For my birthday, my wife and I, along with good friends decided to tour Morocco and our experience was absolutely amazing! While the country itself is a beautiful destination, the trip was made that much better by our friends at Sahara Magic Tours.
When we first reached out to Sahara Magic Tours, we inquired about a few options, and the owner, Hassan, responded quickly with comprehensive options. Although they offer various tours, you can definitely customize your trip however you want and Hassan will make it happen. We ultimately planned an 11-day tour that started in Casablanca and ended in Agadir with plenty of stops in between, including an overnight stay in the Sahara Desert (definitely a bucket list item!).
In addition to the fantastic service Said provided in helping plan our trip, we were very happy with our Driver Guide Hassan, this fantastic guy went out of his way to ensure our trip was comfortable and memorable. If you book your trip with Sahara Magic, my wife and I highly recommend Hassan as he is extremely knowledgeable of the country, its history, and fun to be with. I can honestly say that after interacting with him, we gained a new friend in the process.
A summary of our trip:
Our trip included private transport in modern air-conditioned mini-vans, accommodations in 4-5 star hotels/inns/riads, breakfast every day, and 3 very good dinners, English speaking driver and guides, Camel trekking in the Sahara (including a glamping night in a very nice luxury tent).
Arrived in Casablanca and stayed at the Movenpick Hotel. Although we were there only for an overnight stay before starting our adventure, we very much enjoyed the amenities and the breakfast was quite good. It’s a modern hotel in the heart of Casablanca and provides good value.
The next morning Hassan took us to the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca and the place was jaw-dropping fantastic! The design and artwork in this mosque are not to be missed and you can easily spend an entire morning touring this landmark place.
We headed out to Tangier but stopped in Rabat for a few sites. Hassan gave us an excellent overview of the city and once we arrived in Tangier we were able to go out on our own to explore. My wife took the guided tour of the coastal part of Tangier including some of its scenic caves, and at some points, you can see Spain. I and our neighbors explored the little shops on our own and bought some nice souvenirs. While in Tangier, we stayed at an excellent inn/hotel called La Tangerina where the owner/host Farida was super friendly and attentive. And, the view from their rooftop terrace is a dream. I highly recommend this hotel!
We drove from Tangier to Chefchaouen with a few stops along the way with Hassan providing his expertise at each stop. Chefchouen or the “Blue City” as it’s known is magnificent and its history is impressive. We stayed at a wonderful little inn known as Riad Cherifa. A charming place with nice rooms and a great little swimming pool (we were thankful for the pool because it was nearly 105 F / 41 C). Chefchaouen is great to walk around and explore, but the place turns magical in the evening when performers come out in the main center. The best thing to do is get a seat at one of the outdoor cafes, order a cold drink and enjoy the show!
Volubilis (the Roman ruins) was the main site on our way from Chefchouen to Fes. Hassan took us to Volubilis where he engaged one of the site caretakers and we had a very nice tour of the place. Definitely, a fun way to spend the afternoon.
After Volubilis, we arrived at Fes in the evening where we stayed at Riad El Yacout, which was stunning in terms of architecture and design. Additionally, the rooms were quite big — almost a suite! The next morning we had a great breakfast and were greeted by our local guide who showed us the city, including historical landmarks, shops, and a great place to eat! Although we enjoyed interacting with the merchants and negotiating deals for souvenirs, be alert that sometimes you are not getting the best price for things so definitely shop around and don’t be pressured into buying anything the first time around.
After our last day in Fes we embarked on a long drive to the foot of the Sahara Desert (Merzouga Desert) but stopped a few times along the Middle Atlas Mountains to enjoy walking (and cooling off) in the cool creeks and took some fantastic views of the landscape. Once we arrived at the foot of the Sahara, we began our 1.5 hour Camel trek through the Erg Chebbi dunes before arriving at our luxury tent/campsite. We got there in the early evening and the place looked amazing by candlelight. Our campsite host greeted us with mint tea, some snacks before unpacking in our tent for a quick (and cool) shower before dinner. The food was amazing as was enjoying a quiet evening in the Sahara with wine.
We spent most of the morning and afternoon visiting locals in the Sahara and spent time with a Nomad family enjoying tea and what tasted like the best, freshest bread and fig sauce. The nomads live simple lives but they sure do have tasty food! There was the option to go Sand Boarding or ATV’ing but we opted not to do this activity (it was 115 F / 51 C — much too hot for anything active!). After spending the day with the nomads we traveled to our hotel Riad Madu where we basically slept the entire afternoon because we were so tired from the heat. But, it gave us a chance to catch up on some sleep and we were quite energized for the next day.
We left the Sahara (Merzouga) Desert and made our way to the Dades Valley via the Todra Gorge. This was a very scenic drive with some stops along the way to see the countryside, including some very interesting rock formations known as the “monkey toes.” Additionally, we spent time in local markets (known as Souks) and bought a few goodies along the way. At the Todra Gorge, we took time to cool off in the river where we saw local families enjoying their time. In the evening we arrived at an excellent hotel known as the Dar Rihana Dades where the food was excellent! My neighbor and I agreed that the food was so good it should be Michelin rated, and the host was extremely friendly and very helpful. The host and the chef are brothers and we can easily recommend this place to would-be travelers of the Dades Valley.
Ouarzazate and Ait Ben Haddou was a full-day stop on our way to Marrakesh. Ait Ben Haddou is a historical landmark (UNESCO I think?) that is a great example of Morrocan clay architecture. But this place is mostly known for the movies that were filmed here: Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Game of Thrones, Kingdom of Heaven, Marco Polo, and many more. If you have a moment, look this place up on Wikipedia before arriving there to get an appreciation of the place and its historical significance.
Our 11th and final stop were Marrakesh where we arrived in the early evening. We stayed in Riad Boussa and it was a lovely little in where the inn-keeper (Amed) was extremely attentive and helpful in every way. The city of Marrakesh is great and we had a chance to explore the old city as well as the modern section. The old city has so many shops and vendors where you can pretty much get anything you want. Our local guide took us to all the different sections of Marrakesh and we got to enjoy seeing artisans of all types (leather makers, metal workers, tailors, and other craftsmen). I wound up commissioning a baggage maker to make me a messenger bag. Not only was it high quality, but the negotiated price was also better than anything I could get on the internet! Am super happy with it, and with my 3 days stay in Marrakesh.
After Marrakesh, our driver Hassan took us to the beach resort city of Agadir where we bid him farewell and thanked him for an excellent trip. I’ll repeat what I said in the beginning: If you select Sahara Magic Tours for your trip (we highly recommend!), ask for Hassan to be your guide and driver. He will make sure you enjoy your tour!