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Magnificent mosques, bustling medinas and surreal landscapes, Morocco is a delightfully diverse destination. Travel through the mountainous land of the Berbers to the edge of Africa and the laid-back, fortified town of Essaouira. Immerse yourself in Moroccan culture and history, weaving your way through the imperial cities of Rabat, Meknes, Marrakech and beyond, sampling fragrant mint teas, wandering through traditional souks and escaping it all in the desert.
Explore Tour Leader
1 nights simple camping
13 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
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 a atmosphere of prosperity and is where young Moroccans come to begin their careers.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Casablanca at any time. If you would like to receive 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. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm 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 Marche Central to get a feel for local life and to taste fresh seafood at one of the streetfood stalls or stroll to Place Mohamed V, Casablanca's central plaza.
Hotel Moroccan House, Casablanca (or similar)
This morning we visit the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca before we travel along the coast heading north, towards the country's capital city, Rabat.
The Hassan II 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 as well as a controversial use of public money. We'll have a tour of the mosque's interior which is intentionally perched above the water of the Atlantic to honour the Quran which states "the throne of Allah was over the water".
Later this morning we'll continue to Rabat, the city that 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.
After taking in the grandeur of the Royal Palace we will continue our journey to Meknes, once the heart of the Moroccan Sultanate, lying amidst the landscapes of the Oued Boufekrane River valley. The Sultan loved Meknes, and he would have liked never to leave it according to the chronicler to the tyrannical Sultan Moulay Ismail. Ismail (1672- 1727) was a tireless builder, and his greatest efforts were reserved for his capital at Meknes, which at its peak, with over 20 grand gateways and 50 palaces, must have been a sight to inspire any who looked upon it.
Hotel Akouas (or similar)
This morning we'll have a guided tour of the major highlights of Meknes, including the old granaries of the Heri es-Souni and the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail himself. In spite of Ismail's seemingly unquenchable blood lust and far from benevolent treatment of his subjects, the sultan still seems to be held in high regard and his tomb is something of a place of reverence even today amongst a people who still see his rule as Morocco's Golden Age. We'll also take in the Bab el Khamis Gate and walk through the city's spectacular centrepiece, the Bab Mansour, en route to the Place el Hedim and the city's Medina.
Please note that there are extensive renovations taking place in Meknes 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.
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 accompany us to provide insight into the remarkably well-preserved mosaics and explain the layout of this ancient provincial settlement.
Our final destination the country's cultural capital, Fes which is a further 2 hours, via Nzala des Beni Ammar. Probably the oldest of the imperial cities, Fes has a fascinating history is rich with wars, murders and political intrigue. The city has played an important part in Moroccan trade, culture, religion and politics throughout the centuries. The old and new towns are adjacent but very separate entities. We'll arrive in at our hotel in the early evening, in time to explore the many great food places that Fes has to offer.
Hotel El Batha (or similar)
We'll have a full day today to take in the artisan capital of Morocco with a local guide. After breakfast we begin sightseeing in Fes el Jadid, known as 'new Fes' despite dating back to the 13th century. The area's predominate feature is the Royal Palace, and although it's not open to visitors, we'll visit from the outside to see the intricately designed gates. We'll later drive out to North Borj viewpoint for some great views back across the city before taking a well deserved lunch break.
After lunch our exploration of the city takes us into Fes el Bali (Old Fes). Within the bustling souks of the Fes el Bali, the craftwork is considered to be the finest in Morocco. We'll wander through its artisan districts, where small doorways and narrow pathways reveal weavers and brass workshops, coppersmiths and tanners, all producing beautiful pieces as they have for many generations. We'll also take in the opulent majesty of the 14th century Attarin Medersa, whose Moroccan decoration and elegant design makes it one of the city's most captivating medieval colleges.
We'll have an early start this morning to begin travelling south into the dramatic landscapes of the Middle Atlas, heading first towards to Immouzer and Ifrane and passing 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. Continuing into Berber sheep raising country we head to Timadite and over the Col du Zad, before crossing the Tizi Talghemt Camel Pass and continuing via the Gorge du Ziz to Er Rachidia. Finally we traverse a broad plateau past Meski Oasis, the so-called 'Blue Spring' bordering the arid desert plains, from where our journey brings us at last on to the desert settlement of Erfoud.
Hotel Jnane La Kasbah (or similar)
Our day starts by following the meandering Ziz River towards Rissani, the last sizeable community and the end of the vegetation belt before the dunes of the Sand Sea begin. The settlement is the homeland of the Alaouite dynasty, which reigned in this region for 300 years, and this morning we'll have an opportunity to visit the founder's Mausoleum and explore something of the local ksour (fortified villages).
After a lunch break, we continue to the small settlement of Merzouga on the outskirts of the desert. Here we'll leave our bus and meet 4WD vehicles for an exhilarating journey into the spectacular high dunes of Erg Chebbi. We'll explore the desert landscape on the way to our Berber camp, home for the night. The crew will prepare us a traditional tagine dinner and there will be the opportunity to relax in the peaceful setting around a campfire. The tents accommodate up to four people each and mattresses, blankets and pillows are provided. There are simple shower facilities available, however due to the nature of the accommodation, hot water and water pressure cannot be guaranteed.
