Fez and Marrakech are two fascinating cities, full of culture and history. And therefore, of monuments worth knowing. And in this 8-day circuit, these are the start and end cities, respectively. But in between, there is much to discover, especially if you have a comfortable vehicle to travel miles between mountains, valleys and desert. That’s precisely what you can have if you book this Chic Morocco travel package.
Spread over 8 days, this circuit will introduce you to monuments of the first magnitude. Both in the cities and in the rural world, both Islamic (mosques, medersas, etc.) and Berber (desert fortresses and palaces). In total, the program brings you three World Heritage Sites, which demonstrates their relevance and their good state of preservation. In addition, there will be many other buildings, often in small towns, that will surprise you with their character and originality.
Beauty resides not only in man-made works, but also in those that nature itself has created over time. Forests of centenary trees, sand dunes that get lost in the horizon, palm groves that appear as if by magic, snow-capped peaks that caress the sky, rocky canyons of perfect imperfection… You will find beautiful examples of all this during the circuit, which crosses protected reserves and wild landscapes.
The 8 days of this circuit from Fez are distributed as follows: a road route that allows sleeping one night in each destination, except in Fez and Marrakech, where two nights are spent in each one.
Shortly after your flight touches down in Fez, this circuit will start. You will be met by our staff at the foot of the terminal and transferred by private vehicle to the riad located in the medina, where you will check-in.
Schedules and free time will depend on the arrival of the flight. But if you are lucky enough to have the whole afternoon at your disposal, you can take the opportunity to take a first walk around the city, as a way of getting acquainted, before returning to the riad to rest.
To know Fez in depth, it is almost essential to have an official guide: its historical medina is so large and there are so many monuments and places of interest that only a professional can optimize the time of visit and adequately explain the most important.
And that is what will happen on the morning of this second day: our guide, accredited by the Ministry of Tourism, will take you to the most surprising corners of Fez el-Bali and Fez el-Jedid, which are the two main areas of the medina. Squares such as the Nejjarine or the Alaouites, mosques such as the Karaouine or the Andalusians (visitable only from the outside), medersas such as Bou Inania and Attarine or neighborhoods such as the Jewish mellah or the tanners are some of these charming corners, although the final route will depend on the guide’s criteria.
In any case, the afternoon will be free in Fez, so it can be a good time to complete the day with other visits on your own, or to do some shopping for handicrafts: remember that this city is the most prestigious in the whole country in disciplines such as ceramics, cabinetmaking, leather goods or textile production. And at the end of the day, another night of rest in the riad of the medina.
On the third day, it is time to start the road route that will take us to the most spectacular corners of the south of the country. And the first ones are very close to Fez, still on the north face of the Atlas Mountains. For example, Ifrane, a town at an altitude of 1,700 meters that, due to its abundant rainfall and its holiday character, is full of houses with gable roofs, an unusual fact in Morocco.
In its surroundings is also the Ifrane National Park, which we will enter to contemplate the two icons of this natural reserve. On the one hand, the Atlas cedars, one of the most representative trees of the country. And on the other hand, the Barbary macaques, which are numerous and easily visible, as they are accustomed to the presence of humans. This is why this area is also known as Bosque de los Cedros or Bosque de los Monos, which covers a total of approximately 50,000 hectares.
After that, we will move to the southern face of the Middle Atlas, where the landscape becomes progressively more arid. The Ziz River will be our companion along its valley, although its watercourse barely provides enough moisture for the emergence of riverside palm groves and modest cultivated fields.
In fact, the Ziz is lost upon arrival in the desert and is no longer visible in Erfoud. But in this town we will appreciate other tourist ‘hooks’, as is the case of its famous fossils. The surrounding sites, sometimes discovered as a result of its marble industry, preserve vestiges of the dinosaur era, and the passion for this asset can be seen in related stores and museums.
On the other hand, to get to know the most unspoiled area of the desert, you will have to wait a few more kilometers until you reach Merzouga. In this town we will ride on camels (there is the option of using 4×4 vehicles) to cross the dunes of Erg Chebbi, which have an extension of more than 25 km from one end to the other.
Our walk will not be that long: we will cover the necessary distance to reach the luxury tents camp in the heart of the dunes. The journey will be worth it in itself, but also for the reward of arriving at the camp: a welcome Berber tea, a typical dinner, a rest in traditional tents with the maximum comfort and a sky of unusual beauty, for the brightness of its stars.
The desert holds incredible surprises, both in the form of natural landscapes and folk traditions. And on this fourth day of the circuit, we will discover it very early in the morning: the early risers will be lucky enough to witness a sunrise in the dunes, pure and colorful as few others.
