Morocco: Fès to Marrakesh

Guided Walking Tour, Morocco: Fès to MarrakeshGuided Walking Tour, Morocco: Fès to Marrakesh

Morocco

Fès to Marrakesh

overview

A feast for the senses, Morocco overflows with the exotic and beautiful. Our knowledgeable guides will introduce you to many of its wonders. After a day exploring the UNESCO-preserved medina in Fès, head for forests of giant cedar, cork oak, and tumbling waterfalls in the Middle Atlas. Rural scenes of traditional farming and mud-straw homes lead to old-world ksar (fortified villages) and the age-old caravan town of Rissani. At Erg Chebbi, ride camels with Tuareg nomads into a multicolor landscape of enormous sand dunes, and camp under star-bright skies. In Aït Benhaddou, explore elaborate kasbahs, then travel to North Africa’s mightiest peak in the High Atlas. Along every trail, cultural encounters await you—from traditional meals shared with welcoming Berber families to spa treatments in a community hammam. At journey’s end, Marrakesh awaits—a sparkling trade city of art and history where you’ll savor what past guests have called “the most spectacular meal” of their lives.

 

Activity Level
Easy to moderate;
3-6 miles daily
Meet
Fès, Morocco
Depart
Marrakesh, Morocco
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
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From our blog

Guided Walking 
11 days, 10 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Two expert, local guides (for groups of 8 or more), with you 24/7
  • All meals except one dinner; local wine or beer included with dinners
  • All accommodation while on tour; private bathrooms each night except for the night in the desert
  • Transportation from the meeting to the departure point
  • Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the Country Walkers staff
per person double occupancy
Single supplement + $1,025
 

Solo surcharge + $0
 

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION
Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Fès
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2
Ifrane
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3
Erfoud
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4
Merzouga
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5
Ouarzazate
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6
Ouarzazate
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7
Ouirgane
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8
Ouirgane
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9
Marrakesh
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10
Marrakesh
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11
Marrakesh
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Day 1

Fès

Fès city tour, 1-2 miles, easy

You gather in the morning for an introductory meeting at your opulent hotel, an authentic princely palace bordering the medina (old city), Fès El-Bali. You depart on foot from the hotel for a fascinating glimpse into one of the most complete medieval cities in the world.

The country’s third-largest city, Fès remains the most important intellectual, cultural, and religious center. Its university is one of the world’s oldest, its handicrafts the finest, and its monuments are among the most impressive. Highlights of your walking tour this morning include the Kairaouine Mosque and Medersa el-Attarine (one of several ornate medieval theological colleges). You also pass the shrine of Moulay Idriss II en route to the brass founder (or Seffarine) square, where craftsmen hammer metal into urns and pots. A visit to the dyers’ quarter offers a bird’s-eye view of the tanneries. You will have an opportunity to shop the souks for crafts such as jewelry, pottery, and djellabas (the traditional dress). You lunch in the heart of the medina on traditional Moroccan fare, and continue through the Jewish quarter (Mellah), and to the Royal Palace.

Returning to the hotel late afternoon, you have time to relax, swim in the pool, or stroll the gardens before you depart for a welcome dinner at an exquisite private home (riad) turned restaurant. The evening features a meal of authentic cuisine accompanied by traditional Moroccan trance (Gnawa) music.

Hotel Palais Jamaï

Fès-El Bali, Morocco

A former princely palace overlooking the ancient walled city (medina) of Fès. Amenities include three restaurants, a piano bar, a heated outdoor swimming pool, spa, fitness center, and tennis court.

Day 2

Ifrane

Moulay Abdessalam to Ifrane; 5-8 miles, easy to moderate. Transfer to Ifrane

Bidding farewell to Fès this morning after breakfast, you trade city shoes for hiking boots as you depart by minibus for the Middle Atlas. Moulay Abdessalam is a 90-minute drive from Fès, and the first hills encountered as you travel south appear strangely un-Moroccan. Covered in forests of cork oak and giant cedar, the Middle Atlas is beautiful, tranquil, and surprisingly untouristed.

The walk begins from the village and continues through a forest of cork oak along shepherds’ paths. The initial portion involves a gentle climb, followed by rewarding views of the Atlas Mountains. You make your way to one of many waterfalls that dot the area and then continue past farms and homes; farmers in this area continue to use traditional methods to cultivate a variety of crops from turnips to lentils.

Upon reaching the King’s reservoir, picnic lunches are unpacked as views open up on the Middle Atlas range. Afterward, there is an option to transfer directly to the hotel with the driver; upon check-in there is time to stroll the distinctly French-influenced alpine village built during colonial rule. Or, an additional two-hour walk leads directly into the town of Ifrane and the hotel, a beautiful property with spa and indoor and outdoor swimming pools. There is time to unwind with a Moroccan beer or a glass of mint tea before gathering for dinner in the hotel’s elegant dining room.

