- Hike through the Rif Mountains for a glimpse of the Cascades d’Akchour
- Meet artisans and shop the beautiful, handmade local crafts in Sefrou
- Ride a camel through the Sahara Desert and watch the sunset from the dunes
- Watch the lively musicians and snake charmers at Jemma el Fna in Marrakesh
|Day 1||Arrive, Tour Casablanca and Travel to Rabat||Rabat|
|Day 2||Travel to Chefchaouen||Chefchaouen|
|Day 3||Chefchaouen - Hiking and City Tour||Chefchaouen|
|Day 4||Travel to Fez||Fes|
|Day 5||Guided Tour of Fez||Fes|
|Day 6||Day Trip to Sefrou||Fes|
|Day 7||Travel to the Sahara Desert||Merzouga|
|Day 8||Travel to Boumalne Dades||Boumalne Dades|
|Day 9||Travel to Ouarzazate||Ouarzazate|
|Day 10||Travel to Marrakesh||Marrakech|
|Day 11||Guided Tour of Marrakesh||Marrakech|
|Day 12||Travel to Casablanca||Casablanca|
|Day 13||Departure From Casablanca|
Day 1: Arrive, Tour Casablanca and Travel to Rabat
Today, you’ll arrive in Casablanca and be picked up from the airport by your private driver. Your Moroccan adventure will start with a visit to the Hassan II Mosque, which has one of the tallest minarets in the world. This breathtaking building is representative of the best of Moroccan architecture, and it is also the only mosque that is open to the public with interior tours.
After lunch, you will work your way toward Rabat. In Rabat, you will tour Hassan Tower, a minaret of the incomplete mosque and Mausoleum of Mohamed V. All that remains in the area is the minaret and about 200 unfinished columns.
Tonight, you will stay in Rabat, and dinner will be on your own with recommendations from your driver.
Day 2: Travel to Chefchaouen
Today, you will make your way to Chefchaouen. This little city is a visual delight in blue; walls, doors, windows, stairways, alleyways, and archways–everything is a combination of pastel, sky-blue and deeper, more powerful hues. Chefchaouen is located in the heart of the Rif Mountains and is popular for travelers who want to get the feeling of old Morocco.
After check-in at your riad (a traditional Moroccan house), you are free to explore the town at your own pace or simply relax. Place Outa el Hammam, the main square, is a place to watch the world go by. Walk up the tiny higgledy-piggledy alleys away from the touristed areas and you will find the everyday life of the town. Shopping here is great for the budget-conscious, and you will be able to find handcrafted wool garments, woven blankets, cedarwood furniture, and other artisanal work. Be sure to order a Maqlouba (upside-down) coffee and enjoy it while watching the local women retrieve water and wash their laundry in the nearby spring.
Enjoy dinner on your own, before retiring for the evening.
Day 3: Chefchaouen - Hiking and City Tour
Good Morning! Take note of Chefchaouen's blue buildings, which glow in the morning light. Make sure to wake up early to watch the sunrise over the mountains from the nearby Spanish mosque. Since many shops don't open until 10 am, you can take this time to wander the serene town.
Then, you’ll depart for a guided hike in the Rif Mountains. Here, you’ll get the chance to explore the wilderness among the cedar trees and can hike to the Cascades d’Akchour, a stunning waterfall that will warrant plenty of photos. You’ll also encounter smaller waterfalls along the way, and depending on the weather, you can take a refreshing dip. On the other side of the river, you can take the steep path to God’s Bridge, a natural rock formation. Or, you can follow the canyon to view the bridge from below.
Once back in Chefchaouen, visit the medina and surround yourself in the beauty of the town. Take a walk to the market, where you can buy some fresh fruit to enjoy, and then people watch the local passersby dressed in bright-colored traditional garb. Dinner is at your leisure, and you will have the rest of the evening to relax before you move on to your next tour tomorrow.
Day 4: Travel to Fez
Today, you will say goodbye to Chefchaouen and travel south to Fez. Before you leave, you have time for a bit more exploration in the medina. You can watch the sunrise from the Spanish mosque if you wake up early enough, or you can spend a relaxing morning watching the city come to life from a café in Place Outa el-Hammam.
