Morocco: Kasbahs & Camels
A country of dazzling diversity, Xplore mysterious and mesmerizing Morocco with its epic mountains, sweeping deserts and ancient cities. An ancient land where the intoxicating sights, colours, and aromas entice the senses. Serving up warm hospitality and the perfect glass of mint tea. Wind your way through the famous and colourful century-old souks in Fez and UNESCO-recognized Marrakech medina. Xplore the captivating labyrinths within ancient walled Kasbahs, journey into the mountains to see Morocco’s magical blue city, and embark on an epic expedition across the desert dunes spending a night under the stars in a Berber Desert Camp. Morocco is sure to steal your heart!
14 Days 1 Country 35 Meals
Activity Level: (Active) This is a relatively active trip due to the level of walking involved in exploring the cities. You should be mobile and fit enough to walk leisurely for 3-4 hours on most days and take more than 10,000 steps per day when we visit cities on walking tours (eg. Casablanca, Rabat, Chefchaouen, Fès, Marrakech, Volubilis). There will also be a generous number of stairs, both in the riads we will eat and stay at as well as in some of the towns and medinas.
Day 1 - Casablanca
Arrive off your international flight. After clearing customs and immigration, your Moroccan guide and driver will meet you outside the airport and transfer you to the hotel in Casablanca. Originally a Phoenician settlement - Anfa, then a Berber town, today Casablanca is a modern city, representing the vibrant, modern Moroccan culture. In the afternoon, start with an introductory tour of the city, including a visit to the impressive Hassan II Mosque, second only in size to Mecca. In the evening, go back in time as we enjoy the welcome dinner at Rick's Café with your fellow Xplorers.
Day 2 - Rabat to Chefchaouen
On your first full day in Morocco, we'll visit Rabat, the first of Morocco's Imperial Cities and the administrative capital of the Kingdom of Morocco. Rabat, on Morocco's northern coast and facing the Atlantic Ocean, is an intriguing mix of the region's past glories and modern marvels. During our tour of this imposing city, we'll visit the Palais Royal, the Hassan Tower, and the Mohammed V Mausoleum. After enjoying lunch in a local restaurant, we depart for the blue city of Morocco, Chefchaouen. After hotel check-in, a group dinner is planned this evening at your riad.
Day 3 - Chefchaouen to Fez
Chefchaouen is situated in the Rif Mountains, just inland from Tangier and Tetouan. The town was founded in 1492 by Moorish exiles from Spain. Chaouen (or Xaouen, from the Spanish), as it is often called by Moroccans has one very unique distinction; its blue-rinsed houses and buildings. The tour of this blue and white village includes the Place El Makhzen and the famous square Uta el Hamman and the medina. After the tour enjoy lunch in a local restaurant, take some time to explore this unique and beautiful blue city on your own. Chefchaouen is a city with a special vibe. Its unique charm gives an impression of unreality. With its blue-rinsed houses, the whole city seems to be bathed in azure. You walk around as if you were in a dream. Later in the afternoon continue to the medieval city of Fez, home for the next four nights and enjoy a wonderful dinner together at the riad.
Day 4 - Fez
Joined by your local guide, head out to Xplore Fez on full-day tour. Fez is the religious capital of Morocco. Visit the the old and new medinas, the 14th century Medersa Attarine (religious school), and the Nejjarine’s museum. This is a wonderfully restored funduq, an ancient inn used by travelling merchants who stored and sold their goods below and took lodgings on the floors above. Centered on a courtyard, the rooms are given over to displays of traditional craftsmen’s tools, chunky prayer beads and Berber locks, chests, and musical instruments. Everything is beautifully presented, although the stunning building gives the exhibits a run for their money. The rooftop cafe has great views over the medina. Photography is forbidden near the exhibits but is allowed in the courtyard and from the rooftop. Lunch included in a beautiful riad in the Medina. Afternoon, Xplore the impressive labyrinth of souks in Fes, declared by UNESCO to be one of the world’s cultural treasures. The afternoon will also include photo opportunities at the imposing gate of Bab Boujloud, the splendid fountain at Place Nejjarine, the ancient ramparts, and the beautiful façade of the Royal Palace. Return to your riad for some time at leisure before meeting again for dinner at the beautiful Maison Blanche.
