Berber Heartlands

13 Days
from AUD$ 7,597


  • Join a local pastry chef to learn how to make a range of yummy Moroccan pastries
  • Visit the Bhalil Village known for its for its unique cave houses
  • Hike to the local village of Aroumd and the surrounding douars in the Atlas Mountains
  • Explore and mingle with remote Berber communities
  • Awake to sunrise over the rolling sand dunes of Erg Chebbi

An exotic gateway to Africa – welcome to Morocco! Its mountains, desert and coast are populated by Berbers and nomads, and its ancient medina lanes lead to souqs and traditional riads.

Explore from the Saharan dunes to the Atlas Mountains on this sensory journey. Landscapes carpet this sublime slice of North Africa like the richly coloured rugs you’ll lust after in local cooperatives. The mountains lead you to Saharan oases – offering simple, breathtaking pleasures: night skies glistening in the thin air; views over a fluffy cloudbank from the Tizi n’Test pass. On lower ground, discover the rugged coastlines and caves in forested hills, and of course the mighty desert.

Journey map

Fitness level



Day 1 - Arrival Casablanca

Ahlan wa Sahlan & welcome To Morocco! Upon arrival at Casablanca Airport, our representative will be waiting for you outside with signboard with your name on it, as well as our private vehicle that will take you to your hotel. There will be a welcome Moroccan mint tea waiting for you upon check-in. Depending on your arrival time the evening will be at leisure.

Fondly known by locals simply as ‘Casa’, the capital of Morocco is the industrial, economic and cultural heart of this remarkable country, as well as its most cosmopolitan, liberal and progressive city. Whilst most visitors overlook Casablanca in favour of Morocco’s more popular and exotic cities, this sprawling metropolis has plenty to offer the discerning traveller and has many hidden historical and cultural gems just waiting to be discovered. The city is famous for its spectacular Art Deco and Moorish Revival architecture, constructed during the Colonial Period. Explore the Old Medina, a tiny, ancient, walled village; the impressive King Hassan II Mosque; its ornate rooms, masterfully tiled floors and intricately carved wooden ceilings of the Hispanic-Moorish Mahkama du Pacha. Explore the Old Medina and Hassan II Mosque, of the most impressive sites in Casablanca. Opened in 1993 after 7 Years of construction work of dozens of Moroccan architects and thousands of workers from all over the kingdom, this mosque has the tallest Minaret on the planet and is the 3rd largest mosque in the world. The huge building is partly on land and partly on sea, and in one area, water can be seen through a glass floor. It is one of the only religious sites open to non-Muslims. Later, you will leave Casablanca and drive north along the coast to Rabat, the capital of Morocco and its Imperial city. The evening is at leisure. Why not simply watch the world go by at one of the many ocean-view cafes along the waterfront boulevard.

Overnight Odyssee Center Hotel or similar

Day 2 - Rabat & Tangier

This morning, explore the old quarter known as the Kasbah des Oudaias. Afterwards, visit the minaret of the Hassan Mosque and the two late kings of Morocco’s Mausoleums. You will also visit the Spanish Mosque before continuing to Tangier where you will explore Hercules cave, the Kasbah, the tangle of the Medina and of course, the Souk. (B)

Overnight Palais Zahia or similar

Distance and Journey Time: Casablanca – Rabat (88km) Approx 1.25hrs, Rabat- Tangier (252km) Approx 3hrs, City Tour (50km) approx. 2hrs driving

Day 3 - Chefchaouen

Continue north to the city of Chefchaouen, locally known as the blue pearl. Hidden high up in the Rif Mountains of northeastern Morocco, Chefchaouen is a relatively large historical town known for the striking, variously hued blue-washed buildings of its picturesque Medina. Wander along narrow, cobblestone streets lined with leather and weaving workshops and an array of historical monuments. Must-see attractions include the town’s waterfall which lies to the east of the Medina; the ruins of an old mosque on a hill behind the waterfall; and the shady main square of Uta el Hammam, which is home to the red-walled kasbah, a 15th-century fortress and dungeon displaying ethnographic and art exhibits. Explore this beautiful Andalusian town. Its medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses and artistic doorways. Most of Chefchaouen was recreated by Andalusian refugees escaping the Reconquista, so you might feel like you’re in the hills of Spain while exploring its streets. Enjoy the sights in the main square with the Kasbah (built back in the 18th century), central mosque and cafes with authentic Moroccan style menus. The market is a mix of traditional Moroccan and tourist souvenirs, very busy but worth a visit. The town is easy to explore and the old Kasbah is worth a visit. Built by Moulay Ismail, it is now practically a ruin, and next to it is the Great Mosque. Although the medina is small, walk on to the main square and the souks, where women wearing Hayek (traditional veils) sell an array of local goods. If you head on to the Jewish quarter behind the jewellery souk, you will feel the difference between here and the main Arabic feel of the town.

