Celebrating Music of Morocco
Music tour of Morocco
Morocco is synonymous with music, with its roots in Africa and growth in Europe. It is known for its rituals and beliefs that have survived over the centuries, remnants of the ancient Mediterranean cultures that once inhabited the region. These customs remain a large part of Morocco's modern culture, expressed poetically in the daily lives of Moroccans. One of the most important aspects of this culture is music, emphasized on every occasion in order to display thoughts and feelings that are impossible to put into words. This otherworldly music tour in Morocco will introduce you to a world filled with spirituality and beauty that transcends religion, as you absorb an atmosphere replete with authentic Moroccan music and culture.
May 14: Flight from New York to Casablanca
You will depart for Morocco on an overnight, non-stop flight from John F. Kennedy Airport to the Mohamed V Airport in Casablanca, via Royal Air Maroc.
May 15:Travel from Casablanca to Volubilis
You will arrive the following morning at the Casablanca airport, where one of Cross Cultural Sevices guides will greet you and escort you to the city of Volubilis visiting on the way the beautiful vistas and small Berber villages. Visible for miles, Volubilis is a remarkable site, once the central location for the introduction of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the natives of Morocco.
You will spend some time relaxing at the peaceful Volubilis hotel, which overlooks a valley of the city's ancient ruins. In the afternoon, you will walk through the first Islamic city in Morocco, Moulay Idriss, home to many Sufi Orders founded throughout the centuries. This tour will be your initial introduction to Moroccan society in regard to spirituality, as you explore the city's labyrinth-like streets and local markets. After dinner, you will attend a brief introductory session about Sufi music, followed by a rhythmic celebration hadra, after which you will return to your hotel early for a good night's sleep.
May 16: Visiting Volubilis and Moulay Idriss
You will spend your morning exploring Volubilis, the Roman capital of Northwestern Africa, complete with a meditation session amidst the city's ruins at the Basilica. You will walk back to your hotel through an ancient olive tree grove, which Martin Scorcese used as a filming location for the Last Temptation of Christ. This will lead you up the hills to the caves that have served as a shelter and isolated premises for many stoics and Sufi masters that have shaped the spiritual backbone of the Moroccan society. After walking in the footsteps of our ancestors, you will return for a Kabab lunch in the hotel gardens, overlooking the legendary Roman ruins. Continuing on this music tour, you will be offered an hour-long drumming workshop including an introduction to the local trance dancers and drummers of the Hmadsha sufi drummers, who have earned a great reputation with hunting rhythms and chants throughout the Islamic Sufi world.
May 17: Historic Guided Tour of Fez
Starting your tour in the morning, you will depart for Fez, where you will check into your hotel, a Moorish Riad in the Medina, and eat lunch upon arrival. You will devote your afternoon to the exploration of Fez, with a historic tour including visits to the Mellah (the Jewish quarter), the King's palace, and the Bat'ha Museum of Moroccan Arts. Then we will drive to the Merinides hill to visit their necropolis where you will enjoy the best panoramic view on the Old walled Medina brimful with all 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 to leave your vehicle and enter a world that belongs to an ancient time. Fez has conserved its integrity to its existence and the Medina is still 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 different activities, from there we will wind our way to the Sgha square which will lead us to Attarine then souk el henna and the Mausoleum of Moulay Idris the founder of Fez.
In the same vicinity you will visit the Nejjarine square with its famous fountain, it guild of carpentry, the museum of folk arts at the Fondouk, the tannery and on to visit the great Mosque university of al Quarrawiyyine. Visit the market of dried fruits, the Medersa Attarine to Sbetryyine book binders street, the Seffarine Square where the tapping of metalworkers on copper and Brass is still deafening the passersby as it was the case for centuries.
You will break for lunch then continue exploring the marvels of Fez Medina. Initially, this will highlight the Dyers of silk and other yarns workshops, Foundouk Tetouani a medieval warehouse were all kind of tradinal products are traded in old fashion. Your discovery will proceed on to the shrine of Sidi Ahmed Tijani and up by foundouk Lihoudi where a family will host you for a traditional meant tea in their home. After dinner, the Ambiance of the Issawa Spiritual drummers will fill up the court yard of your Riad. Enjoy dancing and chanting in the ambiance of a family circle.
May 18: Excursion to Mount Zallagh
You will have the morning at your leisure, free to do what you please. In the afternoon, you will take an excursion outside of Fez to the rural Mount Zalagh to visit the shrine of Sidi Ahmed el Barnoussi, an ideal place with a view for contemplation and meditation. For centuries people retreated in this Hill of serenity and peace. Mules will be at your disposal if you prefer to ride up to the shrine. A local group of Tebbala from the neighboring village will escort you up the hills leading to the shrine and entertain you with their drums and traditional oboes (Ghita). Dance your way up the almond and olive groves to attend an introduction to Jajouka rhythms and other traditions, followed by an excursion to Mount Zallagh in the Riff Mountains.
