9-day tour: Casablanca, imperial cities and desert

Day 1: Casablanca – Rabat

For those arriving in Casablanca from another country, our services will start at the airport terminal of this city: our driver will be waiting for you there with a private vehicle for the transfer to the city center. And if you are already in Casablanca, we will arrange any other meeting point that is convenient for you, such as the hotel.

In any case, the first place to visit will be the impressive Hassan II Mosque, located on an artificial peninsula reclaimed from the sea. It has the honor of being one of the tallest temples in the Islamic world: its minaret reaches the not inconsiderable figure of 200 meters, approximately. And luckily, we will have the opportunity to visit it inside, since it is one of the few mosques that opens its doors to non-believers.

After visiting the mosque, we will leave for Rabat, located about an hour’s drive from Casablanca. It is the capital of the country and one of the Imperial Cities of Morocco. Its historic center has been declared a World Heritage Site, for such outstanding monuments as the Hassan Tower, from the 12th century, in Almohad style, or the Kasbah of the Oudayas, from the same period. From the latter fortress you will enjoy spectacular views of the city and the neighboring Salé, located across the river Bu Regreg.

The visit of this interesting city is free, so you will have the opportunity to organize the tour as you wish and with our advice. Other interesting places that you can add are the Mausoleum of Mohamed V, the souk of the medina or the Mohamed VI Museum of Modern Art. All of them will be close to the riad where you will spend your first night, as it is located in the center of the city.

Day 2: Rabat – Chaouen

After breakfast at the riad in Rabat, our driver will pick you up to head north. Specifically, to the Rif Mountains, among which Chaouen is located. This town, often called “the blue city”, lives on in the minds of those who visit it because its historic medina is dyed in this characteristic color.

During your stay in Chaouen, you can plan your day at your own pace, as it is free. Among the main suggestions are the kasbah (now the Ethnographic Museum) and the viewpoints with panoramic views of the medina and its surroundings. It will also be worthwhile to get lost in its charming alleys, decorated with flowers, full of craft stores and dotted with galleries of local artists.

In the evening, you will rest in a riad in the medina and therefore not far from the main square of the city: the square of Uta el Hammam, around which there are numerous charming stores and stores.

Day 3: Chaouen – Volubilis – Meknes – Fez

The third day of this trip is full of places of great cultural interest. Therefore, after breakfast at the riad of Chaouen, we will return to our vehicle to go to the first of them: Volubilis, the best preserved archaeological site of Roman times in Morocco. The remains that are still standing show the importance that this city acquired in times of emperors such as Mark Antony or Caracalla: columns of temples, decorative mosaics on pavements, commemorative arches and an urban fabric still visible on the ground. It is no coincidence, therefore, that this great site is also considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After this chronological journey to the times of the Roman Empire, we will continue our route by road to Meknes. This is another Imperial City with the consideration of World Heritage by Unesco, since its historic medina retains much of the appearance that gave the Sultan Moulay Ismail in the late seventeenth century. Walking through its streets it is possible to come across his mausoleum and elements that remind us of its glorious past, such as the gates of the wall, highlighting Bab Mansour.

In the last part of the day, we will continue the route to Fez. Its large medina and its lively popular atmosphere will be the protagonists of the guided tour that will take place the next day, although you can take a first contact with them in the last hours of this second day. The location of the riad where you will spend the night is right in the center, so it will be a help for this purpose.

Day 4: Fez

World Heritage Site, Imperial City and one of the spiritual and cultural centers of the Islamic world. With this letter of introduction, it is easy to understand that Fez deserves to be discovered in depth through a guided tour. Therefore, after breakfast at the riad, you will meet our official local guide and you will visit together the most interesting places in the center.

The route that our guide will have prepared will cover the main attractions of the medina, including the Karaouine Mosque and the University it houses, considered one of the oldest in the world. Or the madrasas, dedicated to studies based on the Koran, such as Bou Inania or Attarine. Or popular places like Nejjarine Square and the homonymous fountain, the famous tanners’ quarter or the always lively souks and markets.

The historic center of Fez is so large that it will force you to leave some places of interest for the afternoon, at your leisure. Some attractions that can be scheduled for this time are the Golden Gates of the Royal Palace, the Mellah (Jewish quarter) or museums such as the Borj Nord. And of course, this will also be the ideal time for shopping in the prestigious craft stores of Fez, where they sell objects of great value, such as leather goods, wood, ceramics or metal. Undoubtedly, a day that deserves to be enjoyed until the last moment, before resting again in your riad in the center.

Day 5: Fez – Ifrane – Monkey Forest – Erfoud – Desert of Merzouga

The fifth day is one of the longest: after breakfast at the riad in the center of Fez we will head south on a roadtrip that will reach the heart of the desert. We will leave early and, shortly after starting the route, we will begin to climb the slopes of the Middle Atlas.

Here is precisely Ifrane, known by all as ‘the Moroccan Switzerland’. The reason is none other than its surprising architecture, more typical of the Alps than of these latitudes, with gable roofs. However, its altitude (over 1,700 meters above sea level) and its location between mountains result in a really humid climate, with abundant snowfall in the cold season and an environment where white predominates in winter and green the rest of the year.

Green is also the predominant color in our next stop: Ifrane National Park, next to neighboring Azrou, full of cedars. Many know it as the Monkey Forest because it is home to a large population of Barbary macaques, an endangered species and the only primate naturally present north of the Sahara.

After getting to know this unique habitat, we will continue the route by road through the Middle Atlas. The descent that we will start at this point will take us through the Ziz Valley, in whose lands survive palm groves and farmland, defying the aridity that prevails in the place.

In this way we will arrive at Erfoud, a small town but very famous in the world of paleontology, as important fossils have been discovered here, some of them of dinosaurs. And shortly after we will reach the southernmost town of the route: Merzouga, located more than 650 km from Casablanca, where the trip began.

In Merzouga we will just change means of transport: our vehicle will be parked and we will take a dromedary per person to advance through the magical sand dunes of Erg Chebbi, of an incomparable texture and color. After a quiet ride of a couple of hours, we will arrive at our tent camp, located in the desert. There they will be waiting for us with a Berber tea, as the local tradition dictates, and dinner will also be served. One of the tents, with the classic design used by the nomads of the desert, will be your accommodation, with all the comforts inside. Outside, on the other hand, there will be a spectacular sky full of stars, which shine with a strength and cleanliness without equivalent in the rest of the world.

Day 6: Merzouga Desert – Rissani – Todra Gorges – Dades Valley – Ouarzazate

On this sixth day we leave the desert of Merzouga, but not before enjoying a magical and unique experience: watching the sunrise in the dunes of Erg Chebbi, where the lights of dawn bring unique tones and shades in the vast territory of sand dunes that will open in front of our eyes.

After that, breakfast will be taken in the tents camp and we will take our camels to return to Merzouga. Before or after this time there will be time for a shower, either in a hotel in Merzouga or in the camp, depending on the package contracted.

La carretera aquí se vuelve serpenteante, como veremos durante la ruta, pero después dará paso a espacios más amplios propios del Valle del Dades y de la Ruta de las Mil Kasbahs, llamada así por el sinfín de fortalezas bereberes que saldrán a nuestro paso durante este tramo. También recorreremos el Valle de las Rosas, nombre que da esta flor cultivada para beneficio económico de la población local, que con ella elabora productos cosméticos, organiza festivales tradicionales y mucho más.

La meta de esta jornada es Ouarzazate. En esta ciudad se encuentra el hotel en el que cenaréis y pasaréis la noche. Pero antes de ello, si el horario lo permite, visitaremos la kasbah de Taourirt, situada a las afueras de la ciudad: esta fortaleza bereber fue la residencia del Señor del Altas y Pachá de Marrakech, Thami El Glaoui. Y por ello, en su interior se conservan espacios con decoración exótica y colorida, en contraste con el exterior en adobe. Otra posible visita a realizar en función del horario son sus famosos estudios de cine, que se emplean en grandes producciones del séptimo arte y que le han valido el apodo de ‘Hollywood de Marruecos’.

Day 7: Ouarzazate – Ait Ben Haddou – Telouet – Marrakech

The seventh day of this circuit will take us through absolutely contrasting landscapes: from the desert to the high mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. We will start the day with breakfast at the hotel in Ouarzazate and then visit the ksar of Ait Ben Haddou, declared a World Heritage Site because it is a fortified complex of great value. The adobe architecture of its buildings and walls are a magnificent example of the expertise of the Berber people when building in perfect harmony with the environment. And its good state of preservation has favored its use as a film set in blockbusters such as Game of Thrones or Lawrence of Arabia, to name a few examples.

After the visit, we will resume the route by road, which shortly after will begin its ascent through the High Atlas Mountains. We will stop at the Kasbah of Telouet, another of the residential fortresses of Thami El Glaoui, Pasha of Marrakech. Therefore, the resemblance with Taourirt will be evident, although with its own peculiarities.

Arriving at the port of Tizi n’Tichka, the panoramic views will be breathtaking: the peaks of the High Atlas stand here as an impassable natural barrier, with snow on its highest peaks for much of the year and small villages scattered on its slopes. From here, the road begins its descent towards Marrakech.

You will reach the Red City in the afternoon, with enough time for a free walk around it. In this first contact you will appreciate the frenetic pace and the popular atmosphere that reigns in the medina, where your riad will be located.

Day 8: Marrakech

The city of Marrakech was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco and is the most visited city in Morocco. For this and many other reasons, it is worth discovering it calmly and with the help of a local guide. This is what you will do after having breakfast at the riad and entering the medina.

During the morning guided tour, some of the places of interest to explore may be the Kutubia Mosque, the Saadian tombs, the Ben Youssef Madrasa or the Bahia Palace. The Jemaa El-Fna Square is also a must-see, as it was itself declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.

In the afternoon, however, you will have free time to spend at your leisure. Some travelers decide to visit more places of interest, such as its museums or the Majorelle Gardens. Others, on the other hand, set their sights on the souks and local craft stores, always full of quality items. And in the evening, the same charming riad will provide you with a well-deserved rest.

Day 9: Marrakech – Airport

9 days after landing in Casablanca, the trip comes to an end. After breakfast at the accommodation and check-out, it will be assessed if the flight schedule allows a final walk in Marrakech for last minute shopping. In any case, our driver will pick you up punctually at the agreed time for the transfer to the airport. At the terminal we will say goodbye with gratitude for the trust placed in us and with the hope of a new meeting to continue exploring other regions of interest in Morocco.

TOURIST PACKAGE INCLUDED

  •   Pick up and drop off at the airport
  •    Comfortable private transportation with air conditioning
  •    English speaking driver / tour guide
  •    Sandboarding in the desert
  •    Camel ride

TOURIST PACKAGE EXCLUSIONS

  •    Plane tickets
  •    Drinks
  •    Lunches
  •    Tickets
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