Imagine a circuit that takes you all over Morocco: through its desert and its oases, through its Imperial Cities and its rural villages, through the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coasts, through the high mountains and the deepest valleys… And imagine that all this happens in two weeks. Actually, you don’t need to imagine, just read the information of this 14-day Morocco tour in full, starting in Marrakech and ending in Tangier. And Chic Morocco makes it happen for you.
This circuit includes, of course, those iconic destinations of Morocco, the ones used by the country to make itself known to the world. We are talking about the dunes of the Sahara desert (Erg Chebbi), the Imperial Cities (Marrakech, Fez, Rabat and Meknes) and Berber villages of maximum charm such as Ait Ben Haddou. It is no coincidence that they have been designated a World Heritage Site by Unesco, since they possess a beauty, history and originality that are difficult to match.
But in this circuit there is also room for other destinations that are sometimes left out of the program even though their interest and beauty are indisputable. For example, we include the ‘jewels’ of the Mediterranean and its surroundings (Tangier and Tetouan), we do the same with the ‘pearl of the Atlantic’ (Essaouira), we add a very representative locality of the Draa Valley (Zagora) and we organize genuine activities in the desert. For all these reasons, this route is the most complete in our catalog of routes starting in Marrakech.
In this circuit of 14 days and 13 nights, starting in Marrakech and ending in Tangier, the route has the following itinerary, in order to optimize the tours without leaving any interesting destination out of it:
Our agency will be your inseparable companion from the moment you arrive in Morocco: our staff will meet you at Marrakech Menara Airport and from the terminal we will transfer you in a comfortable and private vehicle to the riad in the medina that will serve as your home for the first three nights. After check-in, there will be free time until the rest time at the end of the day, depending on the flight’s landing time.
On the first day of this tour, you will have had the opportunity to sense the beauty of Marrakech, either from the car or on a first walk. But it will not be until today, on the second day of the trip, when we will discover in depth the main monuments of this city that was the capital of the Almoravid, Almohad and Saadi dynasties, who enlarged it for the benefit of its inhabitants and those who visit it now, many centuries later.
There is nothing better than an official guide to take us to these places of interest and to explain their significance. In this way, we will surely pass by the Jemaa el-Fna Square, the Koutoubia Mosque, the Saadian Tombs or the Bahia Palace, among other places. All this through charming alleys, populous neighborhoods with souks of different guilds and corners that seem to have stopped in time.
But Marrakech is not only its historic medina, but also other neighborhoods (Gueliz) and other more recent attractions (Majorelle Gardens, Yves Saint Laurent Museum, etc.). Therefore, the afternoon can be a good time to discover it all at your own pace and freedom. And in the evening, another well-deserved rest in the riad in the medina.
Spending two weeks in Morocco and not visiting Essaouira would be an unforgivable mistake, so this circuit integrates it in the third day of the program, as an excursion: we left for it after breakfast and returned on the last part of the day, to sleep in this same riad in Marrakech.
On the way to Essaouira, along the road, we will see huge argan forests, the tree whose oil has given Morocco so much prestige. But despite being an international product, it continues to be extracted and produced with traditional concepts. And so we will discover it in some of the cooperatives that have been established on this stretch of road.
Essaouira awaits at the end of this road, when the Atlantic Ocean comes out to meet us. In the past it was called Mogador, a name given by the Portuguese, who established here an important enclave on their maritime routes. For this reason, they built a maritime fortress (Skala), in the shelter of which the medina is located today. Walking in search of souks, mosques, synagogues or fishing ports is a pleasure within reach here, as is a swim in its beaches if the weather is good.
At the agreed time, our driver will pick you up to transfer you back to Marrakech, where you will spend the third and last night in the riad.
On this day of circuit, we leave Marrakech and begin our journey through the lands located further south of the Atlas. A trip that will take us through the most important pre-Saharan valleys and, of course, the desert. In these days of circuit we will not adopt a linear and direct itinerary, but we will take detours, make stops and take the most appropriate route to discover the most spectacular places of this vast region.
To reach it, it will be necessary to cross the High Atlas, the highest part of this mountain range, whose main port is the imposing Tizi n’Tichka pass. This environment remains snowy several months of the year and is the border between two areas of great contrast: to the north, the valleys of wild nature and villages embedded in the mountains, and to the south, bare slopes and uninhabited by the rigors of the climatic conditions.
In Ait Ben Haddou, the first visit of the day, we will get in touch with the difficult climatic and demographic reality of the area, but at the same time we will admire the uniqueness of this walled village, built by the Berber tribes of the area to serve the caravan routes that connected Marrakech with Timbuktu, mainly. Today, in addition to attracting the attention of curious and intrepid tourists, it also attracts film and television blockbusters, such as Game of Thrones.
Shortly after we will arrive in Ouarzazate, a city also closely linked to cinema because of its filming studios. But in our case, the main attraction will be the kasbah of Taourirt, another magnificent example of Berber architecture, in this case as a castle-palace of the powerful El Glaoui family: adobe structure, refined interiors with ceramics, wood and plaster … Definitely a very interesting visit before taking dinner at the hotel and retire to rest in the rooms.
