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Imperial Cities & the Sahara

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

'Imperial cities' of Meknes & Fes; Exploring lively medinas; Volubilis, Morocco's only Roman site; Sahara dunes at Merzouga; Dramatic Todra Gorge

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before any applicable taxes. The pricing reflects twin-sharing, per-person costs without airfare to/from the tour; however, we can book flights from your home airport for an added cost. Contact us for a no obligation quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Thu 20 Dec 2018Thu 27 Dec 2018 $2380 USD
Sun 21 Apr 2019Sun 28 Apr 2019 $2250 USD
Sun 06 Oct 2019Sun 13 Oct 2019 $2250 USD
Fri 20 Dec 2019Fri 27 Dec 2019 $2380 USD
Sun 31 May 2020Sun 07 Jun 2020 $2250 USD
Sun 04 Oct 2020Sun 11 Oct 2020 $2250 USD
Sun 20 Dec 2020Sun 27 Dec 2020 $2380 USD

Optional Single Supplement: $338 USD (number of singles limited).


Tour Overview


Regions visited: North And West Africa
Countries visited: Morocco


Testimonials


My favorite stops of the tour were Volubilis, the city of Fez (especially the Medina) and Merzouga. I enjoyed our local guides and felt that they were very knowledgeable. Our bus driver, was our source of transportation and he was amazing. He, not only was a great driver, but was very personable as well. The whole group loved him. The evening meals were excellent. Our tour leader was very knowledgeable about that area of the world in terms of language, culture, cuisine, etc. She had an amazingly infectious upbeat attitude. She was ALWAYS smiling!

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Casablanca
Today we arrive in Morocco and transfer to our central Casablanca hotel.

Casablanca is believed to have been a Phoenician settlement and later a Berber town. It was conquered by the Almohads in 1188, and developed by Sutlan Abd el-Moumen as a port. In the 14th century the Portuguese established a settlement here on the site of the village of Anfa, but when it became a pirates' base in 1468, they destroyed it, repeating this act in 1515. The Portuguese reestablished themselves in the late 16th century, renaming the town Casa Blanca, staying until 1755, when an earthquake destroyed the settlement.

Overnight in Casablanca.

Included Meal(s): Dinner

Day 2 Casablanca - Rabat - Fes
This morning we visit the Hassan II Mosque, a glorious structure believed to be only second in size to Islam's most important site, Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The mosque was inaugurated in August 1993, the culmination of five years of intensive labour by over 30,000 workers and craftsmen. Non-Muslims may enter as part of a guided tour.

From Casablanca we travel to Rabat, Morocco's third oldest Imperial City and modern capital. Among the sites in Rabat that we will visit are the the Hassan Tower and the Mohammed V Mausoleum. Leaving Rabat we travel to Fes arriving in time for dinner.

The historic city of Fes lies in the Oued Sebou basin, astride the traditional trade route from the Sahara to the Mediterranean and the path from Algeria and the Islamic heartland beyond. For centuries the dominant axis within Morocco was of Fes and Marrakech, two cities linked by their immense power and rivalry. Fes is still seen as the spiritual and cultural capital and holds an enduring fascination for visitors with one of the largest historic medinas full of monuments reflecting the different periods of Morocco's imperial past.

Overnight in Fes.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Fes - Volubilis - Meknes - Fes
This morning we visit the impressive site of Volubilis, the best-preserved Roman site in Morocco. Situated on the ledge of a long plateau, the dramatic site was once one of the Roman Empire's most remote outposts. Our local guide here will take you on tour of the site; we also allow free time for photographs.

We also see the sacred town of Moulay Idriss (photo stop only). Moulay Idriss is a dramatic sight, houses and mosques piled up around two rock outcrops, with the 'zaouia,' or sanctuary, in between.

We continue to Meknes, Morocco's youngest Imperial City. We feature the Bab El Mansour gate dating from 1752, complete with its Corinthian columns. The city was built by a massive army of slaves, both Moroccan and Christian, and the Sultan was in particular famed for his barbaric treatment of these people, supposedly interring them in the walls. The city contained within it all that was necessary for such a large population and military machine, with store houses, stables, armouries, exercise areas, gardens and ponds.

We return to Fes.

Overnight in Fes.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Fes: City Tour
Today we will have a walking tour of Fes El Bali, the extraordinary medieval walled city. Once inside the gates of this great spectacle, you will see an entirely different view of life in Morocco. In contrast to the well-planned Ville Nouvelle, the old city is a labyrinth of alleys and lanes lined with shops, mosques, homes and schools. In 1980 UNESCO designated the medina a World Heritage Site.

Our guide will take us to the medina to view the market shops, or suqs. Everything from food to clothing can be purchased. We will see the famous dying works with the brightly coloured cloth hanging to dry. A visit to the Royal Palace, several mosques, theological schools, and shops where we can see craftsmen tailoring their work will round out the day's tour. Today's walk is an amazing look into the life of the Moroccan city dweller where little has changed over the centuries.