Chebbi Dunes Camp (or similar)
This morning we'll wake before dawn to make our way up to the tip of a sand dune for our chance to watch the sunrise over the Sahara. Returning to camp for a well-deserved breakfast, we will leave the southern desert by camel; a true Moroccan experience.
Our bus will be waiting for us in Merzouga ready to head for the mountains once more. Following an ancient route along the southern slopes of the Atlas, we reach the town of Tinerhir, our base from which to explore the towering vistas of the Todra Gorge. Arriving in the afternoon there is usually time for an initial exploration of the area and perhaps a walk in the famous lush palmeries that line the banks of the nearby Todra River. Extending some way along the river's course, the gardens are a lush oasis of produce, with date palms and olive groves, fruit orchards and almonds, all littered amongst a fertile landscape of grain and vegetables.
Hotel Kenzi Saghro (or similar)
The dramatic ochre-coloured cliffs of the Todra Gorge rise vertically to leave just a narrow pass through which our track and the river struggle for right of way. In the morning Berber women drive their goats through the narrow gorge to the better grazing land higher up. Today there will be an opportunity to join your tour leader on an optional walk to Abdelali viewpoint to see the excellent panoramas across to the Jebel Sahro and down into the gorge.
There are two hike options, a circular walk which is 10km in length and a hike to a view point at Abdelali and back which is 6km. We usually undertake the 10km hike, however the route is exposed to the elements so in the heat of summer, or of the weather is unsettled we may opt for the shorter option. The trek begins in the middle of the narrow gorge following the main road before joining a small mule path going up gradually along a ravine. The path climbs about 500m to a small pass with views looking down the gorge and the Jebel Sahro range. The descent is 550m and is again on a rocky, narrow path that can be steep in some sections. The trek is considered as moderate to challenging and in high temperatures it can be more demanding, walking boots with ankle support are essential.
Alternatively you may opt to explore the gorge valley floor following the path of the river and take in the local scenery from one of the nearby cafés.
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 making stops along the way.
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.
La Kasbah (or similar)
A shorter travelling today as we make our way towards the small, fortified Berber settlement of Ait Ben Haddou, which has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and is considered by many to be one of Morocco's most picturesque settings. Studded with crenelated towers and richly decorated, the town's Kasbah is quite spectacular and provided an ideal location for filming scenes from Jesus of Nazareth and Lawrence of Arabia.
La Bergerie (or similar)
We'll have an early start this morning to travel north. The parched desert sand and stone gives way to the hills and deep gorges of the High Atlas Mountains as we wind our way up and over the Tizi n' Tichka, the highest vehicular pass in Morocco and often snow covered during the winter months, we then continue bypassing Marrakech, where we join the road west to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Our destination is the historic port of Essaouira; a historic and charming Moroccan town inside 15th century Portuguese fortifications. Hopefully we'll arrive in the mid-afternoon and the rest of the day will be free to enjoy this charming seaside town.
Hotel El Kasbah Souiria (or similar)
Our leader will offer a short but helpful orientation this morning before a full free day for independent explorations in this colourful coastal fishing town. The town has a relaxed but lively feel and an experience not to be missed is a visit to the old walled Medina. After passing through the narrow, highly decorated arched entrance, it may be hard to resist snapping up last minute gifts such as locally made rustic leather belts, gleaming gold and silver jewellery, or wooden boxes exquisitely inlaid with ebony and mother of pearl by local craftsmen. The lively throng of the Medina, with its local women carrying out their daily routines, veiled in their traditional dress, forms a sharp contrast to the open golden sands of the harbour area where hopeful seabirds can be seen circling above the fisherman as they return from the blue waters with their daily catches. We suggest a stroll around the old town, perhaps taking in the Mellah (the old Jewish Quarter) or maybe a wander along the fine sandy beach and through the harbour.
This morning we leave the coast and return to Marrakech. It's a few hours' drive and after we have checked in to the hotel we will 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, 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. This evening there is also an opportunity to visit a traditional Hammam.
Hotel Amani (or similar)
Today has been left free to continue exploring this amazing city at your leisure. You can wander past vendors selling doughnuts and colourful fabrics, meander through native markets where Muslim women, their hands and feet dyed with henna, call out to sell their wares, and enjoy the sounds and the smells of the exotic. Perhaps you will prefer to take time to enjoy more of the remarkable Medina, haggling for a bargain or two, or simply sitting at one of the local cafés and watching the street tableaux unfold before you.
Please do remember that many of the mosques will be forbidden to non-Muslims and be careful of photographing women. If you are unsure, 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 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.
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. For those clients on a cycling holiday please bear this information in mind for times that you are not on the bikes. While cycling it is no problem for both men and women to wear your regular cycling gear, tight fitting or not.
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.
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. It's worth bearing in mind that Morocco is a developing country and standards might not always be equivalent to those at home. Some properties might be simply furnished, access to hot water may be sparse in certain stays and the level of service might vary from place to place. Older buildings can get cold in the winter months and don't have heating facilities, so you might want to pack an extra jumper - hotels will provide extra blankets. During this trip, we'll spend one night camping in the desert. We'll stay in a simple camp with communal tents and mattresses, blankets and pillows are all provided. During the winter months, it can get cold in the desert so warm clothing is a must.
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.
3rd and 17th March 2024