Magic of Morocco (overview of Morocco)
Imperial cities, Chefchaouen, Essaouira, and Sahara tour 12 days tour
- Romance tour group of 2 people
- Fun tour group of 4 to 5 people
- Family & friends 6 to 8 people
- Leisure group of 9 people & up
Day 1: Casablanca
When you arrive in Casablanca, your private driver will meet you and transfer you by van to your hotel where you will check-in and relax. Casablanca is now the largest port of the Maghreb busier even than Marseille, the city on which it was modeled by the French. A visit to Casablanca city should include but are not limited to the central market, the Habous district, the Royal Palace, the Mohamed V square, the residential area of Anfa, and the famous Hassan II Mosque.
Day 2: Casablanca / Rabat / Chefchaouen
Once you’ve finished eating your breakfast, you will head to Chefchaouen, the famous blue city of Morocco in the Rif Mountains. On route, you will stop for lunch and a time to enjoy the beautiful coastal city at Rabat, the capital city and residence of the King. This city is what you would expect in many ways – elegant in its spacious European style and in very civilized modern ways. Our visit begins in the Medina with the Kasbah of the Oudayas. Visit the venerated Mohamed V Mausoleum, the Hassan Tower, the Mosque, and the ramparts and walls of the Mechouar surrounding the Royal Palace. After having lunch, you will continue on to Chefchaouen for the night, and dinner will be served in the hotel.
Day 3: Chefchaouen
Following your breakfast, you will have a tour in this “cool” blue town that is hidden along the mountains. Nestled in the Rif Mountains of Northern Morocco, you will enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the delightfully picturesque town of Chefchaouen. The town was able to retain its medieval character, rivaling Morocco’s larger cities, and is renowned as one of the most charming towns in the country.
As if you are entranced, you will wander within the soft blue labyrinth created by the tinted whitewash of the town’s homes and streets. Local artisans contentedly show their skills in carpet weaving, leather goods, pottery, copperware, and woodworking. At the heart of the medina is a 17th-century mosque that fronts a picturesque square dotted with mulberry trees and inviting restaurants that serve delicious Moroccan-Spanish fusion cuisine. A lot of family-run inns are there, ready to delight with their hospitality, architecture, and décor. The ambiance captures the free spirit of Morocco during the 1960s. The effect of all this is dreamlike, making Chefchaouen an extremely tranquil and romantic place to rest for a night or longer.
Dinner will be served in the hotel.
Day 4: Chefchaouen / Volubilis / Meknes / Fes
After breakfast, we will depart the blue city to the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis to explore the 2000-year old ruins and get an idea of how life was like during the Roman Empire. Lunch will be either in Moulay Idriss or in Meknes.
After lunch, your guide will take you on a tour of Meknes, one of Morocco’s most striking imperial cities. The Sultan Moulay Ismail, who ruled from 1672 to 1727, made Meknes, in the heart of the countryside, his capital. Over a period of 50 years, he built palaces, mosques, gardens, lakes, granaries, and stables as well as the massive rampart wall surrounding the city. Yet his dream capital was never finished.
Today, Meknes is a citadel of monuments and sumptuous palaces, set among souks that serve the local people as well as offering visitors everything from silver bracelets to carpets and slippers, and then you will head off to Fes, the cultural and spiritual capital of Morocco. Dinner will be served in the hotel.
Day 5: Fes
After breakfast, you will enjoy a full-day tour in The Holy City of Fes, a jewel of Spanish-Arabic civilization. Fes does not reveal its secrets easily. Secretive and shadowy, they need to be discovered little by little and with reverence. Only in this way can the splendors of Medrsa architecture be fully appreciated. Only in this way will the call of the medina tempt you. Bustling with artisans and merchants, its captivating sounds, fragrances, and colors mesmerize the visitor with a constant swirl of activity. The city of Moulay Idriss is the first sanctuary of human and moral sciences.
The great ÀL Karaouiyne University has been a religious and intellectual center for eleven centuries; its influence has spread far beyond the Kingdom’s boundaries. As a cradle of religions, cultural, and artistic traditions, Fes, the double city, is the kingdom’s spiritual capital. The Andalusia mosque, dating from the 9th century and was further embellished by successive rulers, is accessed through a mighty door of sculpted cedar. An imposing minaret decorated with green faiences crowns is the Rsif Mosque. The Medersas around the Karaouiyne Mosque, former lodging houses for students coming from outside the city, attest the importance of its thousand years of history.
In the Medina, a labyrinth of sloping, winding alleyways is cramped and full of stalls and workshops. This is the famed Kissaria – the commercial center. A multitude of locally produced goods is on sale in this incredible maze. There are cotton fabric, silk, brocade work, slippers, and many more. Leaving the souks through the Boujeloud gate with its decoration of green and blue faiences, the riches contained in the wonderful Museum of Moroccan Art await you. Enjoy an optional lunch at the Medina and shopping in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight stay will be at the hotel.
Day 6: Fes / Azrou / Midelt / Erfoud
After breakfast in the morning, depart on an enjoyable drive across the Atlas Mountains. The first hills you see of the Middle Atlas will seem surprisingly un-Moroccan. There are evergreen pines. Tall cedar trees on the peaks and poplars on the foothills. The road across is almost ceremonial.
