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Premium Morocco in Depth with Essaouira

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Premium Morocco in Depth with Essaouira

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Product Description

Highlights

Get to know the Moroccan way of life as you travel with a local leader and expert guides, visit a local home for dinner in Fes, enjoy tea with an Amazigh (Berber) family in the Dades Valley and meet the women of the Tawesna social enterprise in Ait Benhaddou.. Discover Morocco’s iconic sights during visits to the ruins of Volubilis, the blue city of Chefchaouen, the remarkable Sahara Desert, the timeless Ait Benhaddou, the bustling cities of Fes and Marrakech the laidback seaside city of Essaouira.. In a remote oasis among the dunes of the Sahara Desert, embrace an escape from the modern world at your feature stay camp. Enjoy comfortable beds, en suite bathrooms and authentic décor, plus a traditional feast and live music under a sky full of stars.. Morocco is a paradise for food lovers – this trip is bursting with culinary experiences, including a traditional feast at a restaurant in Casablanca, picnic at the ruins of Volubilis, goat’s cheese tasting in Chefchaouen and medfouna demonstration in Khemliya.

Overview

Indulge in a feast for the senses as you embark on an 18-day Premium journey through Morocco. Explore the blue washed streets of Chefchaouen, Meknes’s animated medina, the historical Old Town of Fes and the lively Djemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech. Sip tea with an Amazigh family in the Dades Valley, eat pastilla in the home of a Fes local, spend an unforgettable evening beneath the stars in the Sahara and slow down in the seaside town of Essaouira. From varied culture to boundless hospitality, discover a country that defies expectations.



Breakfast Included: 17

Lunches Included: 5

Dinner Included: 8

Premium Morocco in Depth with Essaouira 1 Premium Morocco in Depth with Essaouira 2Premium Morocco in Depth with Essaouira 3Premium Morocco in Depth with Essaouira 4

 

 

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Casablanca

Welcome to Morocco! On arrival at Casablanca Airport, you will be met by an Intrepid representative and transferred to your hotel. Your adventure begins at 6 pm with an important welcome meeting. If you arrive with time to spare, a great option for your limited time in Casablanca is to visit the Villa des Arts. This gorgeous Art Deco gallery holds numerous exhibitions of contemporary Moroccan and international art. If you are looking for a different type of cultural experience, then you can discover a unique and fascinating part of Moroccan history at the Museum of Judaism. This evening, celebrate the beginning of a new adventure with a wonderful banquet style dinner with your group, set in the courtyard of a gorgeous riad. Nowhere is Morocco’s cultural heritage more evident than in its food, and tonight you’ll have the chance to try classic dishes like tagine, cous cous and pastilla.

Meknes

This morning you will visit one of the most impressive sites in Casablanca - the massive edifice of the Mosque of Hassan II. Second only in size to the great mosque at Mecca, the huge building sits partly on land and partly over sea, and is one of the only religious sites open to non-Muslims. Later, leave Casablanca and drive north along the coast to Rabat, the elegant capital of Morocco and its first Imperial city. Start your visit with a walk through the medina and souks, then explore the lovely walled quarter known as the Kasbah des Oudaias, where you’ll enjoy an included mint tea in a little treasure of a café overlooking the ocean and Bou Regreg river. Afterwards, continue the walk to visit the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the vast minaret of the Mosque of Hassan II. In the late afternoon, continue on to Meknes, the former capital of Morocco.

Chefchaouen

Join your leader and explore the charming streets of Meknes’s medina - the old walled section of the city. There’s something particularly special about exploring this lesser-known medina as the locals go about their daily lives. Walk to the shrine of Moulay Ismail, visit the granaries and stop by a local market selling vegetables, olives and sweets. Drive on to the ruins of Volubilis. Once a provincial Roman capital, a distant outpost of the empire, the remains make an undeniably impressive sight. Here a local guide will show you around, provide expert knowledge, and help you imagine the bustling city that once was. Enjoy a picnic lunch of fresh bread, cheese and seasonal fruits and olives from the market. Continue to Chefchaouen. Nestled high in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is famous for its buildings washed in bright shades of blue – this is undeniably one of the world’s prettiest cities.

Chefchaouen

This morning, you’ll discover Chefchaouen beneath the blue during a tour of the medina with a local guide. Tour its winding alleyways, cobbled plazas and unique doorways and find out what makes the city so alluring. Stop off for a tasting of goat’s cheese – you’ll see there’s no shortage of goats in Chefchaouen and this soft, creamy goat’s cheese is some of Morocco’s best. Enjoy a free afternoon for further explorations. You may like to take the opportunity to snap some more pictures of the city’s blue-hued buildings, or hike to the Cascades d'Akchour, a stunning series of waterfalls. Speak to your leader about the option for a homecooked meal for dinner this evening.

Fes

Say goodbye to Chefchaouen and make the journey to Fes. Fes is the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco; a vibrant, noisy and fascinating feast for the senses. On arrival, perhaps take some time to unwind in a local hammam – speak to your leader for some great recommendations. This evening you’ll have the unique opportunity to see a different side of Moroccan life as you are warmly welcomed into the home of a local family for a pastilla dinner. One of the country’s most celebrated dishes, this sweet and savoury delight is made with layered pastry and meat, cooked with eggs, caramelised onions, lemon and sugared almonds. Learn how the iconic Moroccan pie is made as you chat with your friendly hosts about life in Fes, then end the night with a traditional sweet treat.

