Visit Morocco on an all-encompassing adventure from Casablanca to Marrakech

Visit Morocco and discover this land of contrasts - sparkling coastlines, soaring mountains, lush valleys and the vast, unforgettable Sahara Desert. Travel in the footsteps of pirates, sultans and desert nomads, exploring the colonial architecture of Casablanca, the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis, the medieval city of Fes and the intricate clay architecture of the Ait Benhaddou Kasbah. Enjoy the warm local hospitality and embark on exotic adventures - riding a camel over Saharan dunes, hiking in the High Atlas Mountains and haggling for treasures in bustling souqs. Take an exhilarating journey to absorb the extraordinary sights of mysterious Morocco.

Start
Casablanca, Morocco
Finish
Marrakech, Morocco
Countries
Morocco
Themes
Explorer
Code
XMSQC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
256kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • - Widely regarded as Morocco's holiest place, overnight visits to Moulay Idriss were prohibited to non-Muslims until 2005. Experience a homestay with a charming local family; if you’re lucky, you might even get an invite to a cooking demonstration by the ladies of the house
  • - Enjoy plenty of time to practise your photography among the vivid blue houses of Chefchaouen
  • - Scale the High Atlas Mountains and trek through scenic Berber villages, spending a night in a traditional Berber homestay. Discover the culture and tradition of an indigenous population who have stood the test of time
  • - Negotiate your way through the winding alleys of Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, a superb example of Moroccan architecture rich in history and mystery
  • - Moroccan cuisine is interpreted throughout the world in different ways. While in Ait Benhaddou, master the way traditional way of preparing Moroccan couscous and tagines
  • - Travel through the Sahara desert in a camel convoy, sleep under the North African stars and enjoy an evening beside the campfire listening to Bedouin tales
  • - Put your feet up and relax in the laid-back coastal town of Essaouira. This is a good chance to recharge before heading for the colourful chaos of Marrakech
  • - Djemaa El-Fna isn't just a marketplace, it's a way of life. Marrakesh's largest outdoor food market is brimming with activity and is a great place to sample Moroccan delicacies while rubbing shoulders with the locals
  • - Relive a glorious medieval past in Fes city. While many tourists get lost in the labyrinthine streets of the medina, you'll have a local guide to show you the way
  • - Literally translated, Morocco's grand capital of Rabat means ‘fortified palace’. The botanical gardens are a lovely place to relax and sip a mint tea
  • - Need a break from your wanders around the narrow streets of Meknes? Replenish your energy with the ideal hump-day treat: a camel burger cooked right in front of you at a restaurant in the medina
  • - Where else would you find drummers, dancers, snake charmers, fortune tellers, jugglers and old medicine men in one place? Marrakech is the perfect place to share a final group meal and stock up on treasures in the city's colourful souqs

