- Marrakech, its colour and clamour
- Dramatic Landscapes of the High Atlas;
- Stroll through the Towering Todra Gorge;
- Overnight in a Bedouin Camp;
- Saharan Sunset/Sunrise Experiences
- Enter the Sahara at Chegaga & take Camel Ride in the Erg Lihoudi Sand Sea;
- Azrou Cedars Forests and Macaque Apes;
- Frantic Fes, its Architecture, History, Medina and Tanneries;
- Casablanca’s Hassan II Mosque, Old Medina and Habous;
- The Bracing Atlantic Coast;
Included in this tour are the glorious architectural triumphs of Imperial Cities (Marrakech, Fes, Meknes and Casablanca), the dramatic mountain landscapes of the towering peaks of the High Atlas and the seemingly endless rocky and sandy expanses of the Sahara; and so much more besides!
Time in Marrakech at the start of your tour instantly opens your senses to another world! This city bustles and fascinates in equal measure as your time in the Old Medina will readily illustrate.
Crossing the High Atlas, over the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass (2,260m), provides insight into the culture of the remarkable Berbers, the mountain people who manage to live in what to many would appear to be a very hostile environment; utterly fascinating.
For many, to experience the Sahara (and to spend a night in a comfortable Bedouin Camp, under the stars and after an awesome sunset) is a long-held dream. On this tour this becomes a “pinch yourself” reality and includes a camel ride to and from your desert accommodation.
Travelling on along the Draâ River Valley (rich in date palmeries) and into the heart of the High Atlas at the Todra Gorge opens up wonderful vistas that have to be seen to be believed.
Meandering onwards, it is then northwards into the Middle Atlas, through the rich forests of Azrou and on to Fes. After the tranquillity of the previous days, Fes is a clamour of activity with much to enjoy, both its architecture and its everyday Medina activities (and its tanneries, if you dare!).
Concluding in Casablanca, your tour travels there via Meknes and Volubilis in order to appreciate their huge historical importance with much to view and appreciate. Morocco meanderings very well describes this tour; you will see and experience so much as you wind your way here and there each day on a most engaging itinerary.
Arrive Marrakech; time in Marrakech
Rest of day at independent leisure (depending on your flight arrival time).
Options include Jemaa el Fna Square (a lively entertainment square), the Medina and its Souks, an Apothecary visit, the Koutoubia Mosque (outside only), Medersa Ben Youssef (Koranic School), Saadian Tombs, Bahia Palace, Dar Si Said Museum of Moroccan Arts and Crafts, Marrakesh Museum, Almoravid Koubba. All are easily reached on foot.
The Majorelle Gardens (once owned by Yves St Lauren) is about 30 minutes walking from the Medina (a Petit Taxi could always be taken) and offer a most tranquil, lush oasis after time in the Medina.
The recently renovated Secret Garden too is well worth a visit.
An enjoyable experience is to take a Caliche trip, a horse drawn carriage tour around the main areas of central Marrakech.
Marrakech > High Atlas > Tizi-n-Tichka Pass > Tazenakht > Chegagga (Sahara)
This journey takes you up and over the High Atlas. The highest peak in this impressive mountain range can often be seen, Mount Toubkal 13,671 feet (4,167m). The Berbers (the Mountain People) live here; to see their villages and to observe their everyday farmland and village activities is fascinating. Their traditional mud brick homes are seen plus the rapid, recent change to concrete construction.
Taddert is en route, an ideal stop for refreshment, perhaps some mint tea. An Argan Oil Co-operative can be visited here (an example of rural development to help ladies gain income). You may wish to visit a small Berber village, Imozar. Here you can really begin to appreciate how a life is wrested from a harsh environment.
The N9 road continues to snake upwards to the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass (2,260m), the watershed of the High Atlas. From near to here great panoramic views can be seen, over the mountain range and the road recently travelled.
Descending the south facing slopes of the High Atlas there is much to still fascinate in the local Berber activities seen.
