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From the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert, adventures await across Morocco's stunningly diverse landscapes. Ride mules in the High Atlas, cycle the southern mountain slopes and head deep into the desert dunes on camelback to sleep under the stars at a Berber camp. Discover all that the country has to offer, from the bustle of Marrakech's souks to the kasbahs that line the dusty desert roads, on a family-friendly exploration of Morocco's highlights.
Explore Tour Leader
1 nights simple camping
1 nights simple gite
4 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights comfortable kasbah
10 - 16
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Marrakech. Morocco's famous Red City, Marrakech is the spiritual heart of the country, a cultural melting pot of the mountain Berbers and the desert peoples of the south. Blessed with some of the most stunning architecture in Morocco, its mix of tradition, colour and history makes it the ideal starting point.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Marrakech at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK), which is around 20 minutes' drive from the hotel. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting. Should you miss the meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to relax beside our hotel's swimming pool or take a stroll around Djemma El Fna Square. Our hotel is located in the heart of the new town surrounded by many restaurants with easy access to the main avenue to the old town.
Hotel Almas (or similar)
Departing Marrakech after breakfast we head south, crossing over the Tizi 'n Tichka Pass (2260m) following a meandering course that takes us deep into the towering peaks of the Atlas Mountains.
North Africa's greatest mountain range, the High Atlas presents us with some of the country's wildest landscapes, a region culturally removed from the rest of Morocco and one that has provided a barrier between the northern plains and the pre-Sahara for centuries. This is the land of the fiercely independent Berbers, the 'Lords of the Atlas', whose traditions and ways still hold sway up here in their mountain strongholds far away from the cities below. The Berbers present us with a unique view of a way of life lost to the rest of North Africa, where music and dance, even language and religion, are far removed from their Arab neighbours.
Our morning's journey brings us passed the ruined Glaoui Kasbah of Telouet to the fortified village of Anmiter. Here we meet our mules and at a relaxed pace, follow a winding track with stunning views onto the small village of Tighza where we spend the night in a remote, local gite high above the valley.
Our base for tonight is a family owned village house in the outskirts of Tighza. This small property features traditional decor throughout and offers large panoramic terraces for you to enjoy views across the village and the High Atlas mountains. There is a small restaurant and tea room where you can enjoy Berber cuisine; made from fruit and vegetables grown in their own garden. Bathrooms are shared facilities. It's a very peaceful place to stay allowing us to fully appreciate the tranquillity of our surroundings.
Gite Tighza (or similar)
After breakfast we head out for a hike through the valley in this remote corner of the Atlas. Walking along cultivated fields, we learn about the traditional irrigation used in this arid region with channels built to divert the snow melt waters into the terraces and mud built villages. Heading down the southern slopes of the High Atlas, we reach the trailhead in Anmiter where we are reunited with our vehicle. The total hike duration is between two and three hours.
Our chef will prepare a deserved picnic lunch under the shade of almond trees before we continue our journey.
After one of our driving along the picturesque Ounila Valley with its barren slopes in sharp contrast to the rich green valley floor, we reach our hotel located opposite the famous Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou.
The rest of the afternoon is free to relax and enjoy the swimming pool. Late afternoon when the lights are better suited for photos we take a guided tour of Ait Ben Haddou. This UNESCO Heritage Site presents us with one of Morocco's most famous locations, a once important stop along the old trading routes between Marrakech and the Sahara during the 16th century and a superb example of a typical fortified ksar.
Hotel Ksar Ljanoub (or similar)
This morning we take to the saddle and cycle from Ait Ben Haddou down towards the fertile landscapes of the Draa Valley and the town of Ouarzazate. Helmets are supplied in two sizes or you can bring your own for a better fit. The total duration is 21km, a support vehicle is also in attendance and available for non-cyclists. In summer months we will set off early to avoid the midday heat.
Known as the 'Doorway to the Desert' this fascinating outpost, lies to the south of the High Atlas and is sandwiched between the high mountains and the expansive sands of the Sahara. It is home to one of the largest movie studios in the world. The Atlas Film Studios boasts an impressive array of productions, including The Mummy, Gladiator, Babel, Kingdom of Heaven and Lawrence of Arabia. We'll pay a visit to the studios, taking a tour of some of these famous film sets before we depart and continue through the beautiful Draa Valley.
