Day 1 : coming to Casablanca city
After picking you up at the airport and checking you into your hotel for one night, we’ll have the rest of the day to discover Morocco’s biggest and richest city: Casablanca.
The Hassan II Mosque – Opened in 1993, the Hassan II mosque is biggest mosque in Morocco and a true symbol traditional Moroccan craftsmanship.
Built on the ocean (yes, on the ocean!), it features a mighty retractable roof to let in sunlight and the sea breeze.
This is one of the only mosques in Morocco that tourists are allowed to enter.
You will be accompanied by a guide.
- Downtown Casablanca – Laid out and developed during the French Protectorate, downtown Casablanca still features many historic French avant-garde buildings.
During on tour of downtown, we will also visit the monumental Arab League Park, Mohamed V Square, and the United Nations Palace.
- Rick’s Café – A possible stop for dinner or a drink, Rick’s Café is a recreation of the famous bar made famous by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the classic film Casablanca.
Day 2 : From Casablanca to Rabat
After driving from Casablanca to Rabat and checking you into your hotel for one night, we’ll have the rest of the day to discover the capital of modern Morocco: Rabat.
Hassan Tower + Mausoleum of Mohamed V – A veritable complex of Moroccan royal history, here we’ll see where Morocco’s past meets its future.
Completed in 1199 by the Almohad king Yacub al-Mansour, the Hassan Tower, a UNESCO site, and its 200 collapsed columns have stood as a symbol of royal power in Morocco for over 800 years.
Just next to it, one finds the ornately decorated Mausoleum of Mohamed V, the grandfather of the present king and founder of modern Morocco.
You will be accompanied by a guide.
- Kasabah of the Udayas – This fortified neighborhood has sat perched over the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean since its completion in 1269.
A maze of small streets, ancient stone houses, picturesque doors, and views over the Atlantic Ocean, the Kasabah of the Udayas UNESCO status isn’t just merited by its rich history, but also by its calm beauty.
You will be accompanied by a guide.
- Chella – An ancient Roman port city, a Moorish outpost, a fortified necropolis—the Chella of Rabat enjoyed a storied history before becoming the tourist destination it is today.
A winding, unkempt assembly of houses, ruins, streets, and gardens, one wonders if the families of white storks or humans enjoy visiting the Chellah more. You will be accompanied by a guide.
- Rabat’s old city – Built over centuries on top of a Roman settlement, the streets of the Rabat old city are the straightest and most orderly of any old city in Morocco. Enjoy exploring the vibrant markets and the stately Street of Consuls.
- Rabat’s new city – Where Morocco meets the modern world, Rabat’s new city, left behind by the French, features many notable sights all connected by a sleek brand-new tram system: the Bank of Morocco, the Postal Museum, and the Saint Peter Cathedral.
Day 3 : From Rabat to Chefchaouen
Leaving Rabat early in the morning, our van will turn towards the interior of Morocco to reach Chefchaouen in the middle of the Rif Mountains.
Nestled in a green mountain valley at 600m above sea level, Chefchaouen was originally built up as a hidden outpost to push back the increasing incursions of European powers into Morocco starting in the 15th and 16th centuries.
After the Reconquista and fall of Islamic rule in Spain, Muslim Andalusian refugees flocked to Chefchaouen to begin new lives on the African continent.
Until the middle of the 20th century, when Spanish rule of northern Morocco began, Chefchaouen had held a reputation for being impossible for non-Muslims to enter.
Today, that’s all different: tourists just can’t get enough of Chefchaouen’s innumerable charms.
Much calmer and cozier than Fez, Chefchaouen’s most striking feature is, without a doubt, its old city’s picturesque sky blue painted walls and streets built on a mountainside.
Among the major sights in Chefchaouen are the Kasabah (fortress), the Ras El Maa river valley, and the hillside Spanish Mosque (a 30 minute hike from town).
Chefchaouen can be explored with or without a guide.
