COAST, MOUNTAINS & DESERT OF MOROCCO
Coast, Mountains & Desert of Morocco Tour
This holiday idea covers some of the lesser visited parts of the country including the town of Taroudant which many people refer to as 'Marrakech 50 years ago'.
- Explore the traditional Berber market town of Taroudant
- Cross the High Atlas over the Tizi-n-Test pass, one of the most dramatic routes in Morocco
- Spend a day exploring the villages and dunes at the start of the Saharan Desert
- Chill out by the sea in Essaouira
Time on the coast is combined with dramatic mountain scenery, palmeries, dusty mud baked villages and the majestic dunes of the Sahara. There is also the freedom to self drive for a part of the trip, although this is not obligatory.
Days 1 - 5LONDON - MARRAKESH - ESSAOURIA
After just under a 4 hour direct flight to Marrakesh Planet will have you met for your private 3 hour transfer to the sea side town of Essaouira.
Essaouira is a delightful Mediterranean-style fishing port with a wide sandy bay of crashing Atlantic waves and an intriguing network of dusty whitewashed houses. Bright blue shutters and doorways line a myriad of narrow alleyways, decaying arches of days bygone and secret doorways which occasionally open out of the hustle and bustle of a tiny square. The beach which, although perhaps a little too windy to sunbathe on, offers miles and miles of unbeatable walking and great swimming - the windsurfing championships are hosted here each year. Venture into Essaouira and spend time in the main square, drinking in the cafes, shopping in the very friendly souq or exploring the old medina. Essaouira has a very bohemian feel & moves at a slow pace - the town boasts many budding artists who exhibit their work throughout the town. Aswell as some great artwork Essaouira is also renowned for its red cedar and lemonwood cabinet making and marquetry work and the famous Argan oil, produced from olives grown on trees which are endemic to this region.
Days 5 - 6ESSAOUIRA - TAROUDANT
Travel from Essaouira to Taroudant
A journey of approximately 4 hours.
Often referred to as the Marrakech of 50 years ago, this traditional Berber market town - with its majestic gold, pink and orange tinted circuit of high walls - is the epitome of laid back. Taroudant is half citadel and half oasis, where ruddy, clay houses, minarets and groves of oranges and pomegranates seem to drowse beneath the frosted High Atlas to the north and the Anti-Atlas to the south.
Days 6 - 7TAROUDANT
Day at Leisure
Optional Activities in Taroudant
During a stay in Taroudant spend some time exploring this fascinating Berber market town. With far fewer tourists than the larger cities, this is a great place to gain insight into Moroccan culture. Visit the city's Kasbah as well as the old Pasha Palace and the bustling souq, one of the best in the south and renowned for its crafts including leather, copper, and silver.
Days 7 - 8TAROUDANT - SKOURA
Travel from Taroudant to Skoura over the Tizi-n-Test pass
Travel across the High Atlas mountains to Skoura, 345 km's & approx 4 ½ hrs drive. From the rural landscape of Taroudant into the fertile Souss Valley. Known as the Tizi-n-Test pass, this route crosses the High Atlas mountains, past small hamlets, plunging valleys and spectacular views of the Anti Atlas beyond. Rising above 2000m, the road between Ouirgane and Taroudant is one of the most dramatic in Morocco.
Skoura itself comprises little more than a souk but it, together with its neighbouring oasis of Tinerhir, are beautiful oases in an otherwise barren area. There is a dense palmery and it is scattered with groups of Ksours and Kasbahs.
Days 8 - 9SKOURA
Day at Leisure with Driver at Disposal
Optional Activities from Skoura
The local area is beautiful and tours and guides are easily arranged, most with sufficient English. These range from walks in the local palm groves, trips out on a donkey for half days, to more lengthy expeditions. Horse riding and hiring bicycles are also available. Longer explorations could take you into the spectacular High Atlas mountains; up the Dades valley (the country of the figs) which has snow one side and semi-desert the other, to discover the 'Street of the Thousand Kasbahs'; or to the Draa Valley (country of the dates), which takes you in about 5 hours from the Atlas to the Sahara desert. This area is known for trekking - deep gorges, snow-clad summits, remote Berber hamlets - but be warned: it's too hot to hike in the middle of the day from April through September. The local town of Ouarzazate, though far from spectacular, does have markets, pharmacies, supermarkets and a range of banks. It also hosts the biggest film studios in Morocco, so if you wish to see the plane in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the statues from Gladiator or any number of other film props, this is place to go! Visit historical sites such as the fairytale remains of Kasbah Amerhidil, or the much-filmed hilltown of Ait Ben Haddou; keen photographers will adore the extraordinary, photogenic landscape. Henna tattoos can be arranged by local artist.
Days 9 - 10SKOURA - ZAGORA
Travel from Skoura to Zagora
A journey of approximately 4 hours.
