Explore Southern Morocco Tour

Have you ever wanted to travel with me, or maybe try out a tour with my favorite tour company, Intrepid Travel? Well here's your chance!

I'm running the very first A Dangerous Business Reader Tour in March 2020, and would love for you to join me there!

How to book this tour: In order to book this tour, you'll need to call 1-855-394-3021, extension 2 (for Sean). The booking reference number you'll need to quote is 6039834. You'll be asked for your passport information when you book.

Explore Southern Morocco

This tour is one I've tweaked and customized with the help of a custom/private tour consultant from Intrepid Travel in order to offer a tour that I'm both excited to go on, and excited for you to experience.

I've traveled to Morocco before (with Intrepid!), so I based this tour around things I really loved from my first trip, and places that I think really show off the diversity that makes Morocco unlike any other destination I've visited.

The important details:

When: March 15-25, 2020

Start: Marrakech, Morocco

How much: $1195 USD*

Group size: Maximum 16

*This price does not include international flights to Morocco, travel insurance, airport transfers, or single supplement fee (which is $185).

Camels in the Sahara Desert in Morocco
Camels in the Sahara desert

Below you'll find a full, detailed tour itinerary. But if you're just skimming, here are the quick highlights:

This tour will visit:

  • Marrakech
  • Imlil and Aroumd in the High Atlas Mountains
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait-Ben-Haddou
  • Zagora and the Sahara Desert
  • The coastal town of Essaouira

What's included:

  • 10 nights of accommodation
  • 10 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 4 dinners
  • Transport for the duration of the tour
  • Guided tours in Marrakech and Essaouira
  • Food tour in Marrakech
  • Guided trek in the Atlas Mountains
  • Cooking demonstration and dinner in Ait-Ben-Haddou
  • Camel ride and overnight camping in the Sahara Desert
  • Professional guide

How to book:

Since this is technically considered a private tour, booking it requires you to call Intrepid Travel. They will be handling all the booking details and payments, so you can rest assured everything is being done professionally!

In order to book this tour, you'll need to call 1-855-394-3021, extension 2 (Sean)*. The booking reference number you'll need to quote is 6039834.

If you plan to travel/room with someone but will be booking separately, please let Intrepid know when you call. Also have your passport information handy, as you'll be asked for this when you book.

There's no online booking available for this tour since this is a private tour. Please do NOT try to book this tour on Intrepid Travel's website; it's not offered there, and you won't be booking a tour with me if you try to book online.

*Please note that this phone number is for Intrepid's private tours office, and you won't be able to reach anyone over the weekend. You may also need to leave a message if Sean isn't at his desk when you call!

Payment info:

You can pay the full $1195 when booking. If you choose not to pay in full, a $400 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of booking, with the balance due by January 14, 2020.


Tour itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Marrakech

March 15

Welcome to Marrakech, Morocco. Marrakech is a feast for the senses, and a great place to start our trip. If you arrive early, feel free to go for a wander in the colorful souks.

Our adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 p.m. – check at reception for time and place confirmation. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early. Intrepid can help book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand.

Tonight, we may head out for an optional group dinner together.

Accommodation: Riad Hamdane BB or similar

Included meals: None

Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech
Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech

Day 2: Marrakech

March 16

After breakfast today, we'll meet our local Marrakech guide and set off on a morning tour of the old medina, through the bustling souks that are the lifeblood flowing through the city. Explore tranquil courtyards filled with the scent of orange blossom, and the many salons and chambers that make up Bahia Palace. This splendid mansion was built in 1866 for a former slave who rose to power within the government. Continue to the Marrakech Museum, itself a former palace, which houses a fine collection of Moroccan art and sculpture. Stop by the Koutoubia Mosque; its famous minaret is the prototype for others of its kind around the world, including La Giralda in Seville. Then walk back through the streets of the old medina to the Jemaa el Fna, the bustling main square of Marrakech.

To understand Moroccan food like a local, we'll do a group food tour of Marrakech tonight. Kicking off in the beautiful and legendary Jamaa El Fna square, explore bustling market stalls and get up close and personal with the spice vendors and street merchants who make the medina tick. Wander through the souks sampling olives, dried fruits, nuts, pastries, and other Moroccan specialties. Visit a local spice market and learn about how spices are used in Moroccan dishes – you are sure to be inspired to create some culinary masterpieces on your return home. See the mouth-watering variety of food on offer and tuck into a traditional dinner back in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Jamaa El Fna square, where the atmosphere is hard to beat.

