Africa

Thrilling Morocco Tours

Filed Under: Africa, Morocco

The scope of tours in Morocco can make your vacation as adventurous, culture-centric or exotic as you wish. Lace up for urban exploration in the winding souks of the Fez medina (the UNESCO World Heritage old city), hire a 4-by-4 in the south of Morocco to traverse the rugged Road of the Kasbahs or hop aboard a camel’s back in the Sahara in search of Morocco’s highest sand dunes. With these popular tours in Morocco, you can join a group or go the intrepid route on your own.

 

 

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Trekking the Djebel Saghro

Rising between the Sahara desert and the Atlas Mountains in Morocco’s deep south, the Djebel Saghro mountain range is an otherworldly landscape of gorges, palm oases and weather-sculpted formations that conjure the American Southwest. 

Head to the friendly Berber village of Boumalne du Dadès, about 4.5 hours east of the Marrakesh airport, to hire a local guide for trekking tours or set out on your own with a tent, good map and plenty of provisions (dried fruits from the souk in Marrakesh make for a great energy booster). The most popular route is a 5-day journey that leads south to the small town of Nekob. You’ll pass semi-nomadic Berber people herding their sheep and may see desert animals like gazelles and jackals along the way.

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Desert Tour to Erg Chigaga

Cross a small stretch of the Sahara on a “ship of the desert” (a camel!), spend the night in a Berber tent under a star-filled sky and watch the sunrise from atop a sand dune during a desert tour to Erg Chigaga. 

 

Located 40 miles west of the village of M’hamid in southeast Morocco, Erg Chigaga is one of the country’s 2 major Sahara sand dunes (and more remote and therefore less tourist-ridden than Erg Chebbi, the other major dune). Hire a guide (M’hamid is full of them) for return camel trips of 5 days or make the 2-hour drive in a 4-by-4 from M’hamid to to the massive Erg Chigaga dunes that tower nearly 1,000 feet overhead. (Unless you’re handy with a GPS, consider having a guide along on the drive, too).

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Road of the Kasbahs

Set aside 5 days to take a road trip along Morocco’s most evocative route, the Road of the Kasbahs, an austere desert landscape dotted with hundreds of citadels or fort-like structures made from the reddish rammed earth of the area. 

You’ll start and end the circular tour in Ouarzazate, a desert town where you can hire a 4-by-4, recommended for the rugged journey east. Stop to buy fresh apricots and dates from hawkers along the roadside and admire stalls selling fossils and crystals found in the area as you make your way to small Berber villages such as Skoura and Nekob, skirting the lush Draa Valley.

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Medina Tour in Fez

Head out for Morocco’s most fascinating city tour in Fez, the country’s second-largest city that’s home to a preserved old town awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. Founded in the 9th century, the Fez medina (old city) is steeped in ancient traditions. 

Listen to the Islamic call to prayer erupt from the many mosques, take a tour of the tanneries where the city’s legendary leather goods soak in vats of natural dyes, view intricate mosaics on the old facades of madrasas (religious schools) and watch caravans of donkeys delivering goods hustle through the narrow streets (there’s no vehicle traffic in the medina, only people and animals).

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Cycling Tours in the High Atlas

You could transport your own bike to Morocco and set out on your own, but for logistical reasons (read: to have a bike at the ready, your luggage transported for you and all meals and lodgings available wherever you stop) it’s best to book a tour with a group for the intense pedal through Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains to the edge of the Sahara desert. 

Ten-day mountain biking tours with companies such as Bike Hike have you pedaling out of Marrakesh along a network of dirt paths and crossing the highest pass in the Atlas range before cutting back south on your mountain bike toward the desert, covering roughly 30 miles per day. You’ll pass kasbahs, pedal through palm-lined oases and Berber villages and enjoy stops at local restaurants for specialties like Moroccan tagine (stew cooked in a conical clay pot) and mint tea.

About the Author

Terry Ward has worked as a freelance travel writer since 2000. Her work has appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Travel+Leisure. She travels at least twice a month, speaks 5 languages and counts scuba diving, skiing and snowboarding among her hobbies. Follow her travels at Terry Ward.

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