Day 1: Australia –– Casablanca
Depart Australia today to begin your incredible adventure to Morocco!
Day 2: Casablanca (D)
Welcome to Morocco. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore the city, but an important welcome meeting will be held at 6pm this evening. Please check the hotel reception for details.
If you arrive with time to spare, then a great option for your limited time in Casablanca is to visit the art deco Villa des Arts. This gorgeous gallery dates to the 1930s and holds numerous exhibitions of contemporary Moroccan and international 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.
Accommodation: Moroccan House (or similar).
A charming hotel in the city centre, Moroccan House Casablanca is at an easy walking distance to many of the major attractions. The property resembles a local Riad in architecture and design, allowing its guests to absorb traditional Moroccan culture.
Day 3: Casablanca – Rabat – Meknes (B)
After breakfast today, drive to the capital of Rabat. Rabat’s history is long and colourful, having been host to Roman settlements, pirates and more recently the Moroccan parliament. It contains numerous fine Arab monuments, some dating from the 10th to 15th century Almohad and Merenid dynasties, and others that are far older. The earliest known settlement is Sala, occupying an area now known as the Chellah, where you will visit the remains of the citadel. You will also see the vast minaret of the Hassan Mosque and explore the lovely walled quarter known as the Kasbah des Oudaias. In the late afternoon, continue to Meknes (approximately 2 hours), the sixth largest city in the kingdom, and former capital of Morocco.
Accommodation: Oasis Tafilalet (or similar)
A cosy hotel with views of the old Medina that enjoys a fantastic location in the heart of Meknes.
Day 4: Meknes – Volubilis – Fes (B,D)
This morning you will discover the charming streets of Meknes’ medina – the old walled section of the city. Enter via the northern gate, Bab Berdaine, and walk to the shrine of Moulay Ismail who, in the 17th century, turned Meknes from a provincial town to a spectacular Imperial city. You will explore the elaborately decorated public buildings hidden in these winding streets, including the lovely Bou Inania Medresse (religious school). Take some time to soak up the bustling atmosphere of the old souk before driving out of the city to the ruins of Volubilis (approximately 45 minutes). Volubilis was once a provincial Roman capital, a distant outpost of the empire, and the remains make an undeniably impressive sight. Volubilis is the foremost Roman site in Morocco and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1997. Upon arrival you will take a tour around the ruins with a local guide. Please remember to pack drinking water, hat, sunglasses and sun cream for this tour as it may get hot and you will be exposed to the sun. And, of course, don’t forget to take your camera as the town is filled with fantastic mosaics along the Decumanus Maximus, many of which remain intact. After time spent imagining Volubulis as the bustling city it once was, continue to the living museum of Fes for the night (approximately 1.5 hours).
Tonight, experience local culture up close as you enjoy a home cooked-dinner with a local family. Pastilla is a specialty dish in Fes and easily ranks among the most popular meals cooked at home. A true delight for your senses outside the beaten path!
Accommodation: Fes Inn (or similar)
Hotel Fès Inn is located a 10-minute drive from the Old Medina, offering a swimming pool surrounded by sun loungers. You can relax in the hammam or enjoy a drink on the rooftop terrace. Free Wi-Fi can be accessed in common areas throughout the property.
Day 5: Fes (B)
Fes is the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco; vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses. It is made up of three distinct ‘cities’, or quarters, and you will stay in elegant, riad-style accommodation on the edge of the huge, well-preserved medieval old city – the mother of all medinas. Today head into the old city, known locally as Fes el Bali, arguably the world’s most fascinating and confounding old city. 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. Walk through the twisting streets and alleyways, passing donkeys piled high with goods, and explore the specialty sections that divide the souk. Filled with historic khans, medresses and dye-pits, stalls loaded with fruits, herbs and soups, and where the squawk of chickens, smell of spice and sound of hammering of copper fills the air, it’s not hard to imagine yourself back in the Middle Ages. Spend the day exploring the old city, visiting, Mederassa Bou Inania, the tanneries and the splendid Funduk Nejjarine, a beautifully restored 18th century inn. Return to your hotel in the late afternoon and enjoy a memorable dinner of one of the city’s signature dishes, the salty and sweet pastille.
Day 6: Fes – Merzouga (B,D)
Today, leave the intensity of the city behind for the simplicity of the High Atlas Mountains. Drive south, inland through a variety of spectacular scenery – fertile valleys, cedar and pine forests and barren, rocky landscapes – to the small town of Midelt (approximately 4 hours). Midelt is a market town, originally built as a base for mining in the area, nestled in the high plains surrounding the Moulouya River between the Middle and High Atlas mountain ranges at an elevation of just over 1,500 meters. It is a perfect spot to break up the journey to the Sahara. After an optional lunch continue your journey to Merzouga (approximately 5 hours). With a backdrop of the orange-colored Erg Chebbi sand dunes, the charming Saharan village of Merzouga feels wonderfully isolated, like the modern world has left it behind. The Erg Chebbi dunes are the most stunning in the country and an essential part of any visit to Morocco. An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that’s formed into picturesque, undulating crests and valleys. The Erg Chebbi is one of the world’s iconic landscapes, with towering dunes up to 150 meters in height. Located at the end of a sealed road and just 20 kilometres from the Algerian border this really feels like frontier country. You will leave your gear at a simple auberge and then ride camels into the edge of the Sahara Desert, enjoying a spectacular sunset along the way. The dunes are stunning, especially as the evening light plays across them and sets off the colors. Tonight, you will camp out in traditional style, with the chance to try some fantastic local cuisine while you sit around an open fire, enjoying lively music and dancing under the stars.
