Morocco

“Connoisseur’s Morocco Discovery”

Spring and Fall Tours

 CASABLANCA

Day One – This morning your representative greets you at the Mohammed V International airport in Casablanca for transfer to the hotel. Check in.  Assistance for early arrivals.  Welcome dinner at Restaurant La Mer, one of the best  sea-food restaurants in town.

CASABLANCA / RABAT

Day Two – Morning sightseeing of Casablanca, which name evokes good living, romance and adventure in a tropical sitting, an image that the 1943 Humphry Bogart film conveyed to cinema goers in the drab years of the world war 2. Casablanca’s growth is fairly recent. It is the bustling French influenced business center of Morocco.  A short tour of the city by coach will take you past the Medina, the Mohammed V square, United  Nations place, the central market,  the new Hassan II Mosque, Morocco’s tallest building, and along the magnificent Ain Diab corniche, reminiscent of Cannes.  A visit to the Jewish museum, founded recently by the foundation of the Moroccan-Jewish cultural heritage. You will discover the rich past of the Jewish civilization in Morocco.  A lecture is presented by the Director of the museum.

Drive through beautiful countryside to Rabat, the first of the Imperial cities that you will visit, and the administrative capital of Morocco. Check into your city center hotel.  By lunchtime. Recently refurbished, the hotel, part of which was built in 1914, has jealously  retained its Moorish style with an Andalous house, gardens and fountains.  Begin your exploration  with a visit to the Kasbah des Oudaias.  Its gate is one of the most beautiful surviving in the Moorish word, and within its walls you’ll explore a delightful craft museums and Andalusian garden, complete with melodious fountain and sweet smelling orange trees.  Continue your exploration of this city built on ancient Roman ruins, with a visit to a kasbah constructed by the Almohads in the 12th century, settled by Muslims evicted from Spain in the 17th century, and declared the capital by the French in the 20th.  These waves of  immigration are reflected in the exhibits of Roman, Carthaginian and Phoenician artifacts on display at the Archaeology museum.  At days end enjoy cocktails and snacks at a private museum  in Sale, Lecture given by the curator.  Dinner at  a fabulous restaurant where you will be introduced to the elegant, tasty and varied cuisine of Morocco .

RABAT/MEKNES/VOLUBILIS/FES

Day Three – A short drive takes you to Meknes, the megalomaniacal creation of Moulay Ismail, the most cruel and tyrannical of all Morocco’s sultans, contemporary of Louis XIV and James II of England. The city had over fifty palaces, with almost eighteen miles of walls and 20 gates.  Visit the most impressive of these gates, Bab Mansour with its vivid green tiles and the Moulay Ismail Mausoleum.  Continue to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, high on a plateau overlooking the Holy City of Moulay Idriss nestled in a lush valley below.  The Atlas Mountains in the background add to the beauty of the setting. The 2nd and 3rd century Roman town of Volubilis is noted for its colorful and interesting mosaics depicting daily life, the capitol and triumphal arch.  Volubilis was a center for the export to Rome of lions, Barbary bears and elephants to be slaughtered for rituals and celebrations.  Within 200 years all three species became virtually extinct in Morocco. Continue past fields of wheat, mint, mimosa and cork trees to Fes.  Overnight in Fes.

Day Four – After breakfast ,  a visit of  Fes.  Founded in 807, Fes is the most ancient of the Imperial cities and is considered to be the most complete medieval city of the Arab world.  It is a unique and remarkable place that stimulates all your senses, with haunting and beautiful sounds, visual richness, and wafting  smells—suspended in time between the Middle Ages and today. After a walk through the local vegetable and chicken market, we visit Medersa Sahrij and the tanneries, walk through the labyrinth streets of the old town  to the Nejjarine  ancient Caravanserai restored and converted into a museum of Wood arts

In the afternoon,  a visit Moulay Driss Mausoleum which hold the shrine of Mly Driss, the 2nd founder of Fes. On to The Karaouine  University dating back to the 9th century, with the largest mosque of Fes.  Stroll through the markets and medieval old town to Attarines in the heart of the spice market.  Walk back to the hotel.

This evening you will get a taste of traditional Moroccan hospitality at a private house in the old city where you are  guests of a local family.  Tour the house, built in 1915 with its unique library  and walled garden.  During dinner you will be entertained with traditional entertainment. Overnight in Fes.

Day Five – Today’s exploration includes the Fes Jdid (new Fes).  Visit  Batha museum, a beautiful palace holding an exhibition of  old Moroccan ceramics.  On to the Jewish Quarter with its 17TH century synagogue  passing by the Royal palace  gate. A private visit to one of the most important  and old palaces of Fes : El Glaoui Palace.  The morning tour will finish at Dar Hadara where a lecture about  Andalusian architecture is presented by the Owner. Private lunch in his beautiful garden.

This afternoon drive to the  outskirts of Fes to Bhalil,  an old Berbere village  where most of its inhabitants still live in caves converted into houses. Mint tea in a local house and return to Fes via the potters area where a beautiful section of ceramics and pottery works are presented.  Overnight in Fes.

FES  / ERFOUD

Day Six – Drive through fertile valleys and into the cedar forests and beautiful lakes of the Middle Atlas  Mountains. Pass through Ifrane, a charming European looking ski resort and Azrou, a typical  Berber town with flat-roofed earthen houses.

This particularly varied itinerary from north to south offers a host of rich impressions of the Middle Atlas, including high pastures dotted with  the black tents of shepherds, women drawing water from wells and picturesque villages.  Stop for lunch at the nature reserve of Midelt before reaching the first slopes of the High Atlas.  After Tizi Ntarghempt (6040 ft) begin your descent into the impressive palm groves and fortified villages of the Ziz valley and Erfoud, your base for exploration.  Overnight in Erfoud.

ERFOUD / MERZOUGA

Day Seven – After breakfast,  drive to the ancient fortified desert town of Rissani, the last visible point of the Ziz River and the beginning of the desert.  Here you will also visit the home of a local family.  Continue to the barely visible ruins of Sijilmasa, which flourished in the 8th century and was the famous capital of a caravan route. Visit the quarry where blocs of fossilized fish plants and many other old sea minerals are taken to a factory to be cut into slices from which many objects are produced.

Late afternoon, take  Land rovers  for a 40 minute drive to the Merzouga dunes. Meet the camels for a short walk  to the dunes to watch a sun set and experience a taste of Berber life.  Spend the night in private tents at the Dunes of Erg Chebbi, the largest sand dunes  in Morocco. Each tent has two single beds  with adjacent toilet and shower facilities. Enjoy a candlelight dinner  with entertainment by local Gnaoua dancers around a camp fire.  Overnight in tents

MERZOUGA / ERFOUD/TINEGHIR/OUARZAZATE

Day Eight – Today, drive back to Erfoud where we will depart for a drive though lunar like landscape to Tineghir, one of the largest and most beautiful oases in Morocco.  At the nearby Todra Gorge, enjoy a walk  at canyon walls rising 1,200 feet on either side.  After lunch at Chez Michel, continue towards Ouarzazate along the southern flank of the High Atlas Mountains.  Stop in the heart of the Dades Valley at the oasis Kelaa Mgouna, famous for its Persian  roses and the manufacture of rose water perfume essences.  The drive takes us through this rather harsh valley, hemmed in by the High Atlas and Anti Atlas Mountains, dotted with decorated kasbahs of the local Berber people.  The desolation of the scenery makes the lushness of the oases of Tenerhir and Skoura even more astounding, when they appear.  Arrive this evening in Ouarzazate in time for dinner  and a steam bath in the hamam of your hotel.  Built in the traditional Ksars style, it features fine food, a spa and swimming pool.  Overnight in Ouarzazate.

Day Nine – Ouarzazate has become a major cultural center and base for the many films shot in the area  of burning sands, snowy peaks, palm groves in verdant oases,  walled villages and sumptuous kasbahs. This morning, visit two magnificent Kasbahs, Tifoultoute and Taourirt.  Continue to Ait Benhaddou, the backdrop for famous films such as “Lawrence of Arabia.”  After lunch at one of the oldest restaurants in the kasbah, return to Ouarzazate.  Your afternoon  is free to swim, relax or explore the town.  For the adventurer,  Quad bikes are at your disposal for a tour to the lake or the nearby palm grove.

OUARZAZATE/MARRAKECH

Day Ten – The drive to Marrakech takes you along the River Imini through stretches of desert, picturesque farmland, Berber villages and ruins of ancient kasbahs. Arriving around lunchtime, you will get your first glimpse of exotic Marrakech.  Positioned in the shadows of the High Atlas Mountains and blessed with a perfect climate, Marrakech is one of Morocco’s most important cultural centers.  Founded in 1062, this pink city was twice the capital of Morocco and evidence remains of its historical significance.109

This afternoon, explore the narrow streets of the Souk to the world-renowned Djemaa el Fna Square where a menagerie of entertainers abound including story tellers, fire eaters, snake charmers, acrobats, and jugglers. Enjoy mint tea and soft drinks on a terrace overlooking the  activity of the square before returning to your hotel.. This evening stop for cocktails at the home in a beautiful palmerie, of the former U.S. ambassador to Morocco, Ambassador Vreeland.  Overnight in Marrakech.