Included activities:

  • Guided walking tour of Marrakech
  • Bahia Palace
  • A Taste Of Marrakech food tour with Urban Adventures

Accommodation: Riad Hamdane BB or similar

Included meals: Breakfast, dinner (food tour)

Jamaa El Fna square in Marrakech
Jamaa El Fna square in Marrakech

Day 3: Aroumd

March 17

Today, we will take a short drive up the towering High Atlas Mountains to the village of Imlil (approximately 2 hours), perhaps stopping to photograph snow-dappled mountains and valleys in full flower along the way.

On arrival, we'll store our main luggage and load daypacks onto pack mules before walking into traditional mountain village life with a one-hour trek up to the peaceful village of Aroumd.

Perched on a rocky outcrop, the remote village of Aroumd offers stunning views across the High Atlas Mountains and a unique opportunity to experience traditional Berber culture. We'll spend the night in a family-run mountain home (gite) in Aroumd, surrounded by the smell of woodstoves and bread. We'll get to meet the host family and enjoy Berber hospitality and food. Facilities at the homestay are shared (both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements) but cosy, comfortable, and definitely a unique Intrepid experience.

Use the rest of the day to explore the village and the surrounding farmlands. If the group are up for it and weather permits, there will be a chance to hike of around 8 kilometers (5 miles) to the pilgrimage shrine of Sidi Chamharouch (approximately 4 hours return). Regardless of fitness levels, the gentle pace of Aroumd makes it a special place to explore beyond the reach of the modern world.

Accommodation: Omar Id Mansour Gite or similar

Included activities:

  • Guided hike in the High Atlas Mountains

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Aït-Benhaddou

March 18

This morning, we'll journey along mountain roads and over Morocco's highest pass, Tizi n'Tichka (2,260 meters), to Ait Benhaddou on the edges of the Sahara (approximately 6 hours).

Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco's most iconic sites. It was once an important stop for caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory, and slaves. Today, its grand kasbah has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its fortified village being a fine example of clay architecture. If you think you recognize the place, you probably do, as the town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones, and Gladiator.

Enjoy a walk through the winding streets of the old town, making your way to the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy the views across the surrounding plains.

This evening, we'll join a simple cooking demonstration of Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine. The locals will explain the secrets and subtleties of these traditional meals, as the ladies of the kitchen prepare a feast.

Included activities:

  • Cooking demonstration and dinner, Ait Benhaddou

Accommodation: La Rose Du Sable Hotel or similar

Included meals: Breakfast, dinner

Ait Benhaddou in Morocco
Ait Benhaddou

Day 5: Zagora

March 19

This morning, we'll journey south towards the Sahara, stopping in the regularly used film location of Ouarzazate along the way (approximately 5 hours in total).

We'll continue to travel through the lush Draa Valley to Zagora, a small oasis town on the Sahara fringe that is perfect for an overnight stop. Take a stroll through the palm groves, explore the ksars, and wander around the surrounding countryside.

Optional activities:

  • Atlas Movie Studios tour – MAD50
  • Kasbah Taourirt – MAD20

Accommodation: La Fibule De Draa or similar

Included meals: Breakfast

Day 6: Sahara Desert

March 20

We'll continue along the rugged and desolate Jbel Tadrart ranges and through seas of sand, past the occasional desert oasis of date palms to the township of Tamegroute. We'll stop to visit an intriguing library filled with ancient scripts of science, literature, the Koran, and stories of the prophet Mohammed (subject to unregulated opening times). We may also join a local guide to uncover the underground Kasbah and its unique ceramic pottery industry.

Leave Tamegroute behind, we'll carry on driving to the end of the road at the frontier town of M'Hamid (approximately 1 hour). From here, we'll take a short camel ride through the dunes, and then jump into 4WD vehicles to get to our camp for the night. The rough track runs parallel to the Algerian border, across the stony Hamada desert, whose only populace is small scatterings of nomadic people and their camels.

The group will reach the massive Erg Chigaga dunes in the late afternoon. An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that's formed into picturesque, undulating crests and valleys. The Erg Chigaga is one of the world's iconic landscapes, with towering dunes up to 150 metres in height.

Our camp tonight is a simple affair, with bedding and basic toilet facilities provided. The blankets provided are usually sufficient for most travelers, but it will be colder in March, so you may want to bring some extra layers. Electricity is not available in the camp, therefore it’s important to come prepared with phones, cameras and everything else you may need fully charged.

I did an overnight tour into the Sahara on my first Morocco trip. It was in a different part of the desert, but it was magical and the highlight of my tour. Read about it here.