Itinerary

Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco.
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, 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 inform 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 leader.
Modelled after Marseille in France, the bustling port city of Casablanca is now the undisputed economic capital of Morocco, with one of Africa's largest ports. The architectural style of the city is curious - famous for its art deco French-colonial buildings and Mauresque governmental institutions, an old medina and the phenomenal modern-day masterpiece, the Hassan II Mosque.
A pleasant way to spend the day exploring Casablanca is to wander the old medina and the city walls, then jump in a taxi to visit the Quartiers des Habous - the new medina full of shaded squares and narrow streets, lined with arcades that lead from one souk to another. This is a great place to enjoy a Moroccan coffee and maybe start improving your bargaining skills. Finish the day with a walk along the Corniche, watching the locals enjoy sunset football on the beach.
There's no free time included in Casablanca on this trip so if you want to explore the city or visit the highly recommended Hassan II Mosque we suggest you book an additional night or two of accommodation before the trips starts.
Take an early morning train to Rabat (approx 1 hr).
Rabat's history is long and colourful: Roman settlements, pirates, the unfinished but towering 12th-century Hassan Tower and more recently its position as the modern political capital.
Store your luggage and spend a few hours strolling through the city's old quarter, then walk up to Kasbah des Oudaias and enjoy the view over the Atlantic Ocean.
Continue on to Meknes by train (approx 3 hrs).
Transfer by taxi through gorgeous rural countryside to the sacred pilgrimage village of Moulay Idriss (approx 45 mins).
The small medina of ancient Moulay Idriss is a pleasure to explore as the faithful gather to pay homage to the founding father of Islam in Morocco at the 8th-century mausoleum. This charming town is superb come sunset with views over the plains of Volubilis below.
Our accommodation is a guesthouse/homestay where a local family will take delight in providing the hospitality. Bathroom facilities are shared and rooming may be triple or quad share.
Volubilis was one of the Roman empire's most remote bases, which remained affluent until the 8th century. The main structures remained intact until they were damaged by an earthquake in the 18th century, after which much of the marble was taken for construction in nearby Meknes.
A local guide will take us on a walk back in time as we explore this ancient hilltop city.
Return to Meknes, where we have a few hours to explore the main sights of the city.
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.
The adventurous may want to try a camel burger for lunch at a local restaurant in the medina.
Travel by train to Fes (approx 1 hr)
Fes is the most complete medieval city in the Arab world. The most ancient of Morocco's imperial cities, it exists suspended in time.
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.
Take a guided walk to discover the treasures of the Medina, a living monument to an ancient past and 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 for visits.