Our drive takes us across a landscape lined with palm groves, Kasbahs and traditional ksours (villages), as we make our way to the village of Tamnougalt to explore what was once the capital of this remote desert region. The village's name translates as 'meeting point' and its history has been interwoven with the ruling qaids (masters) of the Mezguita region for centuries. Even today it hosts an annual festival in October when all the surrounding villages gather for a celebration of the religious and cultural traditions of these hardy people.
Our kasbah style accommodation is located in the middle of the Draa Valley with its green palm groves. It has a swimming pool and easy access to the valley for nice walks in the fields. The rooms are air conditioned.
Kasbah Itrane (or similar)
Turning south today we follow the course of the Draa River, spending the morning driving through the ever-changing scenery as we make our way towards the vast oasis of Zagora, referred to by many as 'The Gate of the Desert'. Once a major outpost along the caravan routes, it takes 52 days by camel from here to Timbuktu, or so a nearby sign indicates! We continue on to Tagounite, which lies at the outer fringes of a line of undulating sand dunes that provide a taste of the immense grandeur of the Saharan Desert beyond. Amidst this seemingly inhospitable landscape the desert heat causes the air to blur and quiver, creating mirages that shimmer in the soaring temperatures, the ideal setting to explore in the time honoured manner of the Tuareg nomads.
Taking to camels, we form our own caravan from the oasis of Tiraf dunes (the camel ride may take place in the late afternoon on summer departures).
Stopping to enjoy the quiet desolation of the setting and to learn something of desert life, we reach our overnight camp in time for a late afternoon of bread making. Our evening meal tonight is a a hearty Berber style dish which we tuck into under the vast desert sky.
Our desert camp consists of a combination of twin person tents and some 3 and 4 person family tents with a central communal tent where our evening meal and breakfast is served. Rather than sleeping in tents, you may choose simply to sleep out in the open, enjoying the rare majesty of the setting and watching out for shooting stars across the horizon. Please note a sleeping bag is required for this night, these can be hired locally at an extra cost of 160 Moroccan Dirham (approx £13) per person and need to be requested in advance of travel.
Tiraf Nomad Camp (or similar)
Retracing our steps this morning we head north once more by camel for a couple of hours back to the road. We will make a stop at the settlement of Tamegroute to visit its famous 17th century zaouia, one of the most important in the Moroccan Sahara. This was once a centre of great learning and the base of the Naciri Brotherhood, who for centuries held sway over the tribes of the Draa Valley. The holy leaders of Tamegroute were traditionally (up until quite recent times) the arbitrators of desert disputes, settling differences amongst the residents of the surrounding kours and the traders that passed through these lands on the great camel caravans that journeyed through Zagora. We'll also pay a visit to the local potters' cooperative, before continuing back to Ouarzazate later this afternoon.
Located in the main avenue of Ouarzazate and close to the main market, the hotel has a swimming pool and the rooms are air conditioned.
Hotel Perle du Sud (or similar)
A morning drive takes us northwest back to Marrakech, where we'll have the rest of the day to explore a city that has for centuries been a meeting place for the mountain Berbers and the desert peoples of the south. This afternoon there is the opportunity to explore its rich heritage with a sightseeing tour of this famed Red City. Renowned for its beautiful architecture, we pass the rose-coloured Koutoubia 'booksellers' mosque on the way to Bahia Palace, a fusion of Moroccan and Islamic styles that is an excellently preserved open-air museum, and is naturally cool, making it a pleasure to wander around.
Munching on fresh pastries from a traditional bakery, we'll continue into the Medina on foot. Being guided through the labyrinth of colourful spice-scented souks serves up a feast for the senses. Rugs, leather goods, silverware and crockery of all shapes and sizes are on offer, have a true Marrakech experience by getting stuck in, haggling with one of the local traders to come away with an authentic souvenir. We'll visit a spice shop and see the variety of mouth-watering food on offer, sampling ripe dates with almonds from the stall sellers. Navigating our way out of the souks we find ourselves in the midst of the frantic Djemma el-Fna Square. Watch the street performers up close or head to a rooftop cafe to sip freshly squeezed orange juice and marvel at the spectacle unfolding below.
After our tour you may like to enjoy more of the remarkable Medina, by haggling for a bargain or two, or simply sit at one of the rooftop cafés and watch the street tableaux unfold before you. Do remember that many of the mosques may be forbidden to non- Muslims and be careful of photographing women, as this may be unacceptable, it is always best to ask.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Marrakech.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Marrakech at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK).
