Morocco

Morocco

Morocco · About Escorted or Guided Tour

8 Nights / 9 Days

As Western Europe’s closest African and Arab neighbor, Morocco enjoys regular and convenient air links across the world. It can also boast a rapidly expanding modern telecommunications network, international standard hotels, and the kind of infrastructure that makes Morocco one of the most developed and stable countries in Africa. At the same time, Morocco is a country surrounded by history and steeped in traditional culture has not lost its authenticity despite closed links with the west. Blessed with some of the most stunning landscapes of any country in the world, Morocco has justly become a firm favorite amongst film makers and photographers.

Some of Our Preferred Properties: 

Palais Amani, Riad Fez, La Mamounia, La Sultana, and Sofitel Tour Blanche

Itinerary

Day 1: Casablanca - Fes

Upon arrival to Casablanca airport, you will be met prior to immigration and custom formalities.  If time allows, a short visit of Casablanca may be optional. 

Time Permitting:

Immerse yourself in Casablanca, a city with a magnificent contrast of modernism and tradition the economic capital of Morocco, known for landmarks that speak to its Islamic and French-colonial heritage. Casablanca, more than the movie... a bustling economic heart of Morocco, with the momentous Hassan II Mosque of 200 meters minaret dominating the whole city and its surroundings and the huge Cathédrale Sacré-Coeur, a surprising sight in the heart of Casablanca both out of place and in harmony with its surroundings all at the same time. Your visit top sights including the United Nations Place, Mohammed V Square, the Central Market and the Notre Dame de Lourdes Cathedral See the famous Hassan II Mosque and enjoy free time to stroll down the Ain Diab Corniche.

Day 2: Fes (B/L) 

Fes (B/L) 

Is it Fes or Fez? It is both, and neither. The Western name for the city is drawn from the Arabic Fasand, as there is no one correct way to translate Arabic words into Western characters. In French, the city is referred to as Fés, while Americans tend to use Fez. Fassin or Fassis, as the residents call themselves, use the pronunciation of Fas, derived from three Arabic letters fa (f), alif (a) and sin (s). So everyone wins. 

Today you will explore this exciting, fascinating, 2,000 year old imperial city of Fes.  Surrounded by nine miles of ramparts in a narrow valley, it is strategically positioned on the old caravan crossroads that once connected the Saharan empires with the Atlantic and Mediterranean trading routes to Europe. Fes was known as one of the holiest cities in the Islamic world besides Mecca and Medina. Moroccans say that Marrakech, Rabat and Casablanca live in the present, but that Fes certainly lives in the past. European chroniclers of the Middle Ages wrote that for several centuries Fes was the most civilized Western outpost of the Semitic world. Its scholars introduced astronomy and medicine to the West via Spain. Historians of the time said that the writings of both Plato and Aristotle first reached Western Europe in Arabic translations—again from Fes.  

One hundred and fifty years after the death of the Prophet Mohammed Bin Abdullah Banu Hashim, his grandson set foot in Morocco. This man was Idriss Ibn Abdallah, destined to become Moulay Idriss, patron saint of Morocco and founder of Fes. Implicated in a failed rebellion against the Arabian Abbasids, he fled Baghdad with his bedraggled army to this ‘Land of the Setting Sun’, as one could travel no further by land. Here, on the eastern bank he started to build what was to become the first Islamic settlement in Morocco.

Stop for lunch at a local restaurant.

Fes is quite reminiscent of a Jerusalem 1000 years ago. With its two hundred mosques and holy shrines, Fes contains more places of worship than any other city in Morocco. At its peak early in the thirteenth century, Fes boasted almost eight hundred mosques and mausoleums for its 125,000 inhabitants. By the seventeenth century however, the Scottish traveler William Lithgow reported that places of worship were far outstripped by some twelve thousand licensed brothels. As the traveler Budgett Meakin remarked: “Fes is at once the most religious and the most wicked city in Morocco…the saints and sinner being for the most part, identical…” 

As your tour continues, you will see the The Kairaouine Mosque (Djemaa el Kairaouine the second-largest mosque in Morocco (outside as non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the mosque).  Admire the ancient gate of Bab Boujeloud. See the impressive Dar el Makhzen and a 15 minute stop at the Royal Palace with its magnificent seven bronze gates.  From here we walk to and through the Mellah with its intense atmosphere and fine examples of Mauro-Hispanic architecture. We drive to the Borj Sud to take in the panoramic view of the Medina. Then a walking tour of the labyrinth of the ancient and amazing Fes Medina and Mellah (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).  See the Bou Inania Mosque, the colorful es Sabbaghine with its Street of the Dyers; the impressive al Quarawiyyin Mosque and University (exterior only) and the el Atterine Medersa (exterior only). Your guide will take you through the bustling maze of alleyways of the fascinating medina and souks. Offered here is every possible combination of beautiful pottery, Berber carpets, Fassi brassware, Jewish silverware, traditional and modern jewelry, and beautiful leather goods. Amidst all this you will find the pungent aromas of spices, herbs and oils. 

Next, pass the delightful el Nejjarine Square and fountain. Then on to the renowned Tanneries of Chouara on the bank of the Oued Fes.  Leaving the Medina you will make your way to the 16th century Saâdien watchtower at the North Borj and the Dar Batha Museum.

Day 3: Fes, Meknes, Volubilis, and Fes (B/L)

After breakfast at your hotel, leave Fes to head towards Meknes, third of the Imperial Cities, built by the 17th century Sultan Moulay Ismael, contemporary of Louis XIV of France, whose grandiose building schemes he imitated. Visit, the old medina, the Mellah (Jew Quartier) the monumental Bab El Mansour gateway, the Place LallaAdoua, the prison of the Christian slaves, the palace-tomb of Moulay Ismael (The only mosque in Morocco, after the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca which non-Muslims are allowed to enter), the ruins of the AgoudalBusin that was used to water the royal gardens and amuse the favorite concubines, the Moulay Ismail royal stables, granaries and House of Water (Dar El Ma) which were built in the 17th and 18th centuries to house, feed and water the sultan’s twelve thousand horses.

Time for lunch at a local restaurant.

Continue via Moulay Idriss, Holly City, founded in the 8th century by Moulay Idriss who brought the Islamic religion to Morocco, centre of pilgrimage, no foreigner or non-believer is permitted to spend the night in the holy city. 

Then on to Volubilis, imposing Roman ruins, capital of Roman province of Mauritania and home of Sylene, daughter of Antony and Cleopatra who married the Berber King Juba II, visit the olive press, the House of Orpheus, the Basilica, the Baths of Gallienus, the Forum, the Triumphal Arch of Caracalla, the House of Venus. Leave Volubilis and drive through the Col of Zagota to arrive Fes and overnight at your hotel.

Day 4: Fes, Rabat, and Marrakech (B)

Following breakfast at your hotel, check out and prepare for transfer to Rabat. You will then be taken on a guided tour of the city.

Your guided sightseeing tour of Rabat, the political capital of Morocco and the fourth of the Imperial cities begins at the old Medina, the picturesque Kasbah (forth) of the Oudayas, and the Oudaya Gate (at the estuary facing the Barbary coast Corsair port of Sallee) with its Museums, built during the Almohads dynasty. Legend has it that jews came to sala colonia 5.C. before Carthage. In the day of Solomon, to purchse Gold. The Merinids built the well-preserved Hassan Tower and the Chellah in the 12th and 13th centuries. Walk into the mohamed V Mausoleum, the burial place of the present King’s father, in front of the Royal Palace.

Directly following your tour, transfer to Marrakech for check in at your hotel.

Day 5: Marrakech (B/D)

Marrakech (B/D)

After breakfast at your hotel, you will meet your driver for a tour of Marrakech. You will also have time to see the lavishly decorated Saâdien Tombs, the ancient Cemetery of the Shorfa who were the descendants of the Prophet Mohammed. Some of these tombs date back to the mid 1500’s. 

See the Prayer Hall, the tombs of the Alaouite princes from the 18th century and a large tomb of the Black Sultan, Abou Hassan. 

You will continue into the Hall of Twelve Columns, the central mausoleum of Ahmed el Mansour. To his right is his son and successor Zaidan; to his left is his grandson Mohammed echCheik.

There are 33 other tombs of Saâdien princelings. The well preserved Harem Courtyard here has been featured in many movies. With almost 150 rooms, it took nearly 15 years to complete.  Fountains and gardens are also typical features, along with the decorative stucco panels, tiled floors and zellige work.

From here we continue up into the Medina to Badi Palace, Bahia Palace, the 14th century Ben Youssef Medersa one of the most beautiful buildings in Marrakech. Founded by the Merinid Sultan Abou el Hassan in the 14th century, it housed the Islamic equivalent of a monastery and provided tranquility within the chaotic pace of life outside in the Medina. Throughout the Medersa are many Arabic inscriptions in stucco and zellige tile, the most common is the Bismillah’s invocation, "In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful." Above the central courtyard are the small windows of the tiny student dormitories where over 800 students were housed.

Continue on to see the Almoravid Dynasty Koubba; also called KoubbaBa’Adiyn, the oldest building in Marrakech and the only Almoravid building to remain standing in Morocco. The Almoravids were reformers and monastic type warriors from the desert nomadic Sanhaja Berber tribe in what is now Mauritania. 
After conquering their homeland, they expanded to Morocco in 1062 and eventually extended their empire all the way to Algiers. Probably an annex for the Ben Yousef Mosque, for centuries it was covered and was only excavated in 1952. 