Zagora lies in the Draa Valley, a beautiful area with the River Draa cutting a swathe through the mountains. Established by the French authorities during the Protectorate, Zagora is the most convenient base for exploring this desert region. The sign saying "Timbuctu, 52 days by Camel" evokes the great age of the trans-Saharan caravans, although the illusion is slightly spoilt by the presence of the great concrete Prefecture behind it! The area comprises 125km of date palm oases which eventually merge with the Sahara near the village of Mhamid. The inhabitants of the area comprise of Arabs, Haratines and Berbers who continue the Jewish tradition of making silver jewellery. It is abound with small, fortified settlements and villages (ksours), surrounded by fields, fig trees and palm groves. The nearby village of Tamegroute is home to an ancient and prestigious marabout and zaouia, this is a fascinating village. The old library was once one of the richest in Morocco and still preserves many ancient manuscripts and copies of the Koran. About 5km's south of Tamegroute is the first glimpse of the Sahara in the shape of a few isolated sand dunes called Tinfou Dunes. M'Hamid is the main starting point for trips into the desert - about 10 km's north of the town is Erg Lehoudi, a section of 100m high dunes. A more ambitious trip is to try and head out to Erg Chigaga which is a 40km stretch of 300m Saharan dunes located approx 56 kms' from M'Hamid.
Days 10 - 11ZAGORA
Full Day Desert Excursion
Today a driver and 4x4 will be at your disposal to explore the area and venture into the desert. The village of Amzrou about 3kms south of Zagora is set amid lemon, almond and olive trees and gardens on the southern side of the town and is a haven of peace on the edge of the desert. In the former 17th century mellah, the mosque stands next to the abandoned synagogue. Cross the desert to M'Hamid (the last village in the Draa Valley), drive towards Tamegroute and visit the green pottery factory, the library that houses a magnificent collection of 4,000 Koranic manuscripts (written on gazelle skin) and the ancient Jewish Kasbah. About 5kms south of Tamegroute is the first glimpse of the Sahara in the shape of a few isolated sand dunes called Tinfou Dunes. M'Hamid is the main starting point for trips into the desert and about 10 kms north of the town is Erg Lehoudi, a section of 100m high dunes. A more ambitious trip is to try and head out to Erg Chigaga which is a 40km stretch of 300m Saharan dunes located approx 56 kms from M'Hamid. Other possible desert areas include Iriki Oasis which is close to Erg Chigaga or some of the smaller dunes at Mesouria, approx 8kms from M'Hamid.
Days 11 - 12ZAGORA - OUARZAZATE
Travel from Zagora to Ouarzazate
Ouarzazate is one of the most important of the southern towns and stands at a crossroads joining north and south Morocco. To one side of the town stretches the 'Valley of the 1000 Kasbahs' and to the other stretches the Draa Valley.
Days 11 - 12OUARZAZATE - MARRAKECH
Travel from Ouarzazate to Marrakech
Colourful, cosmopolitan Marrakech has an authentic Moroccan feel. This is a city steeped in rich history and where ancient culture is still very much in evidence today. Intricate buildings and architectural wonders tell their own stories while, in the evenings, acrobats and story tellers gather at Djemma El Fna Square - a scene best viewed from one of many terraced coffee shops overlooking the square. Marrakech is a true North African gem waiting to be explored.
Days 13 - 14MARRAKECH
Full Day Tour of Marrakech
This tour offers a complete overview of the main sites of Marrakech and begins at the 12th century archaeological site of the Koutoubia mosque. Stop by Bab Agnaou gate and go through to visit the historical Saadian Tombs of the 16th century. Continue the walk through the 12th century Kasbah with its food market, bakeries and narrow alleyways. Visit the remains of El Badi palace built in the 16th century and admire the marvellous Minbar made in 1137 in Cordoba and sent to the King to be used as a pulpit in the big mosque. Enter the 19th century Bahia Palace and discover the intricate work done by the local artisans to decorate this splendid home. Conclude the morning tour with a stroll inside the Jewish quarter to visit the historical synagogue (if open), built in 1492 by Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain. After a break for lunch, navigate through a maze of colorful streets to discover a multitude of traditional crafts made in Marrakech and the surrouding areas. Visit one of the many herbalist stores in the Souks and learn about Moroccan spices, medicinal herbs and essential oils. End the tour at the UNESCO world heritage site, Jemaa El Fna where you discover some of the local folklore traditions such as musicians, dancers, acrobats and snake charmers.
Days 14 - 15MARRAKECH - LONDON
Fly Marrakech to London
5* ATLAS ESSAOUIRA & SPA, ESSAOUIRAThe Atlas Essaouira and Spa Hotel Essaouira is a superb hotel overlooking the beach very close to the Windsurf & Kitesurf centre and around a 20 minute stroll into the old town. Planet offer fantastic prices for such a high standard of accommodation to this is a great value option for a good quality holiday to Morocco; it is especially g...
Itinerary OverviewDays 1 - 5 LONDON - MARRAKESH - ESSAOURIA Days 5 - 6 ESSAOUIRA - TAROUDANT Days 6 - 7 TAROUDANT Days 7 - 8 TAROUDANT - SKOURA Days 8 - 9 SKOURA Days 9 - 10 SKOURA - ZAGORA Days 10 - 11 ZAGORA Days 11 - 12 ZAGORA - OUARZAZATE Days 11 - 12 OUARZAZATE - MARRAKECH Days 13 - 14 MARRAKECH Days 14 - 15 MARRAKECH - LONDON
- Airport Taxes
Minimum 2 passengers (or single supplement will apply) assuming flights from the UK. other European or worldwide departure airports available on request.Guide price per person: £1675 / excl. sports