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Divine Morocco

Tours
Divine Morocco
DATES

17 Oct 2020 - 30 Oct 2020


RATES
from NZD$8400 per person
Single rate from NZD$9950

*Hosted by JEMMA WILSON, Founder of Mai Journeys

*Rates are per person based on Twin Share or Single Room.
*Prices are subject to change until paid in full.
*A 'Willing to Share' is possible on this tour. Please enquire.
*If you have booked a 'Willing to Share' option, it is subject to the availability of another person seeking to share under the same conditions.  If this does not occur the single supplement will applied.
*International Airfares are not included. PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
*Insurance is mandatory for this tour. PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE


Divine Morocco Divine Morocco Divine Morocco Divine Morocco
Divine Morocco

DIVINE MOROCCO

 

This is our most divine Morocco journey yet, and a fabulous opportunity for you to discover Al Maghrib, the ancient Arabic name for Morocco..

Capture the essence of Morocco ‐ the colour, history, contrasts and style ‐ on this incredible journey through ancient Imperial cities, in the spectacular Atlas Mountains and along the Atlantic coastline. We will immerse ourselves into the country’s exotic spirit; visit artisanal carpet makers, nomadic traders and female designers, sip mint tea and watch the going’s on in Djemaa el Fna, shop Marrakech’s labyrinth of souks with the experts and bask in medieval Fes, the spiritual capital of Morocco.

Arriving in Casablanca we travel directly to Rabat for an overnight stay. The UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Fes will then transport us back to medieval times as we stroll through the labyrinthine alleyways of the 1200 year old Medina and explore this eclectic city and its surrounds.

We fly south to Marrakech and travel directly to the Agafy Desert for an overnight under the stars in a luxury tented camp. We then travel to the Atlas Mountains to luxuriate in a gorgeous Kasbah before heading back to Marrakech, where the pink-walled Medina boasts enough colour, diversity and vibrancy to keep us busy for days.

We travel to Essaouira, with it’s Atlantic seafront, incredible artisan community and fabulous seafood. Rounding out our journey, we spend our final night in the old Portuguese city of El Jadida staying in a 19th Century former church.

We stay in a combination of riads, hotels & luxury tents. We will get lost in the alleyways of Fes, immerse ourselves in the centuries‐old souks and artisan markets of Marrakech, tread ancient Berber paths in the High Atlas and discover the language, arts and cuisine of the Tuareg, Berber & Arab people.

Tour Overview
Duration
13 Nights - SEPTEMBER 2020
Start Point
Casablanca / Rabat
Finish Point
Essaouira / Casablanca
Tour Style
Hosted Tour
Accommodation
Boutique Hotels, Riads & Kasbahs
Meals
As per itinerary
Transport
Private air-con vehicles.
Max Group Size
Min 8 Guests, Max 10 Guests
Tour Inclusions
  • Breakfast at all accommodations
  • Welcome Dinner at Villa Mandarine in Rabat
  • Private lunch in Moulay Idriss, including drinks
  • Hosted Dinner in Fes with a Local Family
  • Dinner at Inara Camp in Agafay Desert
  • Hosted Dinner at Kasbah bab Ourika, Atlas Mountains
  • Lunch with a Berber Family on village visit in the Atlas Mountains
  • Hosted Dinner at Riad Yasmine, Marrakech
  • Hosted Dinner at Riad el Fenn, Marrakech
  • Private Villa lunch outside of Essaouira, including drinks
  • Cooking Class + lunch in Essaouira
  • Hosted Dinner at Villa Maroc, Essaouira
  • Lunch at Val D'Argan winery outside Essaouira, including drinks
  • Farewell Dinner L'Iglesia in El Jadida 
  • City Tour of Rabat + Kasbah entrance
  • City Tour of Meknes
  • Entry to Volubilis, with Private Specialist Guide
  • Escorted Medina tour in Fes
  • Sunset Camel Ride - Agafay Desert
  • High Atlas Mountains with Berber village visit
  • Women's Weaving co-operatives
  • Tour of the Marjorelle Gardens in Marrakech + Berber Museum entrance
  • Entrance to the YSL Musuem, Marrakech
  • Photograhy Museum entrance, Marrakech
  • Perfume making at Musee du Parfum
  • Guided Souk tour in Marrakech
  • Artisan + shopping tour in Marrakech
  • Dar el Bacha entrance, Marrakech
  • Medina Tour of Essaouira
  • Cooking Class in Essaouira
  • Transport on tour in a private air-conditioned vehicle
  • Economy class domestic flight Fes to Marrakech
  • Bottled Water whilst Touring 
  • Entrance fees at all mentioned Monuments 
  • Local English Speaking Guide(s)
  • Hosted by Jemma Wilson - Mai Journeys Founder
Tour Highlights
  • Revel in fascinating culture & cuisine
  • Rejuvenate with a hammam (traditional bath) experience.
  • Wandering through the courtyards of the souks where woodcarvers, blacksmiths, jewelers, and leather workers entice you with their wares.
  • The stunning Majorelle Garden, once owned by Yves Saint-Laurent
  • The Djemaa El Fna square in Marrakech -street performers, exotic smells of spices and incense, sounds of snake charmers and belly-dancers, and an exhilarating and vibrant atmosphere
  • Visit the valleys at the foot of Mount Toubkal & wander through Berber markets
  • Prepare succulent dishes like tagine in a traditional cooking class with recipes created by dadas (traditional woman cooks) over the centuries
  • Exploring the souqs (markets) of Fès
  • Fès: a medieval city with a labyrinth of intriguing alleyways, palaces, mosques and medersas
  • Watching everyday Moroccan life & drinking mint tea
  • Volubilis - amazing vestiges of the Roman settlement dating from the 3rdcentury B.C
  • Moulay Idriss
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Tour Itinerary

Open all
Day 1 - Arrive Casablanca / To Rabat
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Welcome to Morocco!

Upon arrival into Casablanca, clear Customs and Immigration, collect your checked baggage, and proceed directly to the Arrivals Hall, where you will be met our representative and transferred by road to Rabat. (approx 1 hour)

Upon arrival in Rabat, check into our lovely Riad Hotel, Villa Mandarine, where we will stay for the night. 

Enjoy an afternoon at leisure, indulge in the spa, take a swim or catch up on some sleep after your long haul flight then join your fellow travellers for cocktails in the bar and a Hosted Welcome Dinner.

Overnight Villa Mandarine. (Welcome Dinner)

Day 2 - Rabat to Fes via Meknes & Volubilis
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This morning after breakfast, we embark on a morning tour of Rabat, the 'Imperial Garden City'. 

With our guide we will see the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, Hassan Tower and the UNESCO-listed Kasbah of the Udayas before walking the narrow streets of the Old Medina to see the Mechouar Royal Palace.

Departing Rabat, we will travel by road to Fes. 

En route we will stop at Meknes and will explore the ancient Roman ruins at Volubilis.

Meknes was founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids, the city was originally  established as a strategic military settlement. It was transformed by European slave labour in the 17th & 18th century into an impressive example of Spanish / Moorish style, boasting high citadel walls and imposing entrance gates.

The exceptionally well preserved Berber / Roman ruins situated nearby at Volubilis are one of the most famous sites in Meknes & are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in a fertile valley, the Roman ruins are commonly believed to mark the site of the ancient capital of the Berber kingdom of Maghreb, stretching from Algeria, west to the Atlantic Ocean and south towards the Atlas Mountains.

Lunch will be eaten at a private home in Moulay Idris, including wine from the region.

We continue to Fes where we check into our Riad and relax. Enjoy sundowners on the roof as the sun sets over the Fes skyline. Enjoy the view and absorb the atmophere as the call to prayer reverberates around the rooftops and minarets of the city.  

Overnight Riad Salam (B / L)

Day 3 - Fes
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After a Moroccan breakfast of fresh fruit, wild honey, freshly baked bread, yoghurt, dates and freshly brewed coee, we will step into one of the world’s last surviving medieval towns, the Medina at Fes.

