Highlights Of Morocco Trip NotesAt Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.
Trip code: EAMH
Trip length: 15
Trip starts in: Casablanca
Trip ends in: Marrakech
Maximum group size: 16
Minimum group size: 6
OverviewFor sheer diversity, Morocco is the perfect destination, so close to Europe, yet so completely different. We explore the Imperial cities of Marrakech, Meknes and Fez, with crowded bazaars conjuring up flavours of Arabian Nights. Our journey takes us through contrasting mountain ranges to the south, where sand dunes and kasbahs are scattered among palm oases inhabited by friendly Berbers. Camel trekking in Morocco is a real highlight, taking us to the edge of the Sahara for a night at a Bedouin camp (or under the stars - your choice!). We fit in a visit to Todra Gorge, to the beautiful 16th century kasbah of Ait Benhaddou, and we enjoy a village walk in a picturesque valley of the High Atlas. Complete the trip with a walk along the sandy beach of Essaouira and visit the souks for some last minute shopping.
Arrival at our hotel in the evening.
A modern, commercial seaport and a complete contrast to the Morocco we are about to explore. In the morning we visit the third largest mosque in the world, the Hassan II mosque, before lunching in the capital, Rabat. Rabat is the diplomatic and government capital, but second to Casablanca in importance and although mostly modern, has an excellent old quarter. We take time to explore this before striking out over the northern plain on our way to Meknes. We begin to see the scenery changing as the land becomes more cultivated, Meknes being one of the most fertile areas of Morocco
Sultan Moulay Ismail's old capital of Meknes is our first example of one of the Imperial Cities. The morning is free to wander the narrow streets and explore the souk (market) and perhaps have our first taste of bartering for souvenirs. In the afternoon we take a short drive to Volubilis, the largest and best-preserved Roman ruins in Morocco. After exploring this site we continue our journey to Fez, where we will spend two nights.
This fascinating city is the intellectual and religious centre of Morocco. Founded over a thousand years ago, Fez has many mosques and medersas (theological colleges) including the 9th century Karouine University, whose architecture is very similar to that seen in Moorish Spain. The medina in Fez is one of the largest in the world. In its immense and confusing warren of souks are thousands of craftsmen with their tiny shops opening onto the narrow alleyways. Noisy and pungent, hot and claustrophobic, the medina of Fez is a totally absorbing and unique experience. Our city guide shall walk us through different sections of the souk - from the dyers souk to the brass and copper souks. And of course, no visit to Fez is complete without a visit to the tanneries. Outside the medina we shall visit the Jewish District (mellah), the exterior of the Royal Palace and drive to a panoramic viewpoint over the medina. We shall also visit the potteries where the famous mosaic tables are made from the grey clay of the Rif Mountains.
Today we have a long journey over the Middle Atlas, down through the picturesque Ziz Valley to the Hamada (flat stony desert) gradually approaching the spectacular site of the golden sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. We stay in a small and welcoming auberge on the edge of the dunes where it is easy to climb their summits to watch the sunrise.
There is time today to explore the largest sand sea in Morocco or to relax in the shade of a palm tree by the dunes. The sand sea is famed for its pink dunes that take on a spectacular rose colour at sunset. In the late afternoon we partake in a genuine Saharan experience - a two-hour camel trek through the dunes to an oasis, where we spend the night in a simple Bedouin camp.
After sunrise, we leave our desert camp and travel, by camel, back to the auberge where we can have a shower before heading west towards the little town of Tinerhir and onwards to Todra Gorge for the night. Our hotel is set against the backdrop of the impressive walls of the gorge itself and we can spend the evening watching the rocks change colour with the setting sun.
We spend the day in the magnificent gorge of the Todra River. There is the opportunity to take a five hour guided walk, or to relax in the gorge, walking beneath vertical cliffs rising up to 400m. In the afternoon there is the option of a guided palmery tour.
Leaving Todra Gorge, we rejoin the main road and drive west along the 'Route of the Thousand Kasbahs' via Ouarzazate and on to the well-preserved Kasbah Ait Benhaddou. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most spectacular sights of the Atlas, made famous as the location of several Hollywood films including 'Gladiator'. After admiring the view, we may see something of the simple village houses. Continuing into the mountains we branch east through a wide flat mountain valley, finally arriving at Anmiter. Here we leave our bus and take an hour's picturesque walk on a gentle uphill gradient to our well-equipped gite, where we spend the next two nights. (Our bags will be transported to the gite for us).
We start our day with a four hour walk through the villages of the Tijhza Valley, passing fields cultivated by the Berber women. Heading up into the hills on mule tracks, the peaks of the High Atlas act as a fitting backdrop to our walk. The afternoon is free to relax with a book, enjoy the mountain views, take a stroll through this beautiful landscape or challenge the local children to a game of football! Tijhza is just one of four villages in this remote valley that has been supported by Exodus for over ten years on various projects requested by the Village Association, such as building a water tower or a Hammam (Moroccan steam bath) that will help with hygiene standards in the village. Please see our website or the Responsible Tourism section for more information.
Leaving the gite, we walk back to our bus for a short drive to the palace of Telouet. This palace stands abandoned and crumbling but we can visit a small part of this labyrinthine, fairy-tale like structure. We continue our scenic drive over the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech, driving over the Tizi'n'Tichka, which at 2,260m, is the highest road pass in Morocco. The scenery is spectacular and there are some wonderful views of the mountains. The second half of the trip brings us to the flat arid plains of Marrakech and then onwards to Essaouira.
A free day in Essaouira which is a charming old Portuguese fishing port by the Atlantic Coast. The settlement dates back to the 15th century but the present town was constructed around 1760 by Sidi Mohammed ben Abdullah, who needed a base from which to suppress a revolt from Agadir. Today, the town is extremely relaxed and its whitewashed houses with painted shutters, artisan's workshops, boatyards and fishermen provide a marked contrast to the desert, kasbahs and cities we have so far visited on this trip. Our hotel is in the heart of the old walled city and there is time for some shopping or for a walk along the picturesque beach. There are many pleasant cafes and some outstanding seafood restaurants for our evening meal. The town is at its best in the late afternoon and early morning when the day visitors have yet to arrive or have left.
After breakfast we head for the 'Pink City' of Marrakech and in the afternoon we enjoy a guided tour to help us find our feet and soak up the atmosphere of this amazing city. Our city guide will take us to the Bahia Palace, the Saadian tombs - which incredibly date to the 16th century - and the Dar Si Said Museum. We end in the Djemma el Fna, where the town becomes a maze of bustling bazaars, palaces and mosques. It is worth seeing this renowned landmark in the evening, as Marrakech revolves around the open-air central square. With the food stalls, snake charmers, water-sellers and acrobats, it is a place of night-time entertainment for both local people and tourists.
Today is a free day in Marrakech and there is no shortage of things to do. You might like to visit the largest Mosque in Marrakech, Koutoubia, or venture through the souks and old streets of the medina. After bartering for souvenirs in the labyrinthine souks, there will be time for a short visit to the Koranic School and Museum of Marrakech. After this unwind by taking a ½ hour Calèche ride (a bright green horse-drawn carriage) to the Jardin Majorelle. These tranquil gardens are decorated throughout in indigo blue and owned by Yves St. Laurent. A final treat would be to have a hammam, a traditional Moroccan steam bath.
Trip ends after breakfast.
Meals & AccommodationAll breakfasts and 4 dinners included.
10 nights 3-star hotels, all en suite. 1 night auberge, 2 nights mountain gite and 1 night camping, all with shared facilities.
Single room supplementA single room supplement is available. This does not guarantee a single room for all accommodation. Please contact us to discuss this as accommodation varies from trip date to trip date. Single supplement prices from:
Trip gradesMixed Activity
Leisurely / Moderate
Adult Group Holidays
TransportTravel by private mini or midibus and camel.
FitnessThis trip provides a balanced view of the enormous variety that Morocco has to offer. It combines cities, history, architecture, desert and mountain scenery and there is a superb blend of the natural, human and exotic. We spend quality time in the places that matter, the pace is not rushed but a couple of the journeys are long. We are certainly not confined to our vehicle though, as there are plenty of photo stops and opportunities to stretch your legs. Although flight times are short, the return flight from Marrakech to London is not usually direct. Accommodation standards are below that of Europe and more comparable to Sub-Saharan Africa standards. The temperatures in the cities may also be hot in the summer months but we try to make the most of the coolest parts of the day.
About The Imaginative Traveller
Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that adventure travel should be stimulating, and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of countries and cultures the world has to offer. Our focus is on innovation, not imitation.
Obsessed with quality
One of our strengths has been our obsession with quality. We've always believed that our commitment to you doesn't end as soon as you've paid for your holiday. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Whilst most operators simply get a local company to handle the day to day operation of their tours, we do it all ourselves. We have managers for each of our key destinations around the world and all our small groups are escorted by our own leaders. Our local teams include guides, drivers, administration staff and contacts in the local community who help us ensure that our adventures are active and involving.
Responsible Travel - Travellers' Guidelines
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
- It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
- We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
- Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavor to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at firstname.lastname@example.org