Country hopping in Europe’s west on a coastal and cultural adventure

Colour and charisma in some of Europe’s hotspots – all packed into one unforgettable adventure. Spend 24 days covering Spain, Portugal and Morocco, revelling in chaotic markets, relaxing in coastal retreats and sharing conversation and cuisine with the locals. Marvel at artistic masterpieces and architectural wonders in Madrid, taste the rich history of Portugal in its delightful towns, historic performance art and complex cuisine, and be enchanted by the magic and majesty of Morocco’s metropolises and far-flung mountains. With a knowledgeable leader to recommend the best places and take you behind the tourist trail, dig a little deeper in these three countries to discover a local way of life.


Start
Madrid, Spain
Finish
Marrakech, Morocco
Destinations
Morocco, Portugal, Spain
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
ZMSQC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Experience a memorable Fado performance in Coimbra – an emotional form of Portuguese music expressing the hard realities of the daily life and balancing both resignation and hopefulness.

  • Soak up the sun on the Portuguese coast's gorgeous beaches along the Algarve, walking across rocky cliff tops, exploring remote coves and taking in a sunset over the Atlantic Ocean with your small group.

  • Relive a glorious medieval past in in the labyrinthine streets of Fes city, and discover the cultural capital, Marrakech, through its people – drummers, dancers, fortune tellers, jugglers and medicine men.

  • Scale the High Atlas Mountains and trek through scenic Berber villages, spending a night in a traditional Berber homestay to get a true sense of rural Moroccan life.

  • Travel through the Sahara in a camel convoy, sleeping under a blanket the North African stars and enjoy an evening beside the campfire listening to traditional Bedouin tales.

Is this trip right for you?

  • As this is a combination of two trips, your leader and the composition of your group may change in Marrakech.

  • Some sections of transportation on this trip are done by train. Train travel is a fast way to traverse long distances, allowing you to avoid traffic jams and arrive right into the city centre. Trains are comfortable and sometimes decked out with air-conditioning, toilets, a snack bar (or vending machine) and power points. Please note that you'll have to carry your own luggage on and off the train, so make sure it doesn’t exceed our weight and size recommendations. You can find this information in the 'What to Take' section of the trip notes.

  • As there are potholes and cobblestones in many European cities, it's recommended that you leave any wheelie bags or cases at home and bring a backpack instead. Often there are no lifts or escalators in the metro station or in the hotel, so you will have to carry your bags up and down the stairs.

  • Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.

  • As accommodation on this trip is twin-share, single travellers will share a room with another traveller of the same sex. If you’d prefer not to share, a single room supplement is available at an additional charge. Please ask your travel consultant for more details. Also, hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together and, by some standards, are considered rather small.

  • In 2020, the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from 23 April through until 22 May. 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.

  • On Day 13, you'll head out on a day tour around the amazing medieval Medina of Fes. While you'll be on your feet for at least five to six hours, this is one of the highlights of Morocco and well worth any weariness at the end of the long day.

  • As Morocco has a tipping culture, travellers are expected to tip small amounts for most services, so please be prepared. Your leader will suggest methods and amounts to tip during the trip, but it is left to the group to decide the details.

  • A camel trek through the Sahara is a highlight of the trip for many. If you're uncomfortable with this, it's possible to walk alongside the camels for about an hour to the camp. You would need to walk back the same distance the next morning, but don’t worry - it’s a gentle, relaxing walk. The opposite can be said for the hike up to Aroumd, as you'll be trekking up steep, rocky steps for around an hour. If you do decide to do this walk then you'll need comfortable walking shoes, but you can also hire a mule to ride up all the way. Please also note that your main luggage will be left behind, as only hand luggage can be carried up to the village for you.

  • Although you shouldn’t expect any aggressive selling techniques in Morocco, please be aware that you may be approached by shop owners and street vendors offering their goods to you on regular occasions.

