One week in Morocco:
from Fès to Marrakech
through the desert
“In Morocco, I realized that the range of colors I use was that of the zelliges, zouacs, djellabas and caftans. The boldness seen since then in my work, I owe to Morocco, to its forceful harmonies, to its audacious combinations, to the fervor of its creativity“
When the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent saw Marrakech for the first time in 1966, he was so impressed that he immediately decided to buy a house there and kept coming back periodically during his whole life; his words perfectly sum up the essence of Morocco – the gold of the warm desert sand, the chaos inside the Medina, the fabrics and the shimmering lights of the lamps into the streets.
The ‘forceful harmonies’ he was talking about get lost into the tanneries smells and boldly come back while lifting up the cover of a hot tajine; enjoy our one-week itinerary to Morocco if you want to be overwhelmed by the colors and the scents of this wonderful country.
2 nights in Fès
Our itinerary starts from the North of Morocco, in one of the most fascinating and authentic imperial cities of this country with the biggest and oldest Medina in the world.
Where to sleep: Riads are traditional Moroccan houses, generally with several floors and with the rooms overlooking the central courtyard and garden; we chose Riad Tahra & Spa, located in a strategic position to visit the Medina.
What to see: simply get lost into the heart of Medina between the markets, shops and the crowded alleys; visit the Madrasa Bou Inania, an old Coranic school finely decorated with many colorful tiles and Arabic inscriptions; visit the famous traditional Chouara tanneries, from the balcony of a leather goods shop with some mint under your nose to offset the strong smell.
Where to eat: The Ruined Garden, Fondouk Bazaar
3-day private tour with Tour del Marocco through the desert, towards the South
Day 1 - Leaving our Riad early in the morning with a 4x4 SUV with private driver headed towards the South to the cities of Ifrane and Azrou through the Middle Atlas Mountains; first stop at cedar forest to feed the Berber monkeys into their natural habitat. Then we crossed the Tizi Ntalghamt pass, proceeded to Midelt along the beautiful Ziz gorges carved into the volcanic rock; we saw the landscape changing colors before we got to the city of Errachidia. After lunch, our road trip continued across the Ziz Valley to Erfoud and Rissani until we finally reached the Merzouga desert.
Here we started a 1-hour trekking on the camels into the desert to reach our tented camp in the middle of the iconic Erg Chebbi dunes, among the highest ones in North Africa. The dinner, sleeping in the tent, singing and dancing with Berber music around the fire at night, the dawn seen from the dunes just gave life to unforgettable memories.
Where to sleep: SANMAO Desert Luxury Camp
Day 2 – After doing sandboarding on the dunes and having breakfast we had to say goodbye to Sahara Desert; we stopped at a souk (local market) and then our road trip took us across several local villages, into the heart of Morocco, far from tourists, where we had the chance to catch the real essence of this Country. A short trekking inside Todra gorges and then we explored the Dades gorges with the Zik-Zak road and the impressive rock formation called Monkey Fingers.
Where to sleep: Hotel Kasbah Didis
Day 3 – The last day of our on the road tour continued through the Roses Valley and the Dades Valley until we reached the city of Ouarzazate – the Africa’s Hollywood, where many colossal movies have been filmed. The so-called ‘Road of thousand Kasbahs’ offered several beautiful photo opportunities; we visited one of the most popular ones, the Amridil Kasbah, also appearing on the old 50 dirham banknotes. Kasbahs were ancient fortified buildings where the richest of the villages lived with their families.
Next stop took us to a Unesco world heritage site, an ancient village where the time seems to stand still and where many movies and tv series have been filmed (from the Gladiator to Game of Thrones): Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou.
During the last part of our tour we had the opportunity to enjoy the most beautiful and diverse landscapes from the top of the amazing High Atlas Mountains up to 2260 mt; our tour ended in the late afternoon: we finally reached Marrakech.
3 nights in Marrakech
Cool, chaotic, crowded, noisy: Marrakech is not the real essence of Morocco but you can’t miss it. It is a mandatory stop that will shake your senses and remain stuck in your memories.
Where to sleep: Riad Dar Yema, a peaceful oasis in the heart of Medina
What to see: it’s hard to give you a fixed itinerary to visit the old Medina and explore the local souk; our tip is to simply get lost in it, keeping an eye on the map to reach the main points of the city when needed.
Jemaa El-Fna Square is gorgeous both during the day and at night: overcrowded and colorful with the sunlight, noisy and disarming in the evening, you’ll find everything there: from snake charmers to dentures sellers, pure madness.
The Koutoubia Mosque is the symbol of the city, unfortunately only opened to Muslims; Bahia Palace is worth a visit: it is one of the most interesting architecture of the city with really impressive stucco decorations. We also recommend to visit the Madrasa Ben Youssef, among the most popular Coranic schools in the Country and if you still have some time you could also visit the Saadian Tombs.
We kept Le Jardin Majorelle and the close Yves Saint Laurent Museum for our last morning; the combined ticket will give you the chance to visit the Berber Museum too, dedicated to the customs and traditions of the native people from North Africa.
Where to eat: Nomad (terrace on the Spices Square), Zeitoun Cafè (view on Jemaa El-Fna Square), Comptoir Darna (dinner show with belly dancers), La Table du Riad (gourmet dinner in a dreamy Riad).