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Take in the four Imperial cities, the beautiful scenery of the Atlas Mountains and enjoy a night under the stars in the Sahara on this cultural highlights tour of Morocco with a foodie focus. There'll be plenty of opportunities to try delicious Moroccan cuisine; you'll try your hand at making tagine, sample wines in Meknes, and discover Marrakech's vibrant night market.
Explore Tour Leader
1 nights comfortable auberge
1 nights premium camping
3 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights comfortable kasbah
2 nights premium riad
Trip maximum 12
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Casablanca on the Atlantic coast where French colonial building blend with traditional Moroccan architecture. Casablanca has an atmosphere of prosperity and is where young Moroccans come to begin their careers.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting. If you decide to arrive after 7pm your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport (CMN), which is around 45 minutes from the hotel depending on traffic. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, it is well worth visiting the Hassan II Mosque, located a short walk from our hotel. This famous mosque is the largest on the African continent and this spectacular structure can hold up to 105,000 worshippers. Built in honour of the King's 60th birthday, the mosque is a feat of engineering, built above the water of the Atlantic to honour the Quran which states "the throne of Allah was over the water".
Hotel Toubkal, Casablanca (or similar)
This morning we travel along the coast heading north for about one and a half hours, towards the country's capital city, Rabat.
Rabat was established as the capital of their protectorate by the French in 1912 and since independence has served as the capital of a modern Morocco. Rabat's history stretches back as far as 8BC, when settlers arrived in what is now the Chellah area, a district that went on to become a prosperous Roman town, before being transformed by the Merinids into a cemetery. On arrival we will have an opportunity to explore something of the city's historic heart, with a guided walking tour of the area around the Hassan Tower and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, before wandering through the engaging Kasbah des Oudaias, originally a fortified town that is now infused with a distinctly Andalusian flavour. Here we will pause to sip mint tea in a traditional tea house at a Moorish cafe overlooking the Bou Regreg river.
After our break we continue our journey to Meknes, a two hour drive. Once the heart of the Moroccan Sultanate, the city lies amidst the landscapes of the Oued Boufekrane River valley. Here we have a short tour of Lahdim square with its vibrant food market where various types of olives are displayed.
The Phoenicians introduced viticulture to North Africa in in the Bronze Age and here, Meknes is the heart of Morocco's growing wine scene. Popular grape varieties like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are easily grown and we will visit one of the local vineyards for a tour and to sample its produce.
After checking into our hotel in Meknes we head out to a local restaurant for dinner.
Hotel Swani (or similar)
From Meknes we travel for 45 mins to the nearby ancient site of Volubilis - the capital of the Roman province of Mauritania Tingitana. A local guide will educate us about the well-preserved mosaics and the layout of provincial settlement before visiting an ancient oil press in the holy site of Moulay Driss. Here we will stroll through the fragrant market of fresh vegetables and marinated olives.
We'll travel for a further two hours, to the country's cultural capital Fes, stopping for lunch in a local kebab restaurant on arrival. There are vegetarian options as well as meat kebabs.
Fes is the oldest of the imperial cities, it's fascinating history is rich with wars, murders and political intrigue. It has played an important part in Moroccan trade, culture, religion, and politics. The old and new towns are adjacent but totally separate entities. We'll arrive in time to explore the many great food places that Fes has to offer. Your Tour Leader will guide you through the old medina and very narrow streets of the souks discovering the many ingredients used in traditional Moroccan dishes and explaining the spice blend that makes up the traditional seasoning Ras al hanout.
Hotel El Batha (or similar)
This morning to begin travelling south into the dramatic landscapes of the Middle Atlas, heading first towards Ifrane where we break our journey for mint tea with a nomad family. Then passing by near the small mountain village of Azrou, which in the Berber tongue translates as 'the rock'. 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.
We will stop for a lunch of grilled lamb (vegetarian alternative available) with a Berber family and learn more about Berber life in the mountains. After traversing the Atlas Cedar Forest, the journey continues along the high grazing lands to the small town of Midelt where we spend the night. The total driving time today is around three and a half hours. Dinner is included at our hotel tonight.
