President’s Pick Morocco Mazes & Mysteries

"Every year I visit Morocco and I am amazed by two things: how much the country has to offer, and how little of it is really being done right. Morocco has long been known for its riads, the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara desert and the excruciatingly long drives. This is reflected in nearly every itinerary across the board. This journey is designed to focus more on the adventure side plus the luxury aspect of Morocco and minimize some of those long desert drives. It takes you inside a Berber home, camping on the great sand dunes and into the dramatic gorges of Todra."

Country Information

Morocco

President's Pick Morocco Mazes & Mysteries President’s Picks

(Countries Visited)

Morocco


(Interest Type(s))

Romantic Getaways

,

Adventure Travel


(Tour Length)

13 Days


Tour Highlights

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  • Discover the delights of Marrakech, including ride in a motorcycle sidecar to discover the delightful House Fallen from the Sky, the topsy-turvy house resting in a field of tall yellow grass and The Giant’s House, with all the objects set at twice their normal size, designed to pull you back into a child-sized world with the towering chairs and an enormous bed
  • Travel to Erfoud, a small town on the edge of the desert, and discover its quarry, where fossils have been discovered
  • Savor a magical night in a tented camp in the middle of nowhere and go on an evening camel ride into the dunes
  • Wander through the alleyways and busy souks of Kasbahs from Marrakech to the most exotic and best-preserved Kasbah in the whole of the Atlas region in the village of Ait Benhaddou
  • Explore the legendary city of Casablanca, including Hassan II Grand Mosque, among the largest in the world, holding up to 25,000 worshipers

Day 1: Casablanca, Morocco / Marrakech
Today on arrival at the Casablanca airport, you are welcomed with VIP service by a representative, who will be waiting for you at the exit of the tunnel or main building depending on your landing area. The rep will handle processing your passports and organizing the police and customs procedures. Then you are assisted with your connection to your onward schedule flight to Marrakech. On arrival in Marrakech, you are met in the arrival hall by your master driver, who will transfer you in a private car to your hotel where the remainder of the day is at leisure. Royal Mansour

Day 2: Marrakech
Today, discover the mysteries of Marrakech, and part of that exploration includes touring from the sidecar of a vintage WWII  Russian-made motorbike. Prepare yourself for a discovery in the labyrinth of souks, a nearly irresistible place to shop.

You start your visit with the Ben Youssef Medersa, one of the jewels of Marrakech. The current structure of this Koranic school was built around 1570. It is the biggest medersa (school) in all of the Maghreb. Opposite the entrance to the Ben Youssef mosque, the Qoubba Almoravides was the ablution (Christian washing ritual) center for believers going to the mosque. The complex was also one of the first fountains in town and used to ensure a constant water supply for the inhabitants of Marrakech and their animals.

Souk Smarine is an important thoroughfare, traditionally dominated by the sale of textiles and clothing and all Moroccan handicrafts. This is a maze of colorful alleys and small squares, which are home to a bewildering array of stalls and ateliers devoted to specific crafts. You end up at the Djemâa el Fna Square, with its multitude of street artists and stalls of dried fruit or orange juice freshly-pressed. Small restaurants take over its center from the early evening, adding a rich scent to the surroundings. No one really knows how it came into being, but over the years it has become the beating heart of Marrakech, where spectacles of fire eaters, mime artists, snake charmers and street musicians perform at every turn.

This afternoon, you are in for a treat.  Ride in a motorcycle sidecar to discover the delightful House Fallen from the Sky. This unusual topsy-turvy house  rests in a field of tall yellow grass with palms trees a little distance beyond in this oasis at the edge of Marrakesh’s northern section. This is an amazing art form by Jean Francois Fortou, born in Paris in 1964, who splits his time between Marrakech and Madrid. His upside-down house is fully decorated inside with everything arranged upside down and a bit off kilter. In the kitchen, two red chairs and a pale blue table set with full soup bowls, terrine, cutlery and a bottle of wine. The wooden floorboards above anchor a simple bed to the ceiling... I mean the floor. Walking up the ladder to the first floor can make you dizzy. You feel as though you are in one of those carnival funhouses from childhood. Indeed, the atmosphere has a nostalgic feel flowing through the structure.

