Take a two-wheeled adventure through Morocco’s mountains, deserts, and ancient cities

Desert sands and snow-topped mountains. Red cliff gorges and seaside paths. Hairpin turns and alpine passes. Grab a bike and see them all on a cycle through Morocco, a land overflowing with mystery, history and culture. A place where the people welcome you with endless stories, and the landscape defies its harshness to offer you beach, desert, forest, mountain, and orchards. From Marrakesh, circle the country through Tangier, laidback Chefchaouen, medieval Fes, the cool of the High Atlas Mountains and the heat of the Sahara, and ride to the ancient city of Ait Benhaddou.


Start
Marrakech, Morocco
Finish
Marrakech, Morocco
Country
Morocco
Style
Original
Theme
Cycling
Code
XMXC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 16
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Cycling allows you to get closer to the real Morocco – from bicycles to Berbers, bustling souks to the High Atlas Mountains, this classic adventure has it all

  • End rewarding days in the saddle with Moroccan feasts in Djemma el-Fna, a traditional dinner in the mountains, or a Berber banquet

  • Ride both bikes and camels in the Sahara to a starlit nomad camp - the ultimate desert experience

  • Cycle through landscapes that shaped both Moroccan history and the silver screen, with scenery right out of Bond and Game of Thrones!

  • Explore the fascinatingly chaotic mother of all medieval medinas in Fes.

  • Wind down in the famous blue and white town of Chefchaouen

Is this trip right for you?

  • The weather in Morocco can be extreme, with summer temperatures uncomfortably hot, especially for those who aren't accustomed to the heat. While we try to organise activities in the cooler parts of the day, please consider carefully when time of the year to travel. If you do travel in the warmer months, pack layers to cover you from the sun, bring the necessary sun protection, and drink plenty of water.

  • In 2017, Ramadan will take place from May 25 to June 28. This is the holiest month of the year for Muslims around the world. Many festivals are marked as Islamic Holidays, which may cause some disturbance to your travels around this time. Some regular services may not be available or open during the daytime, such as restaurants or coffee bars. Please consider your travel arrangements carefully.

  • As Morocco has a tipping culture, travellers are expected to tip small amounts for most services, so please be prepared. Your trip leader, and the tipping section of our Essential Trip Notes, will provide you with some suggestions as to what amounts are appropriate.

  • Although you shouldn’t expect any aggressive selling techniques in Morocco, please be aware that shop owners and street vendors offering their goods may regularly approach you.

  • Our accommodation is sourced very carefully with the best possible hotels picked in line with the Intrepid style of travel, but please note that service and accommodation in Morocco may be different to western standards.

Itinerary

Welcome to Morocco. Marrakech is a feast for the senses - be enticed by the alluring colours of the spice markets, the taste of delectable foods, and the scent of perfumed gardens. Your adventure begins today with a welcome meeting at 6pm – double check with reception for the time and place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Please have your insurance details and next of kin information on hand for collection at this meeting.

After the welcome meeting, head out to the city’s unique Djemaa el-Fna, a square that transforms into a hive of activity at night. Enjoy a dinner together (included) while snake-charmers, henna-painters and storytellers ply their trade nearby.

Riding distance: none
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Fuel up with breakfast this morning, and then get fitted for your bike – your transport and best buddy for the next 13 days. Take a short test ride to make sure everything’s working properly, then begin a cycling tour in and around the city (approximately 3 hours covering 15 kilometres). As the frenetic daily life of Marrakech buzzes around you, take your bike along main avenues and into quieter backstreets. You’ll ride to well-known sites like Koutoubia mosque and its famous 12th-century minaret, the royal olive groves of Menara gardens, and pass by the Marrakech Medina. Return to the legendary Djemaa el-Fna to dine al fresco, snacking your way around the crowded stalls. Try a Moroccan pastry with a glass of fresh orange juice. There’ll be ample time in the afternoon to get cleaned up before taking a late evening (approximately 9:35pm) overnight sleeper train north to Tangier (approximately 11 hours). Basic food and drinks are available but it’s recommended to eat before boarding the train.

Riding distance: approx. 15 kms
Accommodation
  • Overnight Train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cycling Tour of Marrakech
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find the city of Tangier. Often seen as the gateway to Africa, the city has a long and fascinating history peppered with artists, spies, and millionaires. Arrive at approximately 8am and check into your hotel, then meet up with your support crew and vehicle. Saddle up for a 30-kilometre ride, beginning with the Grottes d'Hercules (Caves of Hercules). Legend says Hercules stayed in this cave before doing his eleventh labour – collecting the golden apples from the Hesperides Garden. It has been used quite differently in modern times, ranging from a brothel to a concert venue for Def Leppard. Jump back on the bike to explore Cap Spartel, known to the Romans and Greeks as the “Cape of the Vines”. Stop by the 19th century lighthouse and, if you're lucky, climb up to the top for an amazing view out across the Atlantic Ocean. After your ride, reward yourself with a relaxing mint tea at the 1920’s styled Hafa café.

