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Desert & Kasbahs Tour

I highly recommend you to use Encounters if you travel to Egypt. Their customer service was excellent and exceeded my expectations.

Tiffany C, 04 Nov 2018

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Desert & Kasbahs OVERVIEW

TOUR SUMMARY

8 days

Marrakech to Marrakech

From

$1635 (p/p)

Country(ies): Morocco

Tour type: Small Group

Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 20

Accommodation: 3 & 4-star hotels & riads

Meals:

Transport: AC minibus/coach & 4WD landcruiser style vehicles

Highlights: Djemaa El Fna Square in Marrakech, high Atlas mountains, Tizi n Tichka pass, Merzouga Desert, Ait Benhaddou, Ouarzazate, desert sands at Zagora

This 8-day small-group Morocco tour is a great way to explore this beautiful country for the very first time, taking in its bustling medinas, its beautiful desert regions and enjoying the local Moroccan cuisine.

The Desert and Kasbahs tour starts and ends in the bustling city of Marrakech, but concentrates on Morocco's beautiful mountain and desert scenery. After leaving Marrakech we cross the Atlas Mountains via the high Tizi n Tichka Pass before descending through the hills to the desert plains around Ouarzazate. We'll then head back into the hills to Skoura Oasis, the Valley of the Roses and the Dades Canyon.

The tour then heads out to the edge of the Sahara Desert at Merzouga, where you can take an optional sunrise camel ride amongst the spectacular sand dunes. You can also spend the night here in a comfortable Berber camp next to the dunes. 

A further drive through changing desert scenery past some tiny Amazigh villages brings us to the remote town of Zagora, home to Morocco's largest palm valley. Our tour of the region here includes Tamegroute with its potteries and famous library which hosts some important ancient Koranic scripts. We'll then drive through the Draa Valley to Ouarzazate, home to the Atlas studios where many international movie productions have taken advantage of the surrunding scenery. Here we'll explore the Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The tour then returns back over the Atlas Mountains for some final time exploring Marrakech. 

Accommodation is in mid-range boutique style hotels, kasbahs and riads, along with the desert camp option. 

ITINERARY

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Day 1 Welcome to Marrakech. Transfer to hotel

On your arrival in Marrakech airport (RAK) our representative will greet you and transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to settle in, relax after your flight, and have a first look around. Extra nights before the tour starts are available on request.

OVERNIGHT:

Marrakech hotel

MEALS:

Dinner

EXTRAS:

Single Room Supplement (MOSGDK)


Day 2 Exploring Marrakech

Unearth the secrets of Marrakech, beginning in the medina, the old walled section of town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This thousand-year-old city was long a political, economic and cultural center. Marvel at its architectural jewels, including the soaring Koutoubia minaret. Continue to the Bahia Palace, an exemplary of privileged life in the 19th century, the Tiskiwin Museum (Maison Tiskiwin), which houses an impressive collection of North African arts and crafts. The museum, which was founded by a Dutch anthropologist, is organized into geographically themed exhibits, with each room focusing on artifacts from different towns and regions along the ancient trade route from Marrakech to Timbuktu. The works on display include exquisite hand-woven carpets and textiles, traditional Berber clothing and jewelry, intricate basketwork and tribal handicrafts. Later you visit Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech's main square, which is filled with orange juice stalls and vendors, along with fire-eaters, mime artists, snake-charmers and street musicians performing at every turn. You may also take the opportunity to explore the city's fabled, labyrinthine souks, their bustling alleyways brimming with all manner of wares. Following your visit, return to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure, a perfect opportunity to freshen up and get ready for a dinner in a local restaurant. Return to your hotel and overnight.

OVERNIGHT:

Marrakech hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 3 To Dades via Skoura

As you leave Marrakech, ahead into the High Atlas Mountains. Our route follows the same one caravans used centuries ago, to bring into Marrakech gold and precious wood from the other side of the ocean of sand, the Sahara. You will be crossing Tizi n Tichka pass, at 2260 meters high. Once over the pass you will get an amazing panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains and the houses of its indigenous villages. Continue to Ouarzazate and stop for a lunch (own expense). Onto yet another lush area, nested between the deserted crest and the desolate plateaus: Skoura palm grove. Then, our trip reaches Kelaa des Mgouna, famous for the nearby Valley of Roses and 'Rose Festival', where at the end of a 3 day celebration usually held in May, a local girl is crowned 'Rose Queen'. The most looked after product is eaude-rose and two factories in the area distil and export the product. Further on, Boulmane Dades follows, the starting point to explore the spectacular Dades Gorge, a lush carpet set against the massive rocks and quite popular among those interested to trek. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

OVERNIGHT:

Dades hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 4 Todra Gorge, Tinghir and Merzouga

Back on the road, our first stop is Tinerhir (Tinghir), with its extensive palm grove, the ksours built into the rocky hills above it and its mysterious decaying Jewish quarter. Tinghir has been for generations a stop for nomadic Berber tribes travelling from the mountains north of it towards the desert during the winter months. A rather inconspicuous hidden gem is the 19th century adobe mosque nested within the old crumbling ksour, a heaven for photography enthusiasts. Todra Gorges, lie only 15 km from Tinghir, presenting an arresting spectacle with its crystal clear river emerging from it, its huge walls changing color to magical effect as the day unfolds. Its 300 metres (1000 feet) high walls are home to more than 150 bolted routes and at any time of day you can catch a glimpse of someone rock climbing his way up the gigantic walls.

Before reaching Merzouga where the tarmac ends, we pass Erfoud and Rissani. In Erfoud we may stop for a visit at Musee des Oasis (optional) if time allows. Rissani used to serve as last stop on the great caravan routes south and gold and slave auctions were taking place here as late as 1800’s. Before it, the caravan trade and the most important city in Morocco was Sijilmassa, the ruins of which lie opposite Rissani. From its gates, Ibn Battuta and Leo Africanus left Morocco to embark on their illustrious journeys across the Sahara into African countries. Soon after we reach Merzouga and in the distance you glimpse the first leviathans of sand forming the Sahara: the dunes of Erg Chebbi. Dinner and overnight at your hotel. A special night camping under the starts in a comfortable Berber camp on the edge of the dunes is available tonight (includes 4x4 transfers from Erfoud and a sunrise camel ride). 

OVERNIGHT:

Merzouga Kasbah or Riad

MEALS:

Breakfast, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 5 To Zagora via the Amazigh villages of Alnif & Tazarine

Enjoy an optional sunrise camel ride along the golden sand dunes in Merzouga. Return to your Riad for breakfast before transferring to Zagora via the Amazigh villages of Alnif and Tazarine. The road to Tazzarine sees almost no traffic, providing a scenic link between Tafilalet and Draa Valley. Aside from the landscape, fossils and prehistoric rock carvings are this region’s main attraction. The scenery grows wilder as you approach Tazzarine, set in a grassy oasis surrounded by bare mountains. Continue to Zagora. Famous for its largest palm valley in Morocco. Dinner and overnight in your hotel.

OVERNIGHT:

Zagora hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 6 To Agdez and Ouarzazate

After breakfast, enjoy the tour of Zagora including some of the oldest villages in Morocco. Stop by Tamegroute to visit the village’s famous library, which houses ancient Koranic scripts dating back to the 12th century. Visit the pottery section of Tamgroute then transfer to Ouarzazate along the Draa valley. Optional lunch stop at Agdez then continue the trip to Ouarzazate for dinner and overnight.

OVERNIGHT:

Ouarzazate hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 7 Return to Marrakech via Ait Benhaddou

Begin the day by exploring Ouarzazate, a city originally built as a French garrison in the 1920s. Today, the city is a regional trade center, known for its pottery and carpets. See the Taourirt Kasbah, which now consists of simple clay houses and crenellated towers that are beautifully decorated with geometric motifs. On the way, optional visit to the Film studios. Continue to elaborate Aït Benhaddou, dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home of the region's most exotic kasbahs, where structures all but defy the laws of gravity as they perch upon the steep slope. Some of these buildings have been featured in films, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator. You journey over the High Atlas Mountains, observing everyday life in remote rural towns, to the fascinating city of Marrakech. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

OVERNIGHT:

Marrakech hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 8 Your Morrocan adventure comes to an end

Your day is free today to do some last minute shopping or exploring in Marrakech, before we transfer you back to the airport to board your flight back home.

OVERNIGHT:

N/A

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

Extra day in Marrakech - post-tour


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Included:
  • Accommodation in boutique hotels, kasbahs & riads
  • All transport and transfers
  • 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service
  • Local English speaking guides for sightseeing tours
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Entrances fees to monuments and sites visited

Excluded:
  • International flights
  • Visa fees
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Optional desert camp and sunrise camel ride
  • Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)
  • Tips for guide & driver
  • Any other items not mentioned above
Notes:

Hotel Gala Dinners

Many of Morocco's better hotels arrange a very special gala dinner with entertainment in the evening on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Payment for these is normally optional on Christmas Eve (24 Dec) but may be compulsory on New Year's Eve (31 Dec), whether you attend or not. Prices can range from around US$30 to over US$100 per person. Final decisions on prices and whether dinners are compulsory are made relatively close to the time. We aim to always select hotels that make their Gala Dinners optional, though this is is not always possible. Gala dinner prices are therefore not included in our prices above, but will be added to your booking if they become required. This generally will only apply if you add a hotel upgrade to your booking. More information is available on request.

Gallery


Dates and Prices

Small group departures start on Saturdays throughout the year. The tour is also available for booking privately for travel on any other dates when it may also be customised to suit your personal requirements. 

Start Date
End Date
Price (P/P)
Offer price
Note

28th of Nov 2020

5th of Dec 2020

$1635.00

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12th of Dec 2020

19th of Dec 2020

$1635.00

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9th of Jan 2021

16th of Jan 2021

$1635.00

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23rd of Jan 2021

30th of Jan 2021

$1635.00

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13th of Feb 2021

20th of Feb 2021

$1635.00

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13th of Mar 2021

20th of Mar 2021

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10th of Apr 2021

17th of Apr 2021

$1635.00

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22nd of May 2021

29th of May 2021

$1635.00

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5th of Jun 2021

12th of Jun 2021

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19th of Jun 2021

26th of Jun 2021

$1635.00

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3rd of Jul 2021

10th of Jul 2021

$1635.00

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17th of Jul 2021

24th of Jul 2021

$1635.00

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7th of Aug 2021

14th of Aug 2021

$1635.00

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28th of Aug 2021

4th of Sep 2021

$1635.00

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4th of Sep 2021

11th of Sep 2021

$1635.00

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18th of Sep 2021

25th of Sep 2021

$1635.00

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16th of Oct 2021

23rd of Oct 2021

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23rd of Oct 2021

30th of Oct 2021

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Accommodation

The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.

Le Kech

Le Kech

Marrakech


La Kech is a 4-star boutique hotel in Marrakech. Overlooking the Atlas Mountains, it has 72 fully-furnished rooms. It features a gym, pool, spa, and two restaurants.

Local rating

Our rating

 Le Kech Le Kech

This boutique hotel is found in the city of Marrakech. It provides views of the Atlas Mountains, and is a few kilometres from the city’s commercial centre. The 72 rooms are spacious, with private bathrooms, WiFi, minibars, air-conditioning, and flat-screen TVs. The hotel features a pool, gym, spa, and restaurants. It is a family-friendly hotel.

Hotel Xaluca

Hotel Xaluca

Dades


Located just 12.4 miles from the Dades Gorges, this 4-star hotel is set in the heart of the Atlas Mountains. You can relax in the outdoor swimming pool and hot tub or in the spa's hammam and massage rooms.

Local rating

Our rating

 Hotel Xaluca Hotel Xaluca

Located just 12.4 miles from the Dades Gorges, this 4-star hotel is set in the heart of the Atlas Mountains. You can relax in the outdoor swimming pool and hot tub or in the spa's hammam and massage rooms.

Exposed stone walls and a modern, Moroccan decor are offered in the rooms and suites at Xaluca Boumalene Dades. All accommodation has views of the Dades Valley and the suites have a terrace.

An American-style buffet breakfast is served every morning under the restaurant colourful glass ceiling. You can also enjoy international cuisine after an aperitif in the large bar.

Free Wi-Fi access, a fitness room and tennis courts are some of the other facilities at the hotel.

Riad Madu

Riad Madu

Merzouga


Located in the desert city of Merzouga, Riad Madu offers guests comfortable accommodation on the edge of the Erg Chebbi dunes.

Local rating

Our rating

 Riad Madu Riad Madu

Riad Madu offers a selection of 4 suites and 8 standard bedrooms, all of which are decorated in a traditional regional style.
The Riad is situated at the base of the Erg Chebbi dunes and has a communal living room with welcoming fire place, a reading corner and plenty of outside spaces where you can drink Moroccan tea and take in the beautiful desert views.

Riad Lamane

Riad Lamane

Zagora


Set in Draa Oasis, this typical Moroccan-style Riad features an outdoor pool surrounded by palm trees. It offers air-conditioned accommodation, and a tented dining room in the garden.

Local rating

Our rating

 Riad Lamane Riad Lamane

Set in Draa Oasis, this typical Moroccan-style Riad features an outdoor pool surrounded by palm trees. It offers air-conditioned accommodation, and a tented dining room in the garden.

Guests of the bed and breakfast Riad Lamane can choose from rooms with balcony, bungalows and tents. They are all equipped with a minibar and a shared bathroom.

A buffet breakfast is provided every morning. There are 3 on-site restaurants, each serving Moroccan specialities. Guests can either have their meals under a tent, in a traditional dining room with fireplace, or on the terrace.

Riad Lamane is just one mile from Zagora. The reception is open 24-hour and free Wi-Fi access is available.

Dar Chamaa

Dar Chamaa

Ouarzazate


Dar Chamaa is situated in the Ouarzazate Palm Grove with views of the Atlas Mountains. It has an outdoor swimming pool with a terrace area, that is surrounded by sun loungers and palm trees.

Local rating

Our rating

 Dar Chamaa Dar Chamaa

Dar Chamaa is situated in the Ouarzazate Palm Grove with views of the Atlas Mountains. It has an outdoor swimming pool with a terrace area, that is surrounded by sun loungers and palm trees.

Guest rooms at Dar Chamaa are air conditioned and have a private bathroom. They are spacious and are decorated in stylish plain colors.

In the evenings guests can sample local and european dishes on a set menu.

Dar Chamaa is 15 minutes drive from Ouarzazate Airport and 1.9 miles to the city center.

Options

Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination you‘re visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.

All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.

Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.

Marrakech hot air balloon flight

Marrakech hot air balloon flight

Min numbers: 1


The hot air balloon tour lasts about half a day, with the flight itself lasting about 1 hour. You start very early in the morning (around 05.30-06.30) with a pick up from your hotel and a drive in a comfortable 4WD vehicle to the take-off site.

*Price from
$250
per person/s

*Price based on 2 person/s

The hot air balloon tour lasts about half a day, with the flight itself lasting about 1 hour. You start very early in the morning (around 05.30-06.30) with a pick up from your hotel and a drive in a comfortable 4WD vehicle to the take-off site just outside the city. Once the balloon is prepared and ready, you take off and float across the beautiful Moroccan scenery. Depending on the weather and the day's selected take off and landing sites, you'll see different Berber villages, the outskirts of the city, small oases, and terraced irrigated fields as well as the distant High Atlas mountains. A chase vehicle follows you on the ground, in constant contact by radio with the balloon. After landing you rejoin the vehicle and drive back to Marrakesh, stopping for tea and a snack at some of the Berber villages you've passed over.

You get back to your hotel in Marrakesh around midday.

Note: You will miss the Marrakech city tour if you choose this option.

Ourika Valley half-day tour

Ourika Valley half-day tour

Min numbers: 1


Situated at the base of the famous Oukaimeden ski station, the lush Ourika valley slowly rises up to the foothills of the High Atlas mountains. This beautiful valley is home to many traditional Berber villages.

*Price from
$90
per person/s

*Price based on 2 person/s

Situated at the base of the famous Oukaimeden ski station, the lush Ourika valley slowly rises up to the foothills of the High Atlas mountains. This beautiful valley is home to many traditional Berber villages and its tranquility is only broken by the sound on waterfalls and birdsong. Ourika is also famous for its local pottery.

The tour start at 07:45 and ends at 13:30, and the price is based on a minimum of 2 persons.

Essaouira day trip

Essaouira day trip

Min numbers: 1


Essaouira is a lovely laid back town with a great beach for kite surfing and wind surfing (tends to be a bit windy for sunbathing), great shopping and lovely streets to explore or to relax in the cafes and restaurants.

*Price from
$170
per person/s

*Price based on 2 person/s

A day trip is available from Marrakech to the coastal town of Essaouira (approx. 2 ½ hrs drive each way). This is a lovely laid back town with a great beach for kite surfing and wind surfing (tends to be a bit windy for sunbathing), great shopping and lovely streets to explore or to relax in the cafes and restaurants. This option starts at 07:30 and ends at 18:00, and the price is based on a minimum of 2 and includes all transportation and a guide.

Marrakech quad-biking

Marrakech quad-biking

Min numbers: 1


This is an exciting half day tour in the desert and countryside outside of Marrakech. You drive for around 50km, with a tea break included, and take in some sand dunes and villages en-route.

*Price from
$70
per person/s

*Price based on 2 person/s

This is an exciting half day tour in the desert and countryside outside of Marrakech. You drive for around 50km, with a tea break included, and take in some sand dunes and villages en-route. Prices are available for one or two people sharing a quad-bike. This tour fits in very well after the hot air balloon option.

Note: you will miss the Marrakech city tour if you choose this option.

Extra day in Casablanca - pre-tour

Extra day in Casablanca - pre-tour

Min numbers: 1


This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport arrival transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

*Price from
$75
per person/s

*Price based on 2 person/s

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport arrival transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Single Room Supplement (MOSGDK)

Single Room Supplement

Min numbers: 1


This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport arrival transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

*Price from
$400
per person/s

*Price based on 1 person/s

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport arrival transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

 

Extra day in Marrakech - post-tour

Extra day in Marrakech - post-tour

Min numbers: 1


This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport departure transfer is not included. Prices shown are per person, based on two people sharing.

*Price from
$40
per person/s

*Price based on 2 person/s

This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability) on a bed & breakfast basis. Your airport departure transfer is not included and will be charged as an additional supplement if required based on the number of people in your party. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Tour Notes

The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.

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  1. Accommodation

We use good quality hotels and riads rated at the Moroccan 3 and 4-star level on this tour. Local star ratings may vary slightly from international standards and where 4-star hotels are used these can be considered around the 3-star level. Occasionally some hotels may be 'dry' (i.e. no alcohol served).

An option is available to exchange the hotel in Merzouga for a night spent sleeping in a Berber camp in the sand dunes at nearby Erg Chebbi. Comfortable permanent tents are provided with beds and all bedding provided.


  2. Transport

Our trips feature a mix of different transport options. We want you to feel like you're really experiencing the country you're travelling through, but at the same time we want you to finish journeys refreshed enough to enjoy the next stage of the tour.
This tour therefore uses private AC 4WD AC landcruiser style vehicles (eg. Toyota Prado - window seats guaranteed) for the journey into the desert.


  3. Transfers

Our Morocco tours include a 24-hour airport meet & assist service in Casablanca/Marrakech airports (depending on the exact itinerary), your arrival and departure airport-hotel transfers and all other transfers.

Your airport transfers are only included in our tour prices on the first and last day of the set tour itinerary. We will be happy to arrange transfers on any additional days if you book your hotel room with us. If you make your own arrangements for additional accommodation at either the beginning or the end of the tour then you will need to arrange your own airport transfers on these days.

On our Shoestring group tours we do offer optional hotel upgrades. This may mean that additional pick-up and drop-offs are required each day. We do endeavour to ensure that all hotels used are close to each other and to streamline and time arrangements to limit any extra driving time as much as possible.


  4. International Flights

We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to suggest flights to go with the tour. Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.

Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour. Airport transfers on any days before or after the main tour will incur a supplement. Our Morocco tours either start/finish in Marrakech (RAK) or Casablanca (CMN) airports.

Some packages on our website are sold as flight inclusive and in this event you will see the departure airport listed on the Dates & Prices tab. Airlines may vary on these packages, and baggage fees may be subject to an extra fee. Please check the Inclusions/Exclusions section for details.

Check in times for international flights to Morocco are generally 2 or 3 hours before departure depending on the airline - we recommend you aim to get to the airport 3 hours before departure to allow for any delays en-route and in passing through security checks. Online check in is available with most airlines from 24 hours before departure, though low-cost airlines may allow this straight after booking. Seat selection can be done at the point of checking in, either online or at the airport, or by calling the airline direct.


  5. Group Size/Tour Leaders/Guides

We are committed to being a small group operator as we feel this gives everyone in the group the best chance to get to know their fellow travellers and to hear and make the most of their guide. There's no point in us providing great guides if you've got to peer over 30-40 shoulders to see them! So, we won't ever put you in a 50-seater coach with 49 other people and just one guide. Instead, we set  these tour departures to have a maximum of 20 travellers per guide.

The minimum number of travellers required for the tour to run is 2. I

In Morocco we provide fully trained, local English-speaking guides for the sightseeing tours in the main destinations (eg. Marrakech, Fez, Rabat, Casablanca). An English speaking tour leader/driver also accompanies the group throughout the tour.

At Encounters Travel we only use local Moroccan guides and drivers. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing and many people describe our Moroccan guides as one of the highlights of their holiday.


  6. Entrance Fees

The tour price includes entrance fees to all the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary.  You will need to cover the cost of entrance to any other extra sites that you may wish to visit.


  7. Tipping

Haggling is a traditional necessity, so never pay too much regard to initial prices. Instead fix an items value in your mind then negotiate towards it unhurriedly (Moroccans never rush their bargaining), and don't be afraid to simply walk away if the price isn't right. However, if you do mention a price, then you should be prepared to pay it or risk causing offence. 
Bahsis (bahk-sheesh) or tips are common place and customary in Morocco. Wages for service staff are very low and tips are a necessary supplement to meagre incomes.
While an accepted part of the culture and customs in Morocco, tipping is always optional, and the amounts paid should reflect excellent service. We are often asked for advice on common amounts, and for assistance with tipping. Some suggested guidelines are given below.

Restaurants and taxis: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour guide. We suggest USD 2-3 per person per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however USD 2 per person per day is generally appropriate.
Tour Guides: To answer your next question. . . as a guideline we suggest for your tour guide between USD 25-40 per person for the entire tour, but ultimately, it's up to your satisfaction with their service and your budget. You should not feel pressured to tip any particular amount.

Note - if you are doing a private tour and not joining a group, then you should budget a higher amount for your driver and guide tips.


  8. Health and Vaccinations

You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:

South Africa: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Namibia: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Botswana: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted or travelled through an infected area.
Zimbabwe: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Zambia: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Malawi: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Tanzania: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Kenya: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Poliomyelitis, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Uganda: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Sudan: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area. A certificate may also be required for those departing Sudan.
Morocco: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria not normally present. Yellow Fever certificate not required.

The above information can change at short notice. For up to date health information & vaccination requirements we recommend that you contact your medical practitioner or a travel clinic.

Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting.

Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view a World Health Organisation map of areas where the virus is present in monkeys and therefore a potential risk to humans. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary.

Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.
If you are travelling on an Overland tour or your trip includes wildlife safaris then please bear in mind that you may be travelling on bumpy roads and/or rough ground for several hours at a time. This can be very uncomfortable or painful if you have a bad back, and make such conditions worse. Please contact us if you have any concerns.


  9. Passports and Visas

Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities. We recommend that you contact your closest Moroccan consulate or embassy for current information for your nationality.

Currently, many nationalities (including USA, Canada, UK, European, Australian, New Zealand) do not need to obtain a visa to enter Morocco as long as your stay is for less than 3 months. Other nationalities should check with their local consulate.


  10. Time
The time in Morocco is the same as GMT (plus 0 hours). Daylight saving adjustments are generally applied between the end of March and the end of October, making the time GBP plus 1 hour. During this period the time may revert back to GMT during Ramadan. Exact dates vary from year to year and sometimes the changes may be scrapped altogether.

  11. Voltage

Sockets are two round pronged and 220 volts (Type C/E). Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are normally available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already. If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.


  12. Money

The local currency in Morocco is the Dirham.  We recommend you bring some cash in a hard currency (US Dollars, GB Pounds, Euros) and a good ATM card. Most major currencies can be converted at most banks, but it's not wise to carry too much.  Euros and US Dollars are welcomed more than GB Pounds. Travellers cheques are not easily exchanged. It can be awkward outside of Marrakech to find an ATM machine that takes your card as many Moroccan banks have ATMs that only work with Moroccan cards.  Don't put your card in an ATM unless you see the symbol that matches your card on the machine, as you might lose your card! We also suggest trying to avoid using Post Office ATMs.  In some smaller towns there are no ATMs that take foreign cards, so be sure you get enough cash to carry you until the next major city. BCM seems to be the best bank, accepting foreign cards in most of their ATMs. 

While in Morocco you will need sufficient funds to cover meals not included in the itinerary, drinks, snacks, souvenirs, tips and personal expenses such as laundry. These should generally all be paid for in Moroccan Dirham. It is difficult to recommend a level of personal spending money which will suit everyone as this can differ greatly, but as a guideline, we would suggest allowing USD 15-25 per person per day as a minimum. Allow more if you plan on doing lots of shopping, or buying many alcoholic drinks.


  13. What to take

Luggage: Small or medium sized suitcases, rucksacks or fabric holdalls are all fine to bring with you to Morocco. You should also bring a small daypack/bag to take out during the day. Your main luggage will often be left in the hotel during your sightseeing trips - you will not need to carry it far, and there are nearly always hotel porters to assist.

Luggage limits: There is no luggage limit for this tour. However, most airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 25kg for your hold luggage and between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage. Please check with your airline before travelling to the airport.

Clothing: The Moroccan climate varies according to season and region. The coast has a warm, Mediterranean climate tempered on the eastern coast by southwest trade winds. Inland areas have a hotter, drier, continental climate. In the south of the country, the weather is very hot and dry throughout most of the year, though temperatures can drop dramatically at night, especially in desert and mountains and in the months of December and January. Rain falls from November to March in coastal areas, and the rest of the country is mostly dry with high temperatures in summer and a cooler climate in the mountains. Marrakech and Agadir enjoy an average temperature of 21°C (70ºF) in the winter. So, depending the time of year you are visiting you should pack for both hot and cooler conditions. Modesty rates highly in Morocco, especially for women, so to respect the local culture & people, please ensure all clothes are loose fitting and not revealing. Shorts (not hot-pants) are OK in tourist sites, as are T-shirts, but these should not show too much bare flesh (we suggest that your shoulders should remain covered). In the centre of towns and cities outside tourist areas, and when visiting any mosques, legs and arms should be covered.

Other items: If your tour includes a Berber desert camp then all bedding is provided. However, as sand has a nasty habit of getting everywhere, for comfort, we recommend bringing a light sleeping sheet or sleeping bag liner all year round, and a light sleeping bag in the winter months (November to February) when it can get very cold in the desert. We also recommend you bring a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a basic first aid kit, toiletries, money belt, small torch, camera & charger.


  14. Dates & Prices
We run regular small-group departures on this tour starting on Saturday throughout the year. All departures are guaranteed to run if a minimum of 2 travellers is reached. If we do not reach this minimum number (which happens very rarely), we will offer you the option to either pay a small supplement to do the tour exactly as planned, to change your date, to transfer to another tour, or we will provide you with a full refund. Departure dates and prices are listed on our website - please check for the most up-to-date prices and any special offers.

  15. Booking & Payment

If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.


  16. Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...

You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK  to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.

Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.

If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.

If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.

IMPORTANT:  We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour.  If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.


  17. Financial Security

We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
Financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers for the land portion of your tour.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.


  18. Responsible Tourism

It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.

  • Don't prejudge: Things in different countries will almost certainly be different. That doesn't make them worse or inferior, just different.
  • Communicate: Don't expect locals to speak your language. Take the trouble to learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Don't worry about sounding silly. Most locals are patient and accommodating and appreciate you making the effort to communicate in their language.
  • Conserve energy: Be careful not to waste valuable resources. Use local resources sparingly. Switch off lights, air-conditioning and fans when you leave the hotel room and don't waste water. Remove superfluous packaging. Many countries have far less efficient waste disposal systems than ours. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home.
  • Don't litter: No matter how untidy or dirty the country you're travelling in may look to you, avoid littering, as there is no need to add to the environment's stress. Many of the countries we visit have a tough challenge dealing with rubbish and waste. Please consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can (e.g. water bottles).
  • Choose environmentally friendly products: By using environmentally friendly (bio degradable) sun creams, shampoos and detergents you can help reduce pollution.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: As you are a guest in these countries, you should also comply with the local customs. If you are friendly and well mannered, the locals will reciprocate and it will only enhance your experience. It's important to follow dress and behaviour guidelines especially when visiting religious or sacred sites (your tour leader will advise you how best to do this).
  • If a client commits an illegal act the client may be excluded from the tour and Encounters Travel shall cease to have responsibility to/for them. No refund will be given for any unused services.

All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).


  19. Follow Us Online

You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.facebook.com/encounterstravel
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')


  20. Before you travel

It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.

General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.

You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.

Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.

'Travel Aware' campaign

Reviews

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Desert & Kasbahs & Country Reviews

Product Review


Posted 15th of Sep 2017

Good itinerary, good guides.

Product Review


Posted 9th of Jun 2017

I enjoyed the trip. Only issue is that the tour guide changed a part of the trip because he didn't want us to do something. Not the fault of encounters. But otherwise the trip was great. I would like to say that travelling from Fez to Marrakech should be on a plane or train. Driving was too long and wasted a day.

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Need some travel inspiration or looking for some handy travel tips? Our blog provides excellent insight into our travel destinations - from tour updates to country guides, packing lists to little known things to do, you'll find it all in our travel blog.

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