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Discover the highlights of captivating Morocco on this fast-paced, adventurous trip. From the iconic imperial cities of Marrakech, Fez and Meknes to the golden sand dunes of Erg Chebbi and the friendly Berber villages in the Atlas Mountains.
Explore Tour Leader
1 nights comfortable auberge
1 nights simple camping
1 nights comfortable guesthouse
5 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 15 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in the 'red city' of Marrakech. This atmospheric city encompasses the very essence of Morocco; opportunities to get lost in the narrow, winding lanes of the medina and to people watch with a traditional mint tea in Djemaa el Fna.
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 Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK), which is around 20 minutes from the hotel depending on traffic. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. 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 visit Jardin Majorelle just a short walk from our hotel. This is a fast paced tour, with limited time in Marrakech at the start or the end of the trip. Should you wish to extend your stay there is the option of adding additional nights onto your trip to give you more time in Marrakech.
Hotel Meriem (or similar)
This morning we experience the heady delights of Marrakech on a guided tour of this iconic city. Renowned for its beautiful architecture, we pass the rose-coloured Koutoubia 'booksellers' Mosque on the way to the 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. 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.
Following our city we bid farewell to Marrakech, heading for the beautiful waterfalls at Cascades of Ouzoud. We will stop en route for lunch in a local restaurant in Tamalet. After visiting the waterfalls we continue on to our stop for tonight in Bin el Ouidane. The drive is around three hours, with stops along the way to stretch our legs, before arriving in the late afternoon. Our hotel for this evening is hidden peacefully in the Atlas Mountains boasting views across Bin el Ouidane lake.
Bin El Ouidane Hotel (or similar)
We will have a very early start this morning for the full day journey to Fes via Meknes and ancient Volubilis. The drive will follow the northern slopes of the Middle Atlas Mountains, into the Oued Boufekrane River Valley with a picnic stop en route to the city of Meknes.
Once the heart of the Moroccan Sultanate, Meknes was built by the tyrant, Moulay Ismail, and was once filled with palaces and grand gateways. Although much of Ismail's capital has crumbled to dust, it still exudes a sense of its former regal grandeur. In the company of a guide we will visit the old granary of Heri es-Souni and the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail himself. In spite of the sultan's infamous blood lust and cruelty, many still see his reign as a golden age and the tomb is held in high regard.
After time in Meknes we'll take a short 45 minute drive to the ancient site to Volubilis. Once the capital of the Roman province of Mauritania Tingitana, Volubilis is Morocco's' best-preserved Roman site, set among rolling, fertile plans, and was once a thriving city home to an estimated 20,000 residents. We'll have time to explore and learn about the extensive history of the area. The day ends with another hour drive to Fes, our home for the next two nights.
Please note that there are extensive renovations taking place in Meknes and Fes during 2023 and 2024 and some sites could be closed during building work, your tour leader will update you on what is open and adapt the itinerary to make the most of our time here.
Hotel Zahrat al Jabal (or similar)
Fes is the oldest of Morocco's imperial cities, home to the world's oldest university and certainly boasts the most well-preserved medieval quarters in the Arab world. This morning we enjoy a guided tour of the city that has long been regarded as Morocco's 'artisan capital', taking in the medina and the souks and paying a visit to the Royal Palace (Fes El Jedid). Craft work made and sold in the Fes medina is considered amongst the finest in Morocco and a wander through its artisan districts reveals an array of weavers and brass workshops, coppersmiths and tanners, producing beautiful pieces much as they have for generations. It's difficult to get a sense of the size and complexity of the medina, so after our tour we'll drive outside of the city to the viewpoint at Borj Nord, for great panoramic views of the city.
This afternoon is free to enjoy at your own pace. As with many Moroccan cities, Fes is divided into old and new. After a busy morning in the bustling medina you may choose to take a seat at one of the many European-influenced cafes, which line the pavements in a Parisian fashion and watch the world go by in the French Ville Nouvelle area of the city. Alternatively, you may choose to head back into the souks for some time to explore at your own pace and take the chance to buy some of the city's handicrafts.
Today we have a long, but very scenic drive over the Middle Atlas Mountains to Erg Chebbi. The lands we cross today are home to the fiercely independent Berbers, the 'Lords of the Atlas', whose timeless traditions still hold sway up here in their mountain strongholds far away from the cities. The road takes us through Ifrane and Azrou where we will take a short walk through the Atlas cedar forest, home of the endangered Barabary macaques. We then continue our drive into the Gorge du Ziz and across the broad plateau towards the desert settlement of Erfoud. Following the meandering course of the Ziz River we then head into the dunes of the Sand Sea, the traditional homeland of the Alaouite, who ruled this region for some 300 years.
Towards the end of the day we will arrive into Merzouga where we'll leave our bus and get into 4WD vehicles for the exhilarating journey into the desert. Our final destination this evening is Erg Chebbi, an area of high dunes that are among the most spectacular natural landscapes anywhere in Morocco. We'll be staying in a simple camp to experience the unrivalled tranquillity of this desert setting. We'll have a traditional tagine dinner and the crew will set up a campfire for everyone to sit around in the evening. The tents can sleep up to 4 people and mattresses, blankets and pillows are provided and simple washing facilities are available, however, hot water cannot be guaranteed.
Nomad Camp - Chebbi Dunes (or similar)
Waking early we'll climb the sand dunes to see the sun come up over the desert. The word 'erg' is Arabic for 'great sand dune area' and although many people imagine the Sahara as an endless sea of rolling golden sand dunes, they actually cover only about one-fifth of its surface. After breakfast we'll then have the chance to experience a camel ride among the dunes taking us back to Merzouga to meet the bus.
From Merzouga, we'll begin the long drive along the southern slopes of the Atlas towards Rissani and Tinjdad, where we will stop for lunch. After a break to eat and stretch our legs we continue to the town of Tinerhir, set among the dramatic ochre-coloured cliffs of the Todra Gorge. Upon arrival we'll check in to the hotel before departing on foot for our walk through the narrow gorge. Our leader will lead us through cultivated fields and into the gorge of towering, sheer sided walls that in some places are up to 300 metres high and little more than 10 metres wide. The walk will take between 2-2.5 hours along well marked paths and we'll return to the hotel in the early evening.
Dar Ayour Guesthouse (or similar)
This morning we will drive along the famous road of a 1,000 kasbahs to Boumaine-Dades where will stop for a lunch break. The Dades Valley boasts some of Morocco's most authentic Berber settlements, with each of the oasis towns offering up its own distinctive charm and character. Many of the original kasbahs lie in ruins now, but enough remain to provide a real flavour of Morocco's ancient heritage. We continue through to El Kelaa Mgouna via the Valley of the Roses, where we will stop and take a scenic, easy hour-long walk through fields to learn more about the agriculture here.
In the afternoon we will arrive into the Berber village of Bou Tharar, located at the entrance to the wonderfully scenic Mgoun Gorge. After checking in and subject to timings, we will head back out on foot to walk through this stunning area and along the way our leader will take us to visit a local Berber villages. The walking route will be decided by the leader but will be along a well marked trail with an ascent to a panoramic view point.
After a busy day, we'll all have the chance to relax at the small, locally run auberge. Our accommodation is traditionally decorated and staffed by people from the local village. Our evening meal is included and is a chance to try the local tagine.
Hotel Awayou (or similar)
We'll begin the day with an early breakfast, before departing Bou Tharar to drive to the oasis town of Skoura, where we pay a visit to Kasbah Amredhil. Kasbahs are traditional walled-neighbourhoods which were once very common throughout Morocco. Dating back to the 17th century, Kasbah Amredhil is a symbol of Morocco, appearing on the 50 dirham note, and today is an open-air museum.
From here we then continue to Ouarzazate, a desert outpost lying to the south of the High Atlas, sandwiched between the high mountains and the expansive sands of the Sahara. We'll journey over the Tizi n'Tichka Pass, taking in the extensive views of the surrounding landscapes which changes in colour and terrain as we ascend and descend over the mountains to the more fertile plains that run all the way to the Atlantic coast. Our final destination is Marrakech, where we spend the final night of the trip. It's worth heading to the spectacular Djemaa el Fna, the large central square where a delightful chaos of noise and colour mixes with lively street performers and food stalls. There are several good restaurant options within the medina.
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 you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK), which is a 20 minute drive from the hotel depending on traffic.
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.
Marrakech - Hammam £20
Summer: Clothing should be lightweight. However, a warm sweater is also advisable, as the desert can sometimes get cold at nights, even in the summer. Winter: Usually warm during the day but thicker clothing is essential for cold nights (Nov-Mar). 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, trousers and fleece are recommended in the winter months. 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 should also cover their heads when entering a sanctuary, though in general, mosques are forbidden to non-Muslims.
We recommend sandals and walking boots with good ankle support if planning to do the walk in the Todra Gorge.
One main piece of baggage and daypack.
A filter water bottle, sunhat and high factor sunscreen are all essential, whilst we recommend swimming costumes and towels.
Morocco is a developing country and as such, the accommodation standards are not equivalent to those in Europe and can be more simple. We choose our properties because of their location, cleanliness, traditional style or for their welcoming atmosphere, as we endeavour to provide an authentic Moroccan experience. However, some of the properties might have some outdated or simple furniture and the level of service may vary depending on the location. Hot water is variable or limited in certain locations, and many of the older buildings have been built to protect from the summer heat, however, this can result in rooms being cold during the winter. Hotels will always provide more blankets but not all offer heating facilities so please bear this in mind when packing if travelling through the winter months. Breakfasts are generally plentiful and in a continental style but can have a limited selection. A swimming pool is often available, especially in the cities. During this trip we stay in the desert in a simple, multi-share camp. Mattresses, blankets and pillows are all provided. In the winter months, the nights and early mornings can be cold in the desert but please pack warm clothes to wear. Simple washing facilities are available, including showers and flushing toilets, however, hot water and strong water pressure cannot be guaranteed.
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.
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.
9th, 16th, 30th March 2024
6th April 2024