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Trip Extensions

Essaouira

Duration: 3 days

This extension takes you to the Atlantic coastal towns of Essaouira, Safi and El Jadida. 

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.

Day 1: arrive casablanca

Welcome to Casablanca!Welcome to Casablanca!

On arrival at the Casablanca airport, you will be greeted by your driver and transferred to your hotel in the city for your overnight. Casablanca is one of the largest and most important cities in Africa. It is also the most cosmopolitan city in Morocco. Depending on your arrival time, you may want to head over to the small but interesting medina and lose yourself among the shops and food stalls.

Meals
None
Lodging
Hotel Club Val Danfa (or similar)

Day 2: casablanca / rabat / chefchaouen

Admire Rabat's architectureAdmire Rabat's architecture

After breakfast, stop at the Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in the world, with room for more than 100,000 worshippers! (Note, non-Muslims are not allowed inside.) The Mosque, built by 6,000 traditional Moroccan artists, contains intricate mosaics, stone, and marble floors and columns, sculpted moldings, and carved wood ceilings. Also experience the Cornich Coast (South Beach of Morocco), a boardwalk lined with restaurants and nightclubs where the locals go to have a bit of fun.

Continue on to the city of Rabat (1.5 hr drive), located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Bou Regreg River, with a population of about 1.2 million. Here you'll visit the Kasbah of the Oudayas, a 12th-century medieval fortress citadel with exceptional ocean views from the acropolis. Also explore Hassan Tower, a minaret for an incomplete mosque. It was intended to be the largest minaret in the world along with the largest mosque, but construction stopped when Sultan Yacub al-Mansour died in 1199.

Afterwards, depart for Chefchaouen (3.5 - 4 hr drive), the famous blue city of Morocco, located in the Rif Mountains. The city was founded in the 15th century as a small fortress when the Moorish and Jews fled here to escape the Reconquista of Spain. On arrival, check-in to your centrally located riad, located near the medina and Ras El Ma.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Riad Dar Echchaouen (or similar)

Day 3: chefchaouen exploration

Stay in a wonderful traditional riadStay in a wonderful traditional riad

After breakfast, enjoy a tour of this “cool” blue town, home to about 40,000 people. Set at an altitude of almost 2200 feet on the outskirts of the Tisouka and Megou Mountains, this charming small town has little car traffic, which allows for clean and fresh air in which to discover its beauty. 

Take a walk through the Medina and the Uta el-Hammam main square for an authentic look at Moroccan life. Along the way, visit the Kasbah Museum, which contains a modest collection of old arms, instruments, textiles, and city lodges, and enjoy a leisurely walk through its relaxing gardens. Be sure to admire Ras el Maa Waterfall, located east of the medina and often frequented by locals who use the waterfall to swim and wash clothes. You may even have the chance to visit a women’s co-op to see the women at work, and to purchase some of their artistry.

The afternoon is yours to do as you please in the relaxed atmosphere of the Rif Mountains. 

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Riad Dar Echchaouen (or similar)

Day 4: volubilis / meknes / fez

Marvel at the mosaics of the Roman ruins at VolubilisMarvel at the mosaics of the Roman ruins at Volubilis

Today, head out to the Roman ruins at Volubilis (3 hr drive), considered the best-preserved archeological site in Morocco. You'll spend time exploring these 2,000 year old UNESCO ruins, and perhaps imagining what life must have been like during the Roman Empire.

Lunch will be at Meknes (1 hr drive), one of Morocco's Imperial cities, where you'll have time to explore. This town was the Ismailian capital during the 17th century, and is now famous for its 25-mile-long walls and monumental landmark gate of Bab el-Mansour. Wander the lanes of the old medina, visit the Mellah Jewish quarter, and see the Royal stables. The Dar Jamai palace houses one of the country's best museums, exhibiting glorious ceramics, jewelry, rugs, and textiles with distinct ornate Meknesi needlework. Enjoy the setting of this town in a region of olives, wine, and citrus.

Afterwards, continue the drive to Fez (1 hr drive), often referred to as "the cultural capital of Morocco". Once there, get settled in your riad, a traditional home built in the 16th century by a professor of the Quaraouiyine University, restored to its former glory. It is located in the heart of the bustling Fez Medina.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Riad el Yacout (or similar)

Day 5: fez exploration

Explore ancient FezExplore ancient Fez

Today will be devoted to Fez, the world's only walled medieval Arab city that remains completely intact.  It may be cliché, but visitors often compare their first visit to the medina (the maze of shop-lined alleyways that comprise the old city) to an encounter with the tales of One Thousand and One Nights (a.k.a. the Arabian Nights).

