Cultural Group Tour of Morocco
Morocco Discovery Tour 2017
Morocco offers the ultimate quest for those in search of new horizons. To visit Morocco is to take a fascinating journey that will forever change one's perspectives and perceptions. With its ever-changing natural beauty and intricate, rich history, Morocco is the ideal catalyst for the curious and open-minded traveler.
This 15 days grand tour is a great introduction to the diverse landscapes this Morocco Tour has to offer through walking, hiking, camping over the dunes in the Sahara Desert, as well as stays in deluxe hotels and riads.
You will start this grand tour in Casablanca traveling to Rabat, across the great farming plains. From there, you will travel through the pastured hills to Fez. From Fez, start climbing towards the peaks of the evergreen middle Atlas Mountains covered with the unique red cedar forest home to lots of nomadic tribes. The landscape and architecture is so un-Moroccan that you might feel almost in the Alps of Switzerland.
From these vistas, you will reach higher snow-capped peaks in the high Atlas Mountains which eventually lead you on their eastern exposure to the expanse of the Sahara Desert. Throughout your Morocco Tour 2017, you will explore the major historic Imperial Cities, Berber villages, and wards, Oases and valley and most dramatic Sahara dunes. If you are a traveler who likes to mix it, culture, activity and encounters with locals then this small group discovery tour of Morocco is for you.
Day 1: Landing in Casablanca - Casablanca City Tour
Once you land at the Mohamed V Airport in Casablanca, your guide will meet you at your arrival gate to take you immediately to check-in to your hotel. The remainder of the morning will be to relax and acclimate.
In the afternoon, your guide will take you on a monumental tour exploring Casablanca, the largest port of the Maghreb, and "capital in all but administration." Next, on your Morocco tour 2017 you will visit the Habous quarter to be introduced to your first Spanish Moorish ambiance of a lively market in old Casablanca, then of course the Art Deco colonial downtown with the real flavor of the Mystic French connection.
Your Morocco Tour guide will introduce you to La Corniche and Ain Diab shoreline renovated spacially for 2017. This will give you an idea of the creative architecture in neighborhoods of the well off Moroccans of Anfa quarter, and also the inclusive resort of La Corniche. And of course, you will not miss the great mosque of Hassan II open to visitors every morning of 2017, the second largest mosque in the world. Finally, you will return to your hotel for dinner.
Day 2:Travel from Casablanca to Rabat
Your guided Morocco Tour proceeds. Today's excursion is a wonderful short drive of about 45 miles through the lush farms and nurseries of exotic plants.
You will reach Rabat the capital of Morocco, a city styled in a spaciously elegant European grid, yet slightly aware of its modernity. Rabat and its twin city Sala Colonia are separated by only a river but are historically worlds apart. They have an ancient legacy that spans hundreds of generations. Each civilization that has inhabited each of the cities has left its imprints, resulting in a wide variety in architectural styles, from the Phoenician and Roman eras to the art deco and modern edifices.
Your guide will take on a historical and lively tour visiting Jewish quarter, the Mellah in the heart of the city starting at Place Marche Central. The ancient 12 century ramparts are best seen from this landmark. Proceed on to Gate Chellah in old city. Your tour continues on to take you to the traditional Souk Laghzel (Yarn market). Your tour guide will introduce you to the importance of this traditional guild on textile role in the Moroccan arts and craft.
Continue on your guided visit of Rabat, follow your guide walking to the citadel of the Oudaya Kasbah entering from its 12th century main gate to explore an extraordinary Medieval old forts overlooking the delta of Bourgreg River. You will have the opportunity to visit the old-fashioned Andalusian gardens, take a break for a mint tea or Arab Coffee, lter you will visit the Oudaya museum of tribal arts and crafts; a unique Museum exhibiting the beauty of traditional Berber Textiles of Morocco.
