On arrival in Seville, you will be met by a Peregrine representative and transferred to your hotel. There are no activities planned for during the day, so you may arrive at any time before your welcome meeting at 7 pm. At this meeting, your leader will give you a briefing on what lies ahead for the trip. This is followed by a short orientation walk around the neighbourhood and then included dinner where we get to sample some of the local tapas. If you have time beforehand, take the opportunity to explore this most flamboyant of cities. Barrio Santa Cruz, with its multicultural history, is a great place to start. This shaded warren was designed in medieval times to provide refuge from the great Andalusian heat.
After breakfast, embark on a walking tour that reveals many of Seville's finest sights. With the knowledge of your local leader to guide you, you will explore the maze of narrow cobblestoned streets and sun-speckled squares in Barrio Santa Cruz and El Centro. A highlight of the morning is a visit to Catedral de Sevilla – a UNESCO World heritage Site, the third largest cathedral in the world houses Christopher Columbus’ elevated tomb. You'll also visit the lovely botanical gardens in Maria Luisa Park and the incomparable Plaza de España. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore the town. Visits to Seville's magnificent Alcazar Palace – one of the country’s most impressive and historic monuments and Giralda Tower are both highly recommended. Tonight you can join the 'Sevillanos' (locals) and soak up the ambience of the city as it comes alive after dark. 'Sevillanos' usually dine late, so embrace the local schedule. Perhaps round off your evening with an optional flamenco show; your guide will offer you some history of this unique dance style.
(Walking time: 3–4 hours, not including free time in the afternoon)
Zahara de la Sierra - Grazalema
Today you will transfer by private minibus (approximately 1.5 hours) to Grazalema National Park. En route you will stop to explore the splendid village of Zahara de la Sierra. The awesome mountain-top location of this whitewashed village makes it visible for many kilometres. It's also known as the 'Moorish Eagle's Nest'. On this leader-led tour of Zahara you will walk up to a 15th-century watchtower and feast your eyes on the spectacular views over the Zahara-Gastor Resevoir and the surrounding countryside. Also today you will visit 'Molino El Vinculo', a traditional, family-run ‘cold’ olive oil mill, and enjoy a tour of the factory and tasting. Andalucia is the world's largest producer of olive oil, and the locals enjoy it at all times of the day. It is also the basis of Andalucia's most famous contribution to world gastronomy – gazpacho. From here it's a short drive (approximately 30 minutes) over the stunning 'Puerto de las Palomas' (Dove Pass), high up in the sierras, to the village of Grazalema. Before dinner there will be a short, guided orientation of the village.
(Walking time: approximately 3–4 hours)
Today you have the option to either take a rest or go for a nature walk. This walk goes through the ancient forests and hilly landscapes of the Grazalema National Park. It caters to both light walkers and those seeking a more adventurous day. Your leader will take you through a region that was frequented by Romans, Moors and bandits in years gone by. Your hike begins with an exploration of Grazalema's upper village streets, and as you head out of the village you will connect to a gently sloping path that leads you up to a lovely viewpoint. From here, you have the choice to either return to the village to relax and unwind, or to carry on and explore the verdant natural areas with your leader. The rest of the route follows a mountainous circuit over an ancient drover’s path. Keep your eyes peeled for the likes of eagles, vultures, mountain goats, cattle, sheep and horses.
Notes: Today’s walking distance and terrain is subject to the interests of the group, as well as weather and other seasonal factors.
(Walking time: approximately 2 hours for the short walk or 3-5 hours for the full circuit depending on the pace of the group)
After breakfast, travel by private minibus from Grazalema to Ronda. This little town, perched on an inland plateau, is one of Spain's oldest villages, dating back to the 9th century BC. Take the opportunity to gaze out from its elevated position to the patchwork of fields and floodplains beneath. There is plenty to see and do in your free time today. Perhaps go for a walk into the picturesque gorge, walk along a country path surrounding the town, visit a local museum, do some shopping, or simply relax, have a coffee and enjoy the small-town atmosphere. Your leader will provide you with a map and will point out their favourite hotspots before you set off on your self-orientation adventure where you can choose how to spend your free time. Later on, reconnect with the rest of your group and your leader for an alternative orientation walk and insight in to local living in Ronda.Your stay today is in perfectly located Hotel Don Miguel. Being placed in the heart of the historic part of Ronda, on the edge of the gorge, it makes it ideal place to watch the world go by from your hotel room and wake up to a beautiful sunrise in the morning. In the evening, you might like to enjoy some tapas and a glass of crisp Spanish beer in one of Ronda's lively local eateries.
(Walking time: approximately 2 hours excluding free time activities)
After breakfast, continue to Granada by private minibus (approximately 3 hours). Along the way you will take in views of Andalucia’s rich and diverse landscapes. In Spring, you may still see snow on the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the distance as you approach Granada. Arrive in the city and walk through the historic Christian cathedral district to witness the Moorish influence first-hand. In the afternoon, there is the option of a self-guided tour of Granada Cathedral, and to visit the Royal Chapel (which contains the tombs of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand from the early 16th century). Alternatively you can wander through the 'Alcaiceria' (old silk market area) and observe the craftworks on sale that include ceramics, marquetry and leather goods. Also in the afternoon you will be taking part in an exclusive local produce tasting tour taking place in a small, family run delicatessen. You can expect to try different types of cheeses, hams and wine during this delicious tasting. In the evening, you may want to go out on a tapa tour of the city, through some of Granada’s lively squares beneath the Alhambra Palace. Granada does this style of food like no other city in Spain. Alternatively, head to one of the small flamenco taverns around the city and see how the art form here differs from Seville's version.
(Walking time: approximately 4 hours)
Granada - Alhambra Palace
Today you will visit Alhambra Palace, either in the morning or in the afternoon (depending on when you are booked for). Discover this 11th-century marvel and its dominating red fortress towers, sumptuous palace decor, multitude of architectural styles and magnificent gardens. It's all set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. With fountains, impeccably maintained hedges and pools, centuries-old defensive walls, turrets, and views overlooking Granada, this unparalleled attraction will not disappoint. After lunch, your leader will take you deeper into Granada’s Moorish 'Albaicin' quarter and to the area of traditional tea houses. The view from this area across to the Alhambra Palace is not to be missed. Tonight you will join your group to dine in Granada in style as you look back on a week of Andalucian experiences.
(Walking time: approximately 6–8 hours)
Today is a free day to further enjoy all that Granada has to offer. Late this afternoon, transfer by minibus to Malaga Airport (approximately 2 hours) for a 1.5 hour evening flight to Casablanca, Morocco. A late lunch in Granada is recommended as you will be travelling during dinnertime. You will not be escorted by your Spanish tour leader on the transfer and the flight. Upon arrival at the airport, please provide your airline booking reference and present your passport at the check-in counter. Refer to your documentation for your departure time and airline booking reference. The check-in desk will open two hours ahead of the flight's scheduled departure and close promptly 40 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave. Once you have checked in, please present yourself at the boarding gate ready for boarding no later than 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time of your flight. On arrival at Casablanca Airport late this evening, you will be met by our Moroccan representative and transferred to your hotel. You will meet your Moroccan tour leader for a briefing tomorrow morning.
This morning you will visit one of the most impressive sites in Casablanca – the massive edifice of the Mosque of Hassan II. Opened in 1993, and second only in size to the great mosque at Mecca, the huge building is part on land and part on sea, and in one area water can be seen through a glass floor. It can accommodate 25,000 worshippers and the main roof is retractable to create an open courtyard. It is one of the only religious sites open to non-Muslims. Later, you will leave Casablanca and drive north along the coast to Rabat (approximately 1.5 hours), the elegant capital of Morocco and its first Imperial city. It contains numerous fine Arab monuments, some dating from the 10th to 15th century Almohad and Merenid dynasties, and others that are far older. The earliest known settlement is Sala, occupying an area now known as the Chellah, where you will visit the remains of the citadel. You will also see the vast minaret of the Hassan Mosque and explore the lovely walled quarter known as the Kasbah des Oudaias. In the late afternoon, continue on to Meknes (approximately 2 hours), the sixth largest city in the kingdom, and former capital of Morocco.