Our escorted walking tour will take us along a labyrinth of paths and alleyways transporting us to a time‐gone‐by, finding old mosques amongst stores and markets filled with shoppers, donkeys and people going about their daily routines. Included in the tour will be a visit to Dar Mokri, an 18th century gem of Islamic & Arabic architecture; Zawiya Moulay Idriss II Islamic School; Kairouyine Mosque & University; Souk Attarine ‐ the premier grocery and spice merchant within the Medina; the famous Fes Tannery and the spice & perfume markets.

We will observe communal bread ovens and the making of traditional ouarka and trid pastries. We will have the opportunity to sample a vast selection of olives, dates, pastries, fruits and other typically Moroccan flavours found in the depths of the Medina (if you wish).

Our tour also allows photo stops at the imposing gate of Bab Boujloud, the splendid fountain at Place Nejjarine, the ancient ramparts and the beautiful entrance to the Royal Palace.

After a well earned lunch (own expense), we will head to the Weavers Co-operative to view a workshop that specialises in weaving the finest jellaba fabric, made of silk and wool threads imported from Italy. 

Our next stop is the Fes Pottery Co-operative to see traditional Moroccan zellij tile art. Zellij is the art of hand cut geometric and miomorphic mosaic design. This is one of the highest forms of artistic expression in Moroccan culture and the Islamic world. We will watch artisans as they cut, file and set tiles to create everything from serving fountains to large table tops. Before we leave there is an Aladdin’s cave to shop in! 

Fes is famous for its pottery – traditionally glazed in white and embellished with cobalt oxide, which produces a vibrant shade of blue during kiln firing. Designs typically feature motifs and patterns including flowers, zigzags, chevrons, dots, triangles and crosshatching, all of which are used to convey messages and we will observe potters in the nearby co-operative – with the opportunity to purchase of course!

We will visit the Women’s Embroidery Cooperative where we can see how women make traditional indigenous Fasis designs of reds and blues woven together in seamless intricate patterns.

This evening we have a Hosted Dinner with a local family. This gives us a great opportunity to opportunity to learn about life in Morocco, and for cross cultural insights. 

We return to our Riad for a well earned rest!

Overnight Riad Salam (B / D)

Day 4 - To the Agafay Desert (via Marrakech)
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Enjoy a relaxed morning at the Riad - hammams? Spa treatments? - before we are collected for transfer to Fes Domestic Airport to board our flight to Marrakech.

On arrival at Marrakech Meanara Airport, we are transferred the 45 odd minutes to our gorgeous Tented Camp in the Agafay Desert.

Inara Desert Camp is a secluded retreat tucked away between the bustling streets of Marrakech and the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains.

Switch off from the world, with no technology, no internet, no phone signal - just beautiful, calm surroundings and a starry sky to gaze into at night.

This evening we enjoy a peaceful trek with the desert's most iconic animal. Arabian camels, known as dromedaries, differ to other species featuring a single hump rather than two. Our Berber guide will lead us away from the camp to enjoy breath-taking sunset views.

*For thousands of years, camels have been used as a mode of transport in the desert. They can carry heavy loads and stay hydrated for hours at a time, attributes that made them vital to the survival of desert dwellers in various regions. At Inara Camp, the camels are treated very well, and a lot of attention goes into their well-being. The camel handler has the job of being concerned with the camels’ well-being at all times — after all, their livelihood depends on the camels being healthy and able to work. They see the benefit of treating the camel with the care that it needs. At night, camels are allowed to roam free and sleep where they please. They see the benefit of treating the camel with the care that it needs. We are a Responsible Tour provider and if we ever see suggestive wounds or the owners being abusive towards the animal, we refuse to ride. And it is completely up to you as to whether you would like to ride or not. 

We return to camp to enjoy a locally-sourced meal served in the “circle”, a traditional communal living space, complete with a roaring campfire.

At night the ambience of the desert comes alive as you relax to the sounds of traditional Berber musicians and enjoy the endless starry sky and peace of your desert surrounds.

Overnight Inara Desert Camp (B / D)

Day 5 - The Atlas Mountains / Ourika Valley
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After a very lazy morning, we will travel to the Ouirka Valley in the Atlas Mountains to our divine Kasbah.

Surrounded by olives trees, Kasbah Bab Ourika perches majestically on a hilltop at the apex of the Ourika Valley, offering a bird's eye view of the Atlas Mountains, traditional Berber villages and of the lush river valley below. It guards the gateway to the snow-capped Mountains with awe inspiring 360 degree panoramic views and the best viewpoint to enjoy a Moroccan sunset. The setting is simply stunning, and the location makes it perfect for hiking, trekking, biking, rafting and horse-riding.

The Kasbah is an authentic mountain retreat constructed in the traditional Berber tradition with rammed mud walls. It is probably Morocco's most environmentally friendly hotel - something to revel in while we are enjoying the spectacular surroundings, exquisite cuisine and eco chic décor.

The resident chef focuses on traditional Berber cuisine using fresh ingredients derived daily from neighbouring villages. Delicious Berber, Arabic and international meals are served in the shady gardens or colonnaded restaurant.

Our afternoon is free to take in our surroundings and simply relax. Tonight we enjoy a Hosted meal in the Kasbah.

Overnight Kasbah Bab Ourika (B / D)

Day 6 - Ouirka Valley
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This morning we have an opportunity to visit female artisans in the High Atlas Mountains with our guide to assist with language and explanations. (This immersive excursion will be confirmed closer to departure.)

We then have a guided visit to a Berber Village, including lunch with a Berber family.

Alternatively, today can be spent simply enjoying the tranquil surrounds. Days disappear easily here, spent either idling around the pool, reading in the garden or unwinding in the hammam.

The spa is a space dedicated to wellbeing, relaxion and beauty. There is a selection of treatments on offer: massages, hammam, facial treatments and oriental manicure. The spa uses aromatherapy oils created by Nectarome, an organic garden neighbouring Kasbah Bab Ourika.
You can visit the Nectarome gardens and some other farms that grow herbs and flowers in the valley for the perfumers and herbalists who sell exotic perfumes in the Medina.
You can also visit the village of Tafza and its pottery manufacturing.
Learn to make Berber tea after a tour of the herb garden with the staff to collect mint and fresh herbs.

For the more energetic there is hiking, trekking, biking, rafting, and riding from the Kasbah.

Meandering pathways lined by clipped rosemary bushes lead you to a walled pool and astonishing views where tables beckon for memorable sundowners.

Overnight Kasbah Bab Ourika (B / *L - *if on experience)

Day 7 - To Marrakech
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Today we drive back to the ochre‐coloured city of Marrakech.

We head directly to the fabulous Maison de la Photographie (House of Photography Museum). The Maison de la Photographie invites you on a journey in time, back to the Marrakech of the 19th Century. The changing exhibitions present treasures from the early days of photography.

Lunch (to own account) can be enjoyed on the lovely roof top of the Museum.

This afternoon we visit the Musee du Parfume in the Medina. The perfumer Abderrazzak Benchaâbane founded the Museum, which opens you to the world of perfume art. From flask distillation to perfume organ composition, the various rooms of the museum describe the different stages of transformation of the raw materials used in the composition of perfumes, cosmetics and body care products. We will create our own fragrance - exotic and Arabian in nature, think ingredients like musk, patchouli, jasmine and amber.

We then transfer to our gorgeous Riad where we will stay for the following four nights.

Settle in and then gather on the roof for sundowners before enjoying a hosted dinner.

Overnight Riad Yasmine (B / D)

Day 8 - Marrakech
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After breakfast we will be driven to the world famous Marjorelle Gardens. This colourful garden surrounds the equally colourful villa that was once the private home of painter Jacques Majorelle. Full of cacti, bamboo and other rare and exotic plants, the gardens were lovingly restored by world famous fashion designer Yves St Laurent, whose dying wish was that his ashes be scattered adjacent to the villa, where he passed so much of his leisure time. The Marjorelle Gardens are one of the most visited sites in all of Marrakech. You will have free time to wander this calming retreat.

