Highlights of Andalucia & Morocco
Marvel at the sights, sounds and smells of Andalucia and Morocco on this 20-day cultural adventure. Feast on a variety of region-specific tapas, explore historic hilltop cities and bask in the laidback and friendly atmosphere, passing through Seville, Ronda and Granada. Admire the impressive Roman ruins of Volubilis, go behind the scenes of a film makers heaven in Ait Benhaddou, discover the dramatic red dunes of the Sahara Desert and stroll through the blue streets of Chefchaouen. Journey into Andalucia and Morocco’s heart through its food, religion, language and culture to better understand these exciting countries and passionate locals.
Ages: 15 - 99
Accommodation: Hotel (13 nights), Desert camp (1 night), Gite (2 nights), Riad (3 nights)
Hola! Welcome to Seville. There are no activities planned for during the day, so you may arrive at any time before an important welcome meeting at 7 pm. If you do have time beforehand, take the opportunity to visit Barrio Santa Cruz – with its multicultural history, it is a great place to start. This neighbourhood was designed in medieval times to provide a shaded space from the Andalucian heat. After your welcome meeting, take an orientation walk around the close neighbourhood and then why not head out for a dinner with your group (at your own cost), where you’ll have a chance to sample some local tapas.
Have an easy morning before heading on a walking tour of Seville's finest sights. With the knowledge of your local leader to guide you, you will explore the maze of narrow cobblestoned streets and sun-speckled squares in Barrio Santa Cruz and El Centro. After the tour it is recommended to visit a Catedral de Sevilla – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the third largest cathedral in the world, housing Christopher Columbus’ elevated tomb. Another great site to visit is the lovely botanical gardens in Maria Luisa Park and the incomparable Plaza de Espana. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore the town. Visits to Seville's magnificent Alcazar Palace – one of the country’s most impressive and historic monuments and Giralda Tower are both highly recommended. Tonight, you can join the Sevillanos (Seville locals) and soak up the ambience of the city as it comes alive after dark. The locals usually dine late, so embrace the local schedule. Perhaps round off your evening with an optional flamenco show; your guide will offer you some history of this unique dance style.
After breakfast, travel by private minibus to Ronda. This little town, perched on a mountaintop, is one of Spain's oldest villages, dating back to the 9th century BC. There is plenty to see and do in your free time today. Perhaps go for a walk into the picturesque gorge or along the Puente Nuevo, walk along a country path surrounding the town, visit a local museum, do some shopping, or simply relax, have a coffee and enjoy the small-town atmosphere. Your leader will provide you with a map and will point out their favourite hotspots before you set off on your own adventure. Later on, reconnect with the rest of your group and your leader for an alternative orientation walk. In the evening, you might like to enjoy some tapas and a glass of crisp Spanish beer in one of Ronda's lively local eateries.
Today you will transfer by private minibus to Grazalema National Park. On your way, stop to explore the splendid village of Zahara de la Sierra. The awesome mountain-top location of this whitewashed village makes it visible for many kilometres. It's also known as the 'Moorish Eagle's Nest'. On this leader-led tour of Zahara you will walk up to a 15th-century watchtower and marvel at the spectacular views over the Zahara-Gastor Resevoir and the surrounding countryside. Also today you will visit Molino El Vinculo, a traditional, family-run ‘cold’ olive oil mill, and enjoy a tour of the factory and a tasting. Andalucia is the world's largest producer of olive oil, and the locals enjoy it at all times of the day. It is also the basis of Andalucia's most famous contribution to world gastronomy – gazpacho. From here it's a short drive (approximately 30 minutes) over the stunning Puerto de las Palomas (Dove Pass), high up in the sierras, to the village of Grazalema. Enjoy a drink and a snack before boarding your minibus and heading back to Ronda for the evening.
Today is as clear as the blue Spanish skies in summer. You can choose your itinerary for today – your group leader will have a whole list of recommendations in Ronda and the surrounding area. Enjoy some easy scenic walks, taste the local wine, and enjoy the traditional food of the area. You are in the heart of Spain, after all, so take time to appreciate all its offerings!
