Morocco offers a tremendous diversity of atmosphere and activities, and is vastly different from north to south. The most popular destinations are the former Imperial Cities of Rabat, Fez, Meknes and Marrakech. These cities are dominated with “medinas” or walled cities dating back hundreds of years. Many have magnificent villas, but most astonishing are the palatial dwellings restored by Europeans and Americans. Walking through these walled cities transports you back in time to understand the history and culture of these wonderful people.
Moroccans are immeasurably friendly and hospitable. The cuisine is held in high regard worldwide, and this is certainly not the place to diet. Morocco is truly a feast for both the eyes and the palette. Travel to the Imperial Cities, careen over Saharan sand dunes in four-wheel drive vehicles, thrill to a sunset camel ride to a desert oasis, experience the High Atlas Mountains and a swim in the ocean. Morocco remains an oasis of calm in a turbulent region. You will understand why distinguished writers, sophisticated bohemians, artists, showbiz stars, and great film directors have made this their second home. You may just want to stay forever.
This is a travel day, with tour services beginning tomorrow in Casablanca, Morocco. Book a flight from your home city to the Mohammed V International Airport (use the airport code CMN when searching for flights online, and the code RAK for your departure from Marrakech). Please time your arrival tomorrow in time to participate in our welcome festivities. If you are not able to arrive by 4:00pm, we suggest you plan to depart a day early, on Monday, May 1, and arrive on May 2. For those who wish to arrive a day early, please indicate this on your reservation form so that we can hold a room for you. (Meals Aloft)
Arrange your flight to arrive today, the official start of our tour services. Collect your luggage, go through customs and exit the secure area, where you will be met by a representative and taken to our hotel. Hotel check-in may not be available until 3pm, but we will try to arrange for early check-in if you arrive in the morning. This evening, Toto Tours hosts a cocktail party to toast the start of our tour, followed by a Welcome Dinner at Rick’s Café, known from the movie Casablanca. Overnight in Casablanca. (Dinner included)
After an early breakfast, enjoy a city tour of Casablanca including the old medina; Place Mohamed V, lined by residential blocks dating from the 1930s; United Nations Square designed by French architect Joseph Marrast; the League of Arab States Park with palm trees, arcades, pergolas and cafés with shady terraces. Then, visit the impressive Hassan II Mosque, the second largest mosque in the world. In the afternoon, we drive 1.5 hours to Rabat, capital city of Morocco. See the old medina, and the picturesque Kasbah of the Oudayas and the Oudaya Gate, built during the Almohad dynasty. Also see the well-preserved Hassan Tower and the Chellah. Walk into the Mohamed V Mausoleum, the burial place of the present King’s grandfather. Visit the Rabat Archeology Museum before continuing to Fez. After checking in to our hotel, we enjoy dinner together and the remainder of the evening is free. Overnight in Fez. (Breakfast / Dinner)
The whole day will be devoted to an in depth visit of Fez, founded in the 9th century. Comfortable walking shoes are a must for the visit of the Medina and its extensive, small winding lanes and paved alleys. See the old Koranic school and the Quaraouyine Mosque (from the outside only), the largest university in the world in the 13th century. In the afternoon visit modern Fez, including the famous “potters” district. Continue to the Arts Museum of Batha, a Hispano-Moorish palace dating from the late 19th century housing some admirable collections of local traditional art. Enjoy dinner tonight in a Moroccan restaurant including local show. Return to your hotel for overnight. (Breakfast / Dinner)
After breakfast, visit the holy town of Moulay Idriss du Zerhoun, a very picturesque village hanging on the slopes of a hill, and very important pilgrimage site. Then we continue to Volubilis, a flourishing Roman trade city in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. 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. Finally, Meknes is the former Imperial City of Morocco, where we will see the old ramparts; the Agdoul Basin; the Moulay Ismail royal stables, granaries, and House of Water (Dar el Ma) to house, feed and water the sultan’s twelve thousand horses; the gate Bab el Mansour; and the Moulay Ismail mausoleum, one of the very few holy sites in Morocco which may be visited by non-Muslims. We return to Fez for dinner at the beautiful Maison Blanche restaurant. Overnight in Fez. (Breakfast / Dinner)
