Premium Morocco Explorer with Essaouira


Whether you’re stargazing in the Sahara, breaking bread with the locals or exploring fabled ruins, Morocco is filled to the brim with soul-stirring moments. Set off on a 15-day Premium journey through buzzing cities, tranquil oases, vast deserts and laidback beaches. Explore Meknes’s animated medina, the lively Djemaa el-Fna square in Marrakech and the relaxed seaside town of Essaouira. Learn the secrets of bread making in Ourika, eat pastilla in the home of a Fes family and spend an unforgettable evening in a Sahara desert camp. With so many different worlds under one North African sky, a local leader brings the best of the country to light.

15 days, from

$3,766

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: XMPFC
Style: Premium
Theme: Explorer

Details

Countries Visited:  Morocco
Accommodation: Comfortable hotel (12 nights), Feature Stay (2 nights)
Transportation: Private vehicle
Included Meals:

  • 14 breakfasts
  • 6 lunches
  • 6 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Dive into the Moroccan way of life as you travel with a local leader and guides, visit a typical home in Fes, meet the women of the Tawesna social enterprise in Ait Benhaddou and enjoy a bread making workshop with local women in Ourika.

  • Soak in sweeping views from the rooftop of your Feature Stay hotel in the heart of the Fes medina, offering incredible hospitality and beautiful, traditional touches in every corner.

  • Discover Morocco’s culinary wonders during Exclusive Experiences, including a traditional picnic at the ruins of Volubilis, medfouna demonstration in Khemliya, homemade pastilla dinner in Fes and Amazigh feast in the Sahara.

  • Marvel at Morocco’s iconic sights during visits to the ruins of Volubilis, the remarkable Sahara Desert, the timeless Ait Benhaddou, the tranquil oasis of Skoura and the bustling cities of Fes and Marrakech.

  • See a different side of Morocco in Essaouira when you explore mellow markets, relax on golden beaches and enjoy an Exclusive Experience – a freshly caught seafood lunch.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Casablanca

Welcome to Morocco! Your adventure begins in Casablanca, where you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. A welcome meeting will take place here at 6 pm, where you will meet your local leader and your new travel companions. If you arrive with time to spare, you may like to visit the Villa des Arts, a gorgeous Art Deco gallery featuring exhibitions of contemporary Moroccan art. If you are looking for a different type of cultural experience, then you can discover a unique and fascinating part of Moroccan history at the Museum of Judaism. This evening, celebrate the beginning of a new adventure with a wonderful banquet style dinner with your group, set in the courtyard of a beautiful riad. Nowhere is Morocco’s cultural heritage more evident than in its food, and tonight you’ll have the chance to try classic dishes like tagine and couscous.

Day 2: Fes

This morning you’ll visit one of Casablanca’s most impressive sites: the Mosque of Hassan II. Second only in size to the great mosque at Mecca, it is one of the only religious sites here that’s open to non-Muslims. Drive to Meknes to visit Mausoleum Moulay Ismail, where the 17th-century sultan who made Meknes his capital is laid to rest. Continue to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, where a local guide will help you imagine the bustling city that once was. Enjoy a picnic of fresh bread, cheese, fruits and olives from the market. Travel to Fes and settle in at Riad Salam, a beautiful oasis in the heart of the medina – your Feature Stay for the next two nights. This evening you’ll be welcomed into a local family’s home for dinner. Learn how the Moroccan pie pastilla is made as you chat with your friendly hosts about life in Fes.

Day 3: Fes

Today head into the Old Town, known locally as Fes el Bali. Your leader will share stories of the city’s history as you walk through labyrinthine streets and alleyways, passing donkeys piled high with goods and eye-catching specialty sections. Walking by historic khans, dye-pits and stalls loaded with fragrant herbs and spices, with the squawk of chickens and sounds of copper craftsmen at work filling the air, it’s easy to imagine yourself back in the Middle Ages.

Medieval Fes was one of the world's great centres of education and culture, both Islamic and Jewish. Its religious institutions and libraries are legendary, its mosques of great renown. The group will get a closer look at some of this history with visits to the ornate inner courtyards of centuries-old Islamic school El-Attarine Madrasa and Funduq al-Najjarin, a splendid 18th-century inn.

Day 4: Erfoud

Today, leave the intensity of the city behind for the desert oasis town of Erfoud. Prepare for a long driving day and have your camera ready as there will be plenty of stops to appreciate the ever-changing Moroccan landscape along the way. Wind past olive groves, shepherds tending to their flocks, forests of cedar, pine and oak, and valleys filled with date palms – all with views of the High Atlas Mountains in the distance. Arrive in Erfoud, your gateway to the Sahara Desert. Built by the French in the early 1900s, the town features tightly packed red sand buildings that blend seamlessly into the desert surroundings. While here, be sure to try some dates fresh from the local market – the dates in Erfoud are so delicious they celebrate them with a festival every year.

Day 5: Sahara Desert

Spend the morning exploring Khemliya, a village on the fringe of the orange-coloured Erg Chebbi sand dunes. This traditional Saharan village is known for a distinctive style of music and dance. For lunch today you will get to see how the local speciality dish of medfouna is made, and then sample some yourself. Then it’s time to do as the locals do and ride a camel through the desert towards your accommodation – a spectacular camp hidden away in the sand dunes of the Sahara. Here in this magical escape from the modern world you’ll experience the true essence of desert life. But the remote location doesn’t mean skimping on amenities – permanent tents feature large beds, en suite bathrooms and delightful, authentic décor. Tonight, embrace your extraordinary surroundings and enjoy a traditional feast beneath a sky jewelled with thousands of stars, followed by live Gnaoua music around an open fire.

Day 6: Skoura

Start the day with a truly unforgettable experience – walk with a camel across the desert during sunrise, watching the landscape turn remarkable shades of orange. After breakfast drive to Todra Gorge, a massive trench that rises over 250 metres to form one of the most dramatic and spectacular natural sights in Morocco. You’ll stop for lunch with a local family living within an old kasbah. Here you’ll enjoy some regional dishes and another look inside a typical Moroccan home. Continue to Skoura, home to a historic oasis, sprawling palm plantations and a town dotted with mudbrick castles. Your accommodation for the evening is an excellent ecolodge, with charming rammed-earth bungalows, water conservation systems and a sweep of organic gardens – produce from which is used to create the wonderful meals served on site.

Day 7: Skoura

Today you will take a beautiful walk through shady palm groves. It will take around two to three hours, depending on the interests of the group, and will be over gentle terrain. During your walk your leader will explain the importance of date farming in Morocco and you’ll see examples of the agricultural practices of the area. Afterwards, visit the Kasbah Amridil, a 17th century fortified residence that serves as a living museum. The kasbah is well preserved and maintained by the same family who built it, giving you a look at what life here was like 300 years ago – with goats wandering the courtyards and a traditional olive oil press. The rest of the afternoon is yours to spend relaxing at the lodge. You may like to stretch out by the pool with a good book – there are few better spots to while away an afternoon in the sunshine.

Day 8: Imlil

Depart Skoura and travel to Ait Benhaddou – a hilltop site almost unchanged since the 11th century. Its kasbah is one of the most beautiful in Morocco and the fortified village is a fine example of clay architecture. You may recognise the site from films and TV shows such as Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Explore the Old Town, heading up to the top of the hill for some scenic views. Afterwards, visit Tawesna – a riverside teahouse – for a tasty lunch including freshly made Amazigh bread, soup, Moroccan sweets and mint tea. This community-run establishment provides women with a small income to support themselves and their children. They use natural ingredients sourced from local cooperatives to prepare tea and pastries, taking great pride in sharing their stories and giving visitors an authentic Amazigh experience. Afterwards, traverse the winding mountain pass of Tizi Ni Tichka to reach Imlil, a small village at the base of Mount Toubkal - the highest peak in North Africa.

Day 9: Imlil

After breakfast, set off to explore the quaint village of Imlil and the surrounding area on a pleasant walk, expected to take no more than three hours, depending on the abilities and interests of the group. During the walk you’ll enjoy more insight into everyday life as the locals go about their mornings. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you will be met by a local from the village who will invite you into their home to join in a bread making workshop, teaching you about this important staple. The fresh bread will then be enjoyed as part of your homemade lunch, including olives sourced from the area, couscous or tagine and seasonal fruits.

Day 10: Marrakech

After breakfast, you’ll travel to Marrakech, your final destination and home for the next two nights. Today a local guide will bring the magic of Marrakech to life as you tour the medina and the bustling souks that are the lifeblood of the city. Explore tranquil orange blossom-scented courtyards and the extravagant Bahia Palace. Stop by the Koutoubia Mosque; the inside is for Muslims only, but the famous minaret is a sight to behold. Make your way to Djemaa el-Fna, stopping off to taste some of the marvellous freshly squeezed orange juice from a local stall – sure to be one of the most delicious glasses of OJ you ever have.

Day 11: Marrakech

Today is free to explore Marrakech further. Perhaps visit Le Jardin Secret, a traditional garden with a magnificent courtyard, or head back into the medina and practice your haggling skills. For your final evening, perhaps join your group for a farewell dinner – your leader will be able to recommend some fantastic local restaurants.

Day 12: Essaouira

After breakfast leave for Essaouira, a city where the medina brushes up against the Atlantic Ocean and where you will spend the next two nights. Get to know this laidback and windswept city during an orientation walk with your leader who will help you navigate a maze of market stalls and narrow streets while sharing insights on local life in one of North Africa's most attractive places. Pass the harbour filled with colourful boats and explore the fish souk. Here you will choose a catch of the day and take it to a local-filled restaurant – follow their lead and hand over your market purchase for it to be grilled for the freshest of meals. Your leader will also take you to the fresh vegetables markets where you will choose your salads and veggies to accompany your seafood lunch. Enjoy a delicious meal together with the rest of your group. The evening is yours to uncover Essaouira further.

Day 13: Essaouira

The name Essaouira means image, which is appropriate for the picturesque town. This artists' town was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations, and its charm has seduced people like Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. Enjoy a free day to wander the city’s charming sandstone streets, giving way to the cart-haulers calling ‘ballak, ballak’. Your leader will offer advice on the best ways to spend the day. Perhaps explore Essaouira’s magnificent coast and golden sand dunes on horseback. Discover the Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah Museum and its collection of artefacts, woodwork, carpets and stringed instruments, or sit back and watch the kite surfers ride the crashing waves. You can also discover the taste of Morocco in a cooking class, or head outside of the city to the beautiful surroundings on a daytrip.

Day 14: Marrakech

The morning is free for you to explore further. Perhaps pick up some local handicrafts at the eye-catching market stalls, or enjoy a final coffee in the square to soak up the easy-going rhythm of this Moroccan town with a European seaside twist. In the afternoon, drive back to Marrakech. Once you have settled in to your hotel, you will likely be drawn back to the Djemaa el-Fna, and its surrounding medina. Eating out at one of the many outdoor restaurants lining the square is a great way to finish your adventure.

Day 15: Marrakech

Your trip ends today after breakfast. Check-out time is usually around midday and you are free to leave at any time. If you have arranged a private airport transfer you will be advised of the pick-up time. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring here. Speak to your leader about the wealth of extra activities to do around Marrakech.