We will also visit the fascinating onsite Berber Museum. (There will be time to shop in the stylish boutiques across the road.)

From here we will wander up the road and visit the YSL Museum – an incredible museum dedicated to the work of legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.  

For lunch (own account), we are visiting the Amal Women's Training Center and Moroccan Restaurant, a non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of disadvantaged women through restaurant training and job placement. Amal's goal is personal transformation through job and life skills development for the trainees, a steppingstone to economic and social stability. Oh, and the food is pretty good too!

We then return to the Riad for a swim and some downtime.

Early evening, we depart for a guided wander through Jmaa el Fnaa at sunset. For a thousand years, Jemaa el-Fna has served as a gathering place and market at the heart of Marrakesh. In the morning, stall owners set up their stands selling orange juice, spices, traditional medicines, mint leaves, and snails. The flutes of snake charmers drift across the square and tooth-pullers ready their pliers to pluck out the aching teeth of passers-by. Once the sun sets, Jemaa el-Fna really comes alive. Berber musicians and Gnaoua dancers begin their nightly performances, acrobats and slapstick comedians start performing all across the square, and henna tattoo artists vie for customers as storytellers, and poets pass on the oral traditions of Morocco.

Dinner will be at a nearby restaurant with music & belly dancer (to own account).

Return to our Riad.

Overnight Riad Yasmine (B) 

Day 9 - Marrakech
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Full day tour of the Souks!

Today we enter the maze of alleyways and narrow streets that make up the souk. Here sellers offer everything from spice, sandalwood and black soap to clothing, baskets, leather goods, furniture, lanterns, fabrics, pottery and almost anything else you could wish for.

The souks of Marrakech are the largest in Morocco (over 3000 stalls) and famed throughout the world as some of the most exotic marketplaces to shop in. Prepare for all of your senses to be overwhelmed at once; the souks are the heart of the medina and have been the centre for trade in the city a thousand years.

Even if you’re not into shopping, the souks are still a spectacle that are well worth experiencing.

Lunch will be seomwhere in the Medina (own expense). 

Later this evening, we return to our Riad for some well earned rest! Your evening is free, but we can eat at a local neighbourhood restaurant. (own expense)

Overnight Riad Yasmine (B)

Day 10 - Marrakech
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This morning after breakfast we will visit the gorgeous Dar el Bacha Palace and stop for a coffee in the fabulous Bacha Coffee house. Bacha has over 200 different flavoured coffees and blends from 33 countries to choose from… A coffee lovers paradise!

 

From here, our driver and guide are available for anyone that would like to return to the souks for some last-minute shopping, or those that want to ship their goods!

For those that are retail weary, you could take in the famous Koutoubia Minaret, the 12th century Kasbah (fortress) where you can see the distinctive carved gate Bab Agnaou or the 16th century monument site of the Saadian Tombs. (optional)

Alternatively, use your time to rest up at our gorgeous accommodation or have a Hammam at a nearby Riad.

This evening we dine at the stunning Riad El Fenn.

Overnight Riad Yasmine (B / D)

Day 12 - To Essaouira
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After a lazy breakfast we transfer (mid morning) to the Atlantic coast - approx. journey of 3hrs - and the seaside town of Essaouira.

En-route, we will have a private lunch at an amazing villa on the outskirts of Essaouira, with local wine included.

We continue to our gorgeous Riad, Villa Maroc, located in the medina of Essaouira. It offers a festival of colours and scents, with a view of the sea, the port and the ramparts of the Medina.

Once we have checked in, we will head out to explore the bustling entrance of the port where fishermen haul in their daily catch and lay it out proudly, just like at an old‐fashioned fishmonger.

We then head into the walled medina ‐ a UNESCO World Heritage site of seawalls and imposing ramparts ‐ here we will discover colourful local artworks (Essaouira has long held an attraction for artists) and will have the opportunity to sample traditional Moroccan treats in the local pastry shops before returning to our hotel for overnight. (dinner is at own expense and can be eaten in the Medina)

Overnight Villa Maroc (B / L)

Day 13 - Essaouira
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This morning after breakfast we will make our way to l’Atelier Madada, a former almond warehouse located on the ramparts of Essaouira. Classes are run by Mona, the latest in a long lineage of dadas – female chefs who worked as private cooks for rich families in the past and run the kitchens in many of the best riads today. Our cooking class begins with a trip to the spice market to gather all we need before being initiated into the delights of one of the world’s best cuisines. The menu is chosen daily according to the seasonal market offering of fresh fruit, veg, meat and seafood. After all our cooking, we gather around the table to savour the fruits of our labour.

This afternoon we have free time, or Guided Shopping around the boutiques and concept stores. 

Return to the Villa for rest, relaxation and a sundowner. Tonight we have a hosted dinner in the Villa.

Overnight Villa Maroc (B / L / D)

Day 14 - El Jadida
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This morning is free to continue wandering the medina, have a spa or simply rest up.

Just before lunch we depart for the Val D'Argan Winery where we will have lunch - wine included! 

After lunch and wine, we depart for El Jadida. Located along the Atlantic Coast, between the Casablanca and Essaouira, El Jadida is somewhat of an off-the-beaten-track destination for international tourists. The port city was founded in 1502 as one of the earliest Portuguese colonies in West Africa. The original fortified city was known as Mazagan and is an important example of Renaissance Portuguese architecture. The last Moroccan territory to be abandoned by the Portuguese in 1769, Mazagan fell into disrepair but was ultimately re-built and christened El Jadida, or “The New.” 

This evening we will meet in the hotel for our farewell dinner.

Overnight Hotel L'Ilglesia (B / L / Farewell Dinner)

Day 15 - Departure
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Today marks the end of our Magical Moroccan journey. 

Depart El Jadida at *TBC for our road journey to Casablanca, arriving in time for our flight home or, pending your choice, onward travels elsewhere.

Wishing you a safe flight and ‘shukran’ (thank you) for sharing this wonderful adventure

About this tour

Women's Dress Code - Dress modestly. You can actually wear pretty much whatever you want in Marrakech and Fes. There’s no dress code and women aren’t required to wear scarves. Simply respect the culture around you by dressing relatively conservatively in long, loose pants or a skirt and cover your shoulders.

The Hammam: A Hammam is a steam room, similar to a Turkish bath, where Moroccans habitually go each week to cleanse themselves. The Hammam is an incredibly important part of Moroccan culture and life. Men, women and children will visit their local Hammam at least once a week, and spend two or three hours there (sometimes even longer.). Men and women bathe separately, but the women are far from shy with each other when it comes to the public Hammam. They will usually go with their friends or family, both to chat and socialise, but also to help each other with the ritual. You cover yourself in black soap, and let it penetrate your pores. Once you wash off all of the black soap, the Hammam ladies arrive to do the hard part of exfoliating your skin. You will be glowing when you are done, and tingling from head to foot for several hours afterwards. Hammam rituals can vary from place to place. A full ritual in a larger Hammam may involve you first sitting in a large pool of fairly hot, incredibly soft water for 5 – 10 minutes before you are covered with mud or clay. Once the clay comes off the black soap goes on and is left to penetrate your skin. That then gets washed off, and the fun really begins with the super vigorous exfoliation. A cold shower often follows to re-close the pores, and you may then receive a full body massage in a warm, comfortable darkened room – absolute bliss!

Riads: A true Riad (ryad/riyad) is an urban house, always situated within the walls of the medina (old city). Moroccan architecture is more inward looking and given to isolation and intimacy rather than showing off. It is, above all, an enclosure, a place of contemplation and escape for its cloistered inhabitants, an engaging interior away from the outside world. A mysterious enchantment awaits the guest who is invited to cross the threshold. The typical home is organised around a central square courtyard. The central courtyard is usually surrounded by an arched colonnade giving access to the living rooms and kitchen. The sleeping areas are generally constructed on the upper floors, thus creating a covered arcade around the patio with balustrades running around each storey. The roof top terrace may have an awning or pergola to protect against the sun where guests will usually have breakfast or dinner. Riads have thick walls thus protecting the inhabitants from the sun or the cold and most of the outside noise. Being urban dwellings, they are often situated along a narrow alleyway (derb) with no access by car. For those seeking an authentic Moroccan style of accommodation, the riad offers its guests a haven of tranquility, an architectural treasure, an insight into tradition, culture and craftsmanship and an opportunity to melt into an anonymous location.

Inara Camp, Agafay Desert: Located in the desert just outside Marrakech, Inara Tented Camp offers a secluded desert camp experience, where you can sleep in a berber tent under the starry sky. The Agafay Desert offers a taste of the Moroccan desert experience without the long days of driving that the Sahara requires. Accommodation at Inara Tented Camp is in private caidal tents, typically Moroccan in style, offering the classic desert experience but with added modern amenities. The tents are welcoming and comfortable, with king-sized or twin beds, a sitting area and an en-suite bathroom featuring a small shower, with both hot and cold running water, and a flushing toilet. At night the ambience of the desert comes alive as you relax to the sounds of traditional Berber musicians and enjoy the endless starry sky and peace of your desert surrounds. Due to the remote location there is limited phone signal and no wi-fi at the camp - the perfect excuse to switch off and enjoy your surroundings.

Kasbah bab Ouirka, Ouirka Valley: Kasbah Bab Ourika embraces a comfortable shabby-chic style throughout its cottages and flowering gardens. The location is unforgettable. Set on a hill above the Ourika Valley, on one side is a picturesque ridge of red rock in the Toubkal National Park; on the other, a handful of ochre villages dot fields swathed in olive and orange groves. The Kasbah is built of rammed earth using an age-old Berber technique, and as a result, it blends into the scenery, cloaked from view by the mature, terraced gardens. Set around an internal patio, the kasbah has a lounge with stacks of games, a bar, a glass-fronted dining room and a small reading room. Leather chairs, vintage carpets, old radios and clocks, and stacks of cushions covered in local fabrics create an inviting ambiance. Outdoors, meandering pathways lined by rosemary bushes lead you to a walled pool and astonishing views where tables beckon for a sundowner. Local Berbers from the surrounding villages make up the staff. Days disappear easily here, spent either around the pool, reading in the garden or unwinding in the hammam. Rooms are individually decorated with Berber furniture, creamy woollen blankets, supple leather chairs and thick-pile, handwoven rugs. One of the best vegetable patches in Morocco provides high-quality ingredients for a smart, unfussy menu. The set menu for dinner changes daily and features simple Medi-Moroccan dishes. Flavourful and simply presented, it’s just what you want you want to eat after a day in the mountains.

Riad Yasmine, Marrakech: Riad Yasmine is a small private boutique hotel situated in the middle of the Medina of Marrakech. You will be enveloped by its bright and quiet atmosphere where only the chirping of birds comes to disturb the silence. Throughout your stay in the red city, the Riad Yasmine will be your haven of peace away from the bustle of the medina. The hotel is a classic Moorish riad with ornate design accents with Moroccan accents, free Wi-Fi, and polished en-suite bathrooms with traditional mosaic tiles. Breakfast is served in an elegant stucco dining room with a fireplace, and a central courtyard houses a tiled pool and sitting areas. There's also a rooftop terrace with sun-loungers and city views.

Villa Maroc, Essaouira: Villa Maroc is an original, 18th-century riad with shabby-chic rooms, a spa and a front-row, ocean-view location in the Unesco-protected medina. Villa Maroc practically invented Essaouira’s shabby-chic style with its white-washed walls and white linens contrasted against bright blue balustrades and shutters. The fascinating jigsaw of internal courtyards, cosy sitting rooms and sunny, flower-filled terraces is actually four historic homes cleverly reworked as a whole. The décor is a pared back selection of Moroccan and African antiques, art and crafts. In the warren of rooms you’ll find quiet reading patios, numerous lounges (most with cosy fires when it’s cold) and dining rooms, a shop, bar, bijou spa, and spectacular roof terrace scattered with cacti and candy-coloured geraniums. The kitchen serves up excellent dinners, refined without being pretentious.

Practicalities

Souks & Shopping: Souks and markets are a major feature in Moroccan life, and among the country’s greatest attractions. Each major city and town in Morocco has a special souk quarter. Villages in the countryside also have local souks which are usually held one day each week in an open field or outside the towns kasbah walls. Large cities like Marrakesh and Fès have labyrinths of individual souks (each filling a street or square that is devoted tone particular craft). Marrakesh and Fès are famous for their beautiful souks. Souks and markets are also a daily destination where locals shop for fresh meat, vegetables, household goods and other items. You can truly go on an extensive shopping spree and purchase various local Moroccan handicrafts such as Moroccan leather work, carpets, jewelry of silver, gold and copper along with ancient embroideries and basketwork. Whether or not you are a big shopper, visiting a souk is a cultural experience that should not be missed on a trip to Morocco.

Religion: Islam is the dominant religion in Morocco. The mosque is at the centre of all Muslim worship. You’ll find plenty of these beautiful historic buildings all over Morocco. Mosques are considered very holy places, and generally only Muslims are allowed to enter them. It is considered offensive to take photographs of the locals without seeking their permission, unless you are acquainted with the individual. There are also about 100,000 Christians in Morocco, mostly of French descent, along with a reported 8,000 Jews who mainly live in Casablanca and Marrakech. Catholic churches, Protestant churches, and synagogues are found in all of the major cities.

Language: Classical Arabic is Morocco’s official language, but the country’s distinctive Moroccan Arabic dialect is the most widely spoken language in Morocco. In addition, about 10 million Moroccans, mostly in rural areas, speak Berber, which exists in Morocco in three different dialects (Tarifit, Tashelhit, and Tamazight) – either as a first language or bilingually with the spoken Arabic dialect. French, which remains Morocco’s unofficial language, is taught universally and still serves as Morocco’s primary language of commerce and economics; it also is widely used in education and government.

Food: Moroccan cuisine is diverse, with many influences due to the interaction of Morocco with the outside world for centuries. It has a mix of Berber, Moorish, Mediterranean, and Arab influences. Spices such as cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin and parsley, are widely used. Chicken or lamb, along with bread, accompanied with cold and hot salads and vegetables are popular, along with fresh couscous and chickpeas. Among the most famous Moroccan dishes are Couscous, Pastilla (also spelled Bsteeya or Bestilla), Tagine, Tanjia and Harira. Although the latter is a soup, it is considered as a dish in itself and is served as such or with dates especially during the month of Ramadan. Bread is eaten with every meal, and used in place of knives and forks. Seasonal fruits are typically served at the end of meals. A common dessert is kaab el ghzal (“gazelle’s horns”), which is a pastry stuffed with almond paste and topped with sugar. Another dessert is ” Halwa shebakia ” it is honey cake, which is essentially pretzel-shaped pieces of dough deep-fried and dipped into a hot pot of honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Halwa Shebakia are cookies eaten during the month of Ramadan. Zucre Coco are coconut fudge cakes.

Tea: The most popular drink is green tea with mint a cup of sweet mint tea is commonly used to end the meal. Moroccan teapots have long, curved pouring spouts and this allows the tea to be poured evenly into tiny glasses from a height. To acquire the optimum taste, glasses are filled in two stages. The Moroccans traditionally like tea with bubbles, so while pouring they hold the teapot high above the glasses. Traditionally, making good mint tea in Morocco is considered an art form and the drinking of it with friends and family members is one of the important rituals of the day. The technique of pouring the tea is as crucial as the quality of the tea. The tea is accompanied with hard sugar cones or lumps.

Weather: September, October and November are great times overall time to visit Moroccco. With a summer climate in the south and in the mountains, as well as on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. Winter can be perfect by day in the south, though desert nights can get very cold. Morocco's ranges of climates greatly fluctuate due to the country’s geographic location between Europe, Asia, and Africa. It's unique weather patterns make it possible to find an ideal area to visit year round.

