Morocco - Chefchaouen, Ait Benhaddou

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Jul 17th, 2015, 06:49 PM
  #1
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Morocco - Chefchaouen, Ait Benhaddou

Bonjour les amis,

I am planning a trip to Morocco later in the year and was wondering if I can get some advice from people who have been! I intend to spend at least two nights each in Fes, Marrakech, Meknes, and Merzouga. I'll be flying into/out of Casablanca, and have factored in jet lag, etcetera. My interests are architecture/culture. My plan looks something like this:

Day 1
Casablanca to Fes
Night: Fes

Day 2
Fes
Night: Fes

Day 3
Fes to Chefchaouen
Night: Chefchaouen

Day 4
Chefchaouen to Merzouga (I understand this will be a long-ish transit day, but that's OK!)
Night: Merzouga

Day 5
Merzouga
Night: Merzouga

Day 6
Merzouga to Meknes
Night: Meknes

Day 7
Meknes
Night: Meknes

Day 8
Meknes to Marrakech
Night: Marrakech

Day 9
Marrakech
Night: Marrakech

Day 10
Marrakech to Ait Benhaddou
Night: Ait Benhaddou

Day 11
Ait Benhaddou
Night: Ait Benhaddou

Day 12
Ait Benhaddou to Casablanca via Marrakech
Night: Casablanca

Day 13
Out!

What do people think? I might be able to fit in another night into Marrakech or Fes, or stay one less night in Meknes (only reason for two nights is so I can do a half-day trip to Volubilis). Am also open to interesting on-the-way locations I may have missed! Am consider Essouira as a one-night stop on the way back to Casablanca.
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Jul 17th, 2015, 08:06 PM
  #2
 
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How are you traveling around?

- You can stop easily by Volubilis on your way to Chefchaouen from Fes.

- Why so much time at Ait Benhaddou? It's a pretty place to stop but beyond being pretty, not much there there. Have a look around and move on.

- Given the short visit and so many stops far apart, I'd skip Meknes and add nights from there and Ait Benhaddou to Fes, Chefchaouen & Marrakech.

I'd go Casa to Marrakech by train. Then to Ait Benhaddou on the way to Merzouga. Fes to Chefchaouen with an hour or 2 stop in Volubilis on the way. Back to Casa. Or the reverse.
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Jul 17th, 2015, 09:52 PM
  #3
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Hi! Thanks! Will be traveling by train and bus.

I'm less keen on going to Marrakech straight from Merzouga mainly due to the long journey by bus! It would actually save me more time to go to Meknes and then Marrakech, and from Marrakech a trip to Ait Benhaddou.

There's a village called Tamlaght that I found on the internet near Ait Ben Haddou that looks interesting. But point taken! I might wait for a few more people to chip in before I shave off the extra night in case anyone has any interesting ideas about what else there is to do at Ait Ben Haddou?

Is Chefchaouen really worth two nights?

And if I had a choice between Fes and Marrakech, which city should I add the extra night to? I'm sure both are touristy but Marrakech sounds far more so.

Meknes looks like a beautiful place to visit, and less touristy than either Fes or Marrakech, which is why it's in my list. Unless others feel otherwise?
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Jul 17th, 2015, 10:38 PM
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I think you need to study the map a bit more. And if you haven't been to Morocco before, you'll benefit far more by moving less and spending more time in fewer places. You really are all over the place right now and not doing yourself any favors where it comes to getting a good feel for the country.

You've got 11 whole days to experience a country. There are basically 2 travel philosophies from which to choose. Hang out & get a good feel for a place or rush around and see as much as you possibly can squeeze into a time frame. I'm of the hanging out sort and Morocco is one of the best places I know to do just that.

So...Chefchaouen isn't big but it's personable. One night anywhere is, for me, a useless exercise, so minimum 2 so you have 1 whole day.

Then you have yourself going from Chefchaouen in the north of the country all the way to Merzouga in the far south in a day. Why??? Makes no sense with so few days to spend an entire day traveling between the farthest points on your itinerary. But Ait Ben Haddou is between Merzouga & Marrakech, giving you a stopping point between the 2.

When I went to Ait Ben Haddou we walked around, crossed the river on donkeys, had a look around the kasbah, had lunch and went on our way. A more comprehensive place to spend a couple of days, fewer tourists, might be Taroudant, east of Agadir.

