The Epic Tour | 15 Day - 13 Days Biking
Arrive in Marrakech.
Arrival, met and transferred to our hotel about 15 minutes outside Marrakech and where the bikes will be waiting for you.
Our hotel is located in olive groves and has a very nice pool area.
Bike handover followed by a transfer to the main square in Marrakech – Djemaa el Fna where all “the action” starts from around 19.30.
We’ll grab our evening meal at one of the café/restaurants around the square.
Leave Marrakech and head to Taroudant (Approx. 235kms)
After breakfast, having loaded our bags into the support truck and had the final briefing we set off southwards through the olive groves, until we start the ascent of the High Atlas.
The road becomes narrower, winding it’s way along the river gorge with many spectacular viewpoints, leading us upwards to cross over the Tizi n Test pass at 2093m. Here we will stop at a local cafe for refreshments.
Frequently the summit is shrouded in mist but if lucky there are magnificent views towards the south. The road continues with sharp bends and many drop-offs into the valleys below.
Reaching the floor of the fertile Souss valley the final 50kms is on a main road taking us past large plantations of fruits and vegetables to our destination. Taroudant is called the “Little Marrakech” because of her nearly 6kms of defensive walls with turrets making her look like a smaller version of “the Red City”.
A major market town for this area many local crafts such as jewelry and carpets can be bought. The town is unusual in that almost all of it is inside the walls unlike others which are not.
From Taroudannt to our surprise destination. (Approx. 125kms)
After breakfast in the pleasant riad courtyard, a little more time can be spent visiting the medina if needed, then we set off for an area of Morocco that is full of cultural places to see and sights to visit. We will arrive early so you can have lunch at our guest house or go off investigating this very interesting area.
We take smaller winding roads through the Souss agricultural area then into the Anti Atlas mountains to our destination – an ancient mainly uninhabited Berbere village or granary.
Built in a circular format on top of a rocky outcrop for protection, overlooking the Jebel el Kest mountains, there were originally 25 houses, a mosque, an agadir and a prison.
Jamal has transformed his old family house into a small eco-guesthouse and this will be our unusual stopping place for the night.
Cosy and with all amenities his wife produces delicious local dishes to try. A true Moroccan experience and a definite must do.
The best description of an agadir is – “It’s a bank”. Every Berber tribe would have its own granary, and each family in the tribe had its own box in the agadir. They didn’t just store their grain there, but all their valuables and important documents – in chambers that are really big ‘safety deposit boxes’. The granary had a guardian (amar), elected by the tribe, who lived on the premises with his family. It was also guarded by tribe members taking turns, day and night.
80kms further south there is a beautiful gorge to go and visit, and in the surrounding area while riding through the interesting scenery, other uninhabited igoudar (plural of agadir) can be seen.
Dinner back in our guesthouse restaurant and then we can sit out on the large terrace and enjoy our surroundings.
Destination Essaouira. Still a hip place to stop. (Approx. 310kms)
Breakfast and then we set off for the UNESCO protected seaport of Essaouira.
Skirting around the city of Agadir we continue up the coastal route, on occasions turning off onto smaller roads to get even nearer the sea. All of this coastline is known for the wild seas and the ideal wind conditions for many types of watersports.
With its shining lime-washed white walls the lovely old fortified coastal town of Essaouira has become known as one of Morocco’s most enchanting places to visit. The present day town, port and fortified ramparts now called Essaouira, were designed and built around 1760, by order of Mohammed II. Prior to this a settlement is known to have existed here as far back as 7th century BC.
Our 4* hotel with spa, is right on the seafront. Dinner in their beach restaurant.
Our first day off is by the wild Atlantic coast
A visit to the port is a must. In its busiest period in the 18th century it became known as the Port of Timbuctu as it received over 40% of the caravans from sub-Saharan Africa bringing goods destined for Europe.
Here you can still see the centuries old production, by hand, of large wooden fishing trawlers still in action, as well as the impressive large fleet of blue boats used for catching sardines and smaller fish. Every morning there is a very lively fresh fish market on the quay and after watching this you can go and try some of them for lunch in one of the small kiosk cafes just nearby.
The narrow bustling streets of the medina are home to hundreds of little bazaars and souks where you can buy Moroccan spices, leatherwear, mirrors and rugs etc, and bargain for all types of locally made things. There is a thriving production of Thuya wood objects – boxes, bowls, chairs, mirrors to name a few – found under the ramparts in the former munitions stores.
Then there is the 7km curved beach, famous for kitesurfing and other water sports. They have recently finished a walkway the entire length of the beach.
Wherever you go in the medina the locals are friendly, not pushy and always willing to make you a “Whisky Berber” – Mint Tea!
Dodging petit taxis and mad scooters en route to Bin el Ouidane (Approx. 412kms)
Leaving the ocean after breakfast we take the main express highway to Chichaouia (keep to speed limits here as there is always at least one or two police radars and check points) where we stop to refuel and get a drink, and then carry on along the national route to Marrakech.
