WHENSept. 30, 2023
WHAT MAKES THIS TRIP EXTRAORDINARY
- The itinerary is the most complete being offered today.
- You will explore the Sahara, the Imperial cities, three Atlas ranges in Morocco and its Atlantic coast.
- Drive times have been reduced to their minimum, resulting in the best pacing possible.
- You will be accompanied by a Master Local Guide (with no less than 15 years of experience).
- New Paths Expeditions upscale Sahara Desert Camp is the finest that exists. You will feel like nomad royalty while exploring the desert.
- Camel ride during the Sahara’s sunset.
If you have any questions, please let us know. We are here to help you!
Itinerary in Brief
Arrive in Casablanca:
Overnight at Le Doge Relais & Chateaux (D).
To Fes via Meknes and Volubilis
The day begins with a quick visit to the Hassan II Mosque, Africa’s largest religious structure, located 10 minutes from Le Doge.
After that, we’ll be accompanied by the northern Rif Mountains on our way to Meknes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Morocco’s youngest imperial city. Meknes was created in the 12th century and flourished under Sultan Moulay Ismail, one of Morocco’s most powerful rulers in history. Despite his reputation as a merciless warrior, the Sultan was also a devoted constructor, transforming Meknes from a little village into a spectacular capital with massive ramparts, colossal gates, more than 50 palaces, and 15 kilometers of outer walls during his 55-year rule. We will see the ruins of the old stables and granaries and the spectacular Bab el Mansour entryway.
Volubilis was established during the first centuries of the Christian Era as one of Rome’s African colonies. Because of the area’s fertility, especially regarding olive cultivation, Volubilis in ancient times expanded and included a basilica and other public buildings. The adjacent homes were embellished with stunning mosaics, which can still be seen today. Volubilis’ partially excavated ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offer fantastic photo opportunities. Volubilis is also an excellent place to go birding.
After we visit Volubilis, we will proceed to Fes for dinner and spend the night at the Palais Amani, a top-rated Riad located in the city’s Old Town.
Overnight Palais Faraj (B,L,D).
Day 3 will begin with a tour of the ramparts, which will introduce Fes’ culture and history. Next, your Senior Expedition Leader will lead you to visit the city’s most fascinating areas, accompanied by local guides. While a visit to the 14th-century Madrassa near the Karaouine Mosque will be the highlight of the morning, you will also have the opportunity to explore the depths of the food and spice markets and sample the products at the public bakeries.
The old manner of doing things can be observed in the ateliers found all across Fes, where you can watch crafts people at work.
Fountains, mosques, sanctuaries, and Islamic schools can be found along the road.
Fes cuisine is regarded as one of the greatest in Morocco. Today’s lunch will allow you to sample some of the city’s best traditional dishes, from a variety of delicate first courses to tanginess and light and delicious couscous. The restaurant itself is an architectural wonder.
After lunch, we’ll visit the late-nineteenth-century palace that once belonged to King Hassan I and now has been adapted as a museum dedicated to the city’s traditional arts. Then we’ll head to the Jewish area in the city’s New Fez district, where we’ll see the jewelry on display in the market and tour a 17th-century Synagogue.
Through the Middle Atlas Mountains to Midelt
After breakfast, we depart Fes to journey through the Middle Atlas Mountains to Midelt, a little town. Midelt is situated between the Middle and High Atlas Mountain ranges on a high plain.
We’ll arrive in Imouzzer de Kandar, a little town inhabited by a Berber tribe, after driving through the fertile, farmed valley of Saiss. Nearby Lake Dait Aoua offers excellent birding opportunities. Ifrane, a university town and ski resort, will be our next stop, and once we are done exploring the area, Azrou is the next Berber town we’ll visit after traveling through pine, oak, and cedar forests.
We’ll continue to Midelt through the Middle Atlas Mountains, admiring the landscape and meeting some of the local Berbers along the way.
