Antarctica & Arctic
Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the mountains, as well as allowing time to immerse yourself in the chaotic blend of spices, perfume and Arabic chatter of the cities.
a Destinations d > Morocco > Mountains & Imperial Cities
9 nights accommodation, some meals, local transportation, tour leader.
Selected dates 26 Aug ‘18 - 22 Dec ‘19
The High Atlas Mountains of central Morocco are the perfect back drop to the imperial cities of Marrakech, Fez and Meknes. This journey through Africa’s northern kingdom gives us time to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the mountains, as well as time to immerse ourselves in the sights and sounds of the must see imperial cities.
Back to Morocco Tours
Experience imperial Marrakech, Meknes and Fez
Explore little known Bin el Ouidane & Midelt
Visit the Roman ruins of Volubilis and holy town of Moulay Idris
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Start in Marrakech with an evening group meeting.
With time to explore Marrakech at the end of our journey, we leave the Red City behind and head east into the Atlas Mountains. Our destination for the day is the well-preserved Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most spectacular sights of the Atlas Mountains, made famous as the filming location for several Hollywood films including 'Gladiator'.
The route takes us over Tizi N Tichka pass, the highest in Morocco, arriving mid-afternoon. We will then have time for a walk around the town before dinner. (B)(D)
Leaving after breakfast we drive approximately 3 hours on from Ait Benhaddou to reach the Todgha Gorge. A canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains, 15 miles long and over 1,000m high.
On arrival we take lunch and then have a two hour walk, starting in the Todgha Valley before heading into the gorge itself. The walk is not challenging and the natural rock walls of the canyon provide shade from the Moroccan sun.
Overnight at our hotel in the valley. (B)
Our journey today takes us on one of the smaller passes across the Atlas Mountains to the town of Midelt, a remote settlement still quite new to Morocco's tourist map. The pass takes us through the beautiful Ziz Valley, with its lush palmeries and dramatic mountain views.
The town itself is populated largely by Berber people, but was settled by the French at the beginning of the 20th century. It was the second town, after Casablanca to get electricity in the country.
On arrival we'll have some free time to explore the town with a stop for tea and cakes with a local family. (B)(D)
Today we cross the Middle Atlas Mountains. Although not as high as the High Atlas, the range is surprisingly lush containing forests of oak and cedar as well as large swaths of fertile land used for growing all manner of fruits, nuts and cereals. En route we will stop in the small town of Ifran known for its distinctive European architecture, looking more like it belongs in the Alps than the Atlas.
On arrival in Fez we should have a some free time before we enjoy a traditional Pastilla dinner, a famous dish from this region of Morocco, at a nearby restaurant. (B)(D)
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 and confusing 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 - from those selling leather to brass, copper and ceramics. And 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 drive to a panoramic viewpoint over the medina. (B)
After breakfast we travel to Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, housing the largest and best preserved Roman ruins in North Africa. Despite the damage caused by the 1755 earthquake, this important Roman town managed to retain some detailed and very beautiful mosaics.
Our next destination is the sacred hilltop town of Moulay Idriss. Once off limits to non-Muslims, the picturesque medina offers an excellent insight into traditional Moroccan life. We will visit a family with whom we will share a lunch of home-cooked couscous.
In the afternoon we travel to Meknes, our next imperial city, where we enjoy a walking tour of this former capital, including the impressive gate with its arches of mosaic tiles.
Overnight in imperial Meknes. (B)(L)
We break our journey to Marrakech in the small town of Bin Louidane. The ride from Meknes takes us on a different road across the Middle Atlas mountain range. On arrival there will be time to enjoy a gentle walk around the lake, a contrasting experience in a country so famous for its dry desert landscape.
In the evening we will enjoy a barbecue dinner in the garden of our gite; Dar L'eau Vive on the banks of the river. (B)(D)
From Bin Louidane we continue south to Marrakech, our final imperial city and one of Morocco's most popular and historical destinations. Here we enjoy a guided tour to help us find our feet and soak up the atmosphere of this amazing city. Our guide will take us to the Bahia Palace, the Saadian tombs, ending in Djemma el Fna, where the town becomes a maze of bustling bazaars, palaces and mosques.
It is also worth seeing at night when this renowned landmark really comes to life, with the food stalls, snake charmers, juice-sellers and acrobats. It is a place of night-time entertainment for both local people and tourists, not to be missed. (B)
Our tour ends after breakfast. (B)
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