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South Morocco Discovery

From £575 for 10 days
           (See Reviews)
Trip Overview
From the colourful, chaotic Marrakech medinas to the moody Sahara desert landscape, Morocco is a land filled with wonder and rich culture. Stay in traditional accommodation and explore villages off the beaten track. Learn the secret to the perfect Moroccan couscous, visit the grand Ait Benhaddou kasbah, travel through the Sahara on a camel and relax on Essaouira beach. Abounding with myths and legends, Morocco offers a surprise around every corner - this fast-paced tour will delight travellers looking to discover all of its hidden treasures.
Essential Info
Starts: Marrakech
Ends: Marrakech
Ages: Min 15
Theme: Discovery
Trip Code: IXMSF
Countries visited: Morocco
What's Included

Meals

9 Breakfasts included
1 Lunches included
2 Dinners included

Transport

4x4,Private vehicle,Public bus,Taxi

Accommodation

Camp site (1 night),Gite (1 night),Hotel (4 nights),Riad (3 nights)

Trip Highlights
-Scale the High Atlas Mountains and trek through scenic Berber villages, spending a night in a traditional Berber homestay. Discover the culture and tradition of an indigenous population who have stood the test of time
-Negotiate your way through the winding alleys of Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, a superb example of Moroccan architecture rich in history and mystery
-Moroccan cuisine is interpreted throughout the world in different ways. While in Ait Benhaddou, master the way traditional way of preparing Moroccan couscous and tagines
-Travel through the Sahara desert in a camel convoy, sleep under the North African stars and enjoy an evening beside the campfire listening to Bedouin tales
-Put your feet up and relax in the laid-back coastal town of Essaouira. This is a good chance to recharge before heading for the colourful chaos of Marrakech
-Djemaa El-Fna isn't just a marketplace, it's a way of life. Marrakesh's largest outdoor food market is brimming with activity and is a great place to sample Moroccan delicacies while rubbing shoulders with the locals
Dates & Availability
Start date
End date
Direction
Price GBP
Availability
10th December 2016
19th December 2016
Marrakech - Marrakech
£605pp 
G
 
Limited
17th December 2016
26th December 2016
Marrakech - Marrakech
£615pp 
G
 
Limited
7th January 2017
16th January 2017
Marrakech - Marrakech
£590pp 
G
 
Good
14th January 2017
23rd January 2017
Marrakech - Marrakech
£575pp 
G
 
Good
11th February 2017
20th February 2017
Marrakech - Marrakech
£600pp 
G
 
Limited
25th February 2017
6th March 2017
Marrakech - Marrakech
£575pp 
G
 
Good
4th March 2017
13th March 2017
Marrakech - Marrakech
£575pp 
G
 
Good
11th March 2017
20th March 2017
Marrakech - Marrakech
£595pp 
G
 
Good
25th March 2017
3rd April 2017
Marrakech - Marrakech
£595pp 
G
 
Good
Show more dates
Itinerary & Notes
 
Day 1 - Marrakech
Welcome to Marrakech, Morocco. Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Be enticed by the alluring scents and brilliant colours of the spice markets, the sounds of the musicians, the rich folds of carpets, delectable foods, acrobats and perfumed gardens. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm – check in reception for time and place confirmation. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. There's not much time to explore Marrakech after the meeting, but if you arrive early there's plenty to see and do. Perhaps explore the medina and the endless amounts of souqs selling pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets, spices and much more. If you have time, you could also search out the spectacular mosques, tombs and ruins that are dotted around the city. Tonight perhaps head to the city’s main square – Djemaa El-Fna – for a bite of famous Moroccan pastries with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.

Additional Activities

Koutoubia Mosque and minaret
Included in Price
Marjorelle Gardens
70 MAD
Palais Bahia
10 MAD
Palais Badi
10 MAD
Saadien Tombs
10 MAD
Medersa Ben Youssef
40 MAD
Museum of Marrakech
40 MAD
Hamam (public baths)
250 MAD
Photography Museum
40 MAD
Day 2 - Aroumd
Today, take a short drive up the towering High Atlas Mountains to the village of Imlil (approximately 2 hours), photographing snow-dappled mountains and valleys in full flower along the way. On arrival, store your main luggage and load daypacks onto pack mules before walking into traditional mountain village life with a one-hour trek up to the peaceful village of Aroumd. If you feel like the walk is too strenuous then there's the option of riding the mule. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the remote village of Aroumd offers stunning views across the High Atlas Mountains and a unique opportunity to experience traditional Berber culture. Spend the night in a family-run mountain home (gite) in Aroumd. Surrounded by the smell of woodstoves and bread, meet the host family and enjoy Berber hospitality and food. Facilities at the homestay are shared (both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements) but cosy, comfortable and definitely a unique Intrepid experience. Use the rest of the day to explore the village and the surrounding farmlands. If the group are up for it, there will be a chance to hike of around eight kilometres to the pilgrimage shrine of Sidi Chamharouch (approximately 4 hours return). Regardless of fitness levels, the gentle pace of Aroumd makes it a special place to explore beyond the reach of the modern world.

