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Morocco; Marrakesh to Casablanca in 8 days~Itinerary help needed

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Jul 4th, 2012, 04:53 PM
  #1
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Morocco; Marrakesh to Casablanca in 8 days~Itinerary help needed

I am in the early stages of planning a trip for myself (early 40's) and my mother (mid 60's) for a trip of about a week in Morocco in October.

We arrive in Marrakesh mid day on a Saturday and leave Casablanca at 1am on a Monday. We currently have 3 nights booked in Marrakesh. We'll probably spend the last day (Sunday) in Casablanca before we leave for the airport. That leaves us 5 nights and I'm not sure how and where to spend them. I'd love to get a good overview of the country and we're not adverse to moving around a bit.

We'd wanted to do an overnight in the desert, but this is looking like it will suck up 3 days/2 nights and we're not sure we want to commit that much of our limited time. We're also interested in the High Atlas mountains so maybe a night somewhere there? Other places we've been looking at include Essaouira, Fes, and Chefchaouen.

I don't think we're going to want to rent a car, but we're open to trains, bus and hiring a driver for various portions of the trip to make it work.

I'd welcome any and all suggestions. Thanks!
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Jul 4th, 2012, 06:20 PM
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Hi Kristina;
Accodring to your request, you asked to visit so many places in a short moment which your trip impossible, in 5 nights or max a week, not enough to visit Marrakech, Essaouira, the desert, Fes, Chefchaouen and Casablanca so such trips take up to 15 days amount of time.
In my opinion here is the doable itinerary you could follow up:
Day 1: Arriave Marrakech, Mid day check in your riad, enjoying the local nightlife in jemaa el fna Square.
Day 2: Explore Marrakech either to use a guidebook, or hiring a Local Guide recommendations from your accommodation.
Day 3: Depart to Dades or Ouarzazat or to Merzouga using the Bus of Supratours as we use it recently there and it's comfortable, and if you want to have a flexible day having stops and enjoying berber villages, high atlas mountains, visiting the gorges of Dades and Todra, you need to rent a car or a driver with the car.
Day 4 : in Case you use the Bus you might have overnight in a hotel there, then Explore Merzouga area, and do Camel ride in the afternoon your accommodation can arrange that at the Edg of the Erg Chebbi, any local accommodation there in the Center can do it.
- In Case you use a rental car or hiring a driver you might overnight in Dades Boumalen try to continue via Tnhrir, after visiting the Dades Valley, in Tnhrir you can visit the Todra Gorges where you can have a short walk near the river, then arrive in Merzouga and take a camel ride option directly from any local Hotel there.
Day 5: back from the desert, either drive to Fes if a rental car , if the bus wait until 05:00pm .
Day 6 : Explore Fes and in the afternoon take the Train straight to Casablanca you flight you said will be at 01:00am.

so this is the itinerary i can suggest for a rush time, but there is better alternatives you can do and including some places because the desert trip take at least 3 days 2 nights.
So for the other option i can suggest is :
Day 1: Arrive Marrakech and do like in the first Option.
Day 2: Half day exploring Marrakech take the Bus to Essaouira, overnight there and back to Marrakech next day.
Day 3: high atlas mountains day trip there is a plenty of Local tour agencies near Jemaa el fna Square who can help arrange that in a cheaper price, make sure to have english speaking driver, and air-conditioned car.
Day 4: take a train to Fes 7 Hours Minimum. overnight there.
Day 5: exploring Fes medina.
Day 6: go to Casablanca, or hire a driver to take for Chefchaouen overnight there, and next day have a half day exploring the town then go to Casablanca for your flight back home.

i hope my suggestions might help.
feel free to post any concerns and hope we can help.
Cheers;
Alex
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Jul 4th, 2012, 06:26 PM
  #3
 
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Hi Kristy;
Sorry i thought you had 6 Day in Total.
so regarding 8 Days, try to follow the first program and once arriving Fes.
Day 6: Explore Fes Medina, hire a local guide so not be lost inside the medina alleys.
Day 7: hire a driver for 2 Days, or if you have had a rental car from the begin then drive to chefchaouen Via Volubilis, Meknes, Moulay Driss Overnight in Chefchaouen.
Day 8: Explore Chefchaoune half day, then take the half day driving to Casablanca as you have a late departure.
Good Luck.
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Jul 5th, 2012, 10:38 AM
  #4
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Alex- thanks for the ideas. Yes, we have 8 days.