Day 5 - Fez - Meknes, Volubilis, Fez
In Meknes, the former Imperial City, see the old ramparts; the Agdoul Basin which was used to water the royal gardens and amuse the favorite concubines; the Moulay Ismail royal stables, granaries, and House of Water (Dar el Ma) which were built in the 17th and 18th centuries to house, feed, and water the sultan’s twelve thousand horses; Bab el Mansour, one of the most beautiful gates in Morocco; and the intrigue of the Meknes landscape. Then onto Volubilis, this Roman city was a flourishing trade city in the 2nd and 3rd centuries selling oil, corn, and wild animals. The Berbers who had been converted to Christianity occupied Volubilis until the 8th century. The earthquake of 1755 destroyed the city, it was found, and excavations started in 1887 and continue to this day. A visit includes a tour of the ramparts, 5 feet wide and 1.5 miles long, which incorporate no fewer than forty bastions and eight 2nd century gates. Return to Fez for overnight.
Day 6 – Fez
Moroccan cuisine is one of the most fascinating in the world, and Fez is the capital of Moroccan cooking. Today, is an exciting and savoury day, preparing Moroccan dishes during a private cooking class. Start with a morning visit to the souk to gather the necessary ingredients, then enjoy an authentic cooking experience. Prepare traditional appetizers, main dishes and desserts, then enjoy lunch at a Moroccan home, a beautifully restored riad featuring all the modern amenities. Returning to the hotel in mid-afternoon to enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Day 7 – Erfoud
This morning, set out on a journey south through the Middle Atlas Mountains, a Berber country of high, windswept plateaus and forests of giant oak, cork and cedar. Stopping in Ifrane, a French-style winter ski resort, then continue to the friendly Berber town of Azrou, a handicrafts center set among steep volcanic hills. Travelling through the cedar forests, complete with resident monkeys, and through the Ziz Valley, dotted with date palm trees, to the small town of Erfoud on the edge of the Sahara. Spending the night in a beautiful kasbah style hotel, surrounded by the magical desert landscapes. Arriving in the afternoon, to catch the sunset and see the stars come out, before enjoying dinner at our kasbah hotel.
Day 8 - Erfound to Merzouga Dunes
Spend the morning Xploring the Erg (sand sea) of the Sahara Desert, traveling in the shadow of the giant dunes to fully appreciate their height, stopping at nomad desert villages, enjoying mint tea with the locals, and learning about the significance of the mint tea ritual. The entire Sahara Desert was once underwater as evidenced by the abundant snail and squid fossils found here, with an opportunity to search for these relics that date back several millions of years. Afterwards, head to the magical village of Khamlia, renowned for its Gnawa musicians. During lunch of the local specialty of Medfouna or “Berber Pizza”, we'll learn about Gnawa music, and its spiritual, sub-Saharan origins and we'll be treated to a private concert. In the afternoon, you can relax by the hotel's swimming pool, then, just before sunset, we'll travel by camels onto the dunes to our Berber desert camp for the night. After dinner, we'll enjoy traditional Berber music around the campfire, before falling asleep under the starry skies of the desert, in a comfortable Berber tent!