You will also enjoy exploring the Rif Mountains. The first and lowest of the mountain ranges that ripple south through Morocco, make perfect trekking country. Take in the magnificent ranges, gorges and valleys, cloaked in forests of cedar, cork oak and fir. Unlike the extremely popular Atlas Mountains, there are no deep, well-worn trails or tourists – these mountains offer you a unique, sprawling look at undiscovered terrain. Situated close to villages and cities, you can still venture far away without leaving behind the comforts of Moroccan culture and hospitality. Overlooking the entire Chefchaouen town on Rif mountains, enjoy the peaceful vibe of white and blue. Visit the little Spanish church which you saw when you entered Chefchaouen. You are also likely to meet troupes of Barbary apes around the edge of Talassemtane National Park. (B)

Overnight Vancii Hotel or similar

Distance and Journey Time: Tangier – Chefchaouen (112km) Approx 2.25hrs, Return trip to Talassemtane National Park (80km) approx. 2hrs driving


Day 4 - Fes

Get into your comfy shoes, grab a bottle of water, put on your sunscreen and get ready for an outdoorsy day full of exciting historical sites. After breakfast, you will head to the city to the ruins of Volubilis. Take a guided tour of The Mauritanian capital, founded in the 3rd century B.C., the Roman ruins of Volubilis. This site became an important outpost of the Roman Empire and was graced with many fine buildings. Extensive remains of these survive in the archaeological site, located in a fertile agricultural area. Afterwards, head to the spiritual capital of Morocco, Fes.

Fes is Morocco’s second-largest city and the country’s former capital. It is an exotic mix of Arabic architecture, ancient alleyways, calls to prayer and colourful markets; all mixed in with a good dose of modern culture. Home to the venerated Karaouine Mosque, which dates back to 859 AD and incorporates an Islamic university, it is also home to the country’s most hallowed shrine, the Zaouia Moulay Idriss II. Fes is regarded as the spiritual seat of Morocco. Those with a penchant for shopping, can browse the mesmerising colourful markets selling an exquisite array of silver, leather and other handicrafts up for grabs. (B)

2 nights Riad El Yacout or similar

Distance and Journey Time: Chefchaouen – Volubilis (164km) Approx 3hrs, Volubilis – Fes (95km) Approx 1.5hrs

Day 5 - Fes

Explore the spiritual and cultural capital of the kingdom of Morocco on a guided tour. See the architectural treasures of the Medina including The famous Fes tanneries, visit ancient buildings such as Mederssa El Attarine, and the University and Mosque of Karaouine. Admire the harmonious Mosaic details which adorn these magnificent buildings. Learn about traditional artisan work at the Nejjarine

Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts. See where artisans employ techniques passed down from generation to generation in order to make tools, carpets, furniture, and musical instruments, in the afternoon feel free to relax at your beautiful Riad (which means Mansion in Arabic) away from the buzz of the busy city. (B)

Day 6 - Midelt

Depart Fes early this morning and head into the Middle Atlas Mountains. Your first stop will be Bhalil Village. Set on the side of a hill, 6 km northwest of Sefrou, the village of Bhalil is a quiet town and there are not too many travellers visiting this part of northern Morocco. Meet your local guide who will take you to his personal cave house and serve you mint tea. This small village is notable for its unique cave houses. Bhalil is also known for its production of Jelleba Buttons. Village women can often be found in alleyways, chatting while they diligently work through hundreds of strings and buttons in the creation of traditional Jellaba. Your next stop will be Sefrou city. This small town has become increasingly popular and one of the most desirable destinations for people who seek serenity and relaxation. After lunch in Sefrou, you will continue your journey on to the city of Midelt in the late afternoon, relax in your Riad and enjoy an included berber dinner.

