Morocco - Kasbahs, Berbers and the Sahara

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Day 1: Arrive in Casablanca

Arrive at Mohammed V Airport in Casablanca, where you are met and transferred to our hotel. Our tour leader will greet you at a welcome meeting before our group dinner.

Overnight in Casablanca.


Day 2: Casablanca and Rabat

Before departing Casablanca, we visit the Hassan II Mosque (one of the largest in the world). We drive from Casablanca to the imperial city and capital, Rabat. Here we visit the Mausoleum of Mohammed V and enjoy a walk in the old Medina which was founded in the 12th century as a military town.

We continue across the rich plains and cork forest to Fes.

Overnight in Fes.


Day 3: Medieval City of Fes

Fes, the oldest of the imperial cities, is the symbolic heart of Morocco and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We explore the medieval Medina, where narrow winding alleys and covered bazaars offer every conceivable type of craft workshop, markets, restaurants and mosques, all surrounded by magnificent old stone walls. Our stroll through this ancient labyrinth highlights the color and activity of Moroccan souks (markets).

In the afternoon, we visit the Bab Boujloud gate, tannery, the Jewish Quarter and the entrance of the Old Palace.

Overnight in Fes.


Day 4: Roman Ruins of Volubilis and Meknes

We begin our day exploring the 1,700 year-old site of Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best preserved complex of Roman ruins in Morocco. One of the Roman Empire's most remote outposts, Volubilis was actively inhabited until the 18th century. With its House of Orpheus, Basilica, Forum and Tri Arch, Volubilis is a splendid reminder of the vast impressive legacy left by the Romans.

We then make our way to Meknes which became the capital under the rule of Moulay Ismail, the second Alawite sultan. The sultan endowed the capital with an enormous palace complex and stables, surrounded by 25 miles of imposing walls adorned with monumental gates. We visit the former stables and granary of Moulay Ismail which once housed 12,000 horses.

After lunch we drive back to Fes, stopping at a local pottery factory before arriving at our hotel. Enjoy a sunset overlooking Fes with the haunting "calls to prayer" echoing from below.

Overnight in Fes.


Day 5: Traverse the Mountains to the Sahara

Our day begins with a morning trip across the Middle Atlas Mountains and the beautiful cedar trees that cover their slopes. In the afternoon, we reach the Ziz Valley with its magnificent gorges.

We continue past palm fringed towns and old fortresses to Erfoud, a small town on the edge of the Sahara.

Overnight in Erfoud.


Day 6: Erfoud, Camel Safari, Berber Experience & Overnight in the Sahara

The region of Erfoud is famous for the petrified remains of plants and animals. In the morning, we visit a local workshop to learn about the fossils and watch them being made into everything from jewellery to furniture. We also explore an ancient ksar (a fortified village) and if he is home, we'll visit a local man who still lives there.

We board our jeeps to explore the local agriculture and irrigation system used in the Sahara. The ride is very scenic and if we're lucky, we may be able to visit a nomadic family along the way. We also visit the house of a local music group, where we can appreciate their music and dances that they brought with them when they came from the sub Sahara. Moroccan caravans were connecting Morocco to Timbuktu since the 8th ceuntry.

In the late afternoon, we meet up with our camels for our safari through the desert to our campsite (those who do not wish to ride a camel may ride in jeeps). Tonight we experience the desert in local fashion as we spend the night in a traditional Berber tented camp. The camp has a main tent for meals and folklore show. Each of the sleeping tents has 2 beds, a table and candles for light. Shared bathroom facilities have toilets, sinks and showers.

Climb the dunes to watch the sun setting over the Sahara. Later we can gather around the fire to share stories under the shimmering night sky before we head off to bed.

Overnight in the Sahara desert.


Day 7: Golden Saharan Sunrise, Todra Gorge

We wake up early to watch a spectacular golden sunrise over the Merzouga Dunes. Following breakfast, we travel in 4x4 jeeps across the desert landscape and we meet up with our bus before our departure northwest towards the striking Todra Gorge. This gorge lies at the end of a lush valley filled with mud-brick villages and palm groves. Hemmed in by barren, craggy mountains, it is one of Morocco's most magnificent natural sights. The natural walls are 1,000 feet high and a river runs through the bottom of the gorge that narrows to a width of only 30 feet.

After lunch, we walk along the river of the gorge and have the opportunity to see many local families enjoying a tagine picnic by the water.

Overnight in Boumalne Dades


Day 8: Ouarzazate

We travel west along the "Road of a Thousand Kasbahs", stopping to explore Kasbah Ait Youl (Saad), which is 200 years old. After exploring, we join a local family for mint tea.

We then visit the spectacular Dades Gorge. The rock formations and different colors in the gorge are superb. Before arriving in Ouarzazate, we stop in the Rose Valley to smell the roses!

Our overnight is in Ouarzazate, Morocco's premier movie-making center.


Day 9: To Taroudant

This morning we visit the legendary kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou (the location used in the filming of "Lawrence of Arabia" and "The Last Temptation of Christ"). Leaving the rugged scenery of south central Morocco behind, we head west toward the Anti-Atlas region. Enroute, we see our first Argan trees. We stop and sample saffron tea in Taliouine and drive through the fertile Sousse Valley, known for its orange groves.

Late afternoon we arrive in Taroudant, a relaxed and pleasant Moroccan city surrounded by magnificent and well-preserved red mud walls. Taroudant maintains its traditional feel due to the absence of a ville nouvelle (new city), which the French added to most Moroccan cities during their long colonial reign.

Overnight in Taroudant.


Day 10: Taroudant

We spend the morning in the fortified Berber town of Taroudant, which is known as "Little Marrakech". The absence of foreign travelers makes it the perfect place to see everyday Moroccan life in a relaxed atmosphere. Our first visit is to its charming souk and we finish our tour with a coffee in the local square. We will have lunch in the small village of Tiout where we will sample the delicious local bread and famous goat tagine. Your afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the surroundings.

Overnight in Taroudant.


Day 11: Coastal Drive to Essaouira

We travel along the western part of the high Atlas Mountains as we set our sights on the Atlantic Ocean again, stopping for lunch by the beach in Agadir.

Following lunch, we head north along the dramatic coastal road to the small port town of Essaouira, where we spend two relaxing nights.

Overnight in Essaouira.


Day 12: Essaouira, Fortress on the Sea

Essaouira is a quaint, historic town filled with interesting streets, a colorful harbor home to hundreds of fishing boats, Portuguese ramparts and fortifications, as well as miles of white sand beaches. Essaouira also offers some of the best seafood in all of Morocco, which may be why it was a favorite hideaway for Orson Welles.

Our morning includes a walking tour and visit to a local Thuya Wood (an exquisite wood endemic to the area) Cooperative. The afternoon is free to explore this charming town.

Overnight in Essaouira.


Day 13: The Road to Marrakech

This morning we visit a local woman's Argan Oil Cooperative to see how this precious oil is produced before we travel to Marrakech.

After lunch, we enjoy a caleche ride (horse-drawn carriage) through the streets of Marrakech to visit the exotic Majorelle Gardens and Islamic Arts Museum. These gardens were once owned by Yves Saint Laurent. After time to explore, we head to Djemaa el-Fna, a huge square and focal point in Marrakech. The square turns into an incredible and fascinating spectacle every night where a massive food court is erected each evening, while storytellers, dancers, snake charmers, musicians, comedians and acrobats keep their audiences spellbound.

Overnight in Marrakech.


Day 14: Marrakech Sites

In the morning we set out to discover the fabulous 11th century city of Marrakech. Marrakech is steeped in history and tradition! We stop at the city's famous landmark, the Koutoubia Mosque before visiting some of Marrakech's beautiful palaces.

Of course, for those interested, there is plenty of opportunity for shopping in the souks.

Overnight in Marrakech.


Day 15: Hike in the High Atlas Mountains

Today we hike through the beautiful valleys of the High Atlas Mountains with the majestic Toubkal Mountain as our backdrop. Standing at over 4000 ft/ 1200 metres, it is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains, North Africa and the Arab world. We glimpse the local culture as our scenic walk takes us close to Berber Villages. We will enjoy a picnic lunch enroute.

Walk: 4-5 hours (6500 ft/2000 metres)

Overnight in Marrakech.


Day 16: Return to Casablanca

Today we will drive back to Morocco's largest city, Casablanca. Tonight we enjoy a Farewell Dinner, reminiscing on all of the wonderful encounters and experiences during our Moroccan adventure.

Overnight in Casablanca.


Day 17: Depart Casablanca

The trip concludes with a transfer to the airport for departing flights.

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