Highlights of Morocco

Resort:Highlights of Morocco
Operator: Exodus
Destination: Africa
Price From: £1179.00


Imperial cities, Atlas Mountains, Sahara Desert and the Atlantic coast

For sheer diversity, Morocco is the perfect destination. We explore the
imperial cities of Marrakech, Meknes and Fez and continue our journey to the
mountain ranges to the south, where sand dunes and kasbahs are scattered
among palm oases inhabited by friendly Berbers. A highlight of our trip is a
camel trek in the Sahara. We fit in a visit to Todra Gorge, the beautiful
16th-century kasbah of Ait Benhaddou and enjoy a village walk in the
picturesque Tighza valley of the High Atlas. We complete the trip with a walk
along the sandy beach of Essaouira and a city tour in bustling Marrakech.


* Imperial cities of Rabat, Meknes, Fez and Marrakech
* Visit the Roman ruins of Volubilis and the impressive Todra Gorge
* Experience a traditional hammam in the village of Tighza
* Walk from a remote Berber community into the magnificent High Atlas
* Relax in the charming fishing port of Essaouira


Day 1
Fly toMarrakech

Arrival at our hotel in the evening.
*Hotel Gomassine or similar*

Day 2
Visit Hassan II Mosque; to the capital Rabat.

A modern and commercial seaport, Casablanca is a complete contrast to the
Morocco we are soon to explore. This morning we drive 4hours to Casablanca
to visit the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest in the world. Afterwards,
we drive 2 hours to Rabat, the political capital of Morocco, but second to
Casablanca in importance.Although mostly modern, Rabat has an excellent old
quarter that we take time to explore.

*Rabat Hotel Bouregreg or similar*

Day 3
Explore the Roman site of Volubilis and the old city of Meknes; to Fez.

Strike out from Rabat 2,5 hours drive over the Northern plain towards
Meknes. The scenery changes as the land becomes more cultivated, this being
one of the most fertile areas of Morocco. Sultan Moulay Ismail’s old capital
of Meknes is our first example of one of the imperial cities of Morocco.We
meet our guide and wander the narrow streets of the old city, and explore the
souk, perhaps having your first chance at bartering for souvenirs. In the
afternoon we take a short drive 45min to the largest and best kept Roman
ruins in Morocco Volubilis, once a large Roman town and now a UNESCO
World Heritage site. After exploring this site we continue our journey
approximately 2 hours drive to the ancient city of Fez, where we spend two

*Hotel Mounia or similar*

Day 4
Guided tour of Fez, including visits to the Medersa Bou Ananiya (entrance not
included) and the medina.

This fascinating city is the intellectual and religious centre of Morocco.
Founded over a thousand years ago, Fez has many mosques and medersas
(theological colleges) including the 9th century al-Karaouine University,
whose architecture is very similar to that seen in Moorish Spain. The medina
in Fez is one of the largest in the world, an immense warren of souks, home
to thousands of craftsmen with their tiny shops opening onto the narrow
alleyways. Noisy and pungent, the medina of Fez is a totally absorbing and
unique experience. Our city guide walks us through different sections of the
souk – including those selling leather brass and copper. Of course, no visit
to Fez is complete without a visit to the tanneries. Outside the medina we
shall visit the Jewish District (mellah), the exterior of the Royal Palace
and take a drive up to a panoramic viewpoint over the city.

*Hotel Mounia or similar*

Day 5
Drive to Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara.

Today we have a long journey of approximately 10 hours, however there will be
frequent stops and beautiful scenery along the way. We travel over the
stunning Middle Atlas, down through the picturesque Ziz Valley to the Hamada,
a flat stony desert, gradually approaching the spectacular site of the golden
sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. We stay in a small and welcoming auberge (inn) on
the edge of the dunes from where it is easy to climb to watch the sunrise.

*Auberge La Source or similar*

Day 6
Walk among the dunes; camel trek;overnight in a Sahara camp.

There is time today with a free morning to explore the largest sand sea in
Morocco, or to relax in the shade of a palm tree by the dunes. The sand sea
is famed for its pink tones that take on a spectacular rose colour at sunset.
In the late afternoon, we partake in a genuine Saharan experience – a 45min
camel trek through the dunes, where we watch the sunset. We then come back to
the camp at the edge of the desert to spend the night.

*Full-service camping at Erg Chebbi or similar*

Day 7
To Skoura via the Todra Gorge.

After sunrise, we leave our desert camp head towards the little city of
Skoura, nestled on a beautiful palm grove and located near Ouarzazate. From
here onwards to explore Todra Gorge, and the picturesque oases they hide in
(journeytime approximately4 hours). Following the 1000 Kasbahs Road for
approximately 2.5 hours, you will marvel at the breath-taking vistas of
impressive ancient Kasbahs nestled in lush palm groves.

*Skoura Lodge or similar*

Day 8
Skoura, the Palm grove capital of Morocco

There is the opportunity to take a 1 hour drive to Toundout Valley and enjoy
a 3 hours guided hike crossing through a Berber village, where you will learn
a littleof their culture. Alternatively, relax in and around the lodge
walking through the magnificent lush palm groves. Considered as the palm
grove capital of Morocco, Skoura will certainly offer peace and relaxation
through its various walks discovering multiple palm groves, and Kasbahs.

