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Home > Morocco > Itineraries > 21 Day Moroccan Immersion

21-Day Moroccan Immersion

Departures

March through May

Duration

21 Days

Locations

Marrakesh - High Atlas Mountains – Ouarzazate – Skoura – Erfoud - Erg Chebbi Desert - Khamlia, Tafilet – Fes – Volubilis – Chefchaouen – Casablanca - Rabat

Overview

The whole of Morocco is at your disposal on this incredible 21-day tour of North Africa’s most beguiling nation. You begin in Marrakesh, touring medieval monuments, mosques, and museums. Drink in the rich culture and historic heritage of this amazingly preserved part of the world, through all the food and fun, art, and architecture.

Heading out of town, you explore the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, taking in traditional Berber villages, and staying in exquisite luxury kasbahs and exclusive desert camps. Visit ancient cities and historic oases, follow the caravan routes of old, marvel at the natural landscape, loving the local cuisine. Ride the dunes on a desert adventure, stargazing well into the night.

Visit medieval Fes and try your hand at leatherwork, listen to tales of intrigue from a traditional storyteller, and discuss the flavors of Moroccan cooking with a culinary expert. By exploring Chefchaouen and Casablanca, you learn about their best-kept secrets. All will be revealed in this epic Moroccan escapade.

Itinerary in Detail

    Day 1: Marrakesh

    Upon arrival in Marrakesh, you will be met by a VIP host as you exit the aircraft and expedited through Morocco customs. A private driver will then take you to your hotel, offering insight into the city that awaits you. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure.

    We recommend dinner on the resplendent grounds at the Villa des Orangers. A 7 p.m. reservation will automatically be made under your name, should you wish to experience it.

    Hotel: Villa des Orangers Relais & Châteaux

    Villa des Orangers Relais & Châteaux

    Day 2: Marrakesh

    Spend a leisurely day at the hotel, enjoying its soothing spa and swimming pool.

    Hotel: Villa des Orangers Relais & Châteaux

    Villa des Orangers Relais & Châteaux

    Day 3: Marrakesh

    Your private guide and driver will be with you for the duration of your stay in Morocco. They are well-versed in history, the arts, and specialist subjects. It’s always possible to pair you with a guide who may have similar interests to yours, so please do advise us of any interests you may have.

    The guide and driver will be at your disposal in the morning if you wish to get going a little earlier today. After lunch, you embark on an exploration of Marrakesh. With the design flair of Paris, the ethnic diversity of New York, the commercial heartbeat of Hong Kong, and a history to rival any city in Europe, Marrakesh is a city of heart and soul, of sunlight on rough pink walls, of rose petals floating in trickling fountains.

    This tour can be adapted to suit your interests. The medieval Medersa ben Youssef (Koranic University) is one of the finest Islamic monuments in North Africa. Architecture aficionados will enjoy the delicate dome of the 12th-century monument Almoravid Qubba. The Mellah of Marrakesh is the Jewish Quarter of the city, with its narrow streets, ancient synagogues, and a large cemetery. At the ruins of the vast Badia Palace, you will find the 800-year-old wooden pulpit from the Koutoubia Mosque restored by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. You will be able to tour Saadian Tombs, the mausoleum of a great dynasty that once ruled North Africa. Time for shopping or a trip to a hammam spa can also be arranged today.

    At approximately 6 p.m., you will arrive at the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa, the greatest public square in all of Africa – and perhaps the world. It provides ever-changing entertainment for Moroccans and visitors alike, reaching its climax at sunset when the square comes alive with storytellers, healers, snake charmers, acrobats, and countless food stalls.

    Your guide will then escort you to Le Restaurant Maison Arabe, a lively restaurant that serves traditional Moroccan cuisine on a flower-filled patio.

    Hotel: Villa des Orangers Relais & Châteaux

    Villa des Orangers Relais & Châteaux

    Day 4: Marrakesh

    This morning, you will have the exciting opportunity to participate in a cooking class at a local riad, complete with a visit to the market. You learn all about the history of Moroccan food and its ingredients, then assist the baker in preparing Moroccan bread. After a walk through the market to procure ingredients, you learn to make a traditional tajine, a stew made in an earthenware pot, before relaxing with a Moroccan tea workshop and demonstration. You return to your hotel to freshen up after lunch.