But now your Morocco Meanderings really begin. You now travel off the main N9 road and into the Anti Atlas mountains. Crossing the Tizi-n-Bachkoum Pass (1,700m), more fabulous scenery is encountered, valleys and peaks. Travelling onwards to Tazenakht more mountain passes are topped and as you travel through the Anti Atlas and later the Jbel Bani, the Sahara is soon all around. After the date palmeries of Foum-Zguid, today’s destination is Erg Chegagga, a vast area of sand sea, dunes and extensive rocky plains, a classic “mind’s eye” scene of a tropical desert.
Your accommodation this evening is in a Bedouin Camp (deluxe tent). On arrival at your camp, an optional camel ride can be taken before your evening meal in to the sand dunes for a sunset experience amidst stunning Saharan scenery.
After eating, often campfire entertainment provided, music (drumming) and singing around a campfire, under the stars. For early risers, there is the opportunity to witness the sunrise, equally as impressive as a new day starts tomorrow morning.
Chegagga > M’hamid lghezlan > Tamangroute > Zagora > Draâ Valley > Tansikht > Nekob
Traveling further east on piste (unsurfaced) roads, you visit Tamangroute. This Saharan town is famous for its "sub-terranean" homes, homes built very close together so as to provide shaded passageways between the homes to guard against the strong tropical sun.
The renowned Islamic Library can be visited too. The Islamic Library, once an important centre of learning, contains many ancient texts, many on hide as well as on vellum e.g. a 15th century Egyptian book of illustrated astronomy, a book of medicine and a Quran written on gazelle-hide from the 11th century.
Tamangroute is also renowned for its unique pottery glaze, a rich green. A visit is made to the potters’ area to see the clay being prepared, turned with great talent (and you can “have a go” if you wish), glazed and finally kiln fired.
Your journey continues to follow the Draa Valley norththwards. Zagora is a grand, small city, and the wealth gained from date cultivation in this area is obvious in the wide central avenue and the quality of many of the buildings. The date palmeries of the Draa Valley are like a thick, wide and very long “carpet” of greenery on the valley floor. An especially fine viewpoint allows an extensive view over the palmeries; they seem to go on forever. There are many places where you can stop to try the many varieties of dates grown here; delicious and healthy.
Your travels continue through an area much less travelled by visitors; they are missing so much! Open plains, high mountains and plateaux stretch to the horizon. Evidence of flash floods is seen in the many dried up river beds. Vegetation is spars but where there is some water acacia trees (“umbrella” trees) are seen; they have their own wonders to learn about.
Nekob, your home for tonight, sits in a great oasis amongst all the scenic splendour just travelled through. It is famous for its great number of kasbahs, evidence of the once rich families that lived here. Being of pisé mud construction, however, many are now only well weathered relics.
Nekob > Saghro > Tizi-n-Tazazirt Pass (2,200m) > Boumalne Dades
Areas are seen where, with government help, land is being “opened up” for agriculture e.g. olive plantations. Will it be successful? Where is the water coming from? Is it a sustainable form of development?
A high pass, the Tizi-n-Tazazirt, offers a great vantage point across today’s route.
Today’s travelling distance is less than in previous days and thus the opportunity to both “stop and stare” as well as to encounter “happenstance” occurrences is all part of the plan.
Once through the Jbel Saghro mountains, it is on to Boumalne Dades, a major town, bridging the Dades River. Very much a route centre and. Market town, it is back to lively, exciting bustle once again.
Boumalne Dades > Tinerhir > Todra Gorge > Tamtattouchte > Gorges du Ziz > Rich > Midelt
The Todra Gorge is 984 feet (300m) high and was formed by the Todra river, cutting down through red stained limestones. A walk through the gorge is a most enjoyable (and easy) experience. Imagining the mighty flash floods that can sometimes pass through it is very thought provoking; the wonder and power of nature.
Not far from Todra, the twisting surfaced road leads to the small Berber village of Tamtattouchte. Continuing on this road, your meanderings pass through spectacular mountain scenery. This is an area were the Berbers see very few visitors; their hospitality is renowned.