*Skoura Lodge or similar*

Day 9
Journey to Telouet, via the famous Kasbah Ait Benhaddou.

Leaving Skoura, we re-join the main road and drive west along the ‘Route of
the Thousand Kasbahs’ via the desert city of Ouarzazate and on to the
well-preserved Kasbah Ait Benhaddou. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one
of the most spectacular sights of the Atlas, made famous as the location of
several Hollywood films including ‘Gladiator’. After admiring the view, we
may see something of the simple village houses. Continuing into the mountains
we branch east through a wide flat mountain valley, finally arriving at
Anmiter, where we leave our bus and take a 1.5-hour picturesque walk on a
gentle uphill gradient to the village of Tigzha, where we spend the next two
nights. Our luggage will be transported to the gite for us. For those who do
not want to walk, mules are available (100 MAD, payable locally).

*Kasbah Oliver or similar*

Day 10
Full day walking in the High Atlas. Evening hammam.

We start our day with an optional walk through the villages of the Tigzha
Valley, heading up into the hills on mule tracks with the peaks of the High
Atlas acting as a fitting backdrop to our walk. The length of ourwalk
will depend on the ability of the group, but it is likely to be
approximately4 hours. The afternoon is free to relax with a book, enjoy the
mountain views, take a stroll through the beautiful landscape or challenge
the village children to a game of football!

Tigzha is just one of four villages in this remote valley that has been
supported by Exodus for over ten years on various responsible tourism
projects. We will visit the village hammam, built with money raised by Exodus
clients. This is a truly authentic experience and terrific fun. It is very
much a traditional hammam and you are likely to get the opportunity to mix
with the villagers, which further adds to the experience. A standard
treatment is included, but you will need to purchase a scrubber and soap for
20MAD (£1.50) plus customary tip of 20MAD. Refreshed, we return to the riad
for our final dinner in the mountains.

*Kasbah Oliver or similar*

Day 11
Over the High Atlas Mountains to Essaouira.

Leaving the gite, we walk back to our bus for a short drive to the palace of
Telouet. This once grand building stands abandoned and crumbling but we can
visit a small part of this labyrinthine, fairy-tale like structure. We
continue our scenic drive over the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech, via the
Tizi’n’Tichka pass, which at 2,260m is the highest road in Morocco. The
scenery is spectacular and there are some wonderful views of the mountains.
We stop at a women’s cooperative Argan Oil farm, where you can see the trees
growing, get a demonstration of the production process as well as have the
opportunity to purchase products. Our journey finally brings us to the flat
arid plains of Marrakech, and then onwards to the pretty seaside town of
Essaouira. Journeytime is between approximately 10 hours, with plenty of
comfortbreaks and photo stops along the way.

*Riad Al Madina or similar*

Day 12
Free day in Essaouira.

A free day in Essaouira, a charming old Portuguese fishing port overlooking
the Atlantic Ocean. The settlement dates back to the 15th century but the
present town was constructed around 1760 by Sidi Mohammed ben Abdullah, who
needed a base from which to suppress a revolt from Agadir. Today, the town is
extremely relaxed and its whitewashed houses with painted shutters, artisan
workshops, boat yards and fishermen provide a marked contrast to the desert,
kasbahs and cities we have so far visited. Our hotel is situated in the heart
of the old walled city, where we have plenty of time for some shopping in the
souks or strolling along the beach. With many pleasant cafes and some
outstanding seafood restaurants, there is plenty of choice for our evening

*Riad Al Madina or similar*

Day 13
To Marrakech; guided tour including Bahia Palace, the Saadian tombs, finish
in Djemma el Fna.

After breakfast, we drive back to Marrakech, journey time approximately2.5
hours. In the afternoon we enjoy a guided tour to help us find our bearings
and soak up the atmosphere of this amazing city. Our guide will take us to
the Bahia Palace, ending in the Djemma el Fna, where the town becomes a maze
of bustling bazaars, palaces and mosques. It is worth seeing this renowned
landmark in the evening, as Marrakech revolves around this open-air central
square, with food stalls, juice-sellers,snake charmersand acrobats. It is
a place of night-time entertainment for both local people and tourists.

*Hotel Gomassine or similar*

Day 14
Free day in Marrakech.

Today is freein Marrakech and there is no shortage of things to do. You
might wishto visit the largest mosque in Marrakech, Koutoubia, or venture
through the souks and old streets of the medina. After bartering for
souvenirs, there will be time for a short visit to the Koranic School and
Museum of Marrakech. After this, you can unwind by taking a hour calche
ride (a bright green horse-drawn carriage) to the Jardin Majorelle. These
tranquil gardens are decorated throughout in indigo blue and were once owned
by Yves St. Laurent, the perfect place to escape the hectic rush of the

For your lunch we would highly recommend the Amal Women’s Training Centre and
Moroccan Restaurant, which we at Exodus support in their cause to empower
women from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are a non-profit organization
dedicated to training their students to become self-sufficient and improving
their quality of life through acquiring new skills in a professional
restaurant setting. For a superb traditional Moroccan meal and the
opportunity to support this worthy cause, do pay them a visit.

This evening it’s common for the group to enjoy a final meal together on
Djemma el Fna.

*Hotel Gomassine or similar*

Day 15
Fly to London.

Trip ends after breakfast.

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