a stunning old port town, with whitewashed houses, bright blue shutters, covered alleyways, cool sea breezes and great seafood. After settling in your time is free to explore our surroundings (please note that your tour leader will provide you with a map and directions to your hotel in Essaouira).

    The pace of life in Essaouira is slow and relaxed. After time for a leisurely breakfast you can wander over to the harbour and its adjacent fish markets where you may see the daily auction in full swing. Back in the centre of town, the Museum of Sidi Mohammed Ibn Abdallah has an interesting collection of artefacts, woodwork, carpets and stringed instruments. In the medina there are numerous shops to browse and for those wanting to swim the Plage de Safi is a good spot to head to as long as it isn’t too windy.

    Breakfast

    Day 13-14 - Marrakech

    The morning is at leisure and in the afternoon you catch the bus back to Marrakech, where you will be transferred to your hotel. This evening we will no doubt find ourselves back in the Jemaa el Fna for a final night out.

    Your trip ends after breakfast on Day 14. Check-out time is usually around 12.00 noon and you are free to leave at any time.

    Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring Marrakech.

    Breakfast
  • What's Included

    • • Gecko's expert English-speaking local tour guide throughout the tour, and local site guides at some sites.

      • Sightseeing (not including entrance fees): Casablanca's Mosque of Hassan II; Meknes' old medina; Fes-El-Bali's souk; Ifrane; Midelt; Gorges du Ziz; Ksar of Meski; Todra Gorge; ‘road of 1000 kasbahs’; Dades Gorge; mud-brick home at Skoura; Ait Benhaddou; Telouet; Marrakech and Essaouira.

      • Camel ride and overnight desert camping.

      • Local train to Meknes and local bus to Essaouira.

    Not Included

    • International flights, arrival & departure transfers, entrance fees, visas, airport taxes, additional meals, drinks, optional sightseeing tours, insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
  • Map Itinerary

  • Trip Dates and Prices

    Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price
    02 Nov 2014 - 15 Nov 2014 Fully Booked US $1,005 Contact us
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  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Drunk on Colour

    Katherine - Australia, 9 June, 2014
    5
    Overall Rating

    Loved my tour with Geckos. Was a great way to see the country and the real people. Was great with a small group as more personal and our guide was always there to answer our questions and inform us of local history and interesting facts. Definitely planning my next holiday with Geckos.

    Drunk on Colour

    Cassie - Australia, 2 July, 2014
    5
    Overall Rating

    As with all the tour I have done with Geckos this trip was amazing I had so much fun and learnt so much about Morocco, and can't wait until I can go back and see more. I think it would be a good idea to send out a confirmed itinerary to travels before departure as there were some things added to trip that we didn't know about until the day it happend and we didn't end up having a free day in Fez becuase of the changes.

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Nuts+Bolts

#GEKC
- 16
Camel, Local bus, Minibus, On foot, Taxi, Train
1 night Camping, 11 nights Hotel, 1 night Guesthouse
Casablanca
Marrakech

What to know

Please note that the days spent in Essaouira are unescorted.

 

Entrance fees are not included, you pay these as you go along.

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