We will drive through the center of Marrakech where you need to watch out for the petit taxis and scooters. A lot of Insh’Allah (god willing) needed here!
Leaving the city the first 35kms we stay on the main road and then at Ait Ourir we turn in a north easterly direction and take to country roads.
We are travelling in and out of the foothills of the Middle Atlas through grain and apple growing country. About 150kms from Marrakech we take a 16km diversion up to the Ouzoud Falls with their 110m drop. Ouzoud means “the act of grinding grain” and at the top of the falls there are a dozen or so small mills still in use. The waterfalls are located at the southern end of a group of gorges formed by the El Abid River (Slaves river in Arabic)
Back down on the road a further 100kms and we reach one of many viewpoints looking down over the beautiful manmade lake of Bin El Ouidane.
Continue winding on down to the lakeside, through a tunnel and across the dam’s wall.
A further 15kms and we arrive at our small hotel right at the side of the lake. Watch the sun set over the water and then a pleasant evening meal followed by a drink in their cosy terrace.
From High to Middle Atlas Mountains (Approx. 295kms)
Leaving the hotel after having had breakfast on their terrace, the first 15kms we wind our way along the lakeside until we get to the village of Ouaouizerght where we refuel.
Then the rest of today’s roads are very scenic, and wind their way through little visited valleys and villages with almost no other vehicles to be seen. Spectacular scenery.
We cross various small mountain ranges staying north of the High Atlas, traversing through the agricultural Middle Atlas, famous for being the apple growing center of Morocco. This area is also known for it’s large forests of Atlas Cedar Trees, where you might get to see the local inhabitants – Barbary Macaque apes – or some of the beautiful butterflies unique to this area.
Our privately owned and run 4* hotel is set in the forest near the country town of Azrou.
Very comfy lounge with snooker table to relax and spend time after a very pleasant dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.
On to the famous "Blue Town" - Chefchaouen (Approx. 305kms)
Leaving the hotel we will refuel our bikes and then continue our journey on smaller backroads taking us through the National Park of Ifrane and on through the unusual university town of Ifrane.
Ifrane is a real oddity in Morocco as it has been modelled on a Swiss town and looks very out of place in this North African country. Quick stop for coffee or orange juice.
Well-known for its A-line roofed houses it is a popular place for the wealthier city dwellers to come and get cool in their summers, or in winter spend weekends skiing at the resort – one of just three in Morocco – the other two being at Mischliffen and Oukmaimeden.
Traversing the busy Imperial city of Meknes we will stop to visit the well-preserved area of Roman ruins at Volubilis, the most important archaeological site in Morocco, and protected by UNESCO.
Well worth taking a guide to explain the various different areas of this ancient empire, the site was first settled and began to prosper in the 3rd century BC. We will go to a local cafe for a quick lunch.
Leaving the ruins, we drive up through the small town of Moulay Idriss perched on a hill, where Islam first started in 789 and where the only circular minaret in Morocco can be found.
At this point we will take the faster main road so that we can get to Chefchaouen early afternoon and have the rest of the day and evening to wander this beautiful blue town with its’ narrow streets.
Dinner in our Riad hotel set in the medina. Try the chicken Pastilla.
Chefchaouen to Fes (Approx. 200kms)
Today the plan is to get to Fes as early as possible by travelling down the main highway all the way, so that we have maximum time to spend in this ancient medina.
Our hotel is a beautiful old medina house ( “Riad” ) with a large central courtyard and a small pool.
On parking up in the carpark we will go to the hotel, change out of our biking gear, freshen up and set off to discover this amazing place.
Fes, which is known as the Mecca of the west, is a UNESCO World heritage site and the cultural and spiritual centre of Morocco. Over 4000 families totaling more than a million people live in the medina which is home to the oldest Madrassa (active learning centre/university) in the world.
We will arrange a guided tour to take around the medina, visit the tanneries, potteries and other places of interest, and then you can wander the souks and bazaars as well. The guide will arrange to meet and bring us back if we decide to wander alone, though having an official guide to take us around is very time saving.
Dinner back in the hotel.
Fes to Merzouga (Approx. 476kms)
Our longest day’s drive. We depart from this Imperial City and travel south, destination the Sahara. We spend the morning winding our way through the Middle Atlas Mountains.
Midelt is one of the main towns in this region and is one of the fruit growing areas, mainly apples, in the centre of Morocco.
About 70kms on and we enter the spectacular area of the Gorges de Ziz following the Ziz river as it winds its way through the Eastern foothills of the High Atlas on its way to the desert. At the southern point the large dam Hassan Addakil was built by the previous king to supply the town of ErRachidia with unlimited water. Unfortunately, as a result, the once fertile land and the people further south have suffered due to water shortages and droughts. Er Rachidia has recently seen a lot of investment and improvements being made to it as it has become the head of the region.
We continue to the desert town of Erfoud where we turn onto the original old road, recently repaved, which leads out to the dune area of Erg Chebbi (at 205mtrs these are the highest dunes in Morocco) in Merzouga.