Proceed with your guide on your quest exiting the Oudaya Kasbah and up the hill to visit the Hassan Tower and Mohamed the V Mausoleum, best display of Moroccan architectural arts and crafts at its finest. Finally, you reached the Royal Palace and the Necropolis of Chellah to close your Rabat guided tour. Return to the hotel for dinner and accommodations.
Day 3: Travel to Fez exploring Volubilis and Meknes
Your excursion for the day traveling east in the hinterland, will cover most of ancient history highlights. The first stop will be the ancient Roman city of Volubilis. Volubilis was a critical city in the imperial Roman department of Mauritania (modern day Morocco, and the Western Sahara) during the reign of Caracalla. Volubilis is impressively well preserved and the genius of Roman urbanism is still intact. The two central integral streets in every Roman castrum, the Cardo and Decumanus, are prominent. The cardo is the boulevard which runs north-south and the Decumanus, east-west. The intersection of the two is the heart of every roman city. There you will find the ruins of the ancient forum.
In the neighboring hills of the vicinity the holy citadel of Moulay Idris is nestled. Founded in the 8th century by Moulay Idris Al Akbar, grandson of the Prophet Mohamed (s.a.w.s), this citadel is considered to be both the cradle of Sufism to Moroccan society as well as the first Islamic capital for the premier Arab dynasty. The city was created primarily for the indigenous population that migrated with Moulay Idris from the Middle East.
You will drive around 15 miles to the next stop, the imperial city of Meknes. Meknes is a 17th Century city built by Moulay Ismail to rival the ancient Moorish city of Fez. Theogh the monumental grandiose of Meknes and the Power of its founder King Moulay Ismail Meknes lived always in the shadow of Fez. Meknes is a royal metropolis considered to be the Versailles of Morocco.
Eventually, you have reached your destination, the ninth century city of Fez. In the evening, you will get a taste of the greatest of the Imperial Cities. You will visit the sights on the outside of ancient walled city, including the ramparts, the gates, and the Borjs (Moorish Forts). After this introductory aperitif to Fez, you will dine in your hotel and prepare for day three: Fez!
Day 4: Historic Guided Tour of Fez
The full day will devoted to historic visit of Fez. Extremely enthralling, Fez is feast for the senses with its haunting yet beautiful sounds, visual splendor, and evocative smells. Fez is most ancient of the imperial capitals and the most complete medieval city of the Islamic world. Fez is reminiscent of a city suspended in time, unfazed by the constantly evolving world outsides of its walls. Fez owes nothing to the world of today, but electricity.
Time spent in Fez will reveal much about the sophistication of the Moroccan artisan, providing an unparalleled learning experience to those who cross its path. Your morning will be spent visiting the Medina. Our specialized guide will take you on a historic discovery of the city of Fez starting at the King's Palace and its Meshwar with ramparts and majestic gates.
Then, we will drive to the Merinides hill to visit their necropolis. Here you will enjoy the best panoramic view on the old walled Medina, brimful with its countless minarets to call for the prayers in a city that has responded to these calls for 12 centuries. Drive down the hills to the gate of Bab Guissa where you will leave your vehicle and walk to enter an ancient world. Fez has preserved its Medina as it was centuries ago. Not even a bicycle is able to be used as tool of transportation. Only donkeys, mules and horses are able to help moving all what the city produces and needs as supplies.
The first guilds you will immediately encounter are the cobblers, the saddlers and black smiths interlaced by some caravansaries for tribesmen who come from the surrounding areas to trade and supply their needs. Down the hill to Juteya you will encounter all sorts of crafts but noticeably carpenters and leather workers as one of the traditional tanneries is not far. This walk will lead you to El Ashabine square with its variety of activities. From there, you will wind your way to the Sgha square which will lead you to Attarine then Souk el Henna and the Mausoleum of Moulay Idris, the founder of Fez. Next to it, you will visit the Nejjarine square with its famous fountain, its guild of carpentry and the museum of folk arts at the Fondouk.
