Join us as we explore both the Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines of Morocco, and many places in between! On this trip you’ll have the opportunity to explore port cities on both coastlines, as well as several of the most important inland cities. You will be able to enjoy the gorgeous ocean views of Tangier, the quaint streets of the blue city of Chefchaouen, the broad tree-lined streets of Rabat, and the hectic and historic Fes medina. You’ll also get to experience different French and Spanish influences that remain from the early to mid-1900 occupations, with the Spanish being in control of the Northern cities of Tangier and Chefchaouen, and the French retaining control of the rest until Morocco gained its independence in 1956. And of course, you will see and experience traditional Berber culture in every place we visit, as Moroccans were well able to maintain their traditions and culture even in the midst of foreign occupation. If you want to encounter some of the diversity that Morocco has to offer while exploring some truly majestic scenery, then this trip is for you!
Day 1: Tangier to Chefchaouen Your tour of Northern Morocco begins in the morning in Tangier! It will not take you very long to see why it Tangier, also known as the White City, has been a favorite of so many over the centuries! From its earliest days as a Berber town in the 5th century to becoming a commercial center used by the Phoenicians, to its modern history of being an internationally recognized destination for diplomats, writers, and spies, Tangier has never failed to delight anyone who visits. We’ll spend the morning exploring and learning about this mesmerizing city, before heading approximately 2 hours south through countryside and a bit of the Rif Mountains to the small town of Chefchaouen. Chefchaouen is perhaps best known for the thousand variations of blue color which covers the town, but ‘Chaouen’ is much more than just its color and photogenicness! Rather, it is both of those combined with friendly people and a laid back atmosphere, goat cheeses and woolen fabrics, beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and quaint medina alleys. One of the best ways to meet and talk to locals is to ask why the city is painted blue…you will find that everyone has their favorite theory, and there are many different theories to be heard! Since Chaouen is much quieter than Fes or Marrakesh, you may want to give haggling with street vendors a try. You’ll also find many handicrafts here that are unavailable in other parts of Morocco, particularly woven blankets and wool garments. and We’ll eat dinner in Plaza Uta el-Hammam (the town square), where we’ll do a bit of people watching while we relax and reflect on your first day in Morocco.
Day 2: Fes We’ll say our goodbyes to Chefchaouen this morning and continue on our journey towards Fes. Driving time today will be about 3.5 hours, but as we carry the relaxed atmosphere of Chaouen with us the actual trip may take longer depending on stops for pictures and short walks as well as the ever-important mint tea (and lunch) break. We’ll arrive in Fes sometime in the afternoon, when we’ll have our first chance to explore a bit of Morocco’s oldest city. We’ll have dinner inside the medina wall tonight, where you’ll want to be sure you eat well-you will need the energy tomorrow when we spend the entire day wandering around the medina! Camel burgers, anyone?
Day 3: Fes Today you’ll spend all day exploring Fes, one of the former imperial cities of Morocco, with special attention being given to its medina and it’s 10,000 winding streets and alleys. Fes’ medina is most known for it’s size, being the largest car-free urban area in the world, as well as it’s many historically and culturally significant landmarks. You’ll be provided with a government certified local guide for the day, who will introduce you to the oldest continuously functioning university in the world (University of Al Quaraouiyine, founded in AD 859), the Bou Inania madrasa (a 14th century religious university famed for its carved wooden walls and Arabic calligraphy), as well as several other locations which will help you to further understand this complex and awe-inspiring city. And what trip to the Fes medina would be complete without a visit to the famed tanneries? We’ll make sure you’re provided with a sprig of mint to help you cope with the smell of the leather being processed, and then you can watch the tanners at work from a balcony until you’re content. And make sure you bring some cash with you on this day…the quality and quantity of leather goods, ceramics, and textiles that you’ll find here is unmatched!