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

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.
View the 2019 itinerary
Welcome to Madrid, Spain. The sassy central capital is known for its elegant boulevards and expansive, manicured parks, but it also pulsates with energy, and is without doubt a vibrant city. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at either 6 or 7 pm, depending on common area availability. Please double check with reception to confirm the time and place. After the meeting we will head out for an optional group dinner where you can get to know your fellow travellers. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance, passport details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel in time on the day, we recommend arriving early. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). As there's very limited time for sightseeing in Madrid, consider flying in a few days early to explore. Perhaps while away the hours along the Paseo del Arte, or Art Walk, for an expansive history of Western art. Start with the Museo del Prado, then discover modern Spanish masters, including Picasso and Dali, in the Museo Reina Sofia. Finish at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which displays eight centuries of European painting. After the welcome meeting, perhaps get into the mind of a Madrileno with some tapas and Rioja.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Abono Paseo del Arte (3 museum combo voucher) - EUR30
  • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - EUR12
  • Museo del Prado - EUR15
  • Real Jardín Botánico - EUR6
  • Museo Reina Sofia - EUR10
  • Royal Palace-Madrid - EUR11
  • Madrid Tapas Adventure - Urban Adventure - EUR82
  • Markets of Madrid - Urban Adventure - EUR47
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Say farewell to Madrid this morning and head north-west by public transport to the historical university town of Salamanca (approximately 3 hours). Situated among beautiful pastures and rolling green hills on Spain's northern plateau, the rose-hued medieval town of Salamanca is great to explore on foot. Your leader will take you on an orientation walk on arrival, where you can explore the central Plaza Mayor and discover the beautiful Renaissance and Baroque architecture the city is known for. Plaza Mayor is a true centre of local life, perhaps the most perfect city square in Spain. Not only is it architecturally unique, but it also thrives with activity as locals meet and take coffee, tapas or cocktails on the square. The rest of your afternoon and evening is then free. You can admire the intricate detail of the Casa de Las Conchas, or ‘House of the Shells’, see the contrasting Old and New Cathedrals, and climb to the top to get a view across the terracotta-coloured rooftops. Thanks to the large student population the town has a vibrant nightlife, so maybe soak up the buzzing vibe tonight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Cathedrals rooftop - EUR5
  • Art Nouveau & Art Deco Museum - EUR4
  • Unamuno House Museum - EUR4
  • New Cathedral- free during mass - EUR5
  • Old Cathedral - EUR5
  • University of Salamanca - EUR10
  • Casa de Las Conchas - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head further west by private bus today and cross the border into Portugal to the laidback city of Coimbra (approximately 4 hours). Coimbra will be your base for next two nights. Sitting dignified on the banks of the River Mondego, Coimbra was once the capital of the county, and its royal heritage can be felt in its ancient streets and buildings. On arrival, your leader will escort you on a walk to help you orientate yourself in the maze of alleyways of this riverfront city. Half the fun of Coimbra is wandering and exploring, so use your free time getting to know the city. Coimbra features typical white stone buildings with several excellent examples of colourful azulejos tiling. Some of the historical structures were originally built in the 12th century (like the Cathedral Se Velha), and you can find some of the Portugal's best examples of Romanesque churches and elegant museums here. The University of Coimbra – the oldest in Portugal – and the famous baroque library, the Biblioteca Joanina, with its 18th-century bell tower, are highlights.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free day of exploration in Coimbra before witnessing a traditional Fado performance. Fado songs must follow a particular structure, and though this traditional music can really be about anything, it popularly features mournful tunes with lyrics about the sea or the life of the poor. In Coimbra, male university students would often serenade their sweethearts with this music, with songs here tending to be literary translations or follow themes students can relate to. In your free time, perhaps head out into the countryside in search of ancient Roman ruins, which takes around 30 minutes by bus. The ruins of Conimbriga are rich in well-preserved mosaics and offer a great insight into ancient Roman life. There are several options to return, including a three kilometre walk through the countryside to the unspoiled rural town of Condeixa (optional). If you have time, you can take a short boat tour to take in the view of Coimbra from a different angle.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Fado performance
Optional Activities
  • Boat tour - EUR7
  • Cathedrals entrance - EUR3
  • Conimbriga ruins - EUR5
  • Portugal Dos Pequenitos - EUR11
  • University of Coimbra visit - EUR12
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, jump on a bus through the countryside of central Portugal to Lisbon (approximately 3.5 hours). As one of Europe's most pleasant and affordable capital cities, Lisbon combines the best elements of Portuguese life, offering fantastic architecture, a multicultural population, delicious seafood and non-stop nightlife. On arrival to the city, head out on an orientation walk of Lisbon, city located on the banks of the Tagus (Tejo) River. Much of Lisbon’s character and charm lies in its beautiful renovated buildings, grand boulevards and impressive castles and churches. Visit the medieval citadel in the city centre, the Citadel of Sao Jorge Castle, which dates back to Moorish times and sits on the highest point of the Old Town. Look down on a city swarming with endless angular white houses and buildings with distinct red terracotta rooftops. Your afternoon and evening is free, so perhaps head to the grand Naval Museum for an insight into the history of Portuguese navigation. Or maybe you'd prefer to roam through charming narrow streets of local neighbourhoods and see local life play out. If you want to sample some Portugese nightlife, Barrio Alto is the place to head this evening. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lisbon Citadel
Optional Activities
  • National Art Museum - EUR6
  • Folk Art Museum - EUR3
  • Gulbenkian Museum - EUR10
  • Puppet Museum - EUR5
  • Lisbon Sunset Fado & Tapas Urban Adventure - EUR70
  • Lisbon Walk - EUR45
  • Naval Museum - EUR5
  • Fado Show with Dinner - EUR50
  • Oceanarium - EUR17
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is free for you to explore more of Lisbon, or maybe take a 45 minute train ride out to the mountainous region of Sintra, an absolute jewel of Portugal where you will see a beautiful Pena Palace. This area offers great walking, stunning cliff-top palaces and unique Moorish architecture. The 8th-century Castle of the Moors looks down on the Old Town, and the views from the battlements across the Serra de Sintra mountain range are stunning.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Palacio Nacional - Sintra - EUR10
  • Palacio da Pena - Sintra - EUR14
  • Sintra Day Trip - EUR10
  • Castelo dos Mouros - Entrance - EUR8
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a bus journey of around foour hours today to the southern coastline of Portugal, the Algarve. Known for fertile plains rich with orange and olive groves, fig trees, almonds and maize fields, this region is perfect to explore. Your base is Olhao, the Algarve’s biggest fishing port. With active waterfront, Moorish buildings and bustling old quarters, the city has a Northern African feel. Upon arrival check-in to your home for next two nights and use the rest of the day to discover Olhao. You may wish to wander the city centre and get a great view of the town from rooftop terrace of the accommodation. Or perhaps try Olhao’s famous fish restaurants along the coastal road Rua 5 de Outubro, the eastern Algarve’s food mile, filled with delicious and authentic local flavours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is free for you to enjoy as you please. If you feel like relaxing in Olhao for the day – do so! If you choose to visit the nearby islands, your leader can point you in the right direction to catch a small boat used by locals to travel between the coast and the islands. Alternatively, stay on the mainland and use the area's great walking paths to access some of the Algarve's lesser-known spots. Maybe head towards the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, a beautiful landscape of canals, salt pans, lagoons and sand banks, separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a series of barrier islands. One of these is Ilha de Culatra, where you can wander along a series of boardwalks, leading away from the fishermen’s settlements, and cross over dunes and lagoons to beaches that are so long that they disappear into the haze of the horizon. Evenings are best spent watching breathtaking sunsets, and the best place to do so is Olhao’s Old Town, where you will also have a chance to try some true Portuguese fare.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Algarve beach excursion
Optional Activities
  • Birdwatching Tour - Olhao - EUR35
  • Marine Wildlife Watching Tour - Olhao - EUR45
  • Boat Trip Rio Formosa - Olhao - EUR30
  • Fishing Tour - Olhao - EUR40