After that and after breakfast in the tents camp, we will return to Merzouga by camel (or 4×4) because a day of intense emotions awaits us. The first is evoked by tribal rhythms, colorful costumes and the rhythmic steps of gnawa music. To interpret them, no one better than the population of sub-Saharan and slave origin of the people of Khamlia.
Further on, where the asphalt ends, we will evoke the adrenaline of the speed of the Paris-Dakar rally, as we will travel on dirt tracks used in the past in that competition. Along the route, we will also see the remains of villages of the French Protectorate and kohl mines, which were intensively exploited in that period for their cosmetic uses.
A very different activity is carried out by the nomadic families that still live here, in the very heart of the desert. We will arrange a meeting with its members to get to know them closely and understand their lifestyle based on the care of livestock and other traditional tasks, which have nothing to do with the stressful pace of the big city.
After this enriching encounter and a view of the Erg Chebbi dunes from a panoramic viewpoint, it will be time to return to Merzouga, this time to have dinner and sleep in a charming desert hotel.
On the fifth day of the circuit we leave behind the purest desert to head for the pre-Saharan valleys, which run between the Atlas and the Sahara, and are full of attractions. On the way, we will stop in Rissani, a small town that preserves what for many is the best medina in the desert: for its historic buildings and for its market of traditional products, to which many locals still go by donkey.
As our odometer progresses, palm groves become more frequent and dense around the Dades River: our route runs parallel to it, passing through towns of Berber (or Amazigh) culture and architecture, such as Tinghir.
Precisely in that city we will turn off a few kilometers, heading for the Todra Gorges: this is a tributary of the Dades that has eroded over thousands of years the rock to create a canyon in the form of a narrow rocky corridor. Walking and photographing this unlikely place will be a beautiful experience.
Back to the Dades Valley, we will continue the route to one of those villages where adobe is the preferred material in the houses and palm trees, the tree that is best suited here. Here will be the riad that will serve as our home for the night, both for dinner and rest.
One of the most pleasant corners of the Dades Valley is the Valley of the Roses, tinged in spring with the colors that the damascena rose brings here. It is one of the attractions of this sixth day and, whatever the time of the year, it will be easy to appreciate the affection with which the people cultivate their rose bushes.
Ouarzazate is the big city in the area and among its attractions are the Atlas film studios, which served as a set for blockbusters such as Lawrence of Arabia. But its most historic and imposing monument is the kasbah of Taourirt: there are many Berber adobe castles that follow one another in these pre-Saharan valleys, but few are as well preserved as this one, which belonged to the powerful El Glaoui family.
Even more imposing can be considered the ksar of Ait Ben Haddou, a fortified village that still retains its spectacular walls and a good part of the hamlet where its residents lived. It was a fundamental stop for the caravan routes coming from the other side of the Sahara, which would explain its great growth centuries ago, and the need to be effectively protected.
The route does not stop here, but now begins an ascent through the High Atlas Mountains, towards the Tizi n’Tichka pass, at an altitude of 2,260 meters. The descent towards Marrakech will also be a feast for the eyes, because of the beautiful views of these fertile and humid valleys on the north side.
Arrival in Marrakech will be in the last part of the day and we will go directly to the riad, although there may be some free time for a first exploration of the so-called ‘red city’.
As with Fez at the beginning of this 8-day tour, we dedicate a full day to Marrakech, as it is the city with the most tourist attraction. Its medina also houses important historical monuments and the popular atmosphere of its souks is another attraction in itself, highlighting in this regard its lively Jemaa el-Fna Square.
Led by an official guide of the city, you will discover interesting places such as the medersa of Ben Youssef, the Saadian Tombs, the Bahia Palace or the Koutoubia Mosque (interior visit reserved for Muslims). The final itinerary will depend on different factors (availability, walking pace, etc.), but what is certain is that the other half of the day can be devoted to complete what has already been visited, with museums or other neighborhoods outside the medina (Gueliz).
That will be the end of this seventh day, where you will rest in the same riad in the medina after an intense and exhausting day, as walking will predominate.
This eighth day will be scheduled according to the departure time of the flight back home. With enough time in advance, our driver will pick you up at the riad to transfer you to the airport. And if the plane has an afternoon take-off time, the early hours of the day can be free for shopping or other last-minute plans.
In order for this 8-day tour from Fez to live up to your expectations, the travel package includes the following services, all of them with premium category:
These other services, however, are not included in the travel package: