Highlights of Morocco - Premium Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Premium Adventures, Tailormade Adventures
Destinations:
Morocco
Programmes:
Culture
Trip Code:
AMHP
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate

You are reasonably fit, enjoy the outdoors and are looking for some exercise. Some previous experience is preferable for activity based trips.

15 Days Flight Inclusive
15 Days Land only
16 Min age

Trip Overview

For sheer diversity, Morocco is the perfect destination. We explore the imperial cities of Marrakech, Meknes and Fez and continue our journey to the mountain ranges to the south, where sand dunes and kasbahs are scattered among palm oases inhabited by friendly Berbers. A highlight of our trip is a camel trek in the Sahara and a night at a Bedouin camp. We fit in a visit to Todra Gorge, the beautiful 16th-century kasbah of Ait Benhaddou and enjoy a village walk in the picturesque Tijhza valley of the High Atlas. We complete the trip with a walk along the sandy beach of Essaouira.

At a Glance

  • 10 nights boutique hotels and premium riads, 1 night auberge, 2 nights mountain gite and 1 night Bedouin camp
  • 15 days land only / flight inclusive
  • Group normally 6 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs.
  • Travel by private minibus, train and camel

Trip Highlights

  • Imperial cities of Rabat, Meknes, Fez and Marrakech
  • Spend the night under the stars in the Sahara Desert, Bedouin style
  • Visit the Roman ruins of Volubilis and the impressive Todra Gorge
  • Experience a traditional hammam in the Atlas Mountains
  • Walk from a remote Berber community into the magnificent and inspiring High Atlas Mountains
  • Relax in the charming fishing port of Essaouira

Is This Trip for You?

This trip provides an insight into the enormous variety that Morocco has to offer, including cities, history, architecture, desert and mountain scenery. We spend quality time in the places that matter, the pace is not rushed but a couple of the journeys are long, up to 4 hours. We are not confined to our vehicle though, as there are plenty of photo stops and opportunities to stretch your legs.

Accommodation standards are comparable to that of Sub-Saharan Africa, but on Premium departures, we do upgrade to premium riads and hotels in some towns and cities. The temperatures in the cities may also be hot in the summer months but we try to make the most of the coolest parts of the day.

Please note Ramadan runs from 15th May - 14th June 2018 - During Ramadan, our local guides and drivers choose to work and so we continue to run trips in this period. However, the energy levels of our staff and some local guides may be a bit lower and some restaurants may be closed during the day. Having said this, Ramadan is a special time to visit a Muslim country - each evening the streets empty for an hour while everyone breaks their fast, and there's a feeling of festivity in the air at sundown. 

Group

There will be a local leader and a driver and local guides where needed.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
6
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

  • Day 2

    Start Casablanca.

    Meet the group in the early evening for the briefing with our leader. There will be time to head out for dinner in the city.

    Hotel Les Saisons or similar

  • Day 3

    Visit Hassan II Mosque; to Meknes via the capital Rabat.

    A modern and commercial seaport, Casablanca is a complete contrast to the Morocco we are soon to explore. This morning we visit the Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest in the world. We take lunch in Rabat, the political capital of Morocco, but second to Casablanca in importance. Although mostly modern, Rabat has an excellent old quarter that we take time to explore, before striking out over the northern plain towards Meknes. The scenery change as the landscape becomes more cultivated, this being one of the most fertile areas of Morocco. Overnight in imperial Meknes.

    Hotel de Nice or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Explore the Roman site of Volubilis and Meknes; to Fez.

    Sultan Moulay Ismail's old capital of Meknes is our first example of one of the imperial cities of Morocco. In the morning you are free to wander the narrow streets and explore the souk, perhaps having your first chance at bartering for souvenirs. In the afternoon we take a short drive to the largest and best kept Roman ruins in Morocco – Volubilis, once a large Roman town. After exploring this site we continue our journey to the ancient city of Fez, where we spend two nights.

    Fez Inn or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Guided tour of Fez, including visits to the Medersa Bou Ananiya and the medina.

    This fascinating city is the intellectual and religious centre of Morocco. Founded over a thousand years ago, Fez has many mosques and medersas (theological colleges) including the 9th century al-Karaouine University, whose architecture is very similar to that seen in Moorish Spain. The medina in Fez is one of the largest in the world, an immense warren of souks, home to thousands of craftsmen with their tiny shops opening onto the narrow alleyways. Noisy and pungent, the medina of Fez is a totally absorbing and unique experience. Our city guide walks us through different sections of the souk - including those selling leather brass and copper. Of course, no visit to Fez is complete without a visit to the tanneries. Outside the medina we shall visit the Jewish District (mellah), the exterior of the Royal Palace and take a drive up to a panoramic viewpoint over the city. 

    Fez Inn or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Drive to Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara.

    Today we have a long journey, approximately 6 hours (but with plenty of stops) over the stunning Middle Atlas, down through the picturesque Ziz Valley to the Hamada, a flat stony desert, gradually approaching the spectacular site of the golden sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. We stay in a small and welcoming auberge (inn) on the edge of the dunes from where it is easy to climb to watch the sunrise. 

    Auberge Sahara or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 7

    Walk among the dunes; camel trek; camp in the desert.

    There is time today to explore the largest sand sea in Morocco or to relax in the shade of a palm tree by the dunes. The sand sea is famed for its pink tones that take on a spectacular rose colour at sunset. In the late afternoon, we partake in a genuine Saharan experience - a 1.5-hour camel trek through the dunes to an oasis, where we spend the night in a simple Bedouin camp.

    Full-service camping

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 8

    To Todra Gorge.

    After sunrise, we leave our desert camp and travel, by camel, back to the auberge where we can have a shower before heading west towards the little town of Tinerhir and onwards to Todra Gorge for the night (journey time approximately 4 hours). Our hotel is set against the backdrop of the impressive walls of the gorge itself and we can spend the evening watching the rocks change colour with the setting sun.

    Hotel Taborith or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Optional morning walk; palmery tour around the gorge.

    We spend the day in the magnificent gorge of the Todra River. There is the opportunity to take a four hour guided walk, or to relax in the gorge, walking beneath vertical cliffs rising up to 400m from the valley floor. In the afternoon there is an optional guided tour of the lush palmery.

    Hotel Taborith or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Journey to Telouet, via the famous Kasbah Ait Benhaddou.

    Leaving Todra Gorge, we re-join the main road and drive west along the 'Route of the Thousand Kasbahs' via the desert city of Ouarzazate and on to the well-preserved Kasbah Ait Benhaddou. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most spectacular sights of the Atlas, made famous as the location of several Hollywood films including 'Gladiator'. After admiring the view, we may see something of the simple village houses. Continuing into the mountains we branch east through a wide flat mountain valley, finally arriving at Anmiter. Here we leave our bus and take a 1.5-hour picturesque walk on a gentle uphill gradient to the village of Tijzha, where we spend the next two nights. Our luggage will be transported to the gite for us, for those who do not want to walk, taxis are available (100 MAD, payable locally). 

    Kasbah Oliver or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 11

    Full day walking in the High Atlas. Evening hammam

    We start our day with an optional walk through the villages of the Tijhza Valley, heading up into the hills on mule tracks with the peaks of the High Atlas acting as a fitting backdrop to our walk.  The length of our walk will depend on the ability of the group, but it is likely to be approximately 4 hours. The afternoon is free to relax with a book, enjoy the mountain views, take a stroll through the beautiful landscape or challenge the village children to a game of football!

    Tijhza is just one of four villages in this remote valley that has been supported by Exodus for over ten years on various responsible tourism projects. We will visit the village hammam, built with money raised by Exodus clients. This is a truly authentic experience and terrific fun. It is very much a traditional hammam and you are likely to get the opportunity to mix with the villagers, which further adds to the experience. A standard treatment is included, but you will need to purchase a scrubber and soap for 20MAD (£1.50) plus customary tip of 20MAD. Refreshed, we return to the riad for our final dinner in the mountains. 

    Kasbah Oliver or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 12

    Over the High Atlas Mountains to Essaouira.

    Leaving the gite, we walk back to our bus for a short drive to the palace of Telouet. This once grand building stands abandoned and crumbling but we can visit a small part of this labyrinthine, fairy-tale like structure. We continue our scenic drive over the High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech, via the Tizi'n'Tichka pass, which at 2,260m, is the highest road in Morocco. The scenery is spectacular and there are some wonderful views of the mountains. The second half of our journey brings us to the flat arid plains of Marrakech and then onwards to the pretty seaside town of Essaouira. Journey time is between 5 and 6 hours, with plenty of comfort breaks and photo stops along the way. 

    Maison du Sud or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Free day in Essaouira.

    A free day in Essaouira, a charming old Portuguese fishing port overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The settlement dates back to the 15th century but the present town was constructed around 1760 by Sidi Mohammed ben Abdullah, who needed a base from which to suppress a revolt from Agadir. Today, the town is extremely relaxed and its whitewashed houses with painted shutters, artisan workshops, boatyards and fishermen provide a marked contrast to the desert, kasbahs and cities we have so far visited. Our hotel is situated in the heart of the old walled city, where we have plenty of time for some shopping in the souks or strolling along the beach. With many pleasant cafes and some outstanding seafood restaurants, there is plenty of choice for our evening meal.

    Maison du Sud or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 14

    To Marrakech; guided tour including Bahia Palace, the Saadian tombs, finish in Djemma el Fna

    After breakfast, we drive back to Marrakech, journey time approximately 2.5 hours.  In the afternoon we enjoy a guided tour to help us find our bearings and soak up the atmosphere of this amazing city. Our guide will take us to the Bahia Palace and the Saadian tombs, ending in the Djemma el Fna, where the town becomes a maze of bustling bazaars, palaces and mosques. It is worth seeing this renowned landmark in the evening, as Marrakech revolves around this open-air central square, with food stalls, juice-sellers, snake charmers and acrobats, it is a place of night-time entertainment for both local people and tourists. 

    Riad Hamdane or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Free day in Marrakech.

    Today is a free day in Marrakech and there is no shortage of things to do. You might wish to visit the largest mosque in Marrakech, Koutoubia, or venture through the souks and old streets of the medina. After bartering for souvenirs, there will be time for a short visit to the Koranic School and Museum of Marrakech. After this, you can unwind by taking a ½ hour Calèche ride (a bright green horse-drawn carriage) to the Jardin Majorelle. These tranquil gardens are decorated throughout in indigo blue and were once owned by Yves St. Laurent, the perfect place to escape the hectic rush of the city. 

    This evening it's common for the group to enjoy a final meal together on Djemma el Fna. 

    Riad Hamdane or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 16

    End Marrakech.

    Trip ends after breakfast.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

Hotels, Riad, Gite & Bedouin Camp

Premium departures have been upgraded to a mixture of superior 3* hotels, offering a higher standard of accommodation, in Fez, Merzouga and Todra the properties have swimming pools. In Marrakech and Essaouira, you stay in premium Moroccan riads that simply add to the traditional exotic experience. The cost of a single supplement is GBP225, which does not cover nights spent in the mountains, desert or Bedouin camps or in the Riad in Marrakech.

Accommodation - Pre trip

Pre-tour accomodation avialable in Casablanca on request. 

Accommodation - Post trip

Post-tour accomodation avialable in Marrakech on request. 

Single supplement from $400.00 NZD

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

14 breakfasts and 4 dinners included.

Moroccan food is, generally speaking, excellent though not particularly varied. Breakfasts usually consist of bread and jam with coffee or tea. Meals eaten out are reasonably priced - kebab and bread cost is approximately GBP4 (USD7). In main towns, it is possible to find very good French and Moroccan restaurants where a meal and French wine will cost anything from GBP20 (USD30) upwards. Generally, dinner is likely to cost between GBP5-10 (approx. USD8-15) not including drinks. Local beer, wine and soft drinks are reasonably priced, but you can pay UK prices or more for imported alcohol. Your leader will recommend restaurants for each evening.

Vegetarians can be catered for but there is a fairly limited choice of vegetarian couscous, tajine or omelettes. This is particularly the case during the more rural sections of the trip. Please note that if you have any special dietary requirements you should inform the Exodus Office prior to the trip. If you have a specific medical/dietary need (i.e. coeliac or vegan) you may find it helpful to bring some items of food with you from home.

Transportation

For most of this trip, we use a private bus, the size of which will depend on the group size, with a local driver.The roads in Morocco are reasonably good and driving conditions in towns and on the plains are good. On mountain roads, the pace will be slower. 

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

From April to June, and in September, Marrakech and the north are pleasantly hot, with temperatures averaging 26ºC in the day and falling to 16ºC at night. It is unusual for there to be much humidity so it is quite pleasant except at midday when the sun is very strong. Desert temperatures are similar to those in Marrakech, with the nights usually a little cooler and the days a little hotter. Mountain temperatures are cooler than in Marrakech.

