Day 1 – Casablanca: Upon arrival in Casablanca, you will be met by your driver and National Guide, who will spend the next 10 days showing you the best that Morocco has to offer. Transfer to your hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight at Le Doge (Luxury), Sofitel Tour Blanche (Deluxe), or Movenpick (Value).
Day 2 – Casablanca/Rabat/Fes: After breakfast, begin your tour of Casablanca, Morocco’s largest metropolis and its industrial hub. Visit the Hassan II Grand Mosque, among the largest in the world and housing as many as 25,000 worshipers. Its minaret is the tallest religious structure in the world. In the afternoon, embark on a city tour of Rabat, which highlights its cultural influences and the superbly preserved relics of its Moorish past. Visit the 12th Century Hassan Tower, the incomplete minaret of the great mosque built by Yacoub al-Mansour, and the Oudaya Kasbah, where within its walls you’ll explore a delightful craft museum (housed in a former palace) and the Andalusian garden (complete with a melodious fountain and sweet-smelling orange trees). After your tour, continue to Fes for overnight (3-hour drive). Overnight at Palais Faraj (Luxury), Palais Jamai (Deluxe), or Riad Myra (Value). (B)
Day 3 – Fes: Today, take a step back in time to the Middle Ages when you visit one of the most imperial, timeless and untouched cities in the world – Fez El Bali (Old Fez) – the cultural heart of Morocco. You will explore some of the 9,000 narrow lanes, alleys and souks that make-up the labyrinth of the city’s old quarter, originally founded in the 8th Century AD. The imperial capital was a renowned center of medieval learning and at its heart still remains the Karaouine, one of the oldest, still functioning universities in the world. Nearby is the Attarine Medersa (Koranic college), a jewel of Hispano-Moorish architecture, built in the 14th Century. You will also visit Fez El Jedid (New Fez), built by the Merinid Dynasty in the 13th Century. Here, you will see the Royal Palace, mosques, medersas, souks and the city wall. Most notably, Fez El Jedid is home to the Mellah, the old Jewish quarter, which provides an interesting insight into Jewish architecture. The medieval Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afterward, return to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at Palais Faraj (Luxury), Saharai Hotel (Deluxe), or Riad Myra (Value). (B)
Day 4 – Meknes/Volubilis: After breakfast, depart overland to Meknes (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), one of the Imperial Cities of Morocco (3-hour drive). In Meknes, the impressive monuments recall the splendour of the city, first built in the 17th Century by the powerful sultan Moulay Ismail, to rival the court of his contemporary Louis XIV of France. During your visit to Meknes, you will see the monumental Bab Mansour gateway, the Granaries, and the Royal Stables, built to accommodate some 12,000 horses. You will also see Moulay Ismail’s Mausoleum, one of the few shrines in Morocco that can be visited by non-Muslims. From here, continue on to Volubilis (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site), home to the largest and most well preserved Roman ruins in Morocco. With its triumphal arches, basilicas, and capitals, the Volubilis skyline is peppered with examples of Roman architecture. However, the greatest treasures of Volubilis are the superb mosaic floors, which have been excellently preserved and left in situ. After your tour, return to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at Palais Faraj (Luxury), Saharai Hotel (Deluxe), or Riad Myra (Value). (B)
Day 5 – Fes/Erfoud: After breakfast, travel to Erfoud, a small town on the edge of the desert, via the Ziz Valley (7 to 8-hour drive). The latter part of your journey is filled with stunning scenic views of endless palm plantations, Berber Villages, and the spectacular Atlas Mountains. Overnight at Chergui in a junior suite (Luxury) or Chergui in a standard room (Deluxe & Value). (B, D)
Day 6 – Erfoud/Merzouga (Sahara Desert): Today, you will visit the fortified desert town of Rissani, the last visible point of the Ziz River and the beginning of the desert. Travel by 4-Wheel Drive vehicle from the Desert dunes of Erg Chebbi en route to your tented campsite. Upon arrival, enjoy a reception with mint tea, before starting off via camelback to begin your exploration of the desert sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. Return to camp and settle into your nomadic tented accommodation before enjoying your dinner served around a campfire – complete with traditional entertainment. Overnight at Akorn camp (Luxury & Deluxe) or Madu camp (Value). (B, D)
