This gentle guided walking and sightseeing holiday covers the best parts of central and southern Morocco. You'll explore the High Atlas, the edge of the Sahara and the oases, desert towns, and mountains inbetween.
We start our Moroccan discovery in exotic Marrakesh, home to arguably Africa's largest and most celebrated souk (market) and UNESCO-recognised medina (old town), before heading for the snow-capped High Atlas Mountains. We stop off in UNESCO Ait Benhaddou; this ancient kasbah (fortified citadel) is so well preserved and impossibly exotic that it is often used as a film set. Our journey takes us further south, via the Gorges du Dades, an area of incredible natural beauty with imposing rock formations and colourful kasbahs, to Ouarzazate, the gateway to the Sahara. We continue as far south as the Draa Valley; this amazingly varied landscape features rugged canyons and dune-filled desert, dotted with fortified villages and palm-fringed oases. Returning to the Red City of Marrakesh, we base ourselves here for five nights to explore the verdant foothills of the High Atlas Mountains and its traditional Berber villages. There is plenty of time for sightseeing in Marrakesh itself and our city guide will ensure you really do discover everything this vibrant city has to offer.
You will stay at traditional yet comfortable 4-star and 5-star hotels throughout, all with swimming pools and most with extensive gardens. These range from a 5-star hotel surrounded by orange trees and fragrant bougainvillea in Marrakesh to a superbly located 4-star hotel with stunning valley views in Ouarzazate.
This holiday is a mix of gentle walking and sightseeing; transfers provided throughout. There are no major ascents or descents, and a head for heights isn't necessary. Most of the walking is on off-road sandy tracks (occasionally stony paths). On the days when you are travelling to and from Marrakesh, we break the journey every 45 minutes or so, in order that you can enjoy short local strolls in the various places en route.
We meet you at Marrakesh airport and take you (20 mins) to your hotel .
This morning we drive through the High Atlas, crossing the Tichka Pass (2,260m) to Ouarzazate stopping en route at the cream and chocolate kasbah of Ait Benhaddou.
Gentle pottering today as we set off in the minibus, via Skoura, to explore part of the 'Road of 1000 Kasbahs' and the rose-growing oases of the Dades Valley. In the afternoon we visit the magnificent Gorges du Dades around Boumalne before heading back to Ouarzazate.
South-east today, through the extraordinary lunar landscape of the Draa valley. Our destination is Zagora, an oasis on the edge of the desert. From here camel caravans set off for Timbuktu (52 days). Walk up to the C11 fortress nearby for great views over the Sahara desert. We overnight in Zagora.
We descend to Tamegroute to see the C12 Vellum Scrolls then back along the Draa Valley stopping off at Agdz to see the kasbah tucked up against the cliff face of the Djebel Kissane. Back to Ouarzazate through the Tiz'n Tinififft Pass.
Back through the High Atlas for the Red City. En route a visit to Telouet, power base of the Glaoui, Lords of the Atlas. Nowadays it's occupied by former slaves, their families, and many nesting storks.
In the morning we take a guided tour of Marrakesh and the Great Souk, one of Africa's busiest markets. The afternoon is free to explore the city's palaces and museums, or simply relax by the hotel pool.
A short drive through Asni and up into the mountains. Then we spend the day walking the mule paths through the high valleys around Mount Toubkal, North Africa's highest peak with an altitude of 4,176m. It's beautiful, verdant countryside with many magnificent views.
A drive to Guemassa or Amizmiz for a day's walking amongst the foothills of the High Atlas. En route we visit a Berber village and bustling market to select fresh local produce for lunch, which may be eaten on the escarpment, where there are breathtaking views over the plains and reservoir. We return to Marrakesh in time for dinner.
A free day to wander around Marrakesh's atmospheric souks and stock up on local spices. For a complete contrast why not take a peaceful walk around the Majorelle Gardens (dedicated to its late owner, Yves St Laurent) and visit the Palmerie (palm plantation) for an hour or two of peace and tranquillity. You may also wish to simply relax around the hotel pool to round off your holiday.
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking. You can call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 to discuss accommodation options.
