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Morocco: between tradition and modernity. Come with us and National Geographic on a journey to the most interesting places in Morocco.
Morocco - the country on the edge of the Sahara is as mutable and mysterious as its inhabitants.
Photographer, adventurer and Morocco expert Kay Maeritz will accompany you on this trip.
Your journey begins in Marrakech, home to the largest market in the country.
Marrakech with a difference - in addition to the numerous cultural sights, the lush gardens are a particularly popular destination.
The natural landscape of the High Atlas is one of the most diverse regions of the country.
The small town of Imlil is located in the valley, surrounded by mountains over 3,000 meters high.
The Imlil Cascades are a popular destination for excursions.
To this day, many of the Berber families live in simple, rural conditions, following the traditions of their ancestors.
The old town of Ait Benhaddou has been under the protection of UNESCO since 1987.
The clay settlement and UNESCO World Heritage site of Ait Benhaddou is still partly inhabited today.
Near the oasis town of Ouarzazate are some of the filming locations from famous blockbusters like Gladiator.
The town of Skoura is nestled between the snow-capped mountains of the High Atlas and the desert landscape of the Sahara.
Zagora is also often called the gateway to the Sahara.
The Erg Chegaga is a part of the Moroccan Sahara.
A picnic in the desert awaits you in the oases of Erg Chegaga.
The Draa Valley is one of the most fertile parts of the region, where there are also many settlements.
On the streets of the settlements along the fertile Draa Valley, merchants offer their products for sale.
The inhabitants of Antiatlas have their own traditions and customs.
Located on the Atlantic coast, Essouira is nicknamed the White City.
The massive city walls of Essaouira once served to protect the city from pirates and looters.
The medina of Essaouira is characterized by narrow alleys, motorized transport is not to be found there.
Marrakech, as one of the royal cities, has magnificent and extensive palace complexes.
The bustling Djemma el Fna, the jugglers' square, forms the center of Marrakech's medina.
Traditional Moroccan cuisine includes dishes cooked slowly in the tajine over low heat.
Photography trip to the unknown south of Morocco accompanied by photographer, naturalist and Morocco expert Kay Maeritz
Exclusive visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aït-Benhaddou
Trekking tour towards the summit of the highest mountain in northern Africa
Night under the stars in luxury desert camp on the edge of the Sahara desert
Morocco: also known as the gateway to Africa. Many different cultural influences shape the country, making it an exciting destination to visit! Starting with the Berbers, who inhabited the fertile oases more than 4000 years ago, you’ll learn about the Phoenicians, Romans, and Arabs and the array of cultures, from antiquity and the Middle Ages, who have left their mark. In the last 500 years, the Portuguese, Spanish and French have had a formative influence on today’s structures. From the lively markets of the Juggler Square to the snowy peaks of the High Atlas and the bizarre desert landscape of the Sahara, to the vast beaches of the Atlantic, you will get to know Morocco’s rich culture and diverse nature on this trip.
Date: March / April 2022
Expert: Kay Maeritz
Welcome to the land of the Berbers, also known as the Red City! Your private guide will meet you at the airport and take you to your first hotel. On the short drive, you will already get a taste of the charming city’s diversity. Over 180,000 palm trees line the city, with gorgeous buildings built around the groves and giving Marrakech a dignified atmosphere.
On your first day in Morocco, you can immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere of the country. Stroll through the medina, Marrakech’s old town, and let the colorful hustle and bustle enchant you with its exotic smells and historical buildings. For dinner, a local restaurant will invite you to try its typical Moroccan cuisine. We recommend trying the sweet mint tea, which locals drink at any time of day. The tea is an expression of Moroccan hospitality and an integral part of the Arab way of life.
Marrakech airport to Marrakech hotel: approx. 15 minutes / 8 kilometers
1 night at Angsana Riads Collection****, Marrakech, Morocco
Today you will have the opportunity to get to know Marrakech better. Discover Marrakech’s green side and start the day with a visit to the Menara Gardens, built around a central water basin and reservoir. Surrounded by a verdant olive grove and crisscrossed by numerous canals, the garden is a place of relaxation for locals and travelers alike. Another popular attraction is the sprawling Jardin Majorelle, where visitors can marvel at more than 300 different plants from every continent on earth. Restored by French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, the garden and its cobalt blue buildings are a must-see in Marrakech.
A visit to the magnificent Bahia Palace and the Koutoubia Mosque, the largest mosque in the city, must be on the itinerary too.