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.
The afternoon is free to get lost in the maze of streets and alleys, take a photo outside the Royal Palace or visit the nearby hills for incredible views.
Take a local bus to the charming isolated town of Chefchaouen (approx 4 hrs).
Set against a gorgeous wide valley and surrounded by the stunning Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen may take you by surprise. Its medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, sloping red-tiled roofs and superb artistic doorways protecting the secrets of its curious inhabitants. Much of Chefchaouen was recreated by Andalusian refugees escaping the Reconquistia and you could be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere in the hills of Spain when exploring its cobblestone streets. It's an evocative atmosphere and a wonderful place to reduce the pace and enjoy the romantic and somewhat bohemian ambience.
You have a free day to explore Chefchaouen.
Take a local bus to the coastal town of Tangier (approx 3 hrs).
Make a short visit to Tangier town and its recently redeveloped promenade. You can enjoy a fresh fish dinner by the port.
Board an overnight sleeper train bound for Marrakech.
Arrive early in Marrakech. The rest of day is free to explore.
Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Be enticed by the alluring scents and brilliant colours of the spice markets, the sounds of the musicians, the rich folds of carpets, delectable foods, acrobats and perfumed gardens.
Explore the amazing Medina and the seemingly endless mosaic of souqs. Each is devoted to a separate trade: pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets and spices. A wander amongst them is a sensory delight.
The monuments of Marrakech are numerous and range from the well-known Koutoubia Mosque and its superb minaret - famous throughout the Islamic world and the 'sister' to the Giralda in far-away Seville, to the lesser-known tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle (now owned by Yves Saint Laurent). There's the Palais Bahia, a superb example of Muslim architecture, and the ruins of the Palais Badi, reputedly one of the most beautiful palaces in the world in its time. The Saadian tombs are a recently uncovered gem of the Medina. All of the above can be a challenge to locate, but that's all part of the experience of exploring the phenomenal medinas of Morocco.
Join the thronging crowds and enjoy dinner at the infamous Djemaa el Fna - the ultimate el fresco experience. This is undoubtedly an unforgettable farewell to bustling Marrakech where we can wander though the singers, drummers, dancers, snake charmers, fortune tellers, tooth pullers, storytellers, jugglers and even old medicine men, who all make up what has been dubbed the 'greatest spectacle on earth'.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
A short drive takes us into the towering High Atlas Mountains to the village of Imlil (approx 2 hrs).
We'll store our main luggage and load daypacks on to pack mules before taking a 1 hour walk up to the peaceful village of Aroumd where we spend the night. If you don't feel you can complete walk, don't worry and take the option of riding a mule up to Aroumd.
A family-run mountain home (gite) will be our accommodation tonight, and perched on a great rocky outcrop we have an incredible sight to appreciate from our terrace: views of North Africa's highest peak - Mount Toubkal. Facilities at the mountain gite are shared - both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements - but cosy, comfortable and a unique Intrepid experience.
We have the rest of the day to explore the village and surrounding farmlands. Depending on the energy levels of the group, we can make the moderate 8 km trek to the pilgrimage shrine of Sidi Chamarouch (approx 4 hrs return). This interesting destination is the burial place of a medieval saint and is a popular route for both serious trekkers en route to Toubkal and for Moroccan faithful wishing to receive baraka (blessings) from this sacred place.
Regardless of your level of fitness, the gentle pace of Aroumd makes it a special place beyond the reach of the modern world - and an opportunity not to be missed.
Journey along spectacular mountain roads and over Morocco's highest pass, the Tizi n'Tichka (2260 m) to Ait Benhaddou on the barren edges of the Sahara (approx 6 hrs).
Centuries ago, Ait Benhaddou was an important stop for the caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. Today, its grand kasbah is still one of the most beautiful in all of Morocco and a World Heritage site. This fortified village is a fine example of clay architecture and is also famous for its role on the silver screen, featuring in numerous films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Jewel of the Nile and Gladiator.
Why not join a simple cooking demonstration of Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine. Our local friends will explain the secrets and subtleties of these traditional meals as the ladies of the kitchen prepare a feast.
Journey south towards the mighty Sahara (approx 5 hrs), stopping en route in Ouarzazate.
The film capital of Morocco, Ouarzazate is the location where productions such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky and Black Hawk Down were filmed.
Make a short visit to Horizon Association for People With Disabilities, an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of people with disabilities. Some of the amazing services they provide include the building and fitting of prosthetic limbs, custom-made wheelchairs, and physio and social therapy for sufferers of accidents and illness. They also operate an artisans workshop which trains local people in trades such as pottery, weaving, metal work and jewellery making. This is a wonderful visit and we're very proud to support this project through The Intrepid Foundation.
Travel through the lush Draa Valley to Zagora, home to the famous 'Tombouctou 52 Jours' sign.
Zagora is known as the 'doors of the desert', as it's the last town before the Draa River. This is a palmerie town with great pottery and ceramic workshops on the way into the desert.
Take a stroll through the palm groves of Amazrou, exploring the ksars and surrounding countryside.
Our route continues along the rugged, jagged and desolate Jbel Tadrart Mountain ranges taking us through seas of sand occasionally punctuated by lush oasis of date palms, to the interesting township of Tamegroute.
Once a famous settlement and home to religious scholars since the 11th century, Tamegroute houses a shrine to its spiritual leader.
Visit an intriguing library filled with ancient scripts of science, literature, the Koran and stories of the prophet Mohammed. We'll also join a local friend to uncover the underground kasbah and its famous, but unique, ceramic pottery industry. A great spot to pick up a memorable souvenir.
Drive on until we reach the end of the road at the frontier town of M'Hamid.
Take a short camel ride, with the dunes as a magical backdrop.
Head into the dunes in 4WD vehicles. Our rough piste track runs parallel to the Algerian border, across stony Hamada desert whose only populace is small scatterings of hardy nomadic people and their camels, until we reach the massive Erg Chigaga dunes in the late afternoon.
An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that has formed into picturesque undulating crests and valleys, and the Erg Chigaga is one of the world's classic landscapes.
Our nomad-style camp is a simple affair with bedding and basic toilet facilities provided. Our local friends will prepare a hearty feast so all we have to do is soak up the experience. The camp consists of two large fixed traditional nomadic-style woollen tents. Our camp does provide blankets and simple mattresses but for extra warmth and your own comfort, you might like to bring your own sleeping bag in the winter months from November to March.
Due to passenger feedback, all departures in the summer months of July and August use a slightly altered itinerary in the Sahara. We'll take a 4WD safari to the remote Erg Chigaga dunes but instead of camping in the dunes, we stay at a fixed camp in Ouled Idriss. This camp is more comfortable and better suited during the high summer temperatures.
Rejoin our minivan and continue towards Taroudannt (approx 6 hrs). This drive takes us through more superb desert scenery and along a route that's a reserve for the indigenous argan trees - if we're lucky we might come across the famous image of goats climbing these trees in search of their tasty nuts.
Please note that this is a long travel day and we won't arrive at our accommodation until late afternoon/early evening. Our riad tonight is 45 km outside of Taroudannt and offers the chance to relax by the pool or take a steamed bath.
This morning we'll visit Taroudannt en route to Essaouira.
Taroudannt is a vibrant market town located in the fertile Souss plains. With an energetic, bustling city centre this is a great opportunity to see an untouched traditional Berber lifestyle. The souqs of the medina teem with sights, sound and colour, with terrific bargains to be found.
Leave the valleys of the magical High Atlas Mountains behind and head towards the windswept Atlantic Coast and Essaouira (approx 4.5 hrs).
The name Essaouira means image, which is appropriate since it's such a picturesque town. Its charm is undeniable - within the stone ramparts you'll find whitewashed houses with bright blue shutters, art galleries and wood workshops. This laidback artists' town is a former Portuguese trading colony and was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations. The town faces a group of rocky islands - called the Mogador - and is surrounded by an expanse of sandy beaches and dunes.

