Here is a really special tour from Casablanca to the Sahara Desert to get a bright glimpse of the rich history, diversified culture, and the authenticity of Morocco. It combines the 4 Imperial cities: Marrakech, Rabat, Fes and Meknes, the blue town of Chefchaouen, with a desert tour in the highest dunes of the Sahara Desert in Morocco. An amazing all-inclusive unforgettable adventure!
A visit to the picturesque mosque of Hassan II in Casablanca is the best possible start to your Morocco tour. And this is quickly enhanced with the touristic attractions in Rabat including the Hassan Tower, the mausoleum of Mohammed V, and the Chellah. The colourful streets of the blue city, Chefchaouen, will show you other but still very Moroccan aspects of the country.
In Fes there is time to take a full-day sightseeing tour to the main sites of interest: the medina, the Royal Palace, Madrassahs, the leather tanneries, and the vibrant souks. A walking tour in Marrakech, the last Imperial city of your Morocco tour, has yet more magic and oriental wonders to charm you. Here you will discover the city’s vivid markets, colourful gardens, madrassahs, beautiful palaces, and Djemaa El Fna.
In the red dunes of Erg Chebbi, the highlight of the trip will definitely be your thrilling camel ride. And photos of your group wearing blue turbans will be memorable additions to your holiday album. You can practise sand-boarding and walk barefoot in the sand dunes. Sharing an evening of music with the nomads around a campfire is great fun too. Your night’s rest after all these adventures in your own private comfortable tent in a luxury desert camp is the perfect ending to a perfect day.
All along the way you stop by Berber villages and meet local people. Add to this, discovering the most famous Kasbahs in Morocco: Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, Telouet, and Amredhil. You stretch your legs on a walk in the Dades Valley and go for a 2 hour hike in the Toudgha Gorges with a local guide. Panoramic viewpoints in the Atlas Mountains provide for inspiring photos. And the nights in beautiful riads and authentic guest-houses offer relaxing sleep.
Your tour from Casablanca to Sahara, Chefchaouen & Imperial Cities ends as your driver escorts you to the airport.
10 days Departure from Casablanca
Meet at the airport and travel into the city with the first views of the Moroccan country-side.
Visit Hassan II mosque (not possible on Fridays or religious holidays), the largest mosque in Africa. It is decorated with beautiful tiling of the utmost craftsmanship. You may need to queue for tickets and the tour takes about an hour.
Continue to the capital city, Rabat, to visit the fascinating and ancient Chellah to get a look into the ancient history of the city. You spend the night in a riad in the medina.
After breakfast in the riad, we visit the Hassan Tower and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, built in homage to the king, who passed away in 1961. His son and successor, Hassan II, who died in 1999, is also entombed here.
Then we take the motorway north to Chefchaouen, turning off to reach Ouazzane and then through the mountains to Chefchaouen. The evening can be spent wandering the lovely streets and up and down alleys and chilling in the many little cafés.
After breakfast, you leave to drive to Fes, another of the Imperial Cities. We travel via the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Roman remains of Volubilis. They are spread over a wide area, affording beautiful views over the valley and hills. It is a good idea to hire a guide to take you around the site.
From here you can see and then visit the small holy town of Moulay Idriss on the side of the hill. Non-Moslems are not allowed entry into the mausoleum but the main square has lovely views and lovely little shops.
Continue through rolling hills and farms to Fes for dinner and the night in a riad.
Enjoy a full day sightseeing tour in Fes which is the oldest of Morocco’s four “Imperial Cities”. The University of Al Kairaouine was founded in Fes by Fatima al Fihri in 859. It may well be the oldest degree-granting university in the world.
The medieval city of Fes El Bali or “Old Fes” remains complete and unspoiled. During your tour of this part of the town, you can visit the exotic Bou Inania Medersa, the Medina and the Kairaouine Mosque. Here you may take photos of the wonderful courtyard from the main gate as well as the famous souks.
In the afternoon you can visit Fes El Jdid, or “New Fes” and the Museum of Moroccan Arts. The night is spent in the riad.
Departure from Fes at 8 o’clock, travelling past Ifrane, where the houses have sloping roofs, remarkable and unusual in Morocco. This is to cope with the yearly snowfall. Near Azrou, 1250 metres, with the geomorphologic Berber name which means “stone” or “rock”, you can see Barbary apes in the oak and cedar forests of the Middle Atlas.
From here we drive along the N13 south over the Middle Atlas, passing through Timahdite. This is another Berber name, and as the word begins and ends with the letter “t”, it signifies it is feminine.