In the late morning, another highlight is on the program: you will explore the famous Djemaa el Fna, the square of the jugglers, which is the heart of the city. Marrakech's vibrant center awaits you with snake charmers, storytellers and countless market stalls. From here, you can also immerse yourself in the maze of alleyways of the souks.
After lunch, make your way to Imlil, a small town in the mountains of the High Atlas, located about 1,800 meters above sea level. On the drive through the narrow valleys you will already catch sight of the first snow-capped mountain peaks of the High Atlas. Walnut trees grow along the banks of the rushing streams, bathed in the sun’s golden light. This magical place is the origin of numerous stories that every Berber knows.
To this day, people live in harmony with nature in the mountains surrounding the small town of Imlil, following the example of their ancestors. The unique Kasbah du Toubkal, your accommodation for the next two nights, is also located in the middle of lush greenery on the slope of a hill. The last part of your journey will be on foot, and your luggage will be taken to your room by the hotel staff.
Marrakech - Imlil: about 2 hours / 95 km
2 nights at the Kasbah du Toubkal****, Imlil, Morocco
This morning, lace up your hiking boots: after a hearty breakfast, set out to explore the enchanting landscape of the Atlas Mountains. The narrow valleys are framed by snow-capped peaks, with Jebel Toubkal, the country's highest mountain at 4,167 meters, towering above it all.
After the hike, you will stop at the home of a Berber family, where you will recover from the exertion with a fresh mint tea. Today you will learn how to prepare traditional Berber dishes for your lunch, as well as get educated about the medicinal and culinary use of herbs from the region.
Fortified by your meal, you will start your descent and enjoy a breathtaking view of the valley and the surrounding mountains. During the hike, your guide will tell you all about the history, traditions and way of life of the Berbers.
In the evening, you will return to the Kasbah du Toubkal.
Film fans take note: Today, not only culture enthusiasts but also passionate film buffs will get their money's worth. After breakfast, we will head towards the small town of Ouarzazate, in the center of Morocco. The drive there is an experience in itself, revealing spectacular landscapes. Watch as the green hills give way to a red mountain landscape. On the way there, you will visit Telouet, a small village on a plateau of the Atlas Mountains. The Kasbah Telouet, a traditional Moroccan building, is particularly worth a visit. The magnificent clay castle once served as the residence of the influential Glaoua family.
After your lunch in the charming Berber village, another highlight of your trip awaits you - a visit to the village of Aït-Benhaddou on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains. The sight is impressive: Situated on the banks of a small river, the red clay buildings of the old town are enthroned; at their feet, numerous date palms adorn the otherwise red stone desert like splashes of green color. The old town of Aït-Benhaddou was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is still inhabited, although the medieval center is increasingly becoming an open-air museum. The town, together with its six fortifications in the interior, is the largest and best-preserved clay settlement in southern Morocco.
Lovers of shows such as Game of Thrones will find the sight of Aït-Benhaddou familiar: The town has served as a backdrop in several films and series, including Gladiator and Star Wars.
In the evening, you will reach your hotel in Ourzazate.
Imlil - Ouarzazate: Approx. 5 hours / 250 kilometers
1 night at Dar Kamar***, Ouarzazate, Morocco
If you have always longed for the endless expanse and the golden shimmering dunes of the Sahara, today your dream comes true. Your journey will lead you past palm groves and partly abandoned Berber settlements through the impressive Draa Valley. The valley is crossed by the river of the same name, which flows from its source at the El Mansour reservoir to Zagora, transforming the desert along its banks into fertile oases.
The scenery is ideal for a photography workshop. Your expert and travel companion, Kay Maeritz, will show you some useful tricks on how to shoot the perfect picture in the right light.
1 night at La Fibule du Draa, Zagora, Morocco
The oasis town of Zagora is considered the gateway to the desert. It is also the starting point of your desert adventure today. You will spend the night in a luxurious camp in the desert of Erg Chegaga. You will reach the camp only with the help of four-wheel-drive cars and the best means of transportation in the desert: the camel. On your camel, you will enjoy the views enhanced by the setting sun as you make your way towards the desert camp. Once here, you can immediately move into your luxurious tent and end the day dancing and singing in the glow of the campfire. You will never forget this night under the starry sky of Morocco.
Ouarzazate to desert camp: approx. 5 hours / 290 kilometers
1 night in Luxury Camp By DAR AZAWAD, M'hamid El Ghizlane, Morocco
How could a day start better than with a walk through the red-golden dunes of the Sahara at sunrise? Enjoy the sight of the vast desert one last time before you set off through Erg Chegaga to Tata after a delicious breakfast. On the way, visit the small, tranquil oasis town of Foum Zguid, where you can get snacks for the rest of the day at the market. In the evening you will reach the city of Tata, where you will spend the night.