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Portugal behind and return to Spain, travelling by bus to the charming city of Seville. If the legends are to be believed, Seville was founded by Hercules and its origins are linked with the Tartessian civilisation. To the Romans it was Hispalis, and to the Moors it was Isbiliya. After the Christian reconquest, it became thought of as the portal to the 'New World', and is today is the largest city in southern Spain. Seville is famous for its vitality and flamboyance as the city of Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro. Seville is also well-known for its oranges, tapas and flamenco, all three of which are ingrained in the fabric of the city and its proud people. Enjoy a short orientation walk around the main sights, then enjoy some limited free time to discover as you wish. Later, travel onwards to Tarifa, where you will stay overnight before hopping over to Africa tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today leave Spain behind and head to Morocco. Before doing so there will be a chance for an optional walk on the beach or Tarifa Castle visit. Ferry across the straits to the city of Tangier (approximately 1 hour). After leaving the ferry, journey by bus (around three hours) to arrive at a sleepy mountain town peppered with blue-washed buildings and ambient restaurants – Chefchaouen, which is in the centre of a mountainous agricultural region. There may not be much time to explore this rural retreat by the time you arrive today, but you might just have time to look over the architecture of the 15th-century Grand Mosque and the medina, the walled fortress of the Kasbah. Perhaps tuck into some popular local goats’ cheese or a tajine tonight, before settling into your hotel. Relax ahead of a walking tour tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Tarifa Castle - EUR4
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Meet your local guide early in the day to explore the maze of streets in Chefchaouen. The ‘blue city’ is arguably one of the prettiest places in Morocco. Set against a wide valley and nestled between two peaks in the stunning Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen may take you by surprise. Its medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, red-tiled roofs and artistic doorways, and it's filled with handircrafts, while the main square has shops selling woven goods and small sweets. Much of Chefchaouen was recreated by Andalusian refugees escaping the Reconquistia. Learn about general life in a small Moroccan community, visit a communal bakery, watch local women do their laundry, and walk up to a former mosque for a great view over the town that's nestled between two mountain peaks. As a popular shopping destination for handicrafts, carpets, blankets or woolen garments, you may also see the artisans at work. Possibly relax after your walking tour in a traditional Moroccan hammam.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chefchaouen - walking tour with local guide
Optional Activities
  • Chefchaouen - Hammam (public baths) - MAD150
  • Chefchaouen - Henna tattooing - MAD50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Say farewell to Chefchaouen today and jump on a private minivan trip for around five hours to the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco. Arrive in the city of Fes and step back in time at a medieval medina thick with exotic smells, tastes and sounds. Vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses – Fes is the mother of all medinas. Maybe fuel explorations of this imperial city with a glass of mint tea and some sweet Moroccan dates. Your day is free once you arrive, so perhaps get your bearings of the most complete medieval city in the Arab world. The adventurous may want to try some Moroccan specialities like a camel burger or harira (chickpea soup) and chicken-stuffed pastilla with couscous for dinner. Watching the sunset over the Medina while a dozen melodic prayer calls vie for attention is an experience you'll likely remember for a long time.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a guided walking tour of the old city, known locally as Fes el Bali. Step back in time in to the labyrinth of the Medina, which is alive with craftsmen, markets, tanneries and mosques. Pass donkeys piled high with goods (this is one of the largest car-free urban zones in the world) and explore the specialty sections that divide the souks. Medieval Fes was one of the world's great centres of education and culture: both Islamic and Jewish. Its religious institutions and its libraries are legendary. Its mosques are of great renown. Look out for the Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's most beautiful buildings, which has recently been restored and is now open to tourists. Pass the Belghazi Museum, Medresse el Attarine and the splendid Funduk Nejjarine, a beautifully restored 18th century inn. You'll also see the famous tannery, known for the iconic view overlooking its dye pits, and a ceramics factory where you can see potters working in the traditional way. After the tour, the afternoon is free for you to enjoy as you please.