Tombée du Ciel is Fourtou’s second large-scale sculptural work in Marrakech. Also on his property, Dar el Sadaka is his well-known La Maison de Géant, The Giant’s House, with all the objects set at twice their normal size. Reached through a labyrinth of bamboo on one side and olive trees on the other, the house evokes the past and pulls you back into a child-sized world with the towering chairs and an enormous bed. A giant pencil is ready to draw in the giant notebook – all to make you feel apart of that world again. The house is set at three-quarter scale, adapted to a four-year old’s perspective, and on a one-fifth scale – not much larger than a doll house. Royal Mansour (B)

Day 3: Marrakech
You start the day with a visit to the house of Serge Lutens, a French an established photographer, hair stylist, artist and film maker. Most people know him for  perfume design and his fragrances are sold by Sephora. Lutens has been known for several years for his eye for beautiful things, including his  extravagant, world-renowned home in Marrakech. Lutens has been strongly inspired by Morocco since he started coming to the city in the 1980s, which was reflected in his perfumes. The house is in the heart of Marrakech medina, and contains several sitting rooms. He designed virtually everything, including the wall and ceiling carvings, the mosaics, the lamps and the pattern on the velvet banquettes. The house has been under construction for 35 years and is an art gallery in itself.  The only visitors who are allowed access are the guests staying at Royal Mansour. Then visit Comptoir des Mines Gallery, a must-see in Marrekech for its gallery of Meknes artist, Mohammed Kacimi, who is very much like Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Botero, or Picasso. Many consider him a son of Morocco.  The afternoon is free for relaxing at your hotel or getting in some shopping. Royal Mansour (B)

Day 4: Marrakech / Ouarzazate
Today you have a free day in Marrakech until later this afternoon when you are transferred to the Marrakech airport for your flight to Ouarzazate. On arrival, you are welcomed and transferred to your hotel in Ouarzazate for the night. Ksar Ighnda (B)

Day 5: Ouarzazate / Erfoud / Merzouga
This morning after breakfast, you are driven to Erfoud, a small town on the edge of the desert, and discover its quarry, where fossils have been discovered. More than 400 million years ago, the desert area of Morocco was a sea. When the sea receded, the marine life died and eventually fossilized. Today the mining of these fossilized rocks is a growing and popular industry in this part of Morocco. You will have the opportunity to admire how these Goniatitida and Trilobites are used to produce beautiful decorative objects ranging from a plate to a table.

You will then head south, traveling by 4 x 4 vehicle among the desert dunes of Erg Chebbi en route to your tented camp. The desert is rocky to begin with, like a drum roll preparing you for the upcoming Sahara dunes that you can distinguish in the distance. Then comes the sand, warm and mysterious, never knowing what is hidden behind a dune.

One of the hills will reveal your magical tented camp, settled in the middle of nowhere. In the evening savor a mouth-watering dinner served around a campfire or in a tent, with warm and cozy decorations that welcome you for the night. In the evening you enjoy a camel ride into the dunes. Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp (B,D)

Day 6: Erg Chebbi / Merzouga / Erfoud / Skoura
After an early breakfast, you set out for Ouarzazate as you continue your drive to Skoura, and check into our hotel, Dar Ahlam, hidden away in the pretty palmerie of the small town of Skoura. A series of small tracks wind their way through the palm grove. The converted Kasbah from the early 20th century is a luxurious property that consists of nine suites and three private villas in the attractive gardens. Each suite is spacious and minimalist-style chic, with sizeable baths in the ensuite bathrooms and a sitting room complete with dressing area and open fire. Each villa has two sitting rooms and a plunge pool.

