Want to travel this Morocco route in 2025?
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by February 1, 2024
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Many parts of Africa can be considered as old as time. If you’re interested in discovering the ancient aspects of Morocco, glance through our sample itinerary (details to be confirmed later) and send your expression of interest (without obligation) to
This tour is not taking you on digs or fossil hunting, instead it is a comfortable exploration of a land still tied to its ancient roots that may be anywhere between 80 years or 180 million years old. We will be sure to include a few places that tourists don’t go to as much.
As there is so much to see and do, we may occasionally cut down on travel time and spend an extra night here or there.
It depends on the feedback you give us.
The attached itinerary is for 13 days / 12 nights from Casablanca to Errachidia in November 2025.
However, you can do it as a private tour anytime and you can leave the group tour on Day 8 if you want.
Note that some of the accommodation options might change closer to the tour date as we constantly improve our database of auberges and riads in certain locales, and because things often change in Morocco.
Plus the final itinerary may comprise fewer or more days and nights, depending on client preferences.
Day 1: Casablanca Airport – welcome dinner
Arrive in Casablanca. Your driver will meet you in the airport, then drive a few minutes to your hotel where you can settle. Later that evening you will enjoy a welcome dinner and spend the night in Hotel Gauthier (or equivalent).
You can easily buy a SIM card at the airport or ask the driver to arrange. Not a comfortable airport to hang around in, so try to minimise any waiting time there.
Day 2: Casablanca Sightseeing – El Jadida
Your exploration of Morocco begins with a half-day guided tour in Casablanca that will take you to the most important attractions in both the contemporary city and the medina. The tour includes the magnificent Hassan II Mosque, which is the largest mosque in the country and the seventh largest in the world. The building was designed by Michel Pinseau – 35,000 craftsmen worked on its carved stucco, zellige tilework, a painted cedar ceiling and marble, onyx and travertine cladding – it is a monument to Moroccan architectural craftsmanship. We’ll probably drive past the Royal Palace and the Mahkama du Pacha built in 1941, another building masterpiece with a strong Moorish influence. After a tasty lunch in Casablanca (perhaps by the sea), we will drive 1.5 hours to El Jadida city and stay overnight at Riad Soleil D’orient (or equivalent).
King Hassan Mosque has a relatively unknown public hammam underneath. If you have the time and the inclination you might like to try it.
Day 3: El Jadida Sightseeing
After breakfast, our local tour guide will take you on a walking tour in the medina of El Jadida where the Portuguese settled in 1502 and built a fortified citadel they named Mazagan. In time, the town became a major centre of trade, and ships from Europe and the east anchored there to take on provisions. In 1769, the sultan Sidi Mohammed expelled the Portuguese, who dynamited it as they fled. It was resettled by local Arab tribes and a large Jewish community from Azemmour at the beginning of the 19th century. The town was then known as El Jadida (The New One), but temporarily resumed its original name Mazagan under the French Protectorate.
On this one-day tour of El Jadida you will visit the Manueline Cistern beneath the El Jadida fortress, and the Walled Portuguese City. As for visiting other sites, we will play it by ear on the day. You might be interested to know the awe-inspiring old-world structure of the Manueline Cistern, complete wіth gigantic arches, columns, аnd pillars, wаs featured in Orson Welles’ film, “Othello”. Also, the Portuguese Walled City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and situated in the centre of El Jadida. El Jadida also has many beaches, so we may visit one for a seafood lunch. Overnight in El Jadida at Riad Soleil D’orient (or equivalent).
The Manueline-style cistern integrates design concepts of the Renaissance period with Portuguese construction techniques. Still amazing today. Very other-worldly wouldn’t you say?
Day 4: El Jadida – Safi – Jbel Irhoud – Essaouira
After breakfast leave El Jadida behind and drive to Safi for a one-hour walk through the old medina in the town centre with its traces of designs and architecture from the time of Portuguese occupation. For example, the Portuguese citadel or kechla was originally a cathedral built in 1519. We’ll rest and lunch in one of seaside restaurants – again, because you can’t beat a seaside lunch can you!
After lunch we drive directly to the archaeological site of Jebel Irhoud located approximately 50km south-east of the city of Safi. Although it is now a bare site, this is where hominin fossils dating back roughly 300,000 years were discovered in 1960. Originally thought to be Neanderthal remains, the specimens have since (reported in 2017) been assigned to Homo sapiens or Homo helmei. After this archaeological visit we drive to Essaouira via Souiria beach on the coastal road.
We will have dinner and stay overnight in Essaouira.
Many of the finds here are now displayed in a museum at Rabat. We will visit this site in late 2023 to confirm its interest value for this proposed tour, and if you enquire, will let you know what we learn.
Day 5: Essaouira Sightseeing
Essaouira, which Portuguese immigrants first called Mogador, is a stunning coastal city with amazing architecture that blends the designs of several civilisations and cultures. You will be fascinated by the bustling harbour, rolling sand dunes, fine beaches, and the Medina with its streets surrounded by white and blue houses is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today, you will meet your guide at the door of your hotel and roam over the low sea walls where you’ll discover seaside stalls selling fried seafood. Close by, craggy-faced old men scale fish in the sunshine for the market. The walled city, the untamed Atlantic Ocean, and the sea’s spectacular wave action on the rocky shore are all magnificent picture-worthy sights.
You can take some spectacular photos of Essaouira’s azure blue fishing boats and marvel over the baskets of gleaming fish and enormous crabs and prawns.
Alternatively, you might spend the day doing something a little more structured along these lines:
Let’s see how you feel.
You will again stay overnight In Essaouira.
Even the illiterate fishermen are known for their art here, creating colourful sculptures of fantastic sea creatures. What really strikes you about Essaouira, that the art helps to convey, is that there is a very strong mystic, non-Islamic, African vibe to the place. But you have to be open to receive it.
Day 6: Essaouira – Marrakech Guided Tour
After breakfast, your driver will pick you up from your accommodation and drive about three hours to Marrakech, perhaps stopping at a cooperative of argan oil producers offering higher quality and less expensive oil than that available outside Morocco. Please note that ladies grounding the nuts at the co-op into a paste will urge you to take a photo of them and then require payment.
Marrakech sits in a lush plain with the snowy High Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. It was founded in 1062 by Almoravids from the Sahara – warrior monks who carved out an empire that stretched from Algeria to Spain. In 1106, the sultan Ali ben Youssef hired craftsmen from Andalusia to build a palace and a mosque in the capital. He also raised ramparts around the city and installed khettaras which are underground canals; an ingenious irrigation system that brought water to its great palm grove. The ancient section, the medina, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
You will spend the rest of today visiting some of the important sites of Marrakech, after discussing the choices beforehand with your guide, especially as there is too much to see in just one day. These might include the 16th century dynastic tombs of the Saadiens, set in a gorgeous complex of gardens. They are among the finest examples of medieval Islamic art – not only for the dazzling stucco decoration but also for their finely carved cedar ceilings. Another site, Koutoubia Mosque is the largest in Marrakech and is celebrated for its splendid minaret, the oldest of the three Almohad minarets left in the world today. Its’ sister minaret is actually now part of the Cathedral at Seville in Spain.
Is it strange for you, if we compare the Koutoubia Mosque with Mount Etna in Sicily, also once a Moorish stronghold? Both constitute a mystic touchstone around which a society anchors itself.
You might walk by the entrance façade of the Royal Palace and stop to see the remains of the 16th century Badi Palace. Although stripped of its finery, enough remains of the palace to appreciate the grandeur and scale of this symbol of sultan’s power.
Built in the early 12th century, Koubba Baadiyn is the oldest building in Marrakech and the only Almoravid edifice to survive intact in Morocco –the decorative art represents Almoravid art at its peak. You will jump to the 19th century if you visit Bahia Palace, an excellent example of the style of the wealthy who lived at that time. Marrakech is also noted for its many fine gardens – Majorelle Garden, for example, was the artistic achievement of Jacques Majorelle, and in 1980 the property was sold to Yves Saint-Laurent who restored it. You’d stroll through the luxurious foliage, past streams and waterlily-filled pools strikingly enhanced by cobalt blue walls, to the Islamic Art Museum that houses North African artefacts from Saint Laurent’s personal collection.
This shade of blue is known as Majorelle Blue after the painter by that name. The Moroccan flag is red and green but it seems that blue is the true colour of Morocco, although the shade varies between regions.
The driver will escort you to your Riad, followed by dinner and overnight in Marrakech at Berber Duchess (or equivalent). If it is Berber Duchess, you will enjoy pavlova for dessert tonight.
In less benign days, they used to behead people and sell slaves in this square. What strikes you about it now, particularly at night, is the cacophonous noise of human activity that rises up from it.
Day 7: Imi N’ifri & Geopark M’Goun Day Trip From Marrakech
After breakfast, you will start the Imi N’ifri and Geopark M’Goun day trip from your riad in Marrakech. It will take just over 2 hours each way. This day-trip is optional, so if some of you would rather spend the day at the riad in Marrakech, chilling out, that’s fine.
Make your first stop at the bridge of Imi N’ifri, a natural arch carved in Lower Jurassic limestone 180 million years ago by the river Wadi Tissikht. The natural bridge is formed by the precipitation of spring water rich in dissolved calcium carbonates at the source of recent travertine deposits, resulting in the formation of the bridge and its facades. The fauna and flora are designated as a biological and ecologically significant site. The bridge is considered a geomorphological marvel and many birds nest there. It is equally sought after by scientists who want to learn more about cave formation, as it is by visitors who want to explore this intriguing environment.
From here you continue further into the M’Goun UNESCO Global Geopark – its geological history dates back to the Triassic period, 250 millions years ago, with the main stages occurring during the Jurassic period, about 180 million years ago. The geopark is famous for its dinosaur tracks and contains well-known and stunning footprints of sauropod and theropod dinosaurs, as well as numerous bone deposits. Copper, zinc, barite, iron, basalt, limestone, and dolomitic Triassic red clays are among the minerals found in the area.
Lunch will be in a gite (a traditional Berber-style mud-brick building*) near one of the dinosaur sites, Ait Blal. After lunch there may be time to admire the green landscapes of Ait Blal before driving back to Marrakech where the driver will escort you to your riad Berber duchess (or equivalent).
* Incidentally, if you are curious to read Cara’s experience of staying at a gite near Imilchil, you can read this blog post here: Off the Beaten Track; Exploring Morocco’s Mountains and Rivers During High Summer: Part 1 of 2 – Aussies in Morocco Tours
NB: If seven days is enough for you, let us know when you book. We can drop you off at the Marrakech airport tomorrow (Day 8), while the rest of the group continues on their odyssey across country and time.
The footprint gives us some idea of the enormous size of these animals. It can be hot here; have your hat and water and maybe rose spray handy to keep you comfortable, not to mention, appropriate footwear. Long sleeves can be more comfortable than short ones, too.
In Morocco you see a lot of geological formations that may be unlike anything you have ever seen elsewhere – they can seem artistic even – and the extent of the access to them that is permitted may also be surprising.
Day 8: Marrakech – Ijoukak – Tin Mal Mosque – Tizi N’Test Pass – Taroudant
After breakfast in Marrakech, you start your journey to Taroudant via Ijoukak Kasbah which belonged to the Goundafa, a powerful tribe that controlled the Tizi N’Test pass and the whole region in the 19th century. From here you continue to Tin Mal Mosque in an isolated setting at the foot of the Atlas; it is the last remaining sign of the Almohad conquest in the 12th century. Tin Mal, once a fortified holy town, was founded by the theologian Ibn Toumart in circa 1125. From here, he fomented a holy war against the Almoravids and was recognised as a religious leader by the Berber tribes of the High Atlas.
Thirty kilometres from Tin Mal Mosque, the Tizi N’Test pass offers a beautiful view of the Souss plain 2000 metres below, and hills covered with argan trees. Lunch will be in Tizi N’Test before reaching Taroudant, a former capital of Morocco, by the late evening.
As an alternative to lunch at Tizi N’Test, you might enjoy lunch and a swim at Sel d’Ailleurs, a guesthouse in the village of Marigha. If the day has been long, you might have the option to stay there overnight. See www.seldailleurs.com
You will otherwise have dinner and overnight in Taroudant at Palais Oumensor. (or equivalent). Another accommodation option is Dar al Hossoun.
This is Tin Mal or Tin Mel Mosque. It is one of only two mosques in Morocco to which non-Moslems are permitted access. The other one is King Hassan’s mosque at Casablanca.
Another view of Tin Mal Mosque. The apparent symmetry draws the eye in and serves as a great backdrop for good photos. If you are keen on getting a better-than-average photo, perhaps consider what colour clothing would look good against this backdrop too. Modest dress (no shorts or bare arms or chest) would probably be appropriate.
Day 9: Taroudant Guided Tour – Tazemmourt
Enclosed within red-ochre ramparts and encircled by orchards, orange groves and olive trees, Taroudant has all the appeal of an old Moroccan fortified town. It was occupied by the Almoravids in 1056 and in the 16th century became the capital of the Saadians, who used it as a base from which to attack the Portuguese in Agadir. Although the Saadians eventually chose Marrakech as their capital, they made Taroudant wealthy through the riches of the Souss plain, which yielded sugar cane, cotton, rice and indigo.
Today, after breakfast at your accommodation, you will have a guided walking tour in the medina of Taroudant. The tour takes you around the ramparts, which stretch for about 7 km. Set with bastions and pierced by five gates, they are in a remarkably good state of preservation, considering part of them date from the 18th century. Outside the ramparts is a small tannery – you’ll find its shop sells goatskin and camel-hide sandals, lambskin rugs, soft leather bags, belts and slippers. You’ll wander from here to the souks, between the two squares Assarag and Talmokalt. The daily Berber market sells spices, vegetables, clothing, household goods, pottery and other interesting items. In the Arab souk the emphasis is on handicrafts: terracotta, wrought iron, brass and copper, pottery, leather goods, carpets and Berber jewellery of a type once made by Jews. Carvings in chalky white stone are a speciality of Taroudant. There is so much here to see and discover. Lunch will be in one of the restaurants in the centre of Taroudant.
Dinner and overnight in Taroudant’s Palais Oumensor. or Dar al Hossoun (or equivalent).
Day 10: Taroudant – Taliouine – Taznakht – Agdz
After breakfast, you’ll travel to Taliouine, the centre of the world’s biggest saffron growing area. Here you will visit a women’s cooperative to hear about saffron and its benefits. One advantage of this group tour is that it will be in November, which is saffron harvesting season. Following that is a drive to the village of Tazenakht, very famous for its huge selection of Berber rugs. Here you will visit another women’s cooperative, seeing how they make rugs and learn about the meaning of Berber symbols in the weaves.
Lunch will be in Tazenakht, after which you’ll continue to the Draa valley with its wealth of ksours (sometimes spelt “ksars”) and kasbahs*. Many such as Tamnougalt, one of the most typical, are in a good state of preservation. It was a former Berber capital and features high towers like truncated pyramids.
*If you are interested in these architectural structures, you might find our blog post here on ksars interesting.
The saffron is actually made up of the stigmata of the saffron flower and has to be hand-picked. This gives some insight into why saffron is so expensive. In at least some places in the world it is more expensive by weight, than gold.
In our Morocco 2.0 blog post, for those considering a return to Morocco, we make various suggestions including visiting sister cities of main cities visited last time. One example is Taroudant as the sister city of Marrakech.
Day 11: Agdz – Nkoub – Ait Ouazik – Alnif – Rissani – Erfoud
After breakfast, a dusty off-road trip will take you to local prehistoric rock engravings in Ait Ouazik. These rock carvings are the remains of an ancient people and show us a totally different environment than the arid dry Sahara of present day. This was once a savanna with animals such as gazelles, ostriches, rhinos and elephants. The rock carvings also depict intricate interlaced lines and circular patterns, which are out of place and puzzling.
After enjoying your guide’s stories about the rock engravings at Ait Ouazik, you’ll drive directly to Alnif for lunch in a local restaurant.
Following lunch, you’ll continue to Rissani, built close to the ruins of Sijilmassa, and once the capital of the Tafilalt region. Sijilmassa is said to have been founded in 757 AD as an independent kingdom, becoming a major stopping place on the trans-Saharan caravan routes. Over the centuries, it became prosperous from trade in gold, slaves, salt, weapons, ivory and spices, reaching its peak in the 13th and 14th centuries.
In Rissani you’ll visit the souk, one of the most famous markets in Morocco. Donkeys, mules, sheep and goats are enclosed in corrals. Stalls are piled with shining pyramids of dates ranging from tones of gold to chocolate brown, as well as with vegetables and spices. Laid out for sale beneath roofs made of palm-matting and in narrow pisé alleyways are jewellery, daggers, carpets, woven palm-fibre baskets, pottery and fine local leather items made from goat skins tanned with tamarisk bark.
This looks like a gazelle and perhaps an elephant. Gazelle is these days used as a metaphor for a woman in desert culture. We try to keep the location of these kinds of artefacts a bit vague to limit the risk of vandalism. Some individuals really do have no respect!
What may surprise you when you see dates for sale at Rissani, particularly during date season (October-November), is the variety of colours. The nomads make an interesting energy-rich paste out of dates and camel or other milk is commonly offered with dates, to welcome guests and at weddings.
Donkeys are not treated nearly as well as, for example, camels, in Morocco. Jarjeer donkey sanctuary outside Marrakech, run by two retired English solicitors (husband and wife) attempts to address this somewhat.
This is one of the entrances to Rissani markets. It is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Before 4pm is best but they are open until about 9pm, with some possible seasonal fluctuation.
Day 12: Erfoud Fossils – Tahiri’s Museum – Ksar Maadid – Khettaras Day Trip
Paleontological research shows that the Erfoud region was in ancient times a seabed where there were different types of marine animals, many of which cannot be found today. However, their existence is well preserved in fossils found in this region. Geologically speaking, there are many mines and quarries, where fossils are embedded in huge rocks, with each quarry having its own characteristics in terms of age. The fossilised remains of ancient molluscs such as ammonites, goniatites and orthoceras dating back as far as 370 million years have been found here.
Today, after having breakfast in our accommodation in Erfoud, our driver and guide will take us to the Erfoud outskirts to explore the huge number of fossils embedded in the rocky desert. Next, you’ll visit the souk at the southern end of town, where the farmers sell their fresh dates and other local products. If you have the chance and booked this tour in late October, you might be in time for the three-day carnival held in Erfoud just after the date harvest.
After strolling through the souk, you’ll visit Brahim Tahiri’s private museum for an introduction to Moroccan fossils. Scientifically significant specimens are shown, alongside lesser examples for sale in their shop. Brahim’s efforts to raise awareness of Morocco’s rich geological heritage have even resulted in the naming of his own trilobite, Asteropyge tahiri.
Lunch will be at our auberge, La rose du désert. (or equivalent).
After lunch you will head to the photogenic ancient Ksar Maadid – it’s close by the auberge. Ksar Maadid is said to be south Morocco’s largest fortified village. You will walk in its narrow streets and soak up in its genuine ancient atmosphere. There are a few videos of it on YouTube if you want to check it out.
Next, is a drive to one of the underground irrigation channels or khettaras. A few centuries ago, access to water in the desert regions of Morocco was difficult, not as simple as it is today. To irrigate plots of land, residents in the south-east of Morocco used to construct khettaras, an old irrigation system designed to transport water without active pumping.
Finally, return to your accommodation for dinner in the late evening.
There was a massive movement of nomads into villages around 30 years ago with the State’s push for their children to be educated. Illiterate, they got jobs as foot soldiers policing the border with Algeria, as gardeners in oases, in the mines operated by French companies and also in the risky area of fossil collection, sometimes deep underground, with the ever-present risk of excavation collapse burying them alive.
What you might find truly startling about these rows of wells that stretch for many kilometres from the mountains, is that there are multiple rows of them; one row for use by each ethnicity, traditionally. So there is one row of wells for the Berber/Amazigh of the region. There is one row for the Arab population. There is one row for the Haradine (said to be descendants of slaves) and I recall there is another row for another ethnicity, no longer identifiable in modern Moroccan society. – Cara
The way, or path, or chemin. So fitting for a society having nomadic routes. The concept of the path, of navigation permeates the cosmology of this part of the world. With signposts too in the form of symbols and stars and stories. This is another image of Rissani markets.
Day 13: Erfoud – Errachidia Airport
After having a very early breakfast at your hotel, your driver will escort you to Errachidia airport for a 7.30am flight to Casablanca.
We offer a mixture of modernity and tradition. Gastronomy in the desertique regions is very simple. More complex and French-inspired cuisine is available at places like Essaouira and Marrakech, and some of the other coastal locales.
Thanks to Ismail for his contribution to this itinerary.