5 days tour from Fes to Marrakech via the desert
Table of contents:
Highlights of our tour:
If you are travelling in Morocco from Fes for 5 days and you want to finish the trip in Marrakech, this tour itinerary is suitable for you. With our customization, we will visit Fes, it represents many things to see like the tannery Chaouara, al Qarawiyyin university and the king’s palace with its 7 golden gates.
On the way to the desert, we will see Ifrane, visit the monkeys in Azrou forest and stop for a panoramic view of the longest river in Morocco, Ziz valley. After that, you will experience the camel ride and camping in the Sahara desert of Merzouga. Then, we will head west, we will visit the grand canyons of Todgha Gorges and Dades.
On the last day, we will take you to visit the city cinema of Ouarzazate and the Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou. Eventually, we will finish by crossing the Atlas Mountains, we will stop at argan oil cooperative and then finish by driving to Marrakech.
Day 1: Arrival to Fes :
Upon your arrival at Fes airport, one of our drivers will be waiting for you with the name of our agency. Then, he will take you to your accommodation in Fes, it will be a traditional Riad.
Day 2: Guided tour in Fes:
The first day of our 4 days trip will be a visit to the cultural city, Fes. There are many things we will discover. To start with, we will take you to visit one of the king’s palaces( Dar El Makhzen), it’s very interesting because it has 7 golden gates. Then, we will head to the Borj Nord, we want you to see Fes from the top. After that, we will not only visit the mosaic and pottery cooperative but also the other panoramic view from the west near the Marinid tombs. Then, we will visit the Chouara tannery where they made leather stuff.
Later, we will take you walking with the local guide to start a walking tour from the main gate of Bab. From there, you will visit both the oldest existing university in the world, Al-Karaouine and Bou Inania Madrassa, where they teach the holy Quran. Depending on time, there are some other things that you can do, for example, you can do the Hamam, a hot Moroccan Sauna.
Day 3: Fes to Merzouga desert:
On this day, we will head south crossing the High and Middle Atlas Mountains to Merzouga. Before that, there are many things we will stop to explore. First, we will stop at the little Switzerland of Morocco, Ifrane to visit the statue of the atlas lion that was carved by a German prisoner in World War II. Second, we will stop at the forest of cedar trees in Azrou, not far from Ifrane. Here, we will meet one of the Atlas animals, the Barbary apes, we will feed them and take some pictures.
Third, after lunch somewhere in the Atlas, we will make our stop at the Dam of Errachidia, Hassan Addkhail. Then, our other stop at Errachidia will be at the panoramic view of the Ziz river “valley”.
Fourth, after we cross the city of Dates and fossils, we will arrive at the Sahara desert, a quick stop will be made near dunes at a panoramic view before we leave for Merzouga center. There, we will take you on the best camel ride in Merzouga where you will cross Erg Chebbi dunes to our camp of Berbers. Our staff will set fire, after dinner, play drums, and lead you to the best peak of dunes to watch the stars, shooting stars, and the Milkyway.
Day 4: Merzouga to Dades Gorges:
Camel trekking is the highlight of our 5 days tour from Fes to Marrakech. Therefore, we will leave Merzouga after we take you on another camel ride back to the center. On this day, there are many things to see on the way there. To start with, we will stop at Erfoud, if you are a geologist, we want you to see the fossils. Therefore, we will take you to check one of its cooperatives.
Thereafter, we will drive across Jorf and Fazna, we will stop to visit an old system of irrigation before we arrive in Tinejdad for lunch. Next, we will arrive at the Grand Canyons of Todgha Gorges, you will have some free time to explore the area by walking. Then, we will drive to Dades, we will make two-stops, one at the monkey toes mountains and one at the curves of Tissdrine. Overnight will be in a Riad in the canyons of Dades.
Day 5: Dades to Marrakech:
The last day of our 5 days trip from Fes will be to the red city of Marrakech with beautiful sceneries on the way. After we leave from the riad in Dades, we will make our first stop at the valley of rose flowers to see how they extract products from the roses. Then, we will drive across Skoura, the city with tall old palm trees to arrive in Ouarzazate. Here, we will stop to visit the Atlas studio, where there is much information about the movies they made around here.
After that, we will head to the Berber Fortress and Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou, it’s one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. Eventually, we will drive across Tizi N Tichka, a must-pass road between Marrakech and Ouarzazate in the Atlas Mountains. We will make few stops to admire the mountains of the Atlas besides a quick stop at an argan oil cooperative. We will take you to your accommodation in Marrakech and that’s the end of our 5 days tour itinerary from Fes to Marrakech package.
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Our 5 days desert tour from Fes to Marrakech across Merzouga is full of beautiful places and sceneries to see. Therefore, we want to give you an overview of the things you will see and experience during your travel with us.
Fes, the cultural city:
Fes is the first and oldest imperial city in Morocco, it was founded in 789 by Idriss I. It’s the cultural city of Morocco that represents many admired attractions by tourists:
Al Karaouine or Al Quaraoiyine is a university and a mosque that was built by Fatima El Fihri in 859. it’s the oldest existing university in the world even before the university of Alma Mater Studiorum in Bologna Italy. Therefore, it’s surely a worthy attraction to visit with our 5 days trip.
Madrassa Bou Inania:
Bou Inania was founded between 1351 and 1357 by the Marinid sultan Abu Inan Faris, A Madrassa refers to a school in Arabic and this one was for teaching the Quran. Now, it’s one of the worthy attractions to visit in Fes.
There are about 3 main tanneries in Fes where they make leather stuff. Chouara is the oldest and largest, it was built in the 11th century, when you enter here, it is better to carry mint leaves and put it in your nose because it smells bad here.
Dar El Makhzen:
Dar El Makhzan means the palace of the king, it’s a worthy place to visit because this palace has 7 golden gates, each one means something. This palace was built-in 1960.
Ifrane and Azrou Cedar forest:
Ifrane is the cleanest city in Morocco, once you are there you would feel like you are in Switzerland. Therefore, Morocco calls it little Switzerland. This beautiful little city is famous for the national animal, the Atlas lion. Actually, there is a statue in the center of a lion that represents that, it was carved by a German prisoner during World War II.
Ifrane is also famous for the Al Akhawayn University one of the most expensive universities in Morocco, and many foreign students come here to have a science education, it’s also facing one of the king’s palaces.
Ifrane is a Berber word that means caves, they are in a valley called Tizguit, which was built in 1929 by the French when they colonized Morocco during the period of time 1912 to 1956.
Because the cities elevation is 5,400 feet (1,650 meters), the Moroccan football team has a resident here where they come to train. Also, many locals from different cities in Morocco come to Ifrane during the winter-time to enjoy skiing because it snows a lot here.
The second attraction we will stop at during our 5 days tour from Fes to Marrakech is the Azrou forest, it’s where we will discover the Barbary apes. These monkeys are unique, you can find them only in Morocco, Algeria, and some of them in Gibraltar. Also, they are considered one of the Old World Monkey species. Not to mention, these monkeys are sheltered by the cedar trees, they are tall and native to the Mediterranean and to the Himalayas. Also, these trees can reach up to 25 meters in height.
Ziz valley and Hassan Addkhail Dam:
Stepping out from the Atlas Mountains, the stop we will make is at the dam of Errachidia Hassan Addkhail. This dam is the survival source of water for the Sahara, Errachidia, Erfoud, Merzouga, and other places. Therefore, we tend to stop to check it out with not only our five days trip from Fes but Most of our Morocco desert tours. Hassan Addakhil, the founder of the current royal family the Alaouiet dynasty has contracted the dam from 1968 to March 1971. Therefore, it took after his name. The water that is there is coming from the Atlas Mountains because it rains there a lot, especially during the winter. Also, it’s from there where the Ziz valley starts from.
The next interesting destination is the river of Ziz. It starts from the Atlas Mountains crossing the dam of Hassan Addakhil to Algeria in 282 km. It’s one of the most important rivers in Morocco because 30km of it is full of dates palm trees that produce many dates fruits to export to other countries. The place where we will stop in our trip is at the panoramic view of Ait Chaker, it’s also a stop to have a coffee and rest if you want.
Erfoud: City of fossils and dates:
Erfoud, Arfoud is a small city near the Erg Chebbi dunes, it was built by the French during their colonization. This city is a pass-through city to Merzouga, its name is coming from two theories. First, some people say that Erfoud was named after a plant called Ounfoud in Berber, it’s in the river of Ziz. Second, the majority of people say that it was firstly named Erfoud when two Berbers wanted to cross the river of Ziz and to measure its depth one of the Berbers said: Ar Afoud which means to the knee.
Now, Erfoud is famous for the 3-day carnival festival that is made each year in October. Not to mention, the festival is international, they sell different stuff. For instance, they sell traditional Berber clothes, leather stuff, pure olive oil… However, the first thing they sell is dates fruits with different types, Medjool, Barhi, Thoory…
Erfoud was home for the Jewish, they used to live with the Berbers before they left for Israel. Therefore, if you are Jewish, there is a cemetery guarded, and many tourists visit it. We can include a stop to visit it in the Fes to Marrakech 5 days tour.
Erfoud is also home to mineral fossils, there are many people who do commercials by selling different types of fossils in different countries like Arizona in the US, and France. Therefore, we will make a stop at one of the museums of fossils in order to check how they make them and what types.
The highlight of our 5 days Morocco tour from Fes to the red city of Marrakech is surely visiting the Merzouga desert. To start with, let’s begin by talking about the name, there are two theories about giving it that name. First, the majority of people, especially the locals, say that Merzouga is coming from the Arabic word Merzouq which means wealthy referring to the Erg Chebbi dunes that attract many visitors. Second, some people say that Merzouga is actually a family name of an Arab who has been living in Merzouga for a long long time.
Merzouga wouldn’t be famous without the Erg Chebbi dunes, the hospitality of its people, and the fascinating activities to do. The Erg Chebbi dunes are the highest dunes in Morocco, they reach up to 500 feet( 150 meters). Also, they are about 25km(15 miles) long and 5km wide(3miles), surrounded by many Berber tents which are for tourists who want to experience the Berber nomadic life. Not to mention, you may come across the expression Lala Merzouga, that’s the name of the biggest and tallest dunes there.
You may be thinking why the dunes are exactly at that place and not somewhere else. Well, there are also two theories about the existence of the sand there. Firstly, the story that is circulating among people is that there were people fighting using couscous as a weapon. Therefore, God has sent the wind to them as a punishment. Secondly, the story that makes more sense is that there was a lake and because it gets windy in Merzouga a lot, it gathered here. Overall, there is not a constant truth that talks about the existence of these dunes. Anyways, Merzouga is worth the visit because of its adventurous activities we list them for you below:
You don’t want to visit Merzouga without riding the ship of the desert, the camels. Actually, these animals are called Dromedaries and not camels because they have only one hump, the camels have two and they are usually in Asia and not Africa. With our tour, we will give you a chance to ride the camels twice, once for the afternoon and one for the morning, coming and going from the camp.
Camping as nomads:
The other best activity to do in Merzouga is to experience overnight camping at Berber tents. This activity is a chance for you to live the lifestyle of the original people of Morocco, the Berbers.
These are the two activities that are included in the 5 days tour from Fes. However, we are able to customize a different itinerary where you can fully experience Merzouga. That’s to say, we take you to visit those nomads and see how they live, we visit the Srij lake where the camels go herding during the day. Also, we will not only take you to visit the Gnaoua people, the dark skin people but also the small oasis of Hassi Labied.
Todgha and dades Canyons:
There are many different places where there are canyons in Morocco. However, the best of them all is the Canyons of Todgha near the city of Tinghir. They are about 300 meters high in the Atlas mountains, there is a river passing between. Actually, the water is coming from the underground as a spring, and it’s warm. With our trip of five days, you will have some free time to walk around and discover the place.
Another place that is worth the visit and it’s where we will spend the 3rd night is in Dades. This place is famous for the monkey’s toes mountains and the curves of Tissdrine.
Ait Benhaddou Kasbah:
Ait Benhaddou is a Berber fortress that was built by the Gloui family in the 11th century. It’s a small village, the houses are attached to each other, Berber touaregs used to stay here when they did commercials in different countries. UNESCO has listed Ait Benhaddou as one of the World’s Heritage Sites since 1987. Also, it’s where many famous movies were made. For instance, they made Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Mummy. Ait Benhaddou is at the tip of the Atlas Mountains. Therefore, they call it the gate to the Sahara desert.