Afterward, you will enjoy a mint-tea party at the shrine of Sidi Ahmed el Barnoussi, a pilgrimage for Sufis from all over Morocco, as you watch the sun set over Fez. You will complete your day with dinner and dancing in a Moroccan restaurant with entertainment by Chaabi musicians.
May 19: Shopping in the Medina of Fez
As in the medieval time, you will trade in the Medina huggling your way to settle for a price. It is noto only trading but interacting with locals in fact. You will devote your morning to shopping in the Medina, where you will find a variety of musical instruments and other artifacts. In the afternoon, you will attend a workshop about Gnawa rhythms rooted in Africa and Subsahara trance rituals and customs. After dinner, you will return to the heart of the Medina, where you will attend the Jilala Ceremony, trance dancing, and a Henna ceremony at Dar El Haj Moorish palace.
May 20: Travel from Fez to Erfoud
In the morning, you will leave Fez and venture into the Atlas Mountains. Your first experience with the Atlas Mountains will probably surprise you, since the hills of the Middle Atlas seem oddly un-Moroccan. Passing by Imouzzer, with a break stop at the Suisse like town of Ifran, you will soon come across the first real town of the Middle Atlas, Azrou, an important market center for the region's Berber tribes that is located at a major junction of mountain routes. Your driver will take a little detour in the forest of cedar to introduce you one the oldest inhabitant of this region the Berbery apes.
Today's tour in the Atlas Mountains may also coincide with the encounter of a nomadic family in its temporary encampment. Initially, 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 Atlases 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. You will conclude your day with dinner in your hotel.
May 21: Merzouga Dunes camp and visit of Rissani
You will have the morning at your leisure, followed by an excursion to the holy city of Rissani after lunch. You will then continue your journey to Erg Chebbi and watch the sun set behind the spectacular Merzouga dunes of the Sahara, a sight so beautiful that words cannot describe it. Afterward, you will have dinner with the Tuaregs, followed by the tribal Rokba Tagmount Dance. You will spend the night camping on the dunes.
May 22: Travel from Erfoud to Tinghir
Only fifteen kilometers from Tinghir, you will find the highest, narrowest gorges in the region: the Todras. You will then travel through the Dades valley, where you will find thousands of rose bushes acting as hedgerows to divide plots of land used for local produce. Along the Dades River, thousands of majestic Kasbahs appear, timeless in their beauty. You will visit a Berber home where you will experience Ahwash music and Megouna dance, followed by dinner and accommodations at the Hotel Bougafer in Tinghir.
May 23: Explore the Dades Valley to Ouarzazate
You will depart Tinghir and journey through El Kelaa De Mgouna and Boumalne, exploring the Dades Valley as you continue onward to Ouarzazate. Ouarzazate is defined by one large Oasis that intercepts the flow of water between the Dades, the Draa valleys, and the majestic High Atlases. Dinner and accommodations will be provided in the Belere Hotel, followed by a visit to a local home where you will enjoy a night of tribal music with Howara dancers.
May 24: Across the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech
You will depart in the morning for Marrakech, traveling via Taddart and the Tizin'Tishka Pass. The Pass, at an elevation of 11,000 feet, divides the mountains into two totally different aspects. The first side acts as a shield, protecting the hinterland from the Sahara harsh and dry climate. The second side is soft and evergreen, collecting moisture brought by the Gherbi winds from the Atlantic Ocean. You will arrive in Marrakech, a pleasure city where Southern tribesmen and Berber villagers bring their goods, spend their money, and find entertainment. For tourists, Marrakech is perpetually fascinating, sitting majestically before the soaring Atlas Mountains. You will have lunch at your hotel, followed by a visit to the bustling Jemaa El Fna Square. Afterward, you will visit a local home, where you will enjoy dinner, the local Kekka music, and the famous Gnawa music and dancing.
May 25: Marrakech City Tour
You will devote your morning to discovering the many historical sites that Marrakech with your guide. Tour city tour will be followed by a festive lunch at La Paix Restaurant, a French restaurant with an art deco theme. Including in this Music tour of Morocco, you will have a farewell dinner at the Moroccan Palace of Marrakech, followed by festivities complete with Andalusian and Sephardic music. Accommodations will be provided at the Atlas Hotel.
26: Flight from Marrakech - Casablanca - New York
In the morning, you will leave your hotel for Marrakech Airport, where you will catch a transfer flight to Casablanca. There, you will board your plane for the transatlantic flight back to New York. Remember this unique music tour of Morocco.