Day 1 Aeroport CASABLANCA — RABAT
Upon arriving into the Casablanca Airport (CMN), you’ll be picked up and taken to your hotel for the evening. If you arrive into Casablanca early in day, it can be a good idea to head to the capital city of Rabat (given the time we will visit the Hassan 2 mosque in Casablanca, the 3rd largest in the world). One hour later we reach Rabat, the capital city of Morocco. Much more tranquil than the hectic metropolis of Casablanca, Rabat has also a much richer history, having been an important city during the various dinasties that succeeded on the throne. We will visit the 12th century Kasbah des Oudayas with its Andalusian Gardens and the Hassan Tower. We can dwell further into the past and visit the Roman city of Sala Colonia and the Merenid necropolis of Chellah. Dinner and overnight in Rabat.
Day 2 RABAT – MEKNES – VOLUBILIS — FES
After breakfast we are headed towards Meknes , an imperial city that rose to prominence with the sultan Moulay Ismail ( 1672- 1727) who set the capital of Morocco to Meknes and gave it its golden age by building his imperial palace, city walls and kasbahs. Places of interest include the gate Bab El Mansour, Masoleum of Moulay Ismail, the imperial Palace and the royal granaries and stables. Back on the road we are to reach shortly the Roman ruins of Volubilis with its Galem’s baths, basilica, capitol and forum and the sacred village of Moulay Idriss. Moulay Idriss was Prophet Mohammed great grandson and he fled Mecca during the 8th century AD. He established himself at Volubilis, converted the locals to Islam and founded the first Moroccan imperial dynasty. We’ll arrive in Fes in the evening to have dinner and spend the night in a beautiful Riad.
Day 3 FES – GUIDED TOUR OF Fez
The third day is dedicated to the discovery of Fes. To this purpose, your driver can guide you through the narrow streets to discover all the charms of the most cultural of the imperial cities of Morocco. We can also arrange for a professional local guide if you feel that is necessary. One day is hardly enough to visit all the wonders of the most ancient of the imperial cities and world famous for its leather and metalwork: Medersa ( Koranic school ) Bouinania, Bab ( gate) Boujloud, the leather tanneries, Najjarine Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts. You might also want to just roam around some of its 9500 derbs (narrow alleys) and just take in all the sounds, smells, sights and spells. Whatever your choice, nothing can prepare you for this assault on the senses. Fes conjures the image of the quintessential fabled Arab city as Baghdad at the time of the 1001 nights… Within the walls of its Medina lies the world’s largest intact medieval city which was to become the first Arab designated World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
Day 4 FES – IFRANE – Azrou – MIDELT – Ziz Valley – ERFOUD
After breakfast, our first stop is Ifrane, a colonial alpine resort built by the French in 1929. With its alpine chalets, trimmed gardens, leafy park surrounding a mountain fed lake , you could almost be in … Switzerland. The surrounding countryside is pigmented by apricots, walnuts and plum trees and pictures of rural Berber life as we approach Midelt. A few hours later we arrive in Erfoud, the capital of the main dates producing area in Morocco. The change in landscape is quite noticeable since we are now getting closer to the Sahara. Given the time we will visit the ancient Jewish district and the Musee des Oasis. Dinner and overnight in a romantic Kasbah.
Day 5 ERFOUD – MERZOUGA – ERG CHEBBI
After breakfast we are headed towards the desert and we arrive shortly in Merzouga, the last village before the dunes. From here we trade the 4×4/ mini van for camels and we reach the dunes of Erg Chebbi , some of the highest in Morocco. With all the expectations building up along the road still nothing quite prepares you to the spectacle stretching in front of your eyes from the top of the dunes. For as far as you can see, there is nothing but sand, an ocean of it as set to conquer everything that stands in its way. All worldly matters loose sense and the feeling of peace is overwhelming… For the rest of the afternoon you are free to choose among the activities offered on the spot ( quad biking, buggies, sand surfing, etc.), indulge in some bird watching or simply do nothing and enjoy the immensity of the dunes. Dinner and overnight in a private Bedouin tent in the dunes.