Michlifen Ifrane Suites and Spa

Ifrane, Morocco

This landmark hotel is an easy walk to town and boasts tastefully appointed rooms, three restaurants, a sumptuous spa and hammam (steam bath), and two pools.

Day 3

Erfoud

Travel day to Erfoud via Midelt and Er Rachidia

After breakfast you embark on a picturesque journey, crossing passes over both the Middle and High Atlas ranges to catch a first glimpse of the south’s incredible pisé (mud and straw) architecture. After 2½ hours you reach Midelt, where the dramatic peaks of the High Atlas (including the 12,000-foot peak of Jebel Ayachi), rising behind the town, provide a spectacular backdrop. A brief stop allows you to stretch your legs and use the facilities. Afterward, you depart Midelt (most famous for its high-quality Berber carpets) and continue south along a striking route that marks the transition to the desert. This area was notorious for raids upon caravans and travelers carried out by the Aït Haddidou, a nomadic Berber tribe, the fear of whom led the main spring along this route to be known as Ain Khrob ou Hrob (drink and flee).

After crossing one of the lower mountain passes, the Tizi n’Talrhmeht (Pass of the She-Camel), you descend into a desert plain, beyond which you encounter the first of many ksar (fortified strongholds) that dot the landscape along the Oued Ziz (Gazelle River). Lunch is in Er Rachidia, named for the 17th-century Alaouite leader Moulay Rachid. It is late afternoon by the time you reach your final destination of Erfoud, an administrative and garrison town built by the French to maintain control over the Tafilalt tribes of this oasis region. Your hotel is fashioned after the local kasbahs. Upon check-in, there is time to relax or swim in the outdoor pool before dinner.

Kasbah Hotel Chergui

Erfoud, Morocco

A newer hotel built with local materials and decorated in the traditional kasbah style with beautiful grounds, a swimming pool, and hammam.

Day 4

Merzouga

Rissani; 4 miles, easy, and 1½-hour camel trek to the dunes of Merzouga

This morning you explore the ksour and kasbahs of Rissani. The first capital of the Tafilalt and the last stop on the caravan routes south, Rissani has a special place in Moroccan lore. It was here that the ruling Alaouite dynasty (from whom Morocco’s current ruler, Mohammed VI, is descended) launched its bid for power before triumphing finally in Fès and Marrakesh.

Passing through the town’s famous gates, you are enthusiastically greeted by schoolchildren, and pass women dressed in the traditional black haik (robe) carrying freshly baked bread atop their heads. The walk takes you to a number of surprisingly ornate mud-and-straw structures, including the 19th-century royal Ksar d’Akbar, the Ksar Oualed Abd el-Helim, and Zaouiet El Maati. Today, a quarter of Rissani’s population still inhabits a large 17th-century ksar in the center of town.

Following lunch, you depart on a one-hour drive, trading the minibus for Land Rovers, as you travel to Merzouga. The Erg Chebbi (literally, “veins of Chebbi”) are one of the greatest sights of Morocco. This is a magical landscape, with huge drifting expanses of sand dunes reaching heights of more than 150 feet. Their color shifts from pink to gold to red to white depending on the time of day.

After a sunset camel trek, you are treated to a delicious meal accompanied by traditional musical entertainment. Before retiring to your desert tent, you may wish to linger under the mesmerizing star-filled sky.

Tented Camp

Merzouga, Morocco

Located on the edge of the dunes of Merzouga, this simple tented camp features individual tents complete with mattresses, sheets, and wool blankets. Private bathrooms are not available at the site. Toilets and showers are located in close proximity to the tents.

Day 5

Ouarzazate

Sunrise camel trek; 1½ hours. Transfer to Ouarzazate

You rise early in the crisp desert air to find your camels saddled and ready for a sunrise trek. Guided by the Tuareg nomads or “blue men” (descendants of the Berbers named for the indigo-dyed taguelmoust, or scarf, they wear), you traverse gently sloping dunes, dismount, and hike up to watch the sunrise. From seemingly out of nowhere, a magical ball of fire quickly peeks over the horizon before stretching itself out against an intense blue sky. Descending from this perch, you remount your camel and return for a breakfast of steaming hot coffee, freshly baked bread, and fruit.