Desert camp - Tata: Approx. 6 hours / 380 kilometers
1 overnight stay at Dar Infiane**, Tata, Morocco
Your journey continues today to Tafraoute, a small Berber town on a plateau in the southwest of the Anti-Atlas. On your journey through one of the most beautiful landscapes in Morocco, you can marvel at the picturesque nature with its steep mountain slopes and striking red granite rocks. If you walk only a few minutes from the center of Tafraoute, you will find yourself in a surreal landscape: Amidst green palm trees, whimsically shaped cacti and bizarre granite rock formations, you will feel transported to another world.
Tata - Tafraoute: Approx. 3 hours / 170 kilometers
2 nights at El Malara***, Tafraoute, Morocco
The area around the tranquil village offers numerous exciting sights that you should not miss. Marvel at the so-called Chapeau de Napoléon, a peculiarly shaped rock said to resemble Napoleon's hat, and the Peintures, countless granite blocks painted in bright colors by Belgian painter Jean Vérame.
Tafraoute is also known for its palm groves and the countless olive and almond trees. In spring, the almond trees are in full bloom - thanks to the delicate pink blossoms and beguiling fragrance, this is one of the best times to visit Tafraoute.
In the evening, you will return to your hotel.
As beautiful and fascinating as Morocco's desert landscapes are, there is one thing that does not abound here: water. Therefore, today you will leave the stony and sandy landscapes inland and drive towards the Atlantic coast. Here, one of Morocco's most dignified beaches awaits you, Legzira Beach. The majestic, bright red rocks and the roaring waves of the blue Atlantic Ocean make this stretch of coast an unforgettable highlight of your Morocco trip. Legzira Beach is especially famous for its two spectacular rock arches that jut out into the sea, where the ocean waves break. One of the two stone arches collapsed in 2016, but this does not detract from the beauty of the natural spectacle. There is also a little time for cooling off in the Atlantic Ocean, which is about 20 degrees.
Then we will continue to Tiznit, the most important economic center of the region. The city specializes in the handicraft of gold and silver smiths. Here you will spend the night.
Tafraoute - Tiznit: Approx. 2 hours / 110 kilometers
1 night at Riad Janoub***, Tiznit, Morocco
After breakfast, you will set off for Essaouira, the “white city” on the Atlantic Ocean. On the way, you will make a stop in the famous coastal town of Agadir, one of the most popular regions in the country. From the highest elevation above Agadir, the Kasbah Agadir (or Agadir Oufella), a spectacular view of the city, opens up. The Kasbah was built in the 16th century, among other things, to protect against attacks from the Portuguese, and stood unshaken until an earthquake in 1960. Today, what remain of the Kasbah are fascinating ruins.
Along a coastal road, teeming with picturesque views, you will continue on your way to the port city of Essaouira. The fortified town probably owes its name to its city walls, which are remain preserved today. Essaouira means "the enclosed one".
Tiznit - Essaouira: approx. 4 hours 30 minutes / 270 kilometers
2 nights at Riad Mimouna****, Essaouira, Morocco
Today you have the entire day to explore Essaouira. Drift through the city and immerse yourself in its eventful history. On a discovery tour of Essaouira, you will explore the old Jewish quarter, the harbor and the narrow streets along the old fortresses - on the edges of which craftsmen and artists offer their creations.
Until Morocco's independence in 1956, the city still bore the name given to it by the Portuguese, Mogador. The fortified city was once considered an important crossroads in trade between Europe and Africa and achieved considerable prosperity. Even though Essaouira had to give up this supremacy long ago, the lively fishing port outside the city is still one of the most beautiful places on Morocco's coast. The traditional blue fishing boats and the numerous seagulls at the harbor are a popular photo stop.
The medina of Essaouira, unusually symmetrical by Moroccan standards, invites visitors to stroll, shop and feast. Many small stores and stalls offer fashion, accessories as well as the argan oil products typical of the region. The sight of the mountains of fruit, vegetables and spices makes every visitor's mouth water. Culture enthusiasts can also learn more about the city's turbulent history at the Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah Museum.
The extensive sandy beach is not only a paradise for sun worshippers, but also for wind and kite surfers: there is always a powerful breeze blowing here, which is why Essaouira is also called “city of the wind”.
You will spend the night again at Riad Mimouna, in the heart of the city.