Sitting on a plateau between the High Atlas and Middle Atlas Mountains in central Morocco, Midelt is an important agricultural trading centre. The town is also known for producing exceptional handicrafts – particularly carpets, blankets and embroidery – and for its outlying traditional villages, where life has changed little over the centuries. (B,D)

Overnight Villa Pomme D’or or similar

 Distance and Journey Time: Fes – Bhalil (27km) Approx 30mins, Bhalil – Midelt (198km) Approx 3.5hrs


Day 7 - Merzouga

Today you will make your way into the dunes of Morocco’s Erg Chebbi region of the Sahara Desert. You’ll have this morning to relax and explore Midelt at your own pace, then with your guide, you will visit a great landmark for women of the Moroccan south Kasbah Myriam. This kasbah-styled workshop helps Berber women develop their embroidery and weaving skills. The workshop provides looms and materials, as well as a simple place to work. Local girls come here to learn these skills from more experienced women, as education isn’t accessible to all in the region. After a stop in the kasbah, you have a Medfouna lunch which the local dish and must try if you are passing by the doorsteps of the desert. Once in Erfoud, you will visit a local fossil museum and shop. This region is known as a rich source of prehistoric fossils and stone. About 380 million years ago, it was a floor of a large prehistoric ocean, the first proto-Tethys Sea. Because of different natural factors, various elements of the fauna and flora and maritime life were left after the withdrawal of the sea. This experience will let you step back in time and have a moment of meditation and reflection. Upon arrival in Merzouga, you will leave your luggage at the auberge. Enjoy a gentle camel ride before you have dinner by the campfire and enjoy some gnaoua music. Your room for tonight will be a Beautiful Bedouin-style tent.

Situated on the edge of the Sahara Desert, close to the Algerian border, the small Moroccan village of Merzouga serves as the gateway to the Erg Chebbi, an expanse of impressive dune fields. Merzouga is a Moroccan desert dream destination for visitors who come here to explore the sensational surrounding landscape. (B,D)

Overnight Madu Luxury Camp or similar

Distance and Journey Time: Midelt – Kasbah Myriem (3km) Approx 5mins, Kasbah Myriem – Erfoud (212km) approx. 3.5hrs, Erfoud – Merzouga (55km) Approx 45min

Day 8 - Boumalne Dades

This morning, awaken early to set to witness one of the best sunrises of your life as you make your way to the village of Merzouga. Take in the incredible beauty of the spectacular Erg Chebbi dunes – changing with the light as the day progresses. After breakfast, depart Khamlia which is a small village in southern Merzouga. The Khamlia’s Gnawa originated in black Africa having a close and long- standing relationship with the desert. Their ancestors were brought from central and west Africa as slaves, through the Sahara Desert in caravans that arrived to the southeastern part of Morocco. After their emancipation from slavery, they survived as nomads moving regularly in search of favourable land for their herds. Around the 50s and 60s, they started to settle down with the Berber nomads in towns and in the growing urban areas. That is the way Khamlia was founded. Since then the main sources of income are agriculture, livestock farming and more recently, tourism. Mingle with the locals whilst sipping on tea and enjoying some live Gnawa music. Continue on to the gorges of Todra the highest, narrowest gorges in Morocco. Here you will have the option to hike for an hour within the valley, where you will meet locals and learn about the culture and geography. After lunch in the heart of the gorge, you will continue to the Dades Valley, where you’ll see the majestic sandcastles and the amazing rocks formations.

Boumalne Dades is located in southeast Morocco’s Tinghur Province, at 1500 metres above sea level in the High Atlas Mountains. It is a spellbinding destination – a city of terracotta buildings set between rugged red cliffs, palm oases and fields of crimson wildflowers. The city’s scenic beauty is matched by its cultural intrigue – it has a rich heritage that includes its traditional art, music and adobe architecture – some of which has remained virtually intact over several centuries. This area is a wonderful base to experience the area’s ancient palaces and forts, Berber villages and spectacular scenery. (B,D)

Overnight Xaluca Dades or similar

Distance and Journey Time: Merzouga – Khamlia (7km) Approx 10mins, Khamlia – Boumalne Dades (260km) approx. 4hrs

Day 9 - Ait Benhaddou

After breakfast, you have a full day to explore the beauty of this untouched Moroccan backcountry. First you will have one of the most interesting stops of your adventure at the Women’s organisation for family development in Dadès, created by a woman who is originally from a tiny douwar in the region, nestled between the Dades gorges and valley. Life in this little isolated village is tough, the amenities are basic, and the daily routine is difficult particularly for the women. After this visit, contnue towards Ait Benhadou via Skoura, commonly known as the Road of One Thousand Kasbahs. Here, in this quiet little village garnished with palm tree groves, you will find one kasbah that stands out from the rest. The Kasbah Amridil, a 400 year old beautiful building, and one of Morocco’s most iconic living museums. Your final stop of the day will be the amazing Kasbah of Ait Benhadou where you will spend the night Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco’s most iconic sites. Its grand kasbah is one of the most beautiful in Morocco and the fortified village is a fine example of clay architecture. If you think you recognise this place, you probably do, as the town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Why not enjoy a relaxing Moroccan Hammam & Massage as soon as you arrive to your beautiful Riad? (B,D) 

