From the colorful and spice laden souks of Fes and Marrakech, to the expansive dunes of the Sahara, Morocco beckons us to experience her from the road; and I don't mean in a tour bus.
We will ride through and photograph the blue city of Chefchaouen, Roman ruins, the historical capital of Fes, the sand dunes of the Sahara and the highest mountain pass in Morocco before ending the tour in Marrakech. Choose the short tour option if you only have one week, or ride with us for two weeks for the full experience.
What to expect from the photography experience on this tourThis tour is designed for photographers who want to add cultural photos to their portfolio with a focus on proper coverage of a travel location or story. Photography instruction will be provided at each photo location for those who are learning or want to strengthen their visual storytelling skills. You should have a basic understanding of how to capture digital images with your equipment. Beginning photographers are welcome, but we will not be spending time on basics of camera functions and photographic theory. Group instruction time is set aside for photo review and editing.
What to Expect from the cycling on this tourMost ride days will be moderately challenging. Morocco hosts an annual UCI event and is an incredibly bicycle friendly country with well maintained roads and motorists who respect people on bicycles. The cities and landscapes that are worth seeing in Morocco are spread out; perfectly spread out to host a bike photography tour in fact. I don't want to sit in a tour bus or van driving between points of interest. I want to ride. So let's do it.
Please train and come prepared to ride. The scenery and the experience is the most beautiful from the seat of your bike. If you need to take a break from the bicycle or you are a non-riding partner who is coming along just for the photography stops, there will be comfy air conditioned transportation for you.
Bike photography tours are run with local businesses.
Partnering with local businesses is very important to me. The tour operators aren’t just there to support the ride. They are ambassadors to initiate us to their part of the world making this an immersive experience. The Moroccan businesses supporting this tour are recognized by the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence! Plus they're awesome people who are fun to travel with.
Open Doors Morocco is our cultural and logistics partner in charge of transportation, lodging, meals and introducing us to unique photographic locations and experiences.
2018 Morocco North Photography & Cycling Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - arrive in Casablanca
Welcome orientation. Review route and shoot locations. Bike fitting at 11am. Leave by 2pm and transfer in our vans to Chefchaouen.
Day 2 - Photograph Chefchaouen & Akchour Falls // Ride to Akchour Falls - 70km (45miles)
Photograph during sunrise on the streets of the blue city of Chefchaouen and then meet at 11 am to ride to Akchour Falls. Bring your camera gear in the support vans because we will photograph at Akchour Falls before the return ride to Chaouen. We will have an organized shoot at sunset on the trail going up the mountain to the mosque for anyone interested.
Day 3 - Sunrise at Chaouen, Sunset at Volubilis, Ride Ouezzane to Volubilis - 80KM (50 miles)
Start the day in Chaouen for sunrise photos in the streets with the group, or sleep in. Today's ride goes through mostly flat and rolling fields with some light climbing towards the end. The photo of the rolling green olive tree fields in the gallery below came from this ride day. Day three is the longest ride on the first half of the tour and the longest ride for those who are only taking the short tour. Our ride ends at Volubilis which is our main photo location on day three. Volubilis is a Roman ruin in the north of Morocco. After photographing here, we take a short drive to spend the night in Meknes.
Day 4 - Photograph at Moulay Ismail tombs, stables and mosque // Ride from Meknes to Fes - 70KM (45 miles)
Our primary photo location on day four is the Moulay Ismail mausoleum, stables and mosque. We will spend three hours here before heading out on the bikes toward Fes where we will spend the evening. We should arrive in Fes early enough for everyone to shower and head up to the ruins outside the city for sunset photos overlooking the city of Fes.
Day 5 - All day in Fes and End of the Short Tour // No planned ride this day
Fes is a lot like Marrakech but with even more twisty and windy medinas to get lost in. On day five we will go into the old town and markets of Fes with local guides. We will meet for breakfast to discuss photo opportunities and strategies. Those who feel confident in their street photography will go in one group and those who want some instruction will go in another group. This night there is a farewell dinner for those who are not continuing on. Expect a photo review and editing session on the evening of day five.
Short Tour Ends in Fez after Day 5End of the Short Tour. Those who purchased the short tour package will stay in Fez and be responsible for their own transport or flights. Full tour guests continue on to Day 6.
Day 6 - Morning shoot at Pottery & Ceramics maker // Ride Ifran to Midelt 70KM (45 Miles)
The morning shoot will be in Fes at a ceramics workshop; think F2.8 lenses in the 70mm to 240mm range here for close up shots of artists who create the detailed mosaics you see everywhere. Then we take a short drive to Ifran and ride south into the mountains from Ifran. There will be sustained climbing this day but nothing seriously steep. We will stop for lunch along the way and then transport to Midelt to spend the night. Expect two to three hours of photo review and editing on this evening or enjoy down time at your liesure.
Day 7 - Photograph at Erfoud Fossil Beds // Ride Midelt to Erfoud 80KM (50 Miles) through Ziz Valley
Day seven takes us through the Ziz valley; site of many Berber villages and one of the most exciting stages of the Tour du Maroc. We will leave Midelt early and expect to be in the fossil mines in Erfoud by mid day which will be ideal for the close up detail photos you want to capture here. Then a short transfer takes us to the Erg Chebbi dunes where we will spend the night and following day. Camel trains, dunes with limitless photo compositions, and "luxury" desert camping (including working showers) await you.
Day 8- All day at the Erg Chebbi Dunes // No ride this day
Camel trains at sunrise and sunset and the shapes and shadows that art photographers dream of are found in the sand dunes. We plan to spend all day in this desert camp. Mid day will be the time to nap or possibly for a photo editing session. We'll see how everybody's feeling about those options. Head out on the dunes again before dusk to capture the long shadows of Camel trains or just the beauty of the dunes.
Day 9 - Photograph at Rissani and then transfer to Tamnougalt // Ride south from Tamnougalt along the Draa River 65KM (40 miles)
Wake early to capture sunrise photos on your own at the Erg Chebbi dunes; breakfast at the desert camp and then ride the camels back to our support vehicles. Transfer 45 minutes in the vans for possibly our most authentic cultural and architectural photo location at Rissani. Transfer to Tamnougalt where we will stay the night and then choose to stay in Tamnougalt for rest, afternoon photos, or join a late afternoon ride south along the Draa River.
Day 10 - Photograph Ait Ben Haddou at sunset // Ride Tamnougalt to Ait Ben Haddou 105KM (65 Miles)
Plan on an early morning ride with some light climbing to prepare us for tomorrow. We end the day at Ksar Ait Ben Haddou for sunset photos. We will arrive early for showers and rest before photographing the historical city of Ait Ben Haddou in the golden afternoon light.
Day 11 - Photograph at Ben Haddou and Telouet // Ride from Ben Haddou over Tizi N'Tichka 90KM (55 Miles)
We photographed Ben Haddou the previous evening. Go out early and get the sunrise angles you were hoping for before heading up the pass on our bikes. Our final ride day of the tour goes over Tizi N'Tichka Pass en route to Marrakech. This is the highest mountain pass in Morocco and crosses the High Atlas Mountains at 2,260m (7,410 feet) elevation. Bring your climbing legs. From Ben Haddou we will ride the less trafficked road through Telouet, take a break here for lunch and photos and then ride the remaining road to the summit of the pass. The full ride from Ben Haddou to Col du Tichka is about 75KM (46 miles) and 1600 meters (5,300 feet) of climbing. Take your well earned descent before transferring to Marrakech to spend the night.
Day 12 - All day photographing in Marrakech // No ride this day
If we wake up very early we can ride through the medina before all the vendors and crowds take over. Take your smallest camera to capture some quiet moments, but this time is meant to enjoy the quiet magic of seeing the city wake up and come to life. Organized photo locations include the wool dyers in the medina and sunset over the square - that one photo everyone wants to get of the markets in Marrakech looking at the mosque in the background. This will be our final dinner as a group before farewells.
What to Bring
- Camera, lenses, tripod and bag to carry them.
- Your own cycling shoes and pedals, any bike bags you like to ride with, your bike helmet. Helmet is included in bike hire if you don't want to travel with your own helmet.
Weather and Kit
- During riding hours - expect warm sunny weather between 16C (60F) and 27C (85F) during the days. Mornings can be chilly before 10am; around 6C (45F) degrees F.
- During photography hours - morning and late evening photo shoots in the desert can be in the -6C (20F) to 5C (40F) range. Bring layers, not heavy jackets.
I am happy to discuss any aspect of your riding and photography kit with you. Please email me any time with questions.
I'm happy to talk with you in person as well. Schedule a time to chat using my Calendly.
Your personal bags will be carried by the support vehicle throughout the event. If traveling with your own bike; we strongly ask that your bikes be transported by bike bags (semi-rigid/soft). Please do not arrive to the event with rigid bike travel boxes. Support vehicles will not be able to stow large solid bike boxes as well as all luggage throughout the event.
Fitness & Training
You should be capable of riding comfortably up to 50miles/80km in a day over hilly terrain. Please arrive ready to ride. Don't let us or yourself down. Train to ride.
Your Tour Leaders
Cancellation & Refund Policy
We understand that sometimes it's necessary to change your plans. These policies apply if you need to cancel:
All cancellations are subject to a minimum of a $100 service charge. If you cancel and your spot is otherwise filled, you will be refunded the full amount you have paid (minus the $100 service charge). However if you cancel and your spot is not filled, the following applies:
- 120 days or more: full refund minus $100 fee
- 90 days or more: 50% refund
- 60 days or more: 30% refund
- Less than 60 days: no refund
Requests for refunds must be submitted in writing. There is no refund for travelers arriving late or unexpectedly leaving a trip.