Explore the souks of Marrakech, walk in the Atlas Mountains and ride a camel through the desert.
Start Marrakech. Meet the group in the evening for the briefing. *Hotel Gomassine or similar*
With time to explore Marrakech at the end of our journey, we leave the Red City behind and head into the Atlas Mountains. Our destination for the day is the well-preserved Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most spectacular sights of the Atlas, made famous as the filming location for several Hollywood films including 'Gladiator'. The route takes us over Tizi N Tichka pass, the highest in Morocco, arriving mid-afternoon. We will then have time for an afternoon walk around the town. *Hotel La Kasbah or similar *
Our adventure begins in Ouarzazate, a 30-minute drive from Ait Ben Haddou, nicknamed as the 'door to the desert' because it used to be a crossing point for African traders on their way to Europe. It is home to the Atlas Film Studios, the setting for many Hollywood films, as well as Game of Thrones and BBC's Atlantis. It's also home to the impressive Kasbah Taourirt. Originally home to the former caid (mayor), this kasbah was later owned by T'hami El Glaoui who is better known as the Lord of the Atlas. The Krupps field gun that secured the Glaoui power is now displayed outside the kasbah. We then head south along the Draa Valley, a huge palmery containing over four million palm trees, edged by many ksours (fortified villages) to our permanent Bedouin camp for the evening near Tazzarine. During the warmer months, some people like to take their beds outside and sleep under the stars. *Full-service Camping *
We get up early for an exciting four-hour camel trip (riding camels about 50mins each with 1hr walk and some time to rest in the middle) through the desert to Tamashelt. Riding a camel is a fun and truly memorable experience although it can be a bit bumpy and sore after a while! After our safari, we stop for a short walk around one of the palmeries before heading to N'kob. With its swimming pool, we can enjoy a well-deserved break after our adventure on the 'ships of the desert'. We stay in the communal tents around an auberge and are served traditional Bedouin food. *Full-service Camping *
Today we continue our journey back toward Marrakech heading into the High Atlas Mountains. Our journey is quite long but the views are fantastic and we will take some rest stops. Our destination is Anmiter, from here we walk for about 40 minutes through irrigated farmland to the traditional village of Tijhza and the friendly Kasbah Oliver. There will be some free time to explore the area and maybe meet some of the local families before we enjoy a Moroccan hammam, part-funded by Exodus. This is a truly authentic experience and terrific fun. It is very much a local hammam and you are likely to get the opportunity to mix with the villagers, which further adds to the experience. A standard treatment is included, but you will need to purchase a scrubber and soap for 20MAD (£1.50) plus customary tip of 20MAD. Refreshed, we return to the riad for our final dinner in the mountains. *Kasbah Oliver or similar *
In the morning we enjoy an optional 3-4 hour walk through the villages of the Tijhza Valley, passing fields cultivated with almond and fig trees, with the peaks of the High Atlas as a fitting backdrop. We then say goodbye to our new friends and head back to our bus for a scenic drive over the mountains to Marrakech. En route, we visit the amazing fortress of Telouet. Once, the mountains were controlled by feudal clans, including the most powerful Glaoui clans. Now Telouet stands abandoned and crumbling, and we can take a look at this labyrinthine, fairy-tale structure from the outside. Our route continues over the main pass, Tizi'n'Tichka, which at 2260m is the highest road pass in Morocco and is truly spectacular all the way back to Marrakech (approximately 4-hour journey). The evening is free to explore Djemaa el Fna or enjoy dinner on one of the roof terraces overlooking this wonderful square. *Hotel Gomassine or similar *
This morning we take a guided tour (on foot) of the 'Red City' of Marrakech where we can soak up the atmosphere of this bustling and vibrant city, with its maze of bazaars, palaces and mosques. The afternoon there is free time to simply potter around the souks, visit the more peaceful Jardin Majorelle, or maybe enjoy a 'caleche' ride (horse-drawn carriage). No visit to Marrakech is complete without a visit to the Djemma el Fna, the open-air central square around which Marrakech revolves. The name literally means 'place of death' as it was the place where the Sultans used to display the heads of their enemies. Now, with the food stalls, snake charmers, juice-sellers, travelling musicians and acrobats, the square is a place of entertainment for both Moroccan and overseas visitors. *Hotel Gomassine or similar *
End Marrakech. Our tour ends after breakfast.
* 4 nights hotel; 2 nights camping In the desert we sleep in traditional Bedouin-style tents, 1 night in mountain gite. * Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 5 yrs * Travel by air-conditioned minibus and camel * Free transfers to meet any flight
All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 3 dinners included. Moroccan food is, generally speaking, excellent though not particularly varied. Breakfasts usually consist of bread and jam with coffee or tea. When eating out, meals are reasonably priced - kebab and bread cost about £4 (approx. US$6.50). In main towns it is possible to find very good French and Moroccan restaurants where a meal with wine is from £20 (approx. US$30) upwards. Generally, dinner is likely to cost between £5-10 (approx. US$8-15) without drinks. £15 (approx. US$25) a day for food should be sufficient. Local beers, wines and soft drinks are available at very reasonable prices but expect to pay UK prices or more for imported alcohol. Your leader will recommend restaurants each evening. Vegetarians can be catered for but there is a fairly limited choice of couscous and tajine or omelettes. This is particularly the case during the more rural or trekking sections of the trip. Please note that if you have any special dietary requirements you should inform the Exodus office prior to the trip. If you have a specific medical/dietary need (i.e. coeliac or vegan) you may find it helpful to bring some items of food with you from home. Plastic waste is an issue in Morrocco. We advise you buy your own purification tablets in the UK and take them with you. Bottled water in large containers is stored in the bus for you to refill your own bottles.
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