- Stroll the historic grounds of the Grand Mosque of Chefchaouen
- Lose yourself in the twisted alleys of the Fes medina
- Ride a camel through the red desert dunes of Erg Chebbi
- Taste authentic tajine on a food tour of Marrakesh
- See playful goats in the argan trees of Essaouira
|Day 1||Arrive in Tangier, Transfer to Chefchaouen||Chefchaouen|
|Day 2||Transfer to Rabat, Explore||Rabat|
|Day 3||Transfer to Fes via Volubilis & Meknes||Fes|
|Day 4||Guided Tour of Fes Medina, Meal with a Local Family & Henna Workshop||Fes|
|Day 5||Transfer to Merzouga, Bedouin Experience & Camel Rides||Merzouga|
|Day 6||4WD Dunes Tour & Tea with Nomads||Merzouga|
|Day 7||Transfer to Skoura via Todra Gorge & Rose Valley||Skoura|
|Day 8||Guided Tour of Skoura, Pottery Factory & Lunch with a Local Family||Skoura|
|Day 9||Transfer to Marrakesh via Rose Collective, Ouarzazate & Aït Benhaddou||Marrakesh|
|Day 10||Guided Tour of Marrakesh, Food Tour & Majorelle Gardens||Marrakesh|
|Day 11||Transfer to Essaouira via Argan Oil Cooperative||Essaouira|
|Day 12||Free Day in Essaouira, Kitesurfing or Horseback Riding||Essaouira|
|Day 13||Transfer to Marrakesh, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Tangier, Transfer to Chefchaouen
Welcome to Morocco! Upon your arrival in Tangier, your driver will collect you and transfer you directly to your accommodation in the city of Chefchaouen. The 2.5-hour drive takes you through small towns, flat plains, and hills blanketed in green before eventually heading into the Rif Mountains. After arriving and settling into your accommodations, it's time to explore!
Nicknamed "the Blue City" for its blue-washed corridors, Chefchaouen was founded in 1471 as a stronghold against the Portuguese. The town expanded with the arrival of refugees from Granada, who built the Spanish-style homes and architecture that gives the city its distinctive Spanish flavor. Head to the old medina, which converges on Plaza Uta el-Hammam and its restored kasbah (fortress). You can peruse the nearby souks (markets) or head to the Grand Mosque and Kasbah. Although non-Muslims can't enter the mosque, anyone can admire its structure and tour the gardens and museums.
Wander through the colorful, winding streets of the Quartier Al-Andalus, then end the day at Ras el Ma Spring, the town's primary water source, where some families still wash their clothes in the river. Take a break at one of the quaint riverside cafés for a traditional cup of tea, then make your way past the walls and historic gates to the Hotel Atlas for sweeping views across the city. If you have the time, continue up the path for another 30 minutes to enjoy the sunset from the Spanish Mosque.
Day 2: Transfer to Rabat, Explore
Today you'll depart Chefchaoeun and head to Rabat, Morocco's administrative capital and one of the four imperial cities of the kingdom. The drive takes approximately four hours, with both coastal and mountain views along the way. After you arrive and get settled at your accommodations, you can venture out and start exploring. As the second-largest city in the country, Rabat tends to attract fewer tourists than other Moroccan hubs. But thanks to its signature white architecture, Rabat earned UNESCO World Heritage designation in 2012, and there's much to see and do here.
Start at the Royal Palace of Rabat and the medieval fortification of the Chellah Necropolis, where you can wander the Roman and Islamic ruins. Stroll through the medina (old town) to find the Hassan Tower and Mausoleum of Mohamed V. This abandoned 12th-century project features the minaret of an incomplete mosque and some 200 columns. Stop at the souks to peruse crafts and goods, such as rugs, spices, slippers, jewelry, leather, and more.
Next, visit the 20th-century Andalusian Gardens, where you'll find lush terraces, walking paths, exotic plants, flowers, and fruit trees reminiscent of the famous gardens of the Alhambra in southern Spain. End your tour at the grand door of the Kasbah des Oudaïas, the gate out of Rabat's old center. This is home to the city's oldest mosque and Musée des Oudaïas handicrafts museum. Spend some time admiring the white and blue architecture of the neighborhood and learning about regional crafts. Relax at your accommodations this evening before continuing your journey tomorrow.
