Jewels of Morocco – 2012

for under $1,000

10 days from Casablanca to Casablanca, or 11 days incl. travel

Vacation Overview

Exotic and fascinating, the Kingdom of Morocco is rich in history and culture, offering travelers intriguing historical sites, authentic cuisine, and changing scenery that is perfect for travelers wanting to explore and learn about a new destination. In Marrakesh, step back in time as you wander through the Jemaa-el-Fna, a square and exotic bizarre offering some of the greatest open-air entertainment. Listen to the storytellers—an integral part of the culture—and browse for handicrafts. It’s not hard to imagine what it was like in the past, a time when caravans loaded their camels with food and goods to sell at the markets.

In Fez, take an optional tour to see the ancient medina. Founded in the 9th century, it is one of the largest medieval cities in the world and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll through its souks (markets) and alleys, which are virtually unchanged since the Middle Ages. Taste authentic Moroccan cuisine and take in the sites and sounds of this fascinating city.

On this tour you’ll also visit Casablanca, Meknes, Ouarzazate, Ifrane, Erfoud, and Rabat, Morocco’s vibrant capital. Admire changing scenery as the Middle Atlas mountain range transforms to desert as you approach the Erfoud oasis. This affordable vacation to Morocco is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive in Casablanca, Morocco

Check into your hotel. Later, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers. (Dinner)

Day 2 – Casablanca–Rabat–Meknes–Fez

A short ride along the coast to Rabat, once a lair of the corsairs and now the country’s capital. Sightseeing includes the Royal Palace, Hassan Tower, and the Kasbah of Oudayas. You are reminded of the time when Morocco was the Roman province of Mauretania as you visit the fine Roman relics of Chellah and its gardens. Next stop, Meknes—see its monumental gates, mosque, palace, and miles of protective walls. Travel east towards Fez, Morocco’s most enchanting city. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 3 – Fez

At leisure in ancient Fez, which occupies a position of outstanding scenic beauty. Visit the exotic ancient Medina on the optional sightseeing tour, a maze of narrow bustling streets and alleys that make up the old Medina with its colorful souks. (Breakfast)

Day 4 – Fez–Ifrane–Erfoud

Travel today into the very heart of Morocco. Morning break in the quiet, French-built alpine resort of Ifrane. Verdant cedar forests give way to volcanic mountains and wind-swept plains as you motor across the Middle Atlas range to Midelt. Pass fortified mud-and-straw villages. Descend into the spectacular Ziz Gorges and arrive in Er-Rachidia, an important crossroad once controlled by the French Foreign Legion. Afterwards, the landscape becomes progressively more arid and you enter a stony desert. On your last stretch to Erfoud, an unexpected and breathtaking surprise: the miraculous and peaceful oasis of Ziz Valley. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 5 – Erfoud

The best choice today is an included excursion to Rissani to see the Mausoleum of Moulay Ali Sharif, the first ruler of the Alaouite Dynasty. This evening, enjoy an optional excursion in the desert. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 6 – Erfoud–The Road of a Thousand Kasbahs–Ouarzazate

Enjoy the drive through the eastern slopes of the Atlas Mountains and arrive at the Tinerhir oasis with its green valley of palms and local villages. Drive north to the impressive Todra Gorge, then west along the Dades Valley to the film capital of Morocco, Ouarzazate, for an overnight stay. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 7 – Ouarzazate–Aït Benhaddou–Tizi-n-Tichka Pass–Marrakesh

Enjoy an orientation drive this morning in Ouarzazate, famous for its film studios and a visit of the Kasbah de Taourirt. Next, to Aït Benhaddou, a kasbah famous as a film location for Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator. Pass through picturesque villages surrounded by craggy mountains while motoring towards the 7,414-foot-high Tizi-n-Tichka Pass in the heart of the High Atlas Mountains. Each new twist in the road leads to a different, more dramatic landscape. Leaving the pass behind, the landscape gradually changes to a tapestry of red ochre. Afternoon arrival in the red-colored imperial city of Marrakesh, justly reputed the most fascinating of all Moroccan cities. An optional evening excursion will be a fitting choice to end the day. (Breakfast)

Day 8 – Marrakesh

The included city sightseeing starts this morning with an orientation drive followed by a walk through the ancient quarters to the fascinating Jemaa-el-Fna square and its exotic bazaar. You’ll really feel as if you’ve stopped the march of time. Marrakesh has always been a meeting place—first just a group of nomad tents, now a bustling city. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 9 – Marrakesh–Casablanca

Leave Morocco’s magical city of Marrakesh for the journey northwest back to Casablanca. In the afternoon, see the sights in the company of a Local Guide. (Breakfast)

Day 10 – Casablanca

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)

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