On the way to Fez, you’ll visit Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains Morocco's best-preserved Roman ruins. You can take a nice break from driving to wander the massive complex, exploring large merchant homes with visible heating systems, temples, and many well-preserved mosaics. There are usually guides available here to hire on your own if you would like, and your driver can assist you with this.
Then, it is over to Moulay Idriss, which from a distance, looks like a sitting camel. Moulay Idriss was founded in 789 CE by Moulay Idriss after he had fled religious and tribal conflicts in Mecca. It was here that he founded the Idrisid dynasty, making Moulay Idriss Morocco's first Islamic capital and a site of ongoing cultural significance. The city also contains the only round minaret in Morocco. You can eat lunch here, or wait to eat at the next stop.
The last stop before Fez is the prosperous city of Meknes. It has a smaller medina than Fez and you can explore at a leisurely pace, without worrying about aggressive shopkeepers. Your driver will lead through the Ville Impériale area, where you can see gardens, palaces, the impressive gate of Bab al-Mansour, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, and the Royal Stables. Many of these palaces were constructed with materials taken from Volubilis, so be on the lookout for Roman columns hidden in unexpected places!
You’ll end the day in Fez, one of Morocco's four imperial cities. Fez was founded by Moulay Idriss I and was made the capital of the Idrisid dynasty by his successor, Moulay Idriss II. You will be taken to your riad in the Fez medina, and the late afternoon into the evening will be yours.
The ancient and unforgettable Fez Medina is a maze of winding alleys that climb up both sides of a steep river valley and is the largest car-free urban area in the world. You are likely to get lost while exploring the Fez medina on your own, but this can also be liberating! The secret to finding your way out of the medina is to pay attention to whether you are going uphill or downhill as you walk. Walking uphill will generally take you to the edge of the medina, where you can catch a taxi or more easily see where you want to go.
Day 5: Guided Tour of Fez
Your tour guide will meet you after breakfast to start your day of exploration in the Fez medina. This UNESCO-protected medina is full of arms-width alleyways and donkey-width roads. Your Fez born-and-bred guide will share hidden stories and show you secluded corners of the medina, and you will observe daily life and the magnificence of Fez's madrasas and palaces. Your guide will help you learn the fabulousness that is Fez as only a true local can. Be sure to ask your guide for lunch suggestions.
Fez is a hub of the Moroccan crafts and arts, and you’ll meet artisans to learn about the history and importance of their trades. You’ll visit tanneries and mosaic workshops to observe traditional crafting methods still in use today.
In the afternoon, return to your riad and relax for a bit. Afterward, take a guided visit to the local hammam (traditional public bath). This is one of the most relaxing things you can do after a long day of walking. After your soak, you can have the evening to yourself for more downtime.
Day 6: Day Trip to Sefrou
Today, you’ll embark on a guided day tour of the city of Sefrou. Your guide will meet you at your riad after breakfast.
Sefrou is a walled town, nestled in the slopes of the Middle Atlas Mountains, about 17 miles southeast of Fez. Sefrou has an interesting history and culture, which, years ago, brought it to the attention of world-renowned American anthropologist Clifford Geertz and his students, who based a few important scholarly books on their research here. The city began as a market town in the Roman era and as a stopping point for caravans of traders making their way from the Mediterranean to the Sahara Desert. It then became a major Moroccan town long before Fez was built in the 8th century. In fact, Moulay Idriss II lived in Sefrou while he was building Fez.
The town was a melting pot of culture as Jewish Berber Moroccans and Algerians had been settling there for many centuries. Before most Jewish Moroccans left the country when the French departed during the 1960s and 1970s, one-third of Sefrou’s population was Jewish.
Agriculture is the main activity in the region. The mountainous terrain is the ideal place for fruit trees, especially cherries. Sefrou is well known for its cherry festival, which is considered one of Morocco’s oldest and most prominent regional celebrations by UNESCO. This annual event was introduced by the French in 1919 and takes place during the harvest of the cherries in early June. It gives the locals a chance to showcase the charming customs, traditions, arts, and crafts of the area to thousands of visitors. The festival reaches its pinnacle with the crowning of “Miss Cherry Festival” and a parade of beautiful and colorful floats on the third day of the festival.
