8-Day Desert Tour from Casablanca to Essaouira

8-Day Desert Tour from Casablanca to Essaouira

We created this tour for those who intend to spend an extended holiday at the resorts of Essaouira but wish to fly into Casablanca and see a variety of Moroccan sights before settling in at the seaside city.

Itinerary

Day 1: Casablanca – Rabat – Meknes – Fez

On our first day together, we meet in the morning after breakfast at the airport or a location of your choice in Casablanca. We’ll have a short visit to Hassan II Mosque, the largest functioning mosque on the entire African continent. Next we head north along the Atlantic coast to the capital Rabat. Here we can see Hassan tower and have lunch in the medina located at the meeting point between the ocean and the Bou Regreg River. In the afternoon we continue through one of Morocco’s historical imperial cities, Meknes, before arriving at Volubilis. These are Morocco’s partially excavated Roman ruins. You can explore the columns, Roman baths, and mosaics on foot. Finally we continue to Fez where we have dinner and sleep in a local riad.

Day 2: Fez Guided City Tour

Today we will explore Fez with a local tour guide. The tour includes visiting the medina (the old city) and its alleys. Your visit starts by visiting the Jewish Quarter (the Mellah) and seeing the exterior of the Royal Palace. You will be visiting the famous leather tanneries and the University of al-Qarawiyyin, founded by a woman named Fatima al-Fihri in 859 and considered by UNESCO to be the oldest continually operating university in the world. After lunch, in a typical Moroccan restaurant in the Medina, you’ll  experience a wonderful panoramic view of the city. Overnight accommodation will be at the local riad with dinner and breakfast.

Day 3: Fez – Ifrane – Azrou – Midelt

We leave for Midelt through the Mountains and the cedar forests of the middle Atlas. Pass by Ifrane, a charming ski resort and then down to Azrou, an important handicraft centre specializing in cedar woodwork. Here we will have lunch and also likely get a chance to visit with the Barbary monkeys who reside in the local cedar forests. In the afternoon, we continue to Midelt, known as Morocco’s apple-growing city. Dinner and accommodation at a local hotel.

Day 4: Midelt – Rissani – Khamlia – Merzouga – Erg Chebbi

We depart after breakfast and head south along the Ziz river valley, making our way to Rissani for lunch. If we are lucky, it may be market day and we will see everything from livestock to cloth to spices for sale in this bustling desert souk. As we travel farther south, the dunes of Erg Chebbi come into view. Next we visit the Gnawa people – originally from Mali, Senegal and Sudan – in their village Khamlia. Here we can attend a short concert to hear Gnawa musicians. In the late afternoon, we head to Merzouga village where you can leave your luggage at a desert hotel on the edge of the saharan sand dunes. Here you will meet your camel guide while you enjoy a cup of tea and relax for a few minutes before your desert adventure. The guide will help you get acquainted with your camels and lead you on a camel-trekking caravan into the heart of Erg Chebbi. After a spectacular sunset you will be served a traditional Moroccan meal at our desert camp. Enjoy a campfire and drumming before sleeping in one of our Berber wool tents.

Day 5: Erg Chebbi – Merzouga – Todra Gorge – Dades Gorge – Rose Valley – Ouarzazate

After a beautiful desert sunrise, hop back on your camel and return to the desert hotel in Merzouga with your camel guide. Breakfast awaits here and there is also time for a shower at the hotel if you like. Then we continue our journey to Todra Gorge – the highest, narrowest gorge in Morocco. Here you will have the option to hike for a little while and have lunch before we continue to the Dades Valley, where you’ll see the majestic sand castles and the amazing rock formations known as “monkey fingers.” We will make our way through the palm groves and valleys, including the Rose Valley (the roses usually bloom in May) until we reach Ouarzazate. Here we will have dinner and sleep overnight in a local hotel.

Day 6: Ouarzazate – Ait Benhaddou – Marrakesh

In the morning, we explore Ouarzazate, Morocco’s version of Hollywood where most of our film studios are located. There is a cinema museum as well as two important Kasbahs that we can visit, Taourirt Kasbah and Kasbah of Tifoultoute. But the most impressive Kasbah is yet to come as are about to hear to Ait Benhaddou, the most well-preserved of all of Morocco’s Kasbahs and a UNESCO world heritage site. It is easy to see that we are on the ancient trade route between Marrakesh and the whole of the Sahara, where traders travelled by camel and horse, stopping at local fortresses for protection along their journey. We will have lunch near one of these kasbahs before continuing through the High Atlas Mountains over the majestic Tizi n’Tichka Pass and arriving in Marrakesh in the evening. We will have dinner and stay at a local riad near the medina.

Day 7: Marrakesh Guided City Tour

After breakfast in the riad, we will start exploring Marrakesh, the red city of Morocco. We will ensure that you see the most important sites of historical and cultural interest, including the Majorelle Gardens, the Koutoubia Tower at Jemaa el-Fna, the Saadian tombs and the Bahia Palace. After Lunch at a restaurant near the square, you will walk through the souks and view hundreds of handicrafts. On the afternoon, you will have some free time to wander by yourself near the main square. Dinner and overnight at the local riad.

Day 8: Marrakesh – Essaouira

After breakfast we depart for the coast again. Today we explore Essaouira. It’s easy to see why Essaouira is often dubbed the “Jewel of the Atlantic.” We recommend a seafood lunch in this picturesque coastal city. Afterwards, your driver will be available to you for a few hours to help you get acquainted with the city. We will travel to the local attractions of your choice and then bid you farewell in the mid afternoon when we leave you at a resort of your choice or another location in Essaouira.

Includes:

  • Transportation (4×4 SUV or minibus with air-conditioning)
  • English-speaking driver/guide
  • Hotel/riad overnight stays
  • Breakfast & Dinner (except for breakfast on first day and dinner on last day)
  • Local city guides where applicable
  • Camel trekking at Erg Chebbi
  • Accommodation in traditional nomad tent
  • Turbans for protection from sun and sand
  • Sandboarding in The Dunes

Excludes:

  • Flights
  • Lunches
  • Drinks
  • Admittance fees (for optional attractions such as museums and mosques)
NOTE: If the tours that we offer do not match what you’re looking for, contact us and we will prepare a custom itinerary according to your wishes.

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