On this fifth day, the program takes us through two interesting pre-Saharan valleys, a most unique environment due to the combination of small steep mountains with oases in the form of palm groves and cultivated areas in the vicinity of the humble rivers that, although not very fast-flowing, do provide the necessary humidity for agriculture.
The first of these valleys is the Valley of the Roses, so called because of the numerous rose bushes that grow in and around the villages. Its cultivation is the main livelihood for many local people and very popular festivals are held in honor of this flower, such as the Kelaa M’Gouna festival in spring. The damascena rose is its main variety, in pink, but it is possible to find other colors during the flowering season.
From the Valley of the Roses we will continue through the Dades Valley. It is part of the so-called Route of the Thousand Kasbahs, due to the numerous Berber adobe fortifications that mark the route. But there are also other places of great interest, such as the Dades Gorges, a canyon in which the road winds in an improbable way, creating images worthy of photography.
Shortly after, we will stop in a charming village to stay in a traditional and characteristic riad, where we will also have dinner.
The attractions that we discovered the previous day in the Valley of the Roses and the Dades Valley are just the beginning, because on this sixth day we will know others, always within a fascinating journey by car by road.
The first stop will be the Todra Gorges, another rocky canyon with extremely vertical walls, perfect not only for climbers but also to be admired from below. We will take a walk along the seasonal river Todra, author of this great natural work, strolling along its banks and the nooks and crannies it forms in the landscape.
This will be in the surroundings of Tinghir, a locality that gathers all the attractions of the area. And from here we will head south to meet another very special valley: the Draa Valley. It is a unique space because of the huge oasis that covers the banks of the river, so large that it is considered one of the largest palm groves in Africa, with 150 km from end to end.
With this miracle of fertility among so much aridity, we will arrive at Zagora, a beautiful desert town that was also a passing place for caravan routes coming from the south. Therefore, its adobe kasbah was key to the protection of trade and its own inhabitants. Here in Zagora will be the riad where we will have dinner and sleep tonight.
After several days traveling through the beautiful and amazing pre-Saharan valleys, the day finally arrives to reach the pure Pashar desert. On this seventh day of the circuit we will continue our route by road through peaceful villages, abandoned kasbahs and small bare mountains. But now the landscape becomes even more arid, until we reach Rissani.
This town is one of the most characteristic of the region, for its historical medina and for the popular atmosphere that reigns in its old town. It will not be unusual to find donkeys parked at the gates of the medina or a market of traditional stalls selling spices, handmade items or Berber pizzas.
After visiting this small town, we will continue a few more kilometers by road to Merzouga, the town that gives its name to the most fascinating area of the Sahara desert in Morocco. And it is because of the sand dunes that extend around it. We will travel by camel, as tradition dictates, guided by the person in charge of the animals, ‘heir’ of the mastery of the Touareg in this work.
The end of this camel ride is the luxury tented camp that will host us for the night. They are Berber tents equipped with the maximum comfort, with a common area where we will be welcomed with a welcome tea and a fire that gives a familiar and warm touch to the atmosphere. After dinner and contemplation of the stars at night, we will rest to recharge our batteries after an intense day and face another similar day the next morning.
The eighth day begins in a special way: the lights come on gradually and with shades of a thousand colors on the dunes of Erg Chebbi, so that getting up early to see it is an effort that is worthwhile. Moments after dawn we will have breakfast in the tents camp and return to Merzouga.
From Merzouga we will start an off-road tour through places of great uniqueness in the environment. The first of these is Khamlia, a small village whose main interest is in music and the people who make it possible: the inhabitants of this place are descendants of former slaves brought from across the Sahara and their best means of expression are the Gnawa rhythms and dances. And so they will show it to us in a concert.
Shortly after, we will enter the dirt tracks that are still used today by the semi-nomadic communities of the desert and that were once used by the motorcycles and cars of the Paris-Dakar rally. We will do it with our 4×4, between abandoned kohl mines and ruined villages, but we will reach one of those settlements still inhabited by local people. Here we will meet with families who will tell us about their ancestral way of life, where the rhythm and priorities are different.
After this brief but enriching experience, we will return to Merzouga, stopping at strategic points to contemplate the sand dunes from a panoramic view. In Merzouga we will have dinner and sleep in a very charming hotel, with an architecture and decoration inspired by everything we will have discovered these days in the desert.
On the ninth day of the circuit, it is time to say goodbye to the Sahara Desert and the vast territory that extends south of the Atlas Mountains. This is a stage with many kilometers of road and, therefore, many landscapes that will follow one another on the other side of the window.
The Ziz Valley will lead us to the Middle Atlas Mountains, which we will cross in an ascent between bare and arid slopes. On the contrary to the descent: the north face of this mountain range is much more humid and favors the existence and conservation of native forests.
We will stop at the most important: the Ifrane National Park, known to Moroccans as the Monkey Forest because here lives in freedom a large community of Barbary macaques. These primates find refuge here thanks to the Atlas cedars that form a dense forest mass, as we will appreciate on our walk and road trip.