Start early morning with a full day drive across the cedar forests and picturesque scenery of the Middle Atlas Mountains to Erfoud. Stop at Midelt for lunch and then continue through the Ziz Gorge and Er Rachidia. Erfoud, situated amongst the impressive sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, is one of the largest oases in Morocco. From Erfoud, travel approximately 1.5 hours to Merzouga where we enjoy a thrilling ride over the sand dunes in four-wheel-drive vehicles. Then mount a camel to ride across the dunes to a beautiful viewpoint to watch the sunset. Continue by camel to our deluxe Berber encampment in the desert. The campsite is surrounded by torches, with red antique Moroccan rugs covering the ground. The sleeping tent is furnished with comfortable mattress, bedside tables, dressing table, chairs, and a private toilet and shower area. (All Meals)
Depart for Rissani, cradle of the Alaouite dynasty now reigning in Morocco. View the Mausoleum of Moulay Ali Cherif from the outside, and then enter the Kasbah Ouled El Hadim for a visit. Return to Erfoud to visit the date market and the fossil factory. Then drive through Tinejdad, Tineghir and the Todra Pass in the beautiful 1,000 Kasbah Valley to El Kelaa des Mgouna and Skoura. After Skoura, the palm trees are replaced by orchards and irrigated gardens. Roses for making perfume are the specialty of El Kelaa des Mgouna. Paris, the famous perfume by Yves Saint Laurent, is made from the extract of these roses. You will find some nice shopping here for rose products such as rose water, body milk, dried petals etc. Continue to the film industry center at Ouarzazate for dinner and overnight. (Breakfast / Dinner)
Visit the film studios in Ouarzazate. Then, depart first for a visit of the Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah, an impressive 11th century structure which has been declared an historical treasure by UNESCO. A photographer’s wonderland, Ait Ben Haddou remains home to five families. Continue to Marrakech and your hotel for overnight. (Breakfast)
After breakfast, enjoy a full day sightseeing in Marrakech. Tour the stunningly gorgeous Majorelle Gardens, which were owned by Yves Saint Laurent and his lover from 1980, and where Saint Laurent’s ashes were scattered after his death. Next, step into the wondrous old world of the medina. Wander through the labyrinth and stop at the foot of the Koutoubia Minaret. Continue to the Bahia Palace with its lush Moorish-style gardens. After lunch, visit the Majorelle Botanical Gardens, now owned by the French fashion designer Yves St. Laurent, enjoying a variety of flora from around the world. Next, discover some of the most colorful souks of the medina. Finally, stroll through the exotic Jemaa El Fna Square, ancient meeting place of tradesmen, musicians, snake charmers, and storytellers. Overnight in Marrakech. (All Meals)
After breakfast, drive to the seaside resort, Essaouira. Renowned for generations for its production of “Murex” a small shellfish used to make the purple dye for Roman togas, Essaouira is now a very active fishing harbor still showing traces of having been occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Today, protected from the sea and the wind behind its commanding fortified walls, Essaouira shelters a flourishing craftsmanship in marquetry, working citron-and-lime wood with ebony, mother of pearl and silver thread to make tables, chess-boards, caskets and bracelets. Overnight in Essaouira. (Breakfast / Dinner)
You will have the morning at leisure to enjoy the delights of Essaouira. Our guide will be at our disposal to assist in planning activities. In the afternoon, we make the 2.5-hour drive back to Marrakech. You will have the evening free to relax at our hotel, or perhaps return to the colorful medina as the sun sets over the city. Overnight in Marrakech. (Breakfast)
After breakfast we commence a full day guided tour to Imlil Valley in the Atlas Mountains. All of this is just 40 miles away from Marrakech. The tranquility of Berber Village life provides the perfect contrast to the hubbub of the city. From the village of Imlil, footpaths and mule tracks climb through lush, irrigated terraces, apple orchards and walnut groves to other villages, where the way of life has changed little for centuries. Kasbah Toubkal is perched on a great rock outcrop above the main village with a panoramic view of the mountains, valleys and waterfalls. Walk around the villages, have tea with a local Berber family, and enjoy a nice lunch at Kasbah Toubkal, which we reach on donkeys. We return to Marrakech in the afternoon, and this evening we celebrate the end of our tour with an elegant farewell dinner at Dar Yacout, one of the best restaurants in the country. Overnight in Marrakech. (All Meals)
The tour ends officially after breakfast this morning. Make your flight arrangements for any convenient time today. We provide your transportation to the Marrakech airport. Please let us know of your reservation form if you wish to extend your stay in Marrakech. (Breakfast)