Riding distance: approx. 30 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • The Caves of Hercules
  • Cap Spartel Lighthouse visit
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Tangier and drive 85 kilometres through the arid inland towards the east coast and the seaside town of Tetouan. This town is the start of today’s ride. Follow the winding coastal road south to the small fishing town of Oued Laou (approximately 45 kilometres). This is a stunning ride, with the shimmering waters of the Mediterranean on your left, steep mountains on your right, and small coves dotted with beautiful beaches in-between. Stop by one of the beaches for the perfect relaxing picnic lunch. After today’s ride, it’s best to leave the saddle behind and let the support vehicle do the hard work of climbing the steep hills all the way up to the ‘Blue City’ of Chefchaouen (approximately 60 kilometres). Set against a wide valley and nestled between two peaks in the stunning Rif Mountains, it’s one of the prettiest places in Morocco. This Andalucia-influenced old Medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, red-tiled roofs and artistic doorways. Take a stroll through this idyllic town, shop for handicrafts in the ancient Medina, or simply sit at a cafe and enjoy the pleasure of time passing by.

Riding distance: approx. 45 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chefchaouen Kasbah
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Today is a free day to explore Chefchaouen. Ease into the relaxed pace of life in this rural retreat with a wander though the medina, or head to a café in the Plaza Uta el-Hammam to sample the delicious local goat cheese. Admire the architecture of the 15th-century Grand Mosque (closed to non-Muslims), or browse the shops selling woven goods and small sweets in the square. Also within the plaza is the walled fortress of the Kasbah. You might prefer to head out of town and keep the energy levels up with a bike ride or hike in the Rif mountains. In the evening, tuck into a tagine at a local restaurant or visit a hammam, a traditional Moroccan spa.

Riding distance: none
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Avoid the hard mountain roads this morning, with the support vehicle taking you 80 kilometres south from Chefchaouen to Tabouda. Then get the legs pumping on the undulated road that flanks the majestic turquoise waters of the El Wahda Dam. The journey takes you to the small town of Ourtzagh, which sits on the banks of the Ouerrha river (approximately 50 kilometres). As the roads get busier and the day heats up, retreat to the comfort of the support vehicle and leave the quiet of the Rif Mountains behind you. Drive the remaining 95 kilometres to Fes, the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco. It’s vibrant, noisy, fascinating and almost overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses. Take the remainder of the day to relax before really getting into this amazing city that’s home to a huge, well-preserved medieval old city – the mother of all medinas.

Riding distance: approx. 50 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Leave your bike behind today and dive into the heart of the Medina. Take a guided walk through the secret shortcuts and twisting alleyways of Fes. Pass donkeys piled high with goods and step back into the Middle Ages in the labyrinth of the Medina. Look out for the recently restored Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's most beautiful buildings, and enjoy the iconic view across the dye pits of the famous tannery. The rest of the day is free to explore. Watching the sunset over the Medina while a dozen prayer calls vie for attention is an experience not to be missed.

Notes: Today’s experience will include shopping in carefully selected places. As the receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Moroccan tourism industry, Intrepid has established a centralised system of receiving and distributing payments from these recommended suppliers. For more information, please refer to ‘Important Notes’ section or talk to your Tour leader on the ground.

Riding distance: none
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Fes - Guided walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Start the day early to avoid the traffic and heat, leaving frenetic Fes behind to drive deep into the Middle Atlas mountain range to Ifrane (65 kilometres). High-altitude, French-built Ifrane is often referred to as ‘the Switzerland of Morocco’. The mountain location, pitched red-roofed houses and green surroundings offer a welcome contrast to the recent dry and hot climate. After a quick break, climb by bike on a sinuous road through the wooded hills of Ifrane National Park. Soon the road levels out and you’ll enjoy a unique Middle Atlas mountains view. Coast gently downhill through the tiny town of Timahdte, where your ride ends. Drive up to Aguelmame Sidi Ali lake, a placid clear blue lake and wetland sanctuary where you’ll enjoy a well-earned lunch. For the energetic, you can also cycle the gentle uphill 23-kilometre lake-to-Timahdte section. After lunch, drive 90 kilometres down from the mountains to the Kasbah town of Midelt. Nestled in a valley, Midelt is surrounded by farmland and orchards. Take some free time to explore the nearby village of Bremmem or visit a local embroidery co-operative run to benefit local Berber women. You could also check out an optional traditional music performance in Midelt.

Riding distance: approx. 45 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Swap white-dappled mountains for the mighty Sahara desert today, travelling mostly downhill through dry hills and plains. Midelt to Merzouga is a long journey (270 kilometres), so two separate rides, with a vehicle transfer filling the gaps, will make it more enjoyable and manageable. Head 30 kilometres uphill to the day’s highest point, then get your wheels moving on a gentle downhill section to the miniscule farming village of Tassalaht (approximately 30 kilometres). You won’t have to pedal for most of this ride – a welcome reward for the all the uphill you’ve done so far! Reboard the vehicle and drive through frontier towns like Erfoud. This desert town has an almost Martian-like appearance, which is why it had staring roles in movies ‘The Mummy’ and James Bond’s ‘Spectre’. A spectacular drive past the harsh but indescribably beautiful sand dunes of Erg Chebbi brings you to today’s final destination of Merzouga. With dunes rising up to 150 metres and sweeping 50 kilometres north to south, this is home to the mysterious Berber Nomads. Store your main bags and swap a bike for a camel! Spend the night in a desert camp under the stars. Our local friends will prepare a hearty feast, so just sit back and relax.