    Later in the afternoon, we recommend a visit to some of the many souks (marketplaces) of Marrakesh, and wandering through stalls offering spices, carpets, jewelry, enamelware, copper, brass, wood carvings, and more.

    Following this market tour, your guide and driver will chauffeur you to The Hidden Palace, a small 300-year-old palace in the heart of the Medina, restored using traditional Moroccan craftsmanship. You then settle in with live music and dance, enjoy a Moroccan feast and listen to the tales of a storyteller.

    Hotel: Villa des Orangers Relais & Châteaux

    Villa des Orangers Relais & Châteaux

    Day 5: Marrakesh

    This morning will be at your leisure to relax and enjoy the tranquility of your hotel. If you prefer, you will be able to make use of your driver and guide in the morning, who will be on standby for you.

    This afternoon, you will visit the new Yves St. Laurent Museum and the beautiful Jardin Majorelle, the former home of French artist Jacques Majorelle. The legendary French fashion designer and his long-time partner Pierre Bergé discovered the garden in 1966, buying it in 1980 and expanding its size, and restoring the adjacent Villa Bou Saf, which was renamed Villa Oasis. You can explore the gardens and the villa, followed by the 4,500-square-foot museum exhibition space, which is dedicated to the designer’s work.

    Time permitting, you may also wish to visit the small but excellent Berber culture museum located in Majorelle’s former studio.

    This evening, your driver will pick you up at the hotel and bring you to Dar Yacout for dinner, a Marrakesh landmark. This sumptuous venue delivers panoramic views of the Medina and the Koutoubia Mosque. A traditional Moroccan menu incorporates an amazing succession of flavors.

    Hotel: Villa des Orangers Relais & Châteaux

    Villa des Orangers Relais & Châteaux

    Day 6: Marrakesh

    Just before noon today, your guides will take you to Marrakesh’s contemporary art museum La Musée de la Palmeraie for lunch. Upon arrival, you will meet with your host, Abderrazzak Benchaâbane, a botanist, landscape designer, and perfumer, who oversaw the transformation of the Majorelle Gardens for Yves Saint Laurent. You will tour the grounds here and then enjoy lunch with this fascinating host. After, you will have a chance to design your own fragrance with this soft-spoken Marrakesh icon.

    Tonight, we recommend making use of your driver and guide to enjoy dinner at Ling Ling at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Enjoy expert Asian fusion on the patio in spectacular surroundings, a break from traditional Moroccan cuisine.

    Hotel: Villa des Orangers Relais & Châteaux

    Villa des Orangers Relais & Châteaux

    Day 7: High Atlas Mountains

    After lunch, your private driver will transfer you to Richard Branson’s award-winning Kasbah Tamadot, about one hour from Marrakesh. Here, you will enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure in the beautiful surroundings of your comfortable luxury Berber tent. Each of the 28 rooms, suites, and tents has been individually decorated to reflect the beautiful architecture of the building and features antiques from all over the world.

    Hotel: Kasbah Tamadot

    Kasbah Tamadot

    Day 8: High Atlas Mountains

    This morning following breakfast, you embark on a three-hour mule trek with your private guide along the paths of the High Atlas Mountains. The mules demonstrate a different combination of physical and psychological traits from their horse and donkey parents and – contrary to popular belief – they are not stubborn, but highly intelligent and loyal to their owners. Enjoy spectacular views and pass through a local village as you venture through the various hiking routes. You return to the Kasbah for lunch.

    Activities to keep you occupied this afternoon include tennis, guided or independent mountain hikes, or a visit to the Eve Branson Foundation workshops in the local villages, a charity spearheaded by Richard Branson’s mother.

    Hotel: Kasbah Tamadot

    Kasbah Tamadot

    Day 9: Ouarzazate, Skoura

    In the late morning, your guide and driver will take you south on a scenic mountain route through the High Atlas Mountains and over the dramatic pass of Tizi Tichka en route to Ouarzazate. This hairpin road is one of only two passes through the largest mountain chain in Africa, a drive of about four hours, including rest stops and a picnic lunch.