It's still a busy fishing port and its pretty harbour is filled with tiny colourful boats which go out early every morning for the day's catch. Visitors who have been seduced by its charms include Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. More recently, filmmaker Ridley Scott chose the ramparts as an important location for his film, Kingdom of Heaven.
Join our local guide for a walking tour through the old Medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall).
You have some free time to soak up the romantic ambience.
Everything in the small centre is within walking distance and the beach is clean. Wander the harbour and its adjacent fish markets where you can witness the daily auction. A freshly-cooked plate of the day's catch is highly recommended. Browse the plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries that make this little town a particularly pleasant place to unwind for a few days. It has a growing reputation for its unique art and is becoming even more famous for its burled Thuya wood - delicately formed and inlaid in tiny shops, which are built into the thick walls of the Portuguese ramparts. The scent from the oils used to polish the richly coloured wood permeates the air and makes walking down the streets incredibly pleasant.
Essaouira is a world-famous windsurfing destination. Give it go or you may like to try your hand at the increasingly popular sport of kite surfing.
Don't miss the opportunity to go to a hammam or local-style bath to be spoilt with a good scrub, a mud pack and a relaxing massage with argan oil.
Reflect on our incredible journey with an optional farewell dinner.
As this trip spends limited time in Marrakech, we recommend you arrange a few extra nights of accommodation to make the most of what this city has to offer.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
17 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
Transport
4x4, Overnight sleeper train, Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi, Train
Accommodation
Camp site (1 night), Gite (1 night), Guesthouse (1 night), Hotel (9 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night), Riad (3 nights)
Included activities
  • Entrance and guided tour Volubilis
  • Guided walking tour Fes
  • Guided trek in the High Atlas Mountains
  • Horizon Association for People With Disabilities visit
  • Ancient library
  • Camel ride
  • Guided walking tour

Dates

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Important notes

1. There is an altered summer itinerary (June, July & August). See Trip Notes for further details.
2. A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide 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.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Morocco Encompassed trips score an average of 4.66 out of 5 based on 32 reviews in the last year.

Morocco Encompassed , March 2016

Morocco Encompassed , March 2016

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