Current as of: December 5, 2023 - 05:41
2 out of 7 - Leisurely / Moderate
The High Atlas mountains of central Morocco are the perfect backdrop to the imperial cities of Marrakech, Fez and Meknes. This fast-paced journey through the northern kingdom of Africa gives us time to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the mountains, as well as allowing time to immerse ourselves in the chaotic blend of spices, perfume and chatter of the cities.
This trip is rated as Activity Level 2 (Leisurely/Moderate). For more on our ratings, please visit our Activity Level guidelines.
The tour provides a good introduction to Morocco with a quite busy itinerary. Morocco is stunning but large and the cities and country areas are spread out. This means there are sometimes long journeys, but this is the only way to see all the country offers. We are not confined to our vehicle though, as there are plenty of photo stops and opportunities to stretch your legs.The approximate drive times are noted on the daily itinerary.
Although there is an organised itinerary every day, the walks are optional. The mountain and lakeside walks are undemanding for anyone with experience of hill or mountain walking. Those less familiar with hiking should prepare for mountain paths that are stony and uneven. Or you may choose to relax at the hotel.
Morocco is hot in summer but we try to make the most of the coolest parts of the day for our sightseeing so you can expect some early starts. Expect it to be hot to very hot in the desert from May through to September.
Morocco can get cold in winter, though daytime temperatures are usually mild. Pack winter clothes for November through to March when night-time temperatures can drop considerably, especially in the desert and mountains. During these months, there can also be rain throughout the country and snow in the mountains. As Morocco is generally mild to hot, it is not set up for colder temperatures, so there may not be heaters available. Please pack winter clothes and nightwear to ensure you are comfortable. Of course, you can also ask for more blankets from the hotels.
Ramadan is expected to run from approximately 10 March-10 April 2024 and 28 February-29 March 2025. One of the most important periods in the Islamic calendar, it is a special time to visit a Muslim country. Each evening, the streets empty as people head home to break the fast, followed by an air of festivity upon their return. Our leaders and drivers choose to work at this time so we continue to run trips; however, their energy levels may be slightly lower than normal. Many tourist sites, restaurants and shops will have an amended schedule, but your tour leader will know how to adapt the itinerary to still experience all the inclusions on this trip and maximise your experience during this special time.
There is a local leader and a driver and local guides where needed.
Adult min age: 16
Min group size: 6
Max group size: 16
Fly to Marrakech, transfer to hotel. Evening briefing
Driving time: 20 minutes
Accommodation: Moroccan House (or similar)
The adventure begins in the Red City, Marrakech. You can arrive at any time today. There is a group meeting in the evening, where we get together as a group for the first time and you can ask any questions you may have.
Accommodation: Moroccan House (or similar)
With time to explore Marrakech at the end of our journey, we leave the Red City and head east into the Atlas Mountains. Our destination for the day is the well-preserved ksar (fortified village) of Ait Benhaddou. This historic Unesco-listed complex is one of the most spectacular sights in the Atlas mountains, made famous as the filming location for several Hollywood films including Gladiator (2000). The route takes us over the Tizi N Tichka pass, the highest in Morocco, arriving mid-afternoon. We then have time for a walk around the town before dinner.
Accommodation: Kasbah el Janoub (or similar)
Drive time: Four hours
Leaving after breakfast, we drive approximately four hours to reach the Todra Gorge – a canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas mountains, 15mi (24km) long and more than 3,280ft (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.
Accommodation: Hotel Taboriht (or similar)
Drive time: Four hours
Our journey 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 lush palmeries and dramatic mountain views. The town itself is populated largely by Amazigh people but was settled by the French at the beginning of the 20th century. It was the second town in the country, after Casablanca, to get electricity. On arrival, we have free time to explore the town with a stop for tea and cakes with a local family.
Accommodation: Hotel Taddart (or similar)
Drive time: Five hours
Today we cross the Middle Atlas mountains. Although not as high as the High Atlas, the range is surprisingly lush, with forests of oak and cedar plus large swaths of fertile land used for growing all manner of fruits, nuts and cereals. En route, we 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 free time before we enjoy a traditional pastilla dinner, a famous dish from this region, at a nearby restaurant.
Accommodation: Riad Tafilalet (or similar)
Drive time: Four hours
This fascinating city is the intellectual and religious centre of Morocco. Founded more than 1,000 years ago, it has many mosques and medersas (theological colleges) including the ninth century al-Karaouine University, whose architecture is very similar to that seen in Moorish Spain. The medina 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 narrow alleyways. Noisy and pungent, Fez medina is an absorbing, 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 visit the Jewish District (mellah), the exterior of the Royal Palace and drive to a panoramic viewpoint over the medina.