    The city of Ouarzazate is the gateway to the Sahara, a former outpost of the French Foreign Legion, founded in 1928. Film buffs may be surprised to learn that Ouarzazate was the setting for dozens of movies, from Lawrence of Arabia to Gladiator. Later this afternoon, you will travel the short distance to the luscious palm grove community of Skoura. Here you will spend the night in the beautiful Kasbah-style boutique hotel Dar Ahlam, on the doorstep of the South Moroccan desert.

    Hotel: Dar Ahlam

    Dar Ahlam

    Day 10: Skoura

    Enjoy a full day relaxing at the riad, exploring the area at your own pace.

    Hotel: Dar Ahlam

    Dar Ahlam

    Day 11: Skoura

    Today after lunch, you will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou. This walled city is along the former caravan route between the Sahara Desert and Marrakesh, an excellent example of clay architecture. Most citizens living in the region now live in more modern housing in a nearby village, but there are four families who still live in the ancient city. Afterward, you will explore the different natural and cultural sites of the region, returning to your hotel for dinner.

    Hotel: Dar Ahlam

    Dar Ahlam

    Day 12: Erfoud, Erg Chebbi Desert

    After breakfast, you will depart Skoura and travel east along the old trading route to the scenic Todgha Gorges and onwards to the oasis town of Erfoud. You explore this area of dramatic natural beauty by car and, if you choose, on foot. You will also visit the Dades Gorges. As the last paved road ends at the edge of Erfoud, you will switch to a 4 x 4 vehicle (with a new driver but the same guide) for a two-night desert adventure.

    On your drive through the desert, you will see crumbling ruins of once-grand kasbahs, now half buried in the sand. For centuries, these fortified outposts were the first signs of civilization for caravans after months of hardship on the open Sahara. Especially notable is the medieval city of Sijilmasa. The famous route across the desert to the secret gold mines (whose exact locations are still unknown) was full of danger and intrigue.

    Late afternoon, you will arrive at your luxury private desert encampment near the village of Merzouga and the legendary dunes of Erg Chebbi. Considered the largest dunes in the Sahara, they are constantly shifting due to the considerable winds. Be sure to climb the dunes to watch the sunset before enjoying a traditional Berber dinner.

    Hotel: Erg Chebbi Camp

    Erg Chebbi Camp

    Day 13: Erg Chebbi Desert, Khamlia

    A very early wake-up call permits you to experience a desert sunrise. Your camels await, for a short trek up the dunes – and one of Morocco’s greatest sights. Returning to camp, you enjoy a delicious breakfast and some time to unwind, before meeting your driver and guide to head across the dunes to the village of Khamlia, near Merzouga. The drive will take you through the peaks and valleys of the desert on your way to this oasis. Sit down to a traditional lunch while learning about the Gnawa people from your hosts, as translated by your guide.

    Later, as you settle in for a relaxed dinner in the camp, you will enjoy the private music performance of a Gnawa group, treating you to the traditional sounds of the region. Following dinner, take some time to stargaze under the night sky.

    Hotel: Erg Chebbi Camp

    Erg Chebbi Camp

    Day 14: Tafilet, Fes

    Following breakfast, you will drive north to the Tafilet Oasis, the last stop on the trans-Saharan trading route before Timbuktu. This oasis is also the home of the dynasty of His Majesty King Mohamed VI, the Alaouite dynasty, which has ruled Morocco for the last four centuries. Here you will re-join your previous driver and continue north through the Ziz River valley and the scenic cedar forests of the Middle Atlas Mountains to Fes, one of the most imperial, timeless, and untouched cities in the world. Your total driving time today is approximately seven hours.

    For the next four nights, you will stay in the Riad Fes, a Relais & Châteaux hotel located in the heart of Fes.

    Hotel: Riad Fes Relais & Châteaux

    Riad Fes Relais & Châteaux

    Day 15: Fes

    Embark on a private tour of Fes today, on foot and by car. You can choose to visit the Bou Inania Medersa (Koranic University), the Foundouk Nejjarine (which has an excellent museum), the shrine of Moulay Idriss II, Ibn Danan Synagogue – the oldest in Fes, its restoration part of a UNESCO project to preserve the monuments of medieval Fes – and the restored Al Fassiyine Synagogue nearby.

    After lunch, your guide will take you to one of Fes’s most famous leatherwork ateliers, where you will meet privately with skilled artisans. You can even try your hand at leatherwork, while your host creates a personal souvenir.

    Later, your guide will chauffeur you to dinner at L’Ammandier Fes, with its rooftop view of the city below.

    Hotel: Riad Fes Relais & Châteaux

    Riad Fes Relais & Châteaux

    Day 16: Fes

    After breakfast this morning, you step back six centuries into the medieval world of Fes. Cobblestone streets are filled with ancient mosques, green-glazed minarets, and crumbling fondouks (hostels for travelers and their animals). Narrow doorways peer into private worlds, revealing peaceful courtyards filled with carved cedar, brilliantly colored mosaic tiles, and delicate stucco ornamentation. Scholars, architects, historians, and artists travel from all over the world to visit the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Fes, a remarkably preserved city that functions largely as it did in the Middle Ages when it was an important center of culture and education.

    The day begins with a food tour through alleys and souks to discover the foundation of Moroccan cuisine, trying traditional street food such as dried meats, Malawi, Harsha, Briwat, spicy sardines, spicy potato cakes, soups, olives, and more. At a honey souk, you’ll be able to taste an array of delicious wild honey, discuss its flavors and health properties, and find out why honey is so important in Moroccan cooking and Islamic culture. You will learn about traditional cooking methods by visiting a furnace, where the water for the hammam spas is also heated. Discover the world of spices and their uses, and the secrets of the male-oriented domain of the tea den, under the guidance of a culinary leader and storyteller. Following the food tour, you head to the famed Fes Café for lunch

    Dinner this evening is at Dar Roumana, which translates to House of Pomegranate, offering a combination of Fassis and Modern Moroccan cuisine with a French twist.

    Hotel: Riad Fes Relais & Châteaux

    Riad Fes Relais & Châteaux

    Day 17: Fes, Volubilis

    This morning, you depart with your private guide for Volubilis, the site of extensive Berber-Roman ruins. In addition to the major public monuments, there are also a significant number of well-regarded mosaics. You get a real sense of typical residential quarters and how the city functioned until the 18th century.

    A picnic lunch follows in the shadow of the ancient ruins, where you will be treated to traditional Roman dishes as recorded in the old Latin texts – olive oil, soft cheese, game birds, hearty fruits, honey, fresh herbs, and wine.

    The evening is at your leisure.

    Hotel: Riad Fes Relais & Châteaux

    Riad Fes Relais & Châteaux

    Day 18: Chefchaouen

    After breakfast, your journey to the famed city of Chefchaouen on the Moroccan coast, where everything is painted blue, the town appearing before you like a mirage.

    The rest of your day is at your leisure.

    Hotel: Lina Ryad & Spa

    Lina Ryad & Spa

    Day 19: Chefchaouen

    This morning, you explore Chefchaouen’s beautiful medina. The Jewish refugees from Europe who lived here during the 1930s first painted Chefchaouen blue (either to symbolize heaven or as a mosquito repellent, depending on who you ask), and the town is now known as The Blue Pearl.

    Chefchaouen has so many little stories and hidden finds, all outlined by your tour guide. Learn about the majestic walls and gates of the town, admire the small signs of early life here through the flour mill, and enjoy the medina’s natural water spring. After you have explored the blue, maze-like streets, you can relax over a late lunch at a restaurant selected by your guide before returning to the hotel.

    You are dining tonight at one of the city's best-kept secrets – Casa Hassan’s Tissemlal Restaurant, a place that celebrates the best of the city and its cuisine.

    Hotel: Lina Ryad & Spa

    Lina Ryad & Spa

    Day 20: Casablanca, Rabat

    This morning, you depart for Casablanca. En route today, we also call Rabat, the current political capital of Morocco. Rabat and the neighboring Saléwere were once notorious havens for the feared Barbary pirates, who terrorized Atlantic and Mediterranean traders, capturing prisoners to hold for ransom. You will make a stop at the majestic Hassan Tower and the Mausoleum of Mohamed V. The total journey today takes approximately four hours.

    Upon arrival in Casablanca, you proceed to your hotel, with the rest of the day to relax.

    Hotel: Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca

    Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca

    Day 21: Casablanca

    This morning, you head to the airport to be personally escorted through customs and security for your flight home. A driver will collect you to transfer you to your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours to relax.

Speak to our Travel Designers about combining this itinerary with a pre or post-luxury cruise.

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