With National Geographic Expeditions
Oct. 07 – 17, 2011, Oct. 21 – 31, 2011
Morocco’s mystique can be found in medinas that brim with color, soaring mountains that give way to endless desert, oases thick with palms, and stunning Moorish architecture. Discover the enchanting cities of Marrakech and Fez, venture into rose-colored casbahs, and visit little-known mountain villages. Listen to the strains of Berber music around a campfire in the Sahara, and stay at the glorious Palais Jamai in Fez.
- Explore the Roman ruins of Volubilis and the ancient adobe village of Aït Benhaddou, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- Ride a camel at sunset to a tented camp nestled among the sculpted dunes, and watch the sun rise over the Sahara.
- Observe artisans plying their timeless crafts in the workshops of Fez.
- Learn about Berber culture while sipping mint tea and eating hearth-baked bread in a traditional home.
Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Casablanca, Morocco
Depart on an overnight flight to Casablanca. After time to relax the following morning, visit the extraordinary Hassan II Mosque, whose 689-foot minaret is the world’s tallest. Enjoy lunch before taking a stroll through the city’s Habous district and the mechouar, the ceremonial meeting place outside the Royal Palace. Tonight, gather for a festive welcome dinner overlooking the sea.
Sheraton Casablanca Hotel & Towers (L,D)
Day 3 — Casablanca/Marrakech
Drive through the elegant Anfa neighborhood on the way to Marrakech, Morocco’s legendary “pearl of the south.” Enjoy a poolside lunch at the hotel before exploring the city of Marrakech. See the splendid Koutoubia Mosque and the Saadian Tombs, and visit Bahia Palace. Explore the labyrinthine streets of the medina, lined with market stalls and craftspeople; and soak up the colorful chaos of Djemma el Fna Square, where snake charmers and magicians captivate the passersby. Tonight, gather for a rooftop reception and dinner accompanied by traditional Gnaoua music in the heart of the old medina. Le Méridien N’Fis (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Marrakech
Continue exploring the sites of Marrakech today. Meander through the stunning Majorelle Garden, once owned by Yves Saint-Laurent. Explore historic Moroccan architecture with visits to the 14th-century Ben Youssef Madrassa and the Museum of Marrakech, located in the Dar Menebhi Palace. After lunch, venture back to the lively medina with our local guide or explore on your own. Le Méridien N’Fis (B,L)
Day 5 — Aït Benhaddou/Ouarzazate
Cross the High Atlas Mountains over the Tichka Pass, stopping for mint tea at a traditional Berber village. Proceed to Aït Benhaddou for lunch overlooking this ancient fortified village before venturing into its warren of twisting lanes and shops. Continue to Ouarzazate, a former colonial trading post now known for its movie studios, where films like Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia were shot. Le Berbère Palace (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Ouarzazate/Boumalne Dades
Learn about traditional adobe architecture in Taourirt Kasbah this morning. Then set out on the fabled Road of 1,000 Kasbahs. Arrive in Boumalne Dades, a small town nestled amid the crags and plateaus of the semidesert landscape. After lunch, head out on a hike in the dramatic Dades Gorge and visit nearby villages. Xaluca Dades (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Erfoud/Rissani/Merzouga
Continue along the Road of 1,000 Kasbahs to Erfoud, passing spectacular rock formations, oases, and rose plantations. In Erfoud, climb into 4x4s for the drive into the desert. Visit the well known suq in Rissani, a historic camel caravan stop. Later, ride into the dunes on a camel to watch the sun set on the Sahara. Return to our deluxe Berber tented camp to dine under the star-studded sky and enjoy an evening of Berber folk music and tales around the campfire. Bivouac Tented Berber Camp (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Merzouga/Fez
Awaken early for a walk across the sandscape as the rising sun paints the dunes orange and gold. Return to the camp for a hearty breakfast. Then head north into the high-mountain plains on your way to Fez, stopping for a walk in a lush cedar forest. Arrive in Fez late this afternoon, and settle into your room at the legendary Palais Jamai, your home for the next three nights. Palais Jamai (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Fez
Spend the day exploring this magnificent imperial city. Discover the 14th-century Bou Inania madrassa, characterized by its intricately carved stucco walls, arches, and cornices. See the Nejjarine Fountain, covered in exquisite mosaics, and the Kairaouine Mosque. Delve into the lively medina, where merchants preside over colorful mounds of spices and tanners soak skins in vats of dye. Visit the Royal Palace and Fes Jdid, home to the historic Jewish quarter. Palais Jamai (B,L)
Day 10 — Fez/Volubilis and Meknes
Today you may choose to explore Fez at your own pace or take an excursion to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, a World Heritage site; and Meknes, Morocco’s 17th-century capital. Tonight, toast our Moroccan adventure at a farewell dinner and belly-dancing performance at the Palais Jamai. Palais Jamai (B,D)
Day 11 — Fez/U.S.
This morning, transfer to the airport for your return flight. (B)