Cultural Tours Handcrafted in Morocco
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Imperial Cities of Morocco

Imperial Cities of Morocco with Sahara Desert & Southern Valleys

12 days / 11 nights (* see notes) - can be done in reverse

Tour Ref:   SV003
Tour start:   Marrakech
Tour end:   Casablanca
Tour type:   Family, Cultural
Regions:   Imperial Cities (all), Southern Valleys, Atlas Mountains, Sahara Desert
Available:   All year upon request

Tour summary

A thrilling private tour of Morocco that combines the rich, colourful wilderness and breathtaking desert landscapes of the Sahara with the cultural and historic Imperial Cities of Morocco. The journey takes in the High Atlas Mountains, the Middle Atlas Mountains, lush oases, crumbling kasbahs, souks, palaces, gardens, mosques, monuments and holy shrines. Discover the magical, medieval medinas of Marrakech, Meknes and Fes as well as the elegant boulevards and palaces of Rabat. The tour also allows for free time for your own exploration and relaxation. With guided visits, stays in comfortable traditional riads and small guest-houses, we set an easy daily pace and plenty of downtime. This is a perfect tour for couples, families, students, friends and people of all ages and fitness levels.

Please note: All our Morocco tours can be customised to allow extra days for shorter daily car journeys, extra activities, relaxation days, exploration days etc. We can also adapt tours to connect with different start/end locations in Morocco. Let us know your wishes and we will build your perfect Morocco tour itinerary.

Price: Contact us for a personalised quotation.
Prices will vary according to number of people travelling in vehicle, number of days, time of year, category of accommodation chosen and activities requested.

NB Our Morocco tours are private tours organised upon request.

Day-to-day tour itinerary

Day 1


Meet & greet at MARRAKECH airport and transfer to your riad - a guest-house converted from a traditional Moorish-designed family-home centred around a small courtyard patio or inner garden. You can choose to stay in the old city medina, in a hotel in the modern new town outside the ramparts, or a few kilometres out of town in a boutique hotel or villa in the exclusive palmeraie. Depending on your arrival time you will then have the rest of the day to explore the vibrant city of Marrakech unguided or just enjoy the facilities of your hotel. The old medina of Marrakech is a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys, with different neighbourhoods and streets specialising in various arts, crafts and produce. Take time to relax in your traditional guesthouse, enjoy the roof terrace and soak up the sounds and smells of Morocco’s favourite city. Dinner will be served at your riad/hotel this evening.

Stay: Traditional riad or boutique hotel in Marrakech

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2


Half-day morning tour with city guide of Marrakech - also known as the ‘red city’ for its famous pink-hued ramparts. Our English-speaking city guide will meet you at your hotel in the morning and take you through the souks of the medieval medina, introducing you to artisans, bakers, carpenters, spice merchants, apothecaries and also including visiting the landmark monuments of Ben Youssef Madrasa, the Bahia Palace and the Koutoubia Mosque. Your tour ends at the famous Place Jemaa el Fna square where you can enjoy lunch from a roof terrace overlooking the bizarre activities of the acrobats, storytellers, musicians and snake charmers. Rest of the day is at leisure or we suggest you take a horse-drawn carriage to the new town are of Gueliz to visit the exquisite Majorelle Gardens, owned by Yves St. Laurent and originally private home of the painter Jacques Majorelle. We suggest you return to the square for an evening dinner at one of the outdoor food grills to sample anything from grilled meats, fried fish, fried aubergines, boiled snails, harira soup, spiced ginger tea, boiled sheep’s head and other local delicacies. Even if you decide to eat elsewhere, the experience of the Place Jemaa el Fna at night is an intoxicating one - with smoke swirling up from the grills, the pounding rhythms of the street musicians, the call to prayer ringing out from the mosques as the excited crowds gather for this nightly ‘circus’.

Stay: Riad/hotel/boutique guesthouse (standard or luxury)

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 3


Free day in Marrakech unescorted to relax, explore and shop in the souks. You may wish to enjoy add-on activities this day such as: cookery class, hot-air balloon ride, horse riding, camel riding, quad biking, golf, hammam/spa treatments.

Stay: Riad/hotel/boutique guesthouse (standard or luxury)

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 4

Marrakech - High Atlas Mountains - Telouet Kasbah - Ait Benhaddou Kasbah - Skoura Valley

Depart with your driver and Sahrawi guide in 4x4. You head out of Marrakech and into the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, stopping for coffee and breaks as you wish. You follow the winding Tizi n’Tichka pass, the main thoroughfare to the south, which twists its way through the dramatic scenery. At the highest point of Col du Tichka at 2260 m, you veer off inland onto a minor road through the Ounila Valley to visit the restored 19th century Glaoui Kasbah at Telouet. (depending on road conditions). Mud-built Berber villages, snow-capped peaks (Nov-Feb) and valleys filled with almond blossom (Feb-Apr) make this a spectacular drive through an unspoiled landscape. You stop for lunch near the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Ait Benhaddou then walk across the river to visit the hilltop fortified kasbah. The journey then continues south to the city of Ouarzazate, where you can stop for supermarket supplies if needed) before you head east, passing the Lake Mansour Eddahbi, Kasbah Amerhidil and into the Skoura Valley. The High Atlas Mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the rust-red mud of the villages and the oasis of palm trees, quince, pomegranate, olives and figs.

Stay: Guesthouse or boutique hotel in Skoura oasis

Meal plan: Breakfast & dInner

Day 5

Skoura - Roses Valley - Dades Gorge - Dades Valley - Todra Gorge

As you leave Skoura in the morning you can visit the small Museu of Skoura to see exhibits of local berber tribal costumes, manuscripts and agricultural implements used in the villages until very recently. Then head towards the village of Kelaa M’Gouna which is famed for cultivation of Damask rose on terraces carved into the southern slopes of the High Atlas. Each spring the petals are gathered and distilled to manufacture perfumes, cosmetics, oils, rose water and other beauty products. You head north up as far as Bou Tharar and then head off-road to join the Dadès Gorge. Along the way you may well encounter nomadic families of mountain Berbers of the Ait Atta tribe, who still live in caves in the mountainside. You will stop for lunch in the Dadès Gorge overlooking the weird geological formations sculpted from the sandstone that have created a natural sculpture known as ‘the monkeys fingers’. From here, you continue through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs until you reach Tinerhir and head up the winding narrow tarmac road that leads through palm groves, pomegranate, figs and olive terraces as far as the throat of the Todra Gorge. In the shade of the steep cliffs of the gorge you will spend the night in a charming, but simple, guesthouse with outdoor pool and direct access to the river Todra below. Depending on time of year you may have time to walk for an hour or two in the Todra Gorge or down among the gardens that spring up at the edges of the riverbed. NB Keen horse riders, hikers or rock climbers should consider adding an extra day or two to their tour here.

Stay: Guesthouse in Todra

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 6

Todra Gorge - Erfoud - Rissani - Merzouga - Erg Chebbi dunes

The morning you head back down to Tinerhir and then east to Tinejdad where you may wish to stop to visit the fascinating community project, the Museum of the Oasis at Ksar el-Khorbat before then continuing to Erfoud and Rissani. Between Erfoud and Rissani, look out for the ‘khettara’ ancient water irrigation system that lines the road and also the Museum of Geology and Paleontology. This region is particularly rich in prehistoric fossils, ammonites and trilobites embedded in the bedrock for millennia. Polished black marble and granite is a speciality of Erfoud and you may wish to visit a marble workshop along the way. In Rissani, the birthplace of the current Alaouite dynasty, you stop for lunch before then continuing to Merzouga village to reach the Moroccan Sahara dunes of Erg Chebbi. Here you swap your 4x4 for a camel and local nomad guide to take you to your bivouac desert camp in the Erg Chebbi desert dunes for the night. NB for those who want to spend more than a few hours in the Sahara, we can add an extra day here to enjoy a full-day camel trek, sample a local Berber pizza, go quad biking or enjoy an afternoon performance with the Saharan Gnawa musicians in the village of Khamlia.

Stay: Standard or luxury desert camp Merzouga

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 7

Merzouga - Ziz Valley & Gorge - Midelt - Middle Atlas - Azrou - Fes

Early breakfast in the Sahara desert and return by camel to meet your 4x4 vehicle. You then drive north via Er Rachidia and the Ziz Valley and Gorge, with abandoned kasbahs and villages along the the route of the Oued Ziz. It’s a long 9 or 10-hour drive passing through the agricultural town of Midelt where you stop for lunch, and over the Middle Atlas Mountains. You may encounter snowfields in winter as you climb towards the ski resort at Ifrane - known as ‘Switzerland of Morocco’ and then through the cedar forest at Azrou, where you can stop to stretch the legs and seek out the Barbary apes that live in this protected habitat. At the end of the day you arrive to the spiritual capital of Morocco - Fes medina. After a long day on the road, dinner is waiting for you at your riad. NB keen hikers may wish to break the journey at Azrou and spend an extra night here to enable for walking in the forests and mountains the next morning before going on to Fes.

Stay: Riad in Fes old medina

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 8


Full day private guided walking tour of Fes old medina - Fes El Bali with an English-speaking city guide. The guide will walk you through the maze of souks and sights visiting some of the highlights including the famous Fes pottery sous, the musical instrument makers, metalworkers, carpet souks and the Chaouwara tanneries. There are over 9,000 cobbled medieval streets weaving their way through markets, mosques, Koranic schools, riads and hidden fountains. Worth visiting are the Moulay Idriss Zaouia or shrine, Bab Bou Jeloud ornamental gate, Al-Kairaouine Mosque and University - the oldest university in the world, Al-Attarine Madrasa, Nejjarine fountain, King’s Palace, the Dar Batha Museum, Nejjarine Museum of Arts & Crafts and the Jewish quarter or mellah. Your guide will include as much as possible in your day. You are free to make your own plans for dinner this evening.

Stay: Riad in Fes old medina

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 9


Free day in Fes for shopping and exploring unaccompanied. You may wish to opt for a cookery class, a medina food tour or other activity outside the city this day such as hiking in the Middle Atlas Mountains.

Stay: Riad in Fes old medina

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 10

Fes - Moulay Idriss - Volubilis - Meknes

Morning departure from Fes and drive for about an hour to reach the charming white-washed town of Moulay Idriss - considered to be one of the holiest places in the Kingdom. Until 1916 it was closed to non-Muslims, but now tourists are welcomed. Every year thousands of Muslims make the pilgrimage here to the burial site of Moulay Idriss, the great grandson of the Prophet Muhammed and the founder of the city of Fes. You can wander the small medina, sip tea and admire the views across rolling landscape and vineyards to Volubilis. Next you continue to the Roman ruined city of Volubilis, Morocco’s most important archeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage site. You enjoy a guided walking tour and see the incredible mosaic floors that have survived for centuries and learn of the significance of this city when Romans advanced into Africa and were defeated by the indigenous Berber tribes. Lunch is in a nearby restaurant. The tour then continues to the Imperial city of Meknes which sits on fertile plains of the Middle Atlas Mountains and is one of Morocco’s famous regions for wine-growing. Moorish palaces, mosques, ramparts and beautiful Moorish architecture are all to behold in the city that served as the capital during the 17th century. The main points of interest are the Bab el Mansour gate, the Medersa Bou Inania Koranic School, the Place El Hadim square, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail and the covered markets. You will have dinner and spend the night in a traditional riad in the old medina of Meknes.

Stay: Traditional riad in Meknes medina

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 11

Meknes - Rabat - Casablanca

The morning journey continues for about two hours by road to reach Morocco’s capital and residence of the current King Mohamed VI - the Imperial city of Rabat. On arrival you will have lunch near to the Oudayas, overlooking the ocean. Then you have a private 3 hrs tour of elegant Rabat city with official English-speaking guide. You will explore the picturesque Kasbah Oudayas on the northern fringes of the medina, dating from the Almohad dynasty. Also you visit the nearby Hispano-Moorish Andalucian Gardens and the Chellah necropolis which was once a Roman garden and olive grove. It subsequently became a royal cemetery with the addition of lush, exotic gardens and terraces which are now open to the public and it is a beautiful, peaceful haven. The tour also includes views of the Royal Palace, where the King Mohammed VI is in residence, the Hassan Tower - a half-built minaret which was intended to be the tallest minaret for the largest mosque in the world when construction began at the end of the 12th century under the reign of Almohad Sultan, Yacoub el Mansour. Nearby, on Yacoub al Mansour esplanade, is the Mohammed V Mausoleum which holds the remains of Mohammed V and Hassan II - kings of the subsequent and current Alaouite dynasty. At the end of the afternoon you continue for about an hour by road to Morocco’s industrial and economic hub, the fabled city of Casablanca. Here you check-in to a hotel on the seafront (4-star) or in the modern city (3-star). You are free to choose your own restaurant for dining this evening - we recommend eating at one of the international restaurants along the Corniche, in the Sqala by the port, or in the city centre.

Stay: Hotel or luxury boutique guesthouse in Casablanca

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 12

Casablanca - Departure

Depending on time of your departure we suggest you take a leisurely walk along the seafront near to the hotel, stroll through the old medina and take time to visit the Hassan II Mosque, the tallest in Morocco and the second largest mosque in the world, with capacity for 25,000 worshippers. It sits on a promontory rock jutting into the ocean and in one area there is a glass floor to view the sea below. You will then be transferred to Casablanca Mohammed V airport for your departure flight or you can choose to continue your holiday in Morocco with us by adding-on one of our Suggested Morocco Adventure Tour Itineraries.

Stay: N/A

Meal plan: Breakfast

  • This tour can be reduced to 10 days / 9 nights if required so that just ONE full day in both Fes and Marrakech.

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