NEARBY:The 5-star Hotel Es Saadi, set in gardens bright with orange trees and bougainvillea, is located in a residential area, just a 10-minute taxi ride to the historic old town, the Medina. Still family-run, it prides itself on being a luxury hotel offering personal service.
All prices shown above are valid from 14/11/2016.
Please contact us for extra night prices.
NEARBY:Behind its traditional Moroccan exterior, the Karam Palace is a modern 4 star hotel with 150 ensuite rooms. Its other facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, hammam and bar; massages are also available on request.
All prices shown above are valid from 18/11/2017.
Please contact us for extra night prices.
NEARBY:The 4 star Palais Asmaa hotel can be found surrounded by palm trees, just outside the city of Zagora. It is very much decorated in a traditional Moroccan style, with ornate, brightly coloured decoration on the exterior blending perfectly with the local ochre coloured stone. The hotel boasts a charming garden filled with palm trees and bougainvillea, with a lovely outside bar furnished with brightly coloured cushions and carpets.
All prices shown above are valid from 14/11/2016.
Please contact us for extra night prices.
Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange connecting flights.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
The Es Saadi hotel was excellent but suffered from road noise if the room was at the front, the food was good but with poor portion sizes, the Karam Palace hotel was good, slightly noisy, the buffet dinner lacked variety, the Palais Asmaa hotel is in need of some renovation, the food OK but nothing special. The walks were as described except for the 7 1/2 mile from Amizmiz which started with a long up hill drag and finished with a steep down hill over very rough ground, not good with tired legs.
It was a very enjoyable holiday with a good mix of walking, culture, fantastic scenery and relaxation time.
A brilliantly planned holiday made even better by our exceptional guide, Rachid, who spoke excellent English, gave us just the right amount of information, answered all our questions and was genuinely friendly, kind, caring and had a very good sense of humour. We felt it was especially important in a country like Morocco to have the way smoothed by the guide in places such as markets, cafes and hotels. Abdul, our driver, was also excellent - very careful, cheerful and reassuring throughout. We w... read moreere very lucky to have such a good group. By chance seven out of the eleven of us were involved in the visual arts!
The hotels suffered from grade inflation - they were 4* (in Marrakech) and 3* for the others. At the El Saadi we had no cooling in our room even though the outside temperature was 32 degees C on arrival. At the Karam Palace one night we had no hot water and the loo leaked. All hotels had cool swimming pools only usable by the hardy. Breakfast was poor at the Karam Palace and at the Palais Asmaa (but there are probable no better alternative hotels to use in Ouarzazate or Zagora). Otherwise, ... read moreour main guide Rasid was very helpful, but our half day guide to Marrakech was more interested in taking us to carpet or spice shops who would give him a pay off than in showing us the sites of Marrakech.
Over all very good. Hotel Es Saadi was disappointing re AC in the rooms;there was only heating!. We were told that it was still winter by the desk,then another story was that the management decided not to put the AC cooling on. The rooms at the front were very noisy from traffic and because of the heat we had to decide between noise and heat. Result was little sleep for the nights we were there.
We therefore would hesitate before recommending the holiday for this reason.This is a shame be... read morecause it was excellent apart from this.
The licensed guide for Marrakesh was very poor.
There should be another walk on the final day rather than a free day ,or the option at least..
I enjoyed seeing the authentic Morocco not just the main tourist sights, there was too much travelling in the minibus between destinations.
An amazing trip which took in so much but be prepared to spend a lot of time travelling.
We thought the holiday was excellent: very interesting, well put together; good hotels, walking and sightseeing as described.
We have already recommended it to friends.
We have put a 'No' to future holidays with you only because we now know that we have discovered you too late. We are too old (75 & 73), or at least insufficiently fit and active, to properly take part in the walking tours without holding others back. A great pity, but that is where we are.
Thanks for an excel... read morelent holiday. May I suggest you save advertising costs by deleting us from your mail shoots. Best Regards, Chris Johnson
Good variety of different places and activities with an opportunity to meet local people in their varied environments. Our guide and driver were excellent, and this helped to make the trip an extremely positive experience.
This was an excellent holiday. Well scheduled - guide was friendly,helpful and well organised. Driver was helpful and very safe. The guide that took us round Marrakesh was not so good - he was late and not as informative as he could have been.
The hotels particularly the one in Marrakesh were excellent.
One of the walks was a bit more than a one booter we thought, although it was a spectacular day and we loved it.
We didn't seem to have any real notes for the holiday other than that in... read more the brochure. We would have liked a more detailed itinerary - if nothing else to remind us of the names of places etc when looking at our photographs!
It was a good experience, seeing a lot of the country that other tours would miss. Walks were varied and suited to our abilities.
The only problem I had was with one hotel room that had previously been used by a heavy smoker. I spoke to the domestic staff about it and they made an effort to improve things.
Please read the comments below with the knowledge that the holiday was an adventure and made enjoyable by my travelling companions.
This holiday would have been better if we had had a rest day at the beginning of the holiday before leaving Marrakech, and one less rest day at the end.
There is a great deal of mini-bus travel, and on poor roads, in this holiday. I feel that this should be spelt out in detail in the literature to give the potential traveller all the ... read moreinformation before they book.
Our driver, Lahsen, was a brilliant driver, taking great care of us in town and on country and mountainous roads.
The whole group, all 7 of us one after the other, went down with some sort of bug which included fatigue, nausea and upset tummy. I would suggest that the holiday literature tells travellers to be extremely careful about hand hygiene and not eating salads - delicious though they were!
In my experience of travelling in hot climates, activities are completed before about 12noon and resumed after about 3 -4pm. We oftern walked in the hottest part of the day.
The reason for the low enjoyment mark was the entire group went down one by one with 'La tourista' or a tummy bug. Not nearly enough is made of this risk in your brochure. It cost most of us 3-4 days of our holiday and no doubt you will be hearing from others about this.
It was generally agreed that we will have caught it at one of our lunch stops on the way to and from Zagora. Even Rachid suffered and he reckoned it was likely to be the salads.
Between Ouarzazate and Marrakech we... read more stopped twice. A dirty village and we entered through a butcher's shop - flies everywhere and filthy. Every meal started with a finely chopped salad, delicious and we were all hungry. Just too tempting and we disobeyed all the rules.Follow that with a greasy tagine and it's a recipe for disaster!
A superb holiday.
only 2 problems were 1: that the guide seemed remote at times,and was very reluctant to impart information which made us ask lots of questions which he didn't seem to want to give more than a very basic answer.However, the driver more than made up for the introverted guide 2. I obviously hadn't read the brochure properly as I hadn't realised that it was expected of us to add on £100.00's worth of tips:ie £50 each for driver and guide at the end of the holiday.I would ha... read moreve preferred that this was included in the package price upfront instead ofit being put into brown envelopes at the end of the holiday. the amount suggested came from the guide as an accepted amount for the driver. it was brought up by a member of our group rather than by the guide himself. I would certainlt tell any future would be travellers with this holiday that this was an uncomfotable stealth tax.
Good introduction to Morocco
Well balanced taste of different aspects of Sothern Morocco.
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Minimum group sizes
A minimum of 4 people (in total) are required for each departure.
This holiday is unsuitable for children.
Guided walking Managed locally by Headwater appointed agent.
Continental breakfast and 8 evening meals
If you choose to book your own flights please check with us first that your chosen departure date is definitely operating as our guided holidays are subject to minimum group sizes.
Due to the tailor-made nature of our holidays, we need a little more information in order for us to check availability for The Sahara and High Atlas. Simply complete the form below and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and an accurate price. Of course there's no obligation, but if you do wish to proceed with a booking they will be on-hand to assist you throughout the process.
Alternatively, you can call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 to discuss your requirements in more detail.
We've been creating high-quality relaxed activity holidays since 1985 and our wealth of experience means we're able to build the perfect tailor-made tour for you. Our 'Gold Trusted' rating on Feefo, the independent review site, underlines our exceptional levels of customer service, and our ATOL bonding and ABTA membership guarantees your holiday is safe with us.