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.
Today take an early morning one-hour train to the historical town of Rabat. Rabat's history is long and colourful, having been host to Roman settlements, pirates and more recently the Moroccan parliament. It contains numerous fine Arab monuments, some dating from the 10th to 15th century Almohad and Merenid dynasties, and others that are far older. The earliest known settlement is Sala, occupying an area now known as the Chellah. Store your luggage and spend a few hours strolling through the city's old quarter, then walk up to Kasbah des Oudaias and enjoy views over the Atlantic Ocean. Continue on to Meknes by train (approximately 3 hours), before taking a 45-minute taxi through scenic countryside to the sacred pilgrimage village of Moulay Idriss. Once forbidden to non-Muslims, explore the delightful medina of this ancient town that offers an excellent insight into traditional Moroccan life. See where the faithful gather to pay homage at the tomb of Moulay Idriss I, who was the great-grandson of Mohammed and brought Islam to Morocco. At sunset, enjoy great views over the plains of Volubilis below. Your accommodation for the night is in a guesthouse/homestay with a local family. Bathroom facilities may be shared and you may be sharing a room with two or three others.
Today, take a guided tour of the archaeological site of Volubilis. World Heritage-listed Volubilis was once a provincial Roman capital, a distant outpost of the empire, and the remains make an undeniably impressive sight. Upon arrival, take a tour around the ruins with a local guide. Please remember to pack drinking water, hat, sunglasses and sun cream for this tour as it may get hot and you will be exposed to the sun. And, of course, don’t forget to take your camera as the town is filled with fantastic mosaics along the Decumanus Maximus, many of which remain intact. After time spent imagining Volubulis as the bustling city it once was, return to the nearby imperial city of Meknes, where you'll have a few hours to explore. In the 17th century Sultan Moulay Ismail turned Meknes from a provincial town to a spectacular Imperial city, building his own version of Versailles with 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. In the afternoon, take a one-hour train to Fes, where you'll spend the next two nights. Fes is the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco; vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses – with a huge, well-preserved medieval old city that’s the mother of all medinas.
Take a guided group walking tour of the old city, known locally as Fes el Bali. Step back into the Middle Ages in 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 souk. 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. Visit 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. In the evening, enjoy a delicious group dinner of Moroccan specialities like harira (chickpea soup) and chicken-stuffed pastilla with couscous. The group may also head to the Palais Jamai for a drink. Watching the sunset over the Medina while a dozen prayer calls vie for attention is an experience you'll likely remember for a long time.

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.
Take a local four-hour bus to the isolated town of Chefchaouen today. Chefchaouen, or 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. Much of Chefchaouen was recreated by Andalusian refugees escaping the Reconquistia, so you might feel like you're in the hills of Spain while exploring its streets. Ease into the relaxed pace of life in this rural retreat. Take a stroll through the ancient medina and shop for handicrafts, go hiking in the Rif mountains or simply sit at a cafe and enjoy the pleasure of time passing by. If you're feeling peckish, the goats' cheese on offer is a popular treat enjoyed by many visitors.
Today is a free day to explore Chefchaouen. Perhaps take a guided tour of the sights, sounds, and smells of the medina, or sample the delicious local goat cheese at a cafe in the Plaza Uta el-Hammam. Admire the architecture of the 15th-century Grand Mosque (closed to non-Muslims) and browse the shops in the square selling woven goods and small sweets. Also within the plaza is the walled fortress of the Kasbah. Wander through the tranquil gardens inside, check out the ethnographic museum and soak in wonderful views from the rooftop. Alternatively, you might prefer to get out of town and enjoy a hike and picnic in the surrounding hills. In the evening, tuck into a tagine at a local restaurant or visit a hammam, a traditional Moroccan spa.
Today take a local three-hour bus to the coastal town of Tangier, a place of strategic importance to the Mediterranean and the gateway to Africa. Once a hotspot for artists, secret agents and millionaires, Tangier has been going through something of a renaissance of late thanks to the arrival of a new monarch in Morocco in 1999. Mohammed VI of Morocco and his forward-thinking ideas about commerce and tourism has suddenly woke up the community to the potential of this city. Today, the city's medina and kasbah are well worth exploring, as are the cafes and patisseries around the Place de la France in the Ville Nouvelle. Perhaps visit the American Legation Museum, the former palace of Dar el-Makhzen or the Caves of Hercules. The recently reconstructed beach promenade is lined with great restaurants. Perhaps enjoy a fresh seafood dinner by the port, before boarding an overnight sleeper train bound for Marrakech.
Arrive early into Marrakech on the overnight train. The day is free for you to explore. Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Explore the Medina and the city's seemingly endless mosaic of souqs. Each is devoted to a separate trade: pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets and spices. Perhaps visit the well-known Koutoubia Mosque and its 12th-century minaret, which was the famous prototype for the Giralda tower in Seville. Take a wander through the tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle (now owned by Yves Saint Laurent). You might like to check out the Palais Bahia, a superb example of Muslim architecture, or 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 medinas of Morocco. In the evening, join the thronging crowds for an optional dinner in the Djemaa el Fna, the city's main square. When night falls it transforms into a hive of activity. Snake-charmers, henna-painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies. This is sure to be an unforgettable farewell to Marrakech.
Today is a free day for you to discover Marrakech further. Perhaps explore the Medina for some shopping, where every step brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. In the seemingly endless mosaic of souqs, each is devoted to a separate trade: pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets and spices. Watch skilled artisans perfect their craft, practise your haggling skills or take a break from the hustle to sip on tea or share a tajine, filled with the pure scent of Morocco. You can also venture out of Marrakech for a day trip; if you feel energetic, why not try one of the famous day walking trips. Oukaimeden or Ourika Valley are great places not far from Marrakech. If you would like to relax after the first part of your adventure, ask your leader to help you out with booking a session in one of the famous Moroccan Hammams.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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). While here, make a short visit to Horizon Association for People with Disabilities. This is an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of people with disabilities. Some of the services they provide include the building and fitting of prosthetic limbs and custom-made wheelchairs, and physio and social therapy for sufferers of accidents and illness. They also operate an artisan workshop, which trains local people in trades such as pottery, weaving, metal work and jewellery making. Since their establishment in 1994, the Horizon Association has served over 3,000 people. We're very proud to support this project through The Intrepid Foundation. 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.
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 Chebbi is one of the world's iconic landscapes, with towering dunes up to 150 metres in height. Your camp for the night is fairly basic with bedding, mattresses and toilet facilities provided. During the winter months of November to March it can get very cold at night, so it’s a good idea to bring base layers and a warm sleeping bag.

Notes: Due to passenger feedback, all departures in the summer months of June, 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 you’ll stay at a fixed camp in Ouled Idriss. This camp is better suited for high summer temperatures.
Today rejoin the minivan and venture towards the market town of Taroudannt, sometimes called ‘Little Marrakesh’. The journey should take around six hours in total. 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 Taroudannt and offers the chance to relax by the pool or take a steamed bath.
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.
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.
Use the morning to see the last of Essaouira, as you’ll catch a bus back to Marrakech in the afternoon (approximately 3 hours). As Marrakech is not a new place for you anymore, you will know your way around. It is always great to go back and re-visit some of your favourite sites, but if you would like to discover this city further, there is still plenty to choose from. If ever in doubt, ask your leader for any suggestions. 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. Snake-charmers, 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.
Your 'Morocco Encompassed' adventure ends after breakfast. Check out time is usually around 12.00pm, 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).
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
16 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 (10 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 4.67 out of 5 based on 36 reviews in the last year.

Morocco Encompassed , June 2016

Morocco Encompassed , May 2016