Marvelous Morocco

Day 1 Casablanca  11/4
Hassan II Mosque; Dinner

Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco.
After our usual get-acquainted meeting, we will visit the impressive Mosque of Hassan II, opened in 1993, and the second largest mosque in the world (after the great mosque at Mecca).  The bustling port city of Casablanca is the economic capital of Morocco famous for its art deco French-colonial buildings, Mauresque government institutions, and old medina.
Hotel Maamoura  (1N)

Day 2 Chefchaouen  11/5
Chellah; Hassan Mosque; Kasbah des Oudaias

This morning after breakfast we will travel to Rabat, the elegant capital of Morocco and its first Imperial city. It contains fine Arab monuments dating to the Almohad and Merenid dynasties. In the old quarter of Chellah we visit the remains of the 8th century citadel, see the vast minaret of the Hassan Mosque, and explore the lovely walled quarter known as the Kasbah des Oudaias. In the afternoon we continue to Chefchaouen, known as “The Blue Pearl”.
Dar Echchaouen (2N)

Day 3 Chefchaouen  11/6
Walking Tour

Our day begins with a walking tour of this lovely town.  Set against a gorgeous wide valley and surrounded by the stunning Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen will pleasantly take you by surprise. Its medina has been lovingly cared for and boasts unique blue and whitewashed houses, sloping red-tiled roofs, and artisan doorways. Much of Chefchaouen was created by Andalusian refugees escaping the Reconquista of Iberia and reminders of Spain are everywhere when exploring its cobblestone streets. It’s an evocative atmosphere and a wonderful place to slow down and enjoy the bohemian ambiance.  A free afternoon is yours to do just that.

Day 4 Fes  11/7
Volubilis Tour; Medina Walk; Camel Burger lunch; Moulay Ismail Shrine

Today we travel to Fes via Ouazzan and the Roman site of Volubilis, once a provincial Roman capital.  As we approach we can see its profile along the edge of a high plateau.  Today it is the most impressive Roman ruin in Morocco and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.  After our guided tour we travel on to Meknes, where we explore the charming streets of the old medina.  On our walking tour we will take in many public buildings, see several fine mosaic floors, and the shrine of Moulay Ismail.  It was Ismail who, in the 17th century, transformed Meknes from a provincial town to a spectacular Imperial city.   For lunch we’ll enjoy a camel burger, a unique Moroccan specialty.  In the late afternoon we continue on to Fes.
Riad Al Makan (2N)    Note:  This if our first Riad stay.  A Riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard.

Day 5 Fes  11/8
Walking Tour; Dye Pits: Medrassa Bouanania; Funduk Nejjarine; Palais Jamai

Our first activity today is a walking tour of Fez, the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco.  It is vibrant, noisy, fascinating, and energetic. Made up of three distinct ‘cities’, or quarters, today we head into the old city, known locally as Fes el Bali. Medieval Fes was a storied center of education and culture: both Islamic and Jewish. Its religious institutions and libraries were legendary and its mosques of great renown.  Many Muslims and Jews expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492 were drawn here.  As we walk through the streets and alleyways, passing historic khans, madrassas (religious schools), and dye-pits, it is not hard to imagine ourselves back in the Middle Ages. Our visit includes Medrasa Bouanania and the splendid Funduk Nejjarine, a beautifully restored 18th century inn. At the end of the afternoon, we will retreat to the Palais Jamai to experience a panoramic view of the Medina and enjoy the sunset.

Day 6 Merzouga  11/9
Leaving Fes we drive south, passing spectacular scenery throughout the day. Our first stop will be Ifran, sometimes called “the Switzerland of Morocco.”  Then we continue via Midlet and the Ziz Valley. During this journey we’ll experience glimpses of the Middle and High Atlas mountains and drive through the largest cedar forest in Morocco, stopping for panoramic views and passing Berber villages along the way.  The scenery changes to reveal the desert as we continue southeast, eventually arriving in Merzouga.  We will be welcomed with a glass of mint tea before checking in to our riad, where we have dinner tonight.
Riad Madu (1N)

Day 7 Merzouga – Luxury Camp 11/10
Gnawa village visit; Camel Trek

After breakfast in the riad we start an explorative journey of the area. We will visit the Gnawa people, originally slaves brought from Sudan, to experience their music and lifestyle.  In the afternoon we will mount camels and, guided by an experienced camel mahout, we explore the sand sea of Merzouga.  The Erg Chebbi is a great expanse of shifting wind-swept sand that’s formed into picturesque undulating crests and valleys.  Its towering dunes, some up to heights of 500 feet, are the most stunning in the country and a must see experience in Morocco. Our overnight desert camp is rustic but comfortable  with private bathrooms and showers.
Camp Riad Madu  (1N)

Day 8 Dades Gorges  11/11
Dades Gorge; Tea

We enjoy a sunrise ride today before departing the desert and making our way toward the Dades Gorge.  It’s another classic drive with dramatic changes of landscape.  Flanked on both sides by high limestone cliffs, the gorge features bizarre rock formations with picturesque kasbahs amongst the crops and palms.  We will enjoy an easy walk along the valley and have a picnic lunch in one of the shaded palm groves.  At our final destination we’ll be hosted by a local family for tea and cakes – a splendid cultural connection opportunity.
Hotel Xaluca Dades (1N)

Day 9 Ait Benhaddou  11/12
Quarzazate; Ait Benhaddou

Today we travel south past ancient Kasbah ruins, austere mountains, and valleys of palm trees. We will pause for lunch in Ouarzazate, Morocco’s Hollywood, where productions such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky and Black Hawk Down were filmed. We will continue to our final destination of Ait Benhaddou. Centuries ago, this was an important stop for caravans carrying salt across the Sahara. Today its grand kasbah, Morocco’s premier example of clay architecture, has been listed as a World Heritage site.
Hotel Ksar Ighnda (1N)

Day 10 Marrakech  11/13
Jemaa el Fna

This morning we will drive through the winding roads of the Atlas, bound for Marrakech, an ancient, exotic city wrapped in European modernity. There’s no rush as the scenery is magnificent, and there will surely be calls for photo stops along the way.  This evening we will head to the great square of Jemaa el Fna, one of the largest public spaces in the world and unique to Marrakech. When night falls it transforms into a hive of activity with henna-painters, street performers and storytellers, and a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies.
Riad Nesma (2N)

Day 11 Marrakech  11/14
Free Day

Today is our vacation from our vacation.  Marrakech has many engaging activities to try.  Or just relax in our comfortable riad. Optional activities include:  Story tellers; Hot air balloon ride; Tagine cooking class; Imlil excursion; or Essaouira excursion, bicycle tours, or a Hammam steam bath and massage.

Day 12 Casablanca  11/15
Medina Tour; Palais Bahia; Ben Youssef; Majorelle Gardens

After breakfast we meet our Marrakech local guide and set off on a morning tour of the old medina.  Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Be enticed by the scents, sounds, and scenes of the seemingly endless mosaic of souqs.  Each is devoted to a separate trade: pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets, spices, and more.  You’ll encounter the sounds of musicians, delectable and aromatic foods, performing acrobats, and restful gardens. The monuments of Marrakech are equally varied. We visit the Palais Bahia - a fine example of Muslim architecture, the Ben Youssef Coranic School, and a spice vendor. We end the morning tour at Jamaa El Fna Square for lunch.  In the afternoon we make a short visit to the Majorelle Gardens before driving to Casablanca for our last night and last dinner together.
Hotel Maamoura (1N)

Day 13 Departure  11/16
Tour ends after breakfast.

[Itinerary and hotels are subject to change]

What’s Included:
12 nights accommodation; All breakfasts, 5 dinners, and 3 lunches; All tour transport by AC bus; All tips for guides, drivers, group meals, and hotel staff; Full-time services of a Moroccan guide and professional tour director; local guides; All entrances: Hassan II Mosque, Hassaan Tower, Kasbah Oudaya, Rabat Citadel, Volubilis, Moulay Ismail shrine, Medrasa Bouanania, Saadian tombs, Bahia Palace, Ben Youssef Coranic School, Majorelle Garden; Other included activities: walking tours – Chefchaouen, Fez, Meknes, Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, Merrakech; dessert camel ride; camel burger lunch; Sunset drinks in Palais Jamai; Najjarine fountain; Gnawa visit; tea & pastries with Moroccan family; and more.

Important exceptions: Tour participants are responsible for the cost of drinks, free-time sightseeing, free time meals, flights to/from the tour, and any activities or services not listed above.  See our Terms and Conditions for important details regarding everything listed above.