A World of Discovery

Surf the New Year

11 Days  |  Starts/Ends: Marrakech  |  from USD $1,749  |   Guaranteed Departure 

Spend a cracking Christmas exploring the Atlas, snap up some bargains in the souks of Marrakech and ring in the New Year beachside in Essaouira, on Morocco's stunning Atlantic coast!

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Itinerary
Prices & Dates
Hotels
Inclusions
Reviews

Itinerary

Day 1

Marrakech

23rd Dec 2015. Welcome to Morocco! Arrival transfer from Marrakech airport to our hotel. This evening (at 19:00) our welcome meeting takes place, where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers.
Overnight: Marrakech

Day 2

Dades Gorge

Marrakech - Dades Gorge. Leaving Marrakech, we drive through the Dades Gorge, an awesome valley which extends from the High Atlas to the Jebel Sarhro range in the south. Berbers built many kasbahs in the vicinity of gorges for defence purposes. These kasbahs combined with the stunning natural setting, makes this a beautiful region through which to travel.
Overnight: Dades Gorge  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3

Xmas Day in Todra Gorge

Dades Gorge - Todra Gorge. Merry Christmas! This morning you can choose to go for a walk in Dades Gorge or just relax. We travel on to Todra Gorge after lunch and visit a traditional Berber home where the semi nomadic family have set up a co-operative for the trade of carpets, kilims and handicrafts for all the rural communities across the Atlas. The remainder of the day is spent exploring the magnificent gorge. This dusty red canyon is just 10m wide at its narrowest point, with its cliff walls towering 300m above and a small glacier stream flowing through it. If you're feeling adventurous, there is the option to rock climb (subject to weather conditions, bookable locally). Tonight we sit down to a wonderful Christmas meal.
Overnight: Todra Gorge  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4

Discover the Sahara

Todra Gorge - Erg Chebbi. Crossing Jebel Sarhro, we enjoy lunch and a swim before travelling down to Erg Chebbi sand dunes, the start point of the mighty Sahara Desert. The Erg Chebbi dunes located near the remote frontier town of Merzouga are renowned for their incredible height and size. In parts the vast sand pile reaches skyward to heights of 150 metres!

The desert winds ensure this astonishing landscape is forever changing and no two days offer the same panorama. Mounting our camels, we trek across the vast rolling dunes of the Sahara and take in the breath-taking scenery. Arriving at our simple Berber camp, we enjoy dinner and a night under the Saharan stars. Wrap up warm and remember your winter weight sleeping bag.
Overnight: Sahara Desert Camp  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

Route of 1000 Kasbahs

Erg Chebbi - Ouarzazate. After a stunning sunrise and a camel ride back to the frontier post (camel HQ) there is time to freshen up before driving to the verdant Draa valley. Besides the natural, historical and architectural wonders that the Draa Valley offers, there are also small villages along the valley where time seems to have stood still.

Along the Route of a 1000 Kasbahs, we continue on to Ouarzazate, (pronounced as wazza-zat). Sitting at an altitude of 1160 metres in the middle of a barren plateau, Ouarzazate lies at the cross roads of all routes going north, south, east, and west. Its geographical position has made it a key trading post in both ancient and modern times. Capital of a large province, the town's northern limits run along the southern aspect of the High Atlas and its southern boundary disappears back into the vast Sahara Desert. Today, the area is still essentially populated by Berber people, who were constructors of the numerous fortified kasbahs and dwellings for which the region is famous. After hotel check in, consider a late afternoon swim.
Overnight: Ouarzazate  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6

Ait Benhaddou

Ouarzazate - Ait Benhaddou - Marrakech. This morning there is the option to visit the film studio that produced Lawrence of Arabia or go quad biking (both payable locally). Then we head to Ait Benhaddou, a medieval fortified city, situated along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech. It is situated on a hill along the Ouarzazate River and boasts some beautiful examples of kasbahs, some of which remain inhabited. Granted UNESCO World Heritage listing, the site is incredibly well preserved. Late this afternoon we return to Marrakech.
Overnight: Marrakech  |  Breakfast

Day 7

Djemaa el Fna

This morning enjoy a guided tour of Marrakech. Set within the rose-coloured walls of the medina lies a reality that is not that far removed from an exotic film set – a tangle of winding streets that open onto verdant gardens and narrow alleyways that lead to bustling souks. The focal point is the central square, the Djemaa el Fna, an extraordinary gathering and market place. Full of colour, spicy aromas and traders it is best seen in the evening when overflowing with food stalls, snake charmers, fortune tellers, musicians and henna artists. Towering over all this is the Koutoubia mosque, the tallest building in the city, and a reminder of the importance of Islam to the lives of the city’s residents. This afternoon is free for you to spend at leisure, perhaps picking up some souvenirs from the souks! Make sure you test out your bartering skills.
Overnight: Marrakech  |  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8

Beachside Essaouira

Marrakech - Essaouira. This morning we travel to Essaouira. With a laid back vibe Essaouira is Morocco’s hippest coastal town. The windswept fishing port, broad beaches and ancient walled medina with ramparts built into the cliff have long been a favourite refuge for artists, sculptors, food lovers, surfers and backpackers. The medina surrounded by a fortress with 5 main gates you can navigate by, has retained its traditional styles and is laden with quirky shops, coffee houses, antiques, art studios, calligraphers, t-shirt designers and souvenir curios. There’s a relaxed feel to the place and shopping here is a real delight. Locals and visitors alike enjoy strolling along the ramparts as the sun sets. The port is a hive of activity with fishing boats hauling in their daily catch.

