Morocco | A Classic Odyssey

Imperial Cities, Mountains, Desert and the Atlantic Coast
Prepared for Marilyne Tron and family

May 22 - June 1, 2022
10 nights, 11 days

Bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, Morocco is distinguished by its Berber, Arabian and European cultural influences. One of the most diverse African countries, Morocco is home to majestic high mountains, sweeping desert dunes, rugged and fertile coastline, and labyrinthine alleyways in historic medina cities and open air markets. The lyrical landscapes of the deserts and mountains are only matched by the rich traditional and contemporary society of the ever active influence of peoples and ideas in this colorful cultural crossroads. Explore the singular solitude of the desert, to count the stars and follow ancient trade routes, then dive into the festive chaos of the souqs.

man with two kids riding on a motorcycle

Journey details and included meals:
Day 1, May 22:
Arrival Casablanca and transfer to Rabat (D)
Day 2, May 23: Rabat to Fes via Meknes & Volubilis (B L)
Day 3, May 24: Fes guided tour (B L)
Day 4, May 25: Fes to Merzouga(B L D)
Day 5, May 26: Merzouga to Dades (B L D)
Day 6, May 27: Dades to Ait Ben Haddou (B L D)
Day 7, May 28: Ait Ben Haddou to Marrakech (B L)
Day 8, May 29: Marrakech to Essouiar (B L)
Day 9, May 30: Essaouira (B)
Day 10, May 31: Essaouira (B) Laurel & Drew: Transfer to Casablanca Airport
Day 11, June 1: Transfer to Essaouira Airport

Rabat: Riad Kalaa (Suites)
Fes: Riad Salam Fes
Merzouga: Madu Premium Camp 
Dades: Chez Ichou 
Ait Ben Haddou: Kasbah Rayanne
Marrakech: Hotel & Ryad Art Place
Essaouria: Villa Quieta

Day 1: Sunday May 22 | Arrival and Complementary Airport Transfer (Casablanca).
Your local host will greet you at the airport (or hotel lobby at 10 am, if you choose to arrive a day early). Our first stop will be the Hassan II Mosque, where you will have a guided tour of this magnificent, and 3rd largest mosque in the world. After a snack lunch we will drive up the coast to Rabat, the current capital of Morocco where you will stop for the night.  Upon your arrival in Rabat, you’ll have a guided tour of the important monuments in this ocean front capital city.  The tour will included Hassan Tower, the Mausoleum of Mohamed V, and Kasbah of the Udayas, Welcome dinner at a nearby restaurant and a good night’s sleep.

  • Casablanca
    • Hassan II Mosque
  • Rabat
    • Guided Tour of Rabat
      • Hassan Tower
      • Kasbah of the Udayas
      • Mohammed V Mausoleum
      • Dinner

Sleep: Rabat (D)

Day 2 : Monday May 23 | Rabat to Fes via Meknes & Volubilis
This morning after breakfast (9 AM), we drive inland to the lessor known Imperial City of Meknes.  We begin our tour of this city built by Sultan Moulay I by visiting the Bab Mansour gate (which incorporates columns pillaged from Volubilis), Agdal reservoir - which may bring to mind the Grand Canal of Versailles - and Heri es-Souani, the former granary and royal stables that once housed 12,000 horses.  After lunch we drive to the nearby spectacular Roman ruins of Volubilis, before continuing on to Meknes. After this visit, you will drive the rest of the way to Fes arriving by early evening. Dinner will be together at the traditional riad.

  • Guided Tour (mostly by bus) of Meekness
    • Lunch
  • Guided Tour of Volubilis

Sleep: Fes (B, L)

Day 3: Tuesday May 24 | Fes
Today after breakfast, your local guide will meet you at your hotel for a guided walking tour of the city. We begin at the Borj (towers) with a panoramic view of the entire medina. Next, we visit a mosaic factory, for a demonstration of traditional pottery methods still used today by Moroccan artisans. After this, the tour will take you into the medina of Fes where you will discover the ancient streets and neighborhoods. This portion will be a walking tour in the medina and will take you to the tomb of Moulay Idriss II, Al-Qarawaiyin University, and other monuments. Enjoy the various artisan sections including the tanneries for which Fes is famous. We return our your hotel by mid-afternoon. Dinner on your own.

