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Geckos Adventures welcomes you to Morocco. Gecko Adventures does group travel better than the best of them. Go places that tourists dont normally get to go and see things that take you off of the beaten path. With a Geckos tour, youll receive a bounty of local wisdom, designed to maximize your time and minimize your hassles. Youll get to visit Berber villages in the High Atlas Mountains, sway across Saharan dunes atop a camel, skulk around Fess impressive medina and chill in Essaourias cafes. It may sound bazaar, but it's not. It's pretty simple. Come and join Geckos team. You wont regret it!
Since your journey takes you to several different cities around Morocco, you will be changing the places you stay at quite frequently. The accommodation itinerary can basically be described as staying 11 nights in basic hotels, 1 night camping in the desert and 1 night at a guesthouse.
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at around 18:00 today. There are no activities planned until this important meeting. Check the hotel reception for the exact time and place of the meeting. If you can't arrange a flight in time, you might want to arrive a day early. Geckos Adventures can book additional accommodation for you, depending on availability. If you're going to be late, please contact the hotel reception. Geckos Adventures be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so make sure you have these ready to give your trip leader. If you do arrive early in Casablanca, get out and explore the city. A good place to start is the Old Medina. Try some hot, syrupy mint tea along the way.
After breakfast it's time for a guided tour of the Hassan II Mosque. More than 6,000 craftsmen joined forces to build this beauty in 1993. It's one of the few mosques in Morocco that foreigners are allowed to enter. You'll be joining other people for this tour, but you can upgrade to your own guide if you like - just talk to your leader. Later, head to the station and take a local train to Meknes (approximately 2.5 hours). When you arrive, you'll jump into a taxi and pop over to the whitewashed village of Moulay Idriss, one of Morocco's most important pilgrimage sites. You'll stay with a local family here this evening. Staying overnight here has only been allowed for foreigners since 2005. Lucky you!
Take a drive through the beautiful rolling hills to Volubilis for a guided tour of these epic Roman ruins. After Volubilis, head back to Meknes where you'll meet your local guide for a tour. Prepare for an unusual lunchtime - you'll be able to get a camel burger. Now that's a burger bar with a difference! Fear not if you’re a vegetarian, there will be an option for you too.
Travel by train from Meknes to Fes (approximately 40 minutes). It's an amazing living museum, like stepping into medieval times. Fes is the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco; vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming - a visual and pungent feast for the senses - with a huge, well-preserved medieval old city that’s the mother of all medinas. With the free afternoon, take a walk around, perhaps find a quiet place and listen to the evening "call for prayer". It’s a cool thing to do.
Getting lost here is half the fun, but you'll have an orientation walk, so you won't actually get lost, or at least you shouldn’t, however, noting down the name and address of your hotel isn’t a bad idea. Just in case. Browse market stalls, meet craftsmen and see beautiful mosques. Look out for the Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's coolest buildings which has recently been restored and is now open to visitors. You'll also visit the famous tannery, which is also famously stinky, but famously well worth it. Stop for that famous view, overlooking the dye pits.
You'll also visit a ceramic factory where you can see potters working in the traditional way. Then enjoy some free time and maybe check out the exquisite carvings and magnificent tile work at the Medersa el Attarine (near the spice and perfume market). Fes is a shopping heaven for those who want to pick up a souvenir or two. Just bury in mind, today is going to be long. Very long and quite tiring, but well worth the tiredness at the end.
Travelling south across a bunch of different terrain, you will reach Ifrane, a mountain resort established by the French in 1929. After a short stop for coffee and a leg-stretch, continue further south. Then, at Midelt, the landscape opens up, giving way to awesome views to the west. This smallish market town, surrounded by farmland and orchards, is a great spot to break up the journey to the Sahara. It was originally built as a base for mining in the area. You'll see Berber people and nomadic shepherds tending to their flocks.
You'll stay the night in Midelt. But first it's time for a nice walk (approximately 1.5-2 hours). The walk itself is easy, but the terrain is rocky in some places, so wear your best walking shoes. Bring your camera too, or your smartphone or whatever, because the scenes along the way might just make your Instagram account explode.
On your way to the desert, stop at the spectacular narrow defile known as the Gorges du Ziz. Then head to the large town of Er Rachidia. Pass the 500-year old ruins of the Ksar of Meski then descend into the Ziz Valley, a particularly fertile region that produces figs, olives, dates and tamarisk - a fruit grown for its tannin and used in the curing of leather skins. Arrive in Merzouga, drop your main bags off at a simple auberge (that's French for 'inn'), then take your day pack filled with overnight essentials.
Time to experience a desert full of awesome. The mode of transport: camel, of course. Brace yourself for one heck of a sunset. This ride takes about an hour, going through the sea of sand to your private desert camp for an overnight stay. In the camp, you'll have a thin mattress, blankets and sheets. Make sure you bring a sleeping sheet if it's winter (you'd be surprised how cold it can get). Sleep under the stars and have a really romantic "I am so far from home" kinda moment.
Meals: breakfast and dinner.
Hope you remembered to set your alarm this morning, because you'll be getting up well before the crack of dawn. Climb to a nearby sand dune to catch the sunrise. Watch the Sahara come alive! You'll also enjoy another fun camel ride through the sand dunes while the sun is rising higher and higher. Head back to the Auberge, collect the rest of your gear and then travel west to Todra. Then you'll come across a bright tablecloth of green that might seem so out of place you'll think you are dreaming. This valley is pretty impressive, with all its palm trees and mud-brick villages. Arrive at your hotel at the top of the valley, then take a hike into the gorge where sheer cliffs rise more than 1,000 feet above you.
Meals: breakfast and dinner.
From Todra Gorge, travel along the "Road of 1,000 Kasbahs" and enjoy views of the Dades Gorge. You'll also travel past the town of Skoura, home to the beautiful little houses rising like a mirage beyond a dry riverbed. Continue to the medieval mud-brick town of Ait Benhaddou, which is at its best in the late afternoon sun. If you wonder why Ait Benhaddou looks familiar to you, it is because you have seen it before! Perhaps not live, but certainly on the silver screen.
Gladiator, Game of Thrones and loads of other movies and shows were filmed in this kasbah. Explore the many old streets and climb up to the fortress for a superb view over the old town. You can also - for a small fee - enter one of the most interesting of the old houses, climbing up to the turrets for a view over the river. You'll spend the night just outside the walls.
Meals: breakfast and dinner.
Continue west, passing a few Berber villages. Take in those epic views of the countryside. Wind your way up towards Tizi ‘n Tichka. This is a whopping 2,260 meters above sea level, the highest pass on the road to Marrakech. It often gets covered with snow during the winter months. Leaving the Atlas behind, you'll descend into the plains that surround Marrakech and arrive late afternoon.
Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Take an orientation walk around the old medina and the city's seemingly endless mosaic of souqs. Each is devoted to a separate trade: pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets and spices. Sample some of the best street food in the world on the way. Then enjoy some free time. This is a good chance to get lost in the fun of Jemaa el Fna, where there are so many fire-eaters, fortune-tellers, actors, musicians and hawkers vying for your attention.
Enjoy your free day in Marrakech.
Travel west (approximately 2-3 hours) to the coastal town of Essaouira (avoid embarrassment: pronounce it 'Essa-weera'), city where the medina brushes up against the Atlantic Ocean. Sandstone walkways contrast with whitewashed houses, bright blue sky and the sand of the surrounding beaches and dunes. This artists' town was once home to sizable British and Jewish populations, and its charm has seduced people like Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960's.
It is one of North Africa's most attractive places, and you will soon find yourself slipping into the easy-going rhythm of this Moroccan town with a European seaside twist.This part of the trip is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure, designed to give you freedom and flexibility. You’ll have plenty of free time to do what you like, but you’ll also be provided with recommendations.
Essaouira is a very photogenic old port town. Embrace the chilled-out pace. Grab a traditional Moroccan breakfast, and maybe wander to the harbor and its adjacent fish markets (you’ll have to get up early if you want to see the daily catch being auctioned off). You might like to check out the Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah Museum for a look at its collection of artifacts, woodwork, carpets and stringed instruments.
In the medina there are loads of shops to browse. If you want to take a refreshing dip, the Plage de Safi is a good spot if it’s not too windy. If you feel romantic, why not go on an optional horse riding along the sandy beaches of Atlantic Ocean.
Use the morning to see the last of Essaouira, then catch a bus back to Marrakech in the afternoon (approximately 3 hours). Check into your hotel and head out into the centre of Marrakech with the group for one final night together.
Your Moroccan adventure ends after breakfast. Check-out time is usually around 12:00, but you’re free to leave any time before then. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring Marrakech (subject to availability). If you're interested, speak to your leader before day 10.
This Geckos Adventures tour takes you majestic Morocco. Morocco is a North African country bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea distinguished by its Berber, Arabian and European cultural influences. Marrakeshs walled medina, a mazelike medieval quarter, offers entertainment in its Djemaa el-Fna square and souks (marketplaces) selling traditional ceramics, jewelry and metal lanterns. The capital Rabats Kasbah of the Udayas is a 12th-century royal fort overlooking the water.
This tour of Morocco provides only select meals for travelers. Breakfast is always included. Lunches are not comprised; however, food is easily accessible when traveling in the many cities. Only three dinner meals are provided for. On days 6, 7, and 8, dinner is included as part of the itinerary. The additional 11 days worth of dinners and all lunch meals are the reasonability of the traveler.
Casablanca - Guided tour of Hassan II Mosque (MAD 120)
Departure from Casablanca:
For those of you that are flying out of Casablanca: Trains from Marrakech to Casablanca, depart on the hour every 2 hours between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. and cost EUR8 for 2nd class and EUR12 for 1st class. The trip is scheduled to take 3 hours and 10 minutes and is subject to frequent delays. From Casablanca Voyageurs Station, trains run to the Casablanca airport every hour at 5 mins past the hour. First departure is at 5 a.m. and the last departure at 10 p.m. The trip takes 35 minutes.
Alternatively, from Casablanca city the 25 kilometers taxi ride to the Casablanca airport costs MAD250 (EUR25). Pre booked departure transfer to the airport: if you have pre booked a departure transfer, you will be collected from your hotel 2 hours prior to your flight. Please reconfirm your departure transfers with your tour leader.