Hang in Casablanca before a homestay in Moulay Idriss, see lots of cool old stuff in Fes, head on to Midelt, Mergouza and Erg Chebbi for walking, ruins and a sunset camel ride. Ride on through the dunes to Todra Gorge, before visiting Dades Valley and Ail Benhaddou. Finish up with High Atlas and sexy Marrakesh.
Morocco is the land of legendary hospitality, so mind your manners. Bring a scarf to cover your shoulders and take off your shoes if you enter someone's home (plan ahead and wear clean socks).
Day 1-2 - Casablanca - Meknes - Moulay Idriss
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.
After breakfast on Day 2, 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.
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 - Mergouza - 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. 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 9-11 - 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.
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. In the evening we will no doubt be drawn back to Jemaa el Fna for a final night out together.
Your trip ends on Day 11, after breakfast. 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 to Know
• Gecko's expert English-speaking local tour guide throughout the tour, and local 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; Todra Gorge; ‘road of 1000 kasbahs’; Dades Gorge; mud-brick home at Skoura; Ait Benhaddou; Telouet; and Marrakech.
• Camel ride and overnight desert camping.
- International flights, arrival & departure transfers, entrance fees, visas, airport taxes, additional meals, drinks, optional sightseeing tours, insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
Trip Dates and Prices
Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price 07 Sep 2014 - 17 Sep 2014 3 places left US $895 Book Now 21 Sep 2014 - 01 Oct 2014 2 places left US $895 Book Now 05 Oct 2014 - 15 Oct 2014 Fully Booked US $895 Contact us 02 Nov 2014 - 12 Nov 2014 Available US $700 Book Now 16 Nov 2014 - 26 Nov 2014 2 places left US $845 Book Now 30 Nov 2014 - 10 Dec 2014 Available US $700 Book Now
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.
Allison - Australia, 28 Apr, 2013
The trip exceeded expectations. Every day of the tour included a wow factor where you literally said 'Wow' out loud. The terrain is so varied for such a small country which makes every day a new adventure. Hotels were very well located and the guide was brilliant. The food was sensational and the locals very friendly and helpful.
Elisabeth - Canada, 28 Apr, 2013
This trip exceeded all of my expectations. Every day brought something new, exciting, and interesting. Morocco is an absolutely fantastic country to visit, and I can't wait for my next chance to go!
What to know
Entrance fees are not included, you pay these as you go along.