May 1-10, 2017 ITINERARY

Casablanca · fez · merzouga · Ouarzazate · Marrakech
10 days from $5999

Day One ~ Arrival

This is the traditional greeting used in Morocco, which conveys the meaning of a warm hello and welcome.

Today your flight arrives into Casablanca. After clearing customs and immigration procedures, you will be transferred to your hotel.

The name Casablanca evokes thoughts of good living, romance and adventure in a tropical setting, an image that the 1943 Humphrey Bogart film conveyed to cinema during World War II. Originally settled by Berbers in the 7th century, Casablanca's fairly recent growth has made it the bustling, French-influenced business center of Morocco it is today.

Tonight meet your fellow travelers at  Zoom Vacations' special welcome dinner.

Accommodations:    Hyatt Regency Casablanca Hotel
Meals Included:        Welcome Dinner


Day Two ~ Casablanca to Fez
Breakfast at the hotel

You discover the fascinating city of Casablanca. The name Casablanca evokes thoughts of good living, romance and adventure in a tropical setting, an image that the 1943 Humphrey Bogart film conveyed to cinema-goers during World War II. Originally settled by Berbers in the 7th century, Casablanca's fairly recent growth has made it the bustling, French-influenced business center of Morocco it is today.

Your visit will include the magnificent Hassan II Grand Mosque, one of the few mosques that can be visited in Morocco.  While grounded only partially on land, almost half of the surface of the mosque lies over the waters of the Atlantic. Designed by french architect Michel Pinseau, it was commissioned by King Hassan II to be the most ambitious structure ever built in Morocco. It's large square minaret thrusting skyward makes it the tallest religious structure in the world.

Your sightseeing will also include the Mohammed V square, where buildings dating back to the beginning of the 20th century display a combination of Hispanic-Muslim architecture and Art Deco influences.  You wil be able to discover a modern version of a medina at Quartier Habbous, whose heavy French influence is also evident.  Continue to explore Casablanca with a stroll through the United Nations square and the Arab League Park.  

Today you will travel to the cultural heart of Morocco, magical Fes. Founded in the 8th century, it is home to several famed historical monuments, among them Karaouine, the world's first university. The sprawling medina of this UNESCO Cultural Heritage site will take you a step back in time to the middle Ages.

Accommodations:    Sahrai Hotel
Meals Included:        Breakfast, Lunch


Day Three ~ Fez
Breakfast at the hotel

Today you will take a step back in time to the middle Ages when you will visit Fes El Bali, the largest living medieval medina-city and the cultural heart of Morocco. You will explore some of the 9000 narrow lanes, alleys and souks that make-up the labyrinth of the city's old quarter, originally founded in the 8th century AD by Moulay Idriss I. The medieval Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Imperial capital was a renowned center of medieval learning and at its heart lays the Karaouine, one of the oldest, still-functioning universities in the world. In the neighboring building is the Attarine Medersa (Koranic college), a jewel of Hispano-Moorish architecture, built in the 14th century.

Your visit of sightseeing will also include a visit to the Nejjarine Square, with its beautiful fountain, made up of mosaics and elaborate tile-work. The nearby Fondouq (Caravanserai) is now converted into a museum of carpentry artefacts.

Colorful slippers, a leather bag or a fashion jacket: all popular items to have in one's wardrobe. But how are they made? For centuries the leather produced in Fes has been highly esteemed and the methods remain the same today as in the medieval times. Only natural ingredients are used for the coloration such as indigo, saffron and poppy. During your visit to the tanneries, you will have the opportunity to learn about the different methods that are used to process the skins of goats and cows to make them look so beautiful.

Your sightseeing includes Dar Batha and the Museum of Moroccan Arts, which houses historical and artistic collections of wood carvings, embroidery, tribal carpets and ceramics.

You will also visit Fes El Jedid (New Fes), built by the Merinid Dynasty in the 13th century. Here you will see the Royal Palace, mosques, medersas, souks and the city wall. Most notably, Fes El Jedid is home to the Mellah, the old Jewish quarter, which provides an interesting insight into Jewish architecture. The wrought iron-decorated windows and splendid carved wood balconies of the old mansions are particularly outstanding.

Visit of the pottery factory is to discover how the beautiful zellij tiles are made, which are the highlights of Arabo-Andalousian décor and are also used in the manufacture of the famous Tagines. "Tagine" refers to an earthenware pot in which is cooked a traditional meal.  The meal itself has also become known as "Tagine" by association, because according to tradition, the meal is cooked and served in the same container.  There are diverse tagines, but typically it is a rich stew of meat or fish and most often also includes vegetables or fruit.

