Morocco Exotic Adventures Tour
Delve deep into the exotic culture and diverse landscapes of Morocco
9 Days / 8 Nights
Activity Level Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.
Highlights of Morocco
Travel in Morocco following ancient caravan routes of the Magreb. You delve deep into the exotic culture and diverse landscapes from the walled Imperial Cities seemingly suspended in time, through scenic high-Atlas Mountain passes and cliff-clinging kasbahs, among remarkably well preserved Roman ruins and the shifting dunes of the mighty Sahara. Colorful and vibrant Marrakech and the medieval souk of the Fez medina are introductions to Morocco’s rich history.
What really makes your Morocco Wildland Adventure extraordinary is our connections in local communities and the gregarious hospitality, flavorful cuisine, and lavish Moorish-style of the boutique accommodations. Our in-depth exploration of the Magreb’s history and culture lifts the veil on a society balanced between an enchanting past and a vibrant role in the modern world. This itinerary can easily be adapted as a private custom trip with many options we can suggest according to your time, special interests and style of travel.
A few more reason you have to go:
Volubilis UNESCO World Heritage Site
Sahara Desert camping and camel ride
Valley of the Kasbahs
Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport CMN
Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport CMN
On arrival in Casablanca, meet your friendly driver-guide and depart for Rabat (or fly direct to Rabat). Time permitting, visit Casablanca’s magnificent Hassan II Mosque, heralded as the second largest mosque in the world. Morocco’s modern capital of Rabat is the first ‘Imperial City’ on our Wildland Adventure. It’s the official residence of King Mohammed VI and home to the Mohammed V Mausoleum, as well as the remains of the Hassan Tower built in 1196 ACE, which provide an excellent introduction to Moroccan history. Enjoy your first glimpse of Moroccan culture during a short walk through the narrow passageways of the Oudayas Kasbah, admiring the decorative doors and immersed in the sights and sounds of daily Moroccan life. Overnight local Rabat guesthouse. (Drive 2 hrs)
Head east to the next ‘Imperial City’ of Meknes. With its famous gate of Bab El Mansour, the impressive Dar Jamai Palace, the Royal Stables, and the tomb of Moulay Ismail; this lesser-visited city is worthy of a dedicated visit because the brutal and ambitious sultan turned Meknes into a royal city, aiming at challenging Versailles with enormous palace grounds. Due north lies Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Morocco’s largest and best-preserved Roman ruins of colonnaded streets, buildings, and elaborate mosaics. Off in a short distance stop to absorb the beauty and special ambiance of the cobbled streets of Moulay Idriss — a sacred city named after fourth generation and sainted descendant of Mohamed, the founder of Islam in Morocco and founder of the city of Fez — your final ‘Imperial City’ where a scrumptious Moroccan feast is served. Overnight local Fez riad. (Drive 3 hrs)
The mesmerizing call to dawn prayer begins slowly and builds to a crescendo as each of a hundred minarets joins the chorus, a sound integral to Fez and one that has echoed each morning through this exquisite walled city for over 1400 years. The former capital of Morocco, Fez remains Morocco’s leading intellectual and religious center as well as a fascinating cultural hub. Meet your private specialist guide to discuss the options of what you’d like to see and do most: walk through the bustling medina with proposed visits to a tannery, wool souk (market), spice shops, and stalls loaded with dates and olives, giving you a thorough immersion into Moroccan mercantile life. As your guide introduces you to local people whose artistic talents have been passed from generation to generation, you begin to understand the web of traditions that make Moroccan culture so enduring and rich. Walking through the maze of narrow passageways, you have the chance to visit Qaraouine University, the Madrassa (Quranic school), and the Moulay Idriss II memorial, all windows into local life, education, and religion. Lunch in a local restaurant in the medina is an immersion into the world of Moroccan spices, olives, and specialty dishes. For those who have an extra day to explore Fez, we can arrange a cooking session to learn about preparing delicious Moroccan cuisine: whether it be couscous, tagine (meat stew), and traditional Moroccan soup called harira. Overnight local Fez riad.
Atlas Mountains To Erfoud
Watch the dramatic changes in landscape as our route ascends through the Middle Atlas Mountains over the pass into the vast Sahara Desert. The terrain on this full-day drive is varied and includes forests of giant cedar, high arid mountains, and flattening foothills of scrub as you drop into the vast Saharan desert that stretches endlessly before you. Following a centuries-old caravan route, you pass through the Beni Mguild Berber capital of Midelt, an important center for local carpet making. You begin to see ksars (fortified strongholds) along the way to Errachidia and Erfoud. Your immersion into life in the Sahara begins with an excursion to the Tifilalt Oasis in the Ziz Valley. Our local host accompanies you on a walking tour of his village introducing you to family farmers of this fertile valley, before you enjoy lunch at his family’s humble home. Overnight in Xaluca Erfoud or similar. (Drive 6 hrs)
Sahara Desert Ecampment
Enjoy a relaxed morning at the hotel for spa, fossil hunting, or free time to walk around the town. In the Holy City of Rissani you visit the Mausoleum of Moulay Ali Sherife, Ksour Abdel Hamid and the Abdel Malik Kasbah before heading into the vast Sahara. As the day cools and the desert colors intensify you hop in 4x4s headed to your desert camp. Accompanied by indigenous Touareg nomads in their famous blue-dyed turbans, you take a short camel ride into the Erg Chebbi, a vast expanse of huge, drifting sand dunes. Touregs are truly masters of their domain: Centuries ago, Touregs turned the deadly Saharan sands into a trading route using their ‘ships of the desert’ (camels) to transport goods as varied as dates and gold bullion from the Atlantic coast across Africa to Lake Chad. The sunset changes and deepens the hues of this mystical landscape as your surefooted dromedaries transport you back to your deluxe desert encampment for the night.
After a cold drink and a delicious dinner, retire on carpets and pillows around the fire under a vast star-lit desert sky to ponder the imponderable, and to marvel at the comfort of your private well-appointed tent with mattress beds, linens, towels, pillows and Berber rugs with en-suite bath including wash basin, mirror, toilet and hot shower facilities. Or, if you prefer not to camp we can arrange for you to stay in a Kasbah hotel on the edge of the desert, in which case you can still enjoy a camel ride at sunset or sunrise. Overnight Deluxe Desert Encampment. (Drive 3 hrs)
About Desert Encampment
Our desert encampment at Erg Chebbi is set away from the main area for visitors with a view to preserving the serenity of our desert experience. Accommodation is in Bedouin and Bedouin style tents erected around a central fire pit next to a Beau Guest like flat roofed building with a kitchen, indoor dining room, toilets and showers, and a patio with tables for dining under the stars. The sleeping tents have full beds inside on carpeted floors with tables and candles supplied. The beds are comfortable and the blankets and pillows clean and plentiful. Food is home cooked and rather good. Camels for riding into the desert for dawn and sunset trips are kept for our use.
Valley of The Kasbahs to Skoura
This is an exciting day from dunes to desert and hikes to villages and Ksar fortresses in the Valley of Kasbahs. Awaken before dawn to saddle your camel for a short ride through the dunes to watch the sun rise over the desert horizon. The true solitude and beauty of the Sahara reveals itself only in such moments. Depart camp in 4×4 for a beautiful day exploring the farms, villages, and traditional homes through the Valley of Kasbahs. In the town of Tinjedad you walk through part of a Ksar, a surreal roofed village of eighty families living in a complex maze of adobe streets and housing, including the small Berber museum of El Khorbat recounting the story of the indigenous tribes of the region. You’ll have an opportunity to stretch your legs and get a feeling for daily life on a two to three-hour easy hike in the picturesque irrigated palmerie of the Dades Valley where families tend to their crops. After lunch at a favorite local restaurant our route approaches Klaat Mgouna, where in springtime the valley is filled with the dusky pink of the Damascus rose, their essence prized by the elite of French perfumers. The best activity at the end of the day in our hidden garden oasis is no activity at all! Relax and enjoy this serene environs and lovely room in this restored Berber-style accommodation among the palm plantations and olive groves. Overnight Jardins de Skoura or Dades Kasbah. (Drive 6 hrs)
About Jardins de Skoura
In the heart of the Draa Valley where rivers flow from the foothills among palm plantations and olive groves lies the hidden retreat of Les Jardins de Skoura. While the best activity here may be no activity, there are plenty of things to do in this beautiful location including hiking among palmeries and kasbahs, bicycling, donkey and camel rides, horseback riding, swimming and playing on beaches of the Dades River (seasonal), or in relaxing at the pool and on the beautiful grounds of the property.
Each room and suite at Les Jardins de Skoura has its unique design, charm and character. All are restored to retain the original architectural style with high ceilings, alcoves, reading nooks, and living area (especially suites) with panoramic terrace views, patios, and direct access to the garden (lower level). Interior design is rich in Berber colors and textures throughout reflected in the bedding, curtains, table cloths, wall hangings, pillows, carpets, kilims and leather poufs. Genuine antique furniture and Berber artifacts, a/c, and fireplaces, complimented with luxurious linens, robes and bath products assure coziness and intimacy. Some rooms adjoin for families to share a common living space.
The Les Jardins de Skoura chef prepares a menu of classic Moroccan dishes with an assortment of spices, as well as simpler and fresh recopies, all using home pressed olive oil and flavors from the garden. Lunch is served under the olive trees, or on the panoramic terraces, and dinner under the starry skies on warm nights. On cooler nights dinner is served in the convivial dining room around a cozy fire.
