1st day: Tangier >> Tétouan >> Chefchaouen (170 km)
During the first day of the tour, the guide will meet you at the airport or at you hotel/riad. From here you will leave for the Rif Mountains and the city of Tétouan. Capital of the Spanish protectorate from 1912 to 1956, Tétouan has preserved an absolutely unique Hispanic-Moorish atmosphere, particularly in the Spanish section of town, where the whitewashed buildings and large avenues are reminiscent of past times. We will then head for Chefchaouen: the “Blue Town” is the delightful result of Moroccan and Andalusian influences; its picturesque medina is an expanse of red-tiled roofs and buildings painted in bright blue, contrasting sharply with the white colour of Tétuan. In the afternoon you will be free to wander the narrow streets that converge towards the central square, Spanish style, surrounded by craftsmen’s workshops, shops, restaurants and cafeterias.
Dinner and overnight accommodation in a riad/hotel.
2nd day: Chefchaouen >> Volubilis >> Meknes (200 km)
After breakfast, and after once again enjoying the splendid view of the Rif’s steep peaks from the Blue Town, we will continue on our journey heading for Volubilis, driving through Wazan and other villages. In Volubilis, we will visit the beautiful Roman ruins of the archaeological site, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. After the visit, we will go the city of Meknes, where you will have the afternoon free to explore the medina and experience the feel of the town.
Dinner and overnight accommodation in a riad.
3rd day: visit of Meknes >> Fez (65 km)
This day will be devoted to a guided tour of the town. Though being the smallest of the imperial cities, Meknes is particularly charming also due to its position among fertile plains reaching to the slopes of the Mid Atlas, used to grow cereal crops, grapes, citrus fruit and olives.
You will admire the historic and monumental door to the medina, Bab El-Mansour, and stroll in El-Hedim Square, reminiscent of the more famous Jeema El Fna in Marrakech, to then enter the town’s medina with its craftsmen’s workshops and numberless little shops. You will visit the Madrasa Bou Inania, a Koranic school built in around 1350, before moving to the imperial section of the town, where you can visit the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail (also open to non-Muslims, but where appropriate clothing is required) and the Stables of Hri Moulay Ismail, where you can admire incredible water systems, testifying to the ingenuity of the Moroccan people.
In the afternoon, after completing the visit, we will head for nearby Fez, to have dinner and spend the night.
4th day: visit of Fez
After breakfast we will start exploring the oldest city in Morocco, wandering its streets and alleyways. The visit to the old town (Fes el-Bali) and the medina, the largest and most famous in the Arab world, will start by entering through Bab Bou Jeloud and will continue towards Dar Batha, a beautiful Hispanic-Moorish building hosting an interesting popular art museum. We are not going to miss the Medersa of Bou Inania, built in mid-1300 and unanimously recognised to be the most beautiful Koranic school in the city, and the Chaouwara tanneries, one of the main attractions in town (also because of the smells!). We will then go on to visit the Royal Palace and the Jewish quarter (Mellah), the first in Morocco, built in the XVI century. At sunset, we can admire a splendid panoramic view of the Fez medina (Marinid Tombs or Borj Nord).
Dinner and overnight accommodation in a riad.
5th day: Fez >> Ifrane >> Midelt >> Ziz Valley >> Erfoud (410 km)
After breakfast we will unhurriedly depart from your riad heading south, driving first through Ifrane, an unusual looking small town reminiscent of an Alpine village, and then through Azrou, across the Mid Atlas mountains. Along the way we will stop in the cedar forests to see the monkeys in their natural habitat and to stretch our legs. Travelling through the Tizi Ntalghamt pass, we will reach Midelt and drive along the beautiful Ziz Gorges, cut into volcanic rock, admiring the extraordinary landscapes of the Mid Atlas, all the way to the desert’s door, as we get closer to the town of Errachidia. After lunch, we will continue our journey through the Ziz Valley down to Erfoud, where you will have a chance to taste madfouna (Berber stuffed bread baked in a wood-fired oven) and see the ancient Ksar M’Aadid. Dinner and overnight accommodation in a hotel.
6th day: Erfoud >> Rissani >> Merzouga (65 km)
From Erfoud we will drive to Rissani, where we will stop at the picturesque local market, to experience the feel of a true Berber souk. Finally, we will reach Merzouga, where the camels will be waiting, first to let you enjoy the sunset with your feet in the warm Sahara sand, and then to take you to the camp among the splendid golden dunes of Erg Chebbi. After dinner you can watch the wonderful starry sky and sing to the sound of drums around the campfire, before going to sleep in your tent. Dinner and overnight accommodation in a tent.
7th day: Merzouga >> Khamlia village >> Hassi Labied
For those who wish, wake-up call before dawn, in time to admire the sunrise. After a shower and breakfast, we will drive our 4×4 in the black desert, so called because of the rocky formations of volcanic origin, sharply contrasting with the gold-coloured dunes of the Erg Chebbi. We will then head for the village of the Gnawa, the descendants of African slaves from Mali, Senegal and Mauritania, mainly known for their sweeping percussion music (during the first week of August, here is where a dance and music festival of country-wide renown is held). After swinging to the sound of drums, lunch break at Merzouga or Hassi Labied. Then a relaxing afternoon, with a walk in the oasis at the foot of the dunes, before going back to the hotel for dinner and the night.
8th day: Merzouga’s surroundings >> Todra Gorges >> Dades Valley (270 km)
After breakfast, we will drive through the Berber oases, the palm groves and mud houses to the village of Alnif, mainly known for its supply of fossils. After a break with some unfailing mint tea, we will continue on our journey towards the splendid Todra Gorges, where tall, pink rocky walls close in around a water stream, forming a narrow canyon 300m deep coloured in incredible red-orange hues. After visiting the gorges, we will head for the Dades Valley, to conclude our day. You will spend the night in a splendid riad on top of a mountain, from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the valley and the mountains.
9th day: Dades Valley >> Valley of Nomads >> Roses Valley >> Ouarzazate (140 km)
Departing from your riad, we will have the opportunity to once again delve into the authentic world of Moroccan nomads, visiting the “Valley of Nomads”, so called because you find natural caves at Bouthgrar where some people still live the way they used to centuries ago. After drinking a mint tea with them, we will take the “Route of a Thousand Kasbahs” and continue along the Roses Valley to the village of Skoura, where we will visit the Kasbah Amridil; the kasbah was recently restored, and still holds truly suggestive and authentic colours and atmospheres. We will then go on towards Ouarzazate, the “Hollywood of Africa”, where you can visit the film studios and the historic sights of the Taourirt Kasbah. Dinner and overnight accommodation in a hotel.
10th day: Ouarzazate >> Ait Ben Haddou >> Télouet >> Marrakech (210 km)
After breakfast, we will leave for the beautiful ksar Ait Ben Haddou. Declared part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage in 1987, this beautiful fortified village built in typical Southern Moroccan architecture lies on top of a hill surrounded by a green valley, and was the filming location of several movies, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator. After the visit, we will head in the direction of the High Atlas chain and, before reaching the Tizi n’Tichka Pass (2260 m.a.s.l.), we will stop at Telouet to visit the Pasha Glaoui Kasbah, characterised by beautiful stuccoed halls and wonderful painted cedar wood ceilings. The day will end with the arrival at Marrakech in the afternoon, with dinner and overnight accommodation in a typical riad.
11th day: visit of Marrakech
After a well-deserved rest and breakfast, we will visit the Alì Ben Youssef Medersa. Founded in the XIV century, this Koranic school was the largest in Northern Africa for a long time, and still is one of the most beautiful. We will then go on to explore the streets of the Medina and its various souks. An unmissable olfactory experience will be a tour of the Mellah, the old Jewish quarter, where you can buy all sorts of spices for excellent prices. We will also visit the Palais de Bahia, a sumptuous building of late 1800, where you walk through wonderfully decorated rooms and a sequence of courtyards with fountains and orange trees. We will then go to the Saadit Tombs, where you can see the ultimate expression of opulence and magnificence: Carrara marble and pure gold honeycombed stucco decorations set the tone of this palatial mausoleum.
We will conclude the exploration of Marrakech in the Majorelle Gardens; inaugurated in 1924, after being donated to the city by Yves Saint-Laurent, these botanic gardens house more than 300 plant species coming from all continents, and the beautiful Villa Majorelle in Art Deco style, with its characteristic blue colour. Before dinner and the night, you will have some free time available (we suggest that you watch the sunset while savouring some mint tea on one of the terraces in Jemaa El Fna Square).
12th day: Marrakech >> Essaouira (170 km)
After breakfast, we will leave behind the confusion of Marrakech to advance into valleys full of orange groves, century-old olive trees and farms. Heading for the coast, we will stop at Chichaoua for a coffee or a snack. Back onto the road, you will soon sight the first argan trees. These ancient plants are well suited to the climate and environment of Southwestern Morocco and, now being endangered, have been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list. We will see the goats climbing the trees, and visit one of the women’s argan-oil cooperatives, where you can buy cosmetics and food products. Late in the morning we will finally reach Essaouira, where you will have some free time to wander the ancient streets of this port city founded by the Portuguese in the XVI century. With the passing of time, Essaouira has never lost its fascination, and its uniqueness, colours and peaceful pace of life make it light years distant from the city frenzy of the “red town” Marrakech.
After dinner, you will spend the night here, so that you can enjoy the town’s atmosphere to the full.
13th day: Essaouira >> Marrakech
After breakfast, we will head back for Marrakech, where our journey together will end.