Desert and mountains in Morocco
Wandering through Morocco on a journey without a pre-determined route. A self-drive 4×4 tour that is a true discovery. If that appeals to you, this is a trip for you.
Obviously the journey is well-prepared – we’re not just wandering aimlessly around. We know lots of great places and beautiful tracks. As we are travelling, we decide where to go based on the interests of the particpants, the weather, road conditions and sometimes on information we get locally. Sometimes we’ll stay in a hotel, sometimes we camp, sometimes we take rooms. You have to be flexible.
From then on your only certainties are that you will have two experienced guides to see you through everything safely. You will meet the extremes of Morocco: villages and towns, desert and mountains and how people live there. Your guides decide on the basis of your input where next day’s trip is going. You don’t have to worry about anything. Obviously, given its nature, the journey may involve having to turn around because the road has been washed away; or is simply not there anymore. That’s part of the fun. Expect something unexpected to happen.
From Chefchaoune to Meknès
Only the first days of this tour have been planned. From the ferry we drive to Chefchaouen, where we stay the night, and the next day to Meknès. We visit Meknès and the Roman settlement Volubilis. On the day after we drive to the Atlas mountains.
We drive on to Meknès, the smallest of the Imperial Cities, from which Moulay Ismail ruled with an iron fist from 1672 to 1727. The remains of the many imperial palaces, gateways and mosques he had erected, can still be seen.
we go back in time at Volubilis, the most remote outpost of imperial Rome in Africa. Even though sultan Moulay Ismail stripped it of most of its marble and many pieces have been moved to the Archeological Museum in Rabat, it is one of the most impressive Roman ruins you can find. Its mosaics have been well-preserved. And in contrast to the more famous Roman ruins in Italy, there’s hardly anybody there. You feel you have the place to yourself.
Into the desert or the mountains?
After Meknès there are many great places we can visit. We will certainly see quite a few of them. But which exactly? When? In what order or from what direction?
We will definitely visit:
- The Atlas mountains: these are a must.
- Imilchil, sitiuated in one of the most impressive parts of the High Atlas. The mountainsides are peppered with villages, some so remote that you wonder how people can live there. Donkeys and 40-year old Mercedeses are the main means of transport here.
- The famous Dadès Gorge on a track leading high into the mountains.
- Sand dunes.
Perhaps we also drive through the Gorge de Toudra, the beautiful valley running more or less parallel to the Dadès Gorge. This depends on if and how we can fit it into the itinerary.
Unlike what you may think, the desert in Morocco consists of stony ground and rocks. Only when you get to the dunes in the south is there any sand.
There are several ferry crossings to Morocco. It depends on where you’re coming from which is the best for you.
If you come from North-Western Europe, you can sail from Genua (Italy), Sete (France) or Barcelona (Spain). Choose what suits you best. The total cost compared to driving all the way through Spain is the same, as taking the ferry saves you fuel, at least one overnight stay and the ferry from the south of Spain to Morocco. It is also comfortable and relaxing.
If you come from the UK, it is best to cross from Portsmouth to Santander, drive to the south of Spain (you will need at least one overnight stay in Spain) and take the ferry from there to Morocco. You can sail from Algeciras to Tanger Med or Ceuta, or from Gibraltar to Tanger Med.
Because of all these different options, the price of the tour does not include any ferry crossings.
The dates of this tour depend on the departure dates of the ferry from Barcelona. These are:
- 1 November: on board in Barcelona; 2 November arrival in Tanger Med. This is our first day of travel.
- 16 November: on board in Tanger Med. This is the final day of our trip.
In case we’re not all on the same ferry, our meeting place for this trip is Chefchaouen on 2 November.
Example of the route
Here’s an overview of the area we covered in November 2018 – next time it may be different.
We will drive a lot on tracks, which in Morocco are never really difficult. Only sand driving requires special skills.
- 14 overnight stays during the trip in hotels, campsites, wild camping, including breakfast
- Welcome dinner at beginning of the trip
- 14 days of travel
- Support car and two guides
- Hand held radio in car
- Any other meals
- Overnight stays outside trip dates
We will decide on our overnight stays as we go along. They are likely to be partly in hotels and partly camping. Most campsites offer rooms as well so that you have a choice. We will definitely camp in the wild as number of times when there are no hotels nor campsites. It’s a phenomenal experience. A ground tent is fine and you need some cooking equipment. If you don’t have those, let us know and we’ll help you out.
You car needs to be in good condition and must have a low range gearbox. Good all-terrain tyres with lots of profile left are a must. No further special preparation of your car is necessary.
You will get a full briefing well in advance of the trip on what to take with you (and what to leave home), the documentation you need and everything else you must know to be well-prepared for what might be the journey of your life.