Azrou, the first real town of the Middle Atlas, stands at a major junction of routes. It is an important market center and has long held a strategic role in controlling the Berbers of the Mountains.
Midelt: you have left the Middle Atlas behind. Suddenly, through the haze, appear the much greater peaks of the High Atlas rising sheer behind the town to a massive range, the Djebel Ayashi at over 12000ft. The drama of that sight, tremendous in the clear, cool noon, is the most compelling reason to stop over for lunch. Afterward, you can enjoy dinner and overnight stay at the hotel in Erfoud.
Day 7: Erfoud / Merzouga
After breakfast, most of the day will be spent relaxing at the hotel or exploring the small but interesting desert town. In the afternoon, you will head off in a 4-wheel drive across the barren land to the majestic Sahara sand dunes, one of the most pleasant of all southern routes, a dry, red band of the desert, and then suddenly, a drop into the valley filled with date palm trees.
Day 8: Merzouga / Todra Gorges / Dades / Ouarzazate
You will get an early wake-up call for the sunrise excursion to the Sand Dunes and you will be set off on a camel trek. An experience not to be missed is to watch the sun as it rises from the top of the golden dunes, a spectacular view of the Sahara, which no words can describe. Head back to the tent for a special breakfast with the Touareg people, then continue on to explore the holy ancient city of Rissani. In the early afternoon, depart to Tinghir. You will find the highest and the narrowest gorges in the region, the Todra’s, only 15 km from Tinghir. Traveling through the Dades valley in spring, you will find the bloom of thousands of Persian roses – cultivated as hedgerows dividing the plots. There will be thousands of Kasbahs scattered along the Dades River through El Kelaa Des Mgouna and Boumaine. Have lunch at a local restaurant located at the feet of canyons, before heading to Ouarzazate, where you will stay overnight and have dinner.
Day 9: Ouarzazate / Ait Benhaddou / Marrakech
After breakfast, you will head off towards Marrakech. On the way, you will visit one of the jewels of Morocco — Kasbah Ait Benhaddou. In typical Moroccan fashion, the true treasures must be searched out and discovered, usually off the beaten path. In actuality, this setting has been used for more films than any other location in Morocco; some of these films include Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth, and The Gladiator.
After your visit to this famous Kasbah, you will complete the drive over the High Atlas Mountains. Once in Marrakech, you will check into your riad and then head off to the Jemaa el-Fnaa, the center square of the medina. The famous Jemaa el-Fnaa is one of the central attractions of Marrakech. Coming alive at night with the local storytellers, entertainers, and mouth-watering barbeque pits, the square is well worth a visit. A quiet cup of tea on the terrace of an adjacent café provides a spectacular aerial view of the bustling square. Dinner will be served at the riad.
After breakfast, start a full-day tour of Marrakech. A historic visit in Marrakech will include the Menara, a magnificent pool surrounded by flowers, reflecting the image of a beautiful Moorish construction built in 1866 for the dignitaries. See glorious sunsets with the Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. Also, the pool is a functional irrigation system to the surrounding areas. The tour will see several impressive sights such as the Koutoubia Minaret (the twin tower of la Giralda in Sevilla, Spain) and the Saadian tombs demonstrating Moorish architecture in its perfection. The tombs, consisting of splendid mausoleums built in the sixteenth century, were walled for some time, not to be discovered until 1917. Other sites include the museum of Dar Si Said with the best display of Berber arts and crafts to be found and the remains of the Badii Palace, a historical monument chosen to host the annual National Festival of Popular Art beginning the second Friday in June. The Bahia Palace still hosts dignitaries in the heart of the Mellah (Jewish quarter) today. Lunch will be at the hotel, then you can have a walk through the colorful souks of Marrakech in the afternoon. Conclude the day with a sunset drink overlooking the exciting Jamaa El Fnaa Square. There will be an optional dinner at “Chez Ali” under Berber tents with a Fantasia show. Stay overnight at your scheduled hotel in Marrakech.
DAY 10: MARRAKECH / ESSAOUIRA
Depart to Essaouira (Mogador). Apart from the immediate impact of sea air and the friendly animation of the town, the predominant images of Essaouira are of the Atlantic — picture a rugged coast and offshore islands, the vast expense of empty sands trailing back along the promontory to the south, and the almost gothic scenery of the eighteenth-century fortifications. You can have optional lunch at Chalet de la Mer and stay overnight at the hotel.
DAY 11: ESSAOUIRA / EL JADIDA / CASABLANCA
After breakfast, you will depart to Casablanca via El Jadida and stop at El Oualidia. Relax and enjoy a seafood lunch. Stop along the coastline to El Jadida and visit the citadel. Visit the Vestige of the Portuguese occupation during the 11th century. Continue to Casablanca where you will stay overnight at the hotel.
DAY 12: CASABLANCA / AIRPORT MOHAMMED V
Head to the Mohammed V Airport to catch your flight back to your home after having a memorable trip that you will cherish for a lifetime!