Fes

Today head into the Old Town, known locally as Fes el Bali. 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. Your leader will share stories of the city’s history as you 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. Spend the day exploring the old city, visiting Al-Attarine Madrasa, the tanneries and the splendid Funduk Nejjarine, a beautifully restored 18th-century inn.

Erfoud

Today, leave the intensity of the city behind for the desert oasis town of Erfoud. Prepare for a long driving day and have your camera ready as there will be plenty of stops to appreciate the ever-changing Moroccan landscape along the way. Wind past olive groves, shepherds tending to their flocks, forests of cedar, pine and oak, and valleys filled with date palms – all with views of the High Atlas Mountains in the distance. Arrive in Erfoud, your gateway to the Sahara Desert. Built by the French in the early 1900s, the town features tightly packed red sand buildings that blend seamlessly into the desert surroundings. While here, be sure to try some dates fresh from the local market – the dates in Erfoud are so delicious they celebrate them with a festival every year.

Sahara Desert

Spend the morning exploring Khemliya, a village on the fringe of the orange-coloured Erg Chebbi sand dunes. This traditional Saharan village is known for a distinctive style of music and dance. For lunch today you will get to see how the local speciality dish of medfouna is made, and then sample some yourself. Then it’s time to do as the locals do and ride a camel through the desert towards your feature stay accommodation – a spectacular camp hidden away in the sand dunes of the Sahara. Here in this magical escape from the modern world you’ll experience the true essence of desert life. But the remote location doesn’t mean skimping on amenities – permanent tents feature large beds, en suite bathrooms and delightful, authentic décor. Tonight, embrace your extraordinary surroundings and enjoy a traditional feast beneath a sky jewelled with thousands of stars, followed by live Gnaoua music around an open fire.

Dades

Start the day with a truly unforgettable experience – a camel ride across the desert during sunrise, watching the landscape turn remarkable shades of orange. After breakfast drive to Todra Gorge, a massive trench that rises over 250 metres to form one of the most dramatic and spectacular natural sights in Morocco. The limestone stacks make a perfect area for hiking, and so to make the most of the stunning surroundings you will take a short and gentle walk through the gorge. Then continue to the beautiful Dades Valley, your base for the next two nights. This area offers up scenery like no other – sprawling green valleys give way to otherworldly rock formations carved out by the wind. Your accommodation offers a delightful pool and terrace, so take some time to sit back and soak in the ethereal views.

Dades

You have a full day to explore the beauty of this largely untouched Moroccan backcountry and the best way to do way to do so is on foot. There are a couple of circuits in the area – there is the option to tackle a 10-kilometre circuit that will take about 4 hours, but your leader can tailor the route based on the preferences of the group. Take a short transfer to the start of the trek, then set out with a local guide. The trail undulates and can be challenging in sections but is accessible to everyone with a basic level of fitness. Stop in a village en route and enjoy tea with a local Amazigh (Berber) family. This experience offers a unique glimpse into the Amazigh way of life that few visitors to Morocco have the chance to see. Set against the sensational backdrop of the surrounding mountains and famous Rose Valley, take the opportunity to share stories and learn about family life in the Dades Valley.

Ait Benhaddou

Depart the Dades Valley and set off on the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs. Your first stop is Skoura Oasis, home to several privately owned kasbahs, including the Kasbah Ameridhl, with its extravagant decorations and mud-brick fortifications. Continue to Ait Benhaddou – a hilltop site almost unchanged since the 11th century. Its grand kasbah is one of the most beautiful in Morocco and the fortified village is a fine example of clay architecture. You may recognise the site from its long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Walk through the winding streets of the Old Town, making your way to the top of the hill for some scenic views. Afterwards, visit Tawesna – a local teahouse on the river – for a tasty lunch including freshly made Amazigh bread, soup, Moroccan sweets, and of course some mint tea. This community-run establishment provides women with a small income to support themselves and their children. The women use natural ingredients sourced from local cooperatives to prepare tea and pastries, taking great pride in sharing their stories and giving visitors an authentic Amazigh experience.

Ouirgane

Leave Ait Benhaddou after breakfast and drive for several hours through the winding roads of the Atlas Mountains. You can take your time as the scenery is magnificent and keen photographers may call for a few photo stops. Our destination today is Ouirgane. Nestled in the tranquil foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, this pretty village provides visitors with an alternative and lesser-visited base for walking. With its gentle winter climate and moderate summer, it is a great place to stroll around the nearby red-earth hills and pine forests, watch a wide variety of bird life or just sit back and relax at an invigorating altitude of 1000 metres – all with the amazing view of Jebel Toubkal in the background. Speak to your leader about some wonderful hiking options this afternoon.

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TRIP MAP

TRIP OVERVIEW

Trip Code: XMPHC

Group Size: 12

Start: Casablanca

End: Marrakech

Duration: 18

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