Cultural Tours Handcrafted in Morocco

+44 (0)208 123 7969 (UK)
+212 (0)615 647918 (Morocco)

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Imperial Cities, Desert, Mountains & Coast Tour

Special Morocco Experience Tour

21 days / 20 nights (* see notes) - can be done in reverse

Tour Ref:   SV005
Tour start:   Casablanca
Tour end:   Marrakech (or Casablanca)
Tour type:   Family, Cultural
Regions:   Imperial Cities (all), Southern Valleys, Atlas Mountains, Northern Morocco & Rif, Sahara Desert, Atlantic Coast
Available:   All year upon request

Tour summary

A 21-day classic cultural tour of Morocco encompassing all the highlights, landscapes and Imperial cities in sumptuous style! This tour takes you into bustling medieval medinas, via Atlas and Rif mountains, lush oases, Sahara desert and the wild Atlantic coast. You will not only experience traditional Moroccan and Moorish architectural style, but you will also sleep in carefully selected luxury boutique accommodation - authentic historic kasbahs, luxury desert camps and beautifully renovated riads (old city townhouses). Our magnificent tour combines the sights, culture, music and cuisine of this fascinating country where African, Arab, Berber and European cultures have melted together in an intoxicating fusion. Suitable for discerning travellers of all ages seeking a cultural experience combined with first-class boutique accommodation.

  Contact us to arrange your tour

Or call us now on +212 (0)615 647918 (Morocco) or +44 (0)208 123 7969 (UK)

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

Casablanca

Meet & greet at Casablanca Mohammed V airport and check-in to your chosen hotel on the waterfront of Morocco’s thriving economic capital - Casablanca city. Depending on flight arrival time we suggest a relaxed afternoon on the beachfront or Corniche, near to the port followed by a visit of Morocco’s magnificent Hassan II mosque - the largest in the Kingdom. With space to accommodate 25,000 worhippers it is the second largest mosque in the world and sits magnificently on a promontory jutting into the Atlantic Ocean.

Stay: 4-star classic hotel or luxury boutique hotel in Casablanca.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2

Casablanca - Rabat

This morning you travel for about one hour along the coast to reach Morocco’s administrative capital city - Rabat - to stay at a boutique riad in the pretty Kasbah Oudayas neighbourhood with its ramparts overlooking the ocean, Bouregreg river and to nearby Salé. The morning is dedicated to a tour of elegant Rabat city with an 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 Alouite dynasty. After the morning tour, we suggest lunch in Rabat at one of the many international restaurants. The afternoon is free for your own exploration and you may wish to visit the Museum of Oudayas, housing a collection of Moroccan folk art or even visit the new National Museum of Modern Art or the Rabat Museum of Archaeology in the city centre.

Stay: Traditional riad in the medina of Rabat

Meal plan: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 3

Rabat - Meknès

Your cultural and historic tour continues inland this morning to the Imperial city of Meknès, around 2hrs drive from Rabat. Meknès is surrounded by fertile plain of the Middle Atlas Mountains and is abundant in olives, cereal crops and fruit. It is also an important wine-growing region of Morocco. On arrival in Meknès, after about 2hrs drive, you check in to your traditional riad in the old city and relax. The afternoon is set aside for a tour of the main sights of Meknès with an official English-speaking city guide. Moorish palaces, mosques, ramparts and beautiful Moorish arhcitecture 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. The afternoon is free for you to explore the markets and medina unguided or visit the fascinating 19th century Dar Jamai Museum which houses some exhibits dating back to the era of Sultan Moulay Ismail who founded the city.

Stay: Traditional riad in the medina of Meknès (standard or luxury)

Meal plan: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 4

Meknès - Moulay Idriss - Volubilis - Chefchaouen

We leave Meknès behind in the morning and drive for about one hour to reach one of Morocco’s most important spiritual and religious sites - the hilltop town of Moulay Idriss. Many Moroccans make an annual pilgrimage to pray at the mausoleum Moulay Idriss where the Prophet Mohammed’s great-grandson and Morocco’s most -revered saint is buried. The town itself is picturesque with whitewashed narrow-streets and alleys with splendid views towards the Roman ruins of Volubilis. You will take the short journey from Moulay Idriss to visit this improtant archeological site - now a UNESCO World Heritage site. A local guide will walk you around the Volubilis ruins and show you the remarkably well-preserved mosaic floors and forum before lunch in a nearby restaurant overlooking the ruins and the nearby Rif Mountains. After lunch, the journey by road takes around 4 hours as you drive through beautiful Rif scenery, heading north to Morocco’s pretty ‘blue’ medina, Chefchaouen.