Day 6 ERG CHEBBI – RISSANI – TODRA GORGES — TINERIR — SKOURA
Try to wake up to catch the sun rise- there is nothing quite like it… After breakfast we are headed towards Rissani that used to serve as last stop on the great caravan routes south. Gold and slave auctions were taking place here as late as 1800’s. The most spectacular gorges of Morocco, Todra Gorges , lie only 15 km from Tinerir, presenting an arresting spectacle with its crystal clear river emerging from it, its huge walls changing colour to magical effect as the day unfolds. We are now in the mountains again as we pass Tinerir ( 1400 meters altitude), an important center for the Berber nomad tribes with its extensive palm grove, amazing traditional carpets and the Ksours built into the rocky hills. Our next stop is Kelaa des Mgouna , famous for its rose- derived products industry. The most looked after product is eau de rose and two factories in the area distil and export the product. The roses are picked by women before the sunrise and the work is hard, as ten tonnes of petals turn into 2 to 3 litres of rose oil. Shortly after we reach the palm grove of Skoura. Dinner and overnight in a charming Kasbah.
Day 7 SKOURA – OUARZAZATE – AIT BENHADDOU – TELOUET — MARRAKECH
Breakfast will hopefully be served on the terrace of the Kasbah from where we overlook the amazing 30 square kilometer stretch of land where, in the shade of thousands of palm groves, locals get the best out of their fertile land as olives, pumpkins, quinces, apples, pomegranate, grapes, wheat and barley all grow aroused by the centuries old system of irrigation. A guided tour is not to be missed. On the way to Ouarzazate , we can stop for a break to see the birds setting over the huge Mansour Eddhabi lake. In Ouarzazate, time allowing, we can visit the film studios where Lawrence of Arabia or Gladiator were filmed. Leaving the main road we shortly arrive on the site of the most well preserved and famous Kasbah in Morocco – Ait Benhaddou , another world heritage UNESCO site. The different houses (units) composing it communicate with each other giving way to intricate light patterns and mysterious passages and makes for an ideal hide and seek playground. After the visit we set out on the Ounila Valley to reach Telouet. The beauty of the valley serpenting underneath the route is beyond words. At Telouet, what was once the main residence of the ‘ Lord of the Atlas’ – Pacha El Glaoui , used to accommodate his court, the stables, a Mosque and countless slaves at a time when the Pacha was reportedly having tea with W. Churchill and started the first bus company in Morocco. A visit is recommended if only to marvel at the extravagance of this modern-day dynasty and the contrast between the derelict exterior and the opulent interior. Shortly after Telouet, we are back on the main road and after innumerous twists and turns descending the Atlas Mountains we reach Marrakech. Dinner and overnight in a charming Riad/ boutique hotel.
Day 8 MARRAKECH – GUIDED TOUR OF THE CITY/ CASABLANCA
We will dedicate today to a guided tour of Marrakech – the ‘ Pearl of the South’ . Maybe due to its snake- charmer, story- teller and local music bands filled Djemaa El Fna square, the constant flow of show biz celebrities owning properties here, its massive foreign residents community or its geographical location, Marrakech is much more famous than its counterpart Fes. One thing is sure: no other Moroccan city boasts such a demographic diversity: Arabs, Europeans and Berbers have always blended with the Touareg populations north of Sahara and the Black Africans whose ancestors worked at the court of the Sultan in a city always known for being a passage point for caravans coming through its gates from the four corners of Africa. The streets of its Medina can prove hard to navigate and the street sellers can sometimes be intimidating therefore we recommend to ask your driver to guide you through the maze. Highlights include: Bahia Palace, Saadian Tombs, the legendary Mamounia hotel or the Majorelle Gardens ( once owned by a certain Yves Saint Laurent). If your flight is from Casablanca, forecast 3 hours’ drive from Marrakech to the airport in Casablanca on the high