Morocco holiday, central highlights
Description of Morocco holiday, central highlights
This is your chance to travel overland across Morocco’s central interior where rarely used roads unlock the secrets of the High Atlas, and the riads and kasbahs of Marrakech and Essaouira, bring you closer to North African culture than you’d ever thought possible.
Heading off on a two week round trip from Marrakech allows your Morocco holiday to begin to take shape with the choice of hire car independence or an English speaking driver enabling you to choose your own adventure as you explore off the beaten track.
Whichever way you travel the drama of the Tichka Pass and the discoveries to be made in the kasbahs of Telouet and Ait Ben Haddou will stay with you for a lifetime and play no small part in understanding the relationship between Morocco’s rural landscapes and its people.
Spending three nights in the oasis town of Skoura is certain to fuel your inner adventurer with street bazaars, towering palm fronds and the dominating turrets of Kasbah Amerhidil all adding to the appeal of life on the fringes of the Sahara.
Heading back across the High Atlas via the Tizi n'Outfi road lets you experience some of North Africa’s most exceptional scenery with snow capped mountains and plunging waterfalls providing a plethora of photo ops as you travel to Demnate, just over 100kms east of Marrakech.
Finally, you’ll have to resist the urge of the Atlantic coast no longer with lesser used roads and rural riads complementing your journey west to the city of Safi and onwards to Essaouira, a former Portuguese fishing hub renowned for its spacious sandy beaches and pristine white-washed buildings juxtaposed against cobalt blue doors, shutters and skies.
About the accommodation used on this Morocco holiday.
Staying overnight in hand-selected riads and small rural kasbahs gives travellers the chance to reveal the inner workings of Moroccan society where central courtyards, stucco carvings, and decorative tiles offer a naturally cool alternative to power draining air-con. Many of the properties have been carefully converted into guesthouses using locally sourced materials and provide invaluable jobs for local people as well as a much more authentic experience for responsible travellers.
A bit more information about our drivers.
Why not put your feet up and let an experienced English speaking driver chauffeur you across the highlights of central Morocco? This is the perfect means of learning more about the landscapes and the history of the region as well as being able to discuss daily schedules and organise local guides to fit in with an itinerary that’s tailor-made to your wishes.
|Day 1:||Arrive in Marrakech and transfer to your chosen riad accommodation which will be your home for the next three nights.|
|Day 2&3:||Over the next couple of days you’ll be treated to a guided sightseeing tour of Marrakech as well as numerous optional activities, including cookery classes, a ride on a caleche and haggling and bartering around the souks and stalls.|
|Day 4:||Today your hire car will be brought to your riad or you’ll meet your English speaking driver who will also be your guide into the High Atlas Mountains. Your first drive takes you into the High Atlas via the Tichka Pass whereupon you’ll visit the kasbahs at Telouet and Ait Ben Haddou before finally reaching your destination for the next three nights: Skoura.|
|Days 5&6:||The following two days are yours to discover at leisure, with the valleys of Dades and Draa offering untold rugged landscapes to explore on foot or by car. The town of Skoura is like an ancient oasis aligned with palm trees and traditional kasbahs, perfect for uncovering more of Morocco without having to stray too far from your base.|
|Day 7:||Today you’ll depart Skoura and drive to Kasbah Tizouit, an ecolodge situated on a traditional Berber farm. On the way you’ll take the route north from Skoura to the town of Demnate by means of the lesser-used Tizi n'Outfi Pass which includes the stunning Imi n'Ifri natural rock bridge.|
|Days 8&9:||The next couple of days allow you to get out of the car and explore the landscapes surrounding Demnate with the Ouzoud waterfalls always a natural highlight in addition to the chance to take a traditional Moroccan culinary class at Kasbah Tizouit or enjoy any number of walking trails leading through local communities and against rugged backdrops.|
|Day 10:||Today you’ll bid Demnate farewell as you head to Safi on Morocco’s coast. The drive from the centre of the country uses several scenic back roads and Safi itself is a welcoming and peaceful retreat.|
|Day 11:||Say so long to Safi and head south to the famous coastal resort of Essaouira which will become your home for the next three nights within the riad of your choice. En-route to Essaouira you’ll have plenty of chances to stop and make the most of Morocco’s untouched sandy beaches with fishing villages and tiny islands providing some charming rest stops along the small but stunning coast roads.|
|Day 12&13:||The next two days allow you to delve deeper into Essaouira’s communities and beaches with numerous places to eat, relax and watch the sun set always proving popular before preparing to make the drive back to Marrakech.|
|Day 14&15:||Your penultimate day will find you driving back to Marrakech to spend one final night amongst the city’s exciting open markets and winding narrow streets. Head to the airport on your final day and drop off your car in time to meet your scheduled flight home. Alternatively, there is the option of leaving the car at your overnight riad accommodation, useful for those scheduled for morning departures.|
1 Reviews of Morocco holiday, central highlights
Reviewed on 20 Nov 2019 by Sylvia Wyatt
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Travelling over the High Atlas - Tiz-n-tichka pass. The Majorelle (blue) garden in Marrakech (Yves St Laurent). The world's biggest solar thermal energy station (Noor near Ouarzazate). Huge spaces and vistas. Geology ( volcanic and sedementary rocks) eg walking under enormous natural bridge near Demnate
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Morocco is a v big country and we probably travelled too far - even though we had 2 weeks. If we go back we will go in the spring with more flowers and birds to be seen. If you want to go to museums, check carefully whether they are open - because guides do not always tell you. We missed 3 v nice museums which were closed for renovation despite google showing them as open. Our guides clearly knew, but did not pass on this information. Guides add 30% to the cost of any purchase - so go without one. People, apart from guides and stall holders, were friendly, genuine and helpful. Most people spoke English or French so simple communication was seldom a problem, but be very clear about what you want to do and see as the guides/drivers 'know' what tourists like.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
I don't think our holiday was carbon neutral. We stayed in 2/7 hotels that claimed to be eco-friendly. One used water treatment and had safe water so avoided use of plastic bottles. We helped local people by employing guides, driver and buying local products.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
Excellent generally but sad to see that many parts of Morocco were covered in rubbish - along the roads we travelled. No actions yet about rubbish collection, let alone recycling.
