One week is enough to get to know some of the main attractions of Morocco, from points of view as different as history and art, nature and popular traditions. Therefore, if you have 7 days and some flexibility for flights, you can arrive in Fez, make this interesting circuit and return home from Marrakech. Take note of this proposal that will make you discover the deep Morocco and, in some cases, absolutely unknown to mass tourism.
The route we propose here goes through places declared World Heritage Sites by Unesco, which shows its unique beauty and history. For this reason, they are an absolute must on a trip through the center and south of the country. This is the case of Fez, the cultural and religious heart of Morocco. The same goes for the ksar Ait Ben Haddou, a symbol of Berber architecture. On a natural level, the Sahara desert is a magnet for travelers from all over the world, especially the dunes of Erg Chebbi, which we will travel to the very heart of the desert.
A differentiating element of this 7-day tour from Fez is that it will take you to places that are virtually unknown to most tourists, but no less interesting. Khamlia and the nomadic families of the desert will come out to meet us to make us discover the hidden face of the Sahara. In Ifrane and Midelt we will get to know a typical environment of the Middle Atlas Mountains. And in the Dades Valley we will cross palm groves whose greenery can only be enjoyed by those who travel in a premium vehicle with chauffeur, as in our case.
The 7 days and 6 nights that make up this tour from Fez are distributed as follows: starting at Fez airport and the possibility of ending at Marrakech airport or at any other point in that city.
This 7-day tour from Fez starts at the Fez airport and includes transfer from the terminal to the hotel. After landing and completing the formalities to enter the country, the staff of our agency will be ready for the transfer: a driver with a premium private vehicle will take you to the riad located in the medina.
The rest of the day will be free and will depend on the arrival time of the flight. These first hours in Fez will be used for a first contact with the city and its historical medina, which we will discover in depth the following day.
After a first night of acclimatization and rest in Fez, it is time to visit the city. For this, we will use an official guide, certified by the Ministry of Tourism, as Fez is considered the cultural and religious heart of Morocco, with the largest medina in the country and monuments of the first order, although not all of them are visitable inside.
Our guide will design a tour of the medina of Fez, which is actually divided into two medinas: one ‘old’ (Fez el Bali) and the other ‘new’ (Fez el Jedid), from the 9th and 13th centuries, respectively. In this tour, you can find interesting buildings and places such as the Bou Inania medersa, the Karaouine mosque, the Nejjarine square, the tannery district (Chouwara), the mellah or the Alaouite square, where the Royal Palace stands.
The guided tour will try to be as complete and rich as possible, since in the afternoon we will go on route with our vehicle, out of the city. In these first kilometers of the circuit we will reach the mountainous town of Ifrane, of alpine aspect, and the important Ifrane National Park, famous for its extensive mass of cedars and its numerous colony of Barbary macaques.
At the end of the day we will reach the heart of the Middle Atlas, so we will spend the night in Midelt, a town located at 1,500 meters of altitude that will offer us enough tranquility to rest for the third day of the circuit.
On this third day of the circuit, we will cross the Middle Atlas Mountains through the Tizi n’Talghemt pass, then we will start a great descent that will take us to the Ziz Valley. This river flows through an arid environment, very different from the one that welcomed us the day before, although the scarce humidity provided by its course is sufficient for the existence of cultivated fields and some palm groves.
In this way we will arrive at Erfoud, a city that can already be considered ‘of the desert’, although here the date palm has a very relevant presence. The great hallmark of this city is, however, the production of marble and the existence of abundant fossils. In some sites, remains of dinosaurs and other prehistoric species have even been found.
With the images of suggestive fossils in the retina we will arrive at Merzouga, a small town that gives its name to a vast area of the Sahara desert. It is here where they will be waiting for us for a very special transfer: we will leave the motor vehicle to get on the camels guided by a Touareg. This is not just a leisure experience, but the best way to tour the Erg Chebbi dunes, which are located just outside Merzouga.
Thus, on the back of camels, we will cross this landscape that invites you to dream, until we reach the luxury tents camp, located in the heart of this golden landscape. We will feel that time goes slower and we will be able to enjoy the end of the day without haste: a fairytale sunset, a welcome Berber tea, a traditional dinner by the fire and a starry night as you have rarely seen before. Undoubtedly, the ideal conditions to retire to rest in these typical desert tents, which are nevertheless adapted to offer a comfortable rest.
Watching the sunrise over a sea of fine golden sand dunes is a unique experience due to the mixture of colors and silence in the atmosphere. And on this fourth day you will have the opportunity to experience it. Afterwards, breakfast will be served in the tented camp and then we will head back to Merzouga. This return trip will also be by camel, although it can be changed for a 4×4 vehicle.