  • Guided Tour of Fes
    • Lunch

Accommodations: Fes (B, L)

Day 4: Wednesday May 25 | Fez - Azrou – Midelt - Merzouga
After breakfast, you will depart from Fez and head towards the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi near Merzouga. On the way, you will travel through the largest cedar forest in Africa which is also home to the barbary apes (aka Atlas Monkeys) which are sure to entertain. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the cedar forest before we continue over the Middle Atlas Mountains to the city of Midelt, located in the high plains between the Middle and the High Atlas Mountains. From here, you will travel over the High Atlas Mountains and then following the Ziz River Gorge to the desert. From here, you’ll make the last stretch of the drive to the big dunes of Merzouga where  we will meet our camels and trek into the edge of dunes to your luxury camp for the night. (If you prefer, you can also transfer to the desert camp via 4x4). Once there, you can climb the nearest dune to watch the sun set and the stars come out. Dinner will be served at camp followed by traditional music and more stargazing, before retiring to your tent for the night.

  • Visit Azrou Monkeys
  • Cross the Middle Atlas Mountains
  • Cross the High Atlas Moutnains
  • Camel Trek
  • Overnight in Luxury Camp Bouchedor

Sleep: Merzouga Desert Camp  
(B, L, D)

Day 5: Thursday May 26 | Merzouga – Dades
This morning your camel guide will wake you early to watch the sun rise over the dunes. Breakfast will be served at camp. When you are ready, we head back to the edge of the dunes on camelback and make your way towards Dades Valley. Before you leave the desert area, we’ll have a chance to search for fossils and/or visit a small fossil museum with a rather impressive collection of fossils found in Morocco. If this happens to fall on the Market Day in Rissani, we will get to experience the hustle and bustle of this dusty city and perhaps sample the local specialty of Medfouna (a.k.a. Berber Pizza!). Next, we stop to visit an ancient irrigation system that once brought water to the desert from the distant Saghro Mountains. After this, we head to the oasis town of Tinghir for a guided walk of the palmeraie and Mellah (an old Jewish neighborhood). From here, we will visit nearby Todgha Gorge for a walk through the most impressive part of the canyon. Finally, we drive to our accommodations located in the breathtaking Dades Valley where you dinner will be waiting for you.

  • Hunt for Fossils
  • Visit Rissani (if on a market day)
  • Ancient Irrigation System
  • Guided Walk of Tinghir Palmeraie and Mellah
  • Stroll through Todgha Gorge

Sleep: Dades Valley (B, L, D)

Day 6: Friday May 27 | Dades and Valley of Roses – Ait Ben Haddou
This morning after breakfast, there will be an opportunity to hike in the nearby rock formation known locally as the Monkey Fingers. After your hike, we make the short drive through the Dades River Valley to the village of Taltnamarte near the small city of Kelaat M’Gouna in the heart of the Valley of the Roses to learn about the rose distillation process. The roses should be in bloom at the time of your visit, so you may wish to go for walk through the local garden to try your hand at collected the petals and/or just take a minute to stop and smell the flowers. Following lunch, we will visit a new rug cooperative that was established in 2020 through seed funds from the Cross Cultural Journeys Foundation. After a full day in the Valley of Roses, you will continue along the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs through Ouarzazate (the Hollywood of Morocco) to the nearby UNESCO World Heritage site of Ait Ben Haddou. You’ll spend the night in a kasbah nearby where you will enjoy another delicious dinner.

  • Hike in the Monkey Fingers
  • Lunch with Local Family
  • Experience the Bloom of the Roses
  • Visit the Rose Distillation Cooperative
  • More surprises!

Sleep: Ait Ben Haddou (B, L, D)

Day 7: Saturday May 28 | Ait Ben Haddou - Marrakech
This morning after breakfast, you’ll have a chance to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait Ben Haddou before the rest of the tourists arrive. If this ksar (collection of kasbahs) looks familiar to you, it could be because it has made cameos in many movies and tv shows throughout the years such as Laurence of Arabia, The Jewel of the Nile, Gladiator, and Game of Thrones (just to name a few). This morning, you will hike through the winding steep alleys of the ancient city to the “bank” at the very top where the old salt caravans would store their valuable items while resting at this stop. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the surrounding area. After your visit here, you will make your way over the High Atlas Mountiains via the Tizi n’Tichka Pass. Although there will be stops to rest and take photos, you should arrive to Marrakech by mid-afternoon. You’ll check into your riad and have some time to relax before meeting up with your friends for dinner.

  • Visit Ait Ben Haddou
  • Traverse the High Atlas MountainsSleep: Marrakech (B, L, D)

Day 8: Sunday May 29 | Marrakech - Essaouira
After an early breakfast, your local city guide will meet you at your riad and show you all around Marrakech. You’ll first walk to nearby Koutobia Mosque.  From here, you’ll tour by bus through the Kasbah (Bab Aganou, Saadian Mosque, and the Jewish Quartier). You’ll deboard the bus in the Mellah (Jewish Quartier) and walk to visit Bahia Palace.  After your visit here, you’ll continue your walking tour into the souk and through the winding maze-like medina. The tour will finish at lunch time. After you’ve had a bite to eat, you will meet your driver again and transfer to Essaouira for the night, stopping on the way to see the famous tree-climbing goats and visiting an argan oil cooperative to see how this precious oil is gathered (with the help of said goats). You’ll arrive to your accommodations in time to enjoy dinner in this charming seaside city.

  • Guided Tour of Marrakech
  • Goats in Trees

Sleep: Essaouira (B, L)

Day 9: Monday May 30 | Essaouira
You will have all day to explore this picturesque walled city by the sea. Wander the art-filled streets of the medina, relax on the adjacent beach (or by the pool), or sit at one of the many cafes and just watch the world go by. If you are a seafood eater, you may wish to head to the wharf in the late morning and pick your lunch from the local fisherman’s fresh catch of the day and then take it to a local restaurant where they will grill it for you Moroccan-style (your tour manager can help you with this). In the evening catch the hottest show in town: watching the sunset behind the ramparts to the soundtrack of the street musicians before heading to one of the great restaurants for dinner.

Sleep: Essaouira (B)

Day 10: Tuesday May 31 | Essaouira
Laurel & Drew Transfer to Casablanca (included in tour price)

This morning, 2 of your party will depart early in order to make it to Casablanca in plenty of time for their departing flight. The remainder of your party will have another day to enjoy Essaouira.

Sleep: Essaouira (B)

Day 11: Wednesday June 1 | Departure

After breakfast, you will transfer to the airport in Essaouira in plenty of time for your departing flight direct to Paris.  Transfer including in Tour Price

Complementary Airport Transfer to Essaouira. (B) 

NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change to take advantage of the serendipity of the moment when we are in Morocco; to meet someone special, to engage in an activity that might occur unexpectedly, or to accommodate circumstances beyond our control. Please note that due to the nature of this itinerary as well as unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, restaurants or hotels may change at the last minute in similar category.

Journey Details

INCLUDED: In country transportation per itinerary; best available accommodations in Morocco (double occupancy); meals as marked (B/L/D) per the itinerary; Moroccan English speaking local guide; all entrance fees on itinerary; preparation materials, included meals on itinerary and bottled water on the bus.

NOT INCLUDED: International air travel to Morocco; meals not on itinerary; alcoholic drinks; excursions not on the itinerary; tips for local bellman, hotel staff, guide and driver (optional, yet customary); travel insurance.

TRAVEL PROTECTION: Cross Cultural Journeys is not responsible for cancellation expenses that you might incur before or during our trip.  You may want to check first to see if your current insurance policy covers travel abroad, but we have found that most do not. We strongly encourage considering taking out travel interruption and evacuation insurance to cover any emergencies abroad such as evacuation, or reimbursement for cancellation due to your own illness or an illness in your family. Some plans require you to take out this insurance within 21 days of your deposit to cover pre-existing conditions. CCJ has partnered with TravelSafe. You can visit our online portal to explore different plans. We encourage you to choose a plan covers travel interruption before you depart, as well as during the trip. CCJ is not responsible for events beyond our control in this regard.  
Please visit the Cross Cultural Journeys - TravelSafe online portal to find a plan that works for you. You can also call TravelSafe directly at 1-800-523-8020. Make sure you mention that Cross Cultural Journeys is your tour operator to receive our special rates.
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