In the winter months, the daytime temperatures in Marrakech are around 18 to 22ºC with night temperatures falling to 4 to 7ºC. The days should be sunny and a particularly attractive feature of the winter months is the clear views of the snow-covered Atlas. The temperatures in the south are generally a couple of degrees higher than those north of the mountains. There is a small chance of rain and it has even been known to snow very infrequently in January and sometimes February on the higher desert plateau (in which case it is cold at night and early in the morning on the southern side of the Atlas).

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 15 Days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Royal Air Maroc (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or 
your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

There are alternative flight options from regional airports (Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester…) Please ask our Sales team for more information. 


Travelling land only: 15 days starting in Casablanca and ending in Marrakech

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Casablanca in the evening of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Free Transfers

Exodus offers FREE airport arrival and departure transfers on any flight for this trip, for both Land Only and Flight Inclusive clients, so no matter which flight you choose to arrive on you will be met and transferred to your hotel. All those taking advantage of the free airport transfers must provide full flight details for both arrival and departure in advance; unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the Exodus start (or pre-tour) hotel; transfers to other hotels in the same city may attract an extra charge; transfers may be shared with other Exodus customers on the same flight, or on a flight with similar arrival times.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start:
Casablanca
Location end:
Marrakech

What to Take

Essential Equipment

  • Waterbottle
  • Water purification tablets
  • Sunhat Sun cream and sunglasses
  • Daysack
  • Lightweight walking boots with good ankle support and sole protection
  • Torch (flashlight)
  • Towel - essential in Tijhza, where washing has to be kept to a minimum to save water for farming
  • Light jacket and waterproof jacket
  • Wet wipes, soap, toilet paper/tissues

For November to March departures you will also need:

  • A fleece jacket
  • Warm trousers
  • Gloves & hat

Optional Equipment

  • Some hotels may have swimming pools so we recommend you also take a swimming costume
  • Earplugs

As Morocco is a strict Muslim country, we recommend that men, women and children wear suitable clothing, i.e. over the knee skirts/shorts/trousers and with shoulders covered. Additionally, women should avoid wearing close-fitting or revealing clothes.

Reading List

Lonely Planet Morocco: The latest edition was published in August 2017.

Practical Information

Passport

Morocco

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects. 

Visa

Morocco

No visa required by British passport holders.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

Morocco

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Tetanus and Hepatitis A.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Morocco's Timezone:
Africa/Casablanca WET (GMT +00:00)

Electricity

Morocco's Electricity:

127 & 220 Volts. Plug types C & E; establishments often take two round pin plugs. 

Money

Morocco's Currency

The national currency of Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (June 2017) of approximately 12.4 to the GBP,  9.8 to the USD, 7.4 to the CAD, 10.9 to the EUR, 7.5 to the AUD and 7.1 to the NZD. 

 

ATM Availability

It is easy to use Visa / MasterCard at the ATM machines in larger towns and cities. Credit cards are normally accepted for more expensive souvenirs, such as carpets (please note that most shops will charge up to 5% extra for the use of credit cards).

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Although most are included, there may be some entrance fees to certain optional historic and religious sites: allow up to £5 (approx. US$8) per person if you intend to visit them all.

Please allow approximately £2‐4 (approx. US$3‐6.50) per person per day to cover postcards, small 
souvenirs, soft drinks etc. (see also Food).

Tipping

Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus and tipping is at your discretion for both the leader and staff. However, we would like to advise that tipping is part of the local culture and generally expected. If you do wish to tip, we have found it useful for the group to have a kitty for tipping ‐ about £15 (approx. US$25) per person, this can ease confusion and embarrassment of not knowing how much or how little to tip local staff (such as drivers, cooks and guides).

Many clients also wish to tip their leaders at the end of the trip, we suggest £15 ($20). This is completely at your own discretion and to be used as a guideline only. Please note this is separate to the kitty mentioned above.

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

 

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

Important Notes

Language Arabic is the official language of Morocco and is spoken by virtually everyone in the plains and the larger cities. The business language is French, which is understood by almost all shopkeepers and many people in the mountains who have come into contact with foreigners. The Berbers have their own language which has several dialects and is used by almost all mountain people. English is understood by many of the shopkeepers in the main tourist towns, but seldom elsewhere.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.