Morocco Custom Tour

Tour Dates:
New Dates! March 6 - 23, 2022

$5,500 Per Person Double Occupancy

An exotic taste of Africa, Morocco offers a wealth of experiences, an astonishingly rich architectural tradition and deep cultural history. Our small group travels from Rabat to Chefchaouen, Meknes, Volubis, and Fes, then through the Sahara Desert to the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi and up the Atlas Mountains. Our journey continues to Ouarzazate, lively Marrakech and the coastal town of Essaouira before ending in Casablanca. Medieval cities, Roman ruins, Berber Kasbahs and beautiful Islamic monuments await you. Fascinating Morocco conjures up a sense of mystery, intrigue, and Bogart movies, and our custom itinerary takes you to the very best places this country has to offer.

Day 1: Depart US

Good Reads: While on the plane you may enjoy reading “A Year in Morocco” by Peter Mayne. It recounts the author’s experiences as he tries to set up house in Marrakech interacting with the local and foreign inhabitants.

Map of Morocco

Day 2: Arrive – Rabat

Welcome to Morocco. Rabat, Morocco’s capital has the grand feeling of an imperial city. It has a fascinating historic center filled with fine sultan’s palaces, stimulating mosques and centuries old ramparts, such as the Mausoleum to Mohammed the 5th and the Hassan Tower. A visit of Rabat would not be complete without viewing the oldest part of the city Chellah Necropolis. Dating from the time of Almohads, here you’ll also find many ruins of the Roman Empire. Our tour will also include Oudaia Kasbah, a heavily fortified town – a medina within the medina, complete with mosques and souks.

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Rabat
Day 3: Rabat – Chefchaouen

After breakfast we will continue to explore Rabat. In the afternoon we depart to Chefchaouen. Evening at leisure in what has been deemed one of the world’s most colorful cities. (B)

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Chefchaouen
Day 4: Chefchaouen

With its distinctive pale blue, whitewashed buildings and winding alleyways, Chefchaouen is a charming place with strong Andalusian connections. It was here that many Jews and Moors fled during the Spanish Inquisition. Highlights of our tour of the city include a short hike to the ruin of the “Spanish” mosque with its fantastic panoramic view; a visit to the Ras el-Ma, where thebcity’s fresh water springs from the mountain; and a stroll through the wonderfully restored kasbah and gardens. Have evening to wander on your own through the medina shopping for handicrafts or lounging in one of the many outdoor cafés. (B)

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Chefchaouen
Day 5: Meknes  – Volubilis – Fes

Morning departure to Meknes, the “Versailles of Morocco”. Surrounded by high defensive walls with nine monumental gates, this city is impressive. Full of extravagant palaces, terraced parks and decorated mosques. Our visit of the city will include Bab Mansour, one of the finest ornamented gates in Morocco, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, resting place of admirer and most prolific builder of Meknes. Haras de Meknes – a huge stable complex, Habs Qara  – underground cells that were allegedly used to house the sultan’s army of slaves.  We continue to Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Roman ruins of Volubilis are located in a valley filled with olive trees at the foot of the Atlas mountains. This once wealthy city has striking arches and columns and well-preserved mosaics. It is one of the best-preserved and most extensive Roman ruin sites in the world. Continue to Fes in the afternoon. (B)

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Fes

Tip: Moroccans enjoy a special tea called Atai, which is a mix of green tea, mint and sugar. Brewing and serving tea is considered an art form in Morocco and holds cultural significance. Guests are often offered tea and it is viewed as rude to not drink the popular beverage.

Day 6: Fes

We spend the day exploring Morocco’s oldest Islamic City. We have time to walk in the old city Fes el Bali, the oldest part of the city characterized by maze of lanes, courtyards and alleyways dating as early as the 8th century.