Included activities:

  • Ancient library visit
  • Camel ride

Accommodation: Sahara Aventure Camp or similar

Included meals: Breakfast, dinner

Sahara Desert in Morocco
A sea of sand

Day 7: Taroudant

March 21

Today we'll rejoin our van and venture towards the market town of Oulad Brhhil, sometimes called “Little Marrakesh.” The journey should take around eight hours in total, including several stops. This drive goes through desert scenery and along a route that's a reserve for the indigenous argan trees. Argan oil is highly prized for its culinary, cosmetic and medicinal uses and is only produced in Morocco. If you're lucky, the group might come across the famous image of goats climbing these trees in search of nuts.

Please note that this is a long travel day, and we won't arrive at tonight's accommodation until late afternoon/early evening. The riad (house) tonight is 45 kilometers outside of Taroudant and offers the chance to relax by the pool or take a steamed bath.

Accommodation: Al Mounia or similar

Included meals: Breakfast

Day 8: Essaouira

March 22

In the morning, we'll take to the souks and haggle with local traders for silver jewelry or colorful Moroccan ceramics and mosaics in Taroudant. Afterwards, we'll leave the valleys of the High Atlas Mountains behind and head west to the coastal town of Essaouira (approximately 5 hours). Its charm is undeniable; within the stone ramparts you'll find whitewashed houses with bright blue shutters, art galleries, and wood workshops.

This laid-back artists' town is a former Portuguese trading colony and was once home to sizable British and Jewish populations. The town faces a group of rocky islands, called the Mogador, and is surrounded by an expanse of sandy beaches and dunes. It's still a busy fishing port, and its pretty harbor is filled with tiny colorful boats which go out early every morning for the day's catch. Visitors who have been seduced by its charms include Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. More recently, the ramparts were used for Game of Thrones filming.

As we'll arrive in the early evening, there won’t be much time to look around today, but don't worry because we're here for two nights! In the evening perhaps have some dinner with the group, as the local seafood is as fresh as it gets.

Accommodation: Riad Chakir or similar

Included meals: Breakfast

Essaouira ramparts and fishing boats
Essaouira ramparts and fishing boats

Day 9: Essaouira

March 23

Today, we'll join a local guide for a walking tour through the old medina, Jewish mellah, port, and skala (sea wall) of Essaouira. Afterwards, use your free time to get under the skin of the town.

The narrow streets of Essaouira are ideal for casual exploration. Their size discourages cars, and you'll feel as though little has changed since the days of sea pirates. The fishing port is a serious commercial operation and there’s much fun to be had observing the daily catch and its subsequent auction. A freshly-cooked plate of the day's catch is highly recommended. Browse the plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries that make this little town a particularly pleasant place to unwind for a few days. It has a growing reputation for its unique art and is becoming even more famous for its burled Thuya wood, delicately formed and inlaid in tiny shops that are built into the thick walls of the Portuguese ramparts. The scent from the oils used to polish the richly coloured wood permeates the air and makes walking down the streets incredibly pleasant.

If you’d prefer to relax, don't miss the opportunity to indulge in a hamam (local- style bath).

Included activities:

  • Guided walking tour of Essaouira

Optional activities:

  • Hamam (public baths) – MAD200
  • Berber massage – MAD350
  • Horse riding – Essaouira – MAD250
  • Seafood Market Lunch – Essaouira – MAD80

Accommodation: Riad Chakir or similar

Included meals: Breakfast

Seafood in Essaouira
Seafood is a must in Essaouira

Day 10: Back to Marrakech

March 24

Use the morning to see the last of Essaouira, as we’ll head back to Marrakech in the afternoon (approximately 3 hours).

This afternoon, you might want to visit the tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle (later owned by Yves Saint Laurent), or perhaps Palais Badi, reputedly one of the most beautiful palaces in the world in its time, or the Saadian tombs.

This evening, we'll head back to Jamaa El Fna, perhaps in time to watch the sun set. When night falls on this square, it transforms into a hive of activity. Henna painters, performers, and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies. We may decide to have our last group dinner in the square, or somewhere else nearby.

Accommodation: Riad Hamdane BB or similar

Included meals: Breakfast

Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech
Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech

Day 11: Departure

March 25

Our adventure together ends after breakfast. Check out time is usually around 12 p.m., but you’re free to leave any time before. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring Marrakech (subject to availability).

If you plan to stay longer in Marrakech, there are plenty of other things to see and do nearby – we can ask our guide for recommendations.

Included meals: Breakfast

How to book this tour: In order to book this tour, you'll need to call 1-855-394-3021, extension 2. The booking reference number you'll need to quote is 6039834. Have your passport information handy when you call.


FAQ

Have a question about this tour? Feel free to send me an email with ANY questions at adangerousbusiness@gmail.com.

I've tried to cover the most common questions here, but I'm sure I've missed some!

Why Morocco?