Currently I'm kicking this around:

Saturday: Arrive 2pm into Marrakesh after 22hrs travel time (ouch).
Sunday and Monday: Marrakesh- at least half or all of one of these days will probably be a cooking class
Tuesday: Essaouira
Wednesday: open
Thursday: open or Chefchaouen
Friday:Fes
Saturday:Fes
Sunday: Early train to Casablanca

Does this make sense? Too much moving around? Should I add a day to Essaouira and Fes on those middle open days or go somewhere in the high atlas?
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Jul 5th, 2012, 11:27 AM
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Hi Kristina.
My wife and I will also be visiting Morocco in September for 5 nights.
I am trying to put together an itinerary which won't be too rushed. We fly into Marrakesh and out of Casablanca at 1:45 AM.
Currently thinking 2-3 nights in Marrakesh and 2-3 nights in the desert with train from Marrakesh to Casablanca as well.
I'll try to keep you posted.
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Jul 5th, 2012, 05:51 PM
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Hi Kristina;
Since you have 8 days you have enough time to cover as many places as possible, and keep in mind that Morocco is a large country that will need a good plan to cover as many places as possible.
so in your first Day arriving Marrakech, you can do have oppotunity to check in first at your accommodation and explore Marrakech night enjoying the atmospher of Jemaa el fna Square, experience the Moroccan night life in Marrakech.
in your second Day, arrange an exploration journey to Marrakech hiring a local Guide exploring the medina, and the site seeing, then do your cooking classes in the second half day, as you can hire a taxi to see the Majourlle Gardens as a must seen place as well. Which is situated a bit far from the medina 15 minute petite Taxi.
3rd Day: Essaouira there is a bus take goes there every 2 hours from Marrakech to Essaouira.
4th Day: Train from Marrakech to Fes.
5th and 6th Day : Exploring Fes at the 5th and 6th do a day trip to Meknes, Volubilis and Moulay Driss then back to Fes.
7th Day: Fes Chefchaouen.
8th Day Explore Chefchaouen, then Depart to Casablanca as you can take the bus to Assilah then the Train from there to Casablanca.
this itinerary looks better than the first one, and it will works much better, the little problem will be at the Transportation as i think you can hire a driver anytime you don't find the Transportation easier.
Good luck and have a nice trip.
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Jul 6th, 2012, 06:18 PM
  #7
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Dinks-with only 5 nights it makes sense to limit yourself to one city, especially if you arrive and depart from there. For some reason though, I'm not willing to commit 3 of my 8 days to going/coming back from the dessert.

Alex- Thanks for the revised suggestions. Will take a look at Meknes, Volubilis and Moulay Driss when I get my guidebook.

The hard part now is going to be figuring out the transportation. Public or private car & driver? And how much should it cost either way?
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Jul 6th, 2012, 07:09 PM
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Actually, in 8 Days if you have hired a private transportation would be easier to cover all your wish list including the dessert, atlas Mountains, Essaouira and the rest.
But since you'll use the Public Transportation will be a bit hard to move from one location to another with your stuff.
for a private transportation you can find it in 100Euro/per day
including driver and Car fees.
so calculate your budget and make what suits your pocket, before that use a guidebook as it's very useful.
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Jul 9th, 2012, 06:41 AM
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Chefchaouen from Marrakech is 570km. Even Fes is 500km. Much as I love both places, unless you are planning a road trip, they're probably too far.

Remember that the Atlas are between Marrakech and the Sahara, so your day trip to the mountains could get you a day closer to the desert. Fes is also closer to the Sahara than Marrakech is (in terms of time - around 7 hours driving as opposed to around 9 hours). To do both justice you need a minimum of 3 days and 4 is better.

Essaouira is an easy 220km bus ride from Marrakech.

If you are worried about time, use Marrakech as a base and explore some of the mountain passes up into the Atlas.
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Jul 9th, 2012, 09:43 PM
  #10
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Mark-
Thanks so much for the reply. We're not really looking for a day trip to the mountains from Marrakech as much as a stopover between Essaouira and Fes.