Day 9 - Boumalen Dades
Wake up early today, to watch the sun rise over the dunes. In the stillness of the morning, this magical experience borders on transcendental. After breakfast, begin the journey towards the Valley of Roses. Stopping at the 8th century caravan town of Rissani, visit the mausoleum of Moulay Ali Cherif, the founder of the current ruling dynasty of Morocco, and visit the fairy-tale Tafilalt Oasis. Travelling west, pass by lush palm, olive and almond groves, by tiny Berber villages and magnificent kasbahs. Stopping in Kharttarat, to admire the ancient irrigation system, and in Ksar El Khorbat to tour the Museum of the Oasis featuring the Berber culture and history. After lunch, visit the oasis town of Tinghir for a guided walk through the oasis palmeraie (garden) and through the old Mellah (Jewish area). Then onward to the Todra Valley on the remote eastern side of the High Atlas Mountains, we'll take a leisurely walk in the spectacular surroundings of the Todra Gorge, where the Todra River carved out a canyon into the pink cliff walls of the mountain. The path follows an icy river flowing through the gorge, passing by several kasbahs built into the gorge. In the afternoon, arrive at our hotel with a panoramic view of the Dades Valley, just on the edge of the Sahara Desert, the terrace will be a perfect place to enjoy dinner and watch another sunset.
Day 10 - Boumalen Dades
In the morning, set out to meet the local women in the Valley of the Roses, joining them for mid-morning tea. Afterwards, we'll be invited to join a local family for a traditional couscous lunch, then spend more time with the local women, having henna applied to our hands or feet, as we talk with the women and learn about their daily life and cultures. Visited by metalwork artisans, to witness a demonstration of hand making decorated jewelry, before returning to your hilltop hotel for dinner.
Day 11 - Marrakech
After breakfast, departure to Ouarzazate for a morning tour including the 17th century Kasbah Taourirt, continue to the ancient Kasbah complex of Ait Ben Haddou, an impressive 11th century structure that has been declared an historical treasure by UNESCO. A photographer’s wonderland, Ait Ben Haddou remains home to five families. Next, set out through a mountainous and semi-desert landscape and continue over the High Atlas Mountains at Tizi N’Tichka Pass (7,400 feet). Proceed across the fertile countryside of the Haouz Plain to the pink city of Marrakech.
Day 12 - Marrakech
The city of Marrakech is in the middle of a lush oasis. Our guided morning walk will introduce you to this fascinating Imperial City. We'll visit the Bahia Palace, with its gardens and harem quarters, see Ben Yussef Madrassa and the Koutoubia Tower. In the afternoon, we'll have free time to shop for local crafts in the souks or wander through Jemaa El Fna Square, famous for its market stalls, food vendors, performers, snake charmers, acrobats, storytellers, and musicians. In the evening, enjoy a Moroccan dinner in one of the best local restaurants in the city.
Day 13 - Marrakech
On your last full day in Morocco, enjoy a free morning to Xplore the city of Marrakech according to your individual interests. Meeting back at noon for lunch at a local cooperative, dedicated to the empowerment of disadvantaged women in the workplace. After lunch, enjoy a leisurely tour among the rich variety of exotic plants set against the Berber signature cobalt blue of one of Marrakech's most impressive western landmarks: The Majorelle Gardens. Ending the day with a farewell dinner reminiscing with your fellow Xplorers over your magical Moroccan adventure.
Day 14 - Marrakech
Bidding farewell to Morocco, transfer to the airport for your flight home with fond memories, new friends, and many great stories to relate to friends and family.
All prices are per person, land only and include all taxes and fees. Prices are in CAD.
Not included in price:
- International airfare
- Airline baggage fees for additional or over-sized luggage
- Airline fuel surcharges if there is a change in fuel prices
- Gratuities for Women Xplorer Tour Director
- Meals and activities not specified in the itinerary
- Any personal expenses
- Travel Insurance
- Pre or post tour arrangements
Guaranteed Share: Women Xplorers will do our best to pair you with a woman of similar age. The Guaranteed Share price is based on two women sharing a non-smoking room with 2 beds. Most women who share a room have a great experience. However, if you are a very light sleeper, highly allergic to something your roommate might introduce into the room, want the lights out at 9pm, etcetera, or have any other concerns about sharing a room, you should consider travelling in a single room.