Opt for a swim in the Atlantic, though the water is a little cold this time of year, a game of football on the beach with the locals or an afternoon at the hammam. There's also the opportunity to test your skills at surfing, wind surfing or kite surfing. The beach is also great for a stroll and since it runs for about 6 miles (10km) there’s plenty of it. By nightfall sit back and relax at any one of the many al fresco cafes, pubs or bars serving cold beer and the freshest seafood. Free time to explore, try a hammam and practice your bargaining skills in the souks.
Overnight: Essaouira  |  Breakfast

Day 9

New Years Eve by the beach

Enjoy a free day relaxing on the beach, shopping in the quaint souks or choose from a number of exciting optional activities or excursions available about town. This evening - New Year's Eve we'll all head out together for dinner and a few drinks.
Overnight: Essaouira  |  Breakfast

Day 10

Marrakech

Essaouira - Marrakech. This morning is spent at leisure, sleep in or head to beach for your first swim of the year. This afternoon we return to Marrakech.
Overnight: Marrakech  |  Breakfast

Day 11

Marrakech

02 Jan 2016. Spend the morning relaxing or picking up a few last minute souvenirs. Our tour concludes upon hotel check out at 12 noon.
Breakfast

Prices & Dates

Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price. If you are happy to be paired up with another single traveller of the same sex on your tour, this can be arranged, thus avoiding the single person supplement.

2015
Price/Person
Single Supp.
 
USD $1749
USD $599
2016
Price/Person
Single Supp.
 
USD $1749
USD $599

Hotels

The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.

Accommodation on Tour

For all our tours and tailor-made holidays we provide you with a clear categorisation of all hotels we use. The REGIONAL CATEGORY indicates the local rating of each hotel in each respective country. We have also rated each hotel using OUR CATEGORY, which will be in line with generally accepted western hotel grading standards.

Simple
Basic hotels and simple accommodation is a no frills option with an adventurous authentic feel.

Standard
Standard accommodation equates to a Western 3-star standard, always featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant.

Superior
Superior accommodation equates to a Western 4-star standard, featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant and often a swimming pool and/or a fitness centre.

Deluxe
Deluxe accommodation equates to a Western 5-star standard, usually featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, excellent service and customer care.

Lavish
Lavish accommodation equates to a Western 5-star plus standard - the creme de la creme. Featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, this accommodation is a cut above the rest. Sheer opulence!

El Andalous Hotel & Spa, Marrakech

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: 4 Star Hotel

The hotel El Andalous is with a Moorish decor and sumptuous gardens and it evokes the golden age of Arab-Andalusian culture; exotic and romantically rich. This distinguished hotel opens onto a landscaped garden which is a haven of scents and colors.

Hotel Tomboctou, Todra Gorge

Our Category: Superior   |   Regional Category: Mid Range Riad

Formerly the residence of Sheikh Bassou Ou Ali, the Hotel Tomboctou is an authentic Kasbah of soil that was fully refurbished in 1994. The 14 charming rooms are blessed with typical warming Moroccan themes, are fully air conditioned and equipped with excellent en suite facilities. The refreshing outdoor pool is perfect for relaxing by and meals are served in either the tent or earthen hall. Why not try local delicacies like traditional tagine or Berber omelette? Well located close to Tinehir and popular Todra Gorge.

Les Jardins , Ouarzazate

Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

A fairly new hotel in Ouarzazate, the Hotel les Jardins is in the traditional style of Kasbah, with spacious rooms. The hotel is set in manicured gardens.

Hotel Miramar, Essaouira

Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

The Miramar is a comfortable modern hotel with good sized rooms and its own hammam on the premises.

Trip Highlights

Marrakech - UNESCO-listed Place Djemaa el Fna, (medina and marketplace)
High Atlas Mountains and views of snow capped Mt Toubkal
Todra Gorge - towering 300m high canyon
Merzouga - camel trek and Berber style camp
Essaouira - ancient medina, wind swept beaches and current day fishing village
Bahia Palace - 19th century residence of the grand vizier
Jebel Sarho and Dades Gorge - a striking valley and stream cut within the mountain range
Erg Chebbi sand dunes - beginning of the Sahara
Ait Benhaddou - UNESCO-listed fortified kasbah city

Included

10 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 5 dinners including a traditional Berber meal at our Sahara camp.
Arrival transfer from Marrakech airport on day 1
Guided tour of Marrakech
Escorted by an English speaking tour leader
All transportation and transfers in private air-conditioned mini van/ touring vehicle
9 nights 3 star accommodation and 1 night camping - Berber desert camp in the Sahara
Camel trek into the great Sahara
Essaouira - beachside bliss and free time
Specialist local guides at some sites
All road taxes and tolls

Not Included

International flights and visa
Note: On some road journeys, the tour leader may not be in your particular vehicle
Tipping Kitty: $60 USD
Gratuity for your tour guide & driver. Budget approx USD$2 - 3 per person per day. Tipping your tour guide and driver is an entirely personal gesture.
Entrance Fees: $20-30 USD

Reviews

Hello

On The Go certainly lives up to its name - we barely stopped!