PlanetAlthough this is a tailor-made holiday we encourage customers to consider the smaller-scale properties on offer, particularly those with good eco credentials. This includes most riads and the Kasbah Timdaf near Demnate.
During the holiday, where possible, all sightseeing tours include walking between sites to avoid lots of short drives which are most harmful in terms of pollution. We ask all our customers to respect the environment. Litter, in particular, is damaging to the fragile urban and coastal ecosystems and we encourage people to take their litter home. All our trips are tailor made for individuals to minimise the impact of large groups on traditional communities so that interaction can be more personal and respectful.
To ensure the best possible service to our customers we engage services that make as low an impact as possible on the environment and local culture, whilst helping to generate long term employment and benefits for local people. Raising awareness of the culture, politics and economy of areas visited encourages responsible tourism practice and indirectly aides the preservation of the Kingdom's most precious resources. We take our responsibilities to the environment seriously and strive to make improvements where we can; there is always more work to be done but little by little one travels far. We have a policy of always using local suppliers wherever we can, so as to bring as much income to the local area as possible
As a company we employ responsible policies such as recycling paper, ink cartridges, glass and cardboard; we minimise the use of electricity and conducting the vast majority of our correspondence and promotion via the internet and email, minimizing the amount of paper used for our activities. We also compost waste in our company garden.
PeopleAll our guides and drivers in Morocco are local people. We believe that it is vital to work with local operators for our tours, firstly as they will be able to offer an insight into the local people and their culture and history; secondly to enable any profits to be ploughed back into the community. We have worked with our local Morocco agency for many years and have a well established and excellent relationship. We firmly believe in paying fairly for their services and that of the guides.
Travelling with one of our excellent English-speaking drivers allows you to experience much more of the country and its people. Your driver will gladly discuss both your daily schedule and general matters about Morocco and the places you pass; he can suggest great places to eat traditional cuisine, bring to your attention projects which help local communities, particularly in rural areas; he will also arrange local guides or co-ordinate any itinerary of pre-booked sightseeing.
All our holidays are based on individuals or a small group - we feel that this offers a more personal experience and therefore minimises the impact. Most of the riads we use are locally owned or are partnerships with a European owner and a Moroccan National. All staff members at these properties are local and all food and materials are sourced locally. Your visit will give you a taste of the incredible hospitality of Morocco as well as contributing indirectly to the local economy.
Local staff are also encouraged to undertake courses as and when applicable. e.g. The Mule Care Initiative Workshops held on the 1st and 2nd March in Imlil, sponsored by Expedition Providers Association & The Donkey Sanctuary.
Through our long term partnerships in Morocco we have been able to support and encourage volunteering for local causes such as conservation projects. For example, the Berber Cultural Center in the village of Imi'n tahnoute, Association des Bassins d’Imlil for the Protection & Sustainable Development of the Valley Populations around Imlil & the Toubkal National Park, Solidarity & Preservation of Cultural Heritage in the village of Demnate. We also facilitated the opportunity for our local staff to support an initiative alongside Elaine Moran, a volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Demnate. Elaine has the funding to provide materials to repair and maintain pathways but needs manual labour and transportation for work crew which is where our partner agency can help.
Our partner agency in Morocco regularly donates money to local causes. This is done on a case by case basis and is generally not by making monetary donations to large organisations but more by assisting local people/families at times of need. e.g. providing a sheep to a family who cannot afford one at the time of Eid El Kebir, purchasing flight tickets to enable a student to attend study placement awarded overseas, paying for medical treatment or prescription medication, purchasing clothing for a person to attend interviews and obtain employment, offering temporary accommodation/purchasing meals for the homeless as well as initiatives for staff welfare and contributions to local animal and childrens’ charities.