Tipping & Bargaining: Bargain ruthlessly when buying handcrafts, rugs or big ticket items and modestly when hailing private taxis. In most other aspects of life prices are fixed. Tipping is generally not expected, but locals will generally round up the bill in taxis and add around 10% in classy restaurants. 

Photography: Ask permission before taking photographs of people and respect their wishes if they refuse. Minority groups in particular are often unhappy to have their photo taken. In small villages, at home-stays or trekking, the use of videos may not be permitted as requested by the local people, and we ask for courtesy and discretion with still cameras. Ask permission before taking pictures either of people or inside mosques or other sacred places. Never use flash inside mosques; it can damage them. You are not allowed to use flash in some buildings, but where there is no ban, please behave responsibly. Never take a photo of an elder without asking permission. Never take photos of airports, roadblocks or anything to do with the military.

The facts

Visas: A full and current passport is required to enter Morocco. Australian & New Zealand passport holders do NOT currently require a visa for entry into Morocco. Tourists are permited to stay for a maximum of 30 days. If you do not travel on an Australian or New Zealand passport please be sure to let us know and we will advise if there are any visa requirements. 

Currency: The currency used in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham, often abbreviated as Dhs or MAD. Foreign currency may be exchanged at the Bureau de Change at the airport on arrival, at a bank or a small amount at your hotel. There are many ATM machines both at the airports and in larger towns for cash withdrawal. A rule of thumb is not to exchange too much money at one time, so as not to be left with too much currency when leaving the country. Most hotels and reputable shops will accept major credit cards – VISA, Master Card and American Express. Even in the markets when buying such things as carpets, leather or any other major item, certain cards may be accepted. Maestro and other debits cards are becoming more widely accepted, but there are still some shops and restaurants that you will not be able to use them. Please note that it is now difficult or impossible to change Travellers Cheques in Morocco.

Voltage + Plugs: The electricity supply is 220v. Plugs are European style with two circular pins so adapters are required for British and US appliances.

Not Included:

  • International Airfares - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Travel Insurance - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Transfers unless as per scheduled EK flights
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Phone calls & Laundry in hotels
  • Visa costs
  • Tips at meals and bars   
  • Gratuity for local tour escort, guides & driver (discretionary, suggested budget NZD$150 / AUD$150pp)
  • Room or Flight Upgrades
  • Additional meals and snacks
  • All drinks 
  • Optional excursions or activities that may be offered
Travel advice / FCO

We constantly monitor the advice posted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any of the places visited on this tour. Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific concerns. You should be aware that any travel warnings or advisories may affect the validity of your travel insurance. Therefore, at the time of booking your tour it is essential you check any restrictions on cover with your insurance provider.

DATES

17 Oct 2020 - 30 Oct 2020


RATES
from NZD$8400 per person
Single rate from NZD$9950

*Hosted by JEMMA WILSON, Founder of Mai Journeys

*Rates are per person based on Twin Share or Single Room.
*Prices are subject to change until paid in full.
*A 'Willing to Share' is possible on this tour. Please enquire.
*If you have booked a 'Willing to Share' option, it is subject to the availability of another person seeking to share under the same conditions.  If this does not occur the single supplement will applied.
*International Airfares are not included. PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
*Insurance is mandatory for this tour. PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE


Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Arrive Casablanca / To Rabat

Welcome to Morocco!

Upon arrival into Casablanca, clear Customs and Immigration, collect your checked baggage, and proceed directly to the Arrivals Hall, where you will be met our representative and transferred by road to Rabat. (approx 1 hour)

Upon arrival in Rabat, check into our lovely Riad Hotel, Villa Mandarine, where we will stay for the night. 

Enjoy an afternoon at leisure, indulge in the spa, take a swim or catch up on some sleep after your long haul flight then join your fellow travellers for cocktails in the bar and a Hosted Welcome Dinner.

Overnight Villa Mandarine. (Welcome Dinner)

Day 2 - Rabat to Fes via Meknes & Volubilis

This morning after breakfast, we embark on a morning tour of Rabat, the 'Imperial Garden City'. 

With our guide we will see the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, Hassan Tower and the UNESCO-listed Kasbah of the Udayas before walking the narrow streets of the Old Medina to see the Mechouar Royal Palace.

Departing Rabat, we will travel by road to Fes. 

En route we will stop at Meknes and will explore the ancient Roman ruins at Volubilis.

Meknes was founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids, the city was originally  established as a strategic military settlement. It was transformed by European slave labour in the 17th & 18th century into an impressive example of Spanish / Moorish style, boasting high citadel walls and imposing entrance gates.

The exceptionally well preserved Berber / Roman ruins situated nearby at Volubilis are one of the most famous sites in Meknes & are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in a fertile valley, the Roman ruins are commonly believed to mark the site of the ancient capital of the Berber kingdom of Maghreb, stretching from Algeria, west to the Atlantic Ocean and south towards the Atlas Mountains.

Lunch will be eaten at a private home in Moulay Idris, including wine from the region.

We continue to Fes where we check into our Riad and relax. Enjoy sundowners on the roof as the sun sets over the Fes skyline. Enjoy the view and absorb the atmophere as the call to prayer reverberates around the rooftops and minarets of the city.  

Overnight Riad Salam (B / L)

Day 3 - Fes

After a Moroccan breakfast of fresh fruit, wild honey, freshly baked bread, yoghurt, dates and freshly brewed coee, we will step into one of the world’s last surviving medieval towns, the Medina at Fes.

Our escorted walking tour will take us along a labyrinth of paths and alleyways transporting us to a time‐gone‐by, finding old mosques amongst stores and markets filled with shoppers, donkeys and people going about their daily routines. Included in the tour will be a visit to Dar Mokri, an 18th century gem of Islamic & Arabic architecture; Zawiya Moulay Idriss II Islamic School; Kairouyine Mosque & University; Souk Attarine ‐ the premier grocery and spice merchant within the Medina; the famous Fes Tannery and the spice & perfume markets.

We will observe communal bread ovens and the making of traditional ouarka and trid pastries. We will have the opportunity to sample a vast selection of olives, dates, pastries, fruits and other typically Moroccan flavours found in the depths of the Medina (if you wish).

Our tour also allows photo stops at the imposing gate of Bab Boujloud, the splendid fountain at Place Nejjarine, the ancient ramparts and the beautiful entrance to the Royal Palace.

After a well earned lunch (own expense), we will head to the Weavers Co-operative to view a workshop that specialises in weaving the finest jellaba fabric, made of silk and wool threads imported from Italy. 

Our next stop is the Fes Pottery Co-operative to see traditional Moroccan zellij tile art. Zellij is the art of hand cut geometric and miomorphic mosaic design. This is one of the highest forms of artistic expression in Moroccan culture and the Islamic world. We will watch artisans as they cut, file and set tiles to create everything from serving fountains to large table tops. Before we leave there is an Aladdin’s cave to shop in! 

Fes is famous for its pottery – traditionally glazed in white and embellished with cobalt oxide, which produces a vibrant shade of blue during kiln firing. Designs typically feature motifs and patterns including flowers, zigzags, chevrons, dots, triangles and crosshatching, all of which are used to convey messages and we will observe potters in the nearby co-operative – with the opportunity to purchase of course!

We will visit the Women’s Embroidery Cooperative where we can see how women make traditional indigenous Fasis designs of reds and blues woven together in seamless intricate patterns.

This evening we have a Hosted Dinner with a local family. This gives us a great opportunity to opportunity to learn about life in Morocco, and for cross cultural insights. 

We return to our Riad for a well earned rest!

Overnight Riad Salam (B / D)

Day 4 - To the Agafay Desert (via Marrakech)

Enjoy a relaxed morning at the Riad - hammams? Spa treatments? - before we are collected for transfer to Fes Domestic Airport to board our flight to Marrakech.

On arrival at Marrakech Meanara Airport, we are transferred the 45 odd minutes to our gorgeous Tented Camp in the Agafay Desert.

Inara Desert Camp is a secluded retreat tucked away between the bustling streets of Marrakech and the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains.

Switch off from the world, with no technology, no internet, no phone signal - just beautiful, calm surroundings and a starry sky to gaze into at night.

This evening we enjoy a peaceful trek with the desert's most iconic animal. Arabian camels, known as dromedaries, differ to other species featuring a single hump rather than two. Our Berber guide will lead us away from the camp to enjoy breath-taking sunset views.

*For thousands of years, camels have been used as a mode of transport in the desert. They can carry heavy loads and stay hydrated for hours at a time, attributes that made them vital to the survival of desert dwellers in various regions. At Inara Camp, the camels are treated very well, and a lot of attention goes into their well-being. The camel handler has the job of being concerned with the camels’ well-being at all times — after all, their livelihood depends on the camels being healthy and able to work. They see the benefit of treating the camel with the care that it needs. At night, camels are allowed to roam free and sleep where they please. They see the benefit of treating the camel with the care that it needs. We are a Responsible Tour provider and if we ever see suggestive wounds or the owners being abusive towards the animal, we refuse to ride. And it is completely up to you as to whether you would like to ride or not. 

We return to camp to enjoy a locally-sourced meal served in the “circle”, a traditional communal living space, complete with a roaring campfire.

At night the ambience of the desert comes alive as you relax to the sounds of traditional Berber musicians and enjoy the endless starry sky and peace of your desert surrounds.

Overnight Inara Desert Camp (B / D)

Day 5 - The Atlas Mountains / Ourika Valley

After a very lazy morning, we will travel to the Ouirka Valley in the Atlas Mountains to our divine Kasbah.

Surrounded by olives trees, Kasbah Bab Ourika perches majestically on a hilltop at the apex of the Ourika Valley, offering a bird's eye view of the Atlas Mountains, traditional Berber villages and of the lush river valley below. It guards the gateway to the snow-capped Mountains with awe inspiring 360 degree panoramic views and the best viewpoint to enjoy a Moroccan sunset. The setting is simply stunning, and the location makes it perfect for hiking, trekking, biking, rafting and horse-riding.

The Kasbah is an authentic mountain retreat constructed in the traditional Berber tradition with rammed mud walls. It is probably Morocco's most environmentally friendly hotel - something to revel in while we are enjoying the spectacular surroundings, exquisite cuisine and eco chic décor.

The resident chef focuses on traditional Berber cuisine using fresh ingredients derived daily from neighbouring villages. Delicious Berber, Arabic and international meals are served in the shady gardens or colonnaded restaurant.

Our afternoon is free to take in our surroundings and simply relax. Tonight we enjoy a Hosted meal in the Kasbah.

Overnight Kasbah Bab Ourika (B / D)

Day 6 - Ouirka Valley

This morning we have an opportunity to visit female artisans in the High Atlas Mountains with our guide to assist with language and explanations. (This immersive excursion will be confirmed closer to departure.)

We then have a guided visit to a Berber Village, including lunch with a Berber family.

Alternatively, today can be spent simply enjoying the tranquil surrounds. Days disappear easily here, spent either idling around the pool, reading in the garden or unwinding in the hammam.

The spa is a space dedicated to wellbeing, relaxion and beauty. There is a selection of treatments on offer: massages, hammam, facial treatments and oriental manicure. The spa uses aromatherapy oils created by Nectarome, an organic garden neighbouring Kasbah Bab Ourika.
You can visit the Nectarome gardens and some other farms that grow herbs and flowers in the valley for the perfumers and herbalists who sell exotic perfumes in the Medina.
You can also visit the village of Tafza and its pottery manufacturing.
Learn to make Berber tea after a tour of the herb garden with the staff to collect mint and fresh herbs.

For the more energetic there is hiking, trekking, biking, rafting, and riding from the Kasbah.

Meandering pathways lined by clipped rosemary bushes lead you to a walled pool and astonishing views where tables beckon for memorable sundowners.

Overnight Kasbah Bab Ourika (B / *L - *if on experience)

Day 7 - To Marrakech

Today we drive back to the ochre‐coloured city of Marrakech.

We head directly to the fabulous Maison de la Photographie (House of Photography Museum). The Maison de la Photographie invites you on a journey in time, back to the Marrakech of the 19th Century. The changing exhibitions present treasures from the early days of photography.

Lunch (to own account) can be enjoyed on the lovely roof top of the Museum.

This afternoon we visit the Musee du Parfume in the Medina. The perfumer Abderrazzak Benchaâbane founded the Museum, which opens you to the world of perfume art. From flask distillation to perfume organ composition, the various rooms of the museum describe the different stages of transformation of the raw materials used in the composition of perfumes, cosmetics and body care products. We will create our own fragrance - exotic and Arabian in nature, think ingredients like musk, patchouli, jasmine and amber.

We then transfer to our gorgeous Riad where we will stay for the following four nights.

Settle in and then gather on the roof for sundowners before enjoying a hosted dinner.

Overnight Riad Yasmine (B / D)

Day 8 - Marrakech

After breakfast we will be driven to the world famous Marjorelle Gardens. This colourful garden surrounds the equally colourful villa that was once the private home of painter Jacques Majorelle. Full of cacti, bamboo and other rare and exotic plants, the gardens were lovingly restored by world famous fashion designer Yves St Laurent, whose dying wish was that his ashes be scattered adjacent to the villa, where he passed so much of his leisure time. The Marjorelle Gardens are one of the most visited sites in all of Marrakech. You will have free time to wander this calming retreat.

We will also visit the fascinating onsite Berber Museum. (There will be time to shop in the stylish boutiques across the road.)

From here we will wander up the road and visit the YSL Museum – an incredible museum dedicated to the work of legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.  

For lunch (own account), we are visiting the Amal Women's Training Center and Moroccan Restaurant, a non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of disadvantaged women through restaurant training and job placement. Amal's goal is personal transformation through job and life skills development for the trainees, a steppingstone to economic and social stability. Oh, and the food is pretty good too!

We then return to the Riad for a swim and some downtime.

Early evening, we depart for a guided wander through Jmaa el Fnaa at sunset. For a thousand years, Jemaa el-Fna has served as a gathering place and market at the heart of Marrakesh. In the morning, stall owners set up their stands selling orange juice, spices, traditional medicines, mint leaves, and snails. The flutes of snake charmers drift across the square and tooth-pullers ready their pliers to pluck out the aching teeth of passers-by. Once the sun sets, Jemaa el-Fna really comes alive. Berber musicians and Gnaoua dancers begin their nightly performances, acrobats and slapstick comedians start performing all across the square, and henna tattoo artists vie for customers as storytellers, and poets pass on the oral traditions of Morocco.

Dinner will be at a nearby restaurant with music & belly dancer (to own account).

Return to our Riad.

Overnight Riad Yasmine (B) 

Day 9 - Marrakech

Full day tour of the Souks!

Today we enter the maze of alleyways and narrow streets that make up the souk. Here sellers offer everything from spice, sandalwood and black soap to clothing, baskets, leather goods, furniture, lanterns, fabrics, pottery and almost anything else you could wish for.

The souks of Marrakech are the largest in Morocco (over 3000 stalls) and famed throughout the world as some of the most exotic marketplaces to shop in. Prepare for all of your senses to be overwhelmed at once; the souks are the heart of the medina and have been the centre for trade in the city a thousand years.

Even if you’re not into shopping, the souks are still a spectacle that are well worth experiencing.

Lunch will be seomwhere in the Medina (own expense). 

Later this evening, we return to our Riad for some well earned rest! Your evening is free, but we can eat at a local neighbourhood restaurant. (own expense)

Overnight Riad Yasmine (B)

Day 10 - Marrakech

This morning after breakfast we will visit the gorgeous Dar el Bacha Palace and stop for a coffee in the fabulous Bacha Coffee house. Bacha has over 200 different flavoured coffees and blends from 33 countries to choose from… A coffee lovers paradise!

 

From here, our driver and guide are available for anyone that would like to return to the souks for some last-minute shopping, or those that want to ship their goods!

For those that are retail weary, you could take in the famous Koutoubia Minaret, the 12th century Kasbah (fortress) where you can see the distinctive carved gate Bab Agnaou or the 16th century monument site of the Saadian Tombs. (optional)

Alternatively, use your time to rest up at our gorgeous accommodation or have a Hammam at a nearby Riad.

This evening we dine at the stunning Riad El Fenn.

Overnight Riad Yasmine (B / D)

Day 12 - To Essaouira

After a lazy breakfast we transfer (mid morning) to the Atlantic coast - approx. journey of 3hrs - and the seaside town of Essaouira.

En-route, we will have a private lunch at an amazing villa on the outskirts of Essaouira, with local wine included.

We continue to our gorgeous Riad, Villa Maroc, located in the medina of Essaouira. It offers a festival of colours and scents, with a view of the sea, the port and the ramparts of the Medina.

Once we have checked in, we will head out to explore the bustling entrance of the port where fishermen haul in their daily catch and lay it out proudly, just like at an old‐fashioned fishmonger.

We then head into the walled medina ‐ a UNESCO World Heritage site of seawalls and imposing ramparts ‐ here we will discover colourful local artworks (Essaouira has long held an attraction for artists) and will have the opportunity to sample traditional Moroccan treats in the local pastry shops before returning to our hotel for overnight. (dinner is at own expense and can be eaten in the Medina)

Overnight Villa Maroc (B / L)

Day 13 - Essaouira

This morning after breakfast we will make our way to l’Atelier Madada, a former almond warehouse located on the ramparts of Essaouira. Classes are run by Mona, the latest in a long lineage of dadas – female chefs who worked as private cooks for rich families in the past and run the kitchens in many of the best riads today. Our cooking class begins with a trip to the spice market to gather all we need before being initiated into the delights of one of the world’s best cuisines. The menu is chosen daily according to the seasonal market offering of fresh fruit, veg, meat and seafood. After all our cooking, we gather around the table to savour the fruits of our labour.

This afternoon we have free time, or Guided Shopping around the boutiques and concept stores. 

Return to the Villa for rest, relaxation and a sundowner. Tonight we have a hosted dinner in the Villa.

Overnight Villa Maroc (B / L / D)

Day 14 - El Jadida

This morning is free to continue wandering the medina, have a spa or simply rest up.

Just before lunch we depart for the Val D'Argan Winery where we will have lunch - wine included! 

After lunch and wine, we depart for El Jadida. Located along the Atlantic Coast, between the Casablanca and Essaouira, El Jadida is somewhat of an off-the-beaten-track destination for international tourists. The port city was founded in 1502 as one of the earliest Portuguese colonies in West Africa. The original fortified city was known as Mazagan and is an important example of Renaissance Portuguese architecture. The last Moroccan territory to be abandoned by the Portuguese in 1769, Mazagan fell into disrepair but was ultimately re-built and christened El Jadida, or “The New.” 

This evening we will meet in the hotel for our farewell dinner.

Overnight Hotel L'Ilglesia (B / L / Farewell Dinner)

Day 15 - Departure

Today marks the end of our Magical Moroccan journey. 

Depart El Jadida at *TBC for our road journey to Casablanca, arriving in time for our flight home or, pending your choice, onward travels elsewhere.

Wishing you a safe flight and ‘shukran’ (thank you) for sharing this wonderful adventure

About this tour

Women's Dress Code - Dress modestly. You can actually wear pretty much whatever you want in Marrakech and Fes. There’s no dress code and women aren’t required to wear scarves. Simply respect the culture around you by dressing relatively conservatively in long, loose pants or a skirt and cover your shoulders.

The Hammam: A Hammam is a steam room, similar to a Turkish bath, where Moroccans habitually go each week to cleanse themselves. The Hammam is an incredibly important part of Moroccan culture and life. Men, women and children will visit their local Hammam at least once a week, and spend two or three hours there (sometimes even longer.). Men and women bathe separately, but the women are far from shy with each other when it comes to the public Hammam. They will usually go with their friends or family, both to chat and socialise, but also to help each other with the ritual. You cover yourself in black soap, and let it penetrate your pores. Once you wash off all of the black soap, the Hammam ladies arrive to do the hard part of exfoliating your skin. You will be glowing when you are done, and tingling from head to foot for several hours afterwards. Hammam rituals can vary from place to place. A full ritual in a larger Hammam may involve you first sitting in a large pool of fairly hot, incredibly soft water for 5 – 10 minutes before you are covered with mud or clay. Once the clay comes off the black soap goes on and is left to penetrate your skin. That then gets washed off, and the fun really begins with the super vigorous exfoliation. A cold shower often follows to re-close the pores, and you may then receive a full body massage in a warm, comfortable darkened room – absolute bliss!

Riads: A true Riad (ryad/riyad) is an urban house, always situated within the walls of the medina (old city). Moroccan architecture is more inward looking and given to isolation and intimacy rather than showing off. It is, above all, an enclosure, a place of contemplation and escape for its cloistered inhabitants, an engaging interior away from the outside world. A mysterious enchantment awaits the guest who is invited to cross the threshold. The typical home is organised around a central square courtyard. The central courtyard is usually surrounded by an arched colonnade giving access to the living rooms and kitchen. The sleeping areas are generally constructed on the upper floors, thus creating a covered arcade around the patio with balustrades running around each storey. The roof top terrace may have an awning or pergola to protect against the sun where guests will usually have breakfast or dinner. Riads have thick walls thus protecting the inhabitants from the sun or the cold and most of the outside noise. Being urban dwellings, they are often situated along a narrow alleyway (derb) with no access by car. For those seeking an authentic Moroccan style of accommodation, the riad offers its guests a haven of tranquility, an architectural treasure, an insight into tradition, culture and craftsmanship and an opportunity to melt into an anonymous location.

Inara Camp, Agafay Desert: Located in the desert just outside Marrakech, Inara Tented Camp offers a secluded desert camp experience, where you can sleep in a berber tent under the starry sky. The Agafay Desert offers a taste of the Moroccan desert experience without the long days of driving that the Sahara requires. Accommodation at Inara Tented Camp is in private caidal tents, typically Moroccan in style, offering the classic desert experience but with added modern amenities. The tents are welcoming and comfortable, with king-sized or twin beds, a sitting area and an en-suite bathroom featuring a small shower, with both hot and cold running water, and a flushing toilet. At night the ambience of the desert comes alive as you relax to the sounds of traditional Berber musicians and enjoy the endless starry sky and peace of your desert surrounds. Due to the remote location there is limited phone signal and no wi-fi at the camp - the perfect excuse to switch off and enjoy your surroundings.

Kasbah bab Ouirka, Ouirka Valley: Kasbah Bab Ourika embraces a comfortable shabby-chic style throughout its cottages and flowering gardens. The location is unforgettable. Set on a hill above the Ourika Valley, on one side is a picturesque ridge of red rock in the Toubkal National Park; on the other, a handful of ochre villages dot fields swathed in olive and orange groves. The Kasbah is built of rammed earth using an age-old Berber technique, and as a result, it blends into the scenery, cloaked from view by the mature, terraced gardens. Set around an internal patio, the kasbah has a lounge with stacks of games, a bar, a glass-fronted dining room and a small reading room. Leather chairs, vintage carpets, old radios and clocks, and stacks of cushions covered in local fabrics create an inviting ambiance. Outdoors, meandering pathways lined by rosemary bushes lead you to a walled pool and astonishing views where tables beckon for a sundowner. Local Berbers from the surrounding villages make up the staff. Days disappear easily here, spent either around the pool, reading in the garden or unwinding in the hammam. Rooms are individually decorated with Berber furniture, creamy woollen blankets, supple leather chairs and thick-pile, handwoven rugs. One of the best vegetable patches in Morocco provides high-quality ingredients for a smart, unfussy menu. The set menu for dinner changes daily and features simple Medi-Moroccan dishes. Flavourful and simply presented, it’s just what you want you want to eat after a day in the mountains.