While here, you’ll visit the Craft Center of Sefrou (Ensemble Artisanal de Sefrou). This beautiful complex is located by the old city and it is home of several workshops where artisans work on wood, ceramic, rug weaving, and even silk djellaba and silk buttons. Here you will get the chance to see their work and learn their craft.
Then, you’ll head back to Fez for the evening, and dinner will be on your own there. Your guide can give you recommendations for a delicious meal.
Day 7: Travel to the Sahara Desert
Get an early start today, because you'll be covering a lot of ground to reach the Sahara Desert!
You will start by crossing the Middle Atlas Mountains through the town of Azrou and its majestic cedar forests. Here, you can take a brief detour to the scenic Cèdre Gouraud Forest, where troops of Barbary Macaque monkeys lounge in ancient cedar trees near the road.
You’ll stop for lunch in Midelt, which sits on a cold, high desert plateau. Despite the harsh landscape, Midelt is known as Morocco's "Apple City" for its productive orchards. This is only possible because the Moulouya River (the third-longest river in Morocco) provides year-round water as it runs to the Mediterranean Sea.
Continuing on, you’ll cross a landscape of steep mountain ranges, wide valleys, and narrow canyon passes. You will follow the Ziz Valley, an important branch of the ancient Saharan Trade Route. You will start to see many fortified houses (known as ksars) that were built by merchants to protect the gold, salt, and spices that passed this way.
After crossing through the incredible Ziz Gorge, you will begin to see early signs of Saharan sand dunes. These wind-blown dunes are in constant motion, often leading them to encroach upon farms, roads, and buildings. You can also see an ancient method of water "mining” here, an ingenious way to transfer water from the mountains to farmland, which was employed before modern pumps were invented. Along the way, you'll notice nomadic shepherds and some tents in this area.
Erfoud is a bustling market town known for date fruits and fossils. En route, you will see hillside mines where large fossil rocks are taken from the earth. You can stop at a local artisan collective to learn about the types of fossils found in the area and to see the full process of how the fossil-rich rock is transformed into beautiful products, large and small. You will see the massive dunes of Erg Chebbi in the distance. This extensive sea of sand covers nearly 22 miles, with some dunes rising to over 650 feet high.
Near Merzouga, you can take a short break as you prepare for the trip to your desert camp. If you ride a camel, you will arrive at camp just before sunset. You can climb up to watch the colorful sunset reflecting on the sand dunes.
Head back to camp for dinner and a night of traditional Berber music by the fire. There is almost no light pollution in this region, so be sure to look at the starry night sky before you head to bed.
Day 8: Travel to Boumalne Dades
If you are an early riser, you'll be rewarded with sunrise over the dunes. You will eat breakfast at your camp before beginning your camel ride out of Erg Chebbi.
Upon leaving the dunes, you’ll begin a truly spectacular drive through the remote borderlands of the Sahara. You may want to stop in Rissani before setting out across the desert plains. Rissani is a good place to take a walk around a traditional market, especially on market days when many animals are bought and sold. Be sure to stop by the "donkey parking lot" while you're there.
As you drive, you will see expansive views of desert plains, high mountains, and rugged plateaus all around. This journey gives a real feeling of wilderness and is awesome in its grandeur. You will see specially adapted acacia forests on your way. Feel free to stop in the village of Alnif to see local fossil workshops along the way.
A lunch break will take place in the oasis city of Tinghir. You can take a 40-minute excursion to the Toudgha (or Todra) gorge, a gorge of sheer cliffs that is a wonderful destination for hiking and bouldering.
You’ll continue to the Dadès Gorge, which cuts through a dramatic landscape of red and mauve-striped mountains. The valley below is an irrigated oasis of fig, almond, and olive orchards dotted with crumbling Kasbahs and the Berber villages of Aït Youl, Aït Arbi, Aït Oudinar, Aït Ouffi, and Aït Toukhsine. You will spend the night here and can explore the epic scenery in the evening.
Day 9: Travel to Ouarzazate
Rise early today to the beauty of the desert mountains. After breakfast, you will begin the route toward Marrakesh.