You will walk to the tannery and on to visit the great Mosque university of Al Quarrawiyyine, passing by Shemma'ine, the market of dried fruits. After that, you will visit the Medersa Attarine and walk to Sbetryyine, a guild of book binders, which will lead you to the Seffarine Square, where the tapping of metalworkers is still deafening passerby as it was the case for centuries. You will break for lunch then continue exploring the marvels of Fez Medina. These will highlight the Dyers souk, Foundouk Tetouani and the shrine of Sidi Ahmed Tijani. You will end your walking tour and retreat to your hotel for dinner and other accommodations.
Day 5: Travel from Fez to Erfoud
You will travel mainly for the day discovering the rural environs of the Atlas Mountains Berbers. Covered with evergreen pines, tall cedar trees, and poplars, and laced with flowing streams, your first view of the Middle Atlas ranges will appear oddly un-Moroccan. Visiting Imouzzer Kandar followed by a quick stop at the Swiss-like town of Ifrane, you will soon come across the first real town of the Middle Atlas, Azrou.
Azrou is an important market center for the region's Berber tribes, located at a major junction of mountain routes. Your driver will take a little detour in a cedar forest to introduce you to one of the oldest inhabitants of this region, the Berber apes. This may also coincide with the encounter of a nomadic family in its temporary encampment. As nomads are very hospitable people, whenever we encounter them we are all invited at least for a mint tea under their tents.
At Midelt, the Middle Atlas give way to the High Atlas Mountains, whose peaks are visible through the haze, soaring to over 12,000 feet. You will stop in Midelt for lunch, enjoying the dramatic sight before you. You will then continue to Erfoud, one of the most delightful southern regions consisting of a dry, red belt of desert with a sudden drop into the lush valley of Ziz, with copious date palm groves and flowing streams. Visit the gorges of Ziz and some of the oases and natural sites before you reach the magnificent oasis of Erfoud.
After you arrive in Erfoud, you will leave your vehicle and hop into the 4-Wheel Drive cruiser which takes you to meet a caravan of camels that you will ride to camp. You will conclude your day in your camp over the dunes of Merzouga where tents are pitched for you to enjoy a night under the African Skies. After dinner, the Rokba drummers will illuminate your night with their lively dances and moving chants. Enjoy this encounter of Man and nature at its best.
Day 6: Explore Merzouga Dunes and Rissani
You will wake up early to reach the highest peak of the dunes and watch the sun rise over the spectacular Merzouga dunes. This is an experience that should not be missed. You can walk up as far as you like over the dunes or we can provide with a camel to trek over these dunes.
Afterward, you will have a festive breakfast with the Toaregs under their tent and continue onward to explore the ancient, holy oasis of Rissani with your guide. There, you will visit the ruins of Sijilmassa, remnants of the first Arab and Islamic city of Morocco, an ancient center of trade in Gold and salt, later you will go to visit the prehistoric fossils present throughout the desert. After stops in different oases and palm groves in this valley of Ziz, you will then return to your hotel for dinner and other accommodations.
Day 7: Excursion to Tinghir and Todrha Valley
You will leave Erfoud travelling west toward the Valley of Todra, which lies right between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. You will reach Tinghir, the town where we will be spending the night. Only 15 kilometers from Tinghir inside the Valley of Todra, you will find the Todra's highest and narrowest gorges in the region.
Next, you will travel through the Dades valley, where in the spring, thousands of Persian roses bloom in hedgerows, filling the air with their heavenly perfume. You will also see the thousands of Kasbahs scattered along the Dades River, majestic sandcastles with a visually appealing, timeless beauty. You will end your day with dinner and other accommodations at your hotel.