We reach Midelt, 1508M, which is called “the apple capital” of Morocco and lies at the foot of the Ayachi Mountain. The town serves as the commercial agricultural centre for the surrounding area. It is also one of Morocco’s principle cities for the mining of several minerals, such as fluorite, vanadinite, quartz and cerussite. This is where we will stop for lunch.
We continue south travelling over the Tizi-n-Talghemt pass, known as the “she-camel” pass. We descend through the Ziz Valley, which is particularly well-known for its palm trees and the length of the oasis. All along the road, there are innumerable “ksars”, small villages of individual houses.
From here, we reach the mining town of Er Rachidia (e.g copper and malachite) and then Erfoud, famous for its date festival and fossils. It is fascinating to see how these millions of fossils have been worked into artifacts and so the shops are worth a visit. There is no obligation to buy anything!
You continue to Rissani and finally the famous red Erg Chebbi dunes in Merzouga. You take a camel ride of an hour to an hour & a half either setting out from the camp or to it. There is also the possibility to take the 4×4 to the camp.
You have dinner and spend the night at a luxury camp with private bathroom, king-sized beds, beautiful Moroccan furnishings and lamps tastefully arranged to enhance your enjoyment of the silence and beauty of the dunes.
If you wake up early enough, you can watch the spectacle of the sunrise, when the colour of the dunes and the play of shadows are an awesome sight.
After breakfast at the camp, we leave for Tinghir and the Toudgha gorges. On the way, you pass the water channels – “khettarat” – which you can descend into to appreciate the architecture and genius behind this form of irrigation which prevents evaporation in the summer heat. The channels start at a higher gradient at one end until they finally emerge at the surface of the soil where they are fed into the fields. You can find out more about these channels by reading Andrew Wilson’s work.
In the Toudgha gorge and the valley, there are opportunities to walk beyond the gorge itself or by the village gardens and fields.
Later the itinerary continues to the Dades Valley. This whole lay at the bottom of the sea millions of years ago. Great quantities of sediment were deposited around giant coral reefs. Over time this material became compacted into a variety of sedimentary rocks such as sandstone and limestone. Eventually, the movement of the earth’s crust caused the region to rise above the sea, forming the Atlas Mountains and surrounding landscape.
The night is spent in a hotel or kasbah.
After breakfast, a visit to the Dades gorges and a short walk there is scheduled. Back at the car, the trip to Ouarzazate continues, going off-road along the Boutaghar piste to visit Berber nomads in their caves and partake of a glass of tea with them. This visit makes it clear to the visitor just how hard the existence is for these nomads. The landscape is very dry and so feeding their goats and bringing up their children is very hard.
From here we continue through the Valley of the Roses, famous for its Rose Festival in May. Many Moroccans love these cosmetics and toiletry items. In Skoura and the oasis there, Kasbah Amredhil waits for a very worth-while visit. The kasbah is in a beautiful state of restoration and gives a clear idea of life within such housing. The walls and roof are adobe, an excellent building material; warm in winter and cool in summer, as the walls are very thick.
45 minutes later you reach Ouarzazate, where you spend the night in a guest house.
After breakfast, the route goes on to Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, one of Morocco’s seven World Heritage sites, and the backdrop for many Hollywood blockbusters. It is the most famous Kasbah in Morocco and some of the buildings date back to the 17th century.
From here you drive along the beautiful and awe-inspiring Ounila Valley, full of surprises at the hues of the rock and soil, and Berber villages and gardens.
We continue to Telouet set right in the midst of the mountains. It was once the seat of the last Pasha of Marrakech, El Glaoui, and he controlled the highest pass in Africa, Tizi-n-Tichka from here. Each addition to the building now stands in ruins exposed to the wind and the rain. This is because it was abandoned and plundered after Thami El Glaoui, fled the country following the departure of the French in 1956. Wait to be pleasantly surprised by the traditional interior decoration as you reach the farthest end of the Kasbah.
At the end of the afternoon, having crossed the Tichka pass, we arrive in Marrakech.
Marrakech is probably best known for central Djemma El Fna with its juice stalls, dried fruit and nut stalls, women applying henna, snake charmers, storytellers, and the myriad of nightly food stalls.
You can visit the following places: Yves St Laurent’s Majorelle Gardens which is famous for its special shade of blue, the Koutoubia Mosque, El Bahia Palace which means “the palace of the beautiful”, the Quranic School, the Ben Youssef Medersa which used to house some 80 Quranic students, the Saadian Tombs, and the Jewish quarter, the Mellah.
You spend another night in your riad.
Instead of the walking tour of Marrakech, we could organise a cooking class for Moroccan cuisine. This would add an extra fee.
Transfer from your riad to Casablanca airport in time for the check-in before your flight. You have just enjoyed a delightful tour from Casablanca to Sahara Desert, Chefchaouen, and Imperial Cities.