Right now I'm considering this:
Saturday: Arrive 2pm into Marrakech
Sunday-Marrakech
Monday: Marrakech
Tuesday: Essaouira
Wednesday: Drive Essaouria to Fes, overnight somewhere midway?
Thursday:Fes
Friday:Fes
Saturday:Meknes/Volubilis
Sunday: Early train to Casablanca

At this point I think we have to let go of Chefchaouen and time in the desert.

How would I best go about booking the Essaouira to Fes portion and what should I expect to pay for a car/driver?
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Jul 10th, 2012, 05:24 PM
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Kristina,
Congratulations for the very good plan you come up with, that is a very good itinerary which through you will enjoy Morocco, so for the desert and Chefchaouen and more other amazing places leave it to another time during your visit to Morocco.
So for a driver, your can hire a driver from Essaouira so not cost your more than the one will come from another place, so for a day tour they charge 100 to 150 Euro depends on the KMs sometimes when it's far you can expect to pay more.
So for, that option i think it's better to do it from Marrakech using the Train, go from Essaouira to Marrakech by Bus which runs every two hours between Essaouira and Marrakech, so 7 Hours will take you from Marrakech to Fes.
Good luck.
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Jul 28th, 2012, 09:15 AM
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I'm still working on this itinerary and have made some changes. Would love some new input.

We're taking out Essaouria because we just can't find a reasonably priced overnight drive to Fes from there (with a stop in the Middle Atlas). Quotes I've gotten have ranged from 540 euro and up for essentially 2 days, 1 night which is out of our budget. So we'll do the train from Marrakech to Meknes or Fes in one day instead.

This is what I'm now considering:

Saturday: Arrive 2pm into Marrakech
Sunday-Marrakech
Monday: Marrakech
Tuesday: early train to Meknes (6.5 hours)
Wednesday: Bus to Chefchaouen (4 hours)
Thursday: Chefchaouen
Friday: Bus to Fes (4 hours)
Saturday: Fes
Sunday: Early train to Casablanca (midnight departure)

My question is what is the best order to do Meknes/Fes/Chefchaouen?
Should we just go to Fes, spend 3 nights there and visit Meknes/Volubilis from Fes? If so, then we'd have to do Chefchaouen last and take a longer bus ride on the last day to Casablanca which I'd prefer to avoid.

Thoughts?
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Jul 29th, 2012, 09:15 AM
  #13
jgg
 
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I know this isn't answering your most recent question. But just want to mention that we did an 8 night trip to Morocco and this was our itinerary:

3 nights Marakkech
1 night Ouazarzate (on way to desert)
1 night in Sahara desert (tent)
1 night in Merzouga (small city just on edge of desert
2 nights Fes - after Fes we drove to Casablanca to catch our flight

Other than that I wished we had one more night in Fes it was a fabulous trip. The overnight in the desert is still the highlight of all of our travels.

Here is a link to my trip report and pictures:
http://www.fromhometoroam.com/2012/0...ents-tangines/
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Aug 13th, 2012, 09:04 PM
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Back with yet another revised itinerary here. We decided we were trying to do too much in 1 week, moving around too much.

So now we're thinking 4 nights in Marrakech (with a day trip to either mountains or Essaouira) and then 4 nights in Fes (with another day trip) or 3 nights Fes/ 1 night Meknes.

Thoughts?
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Aug 14th, 2012, 09:45 AM
  #15
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I think that looks good. With the daytrips, you will have an opportunity to see more without so much moving around.
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Aug 15th, 2012, 12:39 AM
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I would encourage you to do the trips to the mountains (Imlil?) and Essaouira as overnight visits rather than day trips. You could go with just a few things you need for overnight and leave the rest of your luggage in Marrakech.

A great trip out from Fez is to head 80km south to Ifrane and Azrou in the Middle Atlas mountains which are renowned for the extinct volcanos, cedar forests and wild monkeys, see http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntre...readID=1945807

If it fitted with your schedule you could spend Monday night in Azrou (I normally stay at the really inexpensive Hotel Cedres, or the more upmarket Hotel Panorama) and then visit the weekly market which takes place every Tuesday.
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Aug 15th, 2012, 05:49 AM
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Thanks Tim. I don't think we'll be able to do overnights on this trip. The idea of changing the itinerary was to minimize the moving around because we only have 8 days.
But your photos of mountains and the monkeys are great and I'd really love to go. Are you saying it's too far for a day trip?
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Aug 16th, 2012, 01:55 AM
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To get to Azrou is less than two hours. You could make an interesting tour by leaving Fez heading south on the Sefrou road (renowned for its cherries) then 25km south of Sefrou turn right through the lake district (any local driver should know this route) and head west to Dayat Aoua.

