Morocco Trip


Friday, April 6, 2018  [Nominal Day 1 of tour]

Fly to Morocco


Saturday, April 7, 2018  [Day 2 of tour]

Tour Arrives Casablanca/Rabat

We arrive this afternoon in Casablanca, Morocco’s chief port, economic capital, and largest city. We meet our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director at the airport then transfer by coach to Rabat.  After checking in at our elegant, well-located hotel near famed Hassan Tower, we have a short time to rest and refresh ourselves before this evening’s dinner at the hotel.

La Tour Hassan (Dinner)


Sunday, April 8, 2018 [Day 3 of tour]


La Tour Hassan  (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Capital of the French Protectorate of Morocco from 1912 to 1956, and Moroccan capital since independence, Rabat has a European elegance yet maintains an Islamic character all its own. We spend the entire day touring this unique city that also was one of the four ancient capitals, or imperial cities. We visit the fortified Kasbah des Oudaias, boasting signature blue and white buildings lining narrow streets, beautiful Andalusian Gardens, and a wide plaza overlooking the mouth of the Bou Regreg River. We also visit the Roman site of Chellah, where we see the remnants of Sala Colonia, a port that was abandoned in 1154. The gardens, pavilions, and ruins here are spread out over multiple levels, and now house a number of curious cats and majestic storks. We have a short visit at the Museum of Moroccan History and Civilization before crossing the river to Sale, where we enjoy lunch in a private home. We then visit Rabat’s impressive new Mohammed VI Modern and Contemporary Art Museum followed by a short walk through the medina. Late afternoon we return to the hotel before enjoying dinner together at Dinarjat, an acclaimed restaurant in Rabat’s Old Town serving traditional Moroccan fare.


Monday, April 9, 2018  [Day 4 of tour]


Hotel Sahrai (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Long travel day

This morning we depart by motorcoach for Meknes, Morocco’s youngest Imperial City and also a UNESCO World Heritage site, whose construction was dominated by the Sultan Moulay Ismail, one of Morocco’s most powerful leaders. Despite his reputation as a ruthless warrior, the Sultan was also a builder, and during his 55-year reign developed Meknes from a small town into a majestic capital with gigantic ramparts, monumental gates, more than 50 palaces, and 15 miles of exterior walls. We see the impressive Bab el Mansour gateway and visit the ruins of the imperial stables and granaries. Then we continue on to Volubilis, the largest of the Romans’ 17 colonies established in Morocco between the 1st century BCE and the 2nd century CE. The excavated ruins here are particularly noted for their colorful mosaics. The setting is a photographer’s delight, and we have ample time at this UNESCO World Heritage site to take photos. After lunch in a local restaurant, we continue on to Fez, arriving late this afternoon. Tonight we enjoy a traditional Moroccan dinner together at our elegant hotel just a short distance from the medina, another UNESCO World Heritage site.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018 [Day 5 of tour]


Hotel Sahrai (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Known as the “Athens of Africa” for its wealth of cultural, educational, and religious institutions, Fez is the country’s oldest imperial capital, and perhaps its most fascinating. “The history of Fez,” writes author Walter Harris, “is composed of wars and murders, triumphs of arts and sciences, and a good deal of imagination.” And a more captivating city you won’t find anywhere, as we discover on our full-day tour. This morning we start with a comfortable walk in the medina to discover some hidden treasures, including the Blue Gate, the most picturesque of all the Old City’s historic gates; the medieval school of Bouanania; the 12th-century home of Jewish scholar Maimonides; and the authentic food market. We continue on to visit the quarter where Fez’s renowned pottery and ceramics makers create the complex blue-and-white geometric patterns of traditional “bleu de Fez” household and decorative objects. After lunch together in the medina, we tour the old Mellah (Jewish quarter) and its 17th-century synagogue and the royal gates. After our touring, we dine tonight in our hotel’s international restaurant.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018 [Day 6 of tour]


Hotel Sahrai (Breakfast, Dinner)

We begin today with a visit to the Museum of Fez, then return to the labyrinthine medina, focusing on the artisans’ quarters, the 14th-century Koranic schools, and Al Karaouine, the medieval theological university. The remainder of the afternoon is free for lunch on our own and for independent exploration or relaxation.  Tonight we enjoy a private dinner at an intimate family-run riad in Fez.


Thursday, April 12, 2018 [Day 7 of tour]


Le Palais du Désert Hotel  (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) (Elevation 2,648 feet)

Long travel day

Today’s transfer from Fez to Erfoud in the Sahara desert is long, but our reward is the breadth and beauty of the passing scenery. Traveling inland, we cross the fertile plains beyond Fez and continue through the Middle Atlas mountain range and its cedar forests, where we make a brief stop in the ski resort city of Irfane.  After lunch in the crossroads town of Zeida, we make a short stop to see the local Barbary macaques in their natural habitat. Continuing on we follow the Ziz River, passing rows of sky-scraping palm trees and fortified adobe villages in the Talfilalet Oasis before reaching our kasbah-style hotel on the outskirts of Erfoud late in the day. Built by the French as an oasis fort, Erfoud is now a sizable city and the gateway to the Sahara. Dinner tonight is at our hotel.


Friday, April 13, 2018 [Day 8 of tour]


Le Palais du Désert Hotel  (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

This morning we stop at a workshop where fossils are polished and prepared.  Then we visit the city of Rissani, sitting on the edge of the Sahara and formerly the last staging post on the southern caravan route. Once the seat of the Alawait dynasty, Rissani boasts some striking architecture with its 18th-century ksar, a virtually impenetrable warren of alleys. After our touring here we enjoy lunch together, then set out in a caravan of 4x4s for the breathtakingly beautiful dunes of Merzouga, on the edge of the Sahara, and one of the highlights of our tour. We reach Morocco’s only Saharan dunes late this afternoon where, in the enormous silence, we watch the sun set over the desert as we take a camel ride along the erg. Following this experience, we have dinner together in this desert setting, before returning to our hotel tonight.


Saturday, April 14, 2018 [Day 9 of tour]

Erfoud/Tinehir/Todra Gorge/Ouarzazate/Ait Ben Haddou

Ksar Ighnda Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Long travel day

With a fairly long travel day ahead of us, we leave Erfoud this morning bound for Ouarzazate in the snowtopped High Atlas Mountains, passing one scene of natural beauty after another. We first pass through Tinghir, a stunning mountain oasis rising on a series of lush riverside produce gardens accented by palm trees and dominated by ornate clay villages. Here we visit 984-foot Todra Gorge, home to a variety of rare plant and bird species. After enjoying lunch at a local restaurant, we continue on to El Kelaa des Mgouna, Morocco’s “rose capital,” before beginning our journey along the “Route of a Thousand Kasbahs,” a region of fortresses with elaborately decorated façades. We arrive in Ouarzazate (the “door of the desert”) late this afternoon and tour the Kasbah and the Cinema Museum, then continue to our riad hotel in Ait Ben Haddou, one of southern Morocco’s most recognizable villages since it is often used as a location for fashion and film shoots (including Gladiator). A UNESCO World Heritage site, the village’s old section consists of deep red kasbahs so tightly packed together they appear as a single building. dinner tonight is at our hotel.


Sunday, April 15, 2018 [Day 10 of tour]

Ait Ben-Haddou/Marrakech

Sofitel Marrakech (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Long travel day

We leave Ait Ben Haddou for Marrakech today, stopping en route to climb to the top of the uninhabited ksar. Then as we descend from the High Atlas mountains, we pass through typical villages with fortified walls and stone houses with earthen roofs. In Tizi N’Tichka, we traverse the Pass of the Pastures (alt. 7,415 feet), where life is much as it was centuries ago: shepherds bring their flocks to the high pastures every summer, then return with them to their villages in autumn. Late this afternoon we arrive in fabled Marrakech, an ancient intersection of Berber, African, Mediterranean, and Asian cultural and artistic influences. Considered Morocco’s most cosmopolitan city – and some would say its most beautiful – Marrakech boasts a spectacular location surrounded by rich farmlands and high mountains. We dine tonight at our hotel.


Monday, April 16, 2018 [Day 11 of tour]


Sofitel Marrakech (Breakfast, Lunch)

Although its origins are disputed, it is believed Marrakech was settled in the early 11th century; five centuries later it was one of Morocco’s dominant centers of art and culture. Today Marrakech is the nation’s fourth largest city, with an exciting blend of modern architecture and an ancient walled medina. On our full-day tour we concentrate on Old Marrakech, taking in Saadian tombs, the Koutoubia Mosque with its distinct 282-foot minaret, an architectural highlight visible from miles away; the relatively contemporary (19th-century) El Bahia Palace with its Andalusian influence and fascinating harem quarter; and the ruins of 360-room Palais El Badii, built in 1578 in the style of Granada’s Alhambra and lavishly decorated with Italian marble and gold. Moulay Ismail looted the palace, which took 25 years to construct, to enhance his palace. We return to our hotel for lunch then set out mid-afternoon to explore the city’s souks, including those of yarn dyers, wrought iron and lantern makers, herbalists, and wood carvers and painters. Next we venture to Djemaa El Fna, the heart of Marrakech where our fantasies of Morocco come to life. Here are snake charmers, storytellers, acrobats, and musicians asking only a few dirhams to enlighten, fascinate, and entertain. It’s a circus atmosphere that has existed since the city’s earliest days, serving as a mecca for both locals and tourists who come here for food, for fun, or to find a brief respite from daily life. Dinner is on our own in this exotic city.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018 [Day 12 of tour]


Sofitel Marrakech (Breakfast, Dinner)

On today’s excursion we travel via horse-drawn carriage from Menara to the lush Majorelle Gardens, a botanical garden in the heart of the city. French artist Jaques Majorelle created this masterpiece, known for its cobalt blue accents, in 1924 during Morocco’s colonial period as a protectorate of France. Here we are likely to see many of the 15 species of birds endemic to North Africa. Following a tour of the gardens, we visit the recently renovated Berber Museum and the Yves St. Laurent museum, both located on the grounds of Majorelle Gardens. The afternoon is at leisure before dinner tonight at the famed restaurant Dar Moha, located in a spectacular riad in the city’s Old Town.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018 [Day 13 of tour]


Hyatt Regency Casablanca (Breakfast, Dinner)

We leave Marrakech this morning for the 3½-hour motorcoach ride to storied Casablanca, Morocco’s largest and most sophisticated city, combining French and Moroccan influences. On the way into the city, we will visit a palatial government building and Notre Dame de Lourdes, a Catholic church boasting impressive stained glass. After lunch on the Corniche, we visit the Grand Mosque of Hassan II, the world’s third-largest Islamic house of worship, with a 656-foot minaret and a prayer hall three times the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. A stunning architectural achievement, the mosque boasts an equally stunning setting on the banks of the Atlantic shoreline. It is also Morocco’s only functioning mosque that is open to non-Muslims and our tour affords us the opportunity to see the palatial interior with its polished marble floor, Venetian chandeliers, and Moorish arches with 70 cedar-paneled cupolas. Tonight we gather for a farewell dinner at Rick's Café to celebrate our Moroccan adventure.


Thursday, April 19, 2018 [Day 14 of tour]

Casablanca/Depart for U.S. (Breakfast)

After breakfast this morning we transfer to the Casablanca airport for our return flight to the U.S.