This is an nine-day tour, setting out from Fez towards the astonishing Merzouga desert passing by Marrakech and other fabulous stations.
The itinerary is going to be as follows :
Day 1 : Airport pick up and drive to Fez
- Fez’s old medina – The biggest urban car-free zone in the world, Fez, a UNESCO sight, is a massive labyrinth of dusty alleys, sumptuous houses and palaces, hectic markets, and innumerable stories.
The joy of visiting Fez consists largely in simply meandering through this medieval urban jungle.
Among the many things we’ll discover are the recently restored leather tanneries, the Foundouk Nejjarine woodworking museum, the Dar el-Magana water clock, the hilltop Merenid Tombs, the serene Bou Inania Koranic school, the Moulay Idriss II Mausoleum, and the Karaouiyne university (the oldest university in the world), just to name a few!
- Souvenir shopping – As the center of the Moroccan handicraft industry, Fes is also the perfect place to do some souvenir shopping. Scarves, leather goods, carpets, spices, metal goods, pottery, etc., Fez has it all!
Day 2 : Fez / Volubilis / Meknes
Leaving Fez for a day, we will drive to Meknes where we’ll spend the day before heading back to Fez.
- Meknes’s old city – Modest in comparison to the other Imperial Cities, Meknes held the status of capital of Morocco for only 55 years during the reign of the famed Moulay Ismail. Still, Meknes’s old city, a UNESCO site, offers a trove of sights for a curious visitor: Moulay Ismail’s stables, granary, prison, and mausoleum, the monumental Mansour Gate, the covered food market, and the El Hidem Square.
- The town of Moulay Idriss – Perched atop a hill overlooking the Roman ruins of Volubilis, the picturesque town of Moulay Idriss is famous for more than its sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Situated in the middle of the city, one finds the green-tiled tomb of the founder of the first Moroccan kingdom, Moulay Idriss.
- The Roman ruins of Volubilis – A Roman colony on the very outskirts of Roman rule, historians still debate the authenticity of Volubilis as a truly ‘Roman’ city. Were there really than many Romans living here, or was it a town built by the local Amazigh people in the style of a Roman city? Opinions differ, but what is certain is that the beauty and good condition of the ruins will blow you away.
Day 3 : Fez to Midelt via Middle Atlas Mountains
After picking you up in the morning at your accommodations in Fez, we will start our drive towards the Middle Atlas region, destination Midelt. Our drive will first take us through the Sais plateau, Fez’s bountiful agricultural region full of olive grove, wheat fields, and fruit trees. As we continue on, we will begin to see the first foothills of the Middle Atlas Mountains.
Our first stop will be in the provincial town of Imouzer, which is famous for its Apple Festival in September. Many of the inhabitants of Imouzer are of Amazigh descent and speak a language different than Arabic as their mother tongue. The area around Imouzer is dotted with lakes that were carved out during a period of intense volcanic activity in the distant past. Stopping at one of these lakes, Dayet Aoua, you will have the opportunity to go for a quick horse or donkey ride on the lakeshore.
Climbing higher up and passing through oak forests, the next stop on our drive will be in the famed ‘Switzerland of Morocco’, the town of Ifrane.
Thanks to its alpine climate, at 1,665m above sea level, Ifrane can’t escape getting large quantities of snow every winter.
As such, the roofs of its houses and businesses are sloped so not to be crushed under the weight of snow, earning Ifrane the cute nickname the ‘Switzerland of Morocco’.
During the summer, though, the temperature rises and Moroccan’s flock to Ifrane for its tidy parks, clean air, and beautiful scenery.
Ifrane is also famous for the world renowned Al-Akhawayn University, which attracts the best and brightest of Morocco each year.
We will also make a stop at the Ifrane National Park to admire the ancient cedar trees and try our luck at finding a colony of Barbary apes. In Ifrane, we will go to a great local restaurant for lunch.
Driving just a little further, our last stop of the day will be in the town of Azrou, the ancient capital of the Amazigh people in the Middle Atlas region.
Situated at 1,250m above sea level, Azrou finds itself nestled cozily in the surrounding hills of the Middle Atlas Mountains.
Famous for its cedar forests, butterflies, and Barbary ape population, Azrou is a perfect place to get back to nature.
During our time in Azrou, we will visit the old town center with the possibility of also taking a walk in the abundant nature.
Once finishing our tour of Azrou and the Middle Atlas Mountains, we’ll hit the road to Midelt where we’ll have dinner and spend the night.
Day 4 : From Midelt to Merzouga via Rissani.
After breakfast in Midelt, we’ll head towards the Erg Chebbi Dunes, visiting the beautiful scenery on the way.
Once over the Middle Atlas Mountains, the climate will become ever drier as we enter into the picturesque arid Ziz River Gorge at the tail end of the adjacent High Atlas Mountains.
Soon thereafter, we’ll find ourselves overlooking the Tafilalt Oasis, a stunning region of abundant palm groves, underground rivers, and traditional mudbrick architecture.
The Tafilalt Oasis is also a region rich in history from which the current Moroccan royal dynasty descends.
To explore this history, we’ll stop at the Moulay Ali Sherif Zaouia.
Driving through the Tafilalt, we’ll also stop in Rissani to explore the traditional souks and get some exotic Berber pizza for lunch.
By late afternoon, we’ll arrive at our day’s destination: the Erg Chebbi Dunes.
As soon as we arrive at the cusp of the Sahara, we will leave the car behind and continue on camelback to our campsite in the middle of the desert.
Take amazing photos over the sand dunes as the sun sets in the background. Once we arrive at our tents at the base of the sand dunes, your Berber hosts will cook traditional desert meals for you, while teaching you about their culture.
Spend the evening huddled around the campfire, venture out into the desert, or lie on a sand dune and gaze at the stars.
Day 5 : Tour of Merzouga .
Sleep in or take our advice and wake up early to catch the sunrise over the sand dunes.
If you’re feeling groggy, you can also ride over the sand dunes on camelback. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
After breakfast you will be able to spend your day exploring the desert surrounding Merzouga as you like.
Possible activities include: visiting the historical towns and palm groves around the Tafilalt Oasis (Rissani, Merzouga), taking a 4×4 excursion into the desert to explore black volcanic rock formations and fossils, visiting a nomadic family living in a tent, riding quadbikes around the sand dunes, visiting Khamlia village to hear Gnawa music, or relaxing around the desert tents.
Day 6: From Merzouga to Ouarzazate via the Todra and Dades Gorges.
Sleep in or take our advice and wake up early to catch the sunrise over the sand dunes.
Following breakfast, we’ll get back on the road and make our way towards Ouarzazate, exploring traditional mudbrick towns and beautiful desert landscapes as we go.
Our day’s first stop will be in Tinerhir, an ancient Berber town built of traditional mudbrick architecture.
In Tinerhir, we’ll turn off the main road to make a stop in the amazing Todra Gorges, where climbers from around the world fight gravity and their fear as they scale vertical cliffs.
Don’t worry—we’ll be exploring this fascinating area horizontally on foot.
Leaving the Todra Gorges in the morning, driving a little further on, we’ll arrive at the Dades Valley, a region famous for its sprawling palm groves growing over an underground river.
Along our way, we’ll visit the famous little town of Kelaat Mgouna, known across Morocco for its traditional Rose Festival in May.
A little further down the road, we’ll discover Soukora, a traditional mudbrick town in heart of 25km² of lush palm groves.
Continuing on our way, our next stop is Ouarzazate, a clean, quiet, and sunny city, is the capital and biggest city of the surrounding province.
Even the etymology of the word ‘Ouarzazate’ comes from the Berber expression meaning ‘without noise’.
Also, recently the world largest solar power plant, valued at $9 billion, opened. We’ll reach Ouarzazate by sunset and spend the night there in a traditional Kasbah hotel.
Day 7 : Ouarzazate to Marrakesh via High Atlas Mountains
After breakfast; we’ll begin by visiting Ouarzazate’s old town with its large ancient Taourirt Kasbah.
Its noble founders have long since moved out, leaving its many towers to families of White storks. We’ll move on to visit what modern Ouarzazate is most famous for: Morocco’s largest movie studios.
Over the years, thanks to their prime desert location, these studios have helped turn out classic film like Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Mummy (1999), Gladiator (2000), and, most recently, certain episodes of Game of Thrones.
Leaving Ouarzazate, we’ll turn off the main road to visit the UNESCO world heritage site of Ait Benhaddou.
An ideal model of the many mudbrick villages and Kasbah’s that dot the south of Morocco, the ancient town of Ait Benhaddou enchants its thousands of visitors with its curious towers, surrounding desert scenery, and place in Morocco’s history.
Indeed, towns like Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou played an important role in Morocco’s past as key stops on the lucrative sub-Saharan trade routes, linking over vast deserts and mountain ranges towns like Timbuktu to the heart of Morocco.
Once done visiting Ait Benhaddou, we can get lunch at one of the numerous restaurants that overlook the picturesque town.
Starting our drive to Marrakesh, the environment will change as we climb higher into the High Atlas Mountains.
The arid desert plains and hills will give way to forests, mountain streams, and, depending on the time of year, snowcapped mountains.
We’ll follow the road to the very top of these mountains where we’ll stop at the Tizi n’Tichka pass before heading down the other side.
First constructed by the French in 1936, but remodeled and modernized many times since, the Tizi n’Tichka pass is a true feat of civil engineering.
Once over the mountains, it will be a straight shot to the ochre city, Marrakesh, where we’ll spend the evening.
Day 8 : Tour of Marrakesh
Today we’ll spend the whole day exploring the legendary red city of Marrakesh.
- Marrakesh’s old medina – Smaller than the Fez medina, but no less riveting, Marrakesh’s old medina feels worlds away from the fancy modern hotels, clubs, and restaurants that gild its new town. Main attractions in Marrakesh’s old medina include the Mellah (Jewish neighborhood), the ornate 19th century Bahia Palace, and the crumbling 16th century Badi Palace. What’s more, we’ll explore the Koutoubia Mosque and the world famous Jemma el-Fna, a UNESCO site, with its fabled snake charmers, monkey tamers, acrobats, musicians, orange juice sellers, and story tellers.
- Marrakesh new town – We’ll explore the new town of Marrakesh with its wide boulevards, cafés, gardens, shopping malls, hotels, and casinos.
- The Majorelle Gardens – Taking a little excursion into Marrakesh’s new town, we’ll visit the lush Majorelle Gardens. Designed by the French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s, the Majorelle Gardens feature a striking array of cactus species from all over the world in Art Deco inspired grounds. Famous for its iconic blue walls, the Majorelle Gardens also house an excellent museum devoted to Berber culture and history.
Day 9 : Transfer from Marrakesh to Casablanca or Rabat airport
On our last day together, we will drive you to the airport in Casablanca for your return flight home and say our goodbyes.