In fact, the 4×4 will be essential to be able to make the route planned for this day, which will take us to other hidden corners of the desert. One of the stops of the day will be Khamlia, a small village near Merzouga where a large number of people of sub-Saharan origin reside: they are Moroccans of many generations, but descendants of slaves brought here centuries ago. One of its great merits is to have preserved the gnawa music and dance, with tribal roots, as we will be able to see in a live performance.
Shortly after, the asphalt disappears and we start to cross the desert in the wildest way: on dirt tracks that years ago were used by the motorcycles and cars of the Paris-Dakar, a rally that brought international fame to this area. In this extremely arid environment you will be surprised to see the remains of kohl mines, whose extraction was boosted during the French Protectorate, as well as abandoned villages of that period.
And also in such a hostile environment, it will have much more merit to know the life of the semi-nomadic families that still live here throughout the year. They continue to care for their livestock as their most precious treasure and, at home, daily life continues to resemble that of centuries ago. We will get to know them first hand, as our driver-guide has earned their trust and will act as an authorized interlocutor.
Finally, as the last milestone of the day on our way back, we will look for an elevated position to have an unparalleled panoramic view of the dunes of Erg Chebbi. After that, we will arrive in Merzouga where the hotel will be waiting for us, mimicking the desert, where we will have dinner and rest for another night.
On the fifth day we say goodbye to the desert, but that does not mean the end of the fascinating places of this circuit. In fact, the first of them we will find shortly after resuming the route: Rissani, a small town but with a historic medina of great interest. The founder of the Alaouite dynasty (Moulay Ali Cherif) has his mausoleum here, but its magnificence contrasts with other scenes of the most customary, as the parking of donkeys in the vicinity of the traditional market, which is still in force with a variety of stalls.
After leaving Rissani, we will head for the valleys that stretch between the desert and the High Atlas Mountains. The
CITY OF THE MOUNTAIN
Tinghir, as the Berbers know Tinghir, will be an interesting stop on the way, as it represents very well the type of city that characterizes the region: among rocky hills, a large palm grove and farmland, with a hamlet mostly made of adobe.
Tinghir is also a reference point for our route: from here we will take the road that will lead us to the Todra Gorges, a corner as beautiful as unlikely. At the bottom of this canyon runs the humble river that has been carving the rock to form a narrow corridor and walls of almost 200 meters at some points. Walking along the promenade is a delight for the eyes, and climbing along the routes is a delight for climbers coming from all corners of the world.
Back to the Dades Valley, we will continue by road between ancient kasbahs, small villages, date palms and cultivated fields wherever the land is fertile enough. Boumalne Dades will be our final stop to stay in a nice riad, which will also provide dinner in the evening.
On this sixth day, we are gradually approaching the High Atlas, covering the last kilometers of the Dades Valley. And it is precisely here that one of its natural jewels is located: the Skoura palm grove, one of the densest and best formed in the region, to which is added the beautiful scenery of the mountains in the background, snow-capped for much of the year.
Ouarzazate will be a must stop for this day, not only for being the main city of the region and for hosting some famous film studios, but also for preserving the kasbah of Taourirt, former fortified residence of Thami El Glaoui, lord of the Atlas at the beginning of the 20th century. It is a monument that stands out for the purity of its Berber style on the outside, and the decorative richness of the interior, typical of Islamic art.
But the highlight of the day comes in the last stretch: Ait Ben Haddou. This ksar or fortified village has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO thanks to its characteristic adobe houses, huddled inside a large wall, a sign that it was a strategic point on the caravan routes to Marrakech.
Today, it is an important tourist attraction in the region and public and private projects have been carried out to revitalize it. Therefore, here we will have the option to spend the night in a comfortable and charming riad, where we will also have dinner.
From Ait Ben Haddou, the road to Marrakech is not lost: we will have to start the ascent through the High Atlas to reach the main pass of this mountain range, that of Tizi n’Tichka, at more than 2,200 meters of altitude. This will offer us a panoramic view of the surroundings, with snow-capped peaks in winter and part of the spring.
From this point, we will descend through pleasant mountain valleys, in which small villages and cattle farms are inserted that do not clash with the landscape. Shortly after, we will arrive in Marrakech, the ‘red city’, where our services will end.
This way, the time of arrival will allow you to enjoy your free time, as our driver will drop you off at the place you indicate. Or if you have your flight in the afternoon, we can drop you off directly at Marrakech Airport, if you prefer. It will therefore be a tailor-made epilogue to conclude this varied, intense and personalized circuit.
This one-week tour from Fez to Marrakech is designed with the ideal transportation and accommodations to enjoy the trip, as well as complementary activities that will enrich the experience. The following are the details:
These are the services that are not included in the circuit package: