14 days with Intrepid Travel Rating:
Day 1 Marrakech
Welcome to Morocco. Marrakech is a feast for the senses - be enticed by the alluring colours of the spice markets, the taste of delectable foods, and the scent of perfumed gardens. Your adventure begins today with a welcome meeting at 6pm – double check with reception for the time and place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Please have your insurance details and next of kin information on hand for collection at this meeting.
After the welcome meeting, head out to the city’s unique Djemaa el-Fna, a square that transforms into a hive of activity at night. Enjoy a dinner together (included) while snake-charmers, henna-painters and storytellers ply their trade nearby.
Riding distance: none
Day 2 Marrakech
Fuel up with breakfast this morning, and then get fitted for your bike – your transport and best buddy for the next 13 days. Take a short test ride to make sure everything’s working properly, then begin a (flat!) cycling tour in and around the city (approx. 3 hours covering 22 kms).
As the frenetic daily life of Marrakech buzzes around you, take your bike along main avenues and into quieter backstreets. Starting from near the royal olive groves of Menara gardens you’ll ride to well-known sites like Koutoubia mosque and its famous 12th-century minaret, pass by the Marrakech Medina before ending in the palmerie.
Return to the legendary Djemaa el-Fna to dine al fresco, snacking your way around the crowded stalls. Try a Moroccan pastry with a glass of fresh orange juice. There’ll be ample time in the afternoon to get cleaned up before taking a late evening (approx. 9:35pm) overnight sleeper train north to Tangier (approx. 11 hours). Basic food and drinks are available but it’s recommended to eat before boarding the train.
Riding distance: approx. 22kms/14 miles, mostly flat with approx. 30m/100ft of elevation gain
Day 3 Tangier
Where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find the city of Tangier. Often seen as the gateway to Africa, the city has a long and fascinating history peppered with artists, spies, and millionaires. Arrive at approx. 8am and check into your hotel, then meet up with your support crew and vehicle.
Saddle up for a 30-kilometre ride, beginning with an easy 10km ride to the Grottes d'Hercules (Caves of Hercules). Legend says Hercules stayed in this cave before doing his eleventh labour – collecting the golden apples from the Hesperides Garden. It has been used quite differently in modern times, ranging from a brothel to a concert venue for Def Leppard.
From here the road undulates and climbs as we jump back on the bike to explore Cap Spartel, known to the Romans and Greeks as the “Cape of the Vines”. Stop by the 19th century lighthouse and, if you're lucky, climb up to the top for an amazing view out across the Atlantic Ocean. A quick lunch then a pleasant downhill back towards our finish by Tangiers' Mediterranean port. Relax after the ride by treating yourself to a mint tea at the rooftop cafe Salon Bleu, which overlooks the medina and ocean.
Riding distance: approx. 31 kms/19 miles, undulating with approx. 500m/1650ft elevation gain
Day 4 Chefchaouen
Leave Tangier and drive 85 kms (approx. 1.5hrs) through the arid inland towards the east coast and the coastal town of Tetouan and on to the beachside village of Azla for the start of today’s ride.
Follow the winding coastal road south to the small fishing town of Oued Laou (approx. 45 kms). This is a stunning undulating ride, with the shimmering waters of the Mediterranean on your left, steep mountains on your right, and small coves dotted with beautiful beaches in-between. Today we have four climbs but it's worth it as we stop for lunch by one of the beaches and enjoy a refreshing swim if the weather allows.
After today’s ride, it’s best to leave the saddle behind and let the support vehicle do the hard work of climbing the steep hills all the way up to the ‘Blue City’ of Chefchaouen (approx. 60 kms). Set against a wide valley and nestled between two peaks in the stunning Rif Mountains, it’s one of the prettiest places in Morocco. This Andalucia-influenced old Medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, red-tiled roofs and artistic doorways. Take a stroll through this idyllic town, shop for handicrafts in the ancient Medina, or simply sit at a cafe and enjoy the pleasure of time passing by.
Riding distance: approx. 45 kms/28 miles, undulating with approx. 680m/2230ft of elevation gain
Day 5 Chefchaouen
Today is a free day to explore Chefchaouen. Ease into the relaxed pace of life in this rural retreat with a wander though the medina, or head to a café in the Plaza Uta el-Hammam to sample the delicious local goat cheese. Admire the architecture of the 15th-century Grand Mosque (closed to non-Muslims), or browse the shops selling woven goods and small sweets in the square. Also within the plaza is the walled fortress of the Kasbah.
If you are still feeling energtic you might prefer to head out of town for a hike in the Rif mountains (approx. 4hrs). In the evening, tuck into a tagine at a local restaurant or visit a hammam, a traditional Moroccan spa.
Riding distance: none
Day 6 Fes
Avoid the most of hard mountain roads this morning, with the support vehicle taking you 80km (approx. 2hrs) south from Chefchaouen to the outskirts of Beni hmed village then get the legs pumping on the undulated road to Tabouda, that flanks the majestic turquoise waters of the El Wahda Dam (approx. 37 kms).
As the roads get busier and the day heats up, retreat to the comfort of the support vehicle and leave the quiet of the Rif Mountains behind you. Drive the remaining 95 kms to Fes, the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco. It’s vibrant, noisy, fascinating and almost overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses. Take the remainder of the day to relax before really getting into this amazing city that’s home to a huge, well-preserved medieval old city – the mother of all medinas.
Riding distance: approx. 37kms/23 miles, mostly flat with approx. 120m/395ft of elevation gain
Day 7 Fes
Leave your bike behind today and dive into the heart of the Medina. Take a guided walk through the secret shortcuts and twisting alleyways of Fes. Pass donkeys piled high with goods and step back into the Middle Ages in the labyrinth of the Medina. Look out for the recently restored Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's most beautiful buildings, and enjoy the iconic view across the dye pits of the famous tannery. The rest of the day is free to explore. Watching the sunset over the Medina while a dozen prayer calls vie for attention is an experience not to be missed.
Notes: Today’s experience will include shopping in carefully selected places. As the receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Moroccan tourism industry, Intrepid has established a centralised system of receiving and distributing payments from these recommended suppliers. For more information, please refer to ‘Important Notes’ section or talk to your Tour leader on the ground.
Riding distance: none
Day 8 Midelt
Start the day early to avoid the traffic and heat, leaving frenetic Fes behind to drive deep into the Middle Atlas mountain range to Dayet Aoua then start our first ride for the day to Ifrane (approx. 20kms). High-altitude, French-built Ifrane is often referred to as ‘the Switzerland of Morocco’. The mountain location, pitched red-roofed houses and green surroundings offer a welcome contrast to the recent dry and hot climate.
After a quick coffee stop, climb by bike on a sinuous road through the wooded hills of Ifrane National Park. Soon the road levels out and you’ll enjoy a unique Middle Atlas mountains view.
Coast gently downhill to the tiny town of Timahdte for lunch and the end of today’s riding.
Drive up to Aguelmame Sidi Ali lake, a placid clear blue lake and wetland sanctuary where you’ll enjoy a well-earned lunch. For the energetic, you can also cycle the gentle uphill 15 kilometre Timahdte to lake section.
After lunch, drive 90 kms down from the mountains to the Kasbah town of Midelt. Nestled in a valley, Midelt is surrounded by farmland and orchards. Take some free time to explore the nearby village of Bremmem or visit a local embroidery co-operative run to benefit local Berber women. You could also check out an optional traditional music performance in Midelt.
Riding distance: approx. 65kms/40 miles, undulating with approx. 590m/1940ft of elevation gain.
Day 9 Merzouga/Desert Camp
Swap white-dappled mountains for the mighty Sahara today, travelling mostly downhill through dry hills and plains. Midelt to Merzouga is a long journey (270 kms), so we leave early and have two separate rides, with a vehicle transfer filling the gaps, to make it more enjoyable and manageable.
We drive the first 30 kms uphill section to the day’s highest point, the Tizi n Talrhemt Pass then get your wheels moving on a gentle downhill section to Er-rich (approx. 45 kms). You won’t have to pedal for most of this ride – that and a good coffee stop are a welcome reward for the all the uphill you’ve done so far!
From Er-rich we continue by bike (approx. 25 kms) down to the banks of the Ziz River and the cavernous Tunnel Zaabal before reboarding the vehicle and driving through frontier towns like Erfoud. This desert town has an almost Martian-like appearance, which is why it had starring roles in movies ‘The Mummy’ and James Bond’s ‘Spectre’.
A spectacular drive past the harsh but indescribably beautiful sand dunes of Erg Chebbi brings you to today’s final destination of Merzouga. With dunes rising up to 150 metres and sweeping 50 kms north to south, this is home to the mysterious Berber Nomads. You will leave your gear at your overnight camp set next to a simple auberge and then ride camels into the edge of the Sahara Desert, enjoying a spectacular sunset along the way. The dunes are stunning, especially as the evening light plays across them and sets off the colours. Tonight you will camp out in traditional style, with the chance to try some fantastic local cuisine while you sit around an open fire, enjoying lively music and dancing under the stars.
Riding distance: approx. 70kms/44 miles, mostly flat with approx. 300m/985ft of elevation gain
Day 10 Todra Gorge
Experience the incredible scenery of Morocco with a drive through transformational landscapes to Tinghir (approx. 3-4 hours over 200 kms). Tinghir is your entry point to the remarkable Todra Gorge, a massive trench with sheer rock walls that rise over 300 metres to form one of the most dramatic and spectacular natural sights in Morocco. From Tinghir you’ll get on your bike and workout your legs after the long drive. A 14 kms stretch takes you along the route of the Todgha River as it snakes into the canyon itself.
The limestone stacks make this area best discovered on foot though, so you’ll take an optional walk through surrounding farmland and a ruined village. To fully enjoy the walk, you need good walking boots or sturdy trainers, sunglasses, sun cream and plenty of water. After the walk, the rest of the day is just taking it easy at your spectacular gorge-located Kasbah, with red rock walls towering above and surrounded by palm trees. You’ll need the rest to prepare for a more challenging ride tomorrow.
Riding distance: approx. 15 kms/9 miles, gently rising with approx. 300m/985ft of elevation gain
Day 11 Dades Gorge/Mountain Gite Stay
Board our support vehicle for a drive (approx. 1hr) to the green-fringed Dades Valley, cut through by the serpentine Dades River. This valley follows the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and is dotted with mud-brick villages perched on hillsides. This is one of the best sections of road in Morocco and we begin our memorable ride at the near the fabulous hairpins of the Dades Gorge.
Leaving the greenery behind, we take a small gravel road deep into the desolate Mgoun Valley near Bou Tharar (approx. 12 kms). On the way, stop by a local nomad family and share traditional cup of tea with your hosts. This is a genuine opportunity for local interaction with a family who spend their lives travelling this remote land. Your leader will be there at all times to help you communicate and understand their fascinating lives. Later in the afternoon, bid farewell to your new friends, and then make a set of new ones at tonight’s accommodation. You’ll stay in a mountain gite and enjoy a traditional Moroccan goat dinner.
Riding distance: approx. 50 kms/31 miles with 740m/2430 ft of climbing
Day 12 Ait Benhaddou
A drive through arid surroundings brings you to the dramatic Lake El Mansour (approx. 100 kms), which sits among in the sandy rocks surrounding Ouarzazate. Get the bikes out and begin a 50-kilometre ride to mythical Ait Benhaddou, passing ancient Kasbah ruins, former colonial military outposts, and austere mountains. Pause for lunch in Ouarzazate, where ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Black Hawk Down’ were filmed. Time permitting, tour Atlas Movie Studios. Make a short visit to Horizon Association for People with Disabilities, an organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation, health and empowerment of people with disabilities. They provide essential services like prosthetic limbs, physio and social therapy, as well as training in skills like pottery or metal work. It’s a project the Intrepid Foundation is very proud to support.
With a gentle climb, continue to Ait Benhaddou. Centuries ago, this was an important stop for caravans carrying salt across the Sahara. Today its grand Kasbah, a fine example of clay architecture, is a World Heritage site and star of movies and TV shows like ‘Gladiator’, ‘Games of Thrones’ and ‘The Living Daylights’. Our walk to Ait Benhaddou takes approx. 2hrs.
In the late afternoon, why not enjoy a cooking demonstration to learn the secrets behind Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine.
Riding distance: approx. 50 kms/31 miles - undulating ride with 340m/1120ft of elevation gain
Day 13 Marrakech via Tiz n Tichka
Leave Ait Benhaddou and the Sahara behind and commence the long, winding ride up into the Atlas Mountains and the small town of Anmiter. It is here that the cycling part of our adventure ends as we climb into our support vehicle and drive, avoiding a serious amount of climbing, to the Kasbah town of Telouet. Here, high in the Atlas (1,800 metres), you’ll enter the true mountains.
From here we drive further up to the spectacular Tizi n'Tichka Pass. At 2,260 metres above sea level, this is the highest major mountain pass in North Africa. After a brief break for refreshment and a photo stop, re-join the support vehicle and descend from the High Atlas all the way back to Marrakech, some 100 kilometres away.
Once back in Marrakech, you’ll say goodbye to your support crew and have some free time to relax. In the evening you’ll be drawn back to the Djemaa el Fna, where a celebratory dinner is the perfect way to end this adventure.
Riding distance: approx. 37kms/23 miles, mostly uphill with approx. 800m/2620ft of elevation gain
Day 14 Marrakech
This cycling adventure through Morocco comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are free to leave at any time.
Riding distance: none
All This Included
Desert sands and snow-topped mountains. Red cliff gorges and seaside paths. Hairpin turns and alpine passes. Grab a bike and see them all on a cycle through Morocco, a land overflowing with mystery, history and culture. A place where the people welcome you with endless stories, and the landscape defies its harshness to offer you beach, desert, forest, mountain, and orchards. From Marrakesh, circle the country through Tangier, laidback Chefchaouen, medieval Fes, the cool of the High Atlas Mountains and the heat of the Sahara, and ride to the ancient city of Ait Benhaddou.
Hotel (10 nights)
Overnight Train (1 night)
Desert Camp (1 night)
Gite (1 night)
Terms and Conditions
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.