Ait Ben Haddou-Telouet-Marrakesh
Arise early for a morning walk to see the start of the day and the colors of the sunrise on the red soils and glowing walls of the kasbahs. Down the road stop at Ait Ben Haddou, once a fortified ksar and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the setting for many desert films including Lawrence of Arabia and more recently, Gladiator with Russell Crow. After a brief exploration of this popular site you walk through to the lesser known and more impressive area of Telouet, center of the former Glaoui family who ruled over the south of Morocco before they were overthrown by the current monarchy. The road to Marrakesh ascends over the High Atlas Mountains on a sinuous route with spectacular views over Tizi-n-Tickka (7,417 ft) — the highest pass in Morocco. Descending on the other side into the foothills the landscape turns green with oaks, walnut groves and oleander bushes. Arriving in Marrakesh by afternoon, there’s time to explore the narrow streets, shops, and markets before dusk. As the sun sets the Djemaa el-Fna square comes alive with an array of jugglers, storytellers, snake charmers, musicians, and soothsayers. Mouth-watering aromas waft through the medina from the many rows of open-air food stalls. Enjoy the opportunity to walk around, photograph and be amazed! Dinner and overnight at local Marrakesh riad. (Drive 5 hrs)
Prepare for a full-day private guided adventure delving into this distinctly Magrebi city’s history and vibrant culture. Marrakesh has for centuries been Morocco’s southern capital, competing with Fez not just metaphorically but militarily and religiously too. Posterity has lost many architectural masterpieces through such conflicts. Of those that remain, tour the Palais de la Bahaia which housed Bou Ahmed’s four wives, 24 concubines and numerous children, and visit the Saadian Tombs, the royal burial ground of the Saadian dynasty. There is so much to experience in this vibrant city we keep it flexible: based on your time and interest your guide will accompany you walking among the narrow streets and shops of the old city, view the extensive Berber collection of clothing, jewelry, textiles, doors, baskets, and carpets at the Maison Tiskiwin, and/or on a walk through Jardin Majorelle, the extensive gardens of French painter Jacques Majorelle with a collection of plants from five continents. You may want to end your Morocco adventure with an invigorating Moroccan spa (reservation required, not included) or retreat to a rooftop restaurant for a drink and aerial view of the busy market below. Dinner is open for you to select from any number of exquisite Moroccan restaurants your guide can recommend where you can celebrate and reminisce about your adventures. Overnight local Marrakesh riad.
Arrival & Departure
Your trip begins with your arrival into Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport on Day 1. Upon arrival, you will be met by an Austin Adventures representative who will transfer you to a local Rabat guesthouse for check-in. On Day 9, you will be transferred to Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport for your flight home, approximately three hours prior to your flight departure time.
- Volubilis UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Sahara Desert camping and camel ride
- Valley of the Kasbahs
Our gregarious, honest, and informed driver-guides help you get the most out of your trip, especially to facilitate personal connections with locals you meet along the way. They understand
that you, as a Wildland traveler, have come to experience the beauty of the landscape, to meet the people, discover Moroccan culture and learn about politics, religion and family life, not just to be lectured on history and architecture, or to spend time shopping (unless you ask to do more).
The hallmark of an Austin Adventures vacation is our exceptional dining. All meals: breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, refreshments and receptions are included as indicated by itinerary. (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner). Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities are not included in the trip price.
After receiving your reservation and deposit, we’ll send you a pre-trip planner with general information about the area you’ll be visiting, a packing list, exercise guidelines, a guest information questionnaire and a liability release agreement for you to sign and return within 10 days.
Included in the Price
- All guided tours and excursions
- English-speaking driver-escort throughout
- Airport-hotel transfers and all transport in comfortable A/C vehicle
- Accommodation as indicated
- Meals as indicated [B-Breakfast, LLunch, D-Dinner]
Not Included in the Price
- International and local airfare
- Tips for hotel staff and restaurant servers
- Gratuities for driver-guide & local guides
- Optional activities and associated entrance and onsite guide fees
- Drinks, alcoholic beverages, and meals other than listed above
- Personal expenses or changes in your itinerary for reasons beyond our control
- Travel insurance for trip cancellation, medical services, or evacuation
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.1 Easy (1)
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.2 Moderately Easy (2)
Want to know how to fully experience the depth of beauty and culture in a place? Ask Carol Austin. A Montana native who treasures the land and people in her own backyard—be it Yellowstone, the Beartooths, or the family around her dinner table—Carol knows how to embrace any destination she explores, a feat at 40+ countries and counting. And with more than 20 years in the travel industry, she’s really good at helping guests plan—and fully enjoy—their adventure vacation, too. She co-founded Austin Adventures with her husband, Dan Austin.