Day 3: Transfer to Fes via Volubilis & Meknes
You're back on the road today with a private transfer from Rabat to Fes, a drive of just over two hours. After saying goodbye to the scenic Rif Mountains, your first stop will be at Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing Morocco's best-preserved Roman ruins. Tour the massive complex and see large merchant homes with visible heating systems, temples, and many colorful mosaics. This town was once part of the Roman Empire, with the Romans ruling for nearly 200 years.
You'll then travel to Meknes, the imperial city of Moulay Ismail. Under the sultan's reign, Meknes grew from a small town to a magnificent capital. Enjoy strolling the medina, and visit the Marinid-era architecture at the 14th-century Medersa Bou Inania, as well as the impressive 19th-century palace of Dar Jamaï. In the Ville Impériale area, explore gardens, palaces, the gate of Bab al-Mansour, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, and the Royal Stables. Your final stop is Fes. Before settling into your accommodations, take a drive up to the Marinid Tombs for a lovely panorama of the old city.
Day 4: Guided Tour of Fes Medina, Meal with a Local Family & Henna Workshop
Discover the vibrant medina of Fes, the cultural capital of Morocco. Your private guide will meet you in the morning and lead you through the twisting maze of cobbled streets as you pass markets, shops, mosques, and more. Fes is the oldest and longest-running imperial city in Morocco, with a fascinating mix of sights to see. Start by passing through the Blue Gate (Bab Boujloud), a Moorish gate with three arches and the old town's main entrance, and continue into the bustling souks. Here, you'll find special, hand-crafted goods such as bright rugs, jewelry, leather goods, and of course, huge towers of spices.
Make a visit to Chouara Tannery, with its large assortment of leather dyes and centuries-old techniques, then head to the ninth-century Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and University, the world's oldest continuously operating university. You'll also stop at either Bou Inania Madrassa or Al Attarine Madrassa, two 14th-century schools featuring beautiful Marinid and Moroccan architecture. Visit the Jewish district of Mellah and the Royal Palace of Fes, or check out a museum, like the Borj Nord, with its collection of weapons and armor from several eras and incredible rooftop views.
Stop in at a restaurant for lunch, or if you'd like to go the extra mile with Moroccan gastronomy, join a family for a meal in the medina. Learn the history of various cuisines, recipes, and ingredients right from the source as you chat, mingle, and eat. Later, continue your journey into Moroccan traditions with a henna workshop. The tradition of mehndi (henna tattoos) goes back thousands of years, with Moroccan women decorating their hands, arms, and feet to celebrate special occasions. You'll learn proper techniques to create henna designs and try them out on your own hands and feet.
Day 5: Transfer to Merzouga, Bedouin Experience & Camel Rides
It's an early start this morning, with your driver taking you from Fes to your Bedouin experience in Merzouga. This eight-hour drive will take you over the Col du Zad Pass and through various desert communities of the Sahara, twisting through the cedar forests of the Atlas mountains (keep an eye out for monkeys and macaws along the way). You'll make a stop for lunch in the town of Midelt, known as the "Apple City" thanks to the nearby Moulouya River and its surrounding fruit orchards, before continuing over the Tizi n'Talrhemt Pass and into the Ziz Valley.
Make a stop in Erfoud, a bustling market town known for its annual Date Festival, fossil mining, and artisan factories. You'll see views of the hillside mines and visit an artisan collective to learn about the area's fossils. As you make your way toward Merzouga, you'll spot the waves of Erg Chebbi in the distance—an extensive set of sand dunes covering almost 14 square miles (35 sq km), with some peaks rising over 650 feet (200 m). The color and shape change depending on the time of day and the wind, with particularly spectacular views just before sunset.
Upon arrival near Merzouga, enjoy a short break as you prepare for a camel ride through the dunes, reaching your luxury camp in the early evening. After settling into your tent, climb up the nearest dune to watch the sunset display its color show across the sands. Head back to camp for dinner and a night by the campfire, enjoying traditional Berber music from the locals. Before climbing into bed, savor the stars strewn across the unhindered night sky.
Day 6: 4WD Dunes Tour & Tea with Nomads
Continue your exploration of the Erg Chebbi desert with a 4WD tour of the area. Your guide will take you to visit the Gnawa House in the village of Khamleya to explore their healing music. Traditionally practiced throughout Morocco and originating from the sub-Saharan region, Gnaoua or Gnawa music is spiritual at its roots, although popular maâlems (master musicians) are making the music quite mainstream. Have tea with locals before returning to camp.
If you want to add a little excitement to your desert stay, you can also hit the dunes on an ATV/quad adventure. With the help of a guide, you'll zip through the sandy peaks and visit stunning viewpoints and panoramic vistas of the shifting dunes. Small 4WD vehicles are an excellent way to discover Merzouga's extraordinary environment, allowing you to immerse yourself in the various wild landscapes and an atmosphere of total silence for an unforgettable experience.
Later, you'll have the opportunity to rent a sandboard and test your skills surfing the dunes, or you can climb the nearest dune to watch the colorful display on the sand sea as the sun sets to the west. Head back for dinner and a night by the campfire, enjoying traditional Berber music from the locals.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 7: Transfer to Skoura via Todra Gorge & Rose Valley
This morning you'll travel from Merzouga to the Dadès Valley and the town of Skoura. You'll make a few stops during the 4.5-hour drive, including the village of Rissani, where you'll spend some time observing the donkey "parking lot" and walking around the town's popular market. Shoppers can browse nearby Maison Tuareg, a storehouse filled with traditional arts and crafts, including carpets, jewelry, leather goods, and more.
Continue to the desert town of Tinghir to find fantastic views of neighboring villages along an extensive river oasis that features 30 miles (48 km) of palm trees. Don't miss the ancient and colorful Jewish quarter of Ali Ait el Haj for a glimpse into Morocco's rich Jewish history. Your next stop is the Todra Gorge at 984 feet (300 m) high, where you can take an easy walk through the gorge or relax in the cool, shallow water. And as you pass through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs, be on the lookout for nomads tending their animals.
You'll then enter the Dadès Valley, where cultivated farmland plots border rose bushes used to make rose water and rose oil. On the roadside, you may even see vendors selling various crafts made from flowers. Your final stop is your accommodation in the relaxing palm grove of Skoura, where you'll be able to relax and enjoy a quiet evening.
Day 8: Guided Tour of Skoura, Pottery Factory & Lunch with a Local Family
Embrace the culture of the southern oasis of Skoura today, starting with an easy walking tour through a vast palm grove while interacting with the residents of the community. These regions of Morocco offer a green oasis of vegetation, perfect for quaint towns to thrive. These authentic villages offer a wealth of knowledge about the regional culture, traditions, and way of life.
Your guide will lead you through the area on an easy one-hour walk. Along the way, you'll stop in a few villages to meet with locals. Admire the unique architecture, listen to stories about regional history, partake in fun activities, observe traditional farming techniques, enjoy live entertainment, and more. You'll receive a complete lesson on the people and their lifestyles, including a visit to a traditional pottery factory and old kasbahs. At lunchtime, you'll join a family in their home, where you'll learn more about the cuisine and its history, ending the meal with a tea ceremony.
For a closer look at the surrounding countryside, take a horseback riding tour of Skoura. After providing basic instructions on the horses and equipment, your guide will take you from the Skoura palm grove and across the plateaus of the Atlas mountains. See the Valley of the Roses and the M'Goun River, riding through nearby villages and along the gentle hills of the region.
Day 9: Transfer to Marrakesh via Rose Collective, Ouarzazate & Aït Benhaddou
It's time to depart peaceful Skoura and head to the vibrant and bustling city of Marrakesh! Your five-hour drive will take you along desert plains, mountain ranges, and breathtaking plateaus. As you leave Skoura, cross the Dades River and head toward El Kelâat M'Gouna, the "Valley of the Roses." You'll have a chance to visit a rose collective here, where you can learn about how they convert rose petals into rose water and oil used in the cosmetic industry.
Your last stop before Marrakesh is Aït Benhaddou Kasbah, Morocco's most famous kasbah and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old ksour dates back to the 11th century when it was part of the trans-Saharan trade route. Explore the town's alleys and passageways, or climb up to the old granary for incredible views of the kasbah and historic camel caravan routes. Later this afternoon, you'll arrive in busy Marrakesh. Settle into your accommodation before exploring Jemaa el-Fna, the city's main square, where you can get a bite to eat, and wander around the stalls.
Day 10: Guided Tour of Marrakesh, Food Tour & Majorelle Gardens
Marrakesh, Morocco's second-largest metropolis, is known as the "Red City," thanks to the natural red pigment on its walls. Tour the amazing sights, sounds, and smells of this vibrant city, starting with a visit to the beautiful gardens of Bahia Palace, then to the Koutoubia Mosque. Continue through twisting alleyways to find souks and hidden fondouks (historic inns which once hosted travelers and merchants). See the famed spice towers at Souk el Attarine and traditional Moroccan slippers at Souk Smata. And don't miss the Souk des Teinturiers, where you can watch locals dyeing cloth and yarn.
The foodies in your group will love the option of taking a private food tour through the medina. The tour will take you on a culinary journey to some of the city's beloved local hot spots. You'll taste traditional delicacies that range from Morocco's unique sweets to an authentic and savory tajine (stew cooked in a clay pot). Along the way, learn about the country's essential ingredients, cooking techniques, and culinary culture. Together, these influences inspire the work of local chefs as they produce flavorful dishes.
Later, you can escape the afternoon heat with a visit to Majorelle Gardens. Over 300 species of flora from five different continents are collected here, making it a quiet and restful reprieve. Within the gardens, you'll find its famous bright blue and yellow house. Now a museum, this building was once the home of the French artist Jacques Marojelle. The house itself was designed by the French architect Paul Sinoir in the style of a Cubist villa. The house is also home to the Berber Museum and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. After strolling through the idyllic setting, enjoy a refreshing drink in the charming coffee shop.
Day 11: Transfer to Essaouira via Argan Oil Cooperative
Say goodbye to the Red City and travel to the city of Essaouira today, a 2.5-hour drive that takes you over vast rolling plains and into an unusual forest, the only ecosystem where argan trees grow and produce the popular fruits. You're also likely to catch a glimpse of something unexpected: goats in the trees! Local goats love the fruit of the argan trees and will actually climb up into the thorny branches to pursue this tasty treat. Your driver will make a stop at a cooperative where local women make argan oil, known for its health and beauty benefits. See the ins and outs of the production process, and maybe pick up a sample.
After arriving in laid-back Essaouira, a nice contrast to frenetic Marrakesh, the rest of the day is yours. This small city on the Atlantic coast is known for its beautiful beaches and surf culture, with a long history of different influences, including Indigenous Berbers, Phoenicians, and Romans. This is an art-centric population, attracting a large bohemian crowd for the Gnaoua and World Music Festival every summer. You'll also find windsurfing and kitesurfing enthusiasts, thanks to the powerful winds that constantly blow in the bay.
Explore beaches such as Plage Tagharte, located directly in the city, or the crashing waves of Cap Sim. Stop in at various traditional souks, such as the Spice Souk, the place to go for herbal medicine, Berber lipstick, and exotic spices. Later, make your way to the city's central square, Mulay El-Hassan Square, which is lined with restaurants and hotels. You can also visit the 16th-century Portuguese Castelo Real of Mogador and two defensive structures, Borj El Barmil tower and Skala de la Kasbah. Before heading back to your accommodations, stroll Essaouira Beach and catch glimpses of surfers in the wind.
Day 12: Free Day in Essaouira, Kitesurfing or Horseback Riding
Spend today discovering Essaouira at your leisure. Don't miss a walk along the Skala de la Kasbah (the 18th-century seafront ramparts) along the coast. Old brass cannons line the walls and offer panoramic views over the Atlantic. Then, explore the city's UNESCO-listed medina before making your way to the windswept beach.
If you want to give some of the local water sports a try, take a private kitesurfing lesson at one of Essaouira's best surf spots, Sidi Kaouki Beach. After you don your wetsuit and go over the equipment, you'll be able to learn basic kitesurfing techniques on how to hold, maneuver, and guide the kite. Practice a bit with your instructor by your side, then later, you'll be able to test your skills independently while still having your instructor nearby.
For a more tranquil Essaouira experience, take a guided horseback ride on the beach. After meeting with your guide, you'll learn a few basic techniques and get acquainted with your noble steed. Trot along Essaouira's long stretch of sand, enjoying the ocean breeze and smell of the sea. Your guide will lead you along the beach to quieter areas, leaving the busy tourist scene behind and seeing more of the region's natural beauty. Feel free to gallop on the sand or stick with a quiet walk along the surf. After a fun afternoon at the beach, head back to Essaouira's city center for dinner and enjoy a final sunset over the ocean.
Day 13: Transfer to Marrakesh, Depart
Sadly, your Moroccan adventure comes to an end today as you make the three-hour drive from Essaouira back to Marrakesh and catch your departing flight. Have a safe and comfortable trip home or to your next destination!