Day Eleven – Shrouded in mystery. Marrakech was founded on the cross roads of ancient caravan routes. Start your visit with the twelfth century Koutoubia Mosque.  Continue on to the Bahya Palace and the Palace of Dar Si Aid, situated in an exquisitely restored palace, and a magnificent private garden.  This afternoon you may wish to return to Djemaa el Fna Square, enjoy the tranquility of your hotel, or  head out for shopping.  Dinner out at a beautiful French restaurant for a bit of international cuisine.  Overnight in Marrakech.

Day Twelve – After breakfast,  take a horse drawn carriage to visit the still basin of the Menara park mostly planted with  olive groves and on to Majorelle, a subtropical  botanical garden with verdant groves of bamboo, dwarf palms multicolored bougainvillea and various lily covered pools.  Within the garden is a lovely museum of Islamic art.  Afternoon at leisure , Or:  You can enjoy a cooking class at the Maison Arab, spend the afternoon at Riah Mehdi for a hamam and massage, or, possibly a visit to see Bill Willis, an American architect who has lived in Marrakech for many years and maybe mint tea with a Moroccan family living in the Medina.  Dinner this evening is at the renowned Yacout restaurant. Cocktails are served on a terrace with views over the roof tops of the old city. A Moroccan dinner is served in traditional style with select Moroccan wines.  Overnight in Marrakech193

Day Thirteen – After breakfast, drive to Ourika valley, one of the most luxuriant Atlas mountains and the perfect area to discover the Berber country and its population with their ancestral culture, crafts, architecture and way of life. Stop at local berbere home and visit Dr. Jalil Belkamel in his Herbs garden. Stroll in the garden with its magnificent variety of aromatic and medicinal plants.  Picnic lunch in the garden .  Mid afternoon, return to Marrakech.  Afternoon and evening free for additional shopping, and , of course, packing.  Overnight in Marrakech.

DEPARTURE

Day Fourteen – After breakfast, transfer to Marrakech airport.  Assistance with check in.

Note:  The trip will operate with a minimum of 10 guests.  Maximum participation will be 14 passengers.  If the number of guests falls to between 10 to 7 guests a surcharge will apply.  Should there be a further reduction to 6 or fewer participants the trip can be re-priced as an individual custom itinerary with the cost to be advised.

TRIP COSTS & PAYMENT TERMS:  Please contact Adamarie King at:  ada@connoisseurstravel.com

INCLUSIONS:

* 13 nights at select hotels  including all applicable and current taxes,

* Meals as indicated in the itinerary

* Mineral water or soft drinks with meals

* Transportation by air-conditioned coach for all transfers and sightseeing.

* Special events as described in the itinerary.

* Services of an English-speaking guide on sightseeing tours.

* Gratuities to guides, drivers, waiters and porters

* Entry and still camera fees at monuments.

NOT INCLUDED:

Laundry, telephone and fax charges, internet usage fees, insurance, passport, in-room minibar purchases, alcoholic beverages except where noted in the itinerary, tips for such beverages or any other personal services, charges for baggage in excess of airline allowances, meals and sightseeing not included in the itinerary.

INSURANCE:

Travelers should purchase baggage, medical, accident and trip cancellation and interruption insurance.

PASSPORTS / VISAS:

Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond the intended departure date from Morocco.   US citizens do not required a visa.

HEALTH:

Travel conditions in this region have improved markedly over the past few years but the trip can still be rigorous at times.  If you are using prescription medicines and your doctor says that you are fit to travel, make sure you have sufficient medication for the duration of your trip.

ARRIVAL AND CUSTOMS:

Upon arrival you will be met by our representative after you have passed through the airport’s secured passenger area.  On arrival there will most likely be a certain amount of confusion so we ask that you be patient with the uniquely local formalities.  Rest assured, you will be met.

WEATHER:          

Average daily highs are about 75 degrees, with the nights cooler and may require sweaters/jacket. This is not an exact weather forecast.  Unseasonable weather can and does occur so please do pack with a degree of flexibility.

CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES:

No tie or jacket required, gentlemen.  During the day casual shirts and slacks for men or blouses and skirts for the ladies made of lightweight cotton, “khaki” or linen are suggested.  Longer length “walking” shorts are acceptable.  Please bring a sweater/jacket.  Basically, this is a casual trip so comfort comes first.  Comfortable, soft-soled walking shoes are essential.  Sunglasses, sunscreen, sun hat, film, binoculars, flashlight, tissues, hard candies, and additional camera batteries or for any other such devices, are strongly suggested.  Photographers please bring all equipment that you will need.  Prescription medications should always be carried in your hand luggage and in their labeled containers only.

GRATUITIES:

Are included except for our escort.  You may wish to tip specifically for exceptional service.

SHOPPING:

Morocco offers a wide variety of goods for interested shoppers.  Items can be purchased in department stores or in local bazaars (where haggling is a lively game).  Credit cards are accepted and shop assistants will extend themselves to assist you.  You will of course make your best deals with cash.  In many cases, shipping is available.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s