Riad Yasmine, Marrakech: Riad Yasmine is a small private boutique hotel situated in the middle of the Medina of Marrakech. You will be enveloped by its bright and quiet atmosphere where only the chirping of birds comes to disturb the silence. Throughout your stay in the red city, the Riad Yasmine will be your haven of peace away from the bustle of the medina. The hotel is a classic Moorish riad with ornate design accents with Moroccan accents, free Wi-Fi, and polished en-suite bathrooms with traditional mosaic tiles. Breakfast is served in an elegant stucco dining room with a fireplace, and a central courtyard houses a tiled pool and sitting areas. There's also a rooftop terrace with sun-loungers and city views.

Villa Maroc, Essaouira: Villa Maroc is an original, 18th-century riad with shabby-chic rooms, a spa and a front-row, ocean-view location in the Unesco-protected medina. Villa Maroc practically invented Essaouira’s shabby-chic style with its white-washed walls and white linens contrasted against bright blue balustrades and shutters. The fascinating jigsaw of internal courtyards, cosy sitting rooms and sunny, flower-filled terraces is actually four historic homes cleverly reworked as a whole. The décor is a pared back selection of Moroccan and African antiques, art and crafts. In the warren of rooms you’ll find quiet reading patios, numerous lounges (most with cosy fires when it’s cold) and dining rooms, a shop, bar, bijou spa, and spectacular roof terrace scattered with cacti and candy-coloured geraniums. The kitchen serves up excellent dinners, refined without being pretentious.

Practicalities

Souks & Shopping: Souks and markets are a major feature in Moroccan life, and among the country’s greatest attractions. Each major city and town in Morocco has a special souk quarter. Villages in the countryside also have local souks which are usually held one day each week in an open field or outside the towns kasbah walls. Large cities like Marrakesh and Fès have labyrinths of individual souks (each filling a street or square that is devoted tone particular craft). Marrakesh and Fès are famous for their beautiful souks. Souks and markets are also a daily destination where locals shop for fresh meat, vegetables, household goods and other items. You can truly go on an extensive shopping spree and purchase various local Moroccan handicrafts such as Moroccan leather work, carpets, jewelry of silver, gold and copper along with ancient embroideries and basketwork. Whether or not you are a big shopper, visiting a souk is a cultural experience that should not be missed on a trip to Morocco.

Religion: Islam is the dominant religion in Morocco. The mosque is at the centre of all Muslim worship. You’ll find plenty of these beautiful historic buildings all over Morocco. Mosques are considered very holy places, and generally only Muslims are allowed to enter them. It is considered offensive to take photographs of the locals without seeking their permission, unless you are acquainted with the individual. There are also about 100,000 Christians in Morocco, mostly of French descent, along with a reported 8,000 Jews who mainly live in Casablanca and Marrakech. Catholic churches, Protestant churches, and synagogues are found in all of the major cities.

Language: Classical Arabic is Morocco’s official language, but the country’s distinctive Moroccan Arabic dialect is the most widely spoken language in Morocco. In addition, about 10 million Moroccans, mostly in rural areas, speak Berber, which exists in Morocco in three different dialects (Tarifit, Tashelhit, and Tamazight) – either as a first language or bilingually with the spoken Arabic dialect. French, which remains Morocco’s unofficial language, is taught universally and still serves as Morocco’s primary language of commerce and economics; it also is widely used in education and government.

Food: Moroccan cuisine is diverse, with many influences due to the interaction of Morocco with the outside world for centuries. It has a mix of Berber, Moorish, Mediterranean, and Arab influences. Spices such as cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin and parsley, are widely used. Chicken or lamb, along with bread, accompanied with cold and hot salads and vegetables are popular, along with fresh couscous and chickpeas. Among the most famous Moroccan dishes are Couscous, Pastilla (also spelled Bsteeya or Bestilla), Tagine, Tanjia and Harira. Although the latter is a soup, it is considered as a dish in itself and is served as such or with dates especially during the month of Ramadan. Bread is eaten with every meal, and used in place of knives and forks. Seasonal fruits are typically served at the end of meals. A common dessert is kaab el ghzal (“gazelle’s horns”), which is a pastry stuffed with almond paste and topped with sugar. Another dessert is ” Halwa shebakia ” it is honey cake, which is essentially pretzel-shaped pieces of dough deep-fried and dipped into a hot pot of honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Halwa Shebakia are cookies eaten during the month of Ramadan. Zucre Coco are coconut fudge cakes.

Tea: The most popular drink is green tea with mint a cup of sweet mint tea is commonly used to end the meal. Moroccan teapots have long, curved pouring spouts and this allows the tea to be poured evenly into tiny glasses from a height. To acquire the optimum taste, glasses are filled in two stages. The Moroccans traditionally like tea with bubbles, so while pouring they hold the teapot high above the glasses. Traditionally, making good mint tea in Morocco is considered an art form and the drinking of it with friends and family members is one of the important rituals of the day. The technique of pouring the tea is as crucial as the quality of the tea. The tea is accompanied with hard sugar cones or lumps.

Weather: September, October and November are great times overall time to visit Moroccco. With a summer climate in the south and in the mountains, as well as on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. Winter can be perfect by day in the south, though desert nights can get very cold. Morocco's ranges of climates greatly fluctuate due to the country’s geographic location between Europe, Asia, and Africa. It's unique weather patterns make it possible to find an ideal area to visit year round.

Tipping & Bargaining: Bargain ruthlessly when buying handcrafts, rugs or big ticket items and modestly when hailing private taxis. In most other aspects of life prices are fixed. Tipping is generally not expected, but locals will generally round up the bill in taxis and add around 10% in classy restaurants. 

Photography: Ask permission before taking photographs of people and respect their wishes if they refuse. Minority groups in particular are often unhappy to have their photo taken. In small villages, at home-stays or trekking, the use of videos may not be permitted as requested by the local people, and we ask for courtesy and discretion with still cameras. Ask permission before taking pictures either of people or inside mosques or other sacred places. Never use flash inside mosques; it can damage them. You are not allowed to use flash in some buildings, but where there is no ban, please behave responsibly. Never take a photo of an elder without asking permission. Never take photos of airports, roadblocks or anything to do with the military.

The facts

Visas: A full and current passport is required to enter Morocco. Australian & New Zealand passport holders do NOT currently require a visa for entry into Morocco. Tourists are permited to stay for a maximum of 30 days. If you do not travel on an Australian or New Zealand passport please be sure to let us know and we will advise if there are any visa requirements. 

Currency: The currency used in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham, often abbreviated as Dhs or MAD. Foreign currency may be exchanged at the Bureau de Change at the airport on arrival, at a bank or a small amount at your hotel. There are many ATM machines both at the airports and in larger towns for cash withdrawal. A rule of thumb is not to exchange too much money at one time, so as not to be left with too much currency when leaving the country. Most hotels and reputable shops will accept major credit cards – VISA, Master Card and American Express. Even in the markets when buying such things as carpets, leather or any other major item, certain cards may be accepted. Maestro and other debits cards are becoming more widely accepted, but there are still some shops and restaurants that you will not be able to use them. Please note that it is now difficult or impossible to change Travellers Cheques in Morocco.

Voltage + Plugs: The electricity supply is 220v. Plugs are European style with two circular pins so adapters are required for British and US appliances.

Not Included:

  • International Airfares - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Travel Insurance - PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE
  • Transfers unless as per scheduled EK flights
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Phone calls & Laundry in hotels
  • Visa costs
  • Tips at meals and bars   
  • Gratuity for local tour escort, guides & driver (discretionary, suggested budget NZD$150 / AUD$150pp)
  • Room or Flight Upgrades
  • Additional meals and snacks
  • All drinks 
  • Optional excursions or activities that may be offered
Travel advice / FCO

We constantly monitor the advice posted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any of the places visited on this tour. Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific concerns. You should be aware that any travel warnings or advisories may affect the validity of your travel insurance. Therefore, at the time of booking your tour it is essential you check any restrictions on cover with your insurance provider.