The medina has UNESCO World Heritage status, and for good reason. Here, you'll visit the King's Palace, one of the best palaces in the country; the colorful leather-dying pits to see leather-making techniques unchanged since the middle ages; and a pottery workshop where you will have the chance to watch the craftsmen chip mosaic tile pieces and paint designs on plates.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Riad el Yacout (or similar)

Day 6: atlas mountains to merzouga

Drive over the Atlas Mountains and through small townsDrive over the Atlas Mountains and through small towns

After breakfast at the riad, you’ll leave Fez and begin the drive into the Atlas Mountains towards Ifran, referred to as "the Switzerland of Morocco," and then on to Merzouga via Azrou and the Ziz Valley.

During this journey you’ll experience glimpses of the Middle Atlas and Higher Atlas mountains. Stop at Azrou (1.5 hr drive), a Berber village in the middle of a famous cedar forest—the largest in Morocco—where you may spot Barbary apes (macaques). You’ll notice how the scenery changes to reveal hints of the desert as you approach the city of Errachidia to enjoy the Berber hospitality with a stop for lunch.

Continue on to Merzouga (6 hr drive) via the Tizi Ntalghamt Pass and along the luxurious Ziz Valley, stopping for panoramic views along the way. On arrival in Merzouga sometime in the afternoon, you'll enjoy a glass of refreshing mint tea as you check into your very charming riad. The riad was built to resemble the Kasbahs of the south with all the modern amenities.

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging
Riad Nezha (or similar)

Day 7: sahara desert and camel trekking

Explore nature's art—vast sand dunes—at sunriseExplore nature's art—vast sand dunes—at sunrise

After breakfast at the hotel, visit the Gnawa people, originally slaves brought over from Sudan, to experience their music and lifestyle. Nearby is Merzouga Lake, home to many species of birds. You may also visit the nomad wire house, where many Berber handicrafts are sold at a much better bargain than in the big cities.

In the afternoon, mount your camels to explore the sand seas of Merzouga. You'll be guided by an experienced camel man. Enjoy a wonderful sunset over the golden dunes, then overnight in comfortable Berber tents with a private bathroom, a shower, and running water. 

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging
Berber tent camping

Day 8: todra gorges and dades valley

Enjoy your time in and around the SaharaEnjoy your time in and around the Sahara

Early this morning, you'll wake to what may just be the best sunrise in your life, then peacefully camel-trek back to your riad. Enroute, be sure to appreciate the unique beauty of the spectacular Erg Chebbi sand dunes, changing with the light as the day progresses.

After breakfast at the riad, you’ll leave for Rissani, Tinghir, and Todra Gorges—the highest and narrowest gorges in Morocco. Enjoy lunch in the heart of the gorge, then continue on through the Dades Valley, where you’ll see the majestic sand castles and the amazing rock formations known as "monkey toes." Overnight accommodation will be in a lovely hotel overlooking the Dades valley. Total driving time today is around 4 hours.

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging
Hotel Xalucadades (or similar)

Day 9: ouarzazate to marrakech

Explore atmospheric ancient kasbahs such as Ait Ben HaddouExplore atmospheric ancient kasbahs such as Ait Ben Haddou

After an early breakfast, depart for Marrakech via Kalaat Mgouna and Ouarzazate (war-za-zat) and through the mountains of the High Atlas. The route through Dades Valley is the way of the thousand Kasbahs—providing numerous opportunities to take some of your best photos.

Along the way, stop at Kalaat Mgouna, "the rose city," to purchase local rosewater if you like, then on to the famous Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah, the largest kasbah in Morocco. The kasbah was built by Et Hami El Glaoui, one of the last Berber chieftains during the 18th century. It now houses many Glaoui people.

Continuing on, you'll journey through the majestic Tizi n'tichka Pass (2260m) over the High Atlas Mountains, before arriving at your riad, located in the heart of Marrakech. If you like, spend some time this evening exploring the medina.

Total driving time today is around 6.5 hours.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Riad Ksar Anika or La Princess Du Desert (or similar)

Day 10: marrakech tour

Admire the many sites of Marrakech, including Djemaa El-Fna SquareAdmire the many sites of Marrakech, including Djemaa El-Fna Square

After breakfast in the riad, it's time to start exploring Marrakech, "the red city of Morocco.” Your guide will ensure that you see the most important places of historical and cultural interest, such as:

  • The 16th century Saadien tombs where about 60 members of the Saadi Dynasty, including Ahmad al-Mansur and his family are entombed.
  • The 19th century El Bahia Palace, built in Andalusian, Islamic, and Moroccan style with materials used from throughout Morocco.
  • The ruins of El Badi Palace, built in the 16th century by the Saadian Dynasty, which was constructed using some of the most expensive materials of its time including gold, onyx, and marble
  • The Ben Youssef Coranique School, the largest Madrasa in Morocco, and once the largest theological colleges in North Africa, housing as many as 900 students at one time.  

After lunch at a local restaurant near the square, visit the Majorelle Gardens, a 12 acre botanical and artist landscape garden that is home to more than 15 endemic bird species. The garden houses:

  • The Islamic Art Museum and includes collections of ceramics, jewelry, and paintings by Majorelle as well as North African textiles from St. Laurent's personal collection
  • Menara Gardens, which contain orchards and olive groves that surround a pavilion built during the 16th century
  • The Koutoubia Tower, designed in Almohad style and built of sandstone. This 250 foot high minaret can be seen from as far away as 18 miles.

This evening, you will have the opportunity to walk around the "Jemaa El Fna Square" full of magicians, story tellers, snake charmers and food sellers. 

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Riad Ksar Anika or La Princess Du Desert (or similar)

Day 11: essaouira day tour

Admire Berber villages on your drive among the Atlas MountainsAdmire Berber villages on your drive among the Atlas Mountains

After Breakfast at your riad, drive to the city of Essaouira (2.75 hr drive), known as the "City of the Wind" for its strong winds most of the year that attract surfers from all over the world. Because of its size and its characteristic blue doors and washed walls, it is also regarded as Morocco’s "Jewel of the Atlantics." 

Essaouira was influenced by many civilizations, including the Portuguese who had an affect on much of its architecture. However, it remains a small village with a great history and is a perfect example of a late 18th century fortified town with its original cannons still in place. It is also where Orson Wells shot "Othello" in the "Moor of Venice" movie, and has appeared on the television hit "Game of Thrones." 

You'll spend the day exploring Essaoira, visiting the Skala Fortress (built for defense against attacks from the sea) and the port. You'll also visit the souks and see Thuya wood carved by local artisans, and take a walk through the alleys of the medina to admire the hundreds of local handicrafts.

In the afternoon, visit the Mellah—the Jewish headquarters—and enjoy the cool breezes on the beach where there is an annual festival known for “Gnawa music,” with many musical groups coming from different parts of Africa and the world.

On the way back to Marrakech stop to visit the women's co-operative of Argan oil makers. Here they extract the oil that is famous for its culinary, cosmetic and medicinal properties. The whole region of Essaouira is famous for the argan trees, where you see goats climbing to get fruit they can’t find on the ground.

Back in Marrakech, return to your riad and spend the rest of the evening as you like.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Riad Ksar Anika or La Princess Du Desert (or similar)

Day 12: berber villages and mountains

Mingle with the localsMingle with the locals

After a late breakfast in your riad, depart for the villages of Asni and Imlil, located at the heart of the High Atlas Mountains. Along the way, enjoy breathtaking views of the Mulay Brahim Gorges and see the villages, hamlets, fruit trees, and rose gardens. 

At the village of Asni, in the heart of Berber country, enjoy being amongst locals and seeing how they live. Asni is a small town located in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, about one hour from Marrakech. This small Berber village take care of the farms in the nearby fertile valley.

Continue to Imlil, the last village on this road before you would reach the highest peak in North Africa, “the Mount Toubkal.” (For trekkers, this is a frequent starting place to venture into the mountains on foot.) From the rooftop of the kasbah, enjoy lunch while watching the breathtaking views of the high peaks of Morocco Mountains. On the way back to Marrakech, stop at another Berber village for more interaction with locals. Total drive time today is about 3 hours.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Riad Ksar Anika or La Princess Du Desert (or similar)

Day 13: depart morocco

Everyone, smile for the camera!Everyone, smile for the camera!

After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Casablanca (2.5 hr drive) for your flight back home. Not ready to leave? Consider adding more time to spend relaxing on one of Morocco's beautiful beaches.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
None

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
$3,700
Single Supplement:
$1,050
Custom & private on your dates
Oct 8-20, 2018

Need to Know

Duration:
13 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
●●●○○
(see full descriptions)
Charming 4* riads and small hotels
Activity Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Easy walking with optional hikes; a couple of long driving days; camel ride
Group Size:
2-10
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Below is a summary of our complete Trip Terms & Conditions, which explains each of the items below in more detail. 

Expenses covered

Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

Expenses not covered

Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

Pricing and Payment

For most group departures, the booking deposit is $500 per person per trip, though for some trips it may be more, as noted in the trip description. The minimum booking deposit requirement for custom trips is $800 per person, and this deposit is non-refundable. A trip-planning fee of $250 per itinerary is also charged to cover costs of preparing itinerary proposals for custom trips. This fee is credited to the cost of the trip, but is nonrefundable if you do not take the trip. Custom travel during holiday seasons may require a deposit prior to trip confirmation.

For both group departures and custom trips, a second deposit of $1,000 per person is due 120 days prior to departure or at the time of booking for reservations made fewer than 120 days before departure. The balance as shown on your invoice is due 60 days prior to departure regardless of whether extensions or other arrangements are pending. Late payments may jeopardize confirmation of your itinerary and in some cases may result in additional fees. If we have not received final payment 30 days prior to departure your reservation may be canceled and subject to our Cancellation & Refund Policy stated in the complete Terms & Conditions.

We accept payments by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or check drawn on a U.S. bank account. Payment for airfare is required at the time of ticketing. Discounts that may be available for some trips are not available toward bookings made through travel agencies.​

Airfare

We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

Insurance

When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee

There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

From the Bird's Word Blog

What is the Best Time to Go to Morocco? 

What is the best time to go to Morocco? It depends on what you want to do.  Morocco is a land of contrasts, resulting in dramatically different climates in different parts of the …

Catch Rabat's Moorish architecture in just the right light
Catch Rabat's Moorish architecture in just the right light
Wander the atmospheric ruins of Meknes, its granary, and horse stables
Wander the atmospheric ruins of Meknes, its granary, and horse stables
Marvel at the mosaics of the Roman ruins at Volubilis
Marvel at the mosaics of the Roman ruins at Volubilis
Admire Berber villages on your drive among the Atlas Mountains
Admire Berber villages on your drive among the Atlas Mountains
Enjoy your time in and around the Sahara
Enjoy your time in and around the Sahara
Explore atmospheric ancient kasbahs such as Ait Ben Haddou
Explore atmospheric ancient kasbahs such as Ait Ben Haddou
Admire Marrakech's many sights, including Djemaa El-Fna Square
Admire Marrakech's many sights, including Djemaa El-Fna Square
See the lingering locals
See the lingering locals
A camel ride at dusk is something you'll never forget
A camel ride at dusk is something you'll never forget
The colors of the markets are vibrant
The colors of the markets are vibrant
Everyone smiles for the camera
Everyone smiles for the camera
Fez is the only intact walled medieval Arab city in the world
Fez is the only intact walled medieval Arab city in the world
A quaint view from your riad's courtyard
A quaint view from your riad's courtyard
A Tuareg shopkeeper welcomes you
A Tuareg shopkeeper welcomes you
The scenic Volubilis countryside is a feast for the eyes
The scenic Volubilis countryside is a feast for the eyes
Sharing tea in Marrakech is a must-do
Sharing tea in Marrakech is a must-do
A Rabat street musician performs
A Rabat street musician performs

Morocco Souks and Sahara

A Moroccan cultural tour from Fez into the Sahara and Atlas Mountains and on to Marrakech

overview

Join a small group of adventurous travelers on an exploration of Morocco's imperial past and vibrant present. Travel from the Atlantic coast of North Africa through holy cities and Roman ruins, then into the desert and back to Marrakech. Explore the walled medinas (old cities), wander the fragrant suks (markets), stay in atmospheric riads (manor homes of the old cities), and engage the spirit of a land steeped in tradition that is also eager to embrace the future. 

Begin in Morocco's captial, Rabat, then spend some time in one of the most charming cities in Morocco—Chefchaouen. On the way to see the Roman ruins of Volubilis, stop at Meknes. Wander deep into the ancient medina in Fez, experience the breathtaking desert vistas of the Sahara and Todra Gorge en route to Ouarazazate, and behold exciting Marrakech where ancient history and non-stop street entertainment equally entrance those who are fortunate enough to spend time here.

itinerary

See Trip Extensions
View Map

overview

Join a small group of adventurous travelers on an exploration of Morocco's imperial past and vibrant present. Travel from the Atlantic coast of North Africa through holy cities and Roman ruins, then into the desert and back to Marrakech. Explore the walled medinas (old cities), wander the fragrant suks (markets), stay in atmospheric riads (manor homes of the old cities), and engage the spirit of a land steeped in tradition that is also eager to embrace the future. 

Begin in Morocco's captial, Rabat, then spend some time in one of the most charming cities in Morocco—Chefchaouen. On the way to see the Roman ruins of Volubilis, stop at Meknes. Wander deep into the ancient medina in Fez, experience the breathtaking desert vistas of the Sahara and Todra Gorge en route to Ouarazazate, and behold exciting Marrakech where ancient history and non-stop street entertainment equally entrance those who are fortunate enough to spend time here.

Continue to detailed itinerary...

itinerary

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.
  • Day 1: arrive casablanca
    Welcome to Casablanca!Welcome to Casablanca!

    On arrival at the Casablanca airport, you will be greeted by your driver and transferred to your hotel in the city for your overnight. Casablanca is one of the largest and most important cities in Africa. It is also the most cosmopolitan city in Morocco. Depending on your arrival time, you may want to head over to the small but interesting medina and lose yourself among the shops and food stalls.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Hotel Club Val Danfa (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: casablanca / rabat / chefchaouen
    Admire Rabat's architectureAdmire Rabat's architecture

    After breakfast, stop at the Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in the world, with room for more than 100,000 worshippers! (Note, non-Muslims are not allowed inside.) The Mosque, built by 6,000 traditional Moroccan artists, contains intricate mosaics, stone, and marble floors and columns, sculpted moldings, and carved wood ceilings. Also experience the Cornich Coast (South Beach of Morocco), a boardwalk lined with restaurants and nightclubs where the locals go to have a bit of fun.

    Continue on to the city of Rabat (1.5 hr drive), located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Bou Regreg River, with a population of about 1.2 million. Here you'll visit the Kasbah of the Oudayas, a 12th-century medieval fortress citadel with exceptional ocean views from the acropolis. Also explore Hassan Tower, a minaret for an incomplete mosque. It was intended to be the largest minaret in the world along with the largest mosque, but construction stopped when Sultan Yacub al-Mansour died in 1199.

    Afterwards, depart for Chefchaouen (3.5 - 4 hr drive), the famous blue city of Morocco, located in the Rif Mountains. The city was founded in the 15th century as a small fortress when the Moorish and Jews fled here to escape the Reconquista of Spain. On arrival, check-in to your centrally located riad, located near the medina and Ras El Ma.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Riad Dar Echchaouen (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: chefchaouen exploration
    Stay in a wonderful traditional riadStay in a wonderful traditional riad

    After breakfast, enjoy a tour of this “cool” blue town, home to about 40,000 people. Set at an altitude of almost 2200 feet on the outskirts of the Tisouka and Megou Mountains, this charming small town has little car traffic, which allows for clean and fresh air in which to discover its beauty. 

    Take a walk through the Medina and the Uta el-Hammam main square for an authentic look at Moroccan life. Along the way, visit the Kasbah Museum, which contains a modest collection of old arms, instruments, textiles, and city lodges, and enjoy a leisurely walk through its relaxing gardens. Be sure to admire Ras el Maa Waterfall, located east of the medina and often frequented by locals who use the waterfall to swim and wash clothes. You may even have the chance to visit a women’s co-op to see the women at work, and to purchase some of their artistry.

    The afternoon is yours to do as you please in the relaxed atmosphere of the Rif Mountains. 

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Riad Dar Echchaouen (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: volubilis / meknes / fez
    Marvel at the mosaics of the Roman ruins at VolubilisMarvel at the mosaics of the Roman ruins at Volubilis

    Today, head out to the Roman ruins at Volubilis (3 hr drive), considered the best-preserved archeological site in Morocco. You'll spend time exploring these 2,000 year old UNESCO ruins, and perhaps imagining what life must have been like during the Roman Empire.

    Lunch will be at Meknes (1 hr drive), one of Morocco's Imperial cities, where you'll have time to explore. This town was the Ismailian capital during the 17th century, and is now famous for its 25-mile-long walls and monumental landmark gate of Bab el-Mansour. Wander the lanes of the old medina, visit the Mellah Jewish quarter, and see the Royal stables. The Dar Jamai palace houses one of the country's best museums, exhibiting glorious ceramics, jewelry, rugs, and textiles with distinct ornate Meknesi needlework. Enjoy the setting of this town in a region of olives, wine, and citrus.

    Afterwards, continue the drive to Fez (1 hr drive), often referred to as "the cultural capital of Morocco". Once there, get settled in your riad, a traditional home built in the 16th century by a professor of the Quaraouiyine University, restored to its former glory. It is located in the heart of the bustling Fez Medina.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Riad el Yacout (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: fez exploration
    Explore ancient FezExplore ancient Fez

    Today will be devoted to Fez, the world's only walled medieval Arab city that remains completely intact.  It may be cliché, but visitors often compare their first visit to the medina (the maze of shop-lined alleyways that comprise the old city) to an encounter with the tales of One Thousand and One Nights (a.k.a. the Arabian Nights).

    The medina has UNESCO World Heritage status, and for good reason. Here, you'll visit the King's Palace, one of the best palaces in the country; the colorful leather-dying pits to see leather-making techniques unchanged since the middle ages; and a pottery workshop where you will have the chance to watch the craftsmen chip mosaic tile pieces and paint designs on plates.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Riad el Yacout (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: atlas mountains to merzouga
    Drive over the Atlas Mountains and through small townsDrive over the Atlas Mountains and through small towns

    After breakfast at the riad, you’ll leave Fez and begin the drive into the Atlas Mountains towards Ifran, referred to as "the Switzerland of Morocco," and then on to Merzouga via Azrou and the Ziz Valley.

    During this journey you’ll experience glimpses of the Middle Atlas and Higher Atlas mountains. Stop at Azrou (1.5 hr drive), a Berber village in the middle of a famous cedar forest—the largest in Morocco—where you may spot Barbary apes (macaques). You’ll notice how the scenery changes to reveal hints of the desert as you approach the city of Errachidia to enjoy the Berber hospitality with a stop for lunch.

    Continue on to Merzouga (6 hr drive) via the Tizi Ntalghamt Pass and along the luxurious Ziz Valley, stopping for panoramic views along the way. On arrival in Merzouga sometime in the afternoon, you'll enjoy a glass of refreshing mint tea as you check into your very charming riad. The riad was built to resemble the Kasbahs of the south with all the modern amenities.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging
    Riad Nezha (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: sahara desert and camel trekking
    Explore nature's art—vast sand dunes—at sunriseExplore nature's art—vast sand dunes—at sunrise

    After breakfast at the hotel, visit the Gnawa people, originally slaves brought over from Sudan, to experience their music and lifestyle. Nearby is Merzouga Lake, home to many species of birds. You may also visit the nomad wire house, where many Berber handicrafts are sold at a much better bargain than in the big cities.

    In the afternoon, mount your camels to explore the sand seas of Merzouga. You'll be guided by an experienced camel man. Enjoy a wonderful sunset over the golden dunes, then overnight in comfortable Berber tents with a private bathroom, a shower, and running water. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging
    Berber tent camping
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: todra gorges and dades valley
    Enjoy your time in and around the SaharaEnjoy your time in and around the Sahara

    Early this morning, you'll wake to what may just be the best sunrise in your life, then peacefully camel-trek back to your riad. Enroute, be sure to appreciate the unique beauty of the spectacular Erg Chebbi sand dunes, changing with the light as the day progresses.