Day 4: Meknes What would normally be an hour long drive from Fes to our next overnight stop in Meknes will be instead turned into an all-day adventure today, filled with olive groves, Roman ruins, and historic mountainside towns. A 1.5 hour drive will take us to Oualili, perhaps better known as the well-preserved and partially excavated Roman city, Volubilis. After spending some time exploring the ruins we will head to the nearby town of Moulay Idriss, the most important holy place for Muslims in Morocco, which has only allowed non-Muslims to stay overnight since 2005. The town itself is compact, and it’s narrow streets are spread across two hills, offering you views of the fertile fields and olive groves below. After spending some time in this interesting town, we will continue on to Meknes where we will stop for the night. Before turning in though, we’ll have a bit of time to wander around Meknes’ UNESCO World Heritage recognized medina and enjoy watching the main square come alive with snake charmers and acrobats as the sun goes down over the second imperial city which we’ll see on this trip.
Day 5: Rabat We’ll head towards the Atlantic coast of Morocco today, with our next stop being the capital city of Rabat where we’ll continue to see the beauty of Moroccan diversity. Here we’ll find a contrast to the ancient cities we have been visiting, with wide, tree-lined boulevards and modern buildings being the norm. Never fear though, Rabat’s UNESCO World Heritage medina still maintains its traditional feel and the Moroccan culture that we have come to know and expect is still to be seen everywhere. The unique way that Moroccans manage to combine old and new is on full display in this imperial city! Options for your time this afternoon include wandering the alleys and streets of the Kasbah district inside 11th century fortress walls, visiting the unfinished Hassan Tower and the Mohammed V Mausoleum next to it, or a stop at the Archeological Museum. A few hours spent at the Mohammed VI Museum of Contemporary Arts will add to the sense of contrast you’ll feel in this city. Or, you could spend your afternoon sipping tea or coffee on the seaside, pondering what life might have been like for the Barbary pirates that called Rabat home for so long in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Day 6: Rabat-Casablanca-Marrakesh We’ll have an early morning today, as we head to Casablanca and our final destination of Marrakesh. Two hour of driving along the scenic Atlantic coast will get us to Casablanca, where we’ll spend a few hours exploring the commercial center of Morocco. One of the most important visits we’ll make today will be to the King Hassan II Mosque, site of the world’s tallest minaret and third largest mosque. During peak usage, this mosque can fit an amazing 25,000 people inside, with room for another 80,000 in and around the courtyard. Finished in 1993 and set right on the edge of the Atlantic ocean, this magnificent mosque which is covered in decorative tiles and gorgeous cedar wood carvings is well worth seeing and marveling over. After saying goodbye to Casablanca and the Atlantic Ocean, we’ll drive for approximately 3 hours before reaching our final stop of the trip, the Red City of Marrakesh. We’ll have more than enough time to begin our exploration of this important city, beginning with the sights, sounds, and smells that comprise Jemaa el-Fnaa square. Historically, the square was used for public executions, but as you’ll see tonight it’s now a much more light hearted destination where locals and tourists alike spend the night wandering around the myriad food stalls and being entertained by storytellers and musicians. It won’t take you too long to understand why Jemaa el-Fnaa is one of the most recognized squares in the world.
Day 7: Marrakesh You’ll have the entire day free to enjoy as you wish in Marrakesh. Options range from a relaxing visit at a local hammam to exploring local art galleries and museums and gardens. Or you can choose to people-watch at a local cafe with a glass of mint tea and a good book. Another option is to take a cooking class where you will learn to replicate a few of the dishes which Morocco is so famous for (feel free to amaze your friends back home with both pictures of your trip and your new tagine-making skills!) And of course there is always a bit of final souvenir shopping to be done in the medina! This is your day, and we are here to help you fill it with activities that will perfectly suit your final day in majestic Morocco.
Day 8: Departure day Today you’ll say goodbye to your guide and to majestic Morocco. It is our hope that throughout this trip Morocco has become like a second home to you, and that you’ve come to appreciate all of the beauty and diversity that she has to offer. After goodbyes, we’ll make sure that you are transferred from your hotel to the airport or train station in time for the next part of your journey.
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