As time goes by… isn’t it time you explored the legendary wonder and romance that is Morocco! Experience a classic expedition to the magnificent Imperial Cities and Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The exotic blend of ancient and modern, African, Arabian and European influences will almost seem a mirage as you journey between the imperial cities. Marvel at the incredible vistas and rewarding birding of the Atlas Mountains, sleep in tents in the desert to welcome the rising sun in the morning over the Sahara dunes, and discover why Morocco has always been a crossroads for many cultures. Throughout, you will be welcomed into Moroccan private homes and enjoy the exotic luxury of palace hotels.
Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.
Morocco enjoys European climate and has the Atlas Mountains running through the country. Winters can be quite cold and snow is quite common in the Atlas Mountains, making it impossible to pass them. Summers can be hot and humid and at the desert quite hot. Ideal times to visit Morocco are April/May and September through mid-November.
Board your overnight flight to Casablanca. Upon arrival the next morning, you will be escorted to the Imperial city of Rabat, the capital of Morocco and residence of the King. Visit the Kasbah des Oudaias and a Kasbah constructed by the Almohads in the 12th century. Enjoy a welcome dinner at your gorgeous hotel. LA TOUR HASSAN MERIDIEN. (Meals Aloft, D)
Cross the river to the old city of Sale to visit the AMESIP Foundation to see how creative solutions are implemented to care for neglected children, and donate supplies to aid in their education. Continue to the private museum of the Dar Belghazi family. See rare antiquities such as manuscripts, embroidery, ceramics and jewels and join them in their home for a traditional lunch. This afternoon, explore enchanting Rabat and you stroll through its maze of streets, where modern and ancient structures reside side-by-side. In the heart of the city stands the Tour Hassan, the last vestige of an unfinished mosque. Behind its marble columns, the Mohammed V Mausoleum engenders solemn respect and serene contemplation. LA TOUR HASSAN MERIDIEN. (B,L)
Drive to the Royal City of Meknes, the megalomaniacal creation of Moulay Ismail. The city had over 50 palaces, with almost 18 miles of walls and 20 gates. Visit Moulay Ismail Mausoleum and the horse-breeding center at Haras with its superb Berber and Arabian horses. Continue to the extensive Roman ruins of Volubilis, before you drive to Fez. The capital of Morocco for more than 400 years, Fez is the oldest of the Imperial Cities, established in 789, and the most complete medieval city of the Arab world. Your hotel is the epitome of luxury and sophistication with unparalleled views of the city. HOTEL SAHRAI. (B,L)
Entering one of Fez-el-Bali’s fourteen gates is like stepping back a thousand years into a maze of winding streets lined with tiny workshops of 30,000 craftsmen. Visit the Kairaouine Mosque, one of the oldest universities in the world, and the 14th-century Medersa Bou Inania. At Dar Batha Museum, see the finest examples of local arts and crafts. Explore Merinides Tombs for an overview of the old city. This evening dine at the fabulous La Maison Bleue and enjoy live entertainment. HOTEL SAHRAI. (B,D)
Verdant cedar forests give way to volcanic mountains and wind-swept plains as you drive across the Middle Atlas range to Midelt. Pass fortified mud and straw villages and descend into the spectacular Ziz Gorge. The landscape becomes more arid, broken only by the lush oasis of Ziz Valley. Those who wish to sleep in a hotel will stay in Erfoud at the Palais du Desert. For a true taste of Berber life, sleep in a private tent in Merzouga, at the edge of the Dunes of Erg Chebbi, the largest sand dunes in Morocco. The typical Bedouin camp, only reachably by 4WD, is draped with beautiful carpets and has one or two single beds in each tent cubicle with portable shared toilet and shower facilities. Enjoy a traditional dinner in the main tent with entertainment by local Bedouins. PRIVATE TENT AT DUNES OF ERG CHEBBI ($225 per person additional) or PALAIS DU DESERT. (B,L,D)
Travel by camel to the dunes and watch as the sun rises over the desert. Both groups reunite at Erfoud for lunch and continue to the ancient desert town of Rissani – gateway to the Sahara Desert. For a thousand years this was the principal trading post for caravans from the Niger River. Near Rissani see the mausoleum and Roman ruins of Sijilmasa, the ancient capital of the caravan route. Visit a palmary and marble factory where embedded in the polished marble you’ll find ammonites from the Jurassic period and trilobites from the Ordovician to Devonian periods. PALAIS DU DESERT. (B,L,D)
Drive through lunar like landscape to Tineghir, one of the largest and most beautiful oases in Morocco. Enjoy lunch while gazing out over the canyon walls of nearby Todra Gorge, one of Morocco’s most spectacular landscapes. Stop at the oasis Kelaa Mgouna, famous for its Persian roses and the manufacture of rose water perfume essences. Arrive in Ouarzazate, an environment of burning sands, snow peaks, palm groves, lofty ksours, walled villages and sumptuous Kasbahs. Visit the medieval fortress of Ait Benhaddou, which guarded the trading route to Timbuktu. The stunning beauty of this once thriving Kasbah has been immortalized by Hollywood in more than 20 films, including Lawrence of Arabia. BERBERE PALACE. (B,L Daily)
Continue your drive along the River towards the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass in the heart of the High Atlas Mountains. Descend back onto the edge of the desert and the famed red-colored, imperial city of Marrakech, situated in an oasis of more than half a million palm trees. The next day visit the 12th–century Koutoubia Mosque, the Bahya Palace and one of the finest Moroccan museums, the Palace of Dar Sis Aid. Stroll the labyrinth of streets of the Souk to the bustling Jemaa Lena Square. Once a beautiful 18th century palace, your hotel is the largest riad in Marrakech and an oasis of cool tranquility in the heart of the city. While in Marrakech, enjoy tea and typical Moroccan pastries in a traditional Moroccan home. On the last evening, enjoy a fabulous Moroccan meal at the trendy JaadMahal or Lotus restaurant. LES JARDINS DE LA KOUTOUBIA. (B,L; B; B,D)
Bid Marrakech farewell and drive to Casablanca where you tour the awesome Hassan II Mosque, the third largest religious monument in the world, after Mecca and Angkor Wat. Feast on delectable French cuisine during your farewell dinner tonight at Rick’s Café, a replica of the café in the film Casablanca, owned by an American. SHERATON HOTEL. (B,D)
This morning, you are escorted to the airport for your flight home. (B, Meals Aloft)
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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