    After breakfast at the riad, you’ll leave for Rissani, Tinghir, and Todra Gorges—the highest and narrowest gorges in Morocco. Enjoy lunch in the heart of the gorge, then continue on through the Dades Valley, where you’ll see the majestic sand castles and the amazing rock formations known as "monkey toes." Overnight accommodation will be in a lovely hotel overlooking the Dades valley. Total driving time today is around 4 hours.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging
    Hotel Xalucadades (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: ouarzazate to marrakech
    Explore atmospheric ancient kasbahs such as Ait Ben HaddouExplore atmospheric ancient kasbahs such as Ait Ben Haddou

    After an early breakfast, depart for Marrakech via Kalaat Mgouna and Ouarzazate (war-za-zat) and through the mountains of the High Atlas. The route through Dades Valley is the way of the thousand Kasbahs—providing numerous opportunities to take some of your best photos.

    Along the way, stop at Kalaat Mgouna, "the rose city," to purchase local rosewater if you like, then on to the famous Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah, the largest kasbah in Morocco. The kasbah was built by Et Hami El Glaoui, one of the last Berber chieftains during the 18th century. It now houses many Glaoui people.

    Continuing on, you'll journey through the majestic Tizi n'tichka Pass (2260m) over the High Atlas Mountains, before arriving at your riad, located in the heart of Marrakech. If you like, spend some time this evening exploring the medina.

    Total driving time today is around 6.5 hours.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Riad Ksar Anika or La Princess Du Desert (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: marrakech tour
    Admire the many sites of Marrakech, including Djemaa El-Fna SquareAdmire the many sites of Marrakech, including Djemaa El-Fna Square

    After breakfast in the riad, it's time to start exploring Marrakech, "the red city of Morocco.” Your guide will ensure that you see the most important places of historical and cultural interest, such as:

    • The 16th century Saadien tombs where about 60 members of the Saadi Dynasty, including Ahmad al-Mansur and his family are entombed.
    • The 19th century El Bahia Palace, built in Andalusian, Islamic, and Moroccan style with materials used from throughout Morocco.
    • The ruins of El Badi Palace, built in the 16th century by the Saadian Dynasty, which was constructed using some of the most expensive materials of its time including gold, onyx, and marble
    • The Ben Youssef Coranique School, the largest Madrasa in Morocco, and once the largest theological colleges in North Africa, housing as many as 900 students at one time.  

    After lunch at a local restaurant near the square, visit the Majorelle Gardens, a 12 acre botanical and artist landscape garden that is home to more than 15 endemic bird species. The garden houses:

    • The Islamic Art Museum and includes collections of ceramics, jewelry, and paintings by Majorelle as well as North African textiles from St. Laurent's personal collection
    • Menara Gardens, which contain orchards and olive groves that surround a pavilion built during the 16th century
    • The Koutoubia Tower, designed in Almohad style and built of sandstone. This 250 foot high minaret can be seen from as far away as 18 miles.

    This evening, you will have the opportunity to walk around the "Jemaa El Fna Square" full of magicians, story tellers, snake charmers and food sellers. 

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Riad Ksar Anika or La Princess Du Desert (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: essaouira day tour
    Admire Berber villages on your drive among the Atlas MountainsAdmire Berber villages on your drive among the Atlas Mountains

    After Breakfast at your riad, drive to the city of Essaouira (2.75 hr drive), known as the "City of the Wind" for its strong winds most of the year that attract surfers from all over the world. Because of its size and its characteristic blue doors and washed walls, it is also regarded as Morocco’s "Jewel of the Atlantics." 

    Essaouira was influenced by many civilizations, including the Portuguese who had an affect on much of its architecture. However, it remains a small village with a great history and is a perfect example of a late 18th century fortified town with its original cannons still in place. It is also where Orson Wells shot "Othello" in the "Moor of Venice" movie, and has appeared on the television hit "Game of Thrones." 

    You'll spend the day exploring Essaoira, visiting the Skala Fortress (built for defense against attacks from the sea) and the port. You'll also visit the souks and see Thuya wood carved by local artisans, and take a walk through the alleys of the medina to admire the hundreds of local handicrafts.

    In the afternoon, visit the Mellah—the Jewish headquarters—and enjoy the cool breezes on the beach where there is an annual festival known for “Gnawa music,” with many musical groups coming from different parts of Africa and the world.

    On the way back to Marrakech stop to visit the women's co-operative of Argan oil makers. Here they extract the oil that is famous for its culinary, cosmetic and medicinal properties. The whole region of Essaouira is famous for the argan trees, where you see goats climbing to get fruit they can’t find on the ground.

