Your holiday summary

Holiday type Escorted tours
Country Morocco
Travel type Fly
Price range From £599
Travel partner Riviera Travel
Duration 5 nights
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Marrakech and the Atlas mountains

Experience exotic Marrakech and the Atlas mountains on our escorted tour to one of the most fascinating regions in Morocco.

Marrakech, Morocco’s most vibrant city was once an oasis on the ancient caravan routes to the south, thus becoming a natural centre of commerce. Vast wealth poured in from nearby Moorish Spain and skilled artisans built the city you see today. Surrounded by almost intact medieval ramparts, it has some amazing buildings. Dominating the traditional low-rise skyline is the Koutoubia Minoret, over 200 feet high, visible for miles around and a classic example of Moorish architecture. At the centre is the Djemaa el Fna, a huge square especially atmospheric at dusk.

The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at a supplement of £125 per person. The price includes return flights, airport departure taxes, five nights dinner bed and breakfast, all tours as mentioned, all transport, two guided tours of Marrakech, visit to Essaouira, tour into the Atlas mountains and the services of a Riviera tour manager. Where hotels feature an outdoor swimming pool, this will be open summer months, weather permitting.

  • Return flights
  • Five nights half-board in a four star hotel
  • Guided tour of Marrakech
  • Second tour of medieval Marrakech and hinterland
  • Visit to the Royal Saadian tombs
  • Tour to the foothills of the Atlas mountains
  • Visit to the ancient port of Essaouira
  • Escorted by our experienced tour manager
Not included
Visa & Health

UK passport holders do not require a visa, but other passport holders should check with the relevant embassy. Please consult your GP regarding the appropriate inoculations at least a month before departure.
Day one

You should arrive at the airport to take the flight to Marrakech. On arrival a coach will take us to the four star Hotel Opera Plaza for five nights dinner, bed and breakfast.

Day two

Marrakech is a labyrinth of tiny alleyways, which teem with street life, with a chaotic myriad of goods on sale. A mud-brick city, with classic French colonial buildings and boulevards surrounded by almost intact medieval walls. Pavement cafes sit side by side with shops selling everything from silks to exotic spices. Traditionally robed locals go about their daily business, stopping to chat with the western clothed elite who would look at home anywhere in the world, whilst the latest European luxury cars share the roads with overloaded donkey carts taking produce to market.

There are some fascinating things to see: firstly the Saadian tombs, built to house the descendants of Mohammed himself and one of the world’s finest examples of Moorish architecture, whose archways are covered in gold-leaf and stucco work; then there is El Bahia Palace, with 160 rooms, many lavishly decorated. This morning we will have a walking tour of the city during which we see its principal monuments. Take a wander around the souks or covered markets, arranged according to the nature of goods on offer such as leatherwear, slippers, jewellery and hand-made furniture. There are traditional crafts too such as basket weaving and saddle-making. You see immensely skilled craftsmen creating intricate articles in the blink of an eye. You can see rolls of yellow dyed cloth hanging out to dry and experience the smoky din of the metal workers. You can visit a traditional apothecary and buy spices at a fraction of their cost at home, though be prepared for some bartering. During the afternoon you are free to explore as you wish or simply relax by the hotel pool. At dusk we really recommend you visit the Djemaa El Fna - nerve centre of Marrakech, which has evolved from a medieval place of execution to a showcase for traditional Moroccan life. You will experience a spectacle of musicians, dancers, fortune-tellers, snake-charmers and all manner of entertainment.

Day three

This morning we have a second tour of Marrakech visiting more of its attractions. The city boasts a wealth of gardens, some of which are quite large with acres of olive groves and lakes providing a haven of peace, tranquillity and coolness from the heat. One of the smaller but most pleasant is the Jardin Majorelle: a creation of bamboo, bougainvillaea and cacti, once owned by Yves Saint-Laurent. Surrounding the city are immense ramparts over 19 miles long, still largely intact with forts at various intervals. The gates are fine examples of classic Moorish architecture with their pastel colours changing with the time of day and intensity of light. Just outside the city is the Palmery, an oasis created by accident. Centuries ago in the days of the great caravan trading, merchants refreshed themselves here with water and dates. The stones were thrown away creating the palm groves we see today. This afternoon is at leisure.

Day four

Today we drive to the coast and the town of Essaouira, founded by the Phoenicians but coming to prominence during the 15th century when the Portuguese fortified the town creating the medieval citadel you see today. Within, its maze-like streets connect squares lined by whitewashed houses and pavement cafes. The town is preserved and home to artisans toiling away in their tiny workshops. You can stroll round the markets, or simply wander through the harbour, where you can watch fishermen repairing their nets much as they have done for centuries. Lining the busy quayside are restaurants where you can have fresh fish washed down with a glass of local wine. We drive from Marrakech with the landscape evolving from fertile green plains to moon-like semi-desert studded with occasional palm trees. Countless shepherds of all ages, complete with traditional crooks tend small herds of sheep and goats, the transport of choice still very much the donkey, whilst mud-brick villages blend into the background.

Day five

Forming a backdrop to Marrakech are the snow-capped Atlas mountains. This morning we take the short drive over the plain and soon the road starts to undulate through the foothills. The countryside changes from saffron-coloured fields to steeper slopes forested with oak and walnut trees, slashed by dramatic gorges filled with rivers. We pass through traditional villages terraced into the mountainside. You are well off the beaten track here: shepherds tend their flocks on isolated pastures, with the countryside now dotted with just the occasional tiny house nestling amongst immense boulders bigger than the dwellings themselves. Huge peaks soaring nearly 10,000 feet, whilst below the mountainside stretches before you.

Then the forests commence, rolled out like a huge green carpet, and beyond misty plains stretch to the horizon in a patchwork of muted colours. We return to Marrakech early afternoon.

Day six

At the appropriate time we return to the airport for our return flight.
Hotel Opera Plaza four-star

Five nights dinner, bed and breakfast. Set in its own private landscaped grounds shaded by glossy leaved palm trees, this luxury hotel is ideally located allowing easy access to the sights in the old city. All the air-conditioned rooms are furnished in a comfortable modern style and well-appointed. It has three restaurants, the main one serving international cuisine, or you can upgrade to either the Asian or Moroccan ‘a la carte’ restaurants if should you wish. There is a chic and comfortable lounge bar and a cosy café bar, the ideal spot in which to relax after a hard day’s sightseeing. There is also a large and inviting outdoor pool and spa overlooking the gardens. Outdoor pool open summer months, weather permitting.
This offer has no departures. [NEED SOME CONTENT HERE].
The package which you have put together has just the right balance of organised visits and free time, but in my opinion the key element which made the trip first class was your representative, Mr Khemiri.
Oct 2009
Brig. Rowlinson