After breakfast, continue to Granada by private minibus (approximately 3 hours). Along the way you will take in views of Andalucia’s rich and diverse landscapes. In Spring, you may still see snow on the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the distance as you approach Granada. Arrive in the city and walk through the historic Christian cathedral district to witness the Moorish influence first-hand. In the afternoon, there is the option to visit Granada Cathedral and the Royal Chapel (which contains the tombs of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand from the early 16th century). Alternatively, you can wander through the Alcaiceria (old silk market area). In the afternoon you will be taking part in an exclusive local produce tasting tour taking place in a small, family run delicatessen. You can expect to try different types of cheeses, hams and wine during this delicious tasting. In the evening, you may want to go out on a tapas tour of the city, through some of Granada’s lively squares beneath the Alhambra Palace. Granada does this style of food like no other city in Spain. Alternatively, head to one of the small flamenco taverns around the city and see how the art form here differs from Seville's version.
Today, visit Alhambra Palace, either in the morning or in the afternoon (depending on when you are booked for). Discover this 11th-century marvel and its dominating red fortress towers, palace decor, architectural styles and magnificent gardens. It's all set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. With fountains, impeccably maintained hedges and pools, centuries-old defensive walls, turrets, and views overlooking Granada, this renowned palace will not disappoint. After lunch, your leader will take you deeper into Granada’s Moorish Albaicin quarter and to the area of traditional tea houses. The view from this area across to the Alhambra Palace is not to be missed. Tonight, indulge in a group dinner in Granada, looking back on your Andalucian experiences.
Today you will transfer to Malaga in the late afternoon and take an included flight to Casablanca. A late lunch in Granada is recommended as you will be travelling during dinnertime. You will not be escorted by your Spanish tour leader on the transfer and the flight, so please note flight and boarding guidelines at the time of booking. On arrival at Casablanca Airport late this evening, you will be met by our Moroccan representative and transferred to your hotel. You will meet your Moroccan tour leader for a briefing tomorrow morning.
After breakfast today, Casablanca beckons. Take a 45-minute guided tour of the Hassan II Mosque and understand why this is considered the ‘diamond’ of the city. Completed in 1993, this architectural masterpiece has a retractable roof, heated glass floors which look over the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the most impressive religious monuments in the world. Hassan II Mosque can accommodate 25,000 worshippers and is one of the only religious sites open to non-Muslims. Next, it's about a 1.5-hour drive to the capital of Rabat. Rabat's history is long and colourful, having been host to Roman settlements, pirates and more recently the Moroccan parliament. It contains numerous fine Arab monuments, some dating from the 10th to 15th century Almohad and Merenid dynasties, and others that are far older. Start your visit with a walk through the Medina and Souks, then explore the lovely walled quarter known as the Kasbah des Oudaias and enjoy an included local drink. Afterwards, continue the walk to visit Mohamed the 5th Mausoleum the vast minaret of the Hassan Mosque. In the late afternoon, travel to Meknes (approximately 2 hours), the former capital of Morocco, where you’ll spend the night.
Today enjoy a morning tour of Meknes and discover the charming streets of the old medina. From the northern gate of Bab Berdaine, walk to the shrine of Moulay Ismail – who turned Meknes from a provincial town to an imperial city in the 17th century – then explore the elaborately decorated public buildings hidden in these winding streets, including the granary of Mouly Ismail and the old souk. Next, drive to the nearby archaeological site of Volubilis, the remains of which make an undeniably impressive sight as they come into view on the edge of a long, high plateau. Enjoy a tour of the ancient hilltop ruins with a local guide, and discover the town’s fantastic mosaics along the Decumanus Maximus, many of which remain intact. Afterwards, make the 3-hour drive to Chefchaouen, or the ‘blue city’, which is arguably one of the prettiest places in Morocco. Set against a wide valley and nestled between two peaks in the stunning Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen may take you by surprise. Its medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, red-tiled roofs and artistic doorways. Much of Chefchaouen was recreated by Andalusian refugees escaping the Reconquista, so you might feel like you're in the hills of Spain while exploring its streets. Ease into the relaxed pace of life in this rural retreat. Take an orientation walk with your leader through the ancient medina and shop for handicrafts, or simply sit at a cafe and enjoy the pleasure of time passing by. If you're feeling peckish, the goats' cheese on offer is a popular treat enjoyed by many visitors.
Enjoy free morning to further discover Chefchaouen. Take another stroll around the streets and search for your favourite shade of blue. Then perhaps enjoy lunch before boarding our private minibus on a long journey to Fes (approximately 4 hours) for the night. The living museum of Fes has disputable origins, some believe its origins come from ancient Greece, other claim it comes from the Balkans. Nevertheless, the city is a best example of medieval Arab world, and you are soon to find out more of its past and modern times. After checking in your hotel in late afternoon, perhaps enjoy a memorable dinner of one of the city’s signature dishes, the salty and sweet pastille.
Today you will discover the city of Fes, the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco – vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses. Head into the old city, known locally as Fes el Bali, arguably the world's most fascinating and confounding old city. Medieval Fes was one of the world's great centres of education and culture, both Islamic and Jewish. Its religious institutions and libraries are legendary, its mosques of great renown. Walk through the twisting streets and alleyways, passing donkeys piled high with goods, and explore the specialty sections that divide the souk. Filled with historic khans, medressen and dye pits, stalls loaded with fruits, herbs and soups, and where the squawk of chickens, smell of spice and sound of hammering of copper fills the air, it’s not hard to imagine yourself back in the Middle Ages. Spend the day exploring the old city, visiting Medersa el Attarine, the tanneries and the splendid Fondouk Nejjarine, a beautifully restored 18th century inn. Return to your hotel in the late afternoon and perhaps spend the evening relaxing in this calming oasis, away from the buzz of the medina.
Today, leave the intensity of the city behind for the simplicity of the High Atlas Mountains. Drive south, inland through a variety of spectacular scenery – fertile valleys, cedar and pine forests and barren, rocky landscapes – to the small town of Midelt (approximately 3.5 hours). Midelt is a market town, originally built as a base for mining in the area and is nestled between the Atlas and Anti-Atlas Mountains at an elevation of just over 1500 metres. It's a perfect spot to break up the journey to the Sahara and is a great base for some easy walks. Many of the locals are Berber, and the town can offer an insight into their way of life. After lunch, stretch your legs for a few hours on an easy hike in the nearby hills. Be prepared for some astonishing views of the Atlas Mountains, with snowy peaks almost touching the sky. Wander through plantations of apple trees on the way back to your accommodation for a relaxing evening, resting up before the Sahara tomorrow.
This morning there's little bit of time to relax before hitting the road again. Drive through changing scenery, from barren mountainsides to fertile valleys, on the journey to Merzouga. With a backdrop of the orange-coloured Erg Chebbi sand dunes, the charming Saharan village of Merzouga feels wonderfully isolated, like the modern world has left it behind. The Erg Chebbi dunes are the most stunning in the country and an essential part of any visit to Morocco. An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that's formed into picturesque, undulating crests and valleys. The Erg Chebbi is one of the world's iconic landscapes, with towering dunes up to 150 metres in height. Located at the end of a sealed road and just 20 kilometres from the Algerian border this really feels like frontier country. You will leave your gear at your overnight camp set next to a simple hotel and then ride camels into the edge of the Sahara Desert, enjoying a spectacular sunset along the way. The dunes are stunning, especially as the evening light plays across them and sets off the colours. Tonight you will camp out in traditional style, with the chance to try some fantastic local cuisine while you sit around an open fire, enjoying lively music and dancing under the stars.
Enjoy a real Lawrence of Arabia moment this morning with yet another camel ride, this time for an unforgettable sunrise across the desert. After breakfast drive to Todra Gorge (approximately 4 hours), a massive trench that rises over 250 metres to form one of the most dramatic and spectacular natural sights in Morocco. The limestone stacks make a perfect area for trekking, and so today you will take a short walk through the sheer cliffs. Continue your journey inland for tonight’s destination, M’goun (approximately 2 hours). You will get closer to the customs and lifestyle of the Berber this evening with the night spent in a traditional Berber house.