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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Fes - Guided walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel by train this morning to Marrakech (approximately 8 hours). Head out with the group for a quick visit to the main square, Djema El Fna before dinner. The square is filled with a hive of activity. Henna-painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies. From a distance you will see the Koutoubia Mosque and its minaret – famous throughout the world as one of the greatest minarets and the 'sister' to the Giralda in Seville. Please note it is not possible for non-Muslims to enter the minaret. If you have time the following day, explore the ruins of Palais Badi, once one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, or comb the spectacular bazaar, where every step to a new souq brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. 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. Perhaps celebrate your adventure with dinner in the unique great square of Djemma el Fna, when night falls.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Saadian Tombs - MAD70
  • Palais Badi - MAD70
  • Palais Bahia visit - MAD70
  • Henna tattooing - MAD50
  • Hamam (public baths) - MAD250
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is free for you to enjoy as you please. Set out to discover Marrakech in more detail; mingle with the performers and fortune-tellers at Djemaa el-Fna or sample some Moroccan specialities alfresco-style at the night stalls. Later on, relax while sipping mint tea with locals and pick up last-minute supplies for the South Morocco stage of your adventure. Keep in mind that there will be another briefing some time today to meet some new travellers and the local leader joining you on this stage of your adventure.
Optional Activities
  • Urban Adventures - A Taste Of Marrakech - MAD605
  • Urban Adventures - Tajine cooking class - MAD640
  • Cascades d'Ouzoud day tour - MAD2207
  • Hammam & Massage in a luxury spa - MAD750
  • Ourika Valley day tour - MAD1817
  • Oukaimeden day tour - MAD1882
  • Asni & Ouirgane with lunch - MAD1806
  • Heart of the Atlas Mountains cycling day tour - MAD2000
  • Urban Adventures - Medina, Palace and Tombs half day tour - MAD630
  • Quad Biking the Rock Desert & Palmgrove - MAD715
  • Quad biking Barrage Lalla Takerkoust - MAD1650
  • Palmery cycling tour - MAD350
  • Magical Marrakech City Cycling Tour - MAD350
  • Imlil & Aroumd day tour - MAD1817
  • Essaouira Food & Culture day trip - MAD1554
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today. There will be a welcome meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and to meet new travellers joining you. It’s important that you attend the meeting as your new leader will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Today, take a short drive up the towering High Atlas Mountains to the village of Imlil (approximately 2 hours), photographing snow-dappled mountains and valleys in full flower along the way. On arrival, store your main luggage and load daypacks onto pack mules before walking into traditional mountain village life with a one-hour trek up to the peaceful village of Aroumd. If you feel like the walk is too strenuous then there's the option of riding the mule. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the remote village of Aroumd offers stunning views across the High Atlas Mountains and a unique opportunity to experience traditional Berber culture. Spend the night in a family-run mountain home (gite) in Aroumd. Surrounded by the smell of woodstoves and bread, meet the host family and enjoy Berber hospitality and food. Facilities at the homestay are shared (both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements) but cosy, comfortable and definitely a unique Intrepid experience. Use the rest of the day to explore the village and the surrounding farmlands. If the group are up for it and weather permits, there will be a chance to hike of around eight kilometres to the pilgrimage shrine of Sidi Chamharouch (approximately 4 hours return). Regardless of fitness levels, the gentle pace of Aroumd makes it a special place to explore beyond the reach of the modern world.
Accommodation
  • Gite (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Guided trek in the High Atlas Mountains
Optional Activities
  • Mule ride - Imlil to Aroumd - MAD80
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
The walk from Imlil to Aroumd and further to the Sidi Chamharouch shrine requires appropriate footwear. You may choose to bring sturdy boots if you prefer so, but pair of good walking shoes with rigid and grippy sole will be sufficient. You will walk over well-trodden paths that may however be muddy and unstable in places and are rocky.
This morning journey along mountain roads and over Morocco's highest pass, Tizi n'Tichka (2,260 metres), to Ait Benhaddou on the edges of the Sahara (approximately 6 hours). Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco's most iconic site. It was once an important stop for caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. Today its grand kasbah has been listed as a World Heritage site, with its fortified village being a fine example of clay architecture. If you think you recognise the place, you probably do, as the town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Enjoy a walk through the winding streets of old town, making your way to the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy the views across the surrounding plains. In the evening, why not join a simple cooking demonstration of Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine. The locals will explain the secrets and subtleties of these traditional meals, as the ladies of the kitchen prepare a feast.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Cooking demonstration and dinner, Ait Benhaddou - MAD100
  • Henna tattooing - MAD50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning you'll journey south towards the Sahara, stopping in the regularly used film location of Ouarzazate along the way (approximately 5 hours in total). Continue to travel through the lush Draa Valley to Zagora, a small oasis town on the Sahara fringe that is perfect for an overnight stop. Take a stroll through the palm groves, explore the ksars and wander around the surrounding countryside.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Atlas Movie Studios - MAD50
