After the welcome meeting, head out to the city’s unique Djemaa el-Fna, a square that transforms into a hive of activity at night. Enjoy a dinner together (included) while snake-charmers, henna-painters and storytellers ply their trade nearby.
Riding distance: none
As the frenetic daily life of Marrakech buzzes around you, take your bike along main avenues and into quieter backstreets. Starting from near the royal olive groves of Menara gardens you’ll ride to well-known sites like Koutoubia mosque and its famous 12th-century minaret, pass by the Marrakech Medina before ending in the palmerie.
Return to the legendary Djemaa el-Fna to dine al fresco, snacking your way around the crowded stalls. Try a Moroccan pastry with a glass of fresh orange juice. There’ll be ample time in the afternoon to get cleaned up before taking a late evening (approx. 9:35pm) overnight sleeper train north to Tangier (approx. 11 hours). Basic food and drinks are available but it’s recommended to eat before boarding the train.
Riding distance: approx. 22kms/14 miles, mostly flat with approx. 30m/100ft of elevation gain
Saddle up for a 30-kilometre ride, beginning with an easy 10km ride to the Grottes d'Hercules (Caves of Hercules). Legend says Hercules stayed in this cave before doing his eleventh labour – collecting the golden apples from the Hesperides Garden. It has been used quite differently in modern times, ranging from a brothel to a concert venue for Def Leppard.
From here the road undulates and climbs as we jump back on the bike to explore Cap Spartel, known to the Romans and Greeks as the “Cape of the Vines”. Stop by the 19th century lighthouse and, if you're lucky, climb up to the top for an amazing view out across the Atlantic Ocean. A quick lunch then a pleasant downhill back towards our finish by Tangiers' Mediterranean port. After your ride, reward yourself with a relaxing mint tea at the 1920’s styled Hafa café.
Riding distance: approx. 31 kms/19 miles, undulating with approx. 500m/1650ft elevation gain
There are no meals included on this day.
Follow the winding coastal road south to the small fishing town of Oued Laou (approx. 45 kms). This is a stunning undulating ride, with the shimmering waters of the Mediterranean on your left, steep mountains on your right, and small coves dotted with beautiful beaches in-between. Today we have four climbs but it's worth it as we stop for lunch by one of the beaches and enjoy a refreshing swim if the weather allows.
After today’s ride, it’s best to leave the saddle behind and let the support vehicle do the hard work of climbing the steep hills all the way up to the ‘Blue City’ of Chefchaouen (approx. 60 kms). Set against a wide valley and nestled between two peaks in the stunning Rif Mountains, it’s one of the prettiest places in Morocco. This Andalucia-influenced old Medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, red-tiled roofs and artistic doorways. Take a stroll through this idyllic town, shop for handicrafts in the ancient Medina, or simply sit at a cafe and enjoy the pleasure of time passing by.
Riding distance: approx. 45 kms/28 miles, undulating with approx. 680m/2230ft of elevation gain
If you are still feeling energtic you might prefer to head out of town for a hike in the Rif mountains (approx. 4hrs). In the evening, tuck into a tagine at a local restaurant or visit a hammam, a traditional Moroccan spa.
Riding distance: none
Riding distance: approx. 37kms/23 miles, mostly flat with approx. 120m/395ft of elevation gain
Notes: Today’s experience will include shopping in carefully selected places. As the receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Moroccan tourism industry, Intrepid has established a centralised system of receiving and distributing payments from these recommended suppliers. For more information, please refer to ‘Important Notes’ section or talk to your Tour leader on the ground.
Riding distance: none
After a quick coffee stop, climb by bike on a sinuous road through the wooded hills of Ifrane National Park. Soon the road levels out and you’ll enjoy a unique Middle Atlas mountains view.
Coast gently downhill to the tiny town of Timahdte for lunch and the end of today’s riding.
Drive up to Aguelmame Sidi Ali lake, a placid clear blue lake and wetland sanctuary where you’ll enjoy a well-earned lunch. For the energetic, you can also cycle the gentle uphill 15 kilometre Timahdte to lake section.
After lunch, drive 90 kms down from the mountains to the Kasbah town of Midelt. Nestled in a valley, Midelt is surrounded by farmland and orchards. Take some free time to explore the nearby village of Bremmem or visit a local embroidery co-operative run to benefit local Berber women. You could also check out an optional traditional music performance in Midelt.
Riding distance: approx. 65kms/40 miles, undulating with approx. 590m/1940ft of elevation gain.
We drive the first 30 kms uphill section to the day’s highest point, the Tizi n Talrhemt Pass then get your wheels moving on a gentle downhill section to Er-rich (approx. 45 kms). You won’t have to pedal for most of this ride – that and a good coffee stop are a welcome reward for the all the uphill you’ve done so far!
From Er-rich we continue by bike (approx. 25 kms) down to the banks of the Ziz River and the cavernous Tunnel Zaabal before reboarding the vehicle and driving through frontier towns like Erfoud. This desert town has an almost Martian-like appearance, which is why it had starring roles in movies ‘The Mummy’ and James Bond’s ‘Spectre’.
A spectacular drive past the harsh but indescribably beautiful sand dunes of Erg Chebbi brings you to today’s final destination of Merzouga. With dunes rising up to 150 metres and sweeping 50 kms north to south, this is home to the mysterious Berber Nomads. Store your main bags and swap a bike for a camel! Spend the night in a desert camp under the stars. Our local friends will prepare a hearty feast, so just sit back and relax.
Riding distance: approx. 70kms/44 miles, mostly flat with approx. 300m/985ft of elevation gain
The limestone stacks make this area best discovered on foot though, so you’ll take an optional walk through surrounding farmland and a ruined village. To fully enjoy the walk, you need good walking boots or sturdy trainers, sunglasses, sun cream and plenty of water. After the walk, the rest of the day is just taking it easy at your spectacular gorge-located Kasbah, with red rock walls towering above and surrounded by palm trees. You’ll need the rest to prepare for a more challenging ride tomorrow.
Riding distance: approx. 15 kms/9 miles, gently rising with approx. 300m/985ft of elevation gain
This valley follows the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and is dotted with mud-brick villages perched on hillsides. This is one of the best sections of road in Morocco and a memorable cycle along the fabulous hairpins of the Dades Gorge.
Leaving the greenery behind, we take a small gravel road deep into the desolate Mgoun Valley near Bou Tharar (approx. 12 kms). On the way, stop by a local nomad family and share traditional cup of tea with your hosts. This is a genuine opportunity for local interaction with a family who spend their lives travelling this remote land. Your leader will be there at all times to help you communicate and understand their fascinating lives. Later in the afternoon, bid farewell to your new friends, and then make a set of new ones at tonight’s accommodation. You’ll stay in a mountain gite and enjoy a traditional Moroccan goat dinner.
Riding distance: approx. 50 kms/31 miles with 740m/2430 ft of climbing
With a gentle climb, continue to Ait Benhaddou. Centuries ago, this was an important stop for caravans carrying salt across the Sahara. Today its grand Kasbah, a fine example of clay architecture, is a World Heritage site and star of movies and TV shows like ‘Gladiator’, ‘Games of Thrones’ and ‘The Living Daylights’. Our walk to Ait Benhaddou takes approx. 2hrs.
In the late afternoon, why not enjoy a cooking demonstration to learn the secrets behind Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine.
Riding distance: approx. 50 kms/31 miles - undulating ride with 340m/1120ft of elevation gain
From here we drive further up to the spectacular Tizi n'Tichka Pass. At 2,260 metres above sea level, this is the highest major mountain pass in North Africa. After a brief break for refreshment and a photo stop, re-join the support vehicle and descend from the High Atlas all the way back to Marrakech, some 100 kilometres away.
Once back in Marrakech, you’ll say goodbye to your support crew and have some free time to relax. In the evening you’ll be drawn back to the Djemaa el Fna, where a celebratory dinner is the perfect way to end this adventure.
Riding distance: approx. 37kms/23 miles, mostly uphill with approx. 800m/2620ft of elevation gain
Riding distance: none