You have a full day to explore the beauty of this largely untouched Moroccan backcountry. On foot is the best way to discover the natural and man-made landscape and the rural way of life. There are a couple of circuits to choose from, but the most popular choice, and the one we recommend, is a 10-kilometre circuit that will take about 4 hours. Accompanied by a local guide, you’ll walk a trail that undulates slightly here and there, but isn't too challenging if you have a basic level of fitness. On the walk you'll pass Berber villages, meeting local Berbers along the way and perhaps having a chance to share a cup of mint tea with some of them. The surrounding mountains and the famous Rose Valley make a sensational setting.
Leaving the M'goun Valley today, set off on the fabled ‘Road of 1000 Kasbahs’. The first stop is at Skoura Oasis (after approximately 2 hours), home to several privately owned kasbahs. Here you’ll visit the Kasbah Ameridhl, with its extravagant decorations and mud-brick fortifications before continuing on your journey to Ait Benhaddou (approximately 2 hours). Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco's most iconic sites. If you think you recognise the place, you probably do, as the town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Enjoy a walk through the winding streets of the old town, making your way to the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy the views across the surrounding plains. After heading to your nearby hotel for the night, maybe sit back on the roof top terrace and watch the sun setting over the magical Kasbah.
Today you will drive for several hours through the winding roads of the Atlas, bound for Marrakech, an ancient, exotic city wrapped in European modernity. There’s no rush as the scenery through the High Atlas Mountain passes is magnificent, and there will surely be calls for several photo stops along the way. After checking in to your hotel, you might like to head to the great square of Jemaa el Fna, one of the largest public spaces in the world and unique to Marrakech. When night falls it transforms into a hive of activity. Henna painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies. Perhaps finish your day with a cup of tea on one of the roof-top restaurants overlooking the square.
After breakfast today, meet your local guide and set off on a morning tour of the old medina, through the bustling souks that are the lifeblood flowing through the city. Explore tranquil courtyards filled with the scent of orange blossom, and the many salons and chambers that make up Bahia Palace. This splendid mansion was built in 1866 for a former slave who rose to power within the government. Continue to the Marrakech Museum, itself a former palace, which houses a fine collection of Moroccan art and sculpture. Stop by the Koutoubia Mosque, its famous minaret is the prototype for others of its kind around the world, including La Giralda in Seville. Then walk back through the streets of the old medina to the Jemaa el Fna to enjoy a refreshing glass of fresh orange juice. The rest of the day is free to explore further or shop in the bazaar. Perhaps visit the tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle or check out the ruins of the Palais Badi, once one of the most beautiful palaces in the world. Otherwise, you might like to head back into the medina, where every step brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. Watch skilled artisans perfect their craft, practice your haggling skills or take a break from the hustle to sip on tea or share a tajine, filled with the pure scent of Morocco.
There are no activities planned after breakfast so, if you have time, why not immerse yourself in a cooking masterclass with a local guide. Journey through the souks of Marrakech and shop for the best ingredients before learning the insider tricks on how to create a deliciously authentic tagine in a classic riad setting, while getting to know the family that live there. Take home the recipe and recreate your memories of Morocco at the dinner table. To find out more about ‘Tajine Cookery Class’, visit urbanadventures.com.
- Fresh orange juice Djemaa el Fna
Av. Menendez Pelayo, 10
Phone: +34 954 412 011
Riad Marrakech by Hivernage
Angle Arset Lamaach & Doctor Linares, Marrakech, Morocco
Phone: 212 524386378
Fax: 212 524386378
This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
A single supplement is available on this trip with the exception of the following nights:
Day 14 - Sahara desert
In order to secure Alhambra Palace entrance tickets we are required to provide authorities with full passport details of travellers (name as per passport, expiry date, date of birth, nationality). Please make sure you provide these details 40 days prior to your departure as the latest. Otherwise we may not be able to secure Alhambra Palace entrance tickets for you.
