10 days/ 9 nights, with 9 days of cycling.
October 15-24, 2008
30-40+ miles daily
Terrain: Gently rolling with some short hills
Single supplement: US$400/ CAD$400
- 9 nights hotels (with 1 night camping in Sahara)
- All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 8 dinners
- Use of a top quality 21-speed Cannondale hybrid bike complete with handlebar bag, pump, and all the necessary accessories for changing flats. We recommend that you bring your own helmet for safety and hygiene reasons
- Detailed route instructions and map
This trip begins from Ouarzazate which can easily be reached by air or ground from Casablanca or Marrakesh (or by direct flight from continental Europe). If you can arrange it, fly into Ouarzazate and out of Marrakesh.
Your hotel on your arrival day in Ouarzazate is included in the trip and will be available anytime after 12:00 noon. We will meet you at the airport on arrival and once you have booked your flight into Ouarzazate, let us know your flight details.
There are no activities scheduled on this day as most people will be arriving on the late afternoon, or evening flight. We will meet for breakfast on the next day to fit bikes and start biking!
Arrival to Morocco: Ouarzazate We suggest connecting by air through Casablanca; we’ll be at the airport in Ouarzazate to greet you on arrival and whisk you to our hotel where mint tea and sublime surroundings await.
Zagora: Following the magical Draa River, we cycle along this fertile valley, where lush palmeries secret date palms, olive groves, and citrus trees. We’ll stop in Agdz for lunch before continuing on to lively Zagora, which dates from French colonial times. (20, 25, or 60 miles)
M’Hamid: Morning options include an invigorating hike above town lead by a knowledgeable local guide. Our cycling route will lead us to Tamegroute, where we’ll visit an ancient library which boasts a magnificent collection of Koranic texts, dictionaries, and astrology works, some on gazelle hides. We will also visit a local co-operative to learn how the distinctive pottery found in this region is made. Afterwards, we’ll continue deep into the Sahara (Tomboctou is only 52 days away by camel caravan). Trading our bikes for camels we’ll be lead by Berber escorts to our private tented camp, where festivities await. (20, 30 or 40 miles)
Ait Ben Haddou: Up with the sun, we’ll enjoy breakfast surrounded by dunes before departing the desert. We’ll visit a local market, where fruit, vegetables, herbs, handicrafts, sheep, goats and donkeys are brought to be sold. Late afternoon, we’ll cycle a quite road to the UNESCO world heritage site of Ait Ben Haddou. This is Morocco’s most spectacular ksour, a collection of towered and crenellated Kasbahs that once guarded the lucrative caravan route through the Atlas mountains. We’ll stay at the intimate Hotel La Kasbah, which overlooks the site. (15, 30 or 60 miles)
Day 5 + 6
Ouirgane: We’ll transfer today over the High Atlas, beginning our ride along a flat stretch of magnificent road where views of snow-capped peaks and lush farmland provide a dramatic change of scenery. Reaching the Ouirgane valley, we’ll stay at a charming hotel with extensive gardens. Next day, we’ll hike into local villages where we’ll be offered tea and a chance to bake bread in community ovens. Afternoon options include cycling along the enchanting Oued Nfiss to the extraordinary Tin Mal mosque, built in 1156 and recently restored and open to visitors.
After a transfer towards Marrakech, we’ll turn west towards the coast, beginning our ride with the sight of the Atlantic in the distance. We’ll bike a stunning road, dropping to the hip town of Essaouira, famous for its artisan shops, European feel, and several kilometers of sandy beaches. On our second day, we’ll join a local historian exploring the medina here, where the maze of tiny streets reveal spice markets, marquetry workshops, ancient hammams and more. Cycling options include routes along the coast; for those who like to walk there are also hikes to secluded beaches from town. We’ll stay at the exclusive Maison du Sud, one of the top Riad hotels in the city, located in the heart of the medina.
Leaving Essaouira we’ll reach Marrakech in time for lunch. Afterwards, we'll visit the city’s sites including the Marjorelle Gardens, Museum of Yves St. Laurent, and El Bahia Palace; as dusk sets on the extraordinary Jemaa El Fna, we’ll watch as snake charmers, acrobats and street performers of every kind imaginable entertain. We’ll stay at a wonderful Riad near the historical center and for our final night, dine at one of the most atmospheric restaurants in Morocco.
Departure: You can depart at your leisure anytime on this day .