Mountains & Imperial Cities

10 days
from
£849
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Traveller ratings
4.3 / 5 from 7 reviews >
Trip code: 
AMB
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
6–16
Min age:
16

The Atlas Mountains and Imperial cities of Marrakech, Fez and Meknes

The High Atlas Mountains of central Morocco are the perfect back drop to the imperial cities of Marrakech, Fez and Meknes. This fast paced journey through Africa's northern kingdom gives us time to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the mountains, as well as allowing time to immerse ourselves in the a chaotic blend of spices, perfume and Arabic chatter of the cities.

Highlights

  • Imperial Marrakech, Meknes and Fez
  • Time in the Atlas Mountains
  • Visit the Roman ruins of Volubilis and holy town of Moulay Idris
  • Explore little known Bin el Ouidane & Midelt

Key information

  • 10 days land only / flight inclusive 
  • Travel by air-conditioned private minibus
  • 1 night premium hotel, 5 nights premium riads and 3 nights standard hotels

  • Free airport transfer for any flight
  • Countries visited: Morocco

What's included

  • 7 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 4 dinners included

  • All accommodation

  • Transfers for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

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… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Marrakech

    Start Marrakech. Evening group meeting

    Riad Hamdane or similar

  • Day 2

    Through the High Atlas Mountains to Ait Benhaddou

    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.

    Hotel La Kasbah or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 3

    Walk in the Todgha Gorges

    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.

    Hotel Taborihte or Similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Through the Ziz Valley to Midelt

    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.

    Hotel Taddart or Similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    Across the Middle Atlas range to Fez

    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.

    Riad Tafilalet or Similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Full day in Fez

    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.

    Riad Tafilalet or Similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Volubilis, Moulay Idriss & Meknes

    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.

    Riad D’or or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Transfer to Bin Louidane

    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.

    Gite L’eau Vivre or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    Bin Louidane to Marrakech; guided city tour

    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.

    Riad Hamdane or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    End Marrakech

    Our tour ends after breakfast.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Morocco

No visa required by British passport holders.

Vaccinations

Morocco

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

Eating and Drinking

9 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 4 dinners included.

Moroccan food is generally very good. Breakfast usually consists of a variety of breads with jam/butter/honey and coffee or tea. Meals eaten out are reasonably priced - kebab costs about £8 (approx. US$13.0). In main towns, it is possible to find very good French and Moroccan restaurants where a meal and wine will cost anything from £20 (approx. US$30) upwards. Generally, dinner is likely to cost between £5-10 (approx. US$8-15) depending on what you drink. Local beers, wines 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, and additionally, you will enjoy lunches/dinner and afternoon teas with local families in their homes.
Vegetarians can be catered for but there is a fairly limited choice of vegetarian couscous, tagine or omelettes. This is particularly the case in more rural areas.
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 specialist food items from home.

Weather

From April to June, and in September, Marrakech and the north are pleasantly hot, with temperatures averaging 26degC in the day and falling to 16degC 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.

Is this trip for you?

This trip provides a good introduction to Morocco. The itinerary is quite busy, we travel by private minibus (usually 18-seater for a group of 16) and there are a couple of long drives (especially across the mountains), to be able to experience the distinctly different aspects of this wonderful country. 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. For those less familiar with hiking should be prepared for mountain paths are stony and uneven. Morocco generally enjoys a good year round climate (sun-soaked in the summer and reasonably warm in the winter).

Please note Ramadan runs from 5th May - 4th June 2019 - 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 that 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 every night.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Riad, Hotel and Gite

You will spend 5 nights in historic premium riads in all three imperial cities that we visit. These small boutique guest houses offer tranquil, authentic stay in the heart of the city.

In the mountains and Midelt we stay in small comfortable hotels, while in Ben Louidane we stay in a gite on the banks of the river, what this property lacks in luxuries is more than made up for by the friendly welcome, barbecue food and beautiful, tranquil setting. 

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Morocco vs Iceland World Cup

Commiserations to the proud nations of Morocco and Iceland, neither of whom fared so well in this year’s world

  • Reviewed April 2019
    Vivienne LOWERY

    Imperial

    Morocco is a great country with lovely people. Marrakesh and Fez were the highlights. Our guide, Mohammed, was excellent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The tanning in Fez. It made you realise how lucky you are!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was amazing, very knowledgable and kind.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware there are long days in the minibus.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Vivienne LOWERY

    Imperial

    Morocco is a great country with lovely people. Marrakesh and Fez were the highlights. Our guide, Mohammed, was excellent.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The tanning in Fez. It made you realise how lucky you are!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was amazing, very knowledgable and kind.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware there are long days in the minibus.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Alys Shale

