March 19: Casablanca

You will be met upon arrival in Casablanca and transferred to your hotel for tonight’s welcome dinner and overnight. With a population of 3.1 million Casablanca is Morocco's largest city as well as its chief port. It's also the biggest city in the Maghreb and the sixth biggest city in the entire continent of Africa. Casablanca is considered the economic capital of Morocco; the political capital is Rabat. It is also the primary naval base for the Royal Moroccan Navy. Despite its commercial and industrial importance, Casablanca retains a spiritual dimension with the mosque Hassan II, one of most beautiful in the world.

This afternoon we pay a visit to the Hassan II mosque, a stunning piece of Islamic architecture and craftsmanship. It is also the largest religious monument in the world, after Mecca. The mosque stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean; it is the largest mosque in the country and the 7th largest mosque in the world. Built on reclaimed land, almost half of the surface of the mosque lies above sea water of the Atlantic. This was inspired by the verse of the Qur'an that states "the throne of Allah was built on water." A spotlight shines in the direction of Mecca at night from the top of the minaret. This evening we’ve arranged a welcome dinner for the group. Overnight Le Doge.

Le Doge

In the heart of Casablanca, discover the enchanting Le Doge, an elegant Art Déco residence. Erected in the 1930s, the building was commissioned by an Italian businessman as a gift to his wife, whom he had met in Morocco. Each of rooms and suites is dedicated to a different Art Deco artist, including Coco Chanel, Moulay Ahmen Loukili and Scott Fitzgerald, giving each space its own unique ambiance. The décor has been carefully hand-selected and admirers of the Art Deco style will be awed by the incredible collection of period pieces.

March 20: Rabat

This morning we drive about an hour to Rabat. Imagine a white city rising up majestically at the estuary of a river, a city whose history goes back to the Antiquity, whose beauties have been enhanced over the centuries, a city chosen to be the capital of the Almohades Empire in the 12th century, then of present-day Morocco: that city is Rabat, the Royal city. Rabat is the setting for the Royal Palace of his Majesty Hassan II. It is the seat of government, and of the ministries. Rabat boasts the biggest university in the country and the city abounds in shops, bookshops, cinemas and theatres. Facing Salé, its ancient rival, across Wadi Bou Regreg, Rabat is the political, administrative and financial capital of Morocco, the country’s main university town and its second-largest metropolis after Casablanca.

Five major gates stand at the entrances of Rabat. Decorated with ornate festoons, tracery and floral arabesques and large shells, Bab er-Rouah (Gate of the Winds) is the finest. Monumental and magnificent, it regularly houses exhibitions. Other places we’ll visit include the Kasbah of the Ouadaya and the Ouadaya Gate, which were built by the Almohad dynasty who knocked down the existing Kasbah when they took control of the city in 1150 AD.

We’ll wrap up the day with an exciting visit to the Challah, a walled archaeological site. This is an exciting set of architectural wonders – and a huge stork rookery. You’ll be able to create great close-ups of these medieval looking birds! Overnight Villa Mandarine.

Villa Mandarine

Nested in the heart of an orange grove, the Villa Mandarine marries comfort and hospitality. This rare place offers peaceful hideaways that have kept the charm of the old family home. Over more than 3 acres, 700 orange trees and hundreds of varieties of flowers compete to dazzle the onlookers and entrance the visitors with their subtle perfumes. The house is comprised of a spacious living-room with a fireplace, a billiard room, a bar, the intimate terraces shaded by the bougainvillea, datura and jasmine trees and a gift shop for a selection of local treasures. The 31 rooms are each individually decorated and comprise the foyer, bedroom, bathroom, loggia and terrace overlooking the garden. Each room has a telephone, internet access, digital safe, mini-bar, air conditioning/heating, hair dryer and satellite TV.

March 21: Meknes & Fes

Today we continue on to Meknes, where the old medina is surrounded by a triple density of 40 km walls and preserves the most beautiful gate of Morocco - the Bab Mansour. From the time of its foundation in the 10th century to the arrival of the Alaouites in the 17th century, Meknes was no more than a small town over-shadowed by Fez, its neighbour and rival. It was not until the reign of Moulay Ismail, which began in 1672 that Meknes first rose to the rank of imperial city. With tireless energy, the sultan set about building gates, ramparts, mosques and palaces. This ambitious building programme continued throughout his reign and involved robbing the ruins of Volubilis and the Palais el-Badi in Marrakech. After 50 years, work was still not completed. Although the sultan’s impatience was often a hindrance, he reinvigorated palace architecture. Today, Meknes is the fifth-largest city in Morocco. It is a dynamic economic center, renowned for its olives, wine and mint tea. The imperial city stands alongside the new town, on the banks of Wadi Boufekrane. This afternoon we continue on for the two hour drive to Fes and overnight Palais Amani for three nights.

Palais Amani

This fourteen bedroomed Riad has a salon and library, a rooftop bar, extensive terraces, a traditional hammam and spa, impeccable service and all of this close to the Golden triangle in the ancient medina in Fez. Much of the old palace was rebuilt between 1928 and 1930 hence the art deco influences found throughout Palais Amani. In arabic 'riad' means 'garden' and traditionally the garden was enclosed in the heart of the building. Maintaining this tradition, aromatic flower beds planted with citrus trees are set around a spectacular mosaic fountain creating a private paradise in which to escape the bustle of the surrounding medina. One of the largest riads in the medina, Palais Amani underwent a three year restoration to repair and replace the intricate mosaic, stained glass, plaster carving and woodwork that one would expect in a Moroccan listed building. During that time, all the modern comforts were installed.

March 22 & 23: Fes

We have two full days to explore Fez, the most ancient of the Imperial cities founded in the 8th century by Moulay Idriss II. Rising early each day, we have the dawn light and beat the crowds to the most beautiful spots. Located between the fertile lands of the Saïss and the forests of the Middle Atlas, Fez is the oldest of Morocco’s imperial cities. It is the embodiment of the country’s history and its spiritual and religious capital, and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The capital of Morocco for more than 400 years, home of the oldest university of the country and the leading cultural and religious center, Fez has remained almost unchanged through the middle and modern ages and still most definitely alive. We will visit The Royal Palace, Dal el Qimma, the Medersa Bou Inania, the gates of Bab Boujloud, the fountain at Place Nejjarine and the mausoleum of Moulay Idress II. Two nights Palais Amani. Breakfast each day + lunch on Day 5.

March 24, 25 & 26: Erfoud & Ch'gaga Dunes

On March 24 we depart Fes and drive south, crossing the mountains and the cedar woods of the middle Atlas. Our lunch stop is at Midelt and then we continue to Erfoud via Errachidia and the Ziz Valley. Overnight Xaluca Erfoud Hotel. The following day we leave Erfoud after breakfast by crossing Alnif, Tarzzarine & Zagora. In Zagora we have a moment to rest and refresh before heading out about an hour in 4x4 vehicles into the desert to our private camp. Activities here include camel trekking, guided walks, picnic lunches and sundowners on the dunes and we have two nights out here to photograph. Two nights Private Desert Camp. All meals.

Private Desert Camp

The camp has many relaxing areas and hammocks. Each tent has a king-size bed (which can be made into 2 singles). There are ‘wall-to-wall’ plush rugs, a full-length mirror, bedside tables, solar-powered lighting, an armchair and space to hang your clothes. Each item has been handmade in Morocco. We have also sourced high quality individual sprung mattresses, percale cotton sheets, duck down duvets and lovely pillows. The en suite bathroom has a toilet, dressing table and silver pewter buckets for washing. Breakfast is served under the morning sun, and dinner is served under the stars. Cold drinks, including beer and wine, are always available. Relaxing area with day beds and cushions are set up outside.

March 27: Tinghir & Ouarzazate

Today we have one last sunrise in the camp and then breakfast before heading back to Zagora. Then it’s on to Ourzazare, visiting of the magnificent Todgha canyons en route. We travel via the road of the thousand kasbahs and the Dades valley famous for its roses and the yearly Moussem (Rose Festival). Ouarzazate, of the Berber War-Zazat meaning "noiselessly," is a city of the South of Morocco, is also called The Door of the Desert. Situated on the meeting of the valleys of the oued Ouarzazate and the oued Dades (stemming from the High Atlas) which form the oued Draa in the approval of their confluence, it is the nerve center of a vast region of the Moroccan South. It is in particular one of the Moroccan sites the most appreciated by the directors of cinema. Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Alexander the Great, Astérix et Cléopâtre, The Mummy, Kingdom of heaven and Babel were all filmed on location here. Overnight Riad Dar Chamaa.

Riad Dar Chamaa

This unique hotel has been constructed as recreation of a traditional Kasbah and riydah; the spaces overlook a central court with fountain, surrounded by a series of arches. Ideally located inside Ouarzazate's palm grove and with impressive views of the Atlas Mountains the hotel boasts the modern amenities of air conditioning, complimentary wi-fi.

March 28: Ouarzazate & Marrakech

Before leaving Ouarzazate this morning, we’ll visit the kasbahs of Taouirt and Tiffeltout as well as Ait Benhaddou, the most spectacular fortress in the south of Morocco. Then we’ll drive 3-4 hours to Marrakech via the Tichka pass, which gives us an impressive landscape in the heart of the Atlas mountain range. Marrakech is known as the "Ochre City” and is the most important former imperial city in Morocco’s history. The probable origin of its name is from the Berber words mur (n) which means "Land of God". Marrakech has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco and also has one of the busiest squares in Africa and the world, Djemaa el Fna. The square bustles with acrobats, story-tellers, water sellers, dancers and musicians. By night food stalls open in the square turning it into a huge busy open-air restaurant.

Marrakech is also a city of diversity and tolerance. It has all the advantages of a big city where non-shoppers will be amazed by the color, diversity and vibrancy surrounding the souks, travelers can find fabulous nightclubs, new-wave of hotels and riads and radical new Moroccan food where world cuisine is prized make this the coolest place to be. This afternoon we’ll start with the colorful souks (open-air markets) of Marrakech. Explore the market, which is divided into smaller souks according to goods sold, this grand labyrinth features hand-crafted Moroccan good such as babouche slippers, woodworks, brass works, ironworks, bronze works, jewellery, kaftans, carpets, spices, and pottery. Overnight Hotel Les Jardins de la Koutoubia. Breakfast.  

Hotel Les Jardins de la Koutoubia

This historic hotel is located right next to the legendary Djemaa el-Fna Centeral Swauare with the cool of the 18th walls of the Riad Ouarzizi. Most of the rooms open out to a patio and each room has air-conditioning and Wifi. There are indoor and outdoor restaurants with a variety of cuisines and luxurious gardens to stroll in as well as a swimming pool to cool off in on hot afternoons.

March 29 & 30: Marrakech

We have two full days to explore and photograph and shop in this vibrant city. On our final evening we have a farewell dinner! Two nights Hotel Les Jardins de la Koutoubia.

March 31: Depart

Today we are transferred to the airport of Marrakech to depart.

Rates - 2018
Dates Per Person Double Single Supplement
Estimated cost per person sharing if initial deposit is received before March 19 2016 $7,680.00 $2,300.00
Estimated cost per person sharing if deposit is received on or after March 19 2016 $8,080.00 $2,700.00
Final trip price based on group size and is subject to confirmation with 2018 rates.
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