Stay: Boutique guest-house in Chefchaouen medina

Meal plan: Breakfast & DInner

Day 5

Chefchaouen - free day

The day is free for you to explore this charming, blue and white-washed medina, nestled in the Rif Mountains. The town get’s it’s name from the Berber words for “look” or “chauf” and “horns” or “chaoua” as the town resembles a pair of goats horns perched as it is on two neighbouring hilltops. A local guide can be offered if required. It’s easy to navigate and you can explore the main points of interest: the winding streets of the medina, the 18th century kasbah and museum, the 15th century Grand Mosque and the Plaza Uta el-Hammam. In the afternoon you can opt to drive 30mins north from town to visit Akchour and hike for about 2-3hrs to visit the natural rock formations of God’s Bridge or the Akchour waterfalls. You may prefer simply to stay in the medina and shop for local handicrafts and typical woollen textiles andcolourful rugs specific to Chefchaouen region. You are free to choose your own lunch and dinner restaurants this day. N.B. This day may be omitted if you prefer (see Tour Notes)

Stay: Boutique guest-house in Chefchaouen medina

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 6

Chefcaheoun - Rif Mountains - Fes

The day’s journey takes you south from Chefchaouen, via the Ketama region of the Rif Mountains. You pass through breathtaking scenery and forests with plenty of opportunities to stop for photos. Lunch en route (not incl) and you reach the spiritual capital of Morocco - Fes - by late afternoon after about 5- 6 hours drive. Dinner is served at the riad this evening.

Stay: Traditional Riad in Fes old medina

Meal plan: Breakfast & DInner

Day 7

Fes - guided visit of medina

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 lunch and dinner this day.

Stay: Traditional Riad in Fes old medina

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 8

Fes- free day

Free day in Fes to simply catch your breath and enjoy 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. You can choose from the many fine restaurants in Fes for lunch and dinner. N.B. This day may be omitted if you prefer (see Tour Notes)

Stay: Traditional Riad in Fes old medina

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 9

Fes - Azrou - Middle Atlas Mountains - Midelt - Ziz Gorge & Valley - Erfoud

We will travel all day from Fes over the Middle Atlas Mountains to the desert town of Erfoud. Heading out of Fes, the road climbs steadily through the dramatic landscapes of the Middle Atlas. This is the homeland of Morocco’s indigenous Berber tribes,whose culture and traditions are still practiced up here in the mountains. Along the route we pass through the cedar forests of Azrou, with a chance to stop and observe the Barbary apes which inhabit this region. The agricultural town of Midelt is our halfway point and makes a convenient lunch stop. Then continuing over the Col du Zad, we will cross the Tizi N’Tairhemt Camel Pass and drive through the Gorge du Ziz to Er Rachidia. Finally we will pass Meski Oasis, on the edge of the grand Sahara before arriving in Erfoud, known as the ‘door to the desert’. We will spend the night in our first faux-Kasbah, built in the style of the ancient Berber and Touareg tribal fortresses and offering comfort, spectacular views, a pool and a hammam, right on the edge of the desert.

Stay: 4- star kasbah-style hotel in Erfoud

Meal plan: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 10

Erfoud - Rissani - Merzouga - Erg Chebbi Sahara dunes

This is the day we enter the Sahara proper. There is not a long distance to travel (approx 2hrs), so the morning is free to relax at your hotel after the long road-trip yesterday. After lunch at your hotel, we follow the River Ziz through the Tafilalt Oasis and towards Rissani, the last market town of any size before the sands of the Sahara. There are interesting fossil workshops and an archeaological museum to visit along the way. You may also take the circuit touristique that detours via crumbling mud-built villages, kasbahs and palmgroves which mark the site of the ancient ruined site of Sijilmassa - once the richest city in North Africa that built its wealth from the trade caravans and gold . You may also find time to visit the shrine or Zaouai of Moulay Ali Shereef outside Rissani, which is open to non-Muslims and has fine mosaic and carved plaster interiors to admire. By the end of the afternoon you reach the desert at Merzouga, a small settlement on the edge of Erg Chebbi dunes. You can choose to spend the night here in either standard or luxury class bivouac deep in the dunes, or you can sleep in a 4-star kasbah-style hotel, traditional riad/auberge or even a mud-built eco-lodge at the edge of the dunes. We recommend camping out in the desert to truly appreciate the special atmosphere of the desert and to view the incredible constellations of stars and the unforgettable sunrise over the dunes. For those opting to experience the tranquility of the dunes, then the final leg of your journey is by camel!