    A great trip

    This was our first trip with Exodus and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We chose this particular tour as it included fewer big cities and more of the Atlas mountains, which we were keen to experience and the smaller group size of 16 was certainly an important factor. There were quite a few long minibus journeys but we were prepared for that. However, the scenery was wonderful and the riads/hotels sometimes a bit flakey but fine! Our guide was good with a great sense of humour, and we met a friendly and fun group of people. All in all, a good tour and we shall be considering Exodus for our future adventures.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Travelling across the mountains and seeing the valleys below, lush and green, quite a shock from the desert we might have expected.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Good fun and well organised. Took good care of us all.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware that there are some long road journeys. The minibus seats 16 - the back row is raised and the front row is very close to the driver's bench seat, so leg-room is limited and uncomfortable for taller people. This also means that the shorter amongst us have to be in the back row more often, and it can be difficult to see out.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Janet Godwin

    Multi coloured Morocco...

    Could not fault the tour. Wonderful experience, excellent tour guide Yeoseff and driver Mohammed. An absolute assault on the senses. Crossed a variety of terrain: gorges, dessert, oasis, mountains, plains, dams, lakes, villages, towns, Medina's, souks... Never boring. Temps cold in mornings and high in afternoon made an interesting challenge.The pretty constant lack of hot water and completely erratic heating was counteracted with a warm welcome and absolute charm everywhere we went. If you are travelling in January take your thermals! It was very humbling to be cheerfully offered tea and cakes by a Berber mother with a babe on her back who had just hauled water up the mountain on a donkey and entertained by her son spinning his prize possession a spinning top. The house was freezing but her and her son's smile electric. We should all be thankful for what we have. Thank you for such a mind blowing and beautiful holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walk across dessert to Berber village.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic, calm, professional, unflappable and constantly charming and vigilant. Thank you.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Check the weather, take thermals if winter. Don't grouse about lack of water n heat, go with the flow. Don't suspect the lovely Moroccoans, it's very safe and the hospitality amazing. Don't expect high quality food but there is no lack of it. Everything is carbohydrate heavy and they may not drink but their drug of choice is sugar!!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go it's a magical place.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    Anne Duffield

    Mountains and Imperial Cities

    Good trip, great leader, lots to see and do.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Meeting Fatima on Xmas day for lunch... just what i needed in an alternative xmas!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It can get really cold in the Winter!! Pack accordingly!
  • Reviewed November 2018
    William Stewart

    Great

    A good trip, with a stop and go tour around the Atlas and cities (Fes, Meknes, Marrackech). Some walking was included which was wonderful (more even better). Alot of distance covered with different countryside and places.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Volubilis visit

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Great
  • Reviewed April 2018
    GILL BLACKGROVE

    A great week af culture and long journeys

    The trip involves a lot of travel, but the Sahara and Gite experiences were worth it. Take the itinerary with a small pinch of salt [which the food also needs] and enjoy the experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    sleeping out under the Sahara stars, with Bedouin musicians softly drumming me to sleep. I loved the gite too - Walking up to the gite, especially along the river and seeing the villages as we walked. I chose not to go on any walk and enjoyed relaxing in the superb views - the 3-4 hour walk came back in 5 hours...... I enjoyed the ad-hoc school visit too. Ait Ben Haddou at sunset was beautiful

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Abdul was fun and funny - though his timings and distances were more Moroccan than British. the Hamman at the gite was "just next door" and turned out to be 10 minutes up a very narrow rocky pathway - hazardous as we came down in pitch dark, some people in flip flops. He was full of enthusiasm and organised us well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    ITINERARY - go with the flow as far as itinerary and trip notes and timing are concerned. MONEY - We arrived on a Saturday and could change no money until Monday, so I'd advise you to change some money at least on arrival or before you travel. I also lost £150 somewhere between arrival and Ouerzazete [day 1 and day 2] - could have been carelessness, but it was probably stolen. No ATM anywhere would give me money, so I had to borrow. Although we ladies had a huge hilarious laugh at the hammam experience, I'd not do it again - I can scrub myself thank you and am not one who enjoys the stripping off / manhandling experience.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    there is no formal visit and hand-over of the "pack with a purpose" goods listed in the trip notes. We did visit a school classroom - all very last minute as we passed, and handed over the pens, cards etc. I had packed some gloves and paint brushes which weren't all that appropriate to the school's needs. Expect very ordinary food [ chicken or lamb stew] and a carb overload. Vegetarians beware - there is no understanding of the concept and our vegetarian was expected to fish out the vegetables from the chicken tagine. The alternative is omelette 3 times a day. this is a great trip, slightly whirlwind trip and if you are prepared to be flexible you will love it.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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