Riding distance: approx. 30 kms
Accommodation
  • Desert Camp (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sunset camel safari
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Experience the incredible scenery of Morocco with a drive through transformational landscapes to Tinghir (approximately 3-4 hours over 200 kilometres). Tinghir is your entry point to the remarkable Todra Gorge, a massive trench with sheer rock walls that rise over 300 metres to form one of the most dramatic and spectacular natural sights in Morocco. From Tinghir you’ll get on your bike and workout your legs after the long drive. A 14 kilometres stretch takes you along the route of the Todgha River as it snakes into the canyon itself. The limestone stacks make this area best discovered on foot though, so you’ll take a short walk through surrounding farmland and a ruined village. To fully enjoy the walk, you need good walking boots or sturdy trainers, sunglasses, sun cream and plenty of water. After the walk, the rest of the day is just taking it easy at your spectacular gorge-located Kasbah, with red rock walls towering above and surrounded by palm trees. You’ll need the rest to prepare for a more challenging ride tomorrow.

Riding distance: approx. 15 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Todra Gorge hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
From the red canyon drive to the green-fringed Dades Valley, cutting through by the serpentine Dades River (approximately 85 kilometres). This valley follows the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and is dotted with mud-brick villages perched on hillsides. This is one of the best sections of road in Morocco and a memorable cycle along the fabulous hairpins of the Dades Gorge. Leaving the greenery behind, cycle deep into the desolate Mgoun Valley near Bou Tharar (approximately 50 kilometres). On the way, stop by a local nomad family and share traditional cup of tea with your hosts. This is a genuine opportunity for local interaction with a family who spend their lives travelling this remote land. Your leader will be there at all times to help you communicate and understand their fascinating lives. Later in the afternoon, bid farewell to your new friends, and then make a set of new ones at tonight’s accommodation. You’ll stay in a mountain gite and enjoy a traditional Moroccan goat dinner.

Riding distance: approx. 50 kms
Accommodation
  • Gite (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
A drive through arid surroundings brings you to the dramatic Lake El Mansour (approximately 100 kilometres), which sits among in the sandy rocks surrounding Ouarzazate. Get the bikes out and begin a 50-kilometre ride to mythical Ait Benhaddou, passing ancient kasbah ruins, former colonial military outposts, and austere mountains. Pause for lunch in Ouarzazate, where ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Black Hawk Down’ were filmed. Time permitting, tour Atlas Movie Studios. Make a short visit to Horizon Association for People With Disabilities, an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of people with disabilities. They provide essential services like prosthetic limbs, physio and social therapy, as well as training in skills like pottery or metal work. It’s a project the Intrepid Foundation is very proud to support. With a gentle climb, continue to Ait Benhaddou. Centuries ago, this was an important stop for caravans carrying salt across the Sahara. Today its grand Kasbah, a fine example of clay architecture, is a World Heritage site and star of movies and TV shows like ‘Gladiator’, ‘Games of Thrones’ and ‘The Living Daylights’. In the late afternoon, why not enjoy a cooking demonstration to learn the secrets behind Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine.

Riding distance: approx. 50 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Horizon Association for People With Disabilities visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
To help you avoid a serious amount of climbing, start the first part of today’s journey in the support vehicle, leaving the Sahara behind and driving 50 kilometres uphill to the Kasbah town of Telouet. Here, high in the Atlas (1,800 metres), you’ll cycle in the true mountains. This is a short ride of 25 kilometres, with the last 13 kilometres climbing up to the spectacular Tizi n'Tichka Pass. At 2,260 metres above sea level, this is the highest major mountain pass in North Africa. This is a real climb, but it’s well worth it for the bragging rights alone! After a brief break for refreshment, re-join the support vehicle and descend from the High Atlas all the way back to Marrakech, some 100 kilometres away. If you feel like doing more riding, then you can take on the epic 30 downhill kilometres to Zerkten (1,260m asl, 1,000m descent), but please discuss this with your leader and be realistic about your descending abilities – this road is very windy, can be busy at times, and the road conditions vary. Once back in Marrakech, you’ll say goodbye to your support crew and have some free time to relax. In the evening you’ll be drawn back to the Djemaa el Fna, where a celebratory dinner is the perfect way to end this adventure.

Riding distance: approx. 25 kms
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This cycling adventure through Morocco comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are free to leave at any time.

Riding distance: none
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

12 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Bicycle, Support vehicle, Train, Camel

Accommodation

Hotel (10 nights), overnight train (1 night), desert camp (1 night), gite (1 night)

Included activities

  • Cycling Tour of Marrakech
  • The Caves of Hercules
  • Cap Spartel Lighthouse visit
  • Chefchaouen Kasbah
  • Fes - Guided walking tour
  • Sunset camel safari
  • Todra Gorge hike
  • Horizon Association for People With Disabilities visit

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.
2. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitable sized bike.
3. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. We are unable to hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.