The journey kicks off along the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, a kasbah being a fortified “fort” where chiefs and landowners once lived. Many kasbahs are now in disrepair because they were made of pise mud. Between the small towns of this area, you can see various farming activities, many still using traditional methods. Nomads to are often encountered while herding their sheep, goats, and camels.
Before arriving at Ouarzazate, you will see the important reservoir of El Mansour. It provides water for domestic use, for farming, and to generate hydroelectricity. In the very near vicinity is a major solar power plant development.
After leaving Ouarzazate, you’ll drive to by Aït Benhaddou. It is the most famous Kasbah in Morocco and a UNESCO World Heritage site. People believe that the old ksar dates from the 11th century when it held an important position along the trans-Saharan trade route between Marrakech, Ouarzazate, and the southern desert. You will stay near the Kasbah for the night.
Day 10: Travel to Marrakesh
Today, you will cross the High Atlas Mountains that separate Ouarzazate from Marrakesh. If you weren't able to visit Aït Benhaddou yesterday (or if you want to revisit the town to see it in the morning light), you can explore the ksar after you leave Ouarzazate.
You’ll wind your way up the dry desert slopes of the High Atlas Mountains through the Tizi-n-Tichka pass. Near the top of the Tizi-n-Tichka, enjoy incredible panoramic views of the mountain range and the plains of Marrakesh below. Be on the lookout for Mount Toubkal–North Africa's highest mountain, which is to your west. As you descend the north-facing slopes of the High Atlas Mountains, you will notice a dramatic change in climate and landscape, and you will cross deep river valleys, and abundant almond and walnut orchards. Soon, you will leave the tranquility of the desert and the mountains behind as you enter the hustle and bustle of vibrant Marrakesh.
Once in Marrakesh, you can spend the rest of the afternoon at a slower pace. In the early evening, the medina's main square, the Jemaa el Fna, comes alive with musicians, performers, snake charmers, games, food stalls and more. There are many cafés surrounding the square where you can sit and enjoy the entertainment over a meal.
Day 11: Guided Tour of Marrakesh
After you eat breakfast, you will meet your local tour guide who will lead you through the stunning old city of Marrakesh. As you explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will come across lively souks and maze-like alleys. You will be dazzled by displays of djellabas, brightly colored babouches, intricately pierced lanterns, conical mounds of exotic spices, and the intense hubbub of medina life. Your knowledgeable guide can regale you with the history and stories of the Medina, the Souk, and the Mellah neighborhoods of the old city.
Most of the top chefs who work for the Royal Family are from Marrakesh, and the city has some of the best food in the country. This includes street food that you surely shouldn’t miss. Ask your guide for lunch recommendations in Morocco's culinary capital.
In the afternoon, your private tour continues, exploring places like the Bahia and El Badii Palaces, Majorelle Gardens, and Saadien Tombs. After your tour, you will return to your hotel to relax. As the sun begins to set and the temperature cools, the red city comes alive and locals converge on the Jemaa El Fnaa. Feel free to do some evening exploration of your own to see another side of Marrakesh.
Day 12: Travel to Casablanca
Today, you will leave early to head to Casablanca via the coastal route. You will visit two, old Portuguese fortified cities along the way.
The first city you will encounter is El Jadida, where you will tour the hauntingly beautiful Portuguese cistern. You can also walk the ramparts and visit the Church of the Assumption.
Next is Azemour, which has inspired many Moroccan artists over the decades, some of whom have chosen to live here. Life here is still traditional, despite its close proximity to the cosmopolitan art market of Casablanca. A crumbling 16th-century medina squeezed between the Oud Er-Rbia (Mother of Spring River) and the ocean provide plenty of artistic inspiration.
Once in Casablanca, you will check into your downtown hotel. Then, your tour guide will pick you up to start another Casablanca tour. You can visit any sites you missed upon arrival. Then, take some time to enjoy your final evening. Soak in Casablanca and all its beauty, before heading home tomorrow.
Day 13: Departure from Casablanca
After breakfast, you’ll travel 45 minutes to Casablanca Mohamed V International Airport in preparation for your departure flight. Take home with you all the colorful and historic memories of beautiful Morocco!