Welcome to Morocco! Your adventure begins in Casablanca, where you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. A welcome meeting will take place here at 6pm, where you will meet your local leader and your new travel companions. If you arrive with time to spare, you may like to visit the Villa des Arts, a gorgeous Art Deco gallery featuring exhibitions of contemporary Moroccan art. If you are looking for a different type of cultural experience, then you can discover a unique and fascinating part of Moroccan history at the Museum of Judaism. This evening, celebrate the beginning of a new adventure with a wonderful banquet style dinner with your group, set in the courtyard of a beautiful riad. Nowhere is Morocco’s cultural heritage more evident than in its food, and tonight you’ll have the chance to try classic dishes like tagine, couscous and pastilla.
This morning you will visit one of the most impressive sites in Casablanca – the massive edifice of the Mosque of Hassan II. Second only in size to the great mosque at Mecca, the huge building sits partly on land and partly over sea, and is one of the only religious sites open to non-Muslims. Later, leave Casablanca and drive north along the coast to Rabat, the elegant capital of Morocco and its first Imperial city. Start your visit with a walk through the medina and souks, then explore the lovely walled quarter known as the Kasbah des Oudaias, where you’ll enjoy an included mint tea in a little treasure of a café overlooking the ocean and Bou Regreg river. Afterwards, continue the walk to visit the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the vast minaret of the Mosque of Hassan II. In the late afternoon, continue on to Meknes, the former capital of Morocco.
This morning you will discover the charming streets of Meknes’s medina – the old walled section of the city. There’s something particularly special about exploring this lesser-known medina as the locals go about their daily lives. Walk to the shrine of Moulay Ismail, visit the granaries and stop by a local market selling vegetables, olives and sweets. Drive on to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, where a local guide will show you around and help you imagine the bustling city that once was. Enjoy a picnic lunch of fresh bread, cheese and seasonal fruits and olives from the market. Continue on to the city of Fes and arrive at the Riad Salam, a beautifully restored oasis in the heart of the medina and your feature stay for the next two nights. From dramatic mosaic floors to carved cedar wood ceilings and everything in between – this building is a treat for the eyes. Relax in spacious rooms with modern comforts, unwind in the hammam or head to the roof terrace for sweeping views of Fes. Prepare for a treat this evening as you are warmly welcomed into the home of a local family for a pastilla dinner. Learn how the iconic Moroccan pie is made as you chat with your friendly hosts about life in Fes.
Today head into the Old Town, known locally as Fes el Bali. Medieval Fes was one of the world’s great centres of education and culture, both Islamic and Jewish. Its religious institutions and libraries are legendary, its mosques of great renown. Your leader will share stories of the city’s history as you walk through the twisting streets and alleyways, passing donkeys piled high with goods, and explore the specialty sections that divide the souk. Filled with historic khans, medresses and dye-pits, stalls loaded with fruits, herbs and soups, and where the squawk of chickens, smell of spice and sound of hammering of copper fills the air. Spend the day exploring the old city, visiting Al-Attarine Madrasa, the tanneries and the splendid Funduk Nejjarine, a beautifully restored 18th-century inn.
Today, leave the intensity of the city behind for the desert oasis town of Erfoud. Prepare for a long driving day and have your camera ready as there will be plenty of stops to appreciate the ever-changing Moroccan landscape along the way. Wind past olive groves, shepherds tending to their flocks, forests of cedar, pine and oak, and valleys filled with date palms – all with views of the High Atlas Mountains in the distance. Arrive in Erfoud, your gateway to the Sahara Desert. Built by the French in the early 1900s, the town features tightly packed red sand buildings that blend seamlessly into the desert surroundings. While here, be sure to try some dates fresh from the local market – the dates in Erfoud are so delicious they celebrate them with a festival every year.
Spend the morning exploring Khemliya, a village on the fringe of the orange-coloured Erg Chebbi sand dunes. This traditional Saharan village is known for a distinctive style of music and dance. For lunch today you will get to see how the local speciality dish of medfouna is made, and then sample some yourself. Then it’s time to do as the locals do and ride a camel through the desert towards your accommodation – a spectacular camp hidden away in the sand dunes of the Sahara. Here in this magical escape from the modern world you’ll experience the true essence of desert life. But the remote location doesn’t mean skimping on amenities – permanent tents feature large beds, en suite bathrooms and delightful, authentic décor. Tonight, embrace your extraordinary surroundings and enjoy a traditional feast beneath a sky jewelled with thousands of stars, followed by live Gnaoua music around an open fire.