Overnight in Fes.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Fes - Erfoud
We have a morning departure for the Middle Atlas, a region of folded mountains and high, windswept plateaux, vast forests of cork oak and cedar, and lakes and streams full of trout. This is Berber country and sheep and goat-rearing is the main occupation of these resilient, friendly people. We drive via the Berber villages of Imouzzer du Kandar; Ifrane, a fairy-tale town unlike any other in Morocco with white-walled French-style villas with steep red roofs and gables. As the altitude increases, we come to a bare, arid, sandy plateau with another range of mountains in the distance.

We continue to Erfoud, an attractive town -- red and sandy, exuding desert ambiance.

Overnight in Erfoud.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Rissani & Merzouga Dunes
This morning we journey to the historic 8th century caravan town of Rissani to visit the Tafilalt Oasis. The first capital of the Tafilalt and the last stop on the caravan routes south, Rissani has a special place in Moroccan lore. The ruling Alaouite dynasty (from whom Morocco's current ruler, Mohammed VI, is a descendant) launched its bid for power here before triumphing finally in Fes and Marrakech. Today, a quarter of Rissani's population still inhabits a large 17th-century ksar in the center of town.

Later this afternoon we drive by 4WD vehicle to Merzouga to witness sunset over the dunes. We have time to explore the dunes on foot, or by camel! This is a magical landscape, with huge drifting expanses of sand dunes reaching heights of more than 45 metres (148 ft). Their colour shifts from pink to gold to red to white depending on the time of day.

Overnight at Merzouga.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Merzouga - Todra Gorge - Ouarzazate
This morning we depart for the Todra Gorge, one of Morocco's most spectacular sights. It is a vast fault in the plateau separating the High Atlas from the Jbel Sarhro, two sheer cliffs over 300 metres (958 ft) high separated by a narrow corridor only 20 metres (66 ft) wide.

Later we cross the southern slopes of the High Atlas before arriving at the captivating city of Ouarzazate. We stop en route in the heart of the Dades Valley at the oasis of Kelaa Mgouna.

Overnight in Ouarzazate.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Ouarzazate - Casablanca - Depart
Today we fly back to Casablanca and connect with flights that generally leave late in the evening.

NOTE: The flight to Casa is included in your trip cost; if booking your own flights from Casablanca, land only passengers need to take into account the timing of the flight from Ouarzazate before booking their air from Casa.

BON VOYAGE!!

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Novotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Casablanca
Country: Morocco

Located in the center of Casablanca just a short walk from the Casa Port train station at the heart of
... business district, this 281-room 4-star Novotel offers an unrivalled view of the Hassan II Mosque and the port of Casablanca. Our banquet team knows how to create the ideal setting in one of the 5 meeting rooms, equipped with the latest technology and able to accommodate up to 220 people. The Mohammed V Airport lies 19 miles (30 km) and 30 minutes away from the hotel.
Read More.

Riad El Yacout

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Fes
Country: Morocco

Riad El Yacout is an old traditional formally residential home that has been carefully restored to provide hospitable, comfortable and
... luxury accommodation. This house was built by a famous researcher & professor at university of Quaraouiyine in the 16th century. In the year 2000, the current owners bought this property and spent years to restore the riad .
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Auberge Shara Garden


Location: Merzouga
Country: Morocco

The hotel different kinds of spacious guest rooms fitted with single, twin and queen-size beds, comfortable berber tents, terrasse, small
... nice swimming pool.
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Hotel Fint

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Ouarzazate
Country: Morocco

Le Fint in Ouarzazate is one of the few international hotels among all the Hotels in Ouarzazate; this hotel is
... for tourists that want exemplary amenities and services.





Read More.


Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner (hotels & local restaurants) daily. All sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving / late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.

Exclusions

International airfare to/from the tour. Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), domestic & international air taxes (if applicable), excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered in winter, spring and fall, the most popular of which are spring and fall when temperatures are relatively mild. Our Christmas departures will experience chilly nights/mornings (possibly frosty) though sunny days can be quite warm in some locations.

For a couple of years, starting from 2020, our spring dates are a little later in the season in order to avoid widespread closures or reduced hours for important sites during the holy month of Ramadan. For these times, late May/early June, we will likely experience some heat in certain locations.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport throughout by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Though we will have some full bus days, road travel is not particularly arduous as there are plenty of stops of interest. Roads are in good condition though winding on some stretches. Numerous walking tours on uneven surfaces. Internal flight via local carrier.

Accommodation

Well-located, air- conditioned, mid-range hotels (3-4 star) throughout. All hotels have en suite bath, though some may have shower only. Porter service is usually available (see 'inclusions') though you should be independent with your luggage. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, driver, local step-on guides in various locales.

Group Size

10-18 (plus Tour Leader)