The road west to Ouarzazate, today’s final destination, passes through one of the harshest and most desolate of the southern valleys, the Dadès. Along much of its length, the river is barely visible above ground, and the road and plain are hemmed in between the parallel ranges of the High Atlas and the Djebel Sarhro—broken, black-red volcanic rock and limestone pinnacles. This makes the oases, when they appear, all the more impressive. After a two-hour transfer by minibus, you reach the bustling town of Tinerhir. En route the road climbs along the Todra palmery (a last fertile shaft of land with date palms, terraces of olive, pomegranate, almond and fruit trees, with grain and vegetable crops planted beneath), narrowing at points to a ribbon of palms between the cliffs. There are more or less continuous villages, all of them the pink-grey color of the local rock, and the ruins of kasbahs and ksour dotting the surrounding area.

The route continues past the town of El Kelaâ M’Gouna, renowned for the cultivation of pink Persian roses, which according to legend were brought from Persepolis by the Phoenicians. You arrive in the early evening at your hotel, where you may have time for a dip in the pool before a dinner of typical Moroccan fare.

Le Berbère Palace

Ouarzazate, Morocco

A comfortable property modeled after the kasbahs for which this area is famous. Amenities include a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, hammam, sauna, and tennis court.

Day 6

Ouarzazate

Tasslmant to Kasbah of Aït Benhaddou; 6-8 miles, easy to moderate

Ouarzazate is another garrison and administrative center built by the French. As the gateway to the south, its biggest draw is the kasbahs that lie outside of town. After a copious buffet breakfast, you embark on a 30-minute drive to the village of Tasslmant to undertake a four-hour walk along the Ounila River to the magnificent kasbah of Aït Benhaddou. Piled upon a dark shaft of rock, the kasbahs in this village are among the most elaborately decorated and best preserved. Restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices.

You eat lunch in a restaurant overlooking the famous kasbah and return to Ouarzazate, where there are several afternoon options. You may choose to join a two-hour walk to the Kasbah Tifltout. Others may wish to visit the Kasbah of Taorirt, a 10-minute walk from the hotel, and a former Glaoui dynasty stronghold that was once the largest of all Moroccan kasbahs. Ouarzazate also offers good shopping opportunities, with outdoor souks as well as small boutiques.

This evening all reunite for a buffet dinner served on the outdoor terrace of the hotel.

Le Berbère Palace

Ouarzazate, Morocco

A comfortable property modeled after the kasbahs for which this area is famous. Amenities include a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, hammam, sauna, and tennis court.

Day 7

Ouirgane

Transfer to Ouirgane with a walk en route; 5 miles, easy to moderate

This morning you travel to the High Atlas, and an area known for breathtaking views of Jbel Toubkal (the highest peak in North Africa at 13,650 feet). The drive goes over the Tizi n’Tichka pass, at approximately 7,230 feet, the country’s highest mountain pass. At the summit, a remarkable scene is unveiled; the lunar landscape of the Anti-Atlas and desert to the south give way to green fields and dense woods. The landscape continues to be a source of awe and inspiration as you travel through country marked by steep-sided valleys adorned with flat-topped Berber villages clinging to the hillsides. Green-stepped terraces are interspersed throughout, cultivated by Berbers whose traditions have changed little over the centuries.

A stop for a scenic picnic lunch is followed by a three-hour walk. Today’s walk follows an easy dirt path along dry river beds into a landscape that is reminiscent of the American Southwest. You pass dramatic pinkish red sandstone formations, traversing villages that take their names from the salt mines dotting this valley, on the way to your charming retreat. Roses adorn the grounds of your hotel and there is time to relax before dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, famous for its cuisine, which incorporates fresh produce grown on the property.

Hotel La Roseraie

Ouirgane, Morocco

In the heart of the Ouirgane Valley amidst rose gardens and lemon groves, this idyllic retreat offers beautiful cottage-style rooms and a restaurant featuring recipes from locally grown produce. Amenities include a swimming pool, hammam, and tennis courts.

Day 8

Ouirgane

Ouirgane Valley: Agni to Anghaz; 7 miles, easy to moderate (1,000-ft elevation gain)

After a leisurely breakfast, you depart on foot from the hotel for the neighboring village of Agni. Crossing pine forest, the trail climbs gradually, reaching an area with wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. You are welcomed for lunch in a local Berber home, followed by a visit to the local Jewish synagogue before returning on foot to your hotel, through a landscape thick with olive, walnut, and plum trees. Some may choose to spend the remainder of the afternoon relaxing, while others may opt for a horseback ride. The hotel’s spa beckons to those seeking a massage or the unique experience of the hammam. This evening you gather for another sampling of the hotel restaurant’s renowned specialties.

Hotel La Roseraie

Ouirgane, Morocco

In the heart of the Ouirgane Valley amidst rose gardens and lemon groves, this idyllic retreat offers beautiful cottage-style rooms and a restaurant featuring recipes from locally grown produce. Amenities include a swimming pool, hammam, and tennis courts.

