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Imperial Cities and Desert MR

Visiting: Morocco
Trip Duration 15 Days

Reviews for Imperial Cities and Desert

Travellers were asked to provide a review of the trip, including highlights and tips.

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Imperial Cities and Desert reviews verified by reevooReevoo

52 reviews

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Imperial Cities and DesertScores 8.7 out of 10 based on 52 reviews
(8 out of 10)


Hassan organised almost everything perfectly and was anxious to make this trip work for everyone. The pace is quite fast but with so many exciting places to visit necessary. The hotels were generally fine although the one at Fez was appallingly noisy with a disco every evening and drunken locals outside until 4 am. It was also much too far from the Medina.
The local guides ranged from the brilliant to strong to absolute rubbish. e.g. At Marrakech Hassan was forced to use an independent guide who had no substantial knowledge except about 'vacche qui ri' and then avoid going into the souks in favour of 2 visits to 'friends' warehouses; so I ended up 'guiding' around souks I had previously seen with limited success. The harder walk at Todra was a highlight, less crowded and different. The trip into the desert (by 4x4 for 4 of us) and camels for others was also excellent and the particular camp used had a much more authentic feel than others nearby.
Food was eaten mainly at higher end restaurants and did dominate much of the day at times. I could have managed with less but others clearly thought this an essential part of the process.
Essouria just about remains a stunning place to visit but Marrakech is totally altered by low cost airlines and the 5th of my visits will never be repeated. Fez was more interesting.
Confirmed traveller: 16 April 2017
Published on: 20 April 2017
(9 out of 10)


In Fez, the Hotel Nouzha was VERY noisy. If you keep this hotel, you need to supply ear plugs. It was beautiful though. Ali, the local guide in Rissani, was a exceptional man and a wealth of knowledge. Loved, loved the leisurely walk up the Torrance Gorge. The local guide in Marakesh was intimidating ie. by asking women tour members for tips; offensive ie. he took us down medina alleys that had absolutely no interest and for the sole purpose of taking us to a souk that he had contacts with resulting in high pressure sales; disrespectful ie. he was on the phone a number of times- ~7-9 and avoided Hassan's phone calls to ask our whereabouts; and greedy ie. he did not accept Hassan's payment, demanded more from Hassan. Hassan was verbally accoussted which he did not deserve.

Hassan was the best tour leader we have had. He takes his job seriously with professionalism, a wonderful personality, and punctuality. He knew his stuff and we valued his advice.
Confirmed traveller: 16 April 2017
Published on: 19 April 2017
(10 out of 10)


Hzssan was an excellent tour guide, and made my birthday very special on the13th April.
Confirmed traveller: 16 April 2017
Published on: 19 April 2017
(9 out of 10)


This was my first Explore holiday and an amazing experience with a lovely group and an outstanding tour guide, Lahcen! He made the tour a lot of fun and passed on his passion for his country and his extensive knowledge. He even had the patience to teach us some basic vocabulary!

Some of my favourite memories include seeing the blanket of stars at the camp in the desert, listening to the local music as we went through the Middle and High Atlas (and Lahcen's singing!), the walk in Todra Gorge and how good the fresh orange juice tasted at the end, seeing the sea at Essaouira, sunset at Ait Benhaddou and walking through the palmeries and market at Tinerhir. I will also never forget seeing Lahcen overtake our camels as he ran through the desert both to the camp and the hotel!

The fresh orange juice, mint tea (do a thumbs down in a cafe and they will bring you mint tea), panache (avocado is currently my favourite) are all highly recommended plus if you like coffee, do order a nous nous. Be prepared to eat a lot of bread and olives as it is served with each meal. There are enough different tagines, couscous, brochettes, soups, salads and omelettes to have something different at each meal. Mid-way Lahcen took us to a cafe serving pizza in case people wanted a break from tagines and couscous!

A few things to note:
-There are two exits from Casablanca airport so if you don't see your guide don't panic! Lahcen came to find us.
-If you don't get a chance to change your money at the airport, then we made several stops at banks throughout the trip to change/take out money.
-Food prices varied but do allow more money for food if eating out for lunch and dinner than the Explore recommendation.
-Take some earplugs, as one of the hotels had a nightclub and others some noisy guests. This is more than made up for at the other hotels though!
-The Majorelle Garden in Marrakech is beautiful but do get there for opening if possible as it gets very busy, very quickly!
-Royal Air Maroc cancelled our connecting flight to Casablanca but they transferred us by coach and held our onward flight. The staff at Marrakech hurried us through so it worked out ok.

If you book this trip, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Thank you Lahcen and Explore! In our group, a lot of photos were taken, rocks purchased and happy memories made :)
Confirmed traveller: 02 April 2017
Published on: 17 April 2017
(9 out of 10)

Arthur & Anne

Salaam alaykum…, la bes…...,was the way Lahcen, our excellent tour leader, started each day and helped to get us immersed in the culture to support all the different visual experiences on life and the landscape that we encountered on this very well run holiday. From the large cities with populations of several million, dwarfing anything apart from London in the UK, to the villages and landscape south of the spectacular High Atlas, including of course Tinerhir his home town, there was something different to see all the way. Lahcen’s knowledge of the history of the dynasties and the associated buildings was excellent. He got the balance just right on the amount of information to give, intermixed with humour, on the drives which had plenty of short stops. The food was good, albeit a couple of mix ups in some larger restaurants, and the mint tea and nous nous went down well. Our highlights were the souks at Fez, our local guide Ali and the Kasbah at Risssani, Ait Benhaddou and surprisingly Essaouira. Some begging and local fossil selling but not intrusive. Worth managing your small change. Another week to spend more time stopping off to explore more ourselves would have been nice.
Confirmed traveller: 02 April 2017
Published on: 08 April 2017
(7 out of 10)


Bus was not very comfortable. Food at hotels was very variable, mostly poor coffee, fresh orange juice was rarely available, in a country abundant in oranges, available all over.

Beds and sheets very satisfactory, comfortable and very clean.
Staff and guides were most pleasant and courteous.
I am glad I did the outing to the desert, although I suffered motion sickness quite badly, and could not participate in the meal in the tent, and had to return by jeep. Perhaps you could warn people of this, I never heard of camel motion sickness.
The picnic could have been better described or organised, a bit chaotic and not easy to get our own provisions.
Finally, the organisation of the trips to the airports was not good, involving early starts (3.30!) and long waits subsequently at the airports.
Confirmed traveller: 02 April 2017
Published on: 06 April 2017
(8 out of 10)


This will give you a great introduction to Morocco, with visits to several main cities as well as the Atlas mountain ranges and the varied landscapes in between. Bear in mind that very little use can be made of plastic (apart from ATMs) and make sure you carry adequate amounts of cash - restaurant prices are not negligible, think £10+ per meal.
Confirmed traveller: 19 March 2017
Published on: 25 March 2017
(10 out of 10)


Absolutely loved this tour. It was a good value for money. Tour leader, Mohamed Ettaleb was exceptional. He went above and beyond the call of duty. I would highly recommend him for any trip in Morocco.

The varied landscape that we got to see, really cool hotels we got to stay in, was incredible. I'd expected to find Morocco interesting, but it turned out to be even more so.

My favourite part was Hike to Tudra Gorge.
Confirmed traveller: 19 March 2017
Published on: 25 March 2017
(9 out of 10)


This is a very varied trip encompassing the main cities, the mountains, the desert and Atlantic coast, so providing a very good overview of the country. Even the longest drives were broken up for rest stops and photographing opportunities, so it wasn't too tiring. Accommodation was, on the whole, perfectly adequate, though standards varied somewhat. Our tour leader, Mohamed, was excellent throughout and the local guides provided good insights into their own particular areas. I left with a much better understanding of the country and its people. I would recommend the trip unhesitatingly.
Confirmed traveller: 19 March 2017
Published on: 23 March 2017
(9 out of 10)


Corona Del Mar, CA
This was our first Explore trip and it was excellent. We liked the variety of things saw....cities, souks, medinas, gorgeous scenery. We learned a lot. One addition would be to have a stay in a ryad along the way. We did love staying in the medina, especially in Essaouira.

Our guide was amazing, going out of his way to make us all feel like guests in Morocco, in the Berber tradition, not just tourists. He was very well informed, knowledgeable and organized with handouts, including city maps, phrases to help us, and full of information about the culture, history and current conditions in Morocco. He was honest and open about the politics and religion. His choice of city guides and how he handled everything was exemplary...he really knew where to stop and gave us good choices for food and activities in our free time. Mostly he went above and beyond to make sure everyone was ok during the trip. He was calm, easy going and very competent. Great contacts everywhere. He would be one reason I'd book another trip on Explore if he is an example of the caliber of guides you employ.
Confirmed traveller: 19 February 2017
Published on: 28 February 2017