I like Fes, but I love Marrakech. Yes, there are lots of tourists in both but Marrakech is larger, many more things to do, and because it's larger one can escape into neighborhoods away from other tourists and guys selling things. I find it more pleasant for that reason.

I also like the combination of Marrakech and Essaouira on the coast. Good cheap buses between the 2. I always go to Essaouira for a few days' break when I'm in Marrakech.

I suggest you do more reading about the places you've chosen and the many you've overlooked. For so few days you can put together a trip that's more relaxed, and satisfying for that reason, and have an itinerary that makes more sense travel-wise. At the moment you're spending too many days in the least interesting places and traveling in an awkward route to get to them. Do some rethinking.
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Jul 18th, 2015, 04:23 AM
  #5
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Hi again, thanks for the input and the pointers! My own travel philosophy is that there are few true dichotomies in philosophy! There are many ways to travel, and for me immersion has always been more to do with cultural engagement than it does length of stay (short or long).

So right now I'm considering taking one night off of Meknes and placing it elsewhere, maybe Chefchaouen or Fes. Taroudant is too far south unfortunately. There is a Supratour bus that plies the route between Merzouga and Marrakech but it's a very (very) long trip (on a bus), and getting to Ait Benhaddou from my readings is not too straightforward as is it's off the bus route. Trains seem more fun for the same or similar amount of hours invested.

Input from anyone else would be much appreciated. Especially of the backpacking sort!
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Jul 18th, 2015, 06:19 AM
  #6
 
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Hi, Oliver
I think you'll find that this forum is kind of quiet when it comes to Morocco, although I did get fantastic advice here when planning my trip last March. You may get more responses from backpacker types on the Lonely Planet forum, Thorn Tree.
For what it's worth, we loved Chefchouen but one night was enough for us. The highlight of the trip for us was a camp-out in the Sahara dunes, which you may want to consider. Never saw colors or stars like that in my life.
Have you looked at other people's trip reports and itineraries? I always find that helpful in figuring out the basics.
Good luck with your planning.
Laurie
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Jul 25th, 2015, 11:31 AM
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Oliver:

I always find that pics of a country do more to familiarize you with it rather than long posts...so I'll add the photos of Maroc below to give you an overview. Walking the ancient medina in Fes is worth more than doing the same in Marrakech, IMO.

We spent a month driving everywhere independently and hardly did the country full justice. See map also. One thing for sure, no matter what your final intinerary looks like, you will never forget Maroc. (You do realize you're in for some excruciatingly long bus-tripping without any appreciable stops, aside from the pit variety).
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Jul 25th, 2015, 11:51 AM
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http://picasaweb.google.com/stuarttower/Morocco#

https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...KvrpeoxMr2uwE#

https://picasaweb.google.com/stuarttower/Maroc3#


Oliver, most of the locations that you mentioned are found within these pics...we did not go to Chef.
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Aug 4th, 2015, 03:16 PM
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Day 3 you will only get to spend half a day in Chefchaouen as it's a four hour journey from Fez.

Day 4 Chefchaouen to Merzouga in one day isn't just 'long-ish' but rather impossible. On top of the four hour Chefchaouen to Fez journey you will then have another ten hours or so to Merzouga.

To then go north again to Meknes is madness.
Ait Benhaddou is worth a few hours and preferably an overnight stop, but there's no sense in stopping two nights.
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Aug 4th, 2015, 03:22 PM
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TimCullis, sometimes they just have to do it. You can't save everyone.
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Aug 8th, 2015, 04:26 AM
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do meknes as a day trip from fez and as others have said you have way too much transfer time!3 days worth? save the desert for your next trip and add in essaouira. right now it's like your trying to put all of summer into one day.
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Aug 30th, 2015, 10:09 PM
  #12
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Hey guys don't worry, all advice taken on board! Have significantly chopped off the number of destinations to half or less. Thanks for the input!
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Aug 31st, 2015, 06:55 AM
  #13
 
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Would love to see your new itinerary.
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Sep 18th, 2015, 01:21 AM
  #14
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Hi Minnbeef, sorry for the late reply! Essentially I will be spending two days in Tanger, then two to three days in Fes via Chefchaouen, making my way through the desert and then Marrakech I'm a restless traveler, but I think by making the bigger cities my base over the two weeks, I can easily do half day trips here and there if I don't find contentment amongst the crowds!
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