Accommodations:    Sahrai Hotel
Meals Included:        Breakfast, Lunch


Day Four ~ Meknes & Volubilis
Breakfast at the hotel

You will depart overland to Volubilis (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), home to the largest and most well-preserved Roman ruins in Morocco. With its triumphal arches, basilicas and capitols, the Volubilis skyline is peppered with examples of Roman architecture.

However, the greatest treasures of Volubilis are the superb mosaic floors, which have been excellently preserved and left in situ. Three outstanding examples include Orpheus charming animals with his lyre, nine dolphins signifying good luck and a portrait of Amphitrite in a chariot drawn by a seahorse.

From here it is on to Meknes (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site), one of the Imperial Cities of Morocco. In Meknes, the impressive monuments recall the splendor of a city first built in the 17th century by the powerful sultan Moulay Ismail to rival the court of his contemporary, Louis XIV of France.

During your visit to Meknes you will see the monumental Bab Mansour gateway, considered to be one of the finest of the great gates of Morocco, the Granaries and the Royal Stables, which were built to accommodate some 12,000 horses. You will also see Moulay Ismail's Mausoleum, one of the few shrines in Morocco that can be visited by non-Muslims.

Lunch will be enjoyed in a lovely restaurant in Meknes.

At the conclusion of your sightseeing, you will be transferred back to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Accommodations:    Sahrai
Meals Included:        Breakfast, Lunch


Day Five ~ Merzouga
Breakfast at the hotel

Today you will travel to the desert, travelling through the impressive Atlas Mountains and discovering the Tafilalet region, famous for its savory dates and gorgeous scenery. Your sightseeing will include a visit to Rissani, which from the 8th to the 14th century was the site of the first independent kingdom of the south.

You will also visit 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 later became 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 into the south, traveling by four-wheel drive vehicle amongst the desert dunes of Erg Chebbi en route to our exclusive 'glamping' site. 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 - complete with traditional Moroccan entertainment.

Individual tents with a warm, romantic ambiance will welcome you for the night, while the sounds of the Sahara lull you to sleep.

Accommodations:    Exclusive Campsite
Meals Included:        Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner


Day Six ~ Ouarzazate
A delectable breakfast is served, enjoyed at our remote campsite with sweeping desert views for an utterly tranquil morning.

Today you will travel overland to Ouarzazate. The city was once a stopping point for African traders en route to the cities of Morocco and Europe. You will pay a visit to the Todra Gorges and the impressive and picturesque oases that they hide.  You will travel through the southern slopes of the High Atlas range, following the Dades Valley as you pass by flourishing crops, irrigation canals and palm trees.  Following the Thousand Kasbahs route, you will marvel at the breath-taking vistas of impressive hundred-year-old Kasbahs nestled in lush palm groves. 

Along the way you will make a stop to visit a small but fascinating private museum in a Ksar near Tingherir which houses exhibits that showcase local art, culture and history. 

Your road will cross the little city of Skoura nestled in a gorgeous palm grove and continue on to your hotel in Ouarzazate, a town that was built as a French garrison in the 1920s.  Today it is a regional trade center known for pottery and carpets.

Accommodations:    Le Berbère Palace
Meals Included:        Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner


Day Seven ~ Marrakech
Breakfast at the hotel

Today, you will travel through stunning Atlas Mountains to reach the thrilling and colorful city of Marrakech.

En route, you will stop in the fortified village of Ait Benhaddou - 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".

As you drive over the Tizi n'Tichka Pass, the highest in the region at 2,260 meters (7,415 ft.), you will stop to marvel at the views and take some pictures. 

En route, travel through picturesque villages, passing travelers going from one village to the next on foot or by mule. Admire the lush green of eucalyptus trees contrasting the red hue of rocky hills.  You'll notice the exotic smell of "chwaya", grilled meat or Berber tagine beautifully displayed with a tomato on the top.

Your will continue towards Marrakech. Pearl of the South, Jewel of the South, The Red City - just a few of the nicknames Marrakech has acquired over the years. Part Berber, part Arab, part African, Marrakech is the heartbeat of Morocco where palaces and monuments of unrivalled refinement sit calmly alongside the snake charmers and Gnaouan drums pulsing constantly from Djemâa el Fna Square - the most exuberant marketplace in the world. The city is also home to luxury hotels, sophisticated bars and exotic restaurants.

On arrival in Marrakech you will check in at your riad

Accommodations:    La Sultana Marrakech
Meals Included:        Breakfast, Lunch


Day Eight ~ Marrakech
Breakfast at the hotel

Today, you will discover the Mysteries of Marrakech, the most famous city in Morocco.  Most of the city's architectural attractions are inside the Medina, the old walled section of the town.

Your visit will include 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 the whole of the Maghreb (west) and is renowned for its magnificent architecture with zellij tile work, carved wood and stucco work. The central courtyard, student cells and prayer hall are also very interesting to discover.

Opposite the entrance to the Ben Youssef mosque, the Qoubba Almoravides was the ablution center for believers going to the mosque. The complex was also one of the first fountains of the town and used to ensure a constant water supply for the inhabitants of Marrakech and their animals. You can admire it from outside as it is closed for renovation.

As you explore the labyrinthine souks, indulge in some shopping! Souk Smarine is an important thoroughfare, traditionally dominated by the sale of textiles, 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 will also explore the Djemaa El Fna, the city's main square, home to a multitude of street-artists, stalls of dried fruit and freshly-pressed orange juice. The numerous small restaurants that take over its center from the early evening contribute to the scent of its surroundings.   No one can really be certain how it came into being but over the years the square has become the beating heart of Marrakech, where fire-eaters, acrobats, snake-charmers and street musicians perform at every turn.

You will visit the gardens and admire the Koutoubia mosque, an emblem of Marrakech. Koutoubia's minaret went on to inspire the architects of the Giralda of Seville and the Hassan Tower of Rabat. The mosque cannot be visited but its beauty can be admired from the gardens and the square.  This square tower in finely-worked dressed stone is 77 meters (252 feet) tall including its lantern. Built in the 12th century, the Koutoubia minaret is considered to be the most perfect Islamic religious structure in North Africa. This famous landmark dominates the local skyline and can easily be spotted from all over Marrakech.

The Bahia Palace which was ordered in 1880 by the grand vizier Sidi Moussa took 15 years to complete. The beauty of the Bahia Palace makes it a remarkable example of the Arabo-Andalousian and is a masterpiece of domestic architecture which gives a good idea of how the privileged lived during the 19th century. The use of marble, stucco and mosaics is prevalent in the apartments, opening on to courtyards filled with fountains and plant life.

Accommodations:    La Sultana Marrakech
Meals Included:        Breakfast


Day Nine ~ Marrakech
Breakfast at the hotel

Today you take a seat in a horse-drawn carriage for a ride through Marrakech's famous, beautiful gardens which are dotted around the city. The area is fed by a basin that was created to irrigate the surrounding gardens and orchards using a sophisticated system called Qanat. The basin is supplied with water via an old hydraulic system which conveys water from the mountains located at nearly 20 miles away.

You begin with a visit to the Menara gardens, which date back to the 12th century and are set among extensive orchards and olive groves. At the center is a rectangular pool with a fabulous view of the Atlas Mountains. 

From here it's on to visit the Jardin Majorelle (Majorelle Gardens), originally designed in 1924 by French artist Jacques Majorelle. After taking up residence in Marrakech, Majorelle transformed the property's existing garden into a tropical paradise, surrounded by vivid cobalt blue buildings with verdant exotic groves, lily-covered pools, and enormous sculptural cactuses.

These peaceful garden settings offer a variety of exotic plants such as bamboo, cacti, bougainvillea and palms.  Streams and fish filled pools also flow through the tranquil gardens.

The remainder of the day is at leisure, a perfect opportunity for some last minute shopping or sightseeing at your own pace.

Farewell Dinner

Accommodations:    La Sultana Marrakech
Meals Included:        Breakfast, Lunch, and Farewell Dinner


Day Ten ~ Departure
Breakfast at the hotel

Today you will bid farewell to Morocco as you depart for the airport where your international departure flight awaits.

Meals Included:        Breakfast


Air: International and domestic airfare not included.

Passports: Your valid passport should have at least two blank visa pages and should be valid for at least six months after your planned departure from the country you are visiting. 
Note: Passport pages titled "Endorsement Pages" are not visa pages.

Visas: Please note that travelers to Morocco need to have a visa which you will get upon arrival. Passport and visa requirements can change at any time, and travelers should always check their country-specific requirements for traveling abroad.

While Zoom Vacations will assist when possible, please note that passport, visa, and vaccination requirements vary from country to country and are the sole responsibility of the traveler. If you are a US resident, you may click here for more information on passport, visa, and vaccination requirements for various countries.

*Land only Introductory rate, based on double occupancy. Prices are subject to change. Need a roommate? Zoom Vacations® is happy to match you with someone, at no additional charge. Or, you may pay a single supplement and go as a single.

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