Today we will return from Essaouira to Marrakech. Along the way are several villages and small towns that could not be more authentic. During a visit to an argan oil coop, run by women who were once in need, you will learn about the elaborate production of the "liquid gold", an artisanal process to this day. First, the fruits of the argan tree are dried and then cracked to extract the argan almonds. These are finally roasted briefly and ground by hand. The result is a valuable brownish oil that also exudes a delicious fragrance.
Did you know that argan oil, aside from giving food a special touch, also has numerous other properties? For example, it is said to not only moisturize the skin, but also have positive health effects.
On the way east, you can marvel at another attraction of the area: dozens of goats standing in the argan trees as if for decoration, nibbling on the leaves. A unique spectacle and definitely worth a photo stop.
Once you arrive in Marrakech, you will have the afternoon to spend as you wish. Enjoy the colorful hustle and bustle of the city's winding streets.
You will spend your last night in Morocco in the medina of Marrakech, which you know well by now.
Essaouira - Hotel in Marrakech: 2 hours 30 minutes / 180 kilometers
1 night Angsana Riads Collection****, Marrakech, Morocco
Today is your last day in Morocco. For the last time in your vacation, you will have a fortifying breakfast and then make your way to the airport. On the flight home, you can review the experiences of the last days. Let your thoughts wander back to the endless desert landscapes of the Sahara, the charming Berber villages and the lively alleys of Marrakech. You will return home with unforgettable memories in your luggage and mind.
Hotel in Marrakech - Marrakech Airport: about 15 minutes / 8 kilometers.
Angsana Riads Collection****, Marrakech, Morocco (2 nights)
Located in the heart of Marrakech, the Angsana Riads Collection awaits you with lovingly decorated rooms and suites with private bathrooms. Within walking distance of Djemaa el Fna and the famous Bahia Palace, this riad is the perfect base for exploring the capital. Afterwards, relax in the exclusive spa area or by the pool.
Kasbah du Toubkal****, Imlil, Morocco (2 nights)
Kasbah du Toubkal is the premier choice in the Atlas Mountains and also one of National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the World. Situated at about 1,820 meters, the lodge offers a gorgeous view of Toubkal, North Africa's highest mountain at 4,167 meters. The total of only 14 rooms are all of high quality and typical for the country. Authenticity and sustainability are two pillars of the hotel’s philosophy. Most of the staff consists of Berbers from the region.
Dar Kamar***, Ouarzazate, Morocco (1 night)
This charming accommodation in typical Moroccan style has twelve air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms and two suites. The hotel's restaurant, spa area with hammam, and large rooftop terrace with fantastic views make for an unforgettable stay.
Fibule Du Draa***, Zagora, Morocco (1 night)
Located just outside the town of Zagora, Kasbah Fibule Du Draa is the perfect place to relax. Just a stone's throw from the foothills of the Sahara, it offers ideal conditions for extended hiking tours and workshops in the lush gardens. All rooms are air-conditioned and have free Wi-Fi.
Luxury Camp By DAR AZAWAD**, M'hamid El Ghizlane, Morocco (1 night)
An overnight stay under the glowing starry sky of the Moroccan desert - this dream comes true in this luxury tented lodge in the middle of the Erg Chegaga desert. With friendly staff, delicious and high quality food and absolute tranquility, a unique desert experience is guaranteed here. Located about 45 kilometers from the town of M'hamid, the camp can be reached by four-wheel drive car and camel.
Dar Infiane**, Tata, Morocco (1 night)
The Dar Infiane's traditionally furnished rooms are air-conditioned and en suite. With its terraces and patios offering spectacular views over a palm grove, the hotel creates a very special atmosphere.
El Malara***, Tafraoute, Morocco (2 nights)
Amid the granite-rock landscape around Tafraoute, this guesthouse awaits you with an excellent restaurant, a garden, and an outdoor pool. The comfortably furnished rooms have private bathrooms with whirlpool tubs. At night, you can enjoy the starry sky on the hotel's rooftop terrace.
Riad Janoub***, Tiznit, Morocco (1 night)
At Riad Janoub, no wishes are left unfulfilled: The guesthouse within the old city walls of Tiznit offers its guests a beautiful terrace, an outdoor pool and a restaurant serving a mix of Moroccan and Indian cuisine. The cozy rooms are air-conditioned and have private bathrooms.
Riad Mimouna****, Essaouira, Morocco (1 night)
Riad Mimouna promises an unforgettable stay in the heart of Essaouira. The en suite rooms combine Moroccan tradition with modern comforts. You can enjoy traditional Moroccan dishes and fish specialties at the sea-view restaurant.
Closest airport: Menara Airport
Duration of the trip: March 2022