This tour takes you to a world of infinite variety! In a single day, journey between ancient and modern worlds. Embrace the bustle of the souqs and medinas in the four Imperial Cities. Visit coastal trading centres as old as time itself, yet still vital to modern Morocco. Travel through cool cedar forests and sweeping mountain valleys … pass through almond and olive groves, date palms and saffron fields. Keep an eye out for goats snacking on nuts in the argan trees. (Really!) Savour the silence and peace of desert sand dunes. Allow the stars to gently touch your face before you settle into your nomad tent. This is your world – the best of Morocco!
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Day 1: Arrival Casablanca
Your driver and escort will meet you at the airport, then help you check in to your hotel where you can rest, relax, settle in. We’ll begin your tour with a visit to some of the city’s main sights such as the Sacre Coeur Cathedral, Arab League Park, Mohammed V Plaza, and the Quartier Habous.
If you’d just like to go for a walk, explore some of Casablanca’s art deco architecture on your own, or stroll the oceanside promenade to La Corniche. Enjoy a refreshing glass of mint tea at one of the beachside cafes. Depending on your arrival time, we’ll have you visit the Hassan II Mosque this day, or otherwise start with a tour of this site on Day 2. The Mosque is one of only two in Morocco open to non-Muslims. When you’re ready, we’ll find a great spot for dinner!
Day 2: Rabat
After breakfast this morning, tour the exquisite interior of the Hassan II Mosque if you did not visit on Day 1. Then we’ll depart for Rabat, Morocco’s current national capital, the first Imperial City on your tour. After lunch, take a walking tour of the old and new cities. Visit the Hassan Tower, the Kasbah des Oudayas, Andalusian Garden, the Musee des Oudayas, Mohammed V Mausoleum, and Chellah.
Day 3: Chefchaouen
Travel through the lovely pastoral countryside of northern Morocco to your destination in the Rif Mountains: the “blue village” of Chefchaouen! When you arrive, settle into your riad, then begin to tour around the medina on your own. Visit Plaza Outa El Hammam, the kasbah and its Ethnographic Museum, and Ras el Ma. Don’t miss the Spanish Mosque, a pleasant walk of about .5 km from the medina, or allow us to drive you. Discover Spanish influences in the local cuisine at dinner this evening!
Day 4: Chefchaouen
Continue exploring Chefchaouen at your leisure. Look for the locally-made brightly-striped “vegetable silk” textiles made from agave. Or if you feel the need to stretch your legs, you can go for a moderate hike of about 3 hours (return) to God’s Bridge in the nearby Talassemtane National Park. (Walks of varying degrees of difficulty are also available in the park.) We will arrange for a guide for you, and transport you to the trail head as well.
Day 5: Fes
Your destination today is Fes, the third Imperial City on your program. Along the way, visit the ruins of the Roman city of Volubilis with its beautiful mosaic floors and dramatic columns and arches. The nearby town of Moulay Idriss, holy to Muslims, just minutes from Volubilis, is a great spot to have lunch.
Then travel to Meknes, the second Imperial City on your tour. The medina here is colorful and very interesting, and you’ll be able to see Bab Mansour, the Bou Inania Medersa, Moulay Ismail Mausoleum, Dar Jamai palace, Zaouia of Sidi Mohammed ben Aissa, Habs Kara and Heri el-Souani (the Royal Granaries). Some sights are some distance from one another, so after your guided walk through the medina, we will transport you to the others at your convenience. Arrive in Fes in time to relax before dinner at your riad this evening.
Day 6: Fes
Take a full–day guided walking tour of the Fes medina, and see the major sights including the Andalusian Mosque, Attarine Medersa, Bab Boujeloud, the Bou Inania Medersa, the Fontaine Nejjarine, the Musée Nejjarine des Arts et Métiers du Bois (Wood Arts and Crafts Museum), Kairaouine Mosque, Place Seffarine, and the Terrasse des Tanneurs. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit a ceramics factory to see both ancient and modern methods of creating the beautiful hand-made “zellig” tiles so characteristic of Moroccan decor, as well as the famous “Fes Bleu” pottery. Complete this amazing day with a visit to a hammam, or relax at your riad before dinner.
Day 7: Sahara Desert / Erfoud
Today you’ll pass through ever-changing landscapes as you pass through the Middle Atlas Mountains and approach the Sahara Desert. Shortly after leaving Fes, you’ll pass through the cool cedar forest near Azrou, home to the Barbary monkeys. Some of them are now “spoiled”: they’ll deftly take pieces of fruit or nuts from your fingers. As you descend from the mountains, the road will take you through the fruit orchards around Midelt and along the Ziz Valley with its stark rocky outcrops, kasbah ruins, and dense palm oases before delivering you to Erfoud and the dramatic desert dunes. Enjoy dinner on the terrace of your desert hotel this evening!
Day 8: Sahara Desert – Tent Camp
Explore the desert towns of Erfoud, Rissani, and Merzouga this day: visit their markets, discover the fossil record of the area at Erfoud, and Kasbah ruins at Rissani. Visit tiny Hassi Labied, home to the Pigeons du Sable, a renowned Gnaoua music group. If they’re “home”, they’ll often offer an impromptu performance. You’ll still have time to relax and refresh before heading into the desert tent camp – even ride in on a camel if you wish. You’ll arrive in time to watch the sun set over the dunes, then enjoy dinner prepared by your camp hosts, and do some amazing star-gazing before sliding into your tents for the night.
Day 9: Ouarzazate
Leave the desert behind, and travel to Ouarzazate, a modern desert city with ancient roots. The road will take you to the Todra Gorge at Tineghir, the Dades Valley at Boumalne de Dades, through the Valley of Roses where the Damask Rose is grown commercially, and down the Route des Kasbahs, to Skoura and the Thousand Palms Oasis. Ouarzazate is the major centre for spices grown in the region – and the best place to buy them for yourself or friends!
Day 10: Marrakech
As you leave Ouarzazate for Marrakech, you’ll visit the region’s major attraction, Ksar Ait Ben Haddou*, the classic example of red pisé (rammed earth) architecture, and monument to an ages-old life and lifestyle. The road will then take you into the High Atlas Mountains, crossing over the amazing Tichka Pass. Stop at the village of Taddart to visit a Women’s Co-operative where cosmetic and culinary argan oil products are made.
You will arrive in Marrakech in the late afternoon, giving you time to relax and enjoy the amenities of your riad, or perhaps go for a walk or a refreshing cup of tea. Enjoy a quiet dinner at your riad this evening, or visit Djemaa el Fna Square, and enjoy dinner at one of the food stalls. The square comes alive in the evenings as it’s when the story-tellers, jugglers, and fortune-tellers all gather to entertain and amuse!
Day 11: Marrakech
Discover the exotic Red City of Marrakech, the fourth and final Imperial City on your tour. Take a guided walking tour of the medina and see all the major sites: the Bahia Palace, Koutoubia Mosque, the Jewish Mellah, Ali Ben Youssef Medersa, Marrakech Museum, El Badi Palace, and Saadian Tombs. Along the way, you’ll experience the colorful souks, the olive market, the dyers’ quarters, and visit the tanneries. Complete the day with an evening ride through the city on a horse-drawn calèche!
Day 12: Essaouira
Begin the day with a visit to the Majorelle Gardens and the exquisite Berber Museum. Then travel to Essaouira on the Atlantic coast, and spend the afternoon strolling through Essaouira’s lovely blue-and-white medina, the harbor area, and the artisanal craft shops. No guide is needed, as it’s all very easily navigable, and there are no significant points of interest needing guided interpretation. Discover Essaouira’s wonderful restaurants showcasing the coast’s excellent seafood, or if you prefer, you can dine at your riad.
Day 13: Casablanca
Complete your Moroccan adventure by meandering up the coast to Casablanca. Stop for lunch at Oualidia, famous for oysters and other seafood. Visit the Old Portuguese City and cistern at El Jadida. Arrive in Casablanca in time to do any last-minute touring or shopping, and in time to prepare for tomorrow’s departure.
Day 14: Departure Casablanca
We’ll transport you to the airport in time for your onward flight.
Key Tour Highlights
- *8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Imperial Cities: Rabat, Meknes, Fes, Marrakech
- “Blue Village”: Chefchaouen (optional hiking)
- Sahara Desert towns and markets (Erfoud, Rissani, Merzouga)
- Overnight in desert tent camp, optional camel ride
- Roman ruins: Volubilis*
- Architectural marvels: Ksar Ait Ben Haddou* (Ouarzazate)
- Historic landmarks: Old Portuguese City and cistern (El Jadida)
- Souqs and Medinas: Rabat, Meknes, Fes, Marrakech, Essaouira*
- Azrou cedar forest, sighting Barbary apes
- Women’s co-operatives: argan oil products
- Tradescraft highlights: vegetable silk, carpet-making, marquetry and wood crafts
- Exceptional cuisine; beautiful traditional Moroccan accommodations
- Professionally-certified driver for the entire tour
- Knowledgeable Moroccan host/driver speaks local languages and English/French