Overnight at Kasbah El Hajja or similar

Distance and Journey Time: Boumalne Dades – Skoura (80km) Approx 1.25hrs, Skoura – Ait ben Haddou (73km) approx. 1hrs

Day 10 - Imlil, Atlas Mountains

Today say goodbye to the magical town of Ait Benhdadou and head to the Atlas Mountains via the Tiz n Tichka pass. First you will stop by the fertile village of Ourika where you will have a homemade lunch with the locals. Continue to the village of Imlil, you will start a light trek from Imlil (1740m) towards Tamatert, where your Beautiful auberge is located. After you check-in, your guide will take you for a hike to the local village of Aroumd and the surrounding douars! Enjoy a breathtaking view of the High Atlas mountains (1900m) & enjoy the opportunity to experience the authentic traditional Berber culture. (B,D)

Overnight Dar Imlil or similar

Walking Distance: Approximately 2-4kms

Walking Time: Approximately 1hr

Distance and Journey Time: Ait ben Haddou Tiz n Tichka Pass – Ourika Village – Imlil (225km) 4-4.5hr drive


Day 11 - Marrakesh

After breakfast, depart on foot for a Berber village called Ouirgane. Crossing a vibrant green valley that stays fresh and lush even during the hottest days of the summer, this village is situated in a scenic valley at 1000 metres above sea level in the High Atlas Mountains. You will have the opportunity to stop in many picturesque villages along the way such as Ouaousaft, Asni, before you finally reach the Ouirgane Lake! Enjoy exploring this beautiful village before tucking into a local dish whilst taking in the stunning views. Later on in the afternoon, you will be transferred to the ochre city of Marrakech, a colourful melting pot where European modernity is mixed with ancient vibes. The bustling UNESCO-listed city of Marrakesh is an enchanting travel destination in Morocco. It’s easy to lose all sense of time in Marrakech, with its maze of narrow alleyways scattered with donkey carts, snake charmers, castanetists, acrobats, story-tellers, dancers, water-sellers and potion vendors to entertain. If you don’t find all of these as you journey through the winding streets of the ‘Red City’, you will be sure to find them and much, much more at its famous markets. Marrakesh is home to the largest traditional Berber market in Morocco and one of the busiest squares in the world, known as Djemaa el Fna which is where you will enjoy dinner this evening. (B,D)

2 nights Riad Palais Des Princesses or similar

Distances and journey time: Imlil – Marrakesh (67km): 2 hrs

Day 12 - Marrakech

After breakfast, you will head to the elegant restaurant at La Maison Arabe where you will have a cooking class and lean to prepare your first Moroccan meal. With the help of a local chef, prepare your lunch. After lunch, you will have a guided visit of the Medina starting from Le Jardin Secret that dates back to the Saadian dynasty more than 400 years ago and has been the home of some of Morocco and Marrakech’s most important political figures. Discover its gardens and buildings, which are outstanding examples of Islamic art and architecture. Next, you will wind back through the narrow streets of the Medina through souks and spice Markets where women sell many organic goodies from organic make up products to handmade jewellery and hats. Continue on to the Bahia Palace then to the Koutoubia Mosque and its minaret. (B)

2 nights Riad Palais Des Princesses or similar

Day 13 - Departure

Following breakfast, today is at leisure until it is time for your transfer to the airport for your onward departure. (B)

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What’s included

  • Return airport transfers
  • 12 nights accommodation
  • Meals as per the itinerary
  • Services of an English speaking guide
  • Transportation in an air conditioned vehicle
  • Entrance fees
  • International and Domestic flights
  • Drinks unless otherwise mentioned
  • Visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips
  • Inoculations
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Anything not mentioned in the itinerary

**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.

* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.

* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.

A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.



Start Date
End Date
Start Date
10th Feb 2024
End Date
22nd Feb 2024
13 Days
$7,597 AUD
Start Date
27th Oct 2024
End Date
08th Nov 2024
13 Days
$7,965 AUD
Start Date
09th Feb 2025
End Date
21st Feb 2025
13 Days
$8,352 AUD
Start Date
26th Oct 2025
End Date
07th Nov 2025
13 Days
$8,352 AUD