Depending on the schedule of your flights, you may have some additional time to wander in the souks of Marrakech or buy your last souvenirs before departure.
The climate is both Mediterranean and Atlantic. The dry, hot season is from May to October when summer temperatures can reach 38°C and above (if sight seeing is included we will do our best to avoid the heat of the day during this period). Temperatures may drop significantly at times during the night as the day's heat rapidly diminishes. From December to January snow can be expected on mountain passes and it can be wet. In winter, day temperatures will probably be around 18-25°C, dropping to perhaps 0-5°C.
2 Pin Round
Arabic, Berber, French.
Morocco is a Muslim country and it is important to dress with respect for local customs. People may be offended by shorts or revealing dresses, which can attract unwelcome attention. We advise that in general both men and women should cover shoulders, upper arms and knees. Transparent, plunging necklines and tightfitting clothes should be avoided. Women and older girls should also cover their heads when entering a sanctuary, though in general, mosques are forbidden to non-Muslims. While cycling it is no problem for you to wear your regular cycling gear, tight fitting or not. Summer: Clothing should be lightweight. However, a warm jumper is also advisable, as the desert can sometimes get cold at nights, even in the summer. Winter: Warm days but much thicker clothing is essential for cold nights (between November and March). It is advisable to take warm clothing (eg. track suit or thermal underwear) to sleep in, as the quality of heating in Moroccan hotel rooms can be variable. A waterproof jacket, jumper trousers and fleece are recommended between December and March. It may also be worth bringing cycling gloves for the mountain bike ride.
Lightweight walking bootshoes, plus sandals or trainers for relaxing.
One piece of baggage and a daypack for the walks.
A head torch, water bottle, sunhat and high factor sunscreen are all essential, whilst we recommend swimming costumes and towels. Sleeping mattress will be provided for the desert camp or you may prefer to bring your own thermarest. Please also bring a 3-4 season sleeping bag depending on season. Sleeping bags can be hired at an extra cost of 160 Moroccan Dirham (approx £13) per person, these must be requested in advance. You may like to bring your own helmet for cycling to ensure a good fit. These can then also be used for the mule and camel rides.
Bus, Minibus, On Foot
Few destinations give you as warm a welcome as Morocco and our accommodation has been chosen to reflect that. We choose our accommodation based on location, quality, and traditional style to give you a real taste of life in the country. Our hotel in Marrakech is located in the new city centre, a 20-minute walk from Jemaa El-Fna (the main square). The hotel's amenities include a swimming pool, restaurant, and air conditioning in the rooms. As we move into the mountains, we'll stay in a family-owned gite house with shared facilities. There's a terrace for relaxing on with panoramic views and we'll tuck into a homecooked meal together in the evening. Once we reach Ait Ben Haddou, we'll stay in a hotel close to the famous kasbah where we'll have a swimming pool, air-conditioned rooms and a restaurant overlooking the valley of Ounilla. In Tamnougalt, we'll stay in a small property in the middle of the Draa Valley. Surrounded by green palm groves and with access to valley walks, it's the perfect place to unwind. Again, amenities include a swimming pool, air-conditioned rooms and a restaurant serving up traditional Moroccan dishes. We'll spend a night sleeping on the Tiraf dunes at a Berber camp. The camp has two-person tents and some 3-4 person tents with a central communal tent where food is served. Sleeping bags aren't included, so you'll need to bring one from home or hire one for 160 Moroccan Dirham per person - these need to be requested in advance. After our desert camp, we'll move on to a hotel in Ouarzazate, close to the main market in the city centre with a swimming pool and air conditioning.
Available at hotels in Marrakech, Ait Benhaddou,Tamnougalt and Ouarzazate
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Morocco: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. UK passport holders are requested to have at least 3 months validity from the date of entry into Morocco. All other nationalities please check with your nearest embassy for requirements of passport validity.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Whether in swimming pools, rivers, lakes, the sea or the ocean, participation requires that you are able to swim unaided for your safe enjoyment
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against tetanus, typhoid, infectious hepatitis and polio. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
In 2024, Ramadan runs from the 10th March to the 9th April. Read more about travelling during Ramadan.
The following 2024 departures will coincide with Ramadan.
30th, 31st March 2024
1st, 6th April 2024