Day 7 – Merzouga/Ouarzazate: After breakfast, journey to Ouarzazate (5½-hour drive), once a stopping point for African traders en route to the cities of Morocco and in Europe. You will travel through the southern slopes of the High Atlas range, following the Dades Valley through flourishing crops, irrigation canals and palm trees. Along the way, visit a unique, private museum whose exhibits showcase local art, culture, and history, before continuing on to Ouarzazate and your hotel. Overnight at Dar Ahlam (Luxury) or Berber Palace (Deluxe & Value). (B, D)
Day 8 – Ouarzazate/Marrakech: This morning, enjoy some sightseeing in and around Ouarzazate, a city originally built as a French garrison in the 1920s. Today, the city is a regional trade center, known for its pottery and carpets. Your tour includes a visit to the Glaoui Kasbah of Taourirt. Afterward, continue to the fortified village of Ait Benhaddou, which has starred in many cinematic masterpieces such as “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Jesus of Nazareth”, “Gladiator” and “The Mummy”. It is the most exotic and best-preserved Kasbah in the whole of the Atlas region. Next, continue your journey over Tizi n’Tichka, the highest mountain pass in Morocco, to the exotic and thriving city of Marrakesh. Known as the “Pearl of the South”, Marrakech showcases all the magic and diversity that Morocco has to offer. Overnight at Villa des Orangers (Luxury), Naoura Barriere (Deluxe) or Sofitel Lounge & Spa (Value). (B)
Day 9 – Marrakech: After breakfast, set out to discover the secrets of Marrakech. Most of the city’s architectural attractions are inside the Medina, the old walled section of the town. Built in the 12th Century, the Koutoubia minaret is the most perfect Islamic religious structure in North Africa. This famous landmark dominates the local skyline and can easily be spotted from all of Marrakech. Your tour includes visits to the Saadian Tombs displaying a very high level of decoration using traditional stucco and delicate Granada-style carving, typical of classical Moroccan buildings; the Bahia Palace, a masterpiece of 19th architecture; and Dar Si Said, one of the most beautiful palaces, now home to the Museum of Moroccan Arts and Crafts. Inside are stunning collections of traditional woven carpets and Berber silver jewelry. In the afternoon, visit the famous labyrinthine souks of the old town, whose maze of colorful alleys and small squares are home to a bewildering array of stalls and ateliers devoted to specific crafts. You will also explore Djemaa El Fna, the city’s main square, and famous for its orange juice stalls. No one can really be certain how it came into being, but over the years the square has become the beating heart of Marrakech, where fire-eaters, mime artists, snake-charmers and street musicians perform at every turn. Overnight at Villa des Orangers (Luxury), Naoura Barriere (Deluxe) or Sofitel Lounge & Spa (Value). (B)
DAY 10 – Marrakech: Enjoy the morning at your leisure, a perfect opportunity for some last-minute shopping or sightseeing at your own pace. In the afternoon, tour Marrakech via horse-drawn carriage and visit the beautiful gardens, which are dotted around the city. Begin the tour at the Menara gardens, which date back to the 12th century and are set amongst extensive orchards and olive groves. Next, visit the Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Gardens), originally designed in 1924 by French artist Jacques Majorelle. After taking up residence in Marrakech, Majorelle transformed the property’s existing garden into a tropical paradise, surrounded by vivid cobalt blue buildings with verdant exotic groves, lily-covered pools, and enormous sculptural cactuses. After Majorelle’s death, the property was purchased by the famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who established a trust to protect the future existence of the gardens. Afterward, return to your hotel. Overnight at Villa des Orangers (Luxury), Naoura Barriere (Deluxe) or Sofitel Lounge & Spa (Value). (B)
DAY 11 – Marrakech/Depart: After breakfast, you will be met in the lobby of your hotel and transferred to the Marrakech Menara Airport for your departing flight. (B)
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Photo Credit: Akorn Destinations
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