This morning you will discover the charming streets of Meknes’ medina – the old walled section of the city. Enter via the northern gate, Bab Berdaine, and walk to the shrine of Moulay Ismail who, in the 17th century, turned Meknes from a provincial town to a spectacular Imperial city. Visit Heri Souani, Moulay Ismail’s immense granaries and stables, then move on to exploring the elaborately decorated public buildings hidden in these winding streets, including the lovely Bou Inania Medresse (religious school). Take some time to soak up the bustling atmosphere of the old souk before driving out of the city to the ruins of Volubilis (approximately 45 minutes). Volubilis was once a provincial Roman capital, a distant outpost of the empire, and the remains make an undeniably impressive sight. Volubilis is the foremost Roman site in Morocco and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1997. Upon arrival you will take a tour around the ruins with a local guide. Please remember to pack drinking water, hat, sunglasses and sun cream for this tour as it may get hot and you will be exposed to the sun. And, of course, don’t forget to take your camera as the town is filled with fantastic mosaics along the Decumanus Maximus, many of which remain intact. After time spent imagining Volubulis as the bustling city it once was, continue on to the living museum of Fes for the night (approximately 1.5 hours). Check in to your hotel in late afternoon, and perhaps spend the evening relaxing in this calming oasis, away from the buzz of streets of Fes.
Fes is the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco; vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses. It is made up of three distinct ‘cities’, or quarters, and you will stay in the elegant ‘Nouveau Ville’, or New City, which has a distinctly French/European character. Today head into the huge, well-preserved medieval old city, known locally as Fes el Bali, and the mother of all Medinas. Medieval Fes was one of the world's great centres of education and culture, both Islamic and Jewish. Its religious institutions and libraries are legendary, its mosques of great renown. Walk through the twisting streets and alleyways, passing donkeys piled high with goods, and explore the specialty sections that divide the souk. Filled with historic khans, medresses and dye-pits, stalls loaded with fruits, herbs and soups, and where the squawk of chickens, smell of spice and sound of hammering of copper fills the air, it’s not hard to imagine yourself back in the Middle Ages. Spend the day exploring the old city, visiting, Medresse el Attarine, the tanneries and the splendid Funduk Nejjarine, a beautifully restored 18th century inn. Return to your hotel in the late afternoon and listen to the amazing ‘call for prayer’ from the roof of your hotel. Your leader will be on hand to talk you through some of the most interesting customs and traditions of Moroccan people. Later in the evening, seek out a memorable dinner of one of the city’s signature dishes, the salty and sweet pastille.
Notes: Today’s experience will include shopping in carefully selected places. As the receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Moroccan tourism industry, Peregrine has established a centralised system of receiving and distributing payments from these recommended suppliers. For more information, please refer to ‘Important Notes’ section or talk to your Tour leader on the ground.
In addition, please note that if you are not interested in shopping experience, you need to advise your tour leader about it beforehand. It is possible for you to have a free time during the tour, however, it will be impossible to set a meeting point inside the medina due to the fact it is so complicated to navigate. If you decide to leave the group you will only be able to meet back with them in your hotel in Fes.
Bine el Ouidane
Bine el Ouidane is your destination today. You will drive approximately 7 hours in a comfortable private van, with frequent stops along the way. You will witness the beautiful and ever changing Moroccan landscape as well as slow, rural life. On many occasions you will have a chance to buy fresh local fruits and vegetables, which are mostly grown in nearby villages. Small village shops often sell original handicrafts too, if you’d like to stock up on souvenirs. Today you will also experience an art of tea making. Join a local family for a cup of truly delicious mint tea and share a home cooked lunch with them too. Bine el Ouidane is a small settlement beautifully placed on the bank of the lake, surrounded by sheer rocks. Take a moment to sit back and enjoy the calmness and peacefulness of the place. Perhaps take a short walk for a closer look at the majestic Bin el Ouidane dam, an arch shaped wall that not only provides hydroelectric power to the surrounding settlements, but most importantly irrigates fields in Beni Moussa and the Tadla plains. Without the irrigation system, it would be nearly impossible for local farmers to grow their crops. Evening at this beautifully located homestay is free so remember, there is nothing wrong in sitting back on the poolside terrace and admiring surrounding view.