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An action packed family adventure combining Marrakech, the foothills of the stunning Atlas mountains, Taroudant a former capital of Morocco and free time at the end of the trip to enjoy Essaouira's expansive Atlantic beaches. Explore the alleyways of Marrakech, feast of freshly caught seafood overlooking Essaouira's charming harbour and learn to cook a tagine with a local family in the oasis town of Tiout.
Explore Tour Leader
4 nights comfortable hotel
3 nights comfortable riad
14 - 20
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. 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)
Like many North African towns, Marrakech is divided into two distinct parts, the Gueliz (the modern French-built city) and the Medina (the Old City). For generations it has been a meeting place for the mountain Berbers and the desert peoples of the south, who come to trade and barter amongst the colourful souks, turning the centre of the old city into a rich cacophony of noise and colour with spectacular architecture and wonderful facades.
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 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.
Leaving the city behind this afternoon, we drive south towards the craggy peaks and plunging valleys of the Toubkal Massif. Crossing the Haouz Plain we pass through the tiny town of Asni, from where our road begins to climb towards the foothills of the Massif.
Below us the valley of the Oued Rhirhaia stretches out into the distance and small villages cling to the sides of the steep hills as we meander our way towards the village of Ouirgane. The towering peaks of the High Atlas are North Africa's greatest range of mountains, a wild region, culturally removed from the rest of Morocco, and a barrier between the northern plains and the pre-Sahara. 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.
December 2023 departures
After our city tour of Marrakech we will drive to Imlil, a journey of around 90 minutes, for a two night stay at the Riad Atlas Toubkal instead of staying in Ouirgane.
La Bergerie (or similar)
After a leisurely start we talk a walk from our hotel in Ouirgane. The scenery is stunning, set in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains with the local village blending into the surrounding hills. Mules are provided for the younger children.
Visit a Berber local family for lunch and learn something more of the unique lifestyles of these most remarkable and hospitable of people. We then walk back to our hotel on a different route with panoramic views of the artificial lake of Ouirgane. The walk will last around four hours in total and can be adapted based upon the group's fitness, their interest and local weather conditions. The rest of the afternoon free to spend by the hotel pool or relax in the gardens overlooked by the mountains.
This walk will take place from Imlil, a village surrounded by multiple Berber villages nested on the mountain sides of the high Atlas peaks. The village itself is well known as the starting point for the trek to north Africa's highest peak, Mount Toubkal. Our walk will take us along mule paths passing cultivated terraces to the village of Aremd where we will get great views of the snow capped majestic peaks.
We will then cross the valley to the village of Mzik where we get panoramic views, looking back down to Imlil in one direction and the high peaks on the other. After a well deserved lunch in a Berber house, we descend back down to our hotel. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the market stalls and craft shops in Imlil.
Heading south today, we first visit the Tin Mal Mosque. Built in 1156, it is one of the only mosques open to non-Muslims and was once considered the centre of the reign of the powerful Almohades dynasty. After our visit, we take a dramatic drive across the spectacular Tizi n' Test pass and down into the region of the High Atlas. At 2092m, the scenes from the pass are quite spectacular, with views back across to the Toubkal Massif and down into the Souss Valley. Our descent is something of an exhilarating ride, dropping 1600 metres in just 30 km. The views as you can imagine are incredible, with mountain peaks and tiny villages nestling amongst the valley slopes laid out before us.
We drive along the orange groves to Taroudant, the old capital of the Souss region and arrive with plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings and relax at the hotel pool.
Drive to Taroudant via Marrakech, a journey of some six hours to avoid the provincial road that was worst affected by the earthquake, we will be making stops along the way. The re-route means we are unable to visit the Tin Mal Mosque.
Riad Hida (or similar)
This morning we drive to the oasis town of Tiout, which is on the edge of the Anti-Atlas. We meet a local family and learn how to cook a tagine (named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked) of meat, poultry or fish mixed together with vegetables.
A walk around the area allows us to visit an oasis and its traditional irrigation system with panoramic views of a local village from an old Kasbah. Mules can be hired for the younger children.
After lunch we drive across the High Atlas towards Chichaoua and then join the new road to Essaouira. We stop off at an Argan oil women's cooperative and learn about how the women from different villages work together to produce the precious oil by pressing the nuts by hand and its economic benefit to the community. After arriving in Essaouira, we check into our hotel.
The resort town of Essaouira is a mecca for water sports enthusiasts from all over the world. Essaouira has a lively yet relaxed feel to it, with whitewashed houses and traditional fishing boats presenting a perfect backdrop for your stay. The town has a rich and somewhat colourful history and its importance as a trading port during the 18th and 19th centuries saw it prosper, attracting British, French, Arab and Jewish merchants and sailors to its shores. These influences are still reflected in the architecture and layout of the town.
Hotel Riad Ben Atar (or similar)
Explore the delightful old medina of Essaouira and its vibrant fishing port with a local guide. Walk through narrow alleyways lined with traditional craft stores and finish up on the historic ramparts for panoramic views of the old town and surrounding coastline.
The afternoon is free to try out a range of water sports including a surfing lesson or visiting the Medina again to snap up some of the locally made rustic leather belts or gleaming gold jewellery. Alternatively wander the town's galleries, cafes and souk.. Try grilled fresh fish, cooked right in front of you at the local market, washed down with a refreshing glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or mint tea.
Swimming is possible but please take local advice on currents before entering the water. As the sun begins its descent we take a camel ride along the beach to enjoy the sunset over the Atlantic ocean.
We drive back to the 'Red City' of Marrakech, with some time this afternoon to explore something more of this wholly captivating city before our final evening. Marrakech is a city like no other and a walk through its bustling streets will fill the senses and fire the imagination. An option is to traditional Moroccan bath experience at the local neighbourhood hammams.
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.
Tioute - Mule hire between 100 to 150 Moroccan Dirham per person Essaouira - Surfing lesson 350 Moroccan Dirham per person
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.
Lightweight trail boots or robust trainers with good traction soles and sandals.
One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.
We recommend a sunhat, high factor sunscreen, a torch, insect repellent and a water bottle.
Minibus, On Foot
General information: Morocco is a developing country and as such, the accommodation standards are not equivalent to those in Europe and can be more basic. We generally 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. You may find that availability of hot water is variable or limited in certain locations. Breakfasts are generally continental style. A swimming pool is available on most nights of the trip, but not in Essaouira, where we stay in the old town. The hotel in Marrakech is located in the heart of the new town and surrounded by many restaurants and local shops with a swimming pool, terrace area and rooms that are equipped with satellite TV and air conditioning. Moving on to Ouirgane, the hotel is built in the middle of olive groves in an isolated location which adds to the relaxing atmosphere. The accommodation also has a swimming pool surrounded by pleasant gardens. Our accommodation in Taroudant is a riad - this old residence is in the middle of a beautiful farm of orange trees and a multitude of flowers surrounding the swimming pool - a great place to soak up the atmosphere of this rural area and its tranquillity. Finally in the beach resort of Essaouira we have opted for a hotel in the central old medina, whilst the property meets our standard grade it is more basic than others we stay at, its location in the medina is ideal for exploring. There is a pleasant roof terrace where breakfast is served and it's a short walk to the beach.
There is a swimming pool at all the hotels on this adventure except in Essaouira
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 and 31st March 2024