    Back in Marrakech, return to your riad and spend the rest of the evening as you like.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Riad Ksar Anika or La Princess Du Desert (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 12: berber villages and mountains
    Mingle with the localsMingle with the locals

    After a late breakfast in your riad, depart for the villages of Asni and Imlil, located at the heart of the High Atlas Mountains. Along the way, enjoy breathtaking views of the Mulay Brahim Gorges and see the villages, hamlets, fruit trees, and rose gardens. 

    At the village of Asni, in the heart of Berber country, enjoy being amongst locals and seeing how they live. Asni is a small town located in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, about one hour from Marrakech. This small Berber village take care of the farms in the nearby fertile valley.

    Continue to Imlil, the last village on this road before you would reach the highest peak in North Africa, “the Mount Toubkal.” (For trekkers, this is a frequent starting place to venture into the mountains on foot.) From the rooftop of the kasbah, enjoy lunch while watching the breathtaking views of the high peaks of Morocco Mountains. On the way back to Marrakech, stop at another Berber village for more interaction with locals. Total drive time today is about 3 hours.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Riad Ksar Anika or La Princess Du Desert (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 13: depart morocco
    Everyone, smile for the camera!Everyone, smile for the camera!

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Casablanca (2.5 hr drive) for your flight back home. Not ready to leave? Consider adding more time to spend relaxing on one of Morocco's beautiful beaches.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    None
    Show on a map

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
$3,700
Single Supplement:
$1,050
Custom & private on your dates
Oct 8-20, 2018

Need to Know

Duration:
13 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
●●●○○
(see full descriptions)
Charming 4* riads and small hotels
Activity Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Easy walking with optional hikes; a couple of long driving days; camel ride
Group Size:
2-10
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Below is a summary of our complete Trip Terms & Conditions, which explains each of the items below in more detail. 

Expenses covered

Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

Expenses not covered

Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

Pricing and Payment

For most group departures, the booking deposit is $500 per person per trip, though for some trips it may be more, as noted in the trip description. The minimum booking deposit requirement for custom trips is $800 per person, and this deposit is non-refundable. A trip-planning fee of $250 per itinerary is also charged to cover costs of preparing itinerary proposals for custom trips. This fee is credited to the cost of the trip, but is nonrefundable if you do not take the trip. Custom travel during holiday seasons may require a deposit prior to trip confirmation.

For both group departures and custom trips, a second deposit of $1,000 per person is due 120 days prior to departure or at the time of booking for reservations made fewer than 120 days before departure. The balance as shown on your invoice is due 60 days prior to departure regardless of whether extensions or other arrangements are pending. Late payments may jeopardize confirmation of your itinerary and in some cases may result in additional fees. If we have not received final payment 30 days prior to departure your reservation may be canceled and subject to our Cancellation & Refund Policy stated in the complete Terms & Conditions.

We accept payments by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or check drawn on a U.S. bank account. Payment for airfare is required at the time of ticketing. Discounts that may be available for some trips are not available toward bookings made through travel agencies.​

Airfare

We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

Insurance

When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee

There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Trip Extensions

Essaouira

Duration: 3 days

This extension takes you to the Atlantic coastal towns of Essaouira, Safi and El Jadida. 

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× comfort level
Choose accommodations and amenities that fit your personal style
●○○○○ Simple
Our most natural accommodations. Bath facilities often shared, sometimes rustic.
●●○○○ Delightful
Comfortable and especially personal. Small to mid-sized lodges, typically with private bath.
●●●○○ Superior
Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined artistry, or extra-special settings.
●●●●○ Deluxe
Exclusive or luxury lodges, hotels, or safari camps with fine dining options.
●●●●● Uncommon
The most indulgent accommodations arranged specially for private trips.
× activity level
Match the trip’s intensity to your ability and motivation.
●○○○○ Gentle
Easy walking, with opportunities for low-key physical activity.
●●○○○ Active
Energetic exploration with optional day hikes, leisurely cycling, or light canoeing.
●●●○○ Vigorous
Day-long active excursions and options for demanding activity in varied environments.
●●●●○ Challenging
Strenuous hiking or other intense activity that may be at high altitude or over rough terrain.
●●●●● Demanding
Multi-day trekking and other activities requiring endurance or strength. Steep trails. No technical expertise necessary.
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