Kasbah, Midelt (or similar)
Heading into the mountains, the road we take today crosses the High Atlas over Tizi n Talghemet, translated as the Camel's Pass and drops down through the Ziz gorge leading to the large oasis of Tafilalete, home to the largest date production in Morocco. It will take around four hours to get here and will of course stop to stretch our legs and see the date palms. The scenery changes dramatically and the journey ends in Merzouga at the foothills of Erg Chebbi dunes. A 4x4 vehicle takes us on the last leg of our journey today to a nomad style camp. The crew will prepare us a traditional Madfouna dinner, a stuffed bread baked in a fire pit in the desert sands. In the evening there will also be a demonstration of the local bread and mint tea preparation.
The tents accommodate up to two people each and bed, mattresses, blankets and pillows are provided. There are simple shower facilities available in each tent, however due to the nature of the accommodation, hot water and water pressure cannot be guaranteed.
Chebbi Dunes Luxury Camp (or similar)
We leave the desert and drive along the southern slopes of the hight Atlas. Our first stop is after 45 minutes in the old caravan centre of Sijilmassa, known now as Rissani and visit its market for spices, traditional herbs and dates. Here we will learn about the origins of the spicy paste harissa and visit a communal oven. In Morocco, using a communal oven to bake your bread and other baked goods is the norm. The ovens are ran by workers whose primary job is to bake the edible goods of the community in the large oven, the majority of which is bread. If available, we will have the opportunity to sample Bissara, a bean dip or sometimes served as a soup and sweet pancakes, two excellent street food snacks.
Continuing along the southern slopes of the Atlas to Tinerhir we enter Todra gorge, a narrow gorge with tiny villages and fertile fields along the river, around two and a half hours later. The rock walls rise up to 300 metres and attract the rock climbers from all over the world. After a short visit, we continue to Dades and onto Boutaghrar in the rose valley. Late afternoon, we learn how to make a traditional couscous, perfectly cooked couscous topped with lamb, a variety of stewed vegetables and a flavourful broth. We will also meet a local family for a better insight of the Berber lifestyle.
Hotel Awayou (or similar)
We continue our journey to Ouarzazate, a drive of about two hours, through the road of the thousand Kasbah's. Before heading to the World Heritage site of Ait Ben Haddou, probably the most preserved Kasbah in the south and home of many famous movies. In the afternoon we will continue over the High Atlas Mountains through the spectacular Tizi n'Tichka Pass to Marrakech which will take about four hours. Once we have arrived to Marrakech and had a chance to check in at our hotel we will head to the famous Djemma al Fna square, home to a lively food market. We split in to small groups for a food tour of the small alleyways and back streets that make up some of the maze of streets around the main square. You will taste your way back to the main square and a final bowl of Moroccan stew, most likely followed by sweet pancakes or doughnuts which will see you off to bed content with a full belly!
Riad Berta (or similar)
This morning a local guide will take us on a guided tour of the 'red city'. Like many North African cities, Marrakech is divided into two distinct parts, the Gueliz (the modern French-built city) and the Medina (the Old City), a place where trade and barter amongst the colourful souks still renders its ancient heart a glittering cacophony of noise and colour. The city's beating heart is the spectacular Djemaa el Fna, where you would have explored last night, a site not to be missed and a scene straight out of the pages of the Arabian Nights. Here we will find the streets and alleys alive with storytellers and musicians, jugglers and acrobats, snake charmers and clowns. Marrakech is a city like no other; with a staggering array of spectacular architecture and wonderful facades and not to be missed. We will visit the Koutoubia mosque and tower as well as the Bahia Palace. In your free time we suggest visiting the Saadian tombs, Ben Youssef medersa, the Dar Si Said Palace (now the Museum of Moroccan Art) and the Menara gardens.
Tonight we will have a cookery class to learn how to make a traditional Tagine. This will be our last supper, where we can reflect on all the new flavours we have tried this past week.
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 an 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.
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 Abdelali walk in the Todra Gorge.
One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.
A head torch, 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 twin-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 in your tent, however, hot water and strong water pressure cannot be guaranteed.
Moroccan cuisine is a wonderful mixture of Arab, Berber and Southern Europe influence. Focusing around the Berber diet of lamb, vegetables and dairy, along with a delicate mix of spices including cumin, turmeric, paprika and cayenne along with fresh herbs, including mint, coriander and parsley. Most meals have a meat element as the hero. We are not able to provide vegetarian options for all meals, particularly those outside of the main towns. We recommend that you look through the trip notes to see what's included, and judge whether this is the right trip for you.
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.