Shortly after, we will be surprised by Ifrane, a mountain village located at an altitude of 1,700 meters. This means that in winter snowfall is abundant, which has led its inhabitants to build buildings with gable roofs, as in other more northerly mountain ranges, such as the Alps or Alaska and many others. Undoubtedly, a spectacular contrast to the adobe structures we saw in the morning and that only happens in a country as varied as Morocco.
To conclude the day, we will arrive in Fez, a city that is worth visiting at leisure, as we will do the next morning, so that on this day we will only have time to settle in and rest in our riad in the city.
Fez is not only a city located in the geographical heart of Morocco, but it is also at the heart of the Moroccan people. This is due to its religious, cultural, historical and artistic symbolism. It is not for nothing that it is an Imperial City and a reference for the country’s national identity.
This is what we will understand during the morning guided tour, led by a guide certified by the Ministry of Tourism. The places to discover will be varied, covering perhaps religious temples from the outside (Karaouine mosque, mosque of the Andalusians), civil spaces such as the Fountain and Nejjarine Square, neighborhoods of artisans (tanneries), medersas for the study of the Koran (Bou Inania, Attarine), the mellah or Jewish quarter or even the esplanade in front of the Royal Palace.
Everything will depend on your walking pace and the circumstances of the medina on this day. In any case, the afternoon is free, so it can be used to complement what was visited during the morning or to visit museums (Dar Batha, Borj Nord). It will also be the ideal time to shop for handicrafts, as Fez is considered the capital in the field, with first class ceramics, refined jewelry, high quality textile works… and many other handmade objects. And in the evening, another night of rest in the peaceful riad in the medina.
This day of the circuit will be monopolized by the Imperial Cities: we will leave one (Fez) to visit two others (Meknes and Rabat), as they are all close and well connected by road.
Meknes is an amazing city, with a lot of history. But undoubtedly, its richest period was that of Moulay Ismail, the all-powerful sultan who enlarged Meknes and made it his capital. For this reason, its spectacular mausoleum and the remains of its royal palace are located here. In addition, other constructions of its period can be admired, such as the walls and its monumental gates, among which Bab el Mansour stands out.
After visiting Meknes, we will travel to Rabat, the current capital of the country and, therefore, the seat of important national symbols. For example, here is the Royal Palace (Dar el Makhzen), residence of the Alawite king. But also the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, first monarch of independent Morocco in the 20th century. Nearby is the Hassan Tower, the most historic monument, built in Almohad times. And the Kasbah of the Udayas adds another historical touch, as well as providing spectacular views of the Atlantic coast, the Bou Regreg River and neighboring Salé.
At the end of the day, we will rest in a riad in Rabat, to relax and process everything we have visited during the day.
From the Atlantic coast to the Rif Mountains, from a large capital to a small picturesque town. From Rabat to Chaouen. That will be the journey of this twelfth day of the circuit, which will take us about 250 km in a northerly direction.
And as soon as we arrive in Chaouen we will discover why this trip is worthwhile: known as the ‘blue village’, the medina’s houses are whitewashed and painted in that color, in the most pleasant light blue tones. In addition, its location is unique: covering the slopes of two mountains, so that the medina is a continuous up and down that gives a lot of charm: slopes, stairs, nooks and crannies, arches to pass under the houses …. And also viewpoints to contemplate the panoramic view of this town and its surroundings.
The route can begin and end in the Uta el-Hammam square, at the foot of the medina and full of locals, where two elements stand out above all: its Atlas cedar in the center and its medieval kasbah (XIV century), which is visitable as the Ethnographic Museum of the town, with an exhibition of traditional objects: handicrafts, work, weapons, etc..
You can organize the day at your own pace, taking into account that the riad where you will rest is also located in the center of Chaouen.
This penultimate day of the tour marks the difference with respect to other shorter proposals: on this day we will visit two cities of great interest in the north of the country, Tetouan and Tangier, each for different reasons.
The first will be Tetuan, a city that does not hide its ties with Spain: it was the capital of the Spanish Protectorate in the twentieth century and its Ensanche (new neighborhood) is inspired by Andalusian models. In addition, its medina has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco due to its good state of preservation: the walls, the Caliph’s Palace, the zagüías, etc. In this case, the predominant color is white and, being located on the side of a mountain, this has earned it the nickname of the White Dove.
After visiting Tetouan, it will be the turn of Tangier, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Morocco due to its proximity to Europe: nestled in the Strait of Gibraltar, it has wide and well-equipped Mediterranean beaches, which allow a pleasant swim if the weather is favorable. It also has picturesque corners in its medina and kasbah, making it a destination that already attracted many artists and intellectuals in the twentieth century.
In Tangier is located the riad where you will rest this last night, as a final epilogue to this two-week tour.
The schedule of the flight back home will mark the times of this last day in Morocco. At the agreed time, we will make the transfer from the hotel to take you to Tangier Ibn Battuta Airport. At the terminal, our services will end, with the hope that it will be just this once and that we will enjoy a trip together again in the future, either in Morocco or in other countries where our agency operates.
In this two-week tour, the travel package includes a series of premium services to make the experience a success:
The following services are not included in the package. The traveler must decide on them: