DAY 1 – ARRIVE LIMA
Welcome to Morocco!
Upon arrival into Casablanca, clear Customs and Immigration, collect your checked baggage, and proceed directly to the Arrivals Hall, where you will be met our representative and transferred by road to Rabat. (approx 1 hour)
Upon arrival in Rabat, check into our lovely Riad Hotel, Villa Mandarine, where we will stay for the night.
Enjoy an afternoon at leisure, indulge in the spa, take a swim or catch up on some sleep after your long haul flight then join your fellow travellers for cocktails in the bar and a Hosted Welcome Dinner.
Overnight Villa Mandarine. (Welcome Dinner)
DAY 2 – RABAT TO FES via MEKNES & VOLUBILUS
This morning after breakfast, we embark on a morning tour of Rabat, the ‘Imperial Garden City’.
With our guide we will see the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, Hassan Tower and the UNESCO-listed Kasbah of the Udayas before walking the narrow streets of the Old Medina to see the Mechouar Royal Palace.
Departing Rabat, we will travel by road to Fes. En route we will stop at Meknes and will explore the ancient Roman ruins at Volubilis. Meknes was founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids, the city was originally established as a strategic military settlement. It was transformed by European slave labour in the 17th & 18th century into an impressive example of Spanish / Moorish style, boasting high citadel walls and imposing entrance gates.
The exceptionally well preserved Berber / Roman ruins situated nearby at Volubilis are one of the most famous sites in Meknes & are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in a fertile valley, the Roman ruins are commonly believed to mark the site of the ancient capital of the Berber kingdom of Maghreb, stretching from Algeria, west to the Atlantic Ocean and south towards the Atlas Mountains.
Lunch will be eaten at a private home in Moulay Idris, including wine from the region.
We continue to Fes where we check into our Riad and relax. Enjoy sundowners on the roof as the sun sets over the Fes skyline. Enjoy the view and absorb the atmosphere as the call to prayer reverberates around the rooftops and minarets of the city.
Overnight Riad Salam (B / L)
DAY 3 – FES
After a Moroccan breakfast of fresh fruit, wild honey, freshly baked bread, yoghurt, dates and freshly brewed coﬀee, we will step into one of the world’s last surviving medieval towns, the Medina at Fes.
Our escorted walking tour will take us along a labyrinth of paths and alleyways transporting us to a time‐gone‐by, finding old mosques amongst stores and markets filled with shoppers, donkeys and people going about their daily routines. Included in the tour will be a visit to Dar Mokri, an 18th century gem of Islamic & Arabic architecture; Zawiya Moulay Idriss II Islamic School; Kairouyine Mosque & University; Souk Attarine ‐ the premier grocery and spice merchant within the Medina; the famous Fes Tannery and the spice & perfume markets.
We will observe communal bread ovens and the making of traditional ouarka and trid pastries.
We will have the opportunity to sample a vast selection of olives, dates, pastries, fruits and other typically Moroccan flavours found in the depths of the Medina (if you wish).
Our tour also allows photo stops at the imposing gate of Bab Boujloud, the splendid fountain at Place Nejjarine, the ancient ramparts and the beautiful entrance to the Royal Palace.
After a well earned lunch (own expense), we will head to the Weavers Co-operative to view a workshop that specialises in weaving the ﬁnest jellaba fabric, made of silk and wool threads imported from Italy.
Our next stop is the Fes Pottery Co-operative to see traditional Moroccan zellij tile art. Zellij is the art of hand cut geometric and miomorphic mosaic design. This is one of the highest forms of artistic expression in Moroccan culture and the Islamic world. We will watch artisans as they cut, file and set tiles to create everything from serving fountains to large table tops. Before we leave there is an Aladdin’s cave to shop in! Fes is famous for its pottery – traditionally glazed in white and embellished with cobalt oxide, which produces a vibrant shade of blue during kiln firing. Designs typically feature motifs and patterns including flowers, zigzags, chevrons, dots, triangles and crosshatching, all of which are used to convey messages and we will observe potters in the nearby co-operative – with the opportunity to purchase of course.
We will visit the Women’s Embroidery Cooperative where we can see how women make traditional indigenous Fasis designs of reds and blues woven together in seamless intricate patterns.
This evening we have a Hosted Dinner with a local family. This gives us a great opportunity to opportunity to learn about life in Morocco, and for cross cultural insights.
We return to our Riad for a well earned rest!
Overnight Riad Salam (B / D)
DAY 4 – TO THE AGAFAY DESERT (via Marrakech)
Enjoy a relaxed morning at the Riad – hammams? Spa treatments? – before we are collected for transfer to Fes Domestic Airport to board our flight to Marrakech.
On arrival at Marrakech Menara Airport, we are transferred the 45 odd minutes to our gorgeous Tented Camp in the Agafay Desert. Inara Desert Camp is a secluded retreat tucked away between the bustling streets of Marrakech and the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains.
Switch off from the world, with no technology, no internet, no phone signal – just beautiful, calm surroundings and a starry sky to gaze into at night.
This evening we enjoy a peaceful trek with the desert’s most iconic animal. Arabian camels, known as dromedaries, differ to other species featuring a single hump rather than two. Our Berber guide will lead us away from the camp to enjoy breath-taking sunset views. We return to camp to enjoy a locally-sourced meal served in the “circle”, a traditional communal living space, complete with a roaring campfire. At night the ambience of the desert comes alive as you relax to the sounds of traditional Berber musicians and enjoy the endless starry sky and peace of your desert surrounds.
*For thousands of years, camels have been used as a mode of transport in the desert. They can carry heavy loads and stay hydrated for hours at a time, attributes that made them vital to the survival of desert dwellers in various regions. At Inara Camp, the camels are treated very well, and a lot of attention goes into their well-being. The camel handler has the job of being concerned with the camels’ well-being at all times — after all, their livelihood depends on the camels being healthy and able to work. They see the benefit of treating the camel with the care that it needs. At night, camels are allowed to roam free and sleep where they please. They see the benefit of treating the camel with the care that it needs. We are a Responsible Tour provider and if we ever see suggestive wounds or the owners being abusive towards the animal, we refuse to ride. And it is completely up to you as to whether you would like to ride or not.
Overnight Inara Desert Camp (B / D)
Day 5 – THE ATALS MOUNTAINS / OURIKA VALLEY
After a very lazy morning, we will travel to the Ouirka Valley in the Atlas Mountains to our divine Kasbah.
Surrounded by olives trees, Kasbah Bab Ourika perches majestically on a hilltop at the apex of the Ourika Valley, offering a bird’s eye view of the Atlas Mountains, traditional Berber villages and of the lush river valley below. It guards the gateway to the snow-capped Mountains with awe inspiring 360 degree panoramic views and the best viewpoint to enjoy a Moroccan sunset. The setting is simply stunning, and the location makes it perfect for hiking, trekking, biking, rafting and horse-riding.
The Kasbah is an authentic mountain retreat constructed in the traditional Berber tradition with rammed mud walls. It is probably Morocco’s most environmentally friendly hotel – something to revel in while we are enjoying the spectacular surroundings, exquisite cuisine and eco chic décor.
The resident chef focuses on traditional Berber cuisine using fresh ingredients derived daily from neighbouring villages. Delicious Berber, Arabic and international meals are served in the shady gardens or colonnaded restaurant.
Our afternoon is free to take in our surroundings and simply relax.
Tonight we enjoy a Hosted meal in the Kasbah.
Overnight Kasbah Bab Ourika (B / D)
DAY 6 – OURIKA VALLEY
This morning we have an opportunity to visit female artisans in the High Atlas Mountains with our guide to assist with language and explanations. (This immersive excursion will be confirmed closer to departure.)
We then have a guided visit to a Berber Village, including lunch with a Berber family.
Alternatively, today can be spent simply enjoying the tranquil surrounds. Days disappear easily here, spent either idling around the pool, reading in the garden or unwinding in the hammam. The spa is a space dedicated to wellbeing, relaxion and beauty. There is a selection of treatments on offer: massages, hammam, facial treatments and oriental manicure. The spa uses aromatherapy oils created by Nectarome, an organic garden neighbouring Kasbah Bab Ourika. You can visit the Nectarome gardens and some other farms that grow herbs and flowers in the valley for the perfumers and herbalists who sell exotic perfumes in the Medina.
You can also visit the village of Tafza and its pottery manufacturing.
Learn to make Berber tea after a tour of the herb garden with the staff to collect mint and fresh herbs.
For the more energetic there is hiking, trekking, biking, rafting, and riding from the Kasbah.
Meandering pathways lined by clipped rosemary bushes lead you to a walled pool and astonishing views where tables beckon for memorable sundowners.
Overnight Kasbah Bab Ourika (B / *L – *if on experience)
DAY 7 – TO MARRAKECH
Today we drive back to the ochre‐coloured city of Marrakech.
Our first stop will be the gorgeous Dar el Bacha Palace and stop for a coffee in the fabulous Bacha Coffee house. Bacha has over 200 different flavoured coffees and blends from 33 countries to choose from… A coffee lovers paradise!
We then head to the fabulous Maison de la Photographie (House of Photography Museum). The Maison de la Photographie invites you on a journey in time, back to the Marrakech of the 19th Century. The changing exhibitions present treasures from the early days of photography. Lunch (to own account) can be enjoyed on the lovely roof top of the Museum.
This afternoon we visit the Musee du Parfume in the Medina. The perfumer Abderrazzak Benchaâbane founded the Museum, which opens you to the world of perfume art. From flask distillation to perfume organ composition, the various rooms of the museum describe the different stages of transformation of the raw materials used in the composition of perfumes, cosmetics and body care products. We will create our own fragrance – exotic and Arabian in nature, think ingredients like musk, patchouli, jasmine and amber.
We then transfer to our gorgeous Riad where we will stay for the following four nights. Settle in and then gather on the roof for sundowners before enjoying a hosted dinner.
Overnight Riad Yasmine (B / D)
DAY 8 – MARRAKECH
After breakfast we will be driven to the world famous Marjorelle Gardens. This colourful garden surrounds the equally colourful villa that was once the private home of painter Jacques Majorelle. Full of cacti, bamboo and other rare and exotic plants, the gardens were lovingly restored by world famous fashion designer Yves St Laurent, whose dying wish was that his ashes be scattered adjacent to the villa, where he passed so much of his leisure time. The Marjorelle Gardens are one of the most visited sites in all of Marrakech. You will have free time to wander this calming retreat. We will also visit the fascinating onsite Berber Museum. (There will be time to shop in the stylish boutiques across the road.)
From here we will wander up the road and visit the YSL Museum – an incredible museum dedicated to the work of legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.
For lunch (own account), we are visiting the Amal Women’s Training Center and Moroccan Restaurant, a non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of disadvantaged women through restaurant training and job placement. Amal’s goal is personal transformation through job and life skills development for the trainees, a steppingstone to economic and social stability. Oh, and the food is pretty good too!
We then return to the Riad for a swim and some downtime.
Early evening, we depart for a guided wander through Jemaa el-Fnaa at sunset. For a thousand years, Jemaa el-Fnaa has served as a gathering place and market at the heart of Marrakesh. In the morning, stall owners set up their stands selling orange juice, spices, traditional medicines, mint leaves, and snails. The flutes of snake charmers drift across the square and tooth-pullers ready their pliers to pluck out the aching teeth of passers-by. Once the sun sets, Jemaa el-Fna really comes alive. Berber musicians and Gnaoua dancers begin their nightly performances, acrobats and slapstick comedians start performing all across the square, and henna tattoo artists vie for customers as storytellers, and poets pass on the oral traditions of Morocco.