Start the day with a truly unforgettable experience – a camel ride across the desert during sunrise, watching the landscape turn remarkable shades of orange. After breakfast drive to Todra Gorge, a massive trench that rises over 250 metres to form one of the most dramatic and spectacular natural sights in Morocco. Continue your journey towards Skoura, stopping off along the way for lunch with a local family living within an old kasbah. Here you’ll enjoy some regional dishes and another look inside a typical Moroccan home. Arrive in Skoura, home to a historic oasis, sprawling palm plantations and a town dotted with mudbrick castles. Your accommodation for the evening is an excellent ecolodge, with charming rammed-earth bungalows, water conservation systems and a sweep of organic gardens; produce from which is used to create the wonderful meals served on site.
Today you will venture out from your lodge for a beautiful walk through the shady palm groves. The walk will take around two to three hours, depending on the interests of the group, and will be over gentle terrain. During your walk your leader will explain the importance of date farming in Morocco and you’ll see examples of the agricultural practices of the area. After your walk, visit the Kasbah Amridil, an iconic 17th century fortified residence that serves as a living museum. The kasbah bears its original form and is still maintained by the same family who built it, giving you a look at what life here was like 300 years ago – from goats wandering the courtyards to a traditional olive oil press and ovens. The rest of the afternoon is yours to unwind and relax at the lodge. You may like to stretch out beside the gorgeous pool with a good book – there are few better spots to while away an afternoon in the sunshine.
Depart Skoura and travel to Ait Benhaddou – a hilltop site almost unchanged since the 11th century. Its grand kasbah is one of the most beautiful in Morocco and the fortified village is a fine example of clay architecture. You may recognise the site from its long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Walk through the winding streets of the Old Town, making your way to the top of the hill for some scenic views. Afterwards, visit Tawesna – a local teahouse on the river – for a tasty lunch including freshly made Amazigh bread, soup, Moroccan sweets, and of course some mint tea. This community-run establishment provides women with a small income to support themselves and their children. The women use natural ingredients sourced from local cooperatives to prepare tea and pastries, taking great pride in sharing their stories and giving visitors an authentic Amazigh experience. Continue to Ourika where you will spend the evening.
What better way to start the day than with freshly baked bread? Your accommodation employs women from the local village, and this morning they will invite you to join a hands-on bread making workshop, letting you in on the tricks of the trade. The fresh bread will then be enjoyed as part of your breakfast. Afterwards, set off to explore the Ourika Valley on a pleasant walk, expected to take no more than three hours, depending on the abilities and interests of the group. During the walk you’ll enjoy more insight into everyday life as the locals go about their mornings. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you will be met by a local family from the village who will bring you a wonderful fresh lunch of bread, olives sourced from the area, couscous or tagine and seasonal fruits. Stop off at a scenic spot and enjoy a peaceful lunch.
Travel to Marrakech this morning. On arrival, meet with a local guide who will bring the magic of Marrakech to life as you set off on a morning tour of the old medina, through the bustling souks that are the lifeblood of the city. Explore tranquil courtyards filled with the scent of orange blossom and the many salons and chambers that make up Bahia Palace. Stop by the Koutoubia Mosque; the inside is for Muslims only, but the famous minaret is a sight to behold. Walk back through the streets of the old medina to Djemaa el-Fna, stopping off to taste some of the marvellous freshly squeezed orange juice from a local stall – this is sure to be one of the most delicious glasses of orange juice you ever have. The rest of the day is free to explore further. Perhaps visit Le Jardin Secret, a traditional medina garden with a magnificent courtyard, or head back into the medina and practice your haggling skills. For your final evening, perhaps join your group for a farewell dinner – your leader will be able to recommend some fantastic local restaurants.
Your trip ends today, after breakfast. Check-out time is usually around 12.00 noon and you are free to leave at any time. If you have arranged a private airport transfer you will be advised of the pick-up time. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring Marrakech.