Parking up our bikes in a hotel garage we transfer with our luggage to 4x4s and spend the next 30 minutes driving through the dunes to our luxury tented camp not far from the Algerian border, where we will stay for the next 2 nights.
Met with a welcoming drink we are allocated our tents – all with showers en suite – and can then enjoy the ambiance until dinner followed by a large campfire and local musicians playing Berber Gnawa music.
Second day off
In contrast to your first day off on the coast, we have chosen the desert for your second rest day.
After a buffet breakfast we have organized a morning of activities for those who wish to join. We will drive through the Black Desert seeing nomadic settlements and on to the small village of Hassi Labiad where we will introduce you to local culture, the Berber people, see the children in school and a small Berber museum. Then we drive on to a desert inn where we have a BBQ lunch and then we spend the afternoon relaxing by their wonderful pool. Those who choose not to do the activities will meet us at the inn for lunch.
In the late afternoon we will be driven back to our camp when you could stroll into the desert, enjoying the peace and quiet and the absence of light pollution, to sit atop a dune and watch the sunset. Take a drink of your choice with you.
Merzouga to Dades Gorge (Approx. 278kms)
It’s goodbye to the desert as we set off in a westerly direction through the small towns of Rissani and M’ssisi to Alnif where we refuel and stop for a drink, then turn northwards and head for another of Morocco’s many UNESCO Heritage sites – The Todra Gorge. The 14km of winding road into the gorge from the town of Tinghir takes us through many small villages, with several panoramic view points where you can stop to take photos and admire all the cultivation in the palmeraie (Oasis) below. The Palmeraie stretches 7.5km from Tinghir to the gorge. The road narrows until, crossing the river we enter through the mouth of the gorge itself. Just before entering the Gorge we will park up at a small café and have a snack lunch.
The Todra river which runs through this geological fault has formed 400m high walls while being only 40m wide at its base and is one of the top rock climbing destinations of the world.
We exit the gorge at the north end and continue up into the High Atlas. At Agoudal we turn back southwards to descend and enter another amazing natural attraction – the Dades Gorge. Re-joining the asphalt at the northernmost village of Msemrir your dreams of riding the famous sweeping bends of the Dades Gorge also become a reality as you and your motorcycle wind your way through these magnificent switchbacks!
You will simply fall in love with our unique accommodation tonight; a converted kasbah hidden in the gorge amongst the trees, with wonderful attention to detail and decoration.
The owner has managed to recreate a beautiful, quiet hotel, with some wonderful, really unique old-style decor inside. A square central tower through the building with balconies on all four sides allows you to look up and see the intricate way the ceilings are decorated locally, using oleander branches.
There is a swimming pool located on a terrace below the Kasbah near a small river set amongst the trees.
Wander through the building before your evening meal and then relax.
Dades to Ait Ben Haddou (Approx. 250kms)
After breakfast we continue on down the rest of the gorge until we meet the main road. We are now on “the route of 1000 Kasbahs”. So many to be seen in various states of repair as we drive along. Lunch stop en route and a visit to the Kasbah Ben Moro in Skoura one of the nicest renovated Kasbahs in this area.
On to the film capital of Ouarzazarte.
About 35kms beyond the city of Ouarzazate is the turning to the Ksar (fortified town) of Ait BenHaddou, a well-known UNESCO World Heritage site and renowned for being one of the stopping points for the camel trains bringing slaves from the south. This is also where Lawrence of Arabia was filmed.
Built up a hillside overlooking the Ounila River hillside it has a striking view over many deep orange coloured dwellings known as Kasbahs, which resemble small castles. They are made from mud and wattle and are in various states of decay “returning back to where they came from”, the earth! Only 8 families still remain living in the town.
You can park up your bikes and then walk across the bridge and wander around the old town to the top of the hill where there is a particularly good photo point.
Our very attractive hotel, another kasbah but a newbuild with lots of charm, is situated about 3kms beyond Ait Ben Haddou. They have a spa and hammam.
Ait Ben Haddou to Marrakech (Approx. 325kms)
Leaving our Kasbah after breakfast we turn right and take the newly paved road through Telouet, stopping to visit the now abandoned, but highly decorated palace of the Pasha of Marrakech. A very pleasant section of winding country road brings us to the main artery road Marrakech to Ouarzazarte, which we join for about 10kms before turning off towards the west.
Backroads winding through the mountains and valleys with wonderful vistas over river gorges. A real off the beaten route through forgotten villages.
We will cross over the spectacular Tizi n Test pass at 2093m on a narrow, winding road with sharp bends and many big drop-offs into the valleys below.
Frequently the summit is shrouded in mist but if lucky there are magnificent views back towards the south. Lunch at a local café at the top of the pass. Continuing our ride over this mountain pass we descend on the northerly side following along the river gorge eventually arriving back at our peaceful starting point in the olive groves south of Marrakech.
The bikes will be checked over while you are getting freshened up and then we’ll all meet for a pre-dinner drink by the pool.
After breakfast by the pool if you are leaving today you will be transferred back to the airport.
We do hope that you will come and join another journey with us in this beautiful kingdom.