Accommodation: Yasmina (or similar)
Yasmina offers some of the best views in the Sahara Desert due to its strategic position at the top of a hill, surrounded by vast stretches of sand dunes and even a lake. A sight you won’t soon forget!
Day 7: Merzouga – Todra Gorges – Thingir (B)
Enjoy a real Lawrence of Arabia moment this morning with a sunrise camel ride across the desert on the return journey to the auberge. Then drive to Todra Gorge (approximately 4 hours), a massive trench that rises over 250 meters to form one of the most dramatic and spectacular natural sights in Morocco. The limestone stacks make a perfect area for trekking, and so today you will take a short walk through the sheer cliffs.
Accommodation: Hotel Kasbah Taboriht (or similar)
Located near the Todra Gorge, this little gem of a hotel is surrounded by stunning rock formations and enjoys a fantastic reputation.
Day 8: Thingir – Ouarzazate – Ait Benhaddou (B)
Leaving Todra Gorge today, set off on the fabled ‘Road of 1,000 Kasbahs’ to Ait Benhaddou (approximately 4 hours). Pause for lunch in Ouarzazate, where productions such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky and Black Hawk Down were filmed. Time permitting, you can take a tour of the Atlas Movie Studios. Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco’s most iconic sites. Its grant kasbah is one of the most beautiful in Morocco and the fortified village is a fine example of clay architecture. If you think you recognize the place, you probably do, as the town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Enjoy a walk through the winding streets of the old town, making your way to the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy the views across the surrounding plains. After heading to your nearby hotel for the night, maybe sit back on the roof top terrace and watch the sun setting over the magical Kasbah.
Accommodation: Ksar El Janoub (or similar)
Experience spectacular views of the mountains and surrounding desert from this unique property. You will also have a chance to watch the spectacular sunrise and enjoy magical sunsets from the comfort of your rooms.
Day 9: Ait Benhaddou – Essaouira (B)
Today you will drive for several hours through the winding roads of the Atlas, towards the Atlantic Coast and the old fishing town of Essaouira, a city where the medina brushes up against the Atlantic Ocean. Sandstone walkways contrast with whitewashed houses, bright blue sky and the sand of the surrounding beaches and dunes. 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. It is one of North Africa’s most attractive places, and you will soon find yourself slipping into the easy-going rhythm of this Moroccan town with a European seaside twist.
Accommodation: Les Miramar (or similar)
Opposite Essaouira bay, at the gates of the medina, East and West meet in this place to call your senses to relaxation and well-being. Located two steps from the medina and facing the ocean, the Miramar hotel is the promise of a successful stay.
Day 10: Essaouira (B)
Today is at your leisure. Indulge in the city’s many shops and restaurants and soak up the relaxing atmosphere.
Day 11: Essaouira – Marrakech (B,D)
Travel to Marrakech this morning – an ancient, exotic city wrapped in European modernity. In the evening, join your local guide for an escorted foodie tour to discover the hidden local food shops in Marrakech. Visit the souks whilst sampling olives, dried fruits, seeds, pastries, and other Moroccan specialties. Visit a local spice market and hear how spices are used in Moroccan dishes before enjoying dinner in one of the many great restaurants lining the square.
Accommodation: Les Trois Palmiers (or similar)
A boutique hotel in the city centre, Les Trois Palmiers is a modern property that comes equipped with facilities of international standards.
Day 12: Marrakech (B)
Today is at leisure. Feel free to head out to the markets and eternalise your stay with some unique souvenirs.
Day 13: Marrakech – Casablanca –– Dubai (B)
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight to Dubai. On arrival, please make your own way to your hotel. Taxis are plentiful and relatively cheap compared to most other major cities.
Accommodation: Novotel Suites Dubai Mall of the Emirates (or similar)
Everything Dubai has to offer is just minutes away from Novotel Suites Dubai Mall of the Emirates. Located next to the Mall of the Emirates in the Al Barsha business and leisure district, with proximity to Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeriah, Media City, Internet City and just minutes from Jumeirah Beach.
Day 14: Dubai (B)
After breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel for a half-day city tour of Dubai. Start off with a visit to the Dubai Museum, depicting the fascinating history and culture of the region. Continue to Jumeirah Mosque, a rare blend of traditional and modern architecture that is sure to take your breath away. Driving past Jumeirah Beach, you will get to Palm Island – the most scenic mad-made island on earth with some incredible beach formations. Finally, you get a chance to visit the awe-inspiring glamour of Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, both of which are home to the finest in shopping, dining and entertainment.
Day 15: Dubai (B)
Today is yours at leisure. You may wish to visit the world’s largest aquarium at Dubai Mall, or perhaps relax in the tranquil environments of your hotel. The possibilities are endless!
Optional tour (at own expense): Evening Desert Safari with BBQ Dinner and Belly dancing
Later this afternoon, you will meet your tour guide for an incredible desert adventure. An exhilarating drive across the sand dunes is followed by BBQ dinner under the stars, including an acrobatic fire show, scenic photo opportunities, belly dancing and even camel riding! What a way to end your journey.
Day 16: Dubai –– Australia (B)
At the appropriate time, make your way to Dubai airport for your homeward flight.
Day 17: Australia
Arrive home today.