  • Kasbah Taourirt - MAD20
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Continue along the rugged and desolate Jbel Tadrart ranges and through seas of sand and past the occasional desert oasis of date palms to the township of Tamegroute. Visit an intriguing library filled with ancient scripts of science, literature, the Koran and stories of the prophet Mohammed (subject to unregulated opening times). Join a local guide to uncover the underground Kasbah and its unique ceramic pottery industry. Leave Tamegroute behind and carry on driving to the end of the road at the frontier town of M'Hamid (approximately 1 hour). From here, take a short camel ride through the dunes, where you’ll jump into 4WD vehicles. The rough track runs parallel to the Algerian border, across the stony Hamada desert, whose only populace is small scatterings of nomadic people and their camels. The group will reach the massive Erg Chigaga dunes in the late afternoon. An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that's formed into picturesque, undulating crests and valleys. The Erg Chigaga is one of the world's iconic landscapes, with towering dunes up to 150 metres in height.
Accommodation
  • Camp site (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ancient library
  • Camel ride
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
The camp is a simple affair, with bedding and basic toilet facilities provided. The blankets provided are usually sufficient for most travellers between April and October, but you may like to bring your own sleeping bag for extra warmth, especially during the months between November and March. Electricity is not available in the camp therefore it’s important to come prepared with phones, cameras and everything else you may need fully charged.
Today rejoin the minivan and venture towards the market town of Oulad Brhhil, sometimes called ‘Little Marrakesh’. The journey should take around eight hours in total, including several stops. This drive goes through desert scenery and along a route that's a reserve for the indigenous argan trees. Argan oil is highly prized for its culinary, cosmetic and medicinal uses and is only produced in Morocco, and is certainly a trademark of Morocco around the world. If you're lucky, the group might come across the famous image of goats climbing these trees in search of nuts. Please note that this is a long travel day, and you won't arrive at tonight's accommodation until late afternoon/early evening. The riad (house) tonight is 45 kilometres outside of Taroudant and offers the chance to relax by the pool or take a steamed bath.
Accommodation
  • Riad (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, take to the souqs and haggle with local traders for silver jewellery or colourful Moroccan ceramics and mosaics. Afterwards, leave the valleys of the High Atlas Mountains behind and head west to the coastal town of Essaouira (approximately 5 hours). 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. As you’ll arrive in the early evening, there won’t be much time to look around today. In the evening perhaps have some dinner with the group, as the local seafood is as fresh as it gets.
Accommodation
  • Riad (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, join a local guide for a walking tour through the old medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall). Afterwards, use your free time to get under the skin of the town. The narrow streets of Essaouira are ideal for casual exploration. Their size discourages cars, and on walk through the town it feels as though little has changed since the days of sea pirates. The fishing port is a serious commercial operation and there’s much fun to be had observing the daily catch and its subsequent 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 that 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. If you’d prefer to relax, don't miss the opportunity to indulge in a hammam or local-style bath.
Accommodation
  • Riad (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Guided walking tour Essaouira
Optional Activities
  • Hamam (public baths) - MAD200
  • Berber massage - MAD350
  • Horse riding - Essaouira - MAD250
  • Seafood Market Lunch - Essaouira - MAD80
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Use the morning to see the last of Essaouira, as you’ll catch a bus back to Marrakech in the afternoon (approximately 3 hours). The monuments of Marrakech are numerous and range from the well-known Koutoubia Mosque and its superb minaret 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. Explore the Medina for some last-minute shopping, where every step brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. This evening you will likely be drawn back to the Djemaa El-Fna, and its surrounding medina. When night falls on this square it transforms in to a hive of activity. Henna-painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies. Perhaps dine with the group here – a great way to finish your adventure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Urban Adventures - A Taste Of Marrakech - MAD605
  • Urban Adventures - Tajine cooking class - MAD640
  • Cascades d'Ouzoud day tour - MAD2207
  • Hot Air Ballooning - MAD2050
  • Hammam & Massage in a luxury spa - MAD750
  • Ourika Valley day tour - MAD1817
  • Oukaimeden day tour - MAD1882
  • Asni & Ouirgane with lunch - MAD1806
  • Heart of the Atlas Mountains cycling day tour - MAD2000
  • Urban Adventures - Medina, Palace and Tombs half day tour - MAD630
  • Quad Biking the Rock Desert & Palmgrove - MAD715
  • Quad biking Barrage Lalla Takerkoust - MAD1650
  • Palmery cycling tour - MAD350
  • Magical Marrakech City Cycling Tour - MAD350
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your 'Spain, Portugal & Morocco' adventure ends after breakfast. Check out time is usually around 12 pm, but you’re free to leave any time before. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring Marrakech (subject to availability).
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