Our day will finish at the Taddart Hotel in Midelt, where we will have dinner and stay the night.
Overnight Taddart basic hotel (B, L, D).
To the Sahara
As we journey over the High Atlas Mountains, you will be able to see some of the most breathtaking scenery in North Africa. Villages dominated by their Kasbahs are perched on mountainsides and alternate with snow-covered peaks and lush valleys filled with date palms.
Morocco is a monarchy, and the current royal family hails from Tafilalet, where the expedition’s first experience of the desert begins. The Ziz valley goes through a deep gorge to the Sahara Desert’s edge. There are numerous fortified mud-brick villages, refreshing oases, and desolate Kasbahs along the way, making it an excellent location for photography.
After lunch, the excitement increases as we travel to the Merzouga dunes in 4×4 vehicles (everyone will have a window seat). Mounting camels at Merzouga (those who wish can still travel by vehicle), we will ride over the dunes at sunset time to our desert camp lodging, greeted upon our arrival by mint tea and dishes of nuts or nuts fresh dates.
New Paths Expeditions exclusive Deluxe Bedouin Camp is set on a beautiful spot between dunes. It gives the impression of being alone in the vast African desert while enjoying the comforts of a nomad king.
Overnight New Paths Expeditions Upscale Sahara Desert Camp (B, L, D).
Life on the Sahara
Sunrise over the Sahara Desert is nearly overwhelming in its beauty, and we will have ample opportunity to photograph it. A Berber guide will take us in hand after breakfast, and we will travel over the dunes on camels (or by 4×4 vehicle, depending on your choice) towards Tanamouste, a village inhabited by seminomadic Berber families. We will have an opportunity, while here, to interact with the local people and learn their culture and traditions. Lunch will be provided by one of the Berber families.
Our camels are left behind after lunch as we pile into 4×4 vehicles to explore the area. After we have seen some of the Sahara’s impressive scenery, we will return to our private desert camp for tea. The Sahara sunset over the dunes may be even more colorful and inspiring than the sunrise, and photographs will provide a permanent reminder of your visit. A candlelight dinner accompanied by traditional music will round out the day. Our deluxe tents await us.
Overnight New Paths Expeditions Upscale Sahara Desert Camp (B, L, D).
To Ait Ben Haddou via Ourzazate
We’ll drive across the Draa Valley today to see the beautiful Ksars (palaces) and Kasbahs. As we go into the highlands, we’ll travel via the mile-high Tinifift Pass, which offers views of rocky mountain terrain and unusual rock formations. There’s a chance you’ll see the African Rock Martin or the Alpine Swift.
After passing through the highlands, we arrive in Ouarzazate. The city, which serves as the regional capital, has become known as a center for international film production (Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, and even The Mummy). Part of the day will be spent seeing the Taourirt Kasbah and an art gallery with a variety of Berber arts and crafts.
We’ll also have the chance to visit a “Berber pharmacy,” which sells the highest-quality spices and natural items, such as Argan oil and saffron (the dried stigmas of an autumn flowering crocus). The saffron from the area is reputed to be the finest in the world.
The expedition will then proceed to Ait Ben Haddou, the backdrop for many films. Here, the Ksar is an interlocking collection of small palaces and other buildings that flows partway up the nearby hill. The Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou is a World Heritage Site.
Overnight stay at Riad Caravane (B, L, D).
Ait Ben Haddou
Today we will be able to spend the morning exploring Ait Ben Haddou, starting with a sunrise photographic session, and then we will continue with a complete exploration of the Ksar.
Ben Haddou was initially been a crucial point on the caravan route between Timbuktu and Marrakech and was able to exert control over the region’s trade. UNESCO has restored it.
Nothing makes an expedition more memorable than being able to interact with the local people, which is precisely what we will do during our short journey to Tabourahte Village.
We will enjoy the hospitality of a local family and even learn how to prepare a traditional tagine, which we will subsequently be served for lunch.