Dinner will be to your own account. Return to our Riad.
Overnight Riad Yasmine (B)
DAY 9 – MARRAKECH
Full day tour of the Souks!
Today we enter the maze of alleyways and narrow streets that make up the souk. Here sellers oﬀer everything from spice, sandalwood and black soap to clothing, baskets, leather goods, furniture, lanterns, fabrics, pottery and almost anything else you could wish for.
The souks of Marrakech are the largest in Morocco (over 3000 stalls) and famed throughout the world as some of the most exotic marketplaces to shop in. Prepare for all of your senses to be overwhelmed at once; the souks are the heart of the medina and have been the centre for trade in the city a thousand years.
Even if you’re not into shopping, the souks are still a spectacle that are well worth experiencing.
Lunch at La Famille (own expense).
We return to our Riad for some well earned rest! Alternatively, use your time to have a Hammam at a nearby Riad.
This evening we dine at the stunning Riad El Fenn.
Overnight Riad Yasmine (B)
DAY 10 – TO ESSAOUIRA
After a lazy breakfast we transfer (mid morning) to the Atlantic coast – approx. journey of 3hrs – and the seaside town of Essaouira.
En-route, we will have a private lunch at an amazing villa on the outskirts of Essaouira, with local wine included.
We continue to our gorgeous Riad, Villa Maroc, located in the medina of Essaouira. It offers a festival of colours and scents, with a view of the sea, the port and the ramparts of the Medina. Once we have checked in, we will head out to explore the bustling entrance of the port where fishermen haul in their daily catch and lay it out proudly, just like at an old‐fashioned fishmonger. We then head into the walled medina ‐ a UNESCO World Heritage site of seawalls and imposing ramparts ‐ here we will discover colourful local artworks (Essaouira has long held an attraction for artists) and will have the opportunity to sample traditional Moroccan treats in the local pastry shops before returning to our hotel for overnight. (dinner is at own expense and can be eaten in the Medina)
Overnight Villa Maroc (B / L)
DAY 11 – ESSAOUIRA
This morning after breakfast we will make our way to l’Atelier Madada, a former almond warehouse located on the ramparts of Essaouira. Classes are run by Mona, the latest in a long lineage of dadas – female chefs who worked as private cooks for rich families in the past and run the kitchens in many of the best riads today. Our cooking class begins with a trip to the spice market to gather all we need before being initiated into the delights of one of the world’s best cuisines. The menu is chosen daily according to the seasonal market oﬀering of fresh fruit, veg, meat and seafood. After all our cooking, we gather around the table to savour the fruits of our labour.
This afternoon we have free time, or Guided Shopping around the boutiques and concept stores.
Return to the Villa for rest, relaxation and a sundowner. Tonight we have a hosted dinner in the Villa.
Overnight Villa Maroc (B / L / D)
DAY 12 – EL JADIDA
This morning is free to continue wandering the medina, have a spa or simply rest up.
Just before lunch we depart for La Fromagerie for lunch and cheese tasting.
After lunch, we depart for El Jadida. Located along the Atlantic Coast, between the Casablanca and Essaouira, El Jadida is somewhat of an off-the-beaten-track destination for international tourists. The port city was founded in 1502 as one of the earliest Portuguese colonies in West Africa. The original fortified city was known as Mazagan and is an important example of Renaissance Portuguese architecture. The last Moroccan territory to be abandoned by the Portuguese in 1769, Mazagan fell into disrepair but was ultimately re-built and christened El Jadida, or “The New.”
This evening we will meet in the hotel for our farewell dinner.
Overnight Hotel L’Ilglesia (B / L / Farewell Dinner)
Day 13 – DEPARTURE
Today marks the end of our divine Moroccan journey.
Depart El Jadida at *TBC for our road journey to Casablanca, arriving in time for our flight home or, pending your choice, onward travels elsewhere.
Wishing you a safe flight and ‘shukran’ (thank you) for sharing this wonderful adventure