A big highlight of today are the Ziz Gorges. More spectacular scenery awaits, the result of the action of the River Ziz. It is quite a journey into the valley. The route begins at the Legionnaire’s Tunnel, built by French in their colonial times (the 1930s). Then prepare for sheer drops and many hairpin bends! But the route offers superb views and is well worth it. The Ziz gorges end at Hassan Addakil dam and reservoir. Amongst the thin strip of date palmeries lining the Ziz valley floor, the kasbah of Ifri is a highlight.
Midelt, your home for tonight, is located on the high plains between the Middle Atlas and High Atlas. It is a large city but has only been significant since the French colonial days. Midelt today serves as the commercial centre for both the region’s agriculture (e.g. the nearby River Moulouya allows for much orchard fruit cultivation) as well as for mining (especially gypsum and lead).
Midelt > Azrou Cedar Forest > Fes
Some of the trees of the Azrou Forest are more than 400 years old. Moroccan cedars can grow to heights of close to 200 feet (60m). These trees grow at altitudes of between 3,940 feet (1,200m) and 9,200 feet (2,800m). Oak trees too form part of the forest.
Living among the enormous cedars, south of Azrou, are troops of Barbary macaques. They are numerous but some patience is needed to spot them (but well worth it, to see wildlife in their natural habitat). Birds too are present such as woodpeckers, owls and eagles.
Azrou town has a pleasant central square with its green roofed buildings. Ifrane, by contrast, is a surprising settlement, looking a little European.
As the distance to be covered today is not so far, time can be taken as wished, perhaps with little side trips to see some of the lakes of this area e.g. Lake Daiet Aoua.
Then it is on to Fez where you have two nights.
Day in Fes
Fes is an Imperial City and has a very attractive maze of narrow streets in the fascinating and absorbing Old Medina, the market and the souks.
Fes has the Islamic University and is regarded as the scientific capital of Morocco. The Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and University can be visited.
The famous Fes Tanneries can be visited and of course there are many leather purchases on offer. Fez pottery is very good too.
You can also enjoy the Old Madrasas, the Mellah (Jewish quarter), Mount Zalagh (a gentle hike there gives a panorama over Fes and area) and the Merenid tombs, giant tombs of royalty/officials.
Fes > Volubilis > Meknes > Casablanca
Volubilis is an excellent example of an important outpost city on the edge of the Roman Empire and now holds World Heritage Site status. Here you might wish to engage a Site Guide (not costed in).
Volubilis contains Morocco’s best-preserved Roman ruins, some of which are now undergoing conservation. There is a Forum and Basilica as well as many Roman mosaics.
Transfrring over to nearby Meknes, there is much to appreciate in this ancient Imperial City. Moulay Idriss is an architecturally stunning shrine. Bab al-Mansour is an impressive huge gate of the Imperial City, very photogenic.
The Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, king in the 17th Century, is well worth a visit as are his impressive ancient Royal Stables. The old core of the city has an interesting Old Medina too. Here you might wish to engage a Site Guide (not costed in).
Travel to to Casablanca.
what ats offers:
- Airport transfer to your Marrakech accommodation on arrival days;
- Airport transfer from your Casablanca accommodation on departure days;
- All Moroccan ground transportation in private 4x4 vehicle (or a minibus) with driver to cover the itinerary as described; your driver will be English speaking and as well as being you driver, he will assist with all practical and logistical aspects of your tour as well as being able to impart information as you travel;
- 9 x nights of 3*, 4* or 5* accommodation (your choice), (dinner, bed and breakfast) i.e. 2 nights in Marrakech, 1 night in a Bedouin Camp in Sahara, 1 night in Nkob, 1 night in Boumalne Dades, 1 night in Midelt, 2 nights in Fes, 1 night in Casablanca;
- A sunset camel ride in Chegaga;
- A Marrakech City Guide for a half day;
- A Fes City Guide for a half day;
- Personal Insurance;
- Personal spending;
- “All other items not mentioned in the WHAT ATS OFFERS list”;
10 DAY MOROCCO MEANDERINGS: HIGH ATLAS, SAHARA, IMPERIAL CITIES (all taxes incl)
- Total for 2 persons: 29400 MAD (2940 EURO)
- Total for 4 persons: 42700 MAD (4270 EURO)
- Total for 8 persons: 72900 MAD (7290 EURO)
- For other group sizes please enquire