Adventures / Remote Rides

Cycle the Backroads of Morocco

Pedal from the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains to the vast dunes of the Sahara Desert

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Trip Ref #10441

Adventures / Remote Rides

Cycle the Backroads of Morocco

Pedal from the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains to the vast dunes of the Sahara Desert

DURATION

7 nights

LOCATION

Morocco

ANNUAL LEAVE

5 days

SEASON

March-May / Sept-Nov

GROUP SIZE

Up to 12 people

MEETING POINT

Marrakech Menara Airport

ACCOMMODATION

Traditional riad · Guesthouse · Glamping

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

You won’t need to be super fit, but you should have experience riding back-to-back days with moderate elevation gain

Cycle through the Valley of the Roses, pausing at the ancient UNESCO ksar of Ait Ben Haddou

Take on the infamous Tizi n’Tazazert Pass (2220m) for panoramic views of the lunar-esque Jbel Saghro mountains

Bed down in a traditional Berber camp nestled among the dunes underneath a Saharan sky

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Local, professional, English-speaking guides and bike mechanics

Accommodation

4 nights in local guesthouses, 2 night in a riad, 1 in a Berber desert camp

Meals

All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 5 dinners

Transfers

Transfers from the airport and throughout the trip

Equipment

Scott Genius 750 bikes and all your desert camping equipment

Luggage Transfer

A truck to carry all your overnight kit

Support Vehicle

To hop into if your legs need a rest

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Marrakech Airport (RAK)

Arrive any time on Day 1

Ends

Marrakech Airport (RAK) or Marrakech Centre

Depart any time on Day 8

Transfers

Private transfers between the airport and your riad are included for any time (and day) you choose to arrive or depart.

Travel options

There are daily flights to Marrakech from major airports across the UK and Europe.

Day 1

Traditional riad · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 5

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Glamping · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Traditional riad · Triple share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Moroccan food is a unique blend of sweet and savoury flavours. Local specialities include tajines (a stew cooked in an earthenware pot), couscous and pastilles (flaky pastries stuffed with meat and dusted with cinnamon and sugar). Food is often spiced with cumin, turmeric and ginger. Breakfast will usually feature bread, jam, eggs, fruit, juice, coffee and milk. Lunchtime picnics consist of fresh salad, lentils, pasta, rice, fish, bread and fresh fruit. Dinner will usually include soup, a classic Moroccan tajine, couscous, olives, nuts and fruit.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request it on your passenger information form.

What is the accommodation like?

Marrakech

You'll stay in a beautiful riad - a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard. The exact riad will be confirmed nearer the time based on availability and group size, however, all are chosen for their excellent reputation, location, beautiful decor and welcoming service. You will likely stay in Riad Africa or Riad Viewpoint or one of a similar standard. Rooms are twin-share by default.

On the road

While riding you'll stay in a selection of locally owned and run guesthouses. Each are clean, simple, traditional and chosen for their outstanding destinations. Most have a terrace to enjoy the views of your remote overnight spots. Rooms are twin-share by default.

Sahara Berber Camp

You'll spend one night in a Berber camp in the dunes of the Sahara. This is definitely more glamping than camping; each tent has raised beds and an en-suite as standard. There's plenty of space to enjoy the peace of the desert and to have a chat around the fire at night. Tents are twin-share by default.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. This is available for all nights apart from the Berber camp night. Please request this at the time of booking as this is subject to availability.

Day 1

Welcome to Marrakech

Arrive at the colourful city of Marrakech and head to your traditional riad in the historic medina. Spend the day exploring the souk and Jemaa el-Fnaa, the unforgettable main square – a place that’s been beguiling and entertaining travellers for centuries. Finish the day meeting your crew over dinner to hear all about the adventure ahead.

Day 2

Time to hit the road

Driving

3hrs

Cycling

47km · 410m up · 920m down

Up bright and early for a 4-wheel drive to the east of the country. You'll cruise over the Tizi n’Tichka mountain pass (2260m) all the way to Telouet where you'll get set up on your bikes. Today's ride undulates and passes through small Berber villages and the red rock Ounila Valley. You'll arrive at the famous UNESCO site of Ait Ben Haddou in time for mint tea and sunset on the terrace.

Day 3

Get your Throne Game on

Cycling

37km · 210m up · 460m down

Ait Ben Haddou is a ksar, or fortified city, at the foot of the High Atlas, mostly famous for being a UNESCO site and one of Morocco's oldest settlements, but more recently known as the backdrop in a Game of Thrones and The Gladiator. You'll have a bit of time to explore and hear more about the ksar's fascinating history before heading to Ghassate where you'll start your ride. Watch the scenery change as you cycle through the palm groves and oases of Skoura.

Day 4

Gorge Hunting

Cycling

50km · 635m up · 540m down

Leaving the palm oases of Skoura via the beautiful Taslmante Valley, you'll cycle to an ancient troglodyte settlement - many nomadic Berbers still live in the caves handed down through generations of families. It's likely you'll stop to chat to a family and of course, enjoy some more mint tea. You'll cycle through the Valley of the Roses, home to a huge rose-growing community and the main source of rose water. You'll overnight in the striking Dades Gorge, a haven for rock climbers who come to scale the 500m+ walls.

Day 5

To the moon

Cycling

60km · 1190m up · 1715m down

Time for the big push. The Dades Valley lies between the High Atlas Mountains and the Jbel Saghro Mountains. You'll weave your way through both mountain ranges on a slow and steady ascent of the Tizi n’Tazazert pass (2200m). Cruise the switchbacks all the way to the top for panoramic views of the lunar-like landscape before rolling downhill to spend the night at the lush Berber oasis town of N’kob.

Day 6

The Sahara

Cycling

40km · 400m up · 470m down

You'll ride on gravel tracks today as you follow the river, past watermelon fields and honey farms, with some peaceful shaded spots to pause for lunch. Pushing on you'll get to the small provincial capital of Zagora for a coffee stop in the main square. Zagora used to be the starting point for 'camel caravans', an essential means of trade as the camels crossed the Sahara to Timbuktu in 52 days. You'll finish riding on the sand tracks of the Sahara and hop into a jeep for a short bumpy ride to your desert camp. Dinner is served in one of the open tents, the vastness and silence of the desert providing a dramatic backdrop.

Day 7

Back to the city

Cycling

30km · 120m up · 80m down

Driving

5hrs

Back to Marrakech today, this time via Ouarzazate, an ancient city famed for featuring in the 1962 film 'Lawrence of Arabia'. You'll ride from oasis to oasis through the Draa Valley under thousands of palm trees next to the Draa River. In spring, vegetables are grown in the fertile Wadi Draa and will feature in your last picnic lunch. After lunch, a transfer takes you back to Marrakech for a final group dinner and a celebration of your week crossing Morocco by bike.

Day 8

Time to go home

Relax over your last Moroccan breakfast, explore the town some more if you have time, then transfer to the airport to catch your flight home.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What do I need to bring?

CYCLE KIT

Helmet (required)
Pedals and saddle if you would rather use your own (these will be fitted to the bike for you)

CLOTHES

Padded cycling shorts
Sports top or cycling jersey (shoulders covered)
Fleece jacket or similar jacket for the evenings
Rain and windproof lightweight jacket
Trousers/leggings for the evenings
Cycling gloves
Buff or neck scarf
T-shirts
Underwear & socks
Sunglasses and sunhat
Something to sleep in
Cycling shoes/trainers (bring your own pedals if using cleats)
Sandals

For Nov and Mar trips only

A thin lightdown jacket
Hat
Gloves

OTHER

Swimwear (for guesthouses)
Bumbag or small handlebar bag for riding
Quick-dry travel towel Universal travel adapter
Power bank or solar charger
Passports (and visas)
Travel Insurance documents
Earplugs
Suncream
Personal first-aid kit (including blister treatment)
Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
Alcohol hand-gel
Reusable water bottle
Energy bars and snacks

Double or Twin Room in Marrakech

Payable Before Departure

Double or Twin Room in Marrakech

Single Room in Marrakech

Payable Before Departure

Single Room in Marrakech

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 488kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

The terrain might be undulating and astonishing, but this trip is designed for cyclists of average fitness able to cover around 45km (average) per day on back-to-back days. There are sections of smooth tarmac on deserted roads that are a joy to ride but also some prime gravel tracks that carve through the majestic desert. It would be useful to have some experience riding on tracks/away from tarmac but it's not really needed - this is not a mountain biking trip so no single track is included.

No technical skill is required, just some strong legs and a sense of adventure! Crossing the Tizi n’Tazazert Pass on Day 5 can be tough with over 1000m of climbing, however, there is no rush at all and the incline is steady. It is a fantastic challenge for those that want it and for those not interested you can always jump into the overnight truck for a lift to the top.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

It's no secret that we love cycling and many of us at HQ think it's the best way to see a country, however, we realise that organising your own trip can be a total faff. On our cycling trips, we've found a local guide who has put together a perfect route and will navigate for you all the way. We even send a van that transports your overnight luggage and provide high-quality bikes and delicious snacks to keep you going. Faff eliminated! All you have to do is turn up, pedal and take in the landscape with your fellow tourers. You don't need to be a lycra-clad 'roadie' although they're welcome too!

You'll be riding Scott Genius 750 full suspension bikes. These are perfect for riding on-road and for the gravel tracks over the desert: added bounce = more comfort. They all come with standard flat pedals and male/standard saddles. If you would rather pack your own saddle and pedals (including SPD's), please do and these will be fitted for you.

The cycling terrain is approximately 60% on gravel/dirt tracks and about 40% on roads. There is also a mixture of gradients, including undulating rides, flats, downhill and uphill sections.

The transfer vehicle will have a large vat of water that you are able to top your water bottles up with. Most hotels will also provide safe drinking water so single-use water bottles should not be needed.

Morocco has a sub-tropical climate with temperatures between 18C and 28C, although they can soar to 35C in the summer and fall to as low as 5C in the winter. However, the weather varies from region to region due to the country's geographical setting. The eastern and southern parts are very dry and hot all year round as they are surrounded by the scorching Sahara Desert, while the Atlas Mountains, which snake from south to north and divide the country in half, make the climate in the centre more extreme with unforgiving heat in the summer and freezing temperatures in the winter. The best times to visit are from March to May and from September to November, when the weather is generally dry and warm - you can expect daytime temperatures of mid 20°C and nighttime can drop to as low as 5°C in the desert.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

You can leave any excess luggage in Marrakech if needed - your host will happily look after this for you.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

On some days, yes, on other days there will be a short transfer (usually under an hour) to get you between the cycling routes - this is to keep you away from busy roads and onto the best cycle routes.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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