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Another favorite place in Africa that Bill and I have been to many times, is Morocco. It is a pragmatic, hospitable, colorful, and friendly country full of wonderous beauty. I am planning a two week sojourn to Morocco in mid-October 2023. We need to go there after the summer heat and before the snowfall starts in the Atlas Mountains so we can see sights to the South of the mountains.
Here is the fabulous itinerary. It is the best I have ever done and will show us the full beauty of Morocco:
Day 1, Oct 15th - Arrive Rabat: Upon arrival to Rabat and clearing customs and baggage control, you will be met by your English speaking guide and welcomed to Morocco. You will transfer to your hotel with the remainder of the day at leisure. This evening enjoy a festive welcome dinner.
2 nights at Villa Madarine, classic room with breakfast
Day 2, Oct 16th - Rabat sightseeing: Start the city tour of Rabat, the Imperial "garden city," the well planned city consists of broad tree-lined avenues, a landscaped central park, impressive quarters for foreign embassies and ministries. See the Kasbah of the Oudayas located at the mouth of the Bou Regreg river opposite of Sale City. Visit teh unfinished Hassan Tower and the distinctive and elegant Mausoleum of Mohammed V that stands as a masterpiece of modern Moroccan architecture.
Day 3, Oct 17th - Rabat,/Meknes/Volubilis/Fes: Today we depart for Fes with a stop in Meknes, the Imperial City, known as the "Moroccan Versailles," founded at the end of the 17th century by Moulay Ismail. Visit the Bab Mansour Gate, the main gate between Meknes medina and the Imperial City districts. Walk on the El Hedime Square in front of the main gate. We will then travel a short distance to the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis. During the period between 45-285 AD, the city reached its peak of prosperity as the capital of the province of Mauretania Tingitania. But in actuallity it was in existence centuries before the first Roman proconsul arrived. After visiting Volubilis we will head to Fes.
3 nights at Riad Fes, superior deluxe room with breakfast
Day 4, Oct 18th - Fes sightseeing: Enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Fes. Founded in the 8th centure, Fes is arguably Morocco's most fascinating city. The metropolis, situated in a valley, was Morocco's first capital, and it today the kingdom's intellectual, religious, and cultural center. Sightseeing includes the monuments and historical sites of the ancient medina and a walking tour to the Karaouine University, one of the oldest in the world. You will visit the Attarine Medersas constructed in the early 14th century by the Merinides. At the center of the square stands the Nejjarine fountain, which is completely decorated with tiles. They are considered to be th efinest examples of geometric ornamentation in the city. Fes street life in the medina may be the most memorable you'lll ever experience. The souks (shops) in the medina are an ope-air department store, with the spice shops next to the carpet sellers, across from the fishmonger. This is the hub of Moroccan life, filled with vitality. Return to the hotel for overnight.
Day 5, Oct 19th - Fes sightseeing, shopping, spa: Enjoy a second full day in Fes. You may choose a morning and/or afternoon exploring and shopping with out guide, or perhaps spend time at leisure and schedule a spa treatment at our luxury riad (hotel).
Day 6, Oct 20th - Fes/Midelt/Erfoud: This morning we will travel through the Atlas mountains, Berber villages, and the ski towns of Ifrane and Azrou which look more like Bavaria the Morocco! We will continue to Midelt, the gateway to the Atlas mountains, which is also an area of kasbahs and castles and an important mining center. Passing by a series of fortified villages with outstanding pre-Saharan architecture. We will arrive in Erfoud in the afternoon, one of the last palmed oases on the rim of the Sahara. It is the gateway to Kasbah trail to the SW and ot the Sahara. Almost one million palm trees grow in the Erfoud region alone.
1 night, L'Hotel by Chateau des Sables, standard room wiht breakfast & dinner
Day 7, Oct 21st - Erfoud/Rissani/Mersouga Desert Camp: Enjoy the morning at leisure wiht the many amenities of our hotel in the warmth of the desert. This afternoon we travel to Rissani, the capital of the Tafilalet where the Alaouite dynasty ancestors are buried. We will visit the 17th century Kasbah and imposing ruins of Ksar Abbar. Upon arrival we will transfer to 4X4 wheel drive vehicles and proceed to Mersouga Desert Dunes of the Sahara where a welcoming mint tea and local cookies await you at our nomadic luxury tented camp. There you will ride camels, trek into the marvelous, vast, and silent Sahara to enjoy sunset. As the sun sets, celebrate your unforgettable desert esperience with a scenic sundowner. Return to camp and have a traditional dinner then overnight in your luxury camp.
1 night Saharian Camp, luxury tent with breakfast and dinner
Day 8, Oct 22nd - Erfoud/Tinghir/Golrges Dades/Ouarzazate: We have an early wakeup to experience a breathtaking sunrise in the Sahara Desert, followed by breakfast and then depart to Ouarzazate via Tinghir with a detour to the inspiring Todra Gorges where you can take a walk. you approach via a palm grove oases and actually cross a stream to get there. Admire the panoramic view of the Tinghir Oasis. Stop at Boumaine Dades. At first sight, you notice the limestone cliffs with uniquely shaped erosions and superb scenery and the valley spise (windy roads). Driving along, you will pass flower-filled fields, fertile fields, riverbanks and several fortified ksours (castles). Pass via the Dades Valley, one of the longest valleys in Morocco, and El Kelaa M'Gouna which is famous for cultivating roses. Every year there is a big festival celebrating the roses. In Kelaa M'Gouna you will find many products extracted from roses. We continue on to Quarzazate.
1 night Berber Palace, superior room with breakfast
Day 9, Oct 23rd - Ouarzazate/Ait Benhaddou/Marrakech: Start with a brief tour of Ouarzazate, which used to be a stopping point for African merchants travelling to other Moroccan cities and Europe. We will pass by a range of the high Atlas Mountain's Southern slopes. Visit the Kasbah Taourirt, one of the largest movie studios in the world. Several historical movies werre shot here, including Asterix & Obelix, Mission, Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Would Be King, Kingdom of Heaven & Babel. We then continue on to Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and home of the regions most exotic kasbahs.. We then travel to Marrakech via the high Atlas Mountains (Tichka Pass, 2260m), admiring everyday life in rural villages and towns. On to the fascinating "Red City" of Marrakech.
4 nights, Ls Maison Arabe, suite with breakfast
Day 10, Oct 24th - Marrakech sightseeing: Enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Marrakech, founded by the Almoravides dynasty at the end of the 12th century. Visit Menara gardens. Marrakesh's prestige is mainly due to its past glories, being for many successive dynasties, the prosperous capital of Morocco. Marrakech was prominent at the folding of history, with masterpieces of architecture, such as the slender minarets like the Kautoubia, which dominate the ancient Medina and found at the Bahia Palace. Discover the legendary souks, craft markets, and wool-dyers quarters. In the afternoon we will visit the legendary Majorelle Gardens. This enchanting place, filled with bougainvillea, coconut, banana, bamboo and palms, was created in the 1920s by the French painterr Jacques Majorelle. Your visit to the gardens includes entrance to the Berber Museum and Yvs Saint Laurent Museum.
Day 11, Oct 25th - Marrakech sightseeing & shopping (or spa): Enjoy a second full day in Marrakech. you may choose a morning or afternoon exploring and shopping with our guide, or perhaps spend time at leisure and schedule a spa treatment at our luxury riad.
Optional: Moroccan cooking class at a farm near Marrakech with Chef Tarik
Enjoy a evening visit to the legendary Jemaa el-Fna square. The beating heart of Marrakech is a permanent display of folklore, magicians, and storytellers. Here comes the snake-charmers, storytellers, fortune-tellers, potion vendors, Gnaoua musicians, henna artists, monkey performers, acrobats, tranvestite dancers and more....
Day 12, Oct 26th - Marrakech at Lesiure - Spend the day at leisure in Marrakech. We will have a variety of optional excursions to choose from, including a visit to the Agafay Desert, Imlil in the Atlas Mountain foothills to visit a Berber village or perhaps another camel ride or ATV tour near the city.
Day 13, Oct 27th - Marrakech/Casablanca: Morning departure to Casablanca; the chief port, financial, commercial, and maufacturing center of Morocco. Casablanca is a modern city with office buildings and big city traffic. It will not remind you of the eponymous film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman! The population has grown from 20,000 in the early 1900s to more than four million today (includng the suburbs) and is among the largest cities in Africa. This afternoon we will visit the great Hassan II Mosque, a real masterpiece point of Moroccan architecture. Situated on the edge of the Atlantic in the Easternmost point of Morocco, the mosque is truly an architectural masterpiece. Panoramic drive along the wide boulevards, United Nations Square and the residential area of Anfa and Ai Diab.
This evening we will have our farewell dinner at the famous Rich's Cafe.
1 night, Hyatt Regency, standard room with breakfast
Day 14, Oct 28th - Depart Casablanca: Transfer to the airport for return trip