The main Kasbah is a warren of scented corridors, alcoves and grand archways, very deliberately creating an authentic and discreet atmosphere. Each meal is taken privately in a different location, whether it be somewhere inside the Kasbah or outside in the two hectares of gardens, so guests will never have to repeat the same view or experience. A large pool in the garden is complemented by a luxurious hammam, Jacuzzi and massage rooms. An all-inclusive stay gives guests access to the hammam, use of mules and camels to explore the palmerie and a cooking course. Dar Ahlam (B)

Day 7: Skoura – Dades Valley
Today you explore Dades Valley as well as the dramatic gorges of Todra and the famous 1000 Kasbah Road. Tinghir a charming city situated between the mountains of the large Atlas to the North and those of Saghro in the South, and the city and neighboring villages are home to 60,000 inhabitants. It is known for its splendid palm plantation and its spectacular “throats” (gorges) of Toudgha. The city was built in stages around a headland dominated by the ruins of an old residence of Glaoui, which was a military station when this trigon was a protectorate. The palm plantation spreads out some 35 km/22 mi. The 1,000 Kasbah Road has its share of Kasbahs doting the roadsides and Berber villages are scattered along the way. You have a picnic lunch during the excursion. Later, you are driven back to your resort where the rest of the evening is at leisure. Dar Ahlam (B)

Day 8: Skoura
Today is a free day to relax and enjoy your hotel or do some excursions from your resort. You can completely personalize adventures with your dedicated guide. Trek into the Valley of Roses, explore among the corn stalks and pomegranate trees of a nearby palmeraie and drive to the hilltop vestiges of a 12th-century Berber village for a traditional tea ceremony at dusk. Dar Ahlam (B)

Day 9: Skoura / Asni
Today you venture off into a magical world to discover Morocco’s most spectacular historical legacies of wealth and power. Ouarzazate is a small town in the middle of a bare plateau in southern Morocco. It is mostly populated by Imazighen (Amazigh people), who are responsible for the construction of assorted fortified dwellings like Kasbahs and Ksours for which the whole region is famous. UNESCO World Heritage treasures, Cinema Studios, remarkable authentic Berber villages and a rich culture of the glorious Moroccan desert. Visit the Taourirt Kasbah, a former residence of the Atlas lords, the powerful Pacha Glaoui family with its 300 clay rooms, true maze of passageways and a lavish decoration with geometrical patterns within an immense structure that only connects to the outside world through a narrow entrance doorway.

On the way, the fortified village of Ait Benhaddou is the most exotic and best-preserved Kasbah in the whole of the Atlas region. The village has starred in many masterpieces of the cinema such as “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Jesus of Nazareth”, “Gladiator” and “The Mummy. You continue towards Asni, and check in to your resort. Kasbah Tamadot (B)

Day 10: Asni
Today you enjoy trekking around the Kasbah before you discover the village of Imlil in the foothills of Djebel Toubkal, the highest mountain in the Atlas. Upon arrival, you opt to ride mules or do a soft trek to reach a Berber house, where you will enjoy a special encounter as you gain a glimpse into the Berber way of life. Mohamed welcomes you to his humble house. You will meet his family and learn about their way of living. You will savor a delicious Berber lunch or mint tea break and a delightful Berber bread. Relax and take in this enriching human encounter at the same time with Mohamed and your guide. Return to Kasbah Tamdot for lunch on the terrace and enjoy the splendid view over the mountains. your lunch you will be transferred to your resort. Kasbah Tamadot (B,L)

 Day 11: Asni
Today you are free to enjoy your resort or do an excursion into the surrounding area such as a visit to Tin Mal Mosque and the village of Ouirgane. The 12th-century mosque is one of only two mosques in Morocco open to non-Muslims. It has stunning architecture and a rich history. The 12th century Tin Mal Mosque is one of only two Mosques in Morocco that is open to non-Muslims. The Mosque has stunning architecture with genuine features abounding in rich history. From the Mosque you will return to the village of Ouirgane where you may stop for mint tea and visit a Berber family.Kasbah Tamadot (B)

Day 12: Asni / Marrakech / Casablanca
Today you will depart from your resort in Asni via Marrakech and head to Casablanca. This afternoon you explore Casablanca, which begins with an excursion around the port city of Casablanca. During your tour you will visit the Hassan II Grand Mosque. The mosque is amongst the largest in the world and can house as many as 25,000 worshipers. The mosque’s minaret is the tallest religious structure in the world. Sofitel Casablanca Tour Blanche (B)

Day 13: Casablanca / Depart
Today you are transferred to the Casablanca airport before your international flight, where you will be provided VIP airport assistance to connect your international flight. (B)

 

Land price, per person, double occupancy: From US$1,200 per person per day.

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