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Moroccan Mayhem

Tours
Moroccan Mayhem
DATES

14 Sep 2019 - 26 Sep 2019


RATES
from NZD$7760 per person
Single rate from NZD$10245

*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


Moroccan Mayhem Moroccan Mayhem Moroccan Mayhem
Moroccan Mayhem

MOROCCAN MAYHEM

 

 

Capture the essence of Morocco ‐ the colour, history, contrasts and style ‐ on this incredible journey through ancient Imperial cities, beneath 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 before visiting the brilliantly-blue village of Chefchauen, a photographer’s dream. 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 the fabulous city of Marrakech where the pink-walled Medina, the 'old city', boasts a multitude of emporia that will keep shopaholics busy for days. Even non-shoppers will be amazed by the colour, diversity and vibrancy surrounding the souks. We will indulge in the diverse cultural influences that have shaped this fascinating country including spending time with the Berber people in the High Atlas Mountains.Essaouira, with it’s Atlantic seafront, artisinal community and fabulous seafood then rounds out our journey.

We will enjoy a combination of the very best riads and hotels, 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. A fabulous opportunity to discover in Al Maghrib, the ancient Arabic name for Morocco, meaning "far west where the sun sets."

Tour Overview
Duration
12 Nights - SEPTEMBER 2019
Start Point
Casablanca / Rabat
Finish Point
Essoauira / Casablanca
Tour Style
Escorted Tour
Accommodation
Boutique Hotels & Riads
Meals
As per itinerary
Transport
Private air-con vehicles.
Max Group Size
Min 8 Guests, Max 10 Guests
Tour Inclusions
  • Arrival & departure transfers (if on specified EK flights)
  • x1 night Villa Mandarine, Rabat on a B&B basis
  • x2 nights Lina Ryad & Spa in Chefchaouen on a B&B basis
  • x2 nights in Riad Salam in Fes on a B&B basis
  • x4 nights in Riad Les Bleux in Marrakech on a B&B basis
  • x2 nights at Riad Dar L'oussia in Essaouira on a B&B basis
  • Welcome Dinner in Rabat
  • Farewell Dinner/Cooking Class in Essaouira
  • Hosted Dinner in Chefchaouen
  • Hosted Dinner in Fes
  • Hosted Dinner in Marrakech
  • Lunch at Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot 
  • Walking Tours of Chefchaouen, Fes, Marrakech & Essaouira
  • Tour of the Marjorelle Gardens in Marrakech
  • Private audience with renowned perfumer & friend of Yves Saint Laurent
  • Moroccan Cooking Class in Essaouira
  • Escorted Souk tour in Marrakech
  • Artisan tour in Marrakech
  • Escorted Medina tour in Fes
  • Guided Tour in Marrakech incl the souks
  • Excursion to Meknes, Volubilis & Moulya Idris 
  • Day trip into the High Atlas Mountains with Berber village visit
  • Private Guides for tours of the Medinas & Souks
  • 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
  • Visiting the valleys at the foot of Mount Toubkal & wandering through Berber markets
  • Lunch at Richard Branson's Kasbah Tamadot
  • 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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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 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 ’mayhem makers’ for cocktails in the bar and a Hosted Welcome Dinner.

Overnight Villa Mandarine. (Welcome Dinner)

Day 2 - Rabat to Chefchaouen
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This morning after breakfast, we embark on a morning tour of Rabat. 

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 drive to the village of Chechaouen, nestled beneath Rif Mountains (approx 4hrs). Founded in 1471 as a small fortress by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa, a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, Chefchaouen is known as "blue city" for the brilliantly painted colour of its buildings. 

On arrival we will check in to Lina Ryad & Spa and then gather on the terrace to watch the sunset.

Overnight Lina Ryad & Spa or similar. (B)

Day 3 - Chefchaouen
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Today we enjoy a guided walk amongst the dreamy blue-washed walls of Chefchaouen, admiring the architecture and picturesque medina. 

Lunch (to own account) will be enjoyed in the square before we spend the afternoon further exploring the small winding streets shopping for local handicrafts from Riffi blankets to silver Berber jewellery, lanterns and lamps, and carpets and kaftans.

At the end of the day we will return to Ryad Lina & Spa to admire the beautiful view over the mountains.

Overnight Lina Ryad & Spa or similar. (B)

Day 4 - Chefchaouen to Fes via Meknes, Moulay Idriss & Volubilis
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Departing after breakfast this morning 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 in a local restaurant (to own account) before we continue to Fes where we check into Riad Salam and enjoy sundowners on the roof as the sun sets over the Fes skyline before a hosted dinner this evening.

Riad Salam is a remarkable hotel in Fes' medina.  Built at the beginning of 20th century it has been restored by craftsmen who managed to recapture the glory of its jaw-dropping interiors. The property itself is wonderfully atmospheric, with some of the finest zellij, plaster work, carved wood and brass work that you can see in all of Fes – just the place to unwind in style. The small size of the property means that service is highly personalised, and the staff will do everything they can to ensure that our stay is perfect. All of the guestrooms face onto a quiet interior patio, whilst the rooftop offers a wonderful panoramic view over the medieval city of Fes.

Overnight Riad Salam or similar. (B / D)

Day 5 - 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.

Return to Riad Salam for an evening at leisure.

Overnight Riad Salam or similar. (B)

Day 6 - Fes
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This morning 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 also 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! 

After lunch (to own account) in a local café the afternoon is at leisure for you to wander the souk in search of leather jackets, bags and belts, carpets, exotic jewellery and rainbow-coloured babouche slippers.  Our guide is on hand and will happily lead you through the myriad of alleyways if you wish.   

If you prefer you may wish to return to the riad for a hammam or to relax on the roof and enjoy the view and absorb the atmophere as the call to prayer reverberates around the rooftops and minarets of the city.  

Dinner is at leisure this evening.

Overnight Riad Salam or similar. (B)

Day 7 - To Marrakech
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Enjoy a relaxed morning at Riad Salam, with an early lunch (recommended and to own account), before we are collected for transfer to Fes Domestic Airport to board our flight to Marrakech.
*Air Arabia - Departs Fes at  1500 | Arrives  Marrakech at 1600

On arrival in the ochre‐coloured city of Marrakech we will be collected and transferred to Riad Les Yeux Bleus where we will stay for the following four nights. 

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

Offering an outdoor pool, Riad Les Yeux Bleus is located in the old Medina of Marrakech, just a 10‐minute walk from the famous Djemaa El Fna square. There are 8 elegant yet traditionally styled rooms, each one with unique styling, a private bathroom and air‐conditioning. A beautiful outdoor courtyard swimming pool is surrounded by orange and lemon trees, whilst a typical Moroccan breakfast is served up on the sunny terrace with views over the city. 

There is a hammam for a massage and spa, plenty of bright outdoor spaces in which to enjoy a fresh orange juice served by helpful and friendly staff.

Overnight Riad Les Yeux Bleus (B / D)

Day 8 - Marrakech
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After breakfast we set o on a walking tour of Marrakech, a city of honeycombed alleys & minarets. 

Our tour will take in the famous Koutoubia Minaret, one of the masterpieces of Islamic architecture, the 12th century Kasbah (fortress) where we will see the distinctive carved gate Bab Agnaou and the 16th century monument site of the Saadian Tombs. We will be enchanted by the wonderful Hispano‐Mauresque architecture surrounding the burial ground of the royal family and we will explore the mellah (Jewish quarter).

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

We will be guided through the souk and then you will be let loose to explore at leisure. You may wish to dine in Djemma El Fna square this evening or there are a number of restaurants close by. 

Alternatively you may be ‘retail weary’ and wish to return to our riad.Whatever your preference we will make a plan to suit your needs.

Overnight Riad Les Yeux Bleus (B)

Day 9 - Atlas Mountains & Kasbah Tamadot
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Today we will head out of the city and meander through the valleys at the foot of Mount Toubkal, Morocco’s highest mountain, which rises 4,165m above sea level and remains snow‐capped for most of the year.

We will take a walk into a traditional Berber village to encounter traditional village life, with women transporting bundles of sticks and djellaba‐clad men tending their livestock. After tea on the roof of one of the village houses, with panoramic views across the surrounding valleys, we will return to Richard Branson’s renowned Kasbah Tamadot. 

Nestled on the edge of the village of Asni the award‐winning Kasbah Tamadot was bought by Sir Richard Branson during one of his famous ballooning expeditions. We will indulge in a long, decadent lunch on the rooftop terrace. The food marries local produce, flavours and ingredients from Tamadot’s vast gardens. After lunch we have time to explore the property before returning to Marrakech where those who have not yet sated their appetite may wish to venture into the souk, or simply relax in the hotel.

Overnight Riad Les Yeux Bleus (B / L)

Day 10 - 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 are free to wander this calming retreat and we recommend visiting the fascinating onsite Berber Museum and there will be time to shop in the stylish boutiques across the road. 

Later this morning we will meet with ethno‐botanist Abderrazzak Benchabane who, inspired and encouraged by Yves Saint Laurent, created his own range of perfumes. Under his tutelage we will create our own fragrance ‐ exotic and Arabian in nature, think ingredients like musk, patchouli, jasmine and amber.

Lunch (to own account) will be enjoyed at a local restaurant before we pound the pavement between some of Marrakech’s leading boutiques in the ‘new city’ of Gueliz.

Time permitting, and only if you wish, we may return to the souk, or we will return to the riad for rest and relaxation.  

Dinner at leisure this evening.

Overnight Riad Les Yeux Bleus (B)

Day 11 - Marrakech to Essaouira
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After an early breakfast we will check out of our Riad and transfer to the Atlantic coast - approx. journey of 3hrs - and the seaside town of Essaouira where we will spend two nights at Riad Dar L’oussia.

Situated on the ramparts of Essaouira's medina Dar l’Oussia lies in close proximity to the souks, beach and ancient fishing port. Renovated by the finest craftsmen of Essaouira, Dar l'Oussia offers spacious rooms meticulously decorated and extremely comfortable, and each has its own elegant bathroom. Some rooms are decorated using traditional materials such as tadelakt, marble and zellige (intricate stucco resembling lace). The riad is built around a large inner courtyard, which gives you an immediate sense of calm and tranquility. Riad interiors are simple, yet tastefully decorated and the amenities include a hammam, inner-courtyard lounge and a terrace offering stunning panoramic views of the beach & 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 fishmongers. Here we can select from the incredible display and, once cooked, sit side by side with locals at the wooden tables that line the string of food stalls and enjoy our feast. Prices are fixed, printed on a board and to your own account. 

After lunch we will 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.

Overnight Riad Dar L’oussia or similar (B)

Day 12 - Essaouira
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Some of the world's finest marquetry is created by hand in Essaouira. The ramparts around the port house workshops that are piled high with intricate inlaid wooden items. The artists’ specialty wood is from the Thuya tree, a highly prized wood with a delicious perfume and found only in this part of Morocco. We will visit a workshop and watch the artists at work and will marvel at the beautiful pieces inlaid with ebony, walnut, and citrus wood, and sometimes even mother of pearl, threads of silver, copper, aluminium, and even slivers of camel bone. It may be a challenge to leave empty handed!

Later this afternoon we will make our way to Madada Mogadar, a former merchant’s home located on the ramparts of Essaouira, oering one of the most outstanding cooking classes in all of Morocco! 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 by their chefs according to the seasonal market oering of fresh fruit, veg, meat and seafood and in this friendly and casual atmosphere, our workshop will teach us how to prepare a full, traditional meal that you can easily reproduce for your friends and family at home. On the conclusion we will gather in Madada’s oriental lounge for a glass of wine and to savour the fruits of our labour as our final, Farewell Dinner..

Return to Dar L’Oussia to prepare for an early departure tomorrow morning.

Overnight Riad Dar L’oussia or similar (B / Farewell Diiner | Cooking Class)

Day 13 - Departure
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Today marks the end of our Mayhem in Morocco journey. 

Depart Essaouira at 7am on our return 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. But if you do dress like you are going to a beach in the French Riviera you will stick out and attract attention. 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.

Riad Salam, Fes: Riad Salam, Fes is located next to Batha square and is within walking distance from the historic sites of the Medina and the famous Bab Boujloud medina gate. This remarkable riad in Fes' medina was built at the beginning of 20th century and was recently restored by craftsmen who managed to recapture the glory of its jaw-dropping interiors. The property itself is wonderfully atmospheric, with some of the finest zellij, plasterwork, carved wood and brass work that you can see outside of the tourist attractions – just the place to unwind in style. The small size of the property means that service is highly personalised, and the staff will do everything they can to ensure that your stay is perfect. All of the guest rooms face onto a quiet interior patio. For your relaxation and wellbeing, there's a traditional hammam which you can take full advantage of; the treatments are what you would expect — exfoliation and massage with natural products like Argan oil. When you've worked up an appetite, the restaurant serves typical Moroccan food in the living room and courtyard. A lavish, open-air restaurant offers a glam terrace with panoramic city views. 

Lina Ryad & Spa, Chefchaouen: Lina Ryad & Spa offers a peaceful retreat away from the medina. Lina Ryad enjoys a privileged position at the top of the ancient Medina with a maze of winding blue streets tumbling down the gentle hillside below with the dramatic Rif Mountains framing the whole tableau. On entry into the riad, there are large banquettes of deep blue velvet sofas and there's an inviting indoor pool that can be booked for your exclusive use, as well as traditional hamman and massage treatments. The Ryad has sixteen rooms but no two are alike in this jewel-like boutique hotel. All rooms have complimentary WiFi, modern en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, a fridge, kettle and bottles of water provided, LCD televisions on which you can order a variety of films and documentaries. This luxe guesthouse is a 5-minute walk from the 15th-century fortress at Plaza Uta el-Hammam and a 5-minute walk from the Spanish Mosque. 

Riad Leux Bleus, Marrakech: Riad Les Yeux Bleus’ blend of contemporary and traditional styles reflects upon the current nature of Marrakech, where vibrant urban life and a varied choice of trendy bars, art galleries, and restaurants coexist in friendly symbiosis with the ancient ways of the city. Located in the Bab Doukkala district, one of the most popular and picturesque quarters of the medina, and just ten minutes on foot from the square of Jemaa el Fna in the heart of Marrakech, Riad Les Yeux Bleus features eight comfortable bedrooms—each one decorated in its own style—distributed around two charming patios; two pools, a library, a full spa including massage and hammam, and a magnificent roof terrace with a bar. Cozy and intimate, the hammam offers a choice of traditional treatments, natural oils and massages in the purest Moroccan tradition. Treat yourself to an experience from which you will emerge feeling younger, more relaxed and energetic; the most sensual and refined expression of Morocco’s art de vivre.

Riad Dar L'oussia, Essaouira: Riad Dar L'oussia is set in an elegant, Moorish-style building around a central courtyard. This refined hotel is a 5-minute walk from the Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah Museum and 10 minutes on foot from the waterfront Essaouira Citadel. Featuring carved-wood furnishings and plush fabrics, the rooms have free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. Room service is offered. There is a restaurant with a vaulted ceiling, a rooftop terrace, a chic bar and a tranquil hammam. The well-lit courtyard, topped by three floors of galleries, is Andalusian in style. All rooms are spacious and boast premium features. These rooms provide the stage for the Oriental tapestries, textiles and furniture, robed in shimmering colours. The terrace is a royal lodge over the sandy beach and endless sea.

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

14 Sep 2019 - 26 Sep 2019


RATES
from NZD$7760 per person
Single rate from NZD$10245

*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

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 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 ’mayhem makers’ for cocktails in the bar and a Hosted Welcome Dinner.

Overnight Villa Mandarine. (Welcome Dinner)

Day 2 - Rabat to Chefchaouen

This morning after breakfast, we embark on a morning tour of Rabat. 

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 drive to the village of Chechaouen, nestled beneath Rif Mountains (approx 4hrs). Founded in 1471 as a small fortress by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa, a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, Chefchaouen is known as "blue city" for the brilliantly painted colour of its buildings. 

On arrival we will check in to Lina Ryad & Spa and then gather on the terrace to watch the sunset.

Overnight Lina Ryad & Spa or similar. (B)

Day 3 - Chefchaouen

Today we enjoy a guided walk amongst the dreamy blue-washed walls of Chefchaouen, admiring the architecture and picturesque medina. 

Lunch (to own account) will be enjoyed in the square before we spend the afternoon further exploring the small winding streets shopping for local handicrafts from Riffi blankets to silver Berber jewellery, lanterns and lamps, and carpets and kaftans.

At the end of the day we will return to Ryad Lina & Spa to admire the beautiful view over the mountains.

Overnight Lina Ryad & Spa or similar. (B)

Day 4 - Chefchaouen to Fes via Meknes, Moulay Idriss & Volubilis

Departing after breakfast this morning 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 in a local restaurant (to own account) before we continue to Fes where we check into Riad Salam and enjoy sundowners on the roof as the sun sets over the Fes skyline before a hosted dinner this evening.

Riad Salam is a remarkable hotel in Fes' medina.  Built at the beginning of 20th century it has been restored by craftsmen who managed to recapture the glory of its jaw-dropping interiors. The property itself is wonderfully atmospheric, with some of the finest zellij, plaster work, carved wood and brass work that you can see in all of Fes – just the place to unwind in style. The small size of the property means that service is highly personalised, and the staff will do everything they can to ensure that our stay is perfect. All of the guestrooms face onto a quiet interior patio, whilst the rooftop offers a wonderful panoramic view over the medieval city of Fes.

Overnight Riad Salam or similar. (B / D)

Day 5 - 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.

Return to Riad Salam for an evening at leisure.

Overnight Riad Salam or similar. (B)

Day 6 - Fes

This morning 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 also 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! 

After lunch (to own account) in a local café the afternoon is at leisure for you to wander the souk in search of leather jackets, bags and belts, carpets, exotic jewellery and rainbow-coloured babouche slippers.  Our guide is on hand and will happily lead you through the myriad of alleyways if you wish.   

If you prefer you may wish to return to the riad for a hammam or to relax on the roof and enjoy the view and absorb the atmophere as the call to prayer reverberates around the rooftops and minarets of the city.  

Dinner is at leisure this evening.

Overnight Riad Salam or similar. (B)

Day 7 - To Marrakech

Enjoy a relaxed morning at Riad Salam, with an early lunch (recommended and to own account), before we are collected for transfer to Fes Domestic Airport to board our flight to Marrakech.
*Air Arabia - Departs Fes at  1500 | Arrives  Marrakech at 1600

On arrival in the ochre‐coloured city of Marrakech we will be collected and transferred to Riad Les Yeux Bleus where we will stay for the following four nights. 

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

Offering an outdoor pool, Riad Les Yeux Bleus is located in the old Medina of Marrakech, just a 10‐minute walk from the famous Djemaa El Fna square. There are 8 elegant yet traditionally styled rooms, each one with unique styling, a private bathroom and air‐conditioning. A beautiful outdoor courtyard swimming pool is surrounded by orange and lemon trees, whilst a typical Moroccan breakfast is served up on the sunny terrace with views over the city. 

There is a hammam for a massage and spa, plenty of bright outdoor spaces in which to enjoy a fresh orange juice served by helpful and friendly staff.

Overnight Riad Les Yeux Bleus (B / D)

Day 8 - Marrakech

After breakfast we set o on a walking tour of Marrakech, a city of honeycombed alleys & minarets. 

Our tour will take in the famous Koutoubia Minaret, one of the masterpieces of Islamic architecture, the 12th century Kasbah (fortress) where we will see the distinctive carved gate Bab Agnaou and the 16th century monument site of the Saadian Tombs. We will be enchanted by the wonderful Hispano‐Mauresque architecture surrounding the burial ground of the royal family and we will explore the mellah (Jewish quarter).

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

We will be guided through the souk and then you will be let loose to explore at leisure. You may wish to dine in Djemma El Fna square this evening or there are a number of restaurants close by. 

Alternatively you may be ‘retail weary’ and wish to return to our riad.Whatever your preference we will make a plan to suit your needs.

Overnight Riad Les Yeux Bleus (B)

Day 9 - Atlas Mountains & Kasbah Tamadot

Today we will head out of the city and meander through the valleys at the foot of Mount Toubkal, Morocco’s highest mountain, which rises 4,165m above sea level and remains snow‐capped for most of the year.

We will take a walk into a traditional Berber village to encounter traditional village life, with women transporting bundles of sticks and djellaba‐clad men tending their livestock. After tea on the roof of one of the village houses, with panoramic views across the surrounding valleys, we will return to Richard Branson’s renowned Kasbah Tamadot. 

Nestled on the edge of the village of Asni the award‐winning Kasbah Tamadot was bought by Sir Richard Branson during one of his famous ballooning expeditions. We will indulge in a long, decadent lunch on the rooftop terrace. The food marries local produce, flavours and ingredients from Tamadot’s vast gardens. After lunch we have time to explore the property before returning to Marrakech where those who have not yet sated their appetite may wish to venture into the souk, or simply relax in the hotel.

Overnight Riad Les Yeux Bleus (B / L)

Day 10 - 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 are free to wander this calming retreat and we recommend visiting the fascinating onsite Berber Museum and there will be time to shop in the stylish boutiques across the road. 

Later this morning we will meet with ethno‐botanist Abderrazzak Benchabane who, inspired and encouraged by Yves Saint Laurent, created his own range of perfumes. Under his tutelage we will create our own fragrance ‐ exotic and Arabian in nature, think ingredients like musk, patchouli, jasmine and amber.

Lunch (to own account) will be enjoyed at a local restaurant before we pound the pavement between some of Marrakech’s leading boutiques in the ‘new city’ of Gueliz.

Time permitting, and only if you wish, we may return to the souk, or we will return to the riad for rest and relaxation.  

Dinner at leisure this evening.

Overnight Riad Les Yeux Bleus (B)

Day 11 - Marrakech to Essaouira

After an early breakfast we will check out of our Riad and transfer to the Atlantic coast - approx. journey of 3hrs - and the seaside town of Essaouira where we will spend two nights at Riad Dar L’oussia.

Situated on the ramparts of Essaouira's medina Dar l’Oussia lies in close proximity to the souks, beach and ancient fishing port. Renovated by the finest craftsmen of Essaouira, Dar l'Oussia offers spacious rooms meticulously decorated and extremely comfortable, and each has its own elegant bathroom. Some rooms are decorated using traditional materials such as tadelakt, marble and zellige (intricate stucco resembling lace). The riad is built around a large inner courtyard, which gives you an immediate sense of calm and tranquility. Riad interiors are simple, yet tastefully decorated and the amenities include a hammam, inner-courtyard lounge and a terrace offering stunning panoramic views of the beach & 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 fishmongers. Here we can select from the incredible display and, once cooked, sit side by side with locals at the wooden tables that line the string of food stalls and enjoy our feast. Prices are fixed, printed on a board and to your own account. 

After lunch we will 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.

Overnight Riad Dar L’oussia or similar (B)

Day 12 - Essaouira

Some of the world's finest marquetry is created by hand in Essaouira. The ramparts around the port house workshops that are piled high with intricate inlaid wooden items. The artists’ specialty wood is from the Thuya tree, a highly prized wood with a delicious perfume and found only in this part of Morocco. We will visit a workshop and watch the artists at work and will marvel at the beautiful pieces inlaid with ebony, walnut, and citrus wood, and sometimes even mother of pearl, threads of silver, copper, aluminium, and even slivers of camel bone. It may be a challenge to leave empty handed!

Later this afternoon we will make our way to Madada Mogadar, a former merchant’s home located on the ramparts of Essaouira, oering one of the most outstanding cooking classes in all of Morocco! 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 by their chefs according to the seasonal market oering of fresh fruit, veg, meat and seafood and in this friendly and casual atmosphere, our workshop will teach us how to prepare a full, traditional meal that you can easily reproduce for your friends and family at home. On the conclusion we will gather in Madada’s oriental lounge for a glass of wine and to savour the fruits of our labour as our final, Farewell Dinner..

Return to Dar L’Oussia to prepare for an early departure tomorrow morning.

Overnight Riad Dar L’oussia or similar (B / Farewell Diiner | Cooking Class)

Day 13 - Departure

Today marks the end of our Mayhem in Morocco journey. 

Depart Essaouira at 7am on our return 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. But if you do dress like you are going to a beach in the French Riviera you will stick out and attract attention. 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.

Riad Salam, Fes: Riad Salam, Fes is located next to Batha square and is within walking distance from the historic sites of the Medina and the famous Bab Boujloud medina gate. This remarkable riad in Fes' medina was built at the beginning of 20th century and was recently restored by craftsmen who managed to recapture the glory of its jaw-dropping interiors. The property itself is wonderfully atmospheric, with some of the finest zellij, plasterwork, carved wood and brass work that you can see outside of the tourist attractions – just the place to unwind in style. The small size of the property means that service is highly personalised, and the staff will do everything they can to ensure that your stay is perfect. All of the guest rooms face onto a quiet interior patio. For your relaxation and wellbeing, there's a traditional hammam which you can take full advantage of; the treatments are what you would expect — exfoliation and massage with natural products like Argan oil. When you've worked up an appetite, the restaurant serves typical Moroccan food in the living room and courtyard. A lavish, open-air restaurant offers a glam terrace with panoramic city views. 

Lina Ryad & Spa, Chefchaouen: Lina Ryad & Spa offers a peaceful retreat away from the medina. Lina Ryad enjoys a privileged position at the top of the ancient Medina with a maze of winding blue streets tumbling down the gentle hillside below with the dramatic Rif Mountains framing the whole tableau. On entry into the riad, there are large banquettes of deep blue velvet sofas and there's an inviting indoor pool that can be booked for your exclusive use, as well as traditional hamman and massage treatments. The Ryad has sixteen rooms but no two are alike in this jewel-like boutique hotel. All rooms have complimentary WiFi, modern en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, a fridge, kettle and bottles of water provided, LCD televisions on which you can order a variety of films and documentaries. This luxe guesthouse is a 5-minute walk from the 15th-century fortress at Plaza Uta el-Hammam and a 5-minute walk from the Spanish Mosque. 

Riad Leux Bleus, Marrakech: Riad Les Yeux Bleus’ blend of contemporary and traditional styles reflects upon the current nature of Marrakech, where vibrant urban life and a varied choice of trendy bars, art galleries, and restaurants coexist in friendly symbiosis with the ancient ways of the city. Located in the Bab Doukkala district, one of the most popular and picturesque quarters of the medina, and just ten minutes on foot from the square of Jemaa el Fna in the heart of Marrakech, Riad Les Yeux Bleus features eight comfortable bedrooms—each one decorated in its own style—distributed around two charming patios; two pools, a library, a full spa including massage and hammam, and a magnificent roof terrace with a bar. Cozy and intimate, the hammam offers a choice of traditional treatments, natural oils and massages in the purest Moroccan tradition. Treat yourself to an experience from which you will emerge feeling younger, more relaxed and energetic; the most sensual and refined expression of Morocco’s art de vivre.

Riad Dar L'oussia, Essaouira: Riad Dar L'oussia is set in an elegant, Moorish-style building around a central courtyard. This refined hotel is a 5-minute walk from the Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah Museum and 10 minutes on foot from the waterfront Essaouira Citadel. Featuring carved-wood furnishings and plush fabrics, the rooms have free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. Room service is offered. There is a restaurant with a vaulted ceiling, a rooftop terrace, a chic bar and a tranquil hammam. The well-lit courtyard, topped by three floors of galleries, is Andalusian in style. All rooms are spacious and boast premium features. These rooms provide the stage for the Oriental tapestries, textiles and furniture, robed in shimmering colours. The terrace is a royal lodge over the sandy beach and endless sea.

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.