Mohammad was not the best guide I've ever had on one of these tours. He rarely gave us any information about the country, no history or religion talks, in fact I know virtually no more than I did when I arrived in Marrakesh on the 22nd of December. Most guides I've had before give an insight into the country as we drive along.

Mohammad rarely explained how long we were stopping anywhere, he just clapped his hands when he was ready to leave. Half the time we were hanging around waiting, not knowing whether we could order hot food or whether it was just a loo break.

There were too many breaks along the journeys which wasted too much time. There were far too many long journeys. For instance an apparent four hour journey frequently took another two hours for some unknown reason.

Mohammad also didn't stick to our departure times each morning. So people took their time and we frequently left 15 minutes to half an hour later.

Oh, and he sulked a couple of times which was very unprofessional!

The hotels were lovely. But what's the point of booking us into such lovely hotels with stunning swimming pools when we arrived after dark every evening and left early in the morning? Quite a waste of money. Some of the hotels were very cold too and the air conditioning heating didn't work.

We all felt there was far too much driving. We would have liked options whether to stop for an hour's lunch in a tourist trap restaurant serving tasteless tagines, or whether to just get to our next hotel early enough in order to enjoy some sunshine and lazy time around the swimming pools.

On one occasion when we stopped for lunch at a venue with a swimming pool, I was told sternly by Mohammad when I asked that I couldn't eat outside in the sunshine around the pool, because we all had to 'eat together', which was in a very cold dark large room. Mohammad then proceeded to eat outside around the pool in the sunshine!

On this occasion we all then relaxed around the pool not knowing how long we were supposed to be staying there, and Mohammad was just about to clap us back into the bus when he took one look at everyone's faces and left us alone to enjoy the sunshine for another hour. I think even he realised we were sick of driving all day every day with quick stops in lifeless cold dark restaurants and at last we had time to enjoy some free time and the sunshine.

BUT the people on the tour were great and the age range was good. The driver Ali smiled all the time. The places we did eventually get to were lovely and the itinerary was good. The highlight was of course riding a camel across the Sahara Desert - I tandemed a quad bike back which was great but cost a fortune.

Staying in the beduoin tents that night was good fun. I hadn't read my trip notes properly so hadn't brought a sleeping bag but we were all given three thick blankets each which kept me warm all night. Some people felt it was pretty pointless On The Go asking them to traipse a sleeping bag all the way from their countries just for one night when sufficient warmth was provided.

Anyway, it was a lovely way to spend Christmas and the New Year. I'll definitely consider On The Go if you could advise more honestly how long the daily driving times are. One passenger had asked and every day the driving time was much much longer than he'd been told via email prior to the holiday.

Kind regards

Sarah

Tour
4
Guide
Country

Just back from my most awesome New Years experience ever. I was on the Morrocan Surf the New Year and it was more than I could have ever expected. The group was great, our guide was brilliant and finishing in chilled out Essaouira was the best way to finish this tour. Thanks so much On The Go, already planning next years New Year trip with you guys.

Thanks for a brilliant Christmas and New Years On The Go. Morocco is a fantastic place and I highly recommend it to anyone and everybody. So impressed with On The Go - I have already booked an ANZAC tour with you guys. Thanks again.

Thanks On The Go for my best trip ever. This was my third trip with you guys and you never fail to impress. Keep up the good work.

Hey John -

Xmas/NY in Morocco was excellent, a great escape for winter sun and really great fun! The group were all about the same age so we had a good laugh and the berber camp and Sahara camel trek was awsome. The history, scenery, shopping, food, culture and surfing made it an unforgettable experience - would love to say we'd be back but we have a travel wish-list as long our arms.

Next stop, ANZAC day!

Thanks - M&J Sinclair

Tour Details
Starts
Marrakech
Ends
Marrakech
Departs
23 December 2015
Hotel Rating
3 star
Local Payment
None
Tour Guide
Yes, escorted by a tour guide
Meals
Breakfast: 10, Lunch: 4, Dinner: 5

Just back from my most awesome New Years experience ever. I was on the Morrocan Surf the New Year and it was more than I could have ever expected. The group was great, our guide was brilliant and finishing in chilled out Essaouira was the best way to finish this tour. Thanks so much On The Go, already planning next years New Year trip with you guys.

Sim Piromalli
Guaranteed Departures
This tour is 100% guaranteed to depart with 2 travellers.
Guaranteed Departures
This tour is 100% guaranteed to depart with 2 travellers.