This building is significant not only because it's very old, but because its style is the root of all Moroccan architecture. Its motifs of pine cones, palms and acanthus leaves were copied and later used in many other buildings. Its beautifully shaped windows became the distinctive design of the Almohades and Merinids. In addition to the Koubba itself, visitors can view a large water cistern and remains of fountains.

You will proceed to the Marrakech Museum of Art and on through the labyrinth of narrow alleyways making up the cool, colorful and aromatic Souqs (marketplace) of Marrakech.  Finish the day with the Dyers’ Souq during a guided visit in the Djmaâ el Fnaâ Square.

Day 6: Marrakech and Essaouira (B)

Enjoy Breakfast at the hotel before checking out and transferring to Essaouira.

You will see the stunning landscapes of the R207 route as you proceed to the coast. Along the way you shall stop to see the Argan trees where small goats clamber up the low branches and feed. Sometimes there are as many as 20 goats sitting up in one tree. It is a fascinating sight and an absolute must when it comes to getting a photo opportunity.

Additionally, you will stop off at a women’s cooperative where Argan Oil is produced. The oil is extracted from the kernels of the tree and is a delicious accompaniment to a Moroccan bread meal or simply for drizzling over a pitta bread. The oil is also used as a beauty product for skin and hair treatment.

Your Marrakech to Essaouira day trip arrives in the resort and port city where you’ll see the vast expanse of the North Atlantic Ocean. The vibrant old town, Medina is a world heritage site, and it won’t take you much to realize just why. Old brass cannons line the walls and ramparts protect the sea front from ancient invasions.

There are several modern cafes and restaurants in the port city and this up-to-date culture combines with the history of the city very well. You will feel as though you are drifting in a time machine as you move from modern café to a rickety house in just a few yards.

The beachfront has sandy beaches and welcomes bathers, and those who wish to relax in the sun on the golden sands of this charming city. To this end, you should bring swimwear, sunblock and a towel along with you for your time on beach.

Check in and overnight your hotel.

Day 7: Essaouira (B)

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before spending your day at leisure. A guide and driver will be available if you wish for touring and shopping.

Day 8: Marrakech, Agafay Desert Camp, and Marrakech (B/L/D)

After breakfast, await pick up from your hotel to transfer to Marrakech for check in. Here you will experience the pride and joy of Marrakech in the gardens that are taken care of with an age-old passion that dates back to the days of the Almoravids.

The truth is that there wouldn't even be a palm tree in Marrakech if these sovereigns hadn't started planting them. Since then, the number of parks has multiplied and no one here finds it strange that a garden, like a building, can boast antique origins. This is the case of the Aguedal or Agdal, a word that means garden, created in the XII century by the Almohad Abd el-Moumen. Much smaller and cozier, the garden of the Menara has a pavilion surrounded by cypresses that seems to have been the place where the sultan met his mistresses. As for Marrakech’s famous palm grove, which has an area of 13,000 hectares, it has no less than 100,000 trees. The Majorelle Gardens, located northeast of Gueliz. Created in the '20s by the French painter Jacques Majorelle, these unique gardens are home to bougainvillea, coconut, banana and palm trees as well as rare and exotic plants, some of which have strange and menacing forms.

Late this afternoon, depart from your hotel and the city to Desert Marrakech; The desert of Agafay is a desert area 40 km from Marrakech (35 min) with a micro climate whose climatic conditions are similar to those of the Sahara, hence the name desert. Here no sand dunes but a mineral desert with a restful relief and especially the chain of the Atlas in the background offering a breathtaking panorama.

It is here that LVDS has set up camp on 10 hectares of land divided into two parts. The first part, on the top of the field, is destined to the Soukoune restaurant (zénitude in Arabic) for the lunches but also dinners. The view is exceptional here with the impression of being able to touch the Mount Toubkal, the highest summit in North Africa.

Here everything is thought for comfort and exceptional service, so that guests can experience a desert unforgettable. Chef offers a gastronomy that will satisfy the most demanding gourmets.

Many optional activities are possible on the reservation like the camel ride at sunset, the quads and buggies, horseback riding, walking with lunch home stay, mountain biking, driving with the PREDATOR X18, water activities (jet, stand-up paddle, canoe ...) on Lake Takerkoust 10 minutes from the camp in addition to Yoga, Reiki meditation with a Buddhist monk and on-site massages (additional costs may apply). 

Return to your hotel for overnight.

Day 9: Depart  Marrakesh /Casablanca /USA(B)

Enjoy breakfast before checking out and meeting your driver for transfer to the Marrakech or Casablanca airport for your onward flight home. (Approximate transfer time is 3 hours).

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