Morocco is a great country with interesting history and culture, varied landscapes, and excellent food. It was my favorite new-to-me destination in 2019, and think it's a great place to go on a group tour.

Read more about Morocco here: 8 Things That Surprised Me About Traveling in Morocco

Is Morocco safe?

Morocco is one of the safest countries you can visit in North Africa. Morocco is fairly stable, politically speaking, and there haven't been any violent uprisings there in recent years.

Violent crime is not really an issue in Morocco; the only things I would say you need to worry about are petty crime like pickpocketing, and verbal sexual harassment (mostly if you are a woman).

I never felt in danger on my first trip to Morocco (even when walking around on my own), and I think that traveling with a small group and a local guide can hep with this feeling of security.

Are YOU the guide?

NO, I will not be the one guiding this trip. Even though I've been to Morocco before, I'm not an expert – plus, this tour visits some places I haven't been before. Intrepid Travel will be providing us one of their professional local guides.

I'll still be traveling with you and can help with things like photography and general questions, but I won't be your guide!

Amanda and a camel in Morocco
I won't be your guide, but I'll be there to take all the camel selfies with you.

What kind of hotels do we stay in?

Intrepid Travel isn't a luxury tour company (and you've probably guessed this is not a luxury trip based on the price!). We'll mostly be staying in 3-star hotels and guesthouses throughout Morocco; many are smaller, boutique hotels and riads where our stay will contribute to the local economy. This tour also includes one night of camping.

How do meals work?

Some meals are included, but most are up to you to cover. But don't worry – you won't be expected to wander off into the souks alone to find sustenance! While group meals are by no means mandatory, our guide will likely offer to set them up for us every day. In my experience, most people like to participate in these.

What if I'm traveling solo?

I'm usually a solo traveler when I go on tours like this, so don't feel weird about it if you are, too! Since this is essentially a private tour, Intrepid will NOT be pairing up solo travelers into shared rooms like they do on their normal itineraries.

If you're traveling solo and would like to have your own room, there's a $185 single supplement fee (which is SUPER reasonable!). If you'd like to share a room with another solo traveler of the same gender, I can try to help facilitate this, but can make no guarantees.

IF you'd like for me to try to find you a roomie, please send me an email (adangerousbusiness@gmail.com) BEFORE you call to book. But please note that spots are first come first served for this tour!

What if the tour fills up before I can book?

If this happens, I will start a wait list in case anyone has to cancel before final payments are due in January. I'll send out more info about this if/when it becomes necessary via email. (If you're not on my tour email list, sign up here.)

Am I too old / young / out of shape for this tour?

If you're wondering whether this tour is right for you, I will say this: there is no upper age limit. But traveling in Morocco does require a certain level of physical fitness in order to fully enjoy it.

Some things we'll be doing that could be uncomfortable for some people include:

  • Hiking to a guesthouse in the High Atlas Mountains. The hike is about an hour long.
  • Walking to the top of the ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, which requires walking up some hills and steps.
  • Riding a camel in the Sahara Desert. The camel ride won't be long, but they aren't the most comfortable animals to ride!
  • There will also be some rather long travel days (5-6 hours in a vehicle).
Riding camels in the Sahara Desert
Riding camels in the Sahara Desert

Where do I need to fly to?

The tour starts and ends in Marrakech, Morocco, so that's where you'll want to book flights to/from. Please wait until your place on the tour is confirmed to book flights, though!

Where/when do we meet?

We will meet at our starting hotel on March 15, 2020, in Marrakech, Morocco (you'll get all the necessary hotel info once your booking is confirmed). The meeting will be at 6 p.m. on March 15, meaning you'll want to arrive earlier in the day, or the day before.

How will I get from the airport to the hotel?

You'll get more details on this if you make a booking, but Intrepid can help arrange airport transfers for tour participants for an extra fee. (Taxis are also available, but pre-booking a transfer is what I will recommend for everyone!)

What's NOT included?

Things that are not covered in the price of the tour include:

  • International flights
  • Any visas required
  • Airport transfers
  • Services not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Meals and drinks not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Drinks with included lunches and dinners
  • Tips for leaders, guides and driver
  • Expenditure of personal nature
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Optional activities

What will I need to bring?

I'll talk all things visas, packing, tipping, and more later after you book the tour! In general, though, Morocco is a fairly affordable country and you will likely need less than $500 for on-the-ground expenses.

One thing to note is that travel insurance is MANDATORY for this trip, as per Intrepid's terms for all their tour participants. You will be asked to provide this info. Travel insurance is not super expensive, and I'll send anyone who books suggestions on where to buy this if you don't already have it!

Any more questions? Please let me know!

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