Additional Activities

Guided trek in the High Atlas Mountains
Included in Price
Mule ride - Imlil to Aroumd
50 MAD
Day 3 - Ait Benhaddou
This morning journey along mountain roads and over Morocco's highest pass, Tizi n'Tichka (2,260 metres), to Ait Benhaddou on the edges of the Sahara (approximately 6 hours). Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco's most iconic site. It was once an important stop for caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. Today its grand kasbah has been listed as a World Heritage site, with its fortified village being a fine example of clay architecture. If you think you recognise the place, you probably do, as the town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Enjoy a walk through the winding streets of old town, making your way to the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy the views across the surrounding plains. In the evening, why not join a simple cooking demonstration of Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine. The locals will explain the secrets and subtleties of these traditional meals, as the ladies of the kitchen prepare a feast.

Additional Activities

Cooking class and dinner
100 MAD
Henna tattooing
50 MAD
Day 4 - Zagora
This morning you'll journey south towards the Sahara, stopping in the regularly used film location of Ouarzazate along the way (approximately 5 hours in total). While here, make a short visit to Horizon Association for People with Disabilities. This is an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of people with disabilities. Some of the services they provide include the building and fitting of prosthetic limbs and custom-made wheelchairs, and physio and social therapy for sufferers of accidents and illness. They also operate an artisan workshop, which trains local people in trades such as pottery, weaving, metal work and jewellery making. Since their establishment in 1994, the Horizon Association has served over 3,000 people. We're very proud to support this project through The Intrepid Foundation. Continue to travel through the lush Draa Valley to Zagora, a small oasis town on the Sahara fringe that is perfect for an overnight stop. Take a stroll through the palm groves, explore the ksars and wander around the surrounding countryside.

Additional Activities

Horizon Association for People With Disabilities visit
Included in Price
Atlas Movie Studios
50 MAD
Kasbah Taourirt
20 MAD
Day 5 - Sahara Camp
Continue along the rugged and desolate Jbel Tadrart ranges and through seas of sand and past the occasional desert oasis of date palms to the township of Tamegroute. Visit an intriguing library filled with ancient scripts of science, literature, the Koran and stories of the prophet Mohammed (subject to unregulated opening times). Join a local guide to uncover the underground Kasbah and its unique ceramic pottery industry. Leave Tamegroute behind and carry on driving to the end of the road at the frontier town of M'Hamid (approximately 1 hour). From here, take a short camel ride through the dunes, where you’ll jump into 4WD vehicles. The rough track runs parallel to the Algerian border, across the stony Hamada desert, whose only populace is small scatterings of nomadic people and their camels. The group will reach the massive Erg Chigaga dunes in the late afternoon. An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that's formed into picturesque, undulating crests and valleys. The Erg Chigaga is one of the world's iconic landscapes, with towering dunes up to 150 metres in height. Your camp for the night is fairly basic with bedding, mattresses and toilet facilities provided. During the winter months of November to March it can get very cold at night, so it’s a good idea to bring base layers and a warm sleeping bag. Notes: Due to passenger feedback, all departures in the summer months of June, July and August use a slightly altered itinerary in the Sahara. We'll take a 4WD safari to the remote Erg Chigaga dunes, but instead of camping in the dunes you’ll stay at a fixed camp in Ouled Idriss. This camp is better suited for high summer temperatures.

