Eight-day Imperial Cities and Sahara tour from Casablanca

Tour Reference DVC-CC8/133

Eight days of pure magic and mystique awaits you as we explore the history and culture of three Imperial Cities, selected UNESCO World Heritage listed sites and the beauty of the majestic Southern Valleys.

With a visit to the Roman ruins of Voulibilis, camel trekking and spending the night under the stars in a Nomad camp in the Sahara, this tour will amaze and inspire.

Category Classic Discovery Tour
Duration 8 Days
Starts From Casablanca
Returns to Casablanca
Group Size 2 - 6
Prices from €600

Tour itinerary

Day 1

Day 1 : Casablanca and drive to Fès via Meknes and Volubilis

Our first day of this tour is steeped in history – with more to come! We meet you at your accommodation and drive towards Fès along a road with beautiful stretches of farmland.

 

This is Casablanca’s “fruit and vegetable basket” with olives, grain, vegetables and grapes growing in abundance. It was grapes – and wine – that formed part of the staple diet of an early civilization on our route as head off the main road towards Moulay Idriss and the ancient Roman city of Volubilis.

 

 

Now a UNESCO World Heritage listed site, dating back to the 3rd Century BC, it’s easy to get a glimpse of how grand life once was here. Although largely destroyed by an earthquake in the 4th Century BC, many of the columns, floor plans of residences both large and small, mosaics and a now restored olive press provide a vivid impression of how civilized it was to have lived here.

The imposing triumphal arch sits at the lower end of the once chariot-hewn Decumanus Maximus with commanding views across the Zerhoun plains.

The fertile lands enjoyed by the Romans have been gifted to later generations and enabled the Imperial City of Meknes to become renowned as the premier wine-growing region of Morocco. But it’s the city’s history we explore first.

 

A city within a city, Meknes owes its legacy to Moulay Ismail and is the site of the first Arab dynasty in Morocco. Our visit includes the Medersa Bou Inania and the Bab Monsour, the gateway to the Moulay Ismail Palace. This leads us into the Henri es-Souani with its horse stables and granary.

 

 

The stables are reputed to have accommodated 12,000 horses – and the granary would store enough grain to keep the local military and civilian population fed for 12 months.

With time for a quick refreshment upstairs with a grand view of the city and the Aguedal Basin and a wander around Lahdim Square for a possible souvenir, we then resume our journey to Fès.

After checking into your accommodation, our driver will leave you to spend the remainder of the day at your leisure.

Meals included / not included
Breakfast Not included
Lunch Not included
Dinner Not included

Day 2

Day 2 : Sightseeing and exploring in Fès

After breakfast in your riad, a new adventure begins as you start exploring the oldest city in Morocco.

 

During the morning, our experienced guide will share many of the city’s hidden treasures and architecture with you as your gaze is pulled left and right with the movement and sounds of this piece of living history. You’ll see the Royal Palace gate and the walled Jewish quarter dating from the 14th century.

 

 

 

As a former capital of Morocco for more than 350 years, there’s no shortage of culture and history to marvel at. We visit the famous Al Qaraouine University (regarded as the oldest university in the world) and the 11th century Chouwara Tannery – one of the most impressive sites (and smells) you will experience on this tour!

Before lunch there will be time to see the Nejjarine Fountains, the Attarine Museum and the Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss. After lunch you will be able to view the exterior of the Royal Palace and walk through the famous Jewish quarter, the Mellah, where you will have the option to visit one of the few active synagogues in Morocco.

The tour continues with a visit to a local tile-making cooperative before driving up to a superb vantage point to enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the old Medina of Fès.

 

Later in the afternoon we will fast forward with a trip for refreshments to the new town after which you are free to explore at your leisure. Just remember, there are more than 9,000 streets in the Medina – some of which are less than 1 metre in width – so it’s worth keeping a note of your bearings!

Overnight, with breakfast at your riad in Fès.

Meals included / not included
Breakfast Included
Lunch Not included
Dinner Not included

Day 3

Fès | Ifran | Rissani | Merzouga | Erg Chebbi

After an early breakfast, we begin our ascent across the Middle Atlas Mountains to a region known as Imouzzer.

Blanketed by forests of cedar, juniper and cork oak, the area is well known for its abundant wildlife. Many different types of birds can be seen and wild boar and inquisitive Barbary apes can often be seen.

 

As the road starts to climb, the scenery changes too as we scan the slopes dotted by the tents and goat herds of nomadic Berbers who call this rugged region “home”. After stopping for lunch at Midelt – famed for its rocks, fossils and apples – we continue on mountain roads that afford spectacular views of countless villages, Kasbahs and palm groves through the Ziz Valley.

 

Passing through the adobe coloured city of Er-Rachidia, by late afternoon the terrain has changed dramatically. With the slopes behind us, we’re now in what is best described as a lunar landscape as we head for our penultimate destination of Merzouga.