Day 8: Travel from Tinghir to Ouarzazate
Today, you will continue to explore the Dades Valley, traveling through El Kelaa De Mgouna and Boumalne to view the inimitable natural vistas and unusual rock formations. You will then continue onward to Ouarzazate, which is one large oasis that intercepts the flow of water between the Dades, the Draa valleys, and the majestic High Atlas Mountains. This is an ideal place to stop for the night. You will resume your day with dinner and other accommodations in your hotel.
Day 9: Excursion from Ouarzazate to Marrakesh
You will spend most of your day en traveling to Marrakesh, exploring the legendary Kasbah of Ait-Benhaddou, a renowned architectural marvel classified as UNISCO world heritage. Your Excursion will lead you to the highest pass in Morocco, the Taddart and Tizi Tishka pass, at an altitude of 11,000 feet. This pass divides the mountains into two distinct facets: the harsh, stark side acting as a shield that protects the hinterland from the harsh, dry expansion of the Sahara, and a lush side, soft and evergreen, which collects the moisture from the Gherbi winds of the Atlantic Ocean.
You will arrive in Marrakech, a city of pleasure for both visitors and locals, where southern tribesmen and Berber villagers bring their goods to market and find a variety of entertainment. To tourists, the city is a feast for the imagination, full of incomparable beauty, situated before the towering mountains that provide a thrilling backdrop. After a visit to the bustling Jemaa El Fna square, you will conclude your day with dinner and other accommodations at your hotel.
Day 10: City tour of Marrakech
You will devote your morning to the exploration of Marrakech's many historical sites, starting at the Menara, a magnificent pool surrounded by flowerbeds, reflecting the image of an exquisite Moorish edifice. It was constructed in 1866 for dignitaries, who enjoyed glorious sunsets with the ethereal Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. The pool also functions as an innovative irrigation system that is serving dry life in the desert.
Your Marrakech city tour with your guide will cover many impressive sites, including the Koutoubia Minaret (which is identical to la Giralda, a tower found in Sevilla, Spain), and the Saadien tombs, which demonstrate Moorish architecture at its best. The tombs consist of sixteenth-century mausoleums, which had lain walled-in and undiscovered until 1917. Next, you will explore the gardens of the Agdal then the Marjorelle. Finally, you will return to your hotel for dinner and other accommodations.
Day 11: Excursion from Marrakesh to Ourika Valley
You will begin your day with an excursion to the Ourika Valley, where you will visit the traditional Berber Souks, as well as the Jewish shrines. After lunch, you will visit the Berber Museum of Arts and Crafts to learn about the dwellers of these mountains and their products before you discover their workshops and sophisticated, hand-made products. You will return to Marrakech for dinner and other accommodations at your hotel.
Day 12: Excursion from Marrakech to Essaouira
You will begin your day by traveling to Essaouira (Mogador), an excursion tha embodies an unprecedented aspect of Morocco. Essaouira, a picturesque city with a rich history. With a fascinating antiquity, Essaouira was occupied by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, supplied essential purple dyes to the Romans, absorbed the sophisticated Jewish arts of silversmith, and spent centuries as a Portuguese enclave.
Despite the obvious influence of these civilizations, Essaouira has managed to remain a small, authentic Berber town. Alive with the breath of fresh air provided by the Atlantic, Essaouira is a jewel nestled in the ragged coast, with a vast expanse of empty sands trailing back along the promontory towards the South. After an introductory tour, you will conclude your day with dinner and other accommodations in your hotel.
Day 13: Travel from Essaouira to Casablanca
You will travel to Casablanca, stopping at El Oualidia for a seafood lunch. You will continue onward to El Jadida, where you will visit the citadel, evidence of the 11th century Portuguese occupation. Finally, you will arrive in Casablanca, having completed a journey that has led you through immeasurable antiquity. You will conclude your day with a farewell dinner and spend the night at the hotel.
Day 14: Flight from Casablanca back Home
In the morning, your driver will meet you at your hotel to assist you with your luggage and transport you to the Mohamed V Airport. Your driver will assist you with your check-in and bid you farewell.