19 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners

Transport

4x4, Bus, Metro, Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi, Train

Accommodation

Camp site (1 night), Gite (1 night), Hotel (16 nights), Pension (2 nights), Riad (3 nights)

Included activities

  • Fado performance
  • Lisbon Citadel
  • Algarve beach excursion
  • Chefchaouen - walking tour with local guide
  • Fes - Guided walking tour
  • Guided trek in the High Atlas Mountains
  • Ancient library
  • Camel ride
  • Guided walking tour Essaouira

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A Single Supplement is bookable on this trip, subject to availability at the time of booking. The price of the single supplement does not include the following nights, where a single room does not form part of the package. In this case you will be matched up with another traveller of the same gender. If a single room becomes available at check-in for these nights, there may be the option for you to upgrade to a single room and pay the surcharge locally for that night:
- Day 9 Tarifa
- Day 16 Aroumd
- Day 19 The Sahara
Please also note that due to the small properties we use in Europe there is only a limited amount of single supplements available per trip departure. If you would like to book a single supplement and enquire about availability please speak to your booking agent.

COMMISSION
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. In an effort to best control and monitor shopping and activities with an aim for the best experience possible, Intrepid has established a system of carefully selected shopping experiences and activities based on positive feedbacks from our previous travellers. On occasion these will be as part of included walking tours or outside of included activities in free time. Please note that if you feel that you do not wish to join in on these shopping experiences we assure you there is no obligation and if you indicate your desire to not partake your group leader will help to facilitate a suitable alternative during this time.
Intrepid have set up a centralised system of receiving payments from these recommended suppliers, of which are then distributed towards local Responsible Travel projects (such as 'say no to plastic' cotton bags for our travellers and drinking water refilling stations), traveller information packs, and leader bonuses. Further details of these arrangements can be provided by your group leader on request.
While Intrepid endeavors to ensure that these suppliers and services maintain reasonable levels of quality, please note recommended suppliers are chosen based on past travellers feedback and experiences and Intrepid cannot explicitly guarantee the quality of the product. A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of you our traveller is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.

Essential trip information

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