 

 

Arriving at our auberge, we prepare to climb on to our camels for a trek into the desert, accompanied by Berber guides who will be our hosts for the evening. Against the backdrop of the Erg Chebbi dunes and impending sunset, we wend our way through the peace and natural beauty of the Saharan dunes until we reach our bivouac camp where you will stay in a Nomad tent.

Our guides will not only prepare a sumptuous, traditional meal but also invite you to join in with their special brand of music and entertainment, until the final embers of the campfire fade away under the canopy of stars.

Meals included / not included
Breakfast Included
Lunch Not included
Dinner Included

Day 4

Merzouga | Todra Gorge | Dadès Gorge

After an early start to catch the sunrise over the dunes, your camels will be waiting to help you return to the auberges at Merzouga where you can shower, change and take breakfast.

We depart for the Todra Gorge, en route passing the most sought after dates in Morocco which are grown between Rissani and Erfoud. As we climb back through the fringes of the Southern Valleys and Tinghir we begin our approach to the gorge.

 

Some 300m high and only 20m wide in places, Todra Gorge is a mass of vertical limestone cliffs which reflect their own special charm by changing colours as the sun moves slowly from east to west. There will be ample time to explore and take photographs, as well as enjoying a drink or lunch at one of the restaurants that is squeezed in to the jaws of the gorge.

Refreshed and inspired, we set off for more of nature’s wonders in the Dadès Gorge, including the mind-boggling rock creations of the Tamnalt Hills.

Overnight in the heart of the Dadès Gorge.

Meals included / not included
Breakfast Included
Lunch Not included
Dinner Included

Day 5

Dadès Gorge | Valley of the Roses | Ouarazate | Aït Ben Haddou

A traditional Moroccan breakfast will set you up for the day as we head out of the Dadès Gorge to the Valley of the Roses.

We pass by the unusual rock formations – resembling the feet of monkeys – in the Tamnalt Hills as travel towards the town of Kella Mgouna,  an important centre for the rose growing cooperatives throughout the valley.

Dates, figs and many varieties of vegetables can be seen growing among the patchwork quilt of allotments that have been tended for centuries by the Berber villagers here. A testimony to their dedication and innovation along the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs which takes us onwards to Ouarzazate.

Here, we visit another stronghold and palace of the Glaoui clan – the Kasbah of Taourirt. Although the 19th century structure is partly ruined, with the support of UNESCO, restoration work is making progress as you are guided through a maze of rooms and corridors to transport you back hundreds of years with an insight into the glorious life of the Glaoui.

 

We enjoy lunch in Ouarzazate and there’s the option to visit one of the major film studios here before we begin the final part of our journey today to Aït Ben Haddou where we will stay overnight.

Meals included / not included
Breakfast Included
Lunch Not included
Dinner Included

Day 6

Aït Ben Haddou | Tizii N’Tichka Pass | Marrakech

Today we visit the historic ksar of Aït Ben Haddou. It’s one of the iconic images of Morocco and, not surprisingly, the backdrop for countless well known movies including Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, The Jewel of the Nile and Cleopatra.

 

With the Kasbah that evolved around it, Aït Ben Haddou’s commanding position in the Ounila Valley served as an important trading post along a former caravan route from the Sahara to Marrakech and beyond. If time allows, a trek to the summit of the ksar will be richly rewarded with spectacular views across the Ounila Valley and the surrounding kasbah.

 

Our journey continues as we follow every twist and turn in the road, passing Berber villages clinging precariously on to the hillsides, as we head ever upwards in the majestic High Atlas Mountains until we reach the Tizi N’Tichka Pass.

At 2260m, this is the highest road pass in Morocco and the views of the valleys, mountains and Berber villages are nothing short of breathtaking. Once through the pass, we begin our descent towards Marrakech and your accommodation early evening.

Meals included / not included
Breakfast Included
Lunch Not included
Dinner Included

Day 7

Sightseeing in Marrakech

A full day of sightseeing in the “Red City” begins with our professional guide at the Medina, contained within the city’s giant 12th century sandstone walls.

We take in the Saadian Tombs that remained undiscovered and preserved for hundreds of years and where some 60 members of the Saadian Dynasty are entombed. Nearby, is the Badi Palace - now largely in ruins but still worth a stroll around – and the Bahia Palace, dating from the 1800s, which offers an insight into the opulent lifestyle of a former Grand Vizier of Marrakech accompanied by his wives, concubines, children and servants.

As we make our way towards the Jemaa El-Fna square, we visit the Dar Si Saïd Palace Museum which offers an inspiring glimpse into Moroccan history with its collection of artefacts including woodcarvings, musical instruments, weapons, carpets, clothing, pottery and ceramics.

 

Approaching Jemaa El-Fna square, it soon becomes obvious why this unusual location has been a UNESCO World Heritage listed site since 1985. With its origins as a trading post and the town’s public arena for beheadings - and adjoining the largest traditional Berber market in Morocco - you can still feel the history and the rhythm of this melting pot of cultural diversity.