Stay: Boutique guest-house/riad or 4-star hotel near Merzouga village, or bivouac in Erg Chebbi dunes (standard or luxury)

Meal plan: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 11

Merzouga - Tafilalt Oasis - Todra Gorge - Dadès Valley and Dades Gorge

Early breakfast in the Sahara desert and return by camel to meet your 4x4 vehicle. After our night under the desert stars, we drive from Merzouga via the ochre cliffs of the Todra Gorge and into the Dadès Gorge. Our route is an ancient one and emcompasses the Tafilalt Oasis and the ‘Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs’. The Todra and Dadès gorges, with the High Atlas Mountains to the north and the Jbel Saghro range to the south, give us a glimpse of another type of Moroccan scenery - no less spectacular, although very different to what we have seen on previous days. The Rivers Todra and Dadès provide water for a series of oasis and palmeraies in the region and we will have time to explore in the shade of the date palms and olive groves that line the riverbanks. Our day ends in the Dadès Gorge, where we will spend the night either in a charming guest-house which clings to the steep cliffs, or in an authentic converted kasbah in the Dadès Valley with excquisite facilties and African-themed rooms.

Stay: boutique guesthouse in Dadès Gorge or Dadès Valley

Meal plan: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 12

Dadès Gorge/Valley - day hiking

Depending on your choice of hotel for Dadès, this day will be kept free for a guided hiking excursion or other activities locally. Or you can simply relax and enjoy the pool and terraces fo your guest-house. The hiking route will depend on the season and water level. A picnic lunch will be provided. N.B. This day may be omitted if you prefer (see Tour Notes)

Stay: Boutique guesthouse in Dadès Gorge or Dadès Valley

Meal plan: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner

Day 13

Dadès Valley - off-road into Roses Valley - Skoura - Ouarzazate

From the Dadès Gorge, we drive to the famous Valley of the Roses and Kelaa M’Gouna, home to the main rose and rose water production of Morocco. On the way, we will drive off-road to visit a nomadic settlement at BouTharar where the local nomadic Ait Atta Berbers make their homes in caves in the rock. We will pass through the Skoura oasis, where we will visit Kasbah Amerhdil and a small private museum, before ending our day in Ouarzazate where you will sleep inside the walls of the old kasbah Taourirt, in an authentic 17th century mud-built house which once served as the courthouse for the Pasha el Glaoui. It is now converted to a first-class boutique guest-house and is a fine example of traditional construction methods using local materials

Stay: Boutique kasbah guesthouse in Ouarzazate

Meal plan: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 14

Ouarzazate - Tazenakht - Taliouine - Taroudant

In the morning, guests can take time for a a either guided visit of the restored Kasbah Taourirt or the Atlas Film Studios - before we hit the road again. Our route takes us into the arid Anti-Atlas Mountains regions and via the village of Tazenakht. Here we stop for lunch after a journey of about 2 hours - you can visit one of the cooperatives selling the hand-woven carpets for which this village is famous. The route then takes us for approximately 4hrs through Taliouine, known for its saffron cultivation and finally to the small walled city of Taroudant in the fertile Souss Valley. Taroudant once served as the capital of the Saadian empire in the 16th century before they relocated to Marrakech, and is known as the ‘grandmother of Marrakech’. In Taroudant you can choose to stay in a renovated Borj (fortified palace), a tradtional riad or a boutique guest-house in the outlying countryside.

Stay: Traditional riad in Taroudant medina or boutique guesthouse in countryside

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Day 15

Taroudant - guided medina visit and free afternoon

This morning you will enjoy a relaxed guided tour of Taroudant medina, when you will learn about the history of the city and visit the two souks (called the ‘Arab souk’ and the ‘Berber souk’, although both serve both client groups that live in the city!) and the tanneries, Although much smaller and less grand than ‘grandmother’ Marrakech, Taroudant is nonetheless a pleasant town offering opportunities to see local life in action and to explore the souks with much less of the hustle of its ‘grand-daughter’. Here, we are on the Souss River, whose fertile flood plains provide fresh produce for the whole region. Many of the crafts you will see practiced in the souks are not providing trinkets for tourists, but rather agricultural implements and tools for local farmers. The afternoon is free for your own exploration and relaxation. You may wish to take a calèche-ride around the ramparts at sunset. We can also recommend places to eat outside your hotel for evening dinner. N.B. - keen hikers may wish to add a day for a day-trek into the sourrounding mountains and villages with a local guide, includes lunch at a remote Berber village

Stay: Traditional riad in Taroudant medina or boutique guesthouse in countryside

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 16

Taroudant - Agadir - Atlantic Coast - Essaouira

Our journey from Taroudant to the port city of Essaouira, passes via Agadir, Morocco’s principal beach holiday resort, then heads north along the rugged Atlantic coastline. On the way, you will glimpse sun worshippers, surfers, fishermen and some of the best bananas Morocco has to offer! You will see deserted beaches and, if you are travelling in summer, crowded beaches packed with Moroccan families. The road travels through the protected forests of thorny argan trees, where "Berber gold" - argan oil - is produced by women’s cooperatives, extracting this precious oil from the kernels of the argan nut. We will stop for simple lunch on route. On arrival in Essaouira we offer a range of traditional riad ccommodation inside the 18th century UNESCO World Heritage listed medina, or you can opt for a luxury boutique hotel close to the beach. You are free to choose where to eat dinner this evening as there are many great restaurants in Essaouira to suit all budgets and also we recommend the outdoor fish-grill by the port to sample catch of the day!

Stay: Traditional riad or luxury boutique hotel in Essaouira medina

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 17

Essaouira - free day

Explore the relaxed and chilled-out vibe of Essaouira medina, pop in to galleries to see the local arts and crafts, admire the sea views from a beachfront café, stroll around the port or along the beach and enjoy a fresh seafood lunch. For the more active, we can arrange watersports, camel rides, quad-biking, horse-riding and hiking in the nearby woodland and beaches. We can also arrange a morning cookery class with advance notice.

Stay: Traditional riad or luxury boutique hotel in Essaouira medina

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 18

Essaouira - Marrakech

In the morning, we hit the road for our final journey, to the exotic and bustling ‘red city’ of Marrakech. This is the last of the four Moroccan imperial cities that you will experience on this tour. The journey from Essaouira takes around 3 hours and once we have checked in to a traditional riad in the ancient Marrakech medina, you have a free afternoon to explore and unwind. We suggest you head to the main Place Jemaa el Fna to grab yourself some lunch in one of the café restaurants which have a great roof-terrace view over the daytime activities of the busy main square - acrobats, snake-charmers, musicians, juice-sellers and henna-artists. The rest of the afternoon you can shop for bargains in the world’s biggest covered market and you can choose from Marrakech’s many restuarants for an evening meal, or even try the fabulous array of fayre on the outdoor grills of the Place Jemaa el Fna at nighttime.

Stay: Traditional riad in Marrakech medina

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 19

Marrakech - half-day guided visit

Half-day morning tour with city guide of Imperial City of Marrakech - also known as ‘the red city’ for it’s 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, apothocaries and also visiting landmark monuments including Ben Youssef Medersa, the Bahia Palace and the Koutoubia Mosque. Your tour ends at the famous Place Jemaa el Fna square. Rest of the day is at leisure or we suggest you take a horse-drawn carriage to the new town are of Guéliz to visit the exquisite Majorelle Gardens, previoulsy 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 sheeps 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 poundng rhythms of the street musicians, the call to prayer ringing out from the mosques as the excited crowds gather for this nightly ‘circus’.

Stay: Traditional riad in Marrakech medina

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 20

Marrakech - free day

Free day in Marrakech to explore the medina and sights or perhaps take a horse-drawn carriage to visit the famous Majorelle Gardens in the new town. 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. You could also round off your Special Morocco Experience with a trip to the fabled La Mamounia hotel, to enjoy tea in the gardens or a very special romantic dinner. The architecture, manicured gardens and sumptuous interiors are worth a visit in themselves. N.B. This day may be omitted if you prefer (see Tour Notes)

Stay: Traditional riad in Marrakech medina

Meal plan: Breakfast

Day 21

Marrakech - departure

After breakfast at your riad, private transfer to airport as required (Marrakech 30 mins, or Casabanca 3hrs) 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 is a leisurely paced tour and can be reduced to 16 nights/17 days by omitting free days in Chefchaouen, Fes, Dades Valley & Marrakech

Add-on experiences for this tour

Allow at least 1 day extra for each experience.

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