Morocco

Medieval Cities, Roman Ruins, the Atlas Mountains and the Gateway to the Sahara.

March 16th – 30th 2018. 15 Days.

Overview

Join 7P International for a unique North African experience in Morocco. We’ll combine the High Atlas Mountains, medieval cities like Meknes and Marrakech, and a genuine Sahara experience in the far south. We can arrange shipping of your own vehicle, or provide a fully equipped 4x4. Our accommodation consists of luxury hotels and traditional riads, and simple desert camping.

This trip is limited to a maximum of 6 vehicles.

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Is the desert calling?

Highlights

Marrakech — A Medieval city with a labyrinthine medina, souks galore and an incredible history. Prepare for a sensory overload as the city encourages you to explore though it’s sights, sounds and smells. There’s no where quite like it. 

Atlas Mountains — We’ll traverse two separate mountain ranges –  the High Atlas and the Anti Atlas. They have very different characters, but both have remote villages, great driving road, incredible scenery and fascinating geology. 

Volubilis — The ancient southwestern frontier of the Roman Empire. It dates from the 1st century and has a wonderful collection of ruins set amongst cypress trees on a fertile plain. Wandering the streets, you can picture the Roman merchants, soldiers and citizens going about their business. 

Atlantic Ocean — A welcome escape from the dusty and dry desert, our westward progress stopped (next landfall would be Daytona Beach). 

The Sahara — The worlds largest hot desert – larger than the continental USA and taking up almost a third of the African continent. We’ll experience the remote hamada and the magic of camping in the dunes. 

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Your Itinerary

Friday, March 16th 2018 – Friday, March 20th 2018.

15 days of driving, spectacular scenery and an unique North African experience.

Day 1: Arrive Marrakech

After arriving in Morocco, we’ll meet for dinner in our traditional, luxurious Moroccan Riad (a multi-storey house, deep in the medina built around a courtyard and garden).

Day 2: In Marrakech

Today we’ll take in the sights, sounds and smells of Marrakech. We’ll wander around the medina on our private city tour and visit the Koutoubia Mosque and its famous minaret, the Ben Youssef Madrasa – an old Islamic college, we’ll visit the souk and as evening draws in we arrive at the centra square – Jemaa el Fna – for drinks and dinner in this lively spot.

Day 3: Road liaison to Meknes

We’ll head north to Meknes, the least well known of the 4 Moroccan Imperial cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll wander the medina and marvel at the architecture, and find some wonderful “pastilla” for dinner.

Day 4: Volubilis

Volubilis is the ancient southwestern frontier of the Roman Empire. It dates from the 1st century and has a wonderful collection of ruins set amongst cypress trees on a fertile plain. We’ll spend part of the day wandering around the public buildings, temples and streets before heading back to Meknes.

Day 5: Meknes to Imilchil

Leaving Meknes, we’ll head south in search of the Sahara. Before we get to the heat of the desert, we’ll head over the High Atlas mountains and stay overnight in the traditional Berber town of Imilchil.

Day 6: Imilchil to Erfoud via Todra Gorge

We’ll arrive in Erfoud via the way of the spectacular canyon of Todra Gorge.

Day 7: Erfoud to the Sahara

A proper desert driving day! We’ll depart Erfoud and head towards Erg Chebbi, one of Moroccos two “sand seas” where the dunes rise up to 150m (nearly 500 ft). We’ll drive across the hamada (rocky desert) to an auberge near the desert town of Ramlia.

Day 8: Mhamid and Erg Chigaga

Another wonderful day of desert driving ending in Erg Chigaga, the more remote and less visited of Moroccos ergs. We’ll stay 2 nights in a remote, luxury tented camp.

Day 9: Erg Chigaga

A day relatively free of formal planning – relax in the desert camp, go for a desert hike, or if you’re after an authentic desert experience, go for a camel ride through the dunes and enjoy a sundowner.

Day 10: The Anti Atlas and Tata

We’ll continue our desert drive and resupply before heading into the rocky and barren Anti Atlas mountains, occasionally passing through remote Berber villages.

Day 11: The Anti Atlas

We’ll continue exploring the remote Anti Atlas mountains before heading into Oued Draa, the valley of Moroccos longest river.

Day 12: Oued Draa to the Atlantic

We’ll drive along Oued Draa towards the Atlantic and stay at the unique Fort Bou Jerif, a hotel  and campsite located next to an old French Foreign Legion camp.

Day 13: Northbound on the coast

Departing Fort Bou Jerif we’ll head for the beach and dip our toes in the Atlantic Ocean. Heading west is no longer an option so we’ll turn right, heading north, and (tides permitting) we’ll drive up the coast to the town of Sidi Ifni.

Day 14: Liaison to Marrakech

After an overnight stop in Sidi Ifni, we’ll hit the asphalt for a transit back to Marrakech where we’ll end the trip with a group dinner.

Day 15: Depart Marrakech

Transfer from the hotel to the airport, and return home.

Our Marrakech trip has a moderate pace, with a combination of traditional Riads and some remote camping. We class the driving as “Grade 2/3”, which means the driving, while mostly off-highway is relatively moderate though there may be some technical sections. The weather in March is pleasant, with a small chance of precipitation – though once we’re in the south of the country there is little chance of rain. Temperatures will range from from 10C to 25C (50F to 77F) in Marrakech and up to 32C (90F) further south, so pleasant during the day but it can be chilly in the evenings.

Morocco has a range of climates, from fertile coastal plains with a Mediterranean climate, across snow-covered mountains and in the south, you’ll know you’re in a hot desert. 

The road network is well developed (and improving every year), it has a reliable electrical infrastructure (although the installation quality varies widely) and both cellular and wireless internet coverage is good in the cities – though the coverage is poor once we’re out in the country.  Morocco uses 230V at 50Hz, with “Plug Type C” and “Plug Type E” – a common European standard. The Moroccan currency is the Dirham, and one US Dollar is worth around 9.5 Dirham (Oct 2017). In the cities, there are ATM’s and many places accept credit cards. Tipping isn’t compulsory, though leaving a few dirhams when you’ve had a meal is common. 

The trip starts at dinner on Friday, March 16th for the trip briefing at our Riad in Marrakech.  We’ll have an easy day in Marrakech for resting and tours and we’ll depart after breakfast on Sunday 18th March for Meknes.

We recommend that you arrive into Marrakech airport no later than the afternoon of Friday, March 16th. We’ll be there to meet you at the airport and provide transport to the Riad. Should you like to arrive earlier, please let us know and we’ll arrange accomodation for you.

There are no direct flights from the USA to Marrakech – though you can travel from NYC to Casablanca and hop on a short connecting flight. Flying via Europe opens up plenty of options direct to Marrakech.

You’ll need a full passport with at least 6 months validity and one blank page. Bearers of U.S. passports who plan to visit Morocco for tourism for less than 90 days do not require a visa. Short-term visitors do not need an international driving permit, though we always recommend having one. Please ensure you have adequate health, medical and MEDEVAC insurance.

Equipment Lists

We recommend that you review our standard equipment lists. Clothing and Personal Kit Camping Equipment Vehicle Equipment

If there’s anything we’ve missed, or you would like to arrange a personal consultation, please get hold of us here.

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Our People

On each and every trip, you’ll have a number of US and UK-based guides with you. With years of experience in the field, they can cope with every eventuality. We also employ hand-picked in-country fixers and guides, drawn from our our past experiences in remote locations around the world. The local employees will form an important part of the team and your experience – their local knowledge will add a uniqueness to your trip, and help us get to locations that no-one else can. You can read more about our staff on the “About the 7P Team” page.

Support

We believe in “no car left behind”, and we won’t leave you behind either. The US and UK based 7P guides will ensure that any driving, mechanical or medical problem is resolved with as little impact to the trip as possible. We’re on-call 24x7 for the duration of the trip so we’re always available to help with problems, or even just the small things that help make the trip more enjoyable for you.

On the Ground

The weather in Morocco in March is mostly pleasant with little rain and temperatures from approx. 50 to 80F. We recommend you review our equipment lists to ensure you are comfortable on your trip. We grade the driving on this trip as “Grade 2”, which means moderate driving, with some occasional technical spots. The roads are in good condition condition, and the off-highway driving is easy and scenic, though there are some rough sections. Any obstacles we encounter should be passable, but can we affected by the weather. Morocco is different from the US and Europe. Parts of the infrastructure (road network, plumbing, electrical grid, etc,) are often not up to the standard we are used to, but on the whole these services work quite well in Morocco.

Food & Drink

We love good food! Most meals (except where noted) are included. When we’re staying in lodges and hotels we’ll use their wonderful restaurants. The midday meal is occasionally grabbed quickly, but we prefer to have a more leisurely lunch. We always include a reasonable amount of drinks, – we love a nice scotch, gin, beer, wine, etc. so we are a little picky about what we enjoy and have a great selection in the mobile bar. If you have any particular requirements, please let us know in advance.

Accommodation

As with most of our trips, the accommodation consists of four main types:

Boutique Hotels & Guest Houses

We pick some of the worlds finest hotels as accomodation for our adventures. We stay in smaller hotels and guest houses with highly personalised service, luxury rooms, great bars and restaurants and situated in glorious locations.

Luxury Lodges

One of the highlights of any of our Africa trips is staying in a Safari Lodge. They are as comfortable as any leading hotel, but located out in the wilds of Africa! With only a limited number of rooms, guests mingle together at the bar, and dinner is typically served around one large table – where you can meet new friends and exchange stories of the days game viewing.

Luxury Camping

Very similar to the Luxury lodges we love, in these high-end tents you are a bit closer to nature without sacrificing comfort. When we say tent – they are like no tent you’ve ever seen. Comfortable beds on raised wooden floors, curtains waving in the gentle African breeze and food and drink just a moment away.

Remote Camping

When we’re really remote, camping is our only option. Depending on the area (such as National Parks), we’ll stay in designated camping areas, and use the roof-tents on our vehicles for overnight accomodation. If we’re extremely remote (such as the Namib desert), we’ll camp in a beautiful, secluded and private locations. Just because we’re remote doesn’t mean we’ll miss out on wonderful food and drink – we’ll have a camp fire and a common dining area to share cocktails and stories each evening.

Vehicles

You’ll be spending quite some time in the vehicle on our trips, so it’s important you’re happy and comfortable with the options. For most of our destinations there are three choices:

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Ship your own

There’s nothing better that having the confidence and comfort that your own tried and tested vehicle brings to your adventure. The photos of your own truck in countless exotic locations are worth a thousand words. It can be difficult to arrange shipping without industry partners (it’s time-consuming, has lots of boring paperwork to be completed and there are many “gotchas” to be aware of). We can take this hassle away from you, so all you have to do is fly-in and drive! While the vehicle is in transit, you’ll be kept informed of it’s exact whereabouts. 7P staff will deal with the paperwork at our destination port so you don’t have to. The costs of shipping your own vehicle can vary widely, a good rule of thumb is that shipping costs will be similar to approximately 4 weeks of rental. Please contact us for more information if you’re considering this approach.
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Self-drive rentals

We’ve partnered with a few select companies globally to bring you well equipped 4×4 vehicles that are reliable, comfortable and safe. Typically, the vehicles are late model (up to 3 years old) Toyota Land Cruisers, Toyota Hiluxes, Nissan Patrol and Land Rover Defenders. The vehicles come with all camping and expedition equipment you’ll need – all you’ll need is your personal kit to throw in the back!
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Non-driving rental

Sometimes it’s better to be chauffeured around in style! We offer the option of having one of our US or UK-based guides drive the vehicle for you. This option gets you the same high-quality vehicle from one of our in-country partners, but you just need to sit back and enjoy the journey.

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