Day 9

Marrakesh

Ouirgane Valley and Tin Mal Mosque; 4 miles, easy to moderate. Transfer to Marrakesh

Following a poolside buffet breakfast, you drive 45 minutes to Ijoukak, the starting point for today’s walk. It is an easy four-mile walk along the river (Oued Nfiss) to the isolated village of Tin Mal. Here stunning views of the surrounding valley and the High Atlas accompany your exploration of one of the most secluded historical sites in Morocco, the Tin Mal Mosque. This impressive structure, the spiritual home of Morocco’s third dynasty, was built in 1156 by the Berber Almohads in honor of their founding father. It was from this area that the Almohads worked to gain control of Morocco and Spain late in the 12th century.

You return to the hotel for a poolside lunch before a1½-hour drive transports you to the red-earthed walls and palm-lined streets of Marrakesh. After checking into your hotel, a deluxe property in the heart of the medina, your guide(s) take you to experience the city’s pulse. The square Djemaa El Fna (literally, “Assembly of the Dead”) is perhaps the greatest open-air theater in the world, where snake charmers, storytellers, and acrobats all compete for attention. Dinner is on your own this evening, and whether your preference is to dine at a simple café or experience a refined dinner at one of the many luxurious palace restaurants, your guide(s) will offer recommendations.

Hotel Les Jardins de la Koutoubia

Marrakesh, Morocco

Located in the heart of the medina, this elegant property is renowned for the quality of its service, luxury spa, and diverse cuisine. Amenities also include swimming pools, a piano bar, and a panoramic restaurant.

Day 10

Marrakesh

Marrakesh city tour

After breakfast, a guided tour provides a wonderful overview of this vibrant city, unmistakably African in feel, and very different from its northern counterparts. You begin with a visit to some of the major attractions, including the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque, the Palais de la Bahia, and the Maison Tiskiwin, home to a fine collection of items related to Moroccan rural culture and society. You take a break for lunch at a popular local restaurant. After lunch, you stroll through the Majorelle Gardens, a peaceful haven in an otherwise bustling city, and then venture back to the Place Djemaa El Fna, where you are free to continue your exploration of the souks or take in some of the activities from a balcony seat at one of the upstairs cafés. Some may prefer to relax poolside at the hotel before a farewell feast at a special restaurant tucked away in the medina.

Hotel Les Jardins de la Koutoubia

Marrakesh, Morocco

Located in the heart of the medina, this elegant property is renowned for the quality of its service, luxury spa, and diverse cuisine. Amenities also include swimming pools, a piano bar, and a panoramic restaurant.

Day 11

Marrakesh

Departure from Marrakesh

This morning you wake to the call of the muezzin, by now both familiar and soothing. After breakfast, you bid farewell to your newfound friends before you continue your exploration of Marrakesh or depart for your next destination.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

Guides

Abdeljalil Braoul

Abdeljalil was born in a small town outside of Morocco’s spiritual capital, Fès. With a BA in English literature from the University of Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah (Fès), "Jalil" also brings to the trail more than fifteen years of guiding experience and an intimate knowledge of his native country’s renowned and lesser-known attributes.

Saida Ezzahoui

A native of the former imperial city of Fès, Morocco, Saida is a licensed guide of this fascinating city, and the only female guide to accompany groups along trails through her beloved Atlas Mountains. With a degree in English Literature and fluency in three languages, Saida personifies the modern, yet traditional, Moroccan woman.

Guest Comments

P. Gelman, New York, April 2013

How lucky we were to have Saida guiding us. She is among the most favorite of all of our guides. Beyond anticipating our every need, she shared her personal and professional anecdotes, which offered an insider's view of Moroccan life from a well-educated, modern woman.

J & M Berkshire, Indiana, October 2011

I loved the trip to the hammam—Turkish Bath. We both loved the camel ride and the Ifrane pool. Saida was an exceptional guide—very professional and a gifted communicator.

S. Goodman, New York, October 2010

Of course riding on a camel in the Sahara and spending the night under desert stars was a dream come true. But the highlight for me was being invited into a Berber home and enjoying the warmth and generosity of that family as they served us home made bread with olive oil and delicious tea. I still get goose bumps when I think about it!

S. Hood, Colorado, October 2010

The Moroccan tour provided new insights into a country, culture and religion that I knew very little about. My whole perspective was changed by the experience.

A. & A. Lennox, Toronto, Ontario, April 2009

CW never disappoints. It allows us to get to know a country really well, showing us areas that one would not do on one's own. Best guides in the world.

G. Warren, Washington, October 2012

This was a fascinating tour, and quite a bit of exercise in terms of the walking/hiking. Lots of history, great guides, and lovely places to stay. One of my favorite trips ever!

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