Accommodation: Riad Tafilalet (or similar)
We travel to Volubilis after breakfast, a Unesco World Heritage site housing the largest and best-preserved Roman ruins in North Africa. Despite the damage caused by an earthquake in 1755, this important Roman town retains 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 visit a family with whom we share a lunch of home-cooked cous cous.
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.
Accommodation: Hotel Swani (or similar)
Drive time: Three and a half hours
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 range. On arrival, we have time for a gentle walk around the lake, a contrasting experience in a country known for having a dry desert landscape.
In the evening, we enjoy a barbecue dinner in the garden of our riverside gite.
Accommodation: Gite L’eau Vivre (or similar)
Drive time: Six hours
From Bin Louidane, we continue south to Marrakech, one of the most popular and historic destinations in Morocco. Here we enjoy a guided tour to help us get our bearings and soak up the atmosphere of this amazing city. Our guide take us to the Bahia Palace and Saadian tombs and ends 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 comes to life, with food stalls, snake charmers, juice sellers and acrobats.
Accommodation: Moroccan House (or similar)
Drive time: Four hours
Transfer to the international airport.
The tour ends after breakfast and we begin our return journeys home. If you’d like the adventure to continue, speak to your sales representative about booking additional nights in the Red City.
We spend six nights in hotels, one night in a riverside gite and two nights in a traditional riad. Here are the accommodations we typically use:
Marrakech: Hotel Moroccan House (nights 1 & 9)
We begin and end our adventure in Guéliz, the modern district of Marrakech, which is also known as the European quarter. Our 50-room hotel is decorated in the style of a Moroccan riad with facilities including a swimming pool and a terrace with city views. It is also close to cafes, restaurants, a supermarket and currency exchange office and an easy bus or carriage ride to the Djemaa El Fna square.
Ait Benhaddou: Ksar Ljanoub (night 2)
Enjoy the Atlas sunshine with a dip in the pool or relax under the shade of a parasol when we stay at Ksar Ljanoub. You can also enjoy views of the mountains and desert from the rooms or the terraces, with a chance for a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
Todra: Hotel Kasbah Taborihte (night 3)
Relax after your Todra Gorge walk with a stay at Hotel Kasbah Taborihte. It’s backed by mountains and has views of an oasis, plus there’s a swimming pool with vistas over the rugged peaks.
Midelt: Hotel Taddart (night 4)
Our time in remote Midelt is spent at Hotel Taddart. Tourism is yet to truly take off in this part of Morocco, but this hotel has a terrace, an outdoor swimming pool, a sauna and hot tub. Start your day with a full English breakfast served at the restaurant.
Fez: Riad Tafilalet (nights 5-6)
Experience a traditional 19th-century home at this restored riad in Fez medina. The restoration respected the character of the house while ensuring maximum comfort for guests. There’s a hammam spa (additional cost) plus a roof terrace with views over the medina. Riads are traditional Moroccan homes, where the wealthiest people would historically live and they are typically built around a central courtyard. Due to their age, the rooms are not standardised and come in different sizes and shapes.
Meknes: Hotel Swani (night 7)
Our time in Meknes is spent at Hotel Swani, which is near to restaurants and local attractions and is only a short drive to the old town. It has an à la carte restaurant and breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace.
Bin Louidane: Dar l’Eau Vive (night 8)
Within the Middle Atlas mountains and next to the Oused l’Abid river, this tranquil gite is a great place to soak up the natural beauty of Morocco. The restaurant serves dishes created with produce from local farms, plus there’s a swimming pool and terrace with views of the Atlas peaks.
Pre-tour accommodation available in Marrakech on request.
Post-tour accommodation available in Marrakech on request.
Single supplement from £ 270
Nine breakfasts, one lunch and four dinners are included.
Moroccan food is generally speaking, excellent though not very varied. Breakfasts usually consist of bread and jam with coffee or tea. For meals not included budget for the following approximate prices.
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 (e.g. coeliac or vegan) you may find it helpful to bring some food with you from home.
For most of this trip, we use a private bus (usually an 18-seater minibus for a full group of 16) 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 is slower, but the roads are still good. Please note, there are some long drives on this trip.
Buses usually have air conditioning and heating but please note this is not up to European or North American standards.
From April to June and in September, Marrakech and the north are pleasantly hot with temperatures averaging 26C (79F) in the day and falling to 16C (61F) 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.
Start hotel: Moroccan House, 3 Rue Loubnane Gueliz, Marrakech, Marrakech Safi, 40000
Phone: +212 5244 20306
Recommended arrival time: Hotel check-in is from 2pm
Airport: Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK)
The start hotel is approximately a 20-minute drive from the airport. Exodus provides free arrival transfers to the start hotel from the airport for all customers.
Allow at least two hours to clear immigration, security and baggage reclaim at Marrakech Airport. You should also have a pen and accommodation details with you to complete the arrivals form. Operators are not allowed to wait inside the terminal building for clients, so your representative will wait outside the main doors.
If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.
Exodus provides free departure transfers for all customers to Marrakech Airport (RAK) from the end hotel. If you’re not taking the Exodus transfer, allow three hours for check in, bag drop, immigration and security. The airport doesn’t accept mobile boarding passes, so take a printed boarding pass to avoid further delays.
Please note, unless specified otherwise, the transfers will be to the start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers should be booked with your sales representative at least two weeks before the tour starts.
Marrakech Airport is inefficient and transit through it can be a lengthy process. Upon arrival, expect at least two hours getting through immigration, security and baggage reclaim. You should have a pen with you to complete the arrivals form and have the details of your accommodation to hand for this purpose.
Upon departure from Marrakech, we always suggest allowing three hours to navigate the airport as checking in, bag drop, immigration and security can take even longer on exit. The airport doesn’t accept mobile boarding passes, so we suggest having a printed boarding pass to avoid subjecting yourself to further delays.
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: Marrakech
Location end: Marrakech
For November to March departures, you also need:
Although Morocco is a Muslim country, the dress code in the large cities is not as strict as it used to be. It is fine to wear tops with no sleeves and shorts. When entering mosques and in more rural areas, it is advisable to be more modest and wear, for example, over-the-knee bottoms and with shoulders covered. Additionally, women should avoid wearing revealing clothes.
Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.
Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Morocco. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.
Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.
• Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/africa/morocco
• Canada: www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/morocco
• United Kingdom: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/morocco/entry-requirements
• USA: www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Morocco.html
There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, tuberculosis and typhoid. A polio vaccination certificate may be required for some travellers. Please confirm your needs and requirements with your doctor or travel clinic.
Morocco's time zone: Africa/Brazzaville (UTC +01:00)
Morocco's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins, European standard) and E (two round pins) – 220V, 50Hz
Morocco's currency: Moroccan dirham (MAD), a non-convertible currency. You can only import/export a maximum of 2,000 dirham to or from Morocco.
It is easy to use Visa/Mastercard at the ATMs, which are only available in larger towns and cities. Credit cards are normally accepted for more expensive souvenirs, such as carpets, but shops may charge a five percent supplement for this.
We recommend you change your money at the airport into dirhams, as Morocco only allows 2,000 dirhams to be imported or exported. There is no limit on the amount of foreign currency you take. When changing your money, ensure you keep hold of your exchange receipt as you may need to show it at the airport bank at the end of your trip where it’s normally possible to change any unspent dirham notes back into euros, British pounds or US dollars. Allow approximately 30-70 dirhams (US$3-US$6.50) per day to cover small souvenirs, soft drinks etc. See the Food and Drink section for more details on expenditure.
Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work and tipping is at your discretion for both the leader and the local staff. However, tipping is part of the local culture and generally expected. If you wish to tip, we have found it useful for the group to have a kitty for tipping – about 250 dirhams (US$24) per person. This can ease the confusion and embarrassment of not knowing how much or how little to tip local staff (such as cooks and guides, hotel staff etc). If you do not wish to join the group kitty, do not feel pressured. Many clients also wish to tip their leaders and drivers at the end of the trip. We suggest 30 dirhams (US$2.90) a day per person for the leaders and 10-20 dirhams (US$1-US$2) a day per person for the drivers. This is at your own discretion and to be used as a guideline only.
We work hard to create trips that have a positive impact on the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Learn more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.
Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:
How this trip helps improve life for local communities.
How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.
How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.
Tips for sustainable travel on this trip
Your safe participation
When 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, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.
Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part 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.
By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances 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.
When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, 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.
You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.
Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three 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.
Trip Note validity
These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.
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; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, 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.
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 money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.