Mesmerizing Morocco

12 days

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Morocco infuses history with mystery, and at its core, lies a true sense of adventure. We haven’t decided what steals the show more; the delicious cuisine, the breathtaking scenery, or the captivating culture. Mingle between the Portuguese flavors of seaside Essaouira, bustling souks and architecture of Marrakech, spectacular views and Berber life of the Atlas Mountains, and undulating sand dunes of the mesmerizing Sahara Desert. You’ll take away a true connection to raw nature, insight into an ancient land, and a new perspective on traditional ways of life. All with a very satisfied appetite.

Highlights

  • Witness sunset in the magical Sahara Desert, Morocco’s final frontier
  • Explore Marrakech’s historical sites, souks, and spices
  • Spend a day with a Berber family in the scenic Atlas Mountains
  • Interact with local artisans, and indulge in a tasting tour of Moroccan cuisine
  • Capture seaside Essaouira’s iconic blue fisherman boats on camera

Itinerary

DAY 1

Arrive Morocco – Seaside Essaouira Orientation Walk

Essaouira is a seaside town encompassed by fortified Portuguese stone walls, whitewashed buildings, cobbled laneways filled with souks and handmade treasures, and iconic blue fishing boats. Upon arrival, freshen up, and take an orientation tour of the town. Stroll along the ramparts, discovering the history and taking in ocean views. You’ll spend two nights at the L’Heure Bleue Essaouira, a Relaix & Chateau hotel with old-world charm and a fantastic rooftop terrace overlooking the sea.

DAY 2

Essaouira – City Tour and Meet the Artisans

Dig deeper into the everyday life of Moroccans learning why Essaouira lured the likes of Orson Wells and Jimi Hendrix. Jewish, Portuguese and Berber history fills the laneways. Explore the souks and meet artisans.  Discover traditions passed through generations, from crafting leather bags to woven textiles, silver jewelry, spices, and wooden carvings. Meander along the seafront to capture a photograph of iconic blue fishing boats, and see locals in action at the fish market.

DAY 3

Marrakech – Argan Oil Co-Operative, Vineyard Lunch

Enjoy a delicious breakfast and a morning at leisure. Visit a local co-operative to learn the process of making argan oil (Moroccan oil) for cosmetic purposes and cooking. Visit the Val d Argan vineyard for a tour of the estate. Here, myriad tasting dishes introduce you to Moroccan cuisine, accompanied by generous wine tastings. The most interesting employee is Goliath, a tall and friendly camel who pulls the troughs through the fields. Transfer to Marrakech, where the next three nights will be spent at the divine La Sultana; a luxurious Moroccan riad with extraordinary architectural details, fantastic service, and possibly the best rooftop in all Marrakech.

DAY 4

Marrakech – Historical Tour and Discovering the Souks

Delve back in time today, exploring Marrakech’s best-known sights including Bahia Palace, Koutoubia Mosque and minaret, Saadian Tombs and the Jewish quarter. In the afternoon, head into the heart of Marrakech’s souks. Myriad laneways and shops are filled with everything your heart could desire; Moroccan rugs, spices, leather goods, handbags, woven textiles, delectable pastries and more. Meet the local artisans making ceramics, musical instruments and metal lanterns, discovering intricate handiwork learned from their forefathers.

DAY 5

Marrakech – Majorelle Gardens and a Food Tasting Trail

Peruse the Majorelle Gardens, filled with cacti, flora, ornamental ponds and an Art Deco villa painted cobalt blue. Now owned by Yves Saint Laurent, inside is his personal collection of Berber antiques; an excellent display of beautiful traditional clothing, jewelry, tools, weapons, and household items providing a window to traditional Berber tribes. This afternoon, embark on a culinary tasting tour on foot. Delve into the fruit and vegetable souks, smell the spices, sample tagine, preserved meat (vegetarians are well catered for), honey, dates, and nuts. Your evening culminates with mint tea on a rooftop overlooking the city, as the Islamic Call To Prayer echoes far and wide.

DAY 6

Atlas Mountains – Scenic Gentle Hike

A scenic drive takes you to the Atlas Mountains, where goats roam free and red mud-brick villages dot the countryside. Lace-up your hiking shoes and meander walking trails affording incredible views of Mount Toubkal, terraced farming fields and local villages. Enjoy two nights at Kasbah Tamadot, where your private jacuzzi looks over the mountains. This afternoon is at leisure to laze away on Moroccan rugs and cushions by the infinity pool where peacocks roam free, peruse the library, or pop into the on-site ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of Eve Branson’s antique shop, where all proceeds go directly to her foundation supporting local women.

DAY 7

Atlas Mountains – Discover Berber Life with a Local Family

An intimate experience awaits as you immerse yourself in the daily life of an authentic Berber community. A scenic drive takes you to a small village to meet a local family. Get to know them as you bake bread, prepare a traditional tagine and learn the secrets of mint tea together. While lunch is simmering, get your hands into a ceramics workshop, and try your hand at weaving a colorful kilim (rug). In the afternoon you’ll visit a charity pre-school where little Berbers learn Arabic in preparation for big school.

DAY 8

Skoura – UNESCO Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah

An incredibly scenic drive awaits today, as the road snakes between breathtaking mountain ranges and past mud-brick villages en-route to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ait Ben Haddou. One of the most visited sites in Morocco and the scene for Gladiator, Laurence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and more, explore the beautifully preserved Berber architecture of this stunning kasbah. Views from the top are simply spectacular. Two nights will be spent at Dar Ahlam, a heavenly retreat nestled among a palm tree oasis, surrounded by crumbling kasbahs and farmlands.

DAY 9

Skoura – Palm Grove Explorations

A leisurely day awaits, exploring the oasis of Skoura. Discover date, pomegranate, apricot and fig trees fed by an ancient underground water system. Learn of traditional farming methods bringing life to an otherwise be dry and desolate region. Drive past crumbling kasbahs and old mud-brick houses, and admire the architecture of the 17th century Amerdil Kasbah, immortalized on the country’s 50 dirham note.

DAY 10

Sahara Desert – Todra Gorge, Sunset Camel Ride and Stargazing

The culmination of your journey is here, as you embark on a 4×4 adventure over the sand dunes and into the remote Sahara Desert. En-route, stop at the scenic Todra Gorge for a hike among pink sandstone ravines. Drive towards the desert, arriving in the afternoon. At sunset, meet your camel and take an adventurous ride across the undulating sand dunes as spectacular hues of orange, pink and yellow dance across the sky. A divine dinner is served among the dunes (best enjoyed barefoot), with a traditional campfire surrounded by Saharan men playing traditional music. Embrace the dazzling night sky, under a blanket of a thousand stars.

DAY 11

Erfoud – Tea with Nomads, 4×4 Desert Adventure

Before dawn breaks, revel in your final moments in the magical Sahara as the sun rises for a new day over the sand dunes. Revel in a full day of 4×4 adventures through the Sahara Desert, discovering million year old fossils intact in the earth, and sharing mint tea with nomads. Transfer to the town of Erfoud for an evening at leisure. We highly recommend a traditional hammam this evening, to leave you feeling pampered and relaxed.

DAY 12

Departure Day

Today you’ll transfer to the airport for your international flight home. Morocco is an enchanting country filled with incredible scenery, culture, and experiences that will remain etched in your heart forever.