 

Impromptu market stalls compete with storytellers, snake charmers, monkey trainers, acrobats, magicians and musicians for your attention – but there are many cafés sprinkled around the square with great vantage points from where you can observe all the activity with suitable refreshments.

Time permitting, our tour continues outside of the Medina with a visit to the Jardin Majorelle in the new town area of Gueliz. Created by the French artist Jacques Majorelle, the gardens were opened to the public in 1947 and given a new lease of life when purchased by designer Yves Saint Laurent and his lifelong business partner Pierre Bergé. The gardens offer a welcome retreat from the frenzy of the city and, with a Berber museum also within the gardens, a most agreeable way to pass some time for relaxation.

 

Of course, no visit to Marrakech would be complete without venturing into the souks. Your guide will help you navigate and discover the secrets of the souks and when you are ready will leave you to explore on your own and pit your bargaining skills with the artisans and traders offering all manner of locally produced merchandise.

Shoes, spices, herbal remedies, leather goods, lanterns, woodcarvings, ceramics, jewellery, carpets and pottery…and that’s just in the first alleyway!

As part of this tour we may get to travel around in a traditional calèche (horse drawn carriage), one of the best ways to get close up to many of the sights around the city.

As the day draws to a close, Jemaa El-Fna square takes on a different persona as countless “field kitchens” seem to appear from nowhere and amid the bright lights and cacophony, a huge open-air restaurant begins to unveil.

 

This is the time to secure a vantage point in one of the cafés overlooking the Square. Not only to become a privileged voyeur of the hive of activity below, but also to enjoy the magnificent colours in the sky as the sun slowly ebbs away behind the minaret of the Koutubia Mosque.

Overnight at your accommodation in Marrakech where you are free to choose where you dine.

Meals included / not included
Breakfast Included
Lunch Not included
Dinner Not included

Day 8

Marrakesh to Casablanca

We meet up with you again this morning to help you check out in preparation for the drive to Casablanca. If you’re continuing your stay in Morocco then we can take you to your next accommodation. Alternatively, we’ll see you safely to Mohammed V Airport for your onward flight.

Meals included / not included
Breakfast Included
Lunch Not included
Dinner Not included

Pricing

2 Persons €900 pp
3 Persons €820 pp
4 Persons €740 pp
5 Persons €690 pp
6 Persons €600 pp

Solo travellers are always welcome. Please ask for details and availability. For groups of more than 6 guests, please ask our Reservations Team for more information about availability and prices. Reductions apply for children accompanied by adults. No charge for children under 5 years. All local taxes, state taxes, parking fees, tolls and fuel charges are included within the price. Please see below for more information.

Accommodation

Except for the Berber camp, the inclusive prices for accommodation are based on staying at a 3 or 4 star riad or hotel. Your accommodation can be upgraded to 5 star for part or all of your tour if you wish. Just ask our Reservations Team. Unless specified, your accommodation is inclusive of an evening meal and breakfast. Prices based on two people sharing a room. Single supplements may apply.

Inclusive and Exclusive

What is included

  • Accommodation in Berber tent at desert camp
  • All fuel, travel taxes and tolls as per itinerary
  • Camel trek and guides
  • Collection from your accommodation or airport *
  • English/French/Spanish speaking driver
  • English/French/Spanish speaking tour guides
  • Evening meal and entertainment at desert camp
  • Half-board accommodation as per itinerary
  • Overnight accommodation with breakfast
  • Overnight accommodation at desert auberge **
  • Return to your accommodation or airport
  • Transportation in A-C 4x4 or people carrier

What is not included

  • Entrance fee to attractions or events en route
  • Flights or travel to and from Morocco
  • Gratuities at your discretion
  • Lunches, snacks and drinks
  • Incidental expenses and souvenirs
  • Personal travel and health insurance
  • Any other items or services not shown as inclusive

Notes:

* Alternative collection and return from airport or train station in Marrakech

** By prior arrangement as an alternative to desert bivouac accommodation

Upgrades and changes to your itinerary

We’re more than happy to alter this itinerary to suit your individual requirements prior to booking. Just let us know what changes you would like and we will advise. And if you would prefer to travel throughout in a luxury limousine or have any special requirements you would like arranged for your tour, please ask us for details.

Other information

As with many of our tours, this itinerary involves a significant amount of travelling and walking, often on uneven surfaces. Please think carefully about the personal mobility (especially young children) of those in your group and the suitability of this tour for them before booking. Our Reservations Team will be happy to advise you on this.

Contact Us

To book this tour, request more information about the tour or advise of any special requirements you may have, please send an email to us using the form below.

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Contact information

Phone (office): +212 524 433 513

Fax: +212 524 433 513

Mobile (Morocco): + 212 662 27 39 30

Mobile (Spain): + 34 659 320 701

Email: tours@magnificentmorocco.com

Address: Angle Rue Tarik Ibn Ziad & Ibn Aicha Résidence Excel Sior

Imm. 18 No 6 Gueliz

Marrakech

Morocco