Day 4 : Chefchaouen to Meknes/Volubilis/Fez
Leaving Chefchouen, we will drive to Meknes where we’ll spend the day before heading to Fez to spend the evening.
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 5 : Tour in Fez
Today we’ll spend the whole day exploring the ancient heart of Moroccan civilization: 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 6 : from Fez to Midelt visiting the Middle Atlas.
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 7 : from Midelt to Merzouga visiting 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 8 : Tour in 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.
In the late afternoon, once the day’s heat has subsided, we’ll set out from the desert to reach Merzouga, the town at the edge of the desert.
Here you will spend the night in a hotel.
Day 9 : Merzouga to Ouarzazate via Todra Gorge
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 10 : Ourzazate to Marrakech
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.
Day 11 : 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 12 : From Marrakech to Imlil
Leaving Marrakesh, we’ll make our way south, traversing the High Atlas Mountains to reach the picturesque Berber village of Imlil.
Located near the base of Mt. Toupkal, which, at 4,167km is the highest mountain in Northern Africa, Imlil nestles in the shadow of the massive mountain ranges that surround it.
Here we will check into a Kasbah hotel before going on a hike around the beautiful valley and peaks.
At 1,400km above sea level, you may need to break out some cold weather clothing!
Day 13 : From Imlil to Taroudante
After a beautiful morning waking up and breathing in the clean, crisp mountain air, we’ll hop back in our van and make our way further south.
Today our destination is the walled Berber town of Taraoudante. On our way there, you will marvel at the beautiful mountain landscapes.
Located in the famous Sous valley, with the mountain peaks hovering behind in the background, the Taraoudante beauty of the town itself and its surroundings attracts countless tourists every year.
After visiting its souks, walls, and small streets, you will understand why!
Day 14 : from Taroudante to Essaouira
Leaving Taroudante, we will head back to the coast, where we will turn north and head to the historic port city of Essaouira.
Arriving in Essaouira, an array of sights and experiences await us.
Essaouira came to the forefront of history during the European Age of Exploration when nations, like Portugal, Spain, France, and England, all jockeyed for control over the port of Essaouira.
By the 18th century, Moroccans had firmly wrested back control of Essaouira.
Because Muslims were prohibited from conducting trade with the Christian enemy, the Jews of Essaouira acted as commercial intermediaries between the two groups and grew very rich.
As such, Essaouira features one of the most important Jewish neighborhoods, or Mellah, in Morocco.
Today, Essaouira’s Mellah has emptied of its original inhabitants and, like most across Morocco, is collapsing from neglect, risking the loss of this important chapter in Moroccan history.
After visiting the Mellah, we will discover other important sights in the Essaouira old city, such as the jewelry market, the port, and the fish market.
Speaking of fish, Essaouira is a great place to get a delightful fresh seafood lunch.
In the afternoon we will orient ourselves towards Essaouira’s massive sandy beaches where it’s possible to do a number of different activities.
Camel riding, horseback riding, quadbike riding, swimming, surfing, windsurfing, or just sunbathing—you’re free to enjoy the beach as you wish! If spending time at the beach isn’t your cup of tea, there are other ways we can enjoy our afternoon.
For example, we can explore Essaouira’s rich musical history by learning about Gnawa music (did you know the Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page both spent time in Essaouira learning about traditional Moroccan music?).
Or we can visit a traditional herbal pharmacy and learn about old fashioned remedies to different ailments.
Day 15 : Essaouira to El Jdida/Casablanca
Leaving Essaouira, we will drive along the coast to reach the beautiful, laid back town of El Jdida.
We will spend the day exploring El Jdida’s UNESCO World Heritage site: the old Portuguese city.
It’s mighty ramparts, beautiful views, and enchanting old cistern all make discovering El Jdida an unforgettable experience.
Day 16 : Casablanca
On our last day together, we will drive you to the airport in Casablanca for your return flight home and say our goodbyes.