Cycling allows you to get closer to authentic Morocco, whether you’re riding around the backstreets of Marrakech or stopping for tea with nomads in the Mgoun Valley.. Ride a camel through the dramatic red dunes of the Sahara Desert at sunset, then settle in to your camp and enjoy a Moroccan feast under the stars.. Pedal diverse and captivating terrain, from lively medinas to Mediterranean Coast and the fabulous hairpins of the Dades Gorge.. Step into the Middle Ages on a guided walk through the secret shortcuts and twisting alleyways of Fes’ Medina.
Desert sands and snow-topped mountains. Red cliff gorges and seaside paths. Hairpin turns and alpine passes. Explore them all in the most immersive way possible on this 14-day cycling tour through Morocco, a land overflowing with mystery, history and culture. A place where the people welcome you with endless stories and the landscape offers endless diversity. Where you can see beaches, deserts, forests, mountains, and orchards. From Marrakesh circle the country through Tangier, Chefchaouen, medieval Fes, the cool of the High Atlas Mountains and the heat of the Sahara, and the ancient city of Ait Benhaddou.
Breakfast Included: 13 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included: 3
Welcome to Marrakech! Your adventure begins today with a welcome meeting at 6 pm – double check with reception for the time and place. After the welcome meeting, head out to the city’s lively Djemaa el-Fna for an included welcome dinner while snake-charmers, henna-painters and storytellers ply their trade nearby. If you arrive early there are a host of exciting activities to experience - why not visit the Dar Si Said Museum or nearby Saadian Tombs, chill out in the Marjorelle Gardens, enjoy a hammam or even see Marrakech from the above on a hot air balloon ride.
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 cycling tour in and around the city (flat terrain, approximately 3 hours/22 kilometres). Start near the royal olive groves of Menara Gardens and ride to well-known sites like Koutoubia Mosque and the Marrakech Medina. Finish your cycle in the Palmeraie, a palm tree oasis. Return to Djemaa el-Fna for an afternoon snack of a street stall pastry with a glass of fresh orange juice. There’ll be ample time in the afternoon to get cleaned up before you board your sleeper train this evening at about 9.35 pm for the roughly 11-hour journey to Tangier.
Arrive in Tangier at approximately 8 am this morning. Check into your hotel, then meet up with your support crew and vehicle. Saddle up for a 30-kilometre ride, beginning with an easy 10-kilometre ride to the Grottes d'Hercules (Caves of Hercules). Legend says Hercules stayed in this cave before doing his 11th labour – collecting the golden apples from the Hesperides Garden. Its modern uses have been quite varied, 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. There may be an opportunity to climb up to the top for an amazing view out across the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy a quick lunch here, then a pleasant downhill ride back towards 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.
Leave Tangier behind on a roughly 1.5-hour drive (85 kilometres) through the arid inland towards the beachside village of Azla. Here, hop on your bike and begin today's ride. Follow the winding coastal road south to the small fishing town of Oued Laou (approximately 45 kilometres). This is an 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. there will be four climbs but it will all be worth it when you stop for lunch by one of the beaches and enjoy a refreshing swim (weather depending). After today’s ride, most people choose to leave the saddle behind and let the support vehicle do the hard work of climbing the steep hills to the ‘Blue City’ of Chefchaouen (approximately 60 kilometres). On arrival you are free to explore at your own pace. Maybe shop for handicrafts in the ancient Medina, or simply sit at a cafe and enjoy the pleasure of time passing by.
Today is a free day to explore Chefchaouen. Maybe take it easy at a cafe in the Plaza Uta el-Hammam. Or you could stroll around town - be sure to admire the architecture of the 15th-century Grand Mosque (interior closed to non-Muslims). If you are still feeling energetic, you might prefer to take an optional guided tour of the town, head out of town for a hike in the Rif mountains (approximately 4 hours) or just relax in a soothing hammam. Ask your leader about these options and more.
This morning, spend 2 hours in the support vehicle on a drive from Chefchaouen to the outskirts of Beni Hmed village (80 kilometres). Stretch your legs on a ride along the undulated road to Tabouda past the majestic turquoise waters of the El Wahda Dam (approximately 37 kilometres). 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 kilometres to Fes, the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco. Perhaps take the remainder of the day to relax – you will take a guided tour tomorrow.
Leave your bike behind today and embark on 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. The rest of the day is free for you to explore at your own pace. Consider watching the sunset over the Medina while a dozen prayer calls vie for attention.
Avoid traffic and heat with an early start. Leave Fes behind and drive into the Middle Atlas Mountains, arriving at Dayet Aoua to begin your ride (drive approximately 20 kilometres). Begin your ride through high-altitude mountain location, passed pitched red-roofed houses and green surroundings. After a quick coffee stop, climb by bike 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 and finish riding for the day. Drive up to Aguelmame Sidi Ali lake, a placid clear blue lake and wetland sanctuary where you’ll enjoy a well-earned lunch. The energetic are welcome to cycle a further 15 kilometres to the Timahdte section of the lake. After lunch, drive 90 kilometres to the Kasbah town of Midelt. Nestled in a valley, Midelt is surrounded by farmland and orchards. The rest of your day is free for you to explore or relax. Maybe explore the nearby village of Bremmem or visit a local embroidery co-operative run to benefit local Amazigh (Berber) women. You could also check out an optional traditional music performance in Midelt.
Merzouga – Desert Camp
Midelt to Merzouga is a long journey (270 kilometres), so embark early and tackle the distance on two separate rides, with a vehicle transfer filling the gaps. Drive the first 30 kilometres uphill to tge Tizi n Talrhemt Pass, then get your wheels moving on a gentle downhill cycle to Er-rich (approximately 45 kilometres). You won’t have to pedal for most of this ride – that and a good coffee stop make this a fairly easy start to the day! From Er-rich, continue by bike (approximately 25 kilometres) downhill to the banks of the Ziz River and the cavernous Tunnel Zaabal. Re-board the vehicle and drive through frontier towns like Erfoud that have been the setting for films like ‘The Mummy’ and James Bond’s ‘Spectre’. Arrive in Merzouga, leave your gear at your overnight camp and then board a very different form of transport - a camel! Ride to the edge of the Sahara Desert, enjoying a spectacular sunset along the way. Return to your camp and enjoy some fantastic local cuisine while you sit around an open fire, enjoying lively music and dancing under the stars.
Drive to Tinghir (approximately 3–4 hours/200 kilometres). 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. In Tinghir hop in the saddle and work out your legs after the long drive. A 14-kilometre 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 there's a chance to join an optional walk through the surrounding farmland and a ruined village. 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.
Dades Gorge – Mountain Gite Stay
Board the support vehicle for a drive (approximately 1 hour) to the green-fringed Dades Valley. This is one of the best sections of road in Morocco and we begin our memorable ride at 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 (approximately 12 kms). On the way, stop in at a local family's home and share a traditional cup of tea with your hosts. This is a genuine opportunity for local interaction with a nomadic family who spend their lives travelling this remote land. Your leader will be there at all times to help you communicate and understand each other. 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.
A drive through arid surroundings brings you to the dramatic Lake El Mansour (approximately 100 kms), which sits among 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. Continue with a roughly 2-hour walk 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’. In the late afternoon, choose if you would like to enjoy a cooking demonstration to learn the secrets behind Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine.