It is absolutely impossible not to fall in love with Morocco when you get up, close and personal in this stunningly diverse country. As you stand in the middle of the Sahara, marvelling at miles and miles of sand dunes, you can’t help imagining yourself surrounded by gentle waves rising above a mysterious golden sea.
To experience this enchanting land of spiced coffee, mint tea and red wine in its full glory, it definitely pays to chalk out a route map of your intended journey. Be it camel riding in Marrakech or hiking in the high Atlas region, it is advisable to book your day tours with a local operator who will do all the leg work for you. You can cover more places by saving time in this fashion.
The above route map illustrates my 16-day backpacking itinerary (starting from Casablanca and concluding in Sous-Massa national park) in Morocco, Africa. A 30-day tourist visa is required for Indian nationals to visit Morocco.
Train journey is safer, comfortable and more affordable than road journey for long distance journeys around Morocco, although the latter is much faster. There are two categories of compartments in ONCF trains – first class (with six assigned seats and air-conditioning) and second class (with eight undefined seats available on a first-come-first-serve basis). You will find frequent trains plying from Casablanca (Gare ONCF Casa Port station) to Rabat and Tangier.While the nearest station from Ifrane national park is Meknes (as given in the map), Tinghir or Tinerhir station is closest to Gorges du Dades (about 76 km).
You can spend a night in Tinghir to visit the picturesque Gorges du Todgha or the Todra gorge. Thereafter you proceed for the awe-inspiring Gorges du Dades by road. You can catch the early morning Supratours bus from Tinghir to Dades Boumalne (Boumalne du Dadès). Opt for accommodation in Ait Oudinar or Boumalne on the Dades Gorge road. Daily tours to Dades Gorge are usually arranged by the guesthouse/hotel operators.
Since there is no train service from Dades Boumalne to Ouarzazate, so bus is the next best option (takes around 40 dirham). Ouarzazate is a bustling town that falls on the crossroads leading to the Atlas, Zagora and Merzouga Sahara regions. From here there are many excursions into the Sahara and the Draa Valleys. The town also boasts of the spectacular Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, an ancient fortified city.
Buses are easily available from Ouarzazate to Marrakech (around 80 dirham). A taxi ride would cost you about 100 dirham. From Marrakech you can catch a bus to reach Agadir. It is pretty easy manage a day trip to Sous-Massa national park from this beautiful beach town.
Hostelz.com has curated a list of cheap, but comfortable hostels in most of the destinations covered in this itinerary. Your trip will be much more affordable if you pre-book your stay in these hostels. Riḥlah saʿīdah (Arabic for “have a good journey”)!
Note: You could save up a fortune on international airfare by catching a domestic flight from Agadir to Casablanca and flying back home from there (i.e. keeping a single point of arrival and departure).