Our visit will include Bab Boujelod, an impressive Moorish gate with beautiful curved arches decorated with calligraphy, Bou Inania Medersa; built by the Marinid dynasty and intricately decorated with tiles, marble and onyx, we will see a 9th century Kairaouine mosque, Nejjarine Fountain and the fortified Jewish quarter known as a mellah. (B)

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Fes
Day 7: Fes

Today is your day to explore and shop. You will be impressed by the quality and variety of Moroccan products. Carpets, ceramics, leather, textiles, jewelry and more will tempt you. We will view many of the souks, such as souk Nejjarine – known for its woodwork, Souk Attarine – for spices and medicine and of course Tanners quarter where leather is made and dyed in an array of colors. (B)

Tip: Don’t be bashful; Bargaining your way through souks is an intrinsic part of Moroccan culture.

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Fes

Fun Fact: Fes is the third largest city in Morocco with a population of about one million. It features what may be the largest urban no-car zone in the world. Fes was once the capital of Morocco and is one of its original imperial cities. It is also believed to be the most complete medieval city in the Arab word.

Day 8: Ifrane  – Midelt – Merzouga and its sand dunes of Erg Chebbi

The day begins with an early morning departure from the crowded streets of Fes into the quiet and scenic Middle Atlas Mountains.  We will stop in Ifrane, the city of flowers, to view the cedar-forested hills of Azrou. The area is abundant with wildlife and we most likely encounter Barbary macaques living in these forest. Apart from the monkeys, the area has an abundance of species of birds. After we pass the city of Midelt we descend into the Ziz Valley created by the Ziz river over millions of years. These carved gorges offer great fertile agricultural land. We pass the garrison town of Erfourd onto Rissani and then we start seeing the first sand dunes of Merzouga, Erg Chebbi.

As evening falls we retreat to the comforts and luxury of our exclusive private desert camp where we will be greeted with mint tea and fresh dates or nuts. The camp is set in a beautiful spot between sand dunes and gives the impression of being alone in the vast African desert while enjoying the comforts of a nomad king. We will enjoy a delicious dinner followed by campfire time beneath the starry African sky. Nothing compares to the millions of stars, silence and peacefulness of the Sahara. We sleep in luxury canvas tents feeling like we have walked into one of the stories from The Arabian Nights. (B, D)

  • Spend the night at the Luxury Tented Camp with Breakfast and Dinner
Day 9: Merzouga and its sand dunes of Erg Chebbi

If desired, wake early to photograph the spectacular Sahara dunes at sunrise. Then we will enjoy a first class breakfast. A Berber guide will lead us into the vastness of the dunes on a camel caravan. The sturdy camel has been a mainstay of desert life for centuries. It was used to transport precious cargoes, including wool, cotton fabrics and tea, from Sub Saharan Africa to the trading ports of the Mediterranean coast. You can ride or walk alongside as you slip into the pace of the caravan and marvel at the awesome spectacle of the desert and its solitude and silence. We will break for Berber tea, and later arrive at a picnic lunch set up for us in the vastness of the desert. After lunch we visit a local village on the outskirt of the dunes and then return to camp in the afternoon for some leisure time. (B, L, D)

  • Spend the night at the Luxury Tented Camp Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Fun Fact:Ships of the Moroccan Desert” camels in Morocco have only one hump and are therefore known as Dromedaries. Dromedary camels (Camelus dromedaries) are rarely found in the wild and most of those seen walking around the landscape are domesticated and have owners.

Day 10: Alnif – Nekob – Agdz – Ouarzazate – Skoura

Later leaving the desert behind we will head up to the Atlas Mountains, traveling through the “Valley of 1000 Kasbahs”. The region is dotted with Kasbahs, mud-brick villages, and fertile valleys, which are a delight for photographers. Alnif is known as the best place to hunt for fossils and ancient stone carvings. Nekob is the most Kasbah-filled village in Morocco. Ouarzazate is “Morocco’s Hollywood”, because many movies are filmed there. Skoura is one of Morocco’s beautiful oases, offering weary travellers a chance to rest and enjoy the abundance of nature. The area boasts a rich concentration of date palms, and almond, fig and olive trees. (B, D)

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Ouarzazate region
Day 11: Ouarzazate  – Ait Ben Haddou – Marrakech

In the morning we visit Ksar Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most extraordinary mudbrick cities in the world. With its dramatic walls of red earth, slit windows and crumbling towers, it is a magnificent example of a traditional stronghold. Chosen as location for Hollywood films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Jewel of the Nile, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and more recently Gladiator, Ait Ben Haddou sits upon a lofty pinnacle of rock overlooking a river. Dating from the 15th century, its importance as a trading post gradually waned. Today’s few inhabitants eke a living from farming. It is a photographer’s paradise.

Leaving the Kasbahs behind, we set off on a dramatic drive to cross over the High Atlas Mountains, and the views get more and more impressive. We arrive in Marrakech in the early afternoon. (B)

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Marrakech

Fun Fact: Stroll around the streets of Marrakech and you’ll quickly discover that there are cats around every corner. Though the felines are rarely kept as pets, they’re generally well-fed. Some even take up residence in local shops.

Day 12: Marrakech

There is so much to see in Marrakech. We’ll venture out on a guided walking tour of the old city exploring some of the most impressive palaces and sights of the city. El Badi Palace, though now mostly in ruins, still give a glimpse of its former magnificence. Bahia Palace is full of colorful zelij tilework, beautiful marble, fountains and gardens. The Ben Youssef Madrasa was an Islamic college named after the Almoravid sultan Ali ibn Yusuf. It is the largest madrasa in all of Morocco and once the largest university.

Jardin Majorelle is a tranquil escape from the bustle of Marrakech. This studio and garden is a fantastic place for artists and photographers. The colorful flowers, cactus and trees contrast nicely with the deep blue walls of the Art Deco style buildings. Yves Saint Laurent acquired the Jardin Majorelle in 1980, saving it from real estate developers.

Our tour will also include a walk through the souks, a view of Koutoubia mosque, which dominates Marrakech, and of course Djema El Fna square, where snake charmers, acrobats and storytellers delight travelers while the sweet aromas of spices waft through the air. (B)

Tip: Look up and see white storks nesting atop the red-tinted ramparts of the El Bai Palace.The majestic structure was built by Saadian sultan Ahmed al-Mansour in the 16th century with money received from the Portuguese after the Battle of the Three Kings. One century later, his successor Moulay Ismail stripped the palace of all its luxuries. Yet even in its stark state, the 426-foot long century courtyard―featuring four sunken gardens separated by pools―still lives up to its name, which translates to “The Incomparable.”

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Marrakech

Fun Fact: The 230-foot-tall Koutoubia Mosque tower isn’t just Marrakech’s most symbolic landmark. Five times a day, the call to prayer, or “adhan,” rings from the tower as the predominantly Muslim population pauses to worship. Legend has it that the original mosque wasn’t properly alligned with Mecca, and had to be rebuilt by the Sultan Yocoub el-Mansour in the 12th century.

Day 13: Essaouira

We have a morning departure to the coastal town of Essaouira. The former pirate’s lair of Essaouira, is one of Morocco’s most attractive coastal cities. Portuguese, Berber and French battlements encircle the maze of narrow lanes with tiny cafes looking out onto small squares. Two of the fortresses look out over the ocean, and on an offshore island stands another, even larger castle. As befits a seaport, the pace of life is more relaxed here, and the whitewashed streets lend a truly Mediterranean air to the city. Enjoy your afternoon without a fixed schedule, get a coffee or tea, relax and take in the sites. (B)

Tip: Most people come to Essaouria to enjoy its picturesque beach. A series of ruins about a 1.5 kilometers to the far end of the beach make a worthy stop. You can walk, swim or ride a camel or horse to explore the ruins. On less windy days, Essaouira is one of the more relaxed beaches in the country. Beach chairs can be rented. Relax, watch kite-surfers, soccer players, or read a book in the sunshine.

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Essaouira
Day 14: Essaouira

We recommend a stroll around the lively old port that is full of color and interest. The early morning is the best time – when fishermen can be seen bringing in their catch or mending their nets. The harbor was once the lair of pirates who sailed out to plunder richly laden ships that passed along the coast; after all, this was the main trade route round the Cape of Good Hope to Western Europe. It later became a free port, and it was at this point it developed a small international community of merchants. The cosmopolitan mixture of different influences makes it a wonderful place to explore – and it is full of visual surprises. Take a leisurely stroll along the ramparts; visit the little workshops that specialize in ornate inlaid work using thuya wood – a local conifer, although it should be pointed out that the thuya tree is fast becoming endangered from over exploitation. The low-key markets and twisting backstreets of the medina are fantastic and for those wanting a bit more space, there is a long sweeping beach on which to stretch your legs. (B)

Tip: Go Fly a Kite – Essaouira is known as North Africa’s wind capital. Just south of the medina are several locations to rent equipment or book lessons for surfing, kiteboarding, windsurfing, or kitesurfing. Near-perfect conditions can be had almost every day of the year.

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Essaouira
Day 15: Essaouira

Day at leisure to enjoy this beautiful city. (B)

Tip: Made of junk you might find in a garage, the artist who goes by his first name, Rachid, creates some funky statues. Rachid’s workshop and store is about a hundred yards after Bab Marrakesh in the west side of the medina. Some of his recycled sculptures include snails, fish and ants playing violin. You are guaranteed to find something that will make you smile.

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Essaouira

Fun Fact: If you are a “Game of Thrones” fan, you will recognize Essaouria as the backdrop from where Daenerys Targaryen purchased her army of Unsullied soldiers.

Day 16: Essaouira – Casablanca

After breakfast we will drive from Essaouira to Casablanca via Safi and El Jadida, a road offering stunning views of the Atlantic. We’ll stop for lunch in Oualidia, a picturesque town known for its oysters. When we reach the city of El Jadida, we’ll have some time to walk in the old town that is UNESCO protected. We will visit the old cisterns that are the most famous sight in El Jadida and then transfer to your hotel in Casablanca. (B)

  • Overnight at a luxury Riad in Casablanca

Fun Fact: While Rabat has the distinction of being the capital of Morocco, Casablanca remains the country’s largest city, as well as the largest city in the Maghreb region of Africa. Morocco facts tells us Casablanca flew into the world’s imagination in 1942 when Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman hit the silver screen in the famous movie featuring the port city.

Day 17: Depart to US

After breakfast, transfer to the Mohammed V International Airport for return flight to the US.

Thought for the day: You’ve been pulled from this chapter in your life’s story. If you keep a journal, write down a few thoughts. Sometimes returning from a trip is harder than the apprehension you may have had when you embarked on the journey. Enjoy the rush of emotions. Smile at what you’ve seen. Refresh. Recharge. And perhaps start thinking about where you’d like to go next!

Includes
  • Luxury Transport
  • 4/5 Star Combined Accommodations For 16 Days/ 15 Nights National Licensed Historical Guide
  • Local Licensed Historical Guides in Each City
  • Breakfast Daily at your Hotel
  • Camel Trek in the Sahara Desert
  • Merzouga Meals: Breakfasts, 1 Lunch and 3 Dinners in the Sahara Desert Region
  • 10 People Maximum
  • International Air Travel Booked Separately. Call for Quote
Travel

Travel with tour guide Sunny Reynolds, who has been showing the world to travelers since 1992. While this is not exclusively a photo tour, Sunny Reynolds as a professional photographer is happy to help all levels of photographers take better photos of their adventures.

  • Rates based on Double Occupancy
  • Single Supplement applies
  • Subject to availability
  • All prices subject to change