Additional Activities

Ancient library
Included in Price
Camel ride
Included in Price
Day 6 - Taroudannt
Today rejoin the minivan and venture towards the market town of Taroudannt, sometimes called ‘Little Marrakesh’. The journey should take around six hours in total. This drive goes through desert scenery and along a route that's a reserve for the indigenous argan trees. Argan oil is highly prized for its culinary, cosmetic and medicinal uses and is only produced in Morocco, and is certainly a trademark of Morocco around the world. If you're lucky, the group might come across the famous image of goats climbing these trees in search of nuts. Please note that this is a long travel day, and you won't arrive at tonight's accommodation until late afternoon/early evening. The riad (house) tonight is 45 kilometres outside of Taroudannt and offers the chance to relax by the pool or take a steamed bath.
Day 7 - Essaouira
In the morning, take to the souqs and haggle with local traders for silver jewellery or colourful Moroccan ceramics and mosaics. Afterwards, leave the valleys of the High Atlas Mountains behind and head west to the coastal town of Essaouira (approximately 5 hours). The name Essaouira means image, which is appropriate since it's such a picturesque town. Its charm is undeniable; within the stone ramparts you'll find whitewashed houses with bright blue shutters, art galleries and wood workshops. This laidback artists' town is a former Portuguese trading colony and was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations. The town faces a group of rocky islands, called the Mogador, and is surrounded by an expanse of sandy beaches and dunes. It's still a busy fishing port and its pretty harbour is filled with tiny colourful boats which go out early every morning for the day's catch. Visitors who have been seduced by its charms include Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. More recently, filmmaker Ridley Scott chose the ramparts as an important location for his film, Kingdom of Heaven. As you’ll arrive in the early evening, there won’t be much time to look around today. In the evening perhaps have some dinner with the group, as the local seafood is as fresh as it gets.
Day 8 - Essaouira
Today, join a local guide for a walking tour through the old medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall). Afterwards, use your free time to get under the skin of the town. The narrow streets of Essaouira are ideal for casual exploration. Their size discourages cars, and on walk through the town it feels as though little has changed since the days of sea pirates. The fishing port is a serious commercial operation and there’s much fun to be had observing the daily catch and its subsequent auction. A freshly-cooked plate of the day's catch is highly recommended. Browse the plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries that make this little town a particularly pleasant place to unwind for a few days. It has a growing reputation for its unique art and is becoming even more famous for its burled Thuya wood, delicately formed and inlaid in tiny shops that are built into the thick walls of the Portuguese ramparts. The scent from the oils used to polish the richly coloured wood permeates the air and makes walking down the streets incredibly pleasant. If you’d prefer to relax, don't miss the opportunity to indulge in a hammam or local-style bath.

Additional Activities

Guided walking tour Essaouira
Included in Price
Hamam (public baths)
200 MAD
Berber massage
350 MAD
Horse riding
250 MAD
Seafood Market Lunch - Essaouira
80 MAD
Day 9 - Marrakech
Use the morning to see the last of Essaouira, as you’ll catch a bus back to Marrakech in the afternoon (approximately 3 hours). The monuments of Marrakech are numerous and range from the well-known Koutoubia Mosque and its superb minaret to the lesser-known tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle (now owned by Yves Saint Laurent). There's the Palais Bahia, a superb example of Muslim architecture, and the ruins of the Palais Badi, reputedly one of the most beautiful palaces in the world in its time. The Saadian tombs are a recently uncovered gem of the Medina. All of the above can be a challenge to locate, but that's all part of the experience of exploring the phenomenal medinas of Morocco. Explore the Medina for some last-minute shopping, where every step brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. This evening you will likely be drawn back to the Djemaa El-Fna, and its surrounding medina. When night falls on this square it transforms in to a hive of activity. Snake-charmers, henna-painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies. Perhaps dine with the group here – a great way to finish your adventure.

Additional Activities

A Taste Of Marrakech
509 MAD
Tajine cooking class
546 MAD
Cascades d'Ouzoud day tour
2207 MAD
Hammam & Massage in a luxury spa
750 MAD
Ourika Valley day tour
1817 MAD
Oukaimeden day tour
1882 MAD
Asni & Ourigane with lunch
1806 MAD
Heart of the Atlas Mountains cycling day tour
900 MAD
Medina, Palace and Tombs half day tour
325 MAD
Quad Biking the Rock Desert & Palmgrove
660 MAD
Quad biking Barrage Lalla Takerkoust
1650 MAD
Palmery cycling tour
350 MAD
Magical Marrakech City Cycling Tour
350 MAD
Day 10 - Marrakech
Your 'South Morocco Discovery' adventure ends after breakfast. Check out time is usually around 12.00pm, but you’re free to leave any time before. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring Marrakech (subject to availability).
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Reviews
       
Absolutely fantastic destination. So many varied and different experiences. March/April a great time of the year to travel to Morocco - perfect weather!