From the chic shops of Marrakesh the sands of the Sahara Desert to the trendy eateries of Fes, this trip can be customized to your preferences and group sizes.
While you may be used to see the scenery from 40,000 feet, the scenic drives allow you to see a bit of everything this diverse country offers
Go along with SmartFlyer’s Kayla Douglas and I am pretty sure you will want to add Morocco to your 2020 travel plan.
1. Living the La Mamounia Life
2. Majorelle Gardens + Yves Saint Laurent Museum
3. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Session
4. Off to the Atlas Mountains
5. Hiking in the Toubkal Region
6. Explore Kasbah Aït Benhaddou
7. Sahara Desert Camp and Camel Ride
8. Sunrise in the Sahara and Fes
9. Fes Markets and Cooking Class
10. Casablanca, Hassan II Mosque, and Rick’s Café
11. Winding Down
Day 1 – Living the La Mamounia Life
Arrive at Marrakesh Menara Airport ready to hit the ground running for an itinerary rich with historical connections, culinary discovery and cultural exploration. If you arrive by commercial flights, you will be greeted by the VIP Fast Track team who will whisk you through customs.
Upon retrieving your bags, you’ll be met by SmartFlyer’s local partners, Experience Morocco, who’s driver and guide will be by your side for the entirety of the trip, helping to navigate the nuances of the destination the way only locals could on your behalf.
A quick ride from the airport will have you met by the impressive gates of La Mamounia, one of Marrakesh’s most famous palace hotels.
There are a number of signature suites and riads and Kayla can help you select the one that’s right for you since she has seen them in person.
Check-in to your suite (The Al Mamoun Suite pictured above), enjoy your welcome amenity and explore the expansive grounds a bit before meeting your guide back in the lobby.
You’ll walk to Djema El Fna Square where you can expect all of your senses to be overtaken as you observe its snake charmers, musical performers, and vendors, all making for the perfect circus of activity. Your guide will lead you to a perfect vantage point to take in the square from above with a glass of fresh mint tea in hand.
After exploring the market a bit more, continue walking to La Maison Arabe, the location for your dinner tonight. Settle in at your pre-reserved table along with this authentic riad’s pool. Relax and listen to the live music being played as you have your first taste of Morocco’s delicious tagine.
Day 2 Majorelle Gardens + Yves Saint Laurent Museum
After taking breakfast outdoors at La Mamounia’s stunning pool, prepare for your first full day in Marrakesh.
Early bird gets the worm, so if you’re up to it, meet your guide around 8 am to be some of the first to enter the iconic Majorelle Gardens.
Home to Yves Saint Laurent for decades, artists have long flocked here for inspiration. After soaking up its bright colors and the accompanying Berber Museum, drop next door for the must-see Yves Saint Laurent Museum. Observe YSL’s evolving designs over the years and be sure to sit in on the film showcasing how Morocco influenced his work.
After getting some major fashionista vibes from YSL, it’s time to hit the medina. We know you came to shop, so, fret not. Your guide will be your key to understanding where to buy top-quality goods throughout the country straight from the source; for instance, women-run co-ops and even artisan schools.
Begin your collection of Moroccan-made goods at a local naturopathic pharmacy, Herboristerie Bab Agnaou where you can purchase spices, ointments, and essential oils.
Head to lunch at buzzy medina restaurant, NOMAD, where SmartFlyer’s local partners Experience Morocco will have you set up with a prime terrace table. Consider trying their cooked salads, pastilla and even avocado juice for something different!
You’ll also be perfectly positioned to take in the afternoon call to prayer, an experience that reminds you that your trip will involve a great deal of education around the Islamic faith.
En route back to the hotel, check out one of the most well-reputed carpet makers in the city. Whether you’re in the market for a beautiful hand-made Berber rug or just want to take a peek, the experts here will walk you through the process and of course, offer some mint tea while you peruse.
Then, it’s time to head back to La Mamounia for a late afternoon session at the spa (above). We recommend the Royal Hammam, a treatment that combines their authentic Moroccan practices with a traditional massage.
Dinner is at leisure tonight, leaving the perfect opportunity to check out the hotel’s phenomenal dining outlets.
Day 3 – Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Session
You’ve got an early wakeup call today, but we assure you it’s worth it. You’ll be scooped up from La Mamounia around 5:30 am to drive just outside town for a bucket list moment: floating above the clouds to see the sunrise from a hot air balloon.
Your ride will reveal the nearby Atlas Mountains as well as the farming communities that are well-established just outside the city.
After descending back to solid ground, your experience will be complete with a light breakfast and tea inside an outdoor tent.
You’ will be driven back to their hotel to freshen up and relax a bit before some light touring this afternoon.
Now is the perfect opportunity to take some sun at La Mamounia’s stunning pool!
Around 1 pm, you’ll meet back up with your guide to be escorted to lunch at another hotspot in Marrakesh, Le Jardin. Don’t miss the zucchini fritters.
After lunch, your guide will lead you to meet with an expert on the city’s monuments including the Saadian Tombs and The Bahia Palace. Enjoy your walking tour as you learn about the beautiful Ochre City, whose name comes from the Berber words meaning “Land of God.”
Dinner is at leisure.
Day 4 – Off to the Atlas Mountains
Enjoy one final (royal) breakfast at La Mamounia before bidding farewell to this iconic property. But, fear not, you have another gem in your midst as you drive approximately an hour to Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot.
En route, you’ll stop along the way for some scenic photos as well as an opportunity to shop at a women-run co-op making Moroccan argan oil products.
Arrival to Kasbah Tamadot is sure to take your breath away. With just 28 accommodations, this intimate property was the brainchild of the Branson family after collaborating with its previous owner, an antique collector, who they met during Richard Branson’s global hot air balloon journey in 1998.
After years of renovations and massive investment in the surrounding community, the property now employs a team made up of approximately 95% of local villagers.
This incredible team will escort you to the cozy welcome lounge, where you can enjoy a glass of bubbly or some tea. Enter full relaxation mode as you soak up the roaring fireplace, ample board games, and a well-stocked bookshelf.
The rest of the day is completely up to you. Choose to explore the surrounds with a low-key hike — led by a Kasbah Tamadot team member through the nearby villages — or, sit by the pool.
Better yet, if you’re in a Berber Tent (above), you’ll have your own patio where you can lounge with the Atlas Mountains in view. You’ll receive a personalized note under your door indicating where drinks and dinner will be held at the resort tonight.
Day 5 – Hiking in the Toubkal Region
On sunnier days, opt to dine al fresco on the Kasbah Tamadot terrace for epic views, along with your Berber bread, which is likely to still be warm from the resort’s oven. Be sure to eat a healthy amount this morning in preparation for your big hike.
Your guide and driver will scoop you up at a time of your choice for the short drive to Imlil. Here, you’ll meet the local hiking expert who will be heading up your trek.
The length and difficulty of the hike are customizable and can range anywhere from two to five hours, depending on your activity level.
After a couple of challenging kilometers, you’ll reach Roches Aremd Auberge for lunch in the clouds. Enjoy your tagine knowing you worked for these unobstructed views of Mount Toubkal.
Head back to Kasbah Tamadot for one last memorable evening on property. On warmer summer days, the team shows movies outdoors, or, on cooler nights, take a DVD (yes, a real DVD!) out from their library and cozy up after dinner in your accommodation. If you’re in a Berber Tent, enjoy your private jacuzzi.
Day 6 – Explore Kasbah Aït Benhaddou
This morning, say goodbye to Kasbah Tamadot. The desert calls!
This portion of the itinerary is where the longer driving days really kick in, but your driver and guide will be sure to add lots of interesting stops along the way.
For instance, today, as you conquer the nearly 250-mile drive from Asni to the Dades Gorges, you’ll have a leisurely lunch and touring stop in Ouarzazate. A highlight is walking to the top of Aït Benhaddou, which is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but the fortress has also served as the filming location for Game of Thrones, Gladiator, Cleopatra and more.
You’ll arrive to your home for the night, the cozy Chez Pierre, nestled within the Dades Gorges. While you’d never expect it from this more modest accommodation, prepare yourself for some culinary delights as the team here whips up an impressive 4-course dinner.
Even beyond the delicious food, you’ll really feel immersed in the local traditions when the front desk and kitchen staff transform into your musical entertainment just before the dessert course.
Day 7 – Sahara Desert Camp and Camel Ride
The earlier you start today, the earlier you can get to the desert! But, try and make some room after last night’s incredible dinner, because breakfast is about to be even tastier. If you have it in you, perhaps swim some laps at the Chez Pierre pool to work up an appetite!
En route to the Sahara, your guide will give you the option to stop along the gorge to better understand how this landscape and the river running through it have shaped the nearby agricultural communities.
A stop to view the Tinghir Oasis will showcase how crops such as wheat, orchards, dates, and fruits such as oranges are carefully cultivated here. If you’re visiting during date picking season in the fall, be sure to purchase some along the road to bring home as a souvenir.
It will take approximately 4.5 hours from the Dades to Merzouga — your Experience Morocco guide will introduce you to the best desert camp team in the business.
After getting sorted at the meeting point, you have the option to send your bags in a 4×4 to the camp while you ride a camel through the Sahara. If this isn’t up your alley, you can absolutely hop in the car as well!
No matter which way you decide to arrive at camp, be prepared for the ultimate connection to nature.
There are only a handful of tents and the design is intentionally intimate; shockingly, you can get an Internet signal here, but we suggest leaving your phone aside and grabbing a book (or, in our case, a bottle of wine) and enjoying the view.
Dinner will be served to the entire camp just after nightfall. The most special part awaits once you are around the fire with your fellow campers, listening to live Moroccan music and staring at the stars.
Day 8 – Sunrise in the Sahara and Fes
You’d be remiss not to set your alarm for sunrise when waking at your desert camp. Be sure to bundle up and head out to the nearest sand dune to take it all in!
Then, head into the main tent for a traditional Berber breakfast, homemade by the camp team before packing up. You’ll hop into a 4×4 for a fun ride back to meet your Experience Morocco guide and driver.
Drive 285 miles from Mergouza to Fes. You’ll also stop en route to check out various points of interest, including some roadside monkeys. When you arrive at Fes, you’ll be ready to stretch your legs and hit the ground running with your guide who will help you discover the Royal Palace and Bab Boujloud.
Check into your accommodation for the next two nights, the family-owned Palais Amani. With a prime location within Fes’ medina, you are perfectly positioned to enjoy all the city has to offer. Plus, they have an incredible rooftop for you to take advantage of when you want some downtime.
Tonight, you are all booked at a hotspot, Nur. After being featured in publications all over the world, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that this 9-course tasting menu will likely be a highlight of the trip, thanks to chef Najat Kaanache. Her avant-garde techniques transform Moroccan classics into an elevated experience.
Day 9 – Fes Markets and Cooking Class
You’ve been practically non-stop for the past week, so, we recommend sleeping in today! Start your day slow with a leisurely breakfast in the Palais Amani gardens, tasting their incredible spread of homemade jams, butter, Berber bread and more.
Around 10 am, you’ll meet with the property’s chef, who will guide you through the famous Fes medina as you navigate its hundreds of vendors, picking some top quality produce for your afternoon cooking class.
After touring the market — tasting everything from fava bean soup to freshly made cheese to 5-herb tea as you hop from stall to stall — return back to the calming Palais Amani grounds.
Your private cooking class will be held at the hotel’s open-air terrace kitchen, which is a special treat since you won’t feel like you’re missing out on the amazing weather!
Learn the Moroccan way to incorporate sacred spices like saffron into your tagine. You’ll be eating your masterpiece for lunch, so, you’ll be sure to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
After lunch, it’s off to the leather tannery to better understand this ancient handcraft. You’ll also partner with a leather expert who will walk you through the most reputable shop in the area, a 4-story shopper’s paradise. Here, you can purchase made-to-order leather goods like shoes and jackets and the customized pieces will arrive at your riad before you even return from dinner.
Your late afternoon and evening are at leisure today; so, we recommend a hammam and massage at Palais Amani to decompress.
Once you’ve freshened up for dinner, your guide will meet you to escort you either by car or on foot, depending on where you want to go! With over 9,000 alleyways in the city, it’d be easy to get lost, but we promise that won’t be the case with your human GPS on hand.
For a romantic vibe, we love Riad Fes‘ stunning dining options. Be sure to ask for Fatah, who will make you one of his award-winning (off-menu) cocktails.
Day 10 – Casablanca, Hassan II Mosque, and Rick’s Café
It’s your final full day in Morocco. Say goodbye to Palais Amani the Four Seasons Casablanca awaits.
On your way out of the city, a stop at Mosaique et Poterie de Fes will have you dreaming of redesigning your entire home with their handmade designs.
With the ability to see the artists spinning and hand painting the pottery right in front of your eyes, you can be confident that your investment goes right back into their artistry.
After approximately a three-hour drive, you’ll reach Morocco’s largest port city, Casablanca. Dine at the fabulous La Scala.
And, if you’re up for it, stop by Hassan II Mosque on the way to the hotel to take in the largest mosque in Africa. It’s closed for certain blocks of the day based around the call to prayer, but your guide will be sure you are able to get inside before its last entrance at 4 pm.
Check into your suite at Four Seasons Casablanca where you’ll be able to enjoy the breeze coming off the sea on your extensive balcony.
After enjoying some R+R back at the hotel’s fabulous pool, you’ll have some time to pack for your flight tomorrow. Alternatively, take your pick from their incredible spa or your luxurious bathtub! This is your last afternoon to soak up the vacay bliss, so, enjoy it.
Get excited about dinner tonight, as it’s practically obligatory to check out the famous Rick’s Café. Of course, Experience Morocco will ensure you have an incredible table for your final culinary experience! Don’t miss the film being played by the bar as well as ordering the goat cheese croquettes with honey, lavender and crushed almonds with your Moroccan wine.
Day 11 – Winding Down
Depart or choose to extend your stay at the Four Seasons to kick back a bit after this fast-moving itinerary.
Contact Kayla Douglas at SmartFlyer at firstname.lastname@example.org