Free time in the afternoon will allow you to absorb some of the local colors on your own. Your Senior Expedition Leader will offer a sunset photographic walk.
Overnight at Riad Caravane (B, L, D).
Across the High Atlas Mountains to Ourika Valley
Overnight at Tizin Ouirgane (B, L, D).
Marrakech – Fly Home, or Continue with the Coastal Morocco Extension.
Coastal Essaouira Extension
To Coastal EssaouiraAfter breakfast, we will leave Marrakech and make our way toward the Atlantic coast. Outside Essaouira, a stop at a women’s cooperative where they make Argan oil will provide insight into this valuable emollient. Essaouira has a reputation for having a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, and we will first enjoy our lunch here before going on a walking tour of the city. As its location was ideal for taking advantage not only of seagoing traffic but also the inland Trans-Saharan trade routes, Essaouira has been a trading center since the time of the Phoenicians. The Portuguese occupied the area in the 16th Century, naming it Mogador. We will begin our exploration of the city at the old Portuguese fort guards the harbor. Eventually falling into Muslim hands, Mogador was renamed Essaouira in 1760. The city has since attracted many foreigners and oversaw the establishment of a large Jewish community. Essaouira was eventually to becomeMorocco’s international port and trading center. The architecture is a blend of Portuguese and Moorish, and you will soon become aware that blue is what might be considered the ‘color theme’ of the city. Your guided tour will take you through the jewelry market, spice souks, and various artisan markets. You will visit carpentry workshops where the artisans turn cedar and thuya wood into beautifully made furniture. As in ancient times, Essaouira still attracts talented artists from different parts of the world. Overnight at Heure Bleue Essaouria (B, L, D).
Essaouira / Oualidia / Casablanca
Casablanca / Fly Back Home
After breakfast at the Le Doge, you will be driven to the Casablanca Airport and assisted with check-in for your flight home.
Le Doge Relais & Chateaux
This fantastic hotel is located in the heart of Casablanca’s Art Deco area. The interior décor and preservation of critical historical components reflect the building’s 1930s construction. Its restaurant, Le Jasmine, will delight your senses with the best traditional Moroccan food you can find in the surroundings.
Le Doge has a Petit Spa that will be perfect for relaxing before our adventure in Morocco begins, enjoying treatments and rituals in the purest oriental tradition.
Located right in the heart of Fes, Palais Faraj is the best option to stay in this beautiful city. Its privileged location provides the best view of the medina during your stay. Also, Palais Faraj has a Spa that will help you relax after a full day of experiences and activities in Morocco. Its restaurant will allow you to try the best of Morrocan cuisine while enjoying the views from the terrace.
Located just 5 minutes away from Middelt center, Taddart Hotel will host us for a night during our journey in Morocco. This hotel was chosen by its strategic location and to reduce drive times.
New Paths Expeditions Upscale Sahara Desert Camp
Kasbah Azul is a one-of-a-kind hotel. Located in Agdz, the hotel provides fantastic views of the surroundings, and it is equipped with a pool and a restaurant. The Kasbah was built with natural bioclimatic materials and made by local artisans in the pure tradition of ancestral techniques from southern Morocco. This hotel provides the perfect combination between luxury, tradition, and environmental awareness, being the best option to stay during your Morocco adventure.
Caravane is located in the midst of the little village of Ait Boulmane, 1 km from the Unesco World Heritage site of Ait Ben Haddou Ksar, and 30 kilometers north of Ouarzazate along the ancient caravan route.
Its location makes it the perfect site for departure for all kinds of excursions.
The Caravane project was established in the center of the village’s ancient Kasbah, which was rebuilt in traditional adobe style.
Riah Al Maha
Departure Dates & Rates
Sep 30, 2023
Does not apply
Note: All prices are in US$, per person, and based on double occupancy.
*Domestic Air prices are estimated and may change due to cost variation by the airlines.
** Some special conditions apply, please check the single supplement section of the expedition booklet by downloading the complete details.
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