You come out near Ifrane (a pretty summer mountain resort built by the French in the 1930s) and from there head south to Azrou.
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Sep 10th, 2012, 01:10 AM
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Hello Kristina! I am inbetween your mom's age and yours. In addition I hurt my leg very badly before I even got to Morocco, which I am saying only so that you know that if I could do it, anyone can lol!

There is so much that is marvelous about Morocco that I'd like to suggest that you take a deep breath and ask yourself what the goal of your trip is. What do you want to bring back with you? What is there in Morocco that you cannot see or do elsewhere? (For example I absolutely adored Essaouira, but if I had such a short time I'm not sure I would go to a beach. OTOH they had silver apprenticeships places there and it was something of a silver jewelry shoppers heaven... But SO hard to find!)

The Middle and High Atlas for me were not as spectacular as I had imagined as I lived in the rockies for ten years. The oases were fabulous to view, and staying in an old kasbah a great experience, but I think I could have easily shortened that a good bit.

As mentioned elsewhere, I was so amazed by the "OMG I'm in the SAHARA" that I added two days when there. Riding a camel in the "shoes" of the ancients was like living history. And I did it with a barely working leg. But if that doesn't strike a chord with you, by all means give it a miss.

Fez, in not only my opinion, but the opinion of everyone I met as I traveled, is far superior to Marrakech. Marrakech was the only place I had to deal with truly unsavory types, and not worth the snake charmers or even the night food market (though that was the best part of Marrakech for me).

Taking a cooking class is a GREAT idea. I took a fabulous one in Fes if you decide you want to do one there rather than in Mk. They let me pick which dishes to make, and then, of course, sit down to eat the amazing 5 course meal. (But if you are going please don't cancel without paying. They buy the food the day-of and it is costly to them -- their overhead is tight)

In Fes the medina is a labyrinth. Either hire a guide (300/600 DH per 1/2 / full day set by law) or be prepared to ask for help getting back. Most hotels will even send someone to fetch you. Just don't freak about it -- it's very safe there -- assuming you follow the ordinary money precautions about the worst you'll lose is your purse or perhaps some dignity. Unfortunately I spent my first 2 days there scared to death... and wasted a lot of opportunity to wander. There is so much to see there -- so much more history and manufacturing and workmanship than in MK (and half of it is over by noon!). And the pottery town is a half day trip -- nice but missable... That's where I'd spend a couple of days...

My Fez Hotel was my big splurge -- I stayed in a Riad Layla which was great. At first I was somewhat disappointed not to be in the middle of the Medina, but instead I was just a few blocks from the "Blue Gate" (called the Porte Bleu) where there are many inexpensive restaurants and convenience stores, pharmacy etc.) I ate in a number of the restaurants there and never had a bad meal.

Finally, I strongly suggest that you hire a driver and van. With such a short trip, the money will be well worth it. You won't need one in Fes, or MK, or any town where you are staying a day or two, but otherwise you will lose half of your time or more to travel. I loved mine. I'm not supposed to mention, apparently, that of the 10 or so companies that I researched I ended up going with the desert majesty people, who were just fabulous. But I will only tell you my driver's name if you promise to tip well -- can you imagine some people don't tip at all! Ouch!

I think I got lost somewhere along the way here, too busy pontificating, but my real points are to give MK either a total or partial skip (you can fly right out from CAS to the smaller cities on Air Maroc for very little) and figure out what your purpose in going to Marocco is, and then tailor your itinerary to it. If you have half as good a time as I did you will have a great trip. (But do take any and all medications with you... seriously.)
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Sep 17th, 2012, 05:54 AM
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Hi-
We finally decided on our itinerary; 4 nights in Marrakesh and 4 nights in Fes. We will do day trips from those cities rather than try and move every couple of days. We will take the train from Marrakesh to Fes and then from fes to Casablanca on our last day, pre-departure.

TravelinFeet- Which cooking class did you do in Fes?
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