The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Moroccan tourism industry. In an effort to best control and monitor shopping and activities with an aim for the best experience possible, Intrepid has established a system of carefully selected shopping experiences and activities based on positive feedbacks from our previous travellers. On occasion these will be as part of included walking tours or outside of included activities in free time. Please note that if you feel that you do not wish to join in on these shopping experiences we assure you there is no obligation and if you indicate your desire to not partake your group leader will help to facilitate a suitable alternative during this time.
Intrepid have set up a centralised system of receiving payments from these recommended suppliers, of which are then distributed towards local Responsible Travel projects (such as 'say no to plastic' cotton bags for our travellers and drinking water refilling stations), traveller information packs, and leader bonuses. Further details of these arrangements can be provided by your group leader on request.
While Intrepid endeavors to ensure that these suppliers and services maintain reasonable levels of quality, please note recommended suppliers are chosen based on past travellers feedback and experiences and Intrepid cannot explicitly guarantee the quality of the product. A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of you our traveller is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
Due to environmental concerns and to improve safety and consistent quality of desert camp experiences, in early 2019 the Moroccan government restricted overnight camping inside the Erg Chebbi dunes. This means that groups on this trip are no longer able to camp overnight inside the dunes and the desert experience will now operate as follows:
Your desert camp is set at the edge of the desert, close to the local accommodation, otherwise called an auberge. After checking in to your camp, you will set off for a camel ride in to the dunes and loop back to your camp at the edge of a desert. The camp set up is identical with the one we used inside the dunes; you will be slipping in Nomadic tents, local food will be served and you will have an option to dine outside. You will also be free to climb nearby dunes for a sunset or sunrise the next morning.
While we are disappointed at the timing of the decision and that this has meant changes to our original programme, as a responsible tour operator, we support the rationale of reducing the environmental impact of our stay in at the Erg Chebbi dunes and improving safety for all travellers who visit to this part of Morocco.
All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Peregrine leaders are experienced, knowledgeable and all are local people to the destination you are traveling in. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Please note that your tour leader will change throughout the trip. Your Spanish leader will say farewell on the last day in Granada and your Moroccan leader will greet you at Casablanca airport6 upon your arrival.
SAFETY Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we make no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. FIRE PRECAUTIONS Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms. TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware! PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. SCAMS Common scams operating in Europe include ploys to get you fined on the metro without a validated ticket. Ensure that you always travel with a validated ticket (have your ticket stamped). Another common scam is used by children who distract you with a map or a newspaper and while you are attending to them, steal your valuables. You may also come across players offering you to participate in the so-called "shell game". This is a scam and you will most certainly lose your money.
SCAMS: When walking through touristy areas of cities you may be approached by 'helpful' locals who want to show you where to go or take you to a local spice shop. They will either ask to be your local guide for the day or expect money when you arrive at your destination. Please note these people are not registered guides and will try and get as much money from you as they can. A friendly 'no thank you (or 'la Shukran') should suffice. MOROCCAN TAGINES: Moroccan ceramic tagines bought in the souks or other shops in Morocco may contain high levels of lead. We strongly recommend you have any tagine you buy in Morocco tested before cooking with it or buy for decorative purposes only.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans and British citizens do not require a visa to visit Spain and Morocco for stays up to 90 days. All other nationalities should check with the Moroccan Embassy or Consulate in their country for up-to-date visa information.
Why we love it
Visit the spectacular mountain-top village of Zahara de la Sierra and enjoy an olive oil tasting at a local family-run mill.
Granada is a city like no other. Explore the outstanding Alhambra Palace, wander through the mythic Moorish quarter and feast on the city's world-renowned cuisine – all with the benefit of local knowledge.
Visit the grand Mosque of Hassan II in Casablanca, one of the most impressive temples in Morocco, before exploring the sights of the country's first imperial city of Meknes.
Stay in a traditional Berber homestay to understand the culture and tradition of an indigenous population who have stood the test of time.
Discover the dramatic red dunes of the Sahara Desert and spend the night camping under North African stars.
Is this trip right for you
A good level of physical fitness will allow you to get the most out of this trip. There is a significant amount of walking involved, with some slopes, steps and hills. Some of these walks, such as in Grazalema National Park, however, are optional.
Summer temperatures can be extreme in this region (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat, and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.
It’s bunking season! As accommodation on this trip is twin-share, solo travellers will share a room with other travellers of the same gender. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can. Please note that a single supplement is often available on this trip. Space is at a premium in Europe and your hotel is no exception. Rooms are often small, but usually the central location makes up for that. For those travelling as a duo, hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together.
This trip includes a full day tour around the Medina of Fes. You will be walking and on your feet for at least 5 to 6 hours, this is one of the highlights of Morocco and well worth any weariness at the end of the long day.
In Morocco, the group will take a camel trek through the Sahara. You will set off from your camp on the edge of a desert and loop back. This is a great way to experience the desert, but if you'd prefer, it's possible to walk alongside the caravan on the sand for about 1 hour.
During this trip, you'll visit M’Goun Valley and Todra Gorge. This remote area of Morocco is an amazing place to discover on foot, but to do so you'll need a moderate level of fitness and have the relevant footwear and clothing with you. Don’t worry if trekking isn’t really your thing, there are other activities to do in the valley.
The weather in Morocco can be extreme. Summer temperatures can be uncomfortably hot, especially for those who aren't accustomed to the heat, so please consider carefully what time of year you travel. If you do travel in the warmer months, pack layers to cover you from the sun, bring the necessary sun protection and drink plenty of water.
In 2020, Ramadan will take place from 23 April to 22 May. This is a great time to visit Morocco due to fewer crowds, however it may cause some disturbance to your travel schedule. Some regular services may not be available or open during the daytime, such as restaurants or coffee bars. Please consider your travel arrangements carefully.
As Morocco has a tipping culture, travellers are expected to tip small amounts for most services, so please be prepared. Your trip leader and the tipping section of our Essential Trip Information will help to provide you with some suggestions as to what amounts are appropriate.
Although you shouldn’t expect any aggressive selling techniques in Morocco, please be aware that you may be approached by shop owners and street vendors offering their goods to you on regular occasions.
We've sourced our accommodation very carefully and picked the best possible hotels in line with the Intrepid style of travel, but please note that service and accommodation in Morocco may differ to western standards.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. Pharmacies are well equipped in Europe and widely available, however, we recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained in some of the rural locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Food and dietary requirements
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
Vegetarians might find the menu selection less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and choices may be limited to soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets will find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own
Moroccan food is, generally speaking, excellent though not particularly varied. Breakfasts usually consist of bread and jam with coffee or tea. Meals eaten out are reasonably priced - kebab and bread cost only about $3. In main towns it is possible to find very good French and Moroccan restaurants where a meal and French wine will cost anything from $30 upwards. Generally dinner is likely to cost between $10-15 depending on what you drink - so an estimate for food would be about $20 -$25 a day. Soft drinks are available at very reasonable prices, but generally speaking alcohol is not widely available in Morocco due to the cultural and religious reasons. Still, in some hotels and restaurants you will be able to purchase beers, wines and spirits, but you can pay western prices or more for imported alcohol. Please be aware of local laws, believes and traditions, and be very sensitive and respectful while consuming alcohol. Your leader can help recommend restaurants each evening. Vegetarians can be catered for but there is a fairly limited choice of vegetarian cous cous and tajine or omelettes. This is particularly the case in rural parts of this itinerary. Please note that if you have any special dietary requirements you should inform us prior to the trip.
CURRENCY Spain has now adopted the common currency of the European Union, the Euro (EUR). The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money in Europe is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied. You can withdraw local currencies easily at airports, major train stations and most city centres, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning. When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place. Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. We recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. The currency of Morocco is the dirham (DRH), divided into 100 centimes. Bank notes come in denominations of DRH 200, 100, 50 and 20. Smaller values are issued as coins in values of 10, 5, 1 as well as 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c. Changing money is easy and you will find banks and exchange bureaux in Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech. In the desert and Atlas Mountains opportunities to exchange money are limited. There are ATMs in all major cities, which accept Visa cards, MasterCards and cards connected with Cirrus. Some ATMs, belonging to smaller banks, will not work so occasionally you may need to try two or three before you are successful. We would strongly recommend bringing a combination of cash and credit cards. Credit cards are useful for large purchases such as carpets or gold from a large store, but generally speaking they are not accepted in many places. Local restaurants, markets, and many hotels will only accept cash as payment for goods or services. Please ensure you only use banks, licensed money exchangers or hotels. We also suggest you keep your receipts. Do not change money with street touts. This is illegal. PRICES IN MOROCCO Morocco is often misjudged as being an inexpensive destination. With tourism booming, the influx of cheap flights from Europe, prices for some items are becoming more equivalent to prices you would be used to at home. Eating in local restaurants, road side stalls and from markets can be inexpensive, but for nights out at tourist friendly restaurants you can expect to pay much more. With drinks, tipping and of course - shopping, it can all add up. Budgets are a personal choice but please bear in mind that you should not expect Morocco to be a budget destination.
BARGAINING In Morocco some services and products are not a fixed price which means that your bartering skills will be tested from hiring taxis to buying a souvenir in the Medina. This can be challenging for travellers who have not experienced this before. Ask your leaders for advice when you arrive however the best approach is to smile and have fun as this is an entrenched part of Moroccan culture.
TIPPING On all Peregrine trips tips are included in the price of your holiday, however, when you are discovering on your own taking part in some optional activities of your choice or simply eating out by yourself or in a smaller group, you may consider extra tipping if you're happy with the services provided. A tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Peregrine destinations.
EMERGENCY FUNDS Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
BUDGET Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. We suggest EUR 600.00 for meals not included on this trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
CASH SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
What to take
Remember - the lighter you travel the better! A soft-sided duffel bag is the ideal form of luggage. It is recommended that you keep your luggage weight around 15kg and certainly no more than 20kg. A small or medium-sized backpack (45-50 litres) is another good option, but preferably one without a frame. Many hotels used in Europe do not have lifts, so you must be able to carry your own luggage.
We operate trips in Europe in spring, summer and the start of autumn. Bear in mind that the weather will vary significantly from place to place also depending on the time of year. Remember that quality rain gear is essential for any destination - you’ll enjoy your holiday to the fullest if you’re prepared for all kinds of weather! Laundry facilities are available in some destinations.
Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday.
- Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts, Trip Notes
- Money: cash/credit card/debit card
- Small first-aid kit
- Daypack suitable to store some water, a jacket and snacks.
- Electrical adapter plug
- Sunscreen, lip balm, sunhat and sunglasses
- Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes with good walking socks
- Money belt and small padlocks
- Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)
- Travel wipes/hand sanitiser
- Insect repellent
- Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers)
- Extra pair of prescription glasses (if required)
- 2 strong plastic garbage bags (for laundry and in case of rain)
- Refillable water bottle
- Phrase book/translation app
- Warm clothes/fleece – particularly for spring/autumn departures
- Wind and waterproof jacket
If you are purchasing new footwear for your trip we recommend that you undertake some walking before-hand to ensure that they are comfortable and are the correct size. In any event we advise some preparatory walking before you commence your trip.
Climate and seasonal
Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.
In contrast, weather in shoulder season can be unpredictable, and snow is not unheard of at higher altitudes. If you travel at the start or towards the end of the European season please pack accordingly with warm and/or waterproof clothes (preferably layers). The advantage of travelling during this time is that there are less tourists around.
Please note that as a desert country, Morocco can have extreme weather.
Winter (approx November to March) can be very cold. Particularly in the mountains or near the desert, night temperatures can drop to 5 degrees Celsius or less. Even in the hot months out in the desert it can get cold at night. It is recommended to bring a good sleeping bag, thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket for travel in winter. Some of our guesthouses / hotels are unable to supply heating as this would be a major financial and environmental strain. It is also a case of energy supply and timing provisions, which is limited in some places. Please be prepared for cold showers.
Summer (approx May to September) can be very hot everywhere we travel, which means that it can be quite uncomfortable for those not used to the heat. Not all our hotels have air-conditioning, and in those that do, it's not always functioning. A hat is essential.
Please note that shops, attractions, sights and businesses may be closed for up to 5 hours in the middle of the day for siesta time. This gives the locals time to escape the heat and spend time with their families, eat a large lunch or simply sleep through the most uncomfortable time of day. This means of course that people work later into the evening and dinner time can seem quite late: 9.30pm is not uncommon for family dinner time.
One of the great things about our trips is that we encourage every member of the group to spend time interacting with local people. In order to best be able to do this in Spain, we recommend that you try to do as the locals do - avoid the heat of the day, and stay out later at night.
In 2020, the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from 23 April through until 22 May, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan, business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it's a period of national holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be affected.
Eid Al Adha will take place in Morocco between the 30 July and 1 of August 2020. This is also called a Sacrifice Feast and honours the sacrifice Abraham made of his own son. In commemoration of this, an animal is sacrificed and divided into three parts: one third of the share is given to the poor and needy; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbours; and the remaining third is retained by the family. Please expect delays or complete suspension of majority of the services during that time. For some, it may also be disturbing to see animals being sacrificed, as this does take place in public places sometimes.
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Europe Office can be reached on the number listed below:
Intrepid's Local Operator: +212 661 922 693
Intrepid's Local Operator: +49 8677 9186 657
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.
Morocco can be considered a liberal Muslim country as many Moroccan women do not wear headscarves. However, Morocco is very conservative when compared with standards you may be accustomed to at home and you should dress accordingly. As a general guideline, shoulders, cleavage and knees should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts (men and women), low-cut tops, and showing midriff is not recommended as it will restrict your entry into buildings of a religious nature and family homes, and is considered disrespectful to the local culture. Long, light-coloured, lightweight sleeved shirts, trousers and skirts are respectful, cover your body, keep you cool in the heat and protect you from the harsh sun.
In Morocco we have built strong links with local communities, craftspeople, animal hospitals, artists, and the handicapped - all of which directly rely on the assistance of donations and products purchased by our travellers and other visitors. We offer Intrepid travellers an opportunity to interact with locals, to value their activities and crafts and help towards sustaining their livelihoods.
While on our trips in Morocco you'll have opportunity to meet plenty of local people. Depending on which trip you choose there's a chance to enjoy a meal in a local family's house in Ait Benhaddou, spend a night in a family guesthouse in the High Atlas Mountains or in the pilgrimage village of Moulay Idriss, or share a camp with a nomadic family in Dades Gorge. These experiences will give you a better understanding of the way of life for a rural Moroccan family. You'll also have some fun by learning how to make Morocco's most famous dish, couscous.
Wherever possible, we contract local Moroccan suppliers and assist them to improve the quality of their services. By booking this tour, you'll be helping us to support service providers, artists, small businesses, guesthouse owners and the disadvantaged in communities throughout Morocco.
We use local guides with wide experience and knowledge of cultural traditions and an ability to interpret the cultural heritage of the people in the places visited.
We've sourced our accommodation very carefully and picked the best possible hotels in line with the Intrepid style of travel, but please note that service and accommodation on Moroccan part of this trip especially may be different to western standards.
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite (even if you paid for single room supplement!) and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
Some of our guesthouses/hotels in Morocco are unable to supply heating as this would be a major financial and environmental strain. It's also a case of energy supply and timing provisions, which is limited in some places. Please be prepared for cold showers, which are a pleasure for most of the year. Air-conditioning systems (if available) don't always function.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Sharing a room can be a great way to get to know people quickly and make close friends. It just takes a little effort on your part.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Hotel (13 nights),Desert camp (1 night),Gite (2 nights),Riad (3 nights)