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Morocco offers an unparalleled cultural and natural diversity that, combined with its unbeatable hospitality, great roads, beautiful architecture, and superb cuisine, provides one of the greatest travel experiences in the world today.
This is an expedition that brings you in close contact with locals and nature: you will explore the Sahara, three of the Atlas mountain ranges, the Imperial cities, and the Atlantic coast. Of course, we can customize it for you.
Morocco is a destination that encompasses beautiful but sometimes lengthy drives. Our itinerary reduces those long drives to a minimum and increases the opportunities for off-the-beaten-path experiences. We are very proud of our Morocco Expedition and can’t wait for you to experience it!
We use first-class and award-winning riads and kasbahs, and spaces are limited. We highly recommend that you book soon.
WHAT MAKES THIS TRIP EXTRAORDINARY
- The itinerary is the most complete 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.
- We use first-class upscale Riads and Kasbahs for accommodations instead of modern hotels (Only one night at a basic hotel is included, and we do it to break the long drive to the Sahara).
- You will be accompanied by a Master Local Guide.
- New Paths Expeditions upscale Sahara Desert Camp is the finest that exists. You will feel like nomad royalty while exploring the desert.
- You have two chances to ride camels over the Sahara dunes: one during sunset and the other on your way to a Berber nomad town.
- Window seats when using 4×4 and 20% of empty seats when onboard tour busses are guaranteed.
- We include 2 nights at award-winning Bab Ourika. Our relation price/quality is unbeatable.
From the souks of imperial cities, across the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara and back to Jemaa el-Fnaa. This expedition surpassed all of our expectations.
– David K., La Jolla – CA
If you have any questions, please let us know. We are here to help you!
The sample itinerary below can be customized to take full-advantage of your travel time and interests.
Itinerary in Brief
Arrive in Casablanca
Casablanca is Africa’s largest port and Morocco’s commercial capital. After you are met at the airport, you will be taken to the Le Doge Hotel, located close to the Boulevard de la Cornich and other famous landmarks. The Le Doge is a Relais & Chateaux property. Your Local Master Guide will provide you with a pre-departure briefing followed by a welcome dinner at Rick’s Café, built in remembrance of the café where Sam played it again.
Overnight at Le Doge (D).
To Fes via Meknes and Volubilis
The day begins with a brief visit to the largest religious building in Africa, the Hassan II Mosque. Then you drive to Meknes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Morocco’s youngest imperial city. Meknes was founded in the 12thCentury, but was fully developed under Sultan Moulay Ismail and contains numerous palaces, mosques, and other historical buildings.
Volubilis is the site of one of Rome’s African colonies and was established during the first centuries of the Christian Era. The partially excavated ruins of Volubilis are a World Heritage Site and provide excellent photo opportunities. Arrive at Fes tonight.
Dinner and overnight at Riad Palais Amani (B, L, D)
Fez will then stimulate all your senses as you explore with your Local Guides the insides of Fes el Bali (old Fes) across food and spice markets, handicraft quarters, auction sectors and colorful Souks. Visit artisan workshops to discover the secrets of their ancestral arts and skills. Stop at the public bakeries and pastry makers in the residential quarters and see their historical fountains, mosques, Koranic schools and sanctuaries.
A superb lunch will be served at a beautiful Riad, and you will then visit a royal palace of the late 19th century where King Hassan I lived. This palace is now a museum of Fez traditional arts. Continue to Fez El Jedid (new Fez) for a stroll in the Jewish quarter where you will be able to visit a 17th-century synagogue and have some time in the jewelers market.
Dinner and overnight at Palais Amani (B, L, D)
Through the Middle Atlas Mountains to Midelt
You leave Fes after breakfast for a journey through the Middle Atlas Range to the small town of Midelt. Midelt is located on a high plain between the Middle and High Atlas Mountain ranges. You will enjoy a light hike in a cedar forest in search of Barbary macaques. As you journey to Midelt, you will continue through the Middle Atlas Mountains where you will stop periodically to admire the scenery and meet some of the local Berbers.
The ending day will bring the expedition to the Taddart Hotel in Midelt where you will have dinner and overnight. The accommodations at the Taddart are comfortable but basic.
Overnight at Taddart Hotel (B, L, D)
To the Sahara
You will be able to view some of the most spectacular and beautiful scenery in North Africa as you travel through the High Atlas Mountains. Villages dominated by their Kasbahs are perched on mountainsides and alternate with snow-covered peaks and lush valleys filled with date palms. After lunch when you will drive in 4×4 vehicles to the Merzouga sand dunes (Window seats are guaranteed to all expedition participants) and then mount camels and ride under the warm evening light to our top-class Sahara Desert Camp; being greeted upon your arrival by mint tea and dishes of nuts or fresh dates.
Overnight at New Paths Expeditions Exclusive Sahara Desert Camp (B, L, D)
Life on the Sahara
Photograph the Sunrise over the Sahara Desert and then travel over the dunes on camels (or by 4×4 vehicle) towards Tanamouste, a village inhabited by seminomadic Berber families. You 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. Then pile into 4×4 vehicles to explore the area before returning to New Paths Expeditions exclusive desert camp A candlelight dinner accompanied by music will round out the day. Our deluxe tents await us.
Overnight at New Paths Expeditions Exclusive Sahara Desert Camp (B, L, D)
Drive along the impressive volcanic mountains of Sarhro where fossils abound. Lunch will be taken in the city of Nekob, at the beginning of the Draa Valley – a date palm oasis that stretches for almost 150 miles. In sharp contrast to the Sahara you just left behind, you will find a rich valley filled with orchards, rose farms, date palms, and vegetable gardens. The 18 types of dates that grow in the Draa Valley are considered to be the best found in Morocco, and you will be present during the date harvest!
Dinner and overnight at the lovely Kasbah Azul (B, L, D)
To Ait Ben Haddou via Ouarzazate
Drive through the Draa Valley to view its magnificent Ksars (palaces) and Kasbahs to Ouarzazate, where you will visit the Taourirt Kasbah, as well as to an art gallery that features a collection of Berber arts and crafts will engage part of the day. You will also have an opportunity to visit a “Berber pharmacy” that offers the best quality Argan oil and saffron.
The expedition will then proceed to Ait Ben Haddou, the backdrop for many of the above-named films. The Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou is a World Heritage Site.
You will enjoy dinner and an overnight stay at the lovely Ksar Ighnda (B, L, D)
Ait Ben Haddou
Today you will spend the morning exploring Ait Ben Haddou. This Ksar was originally a very important point on the caravan route between Timbuktu and Marrakech, and was able to exert control over the region’s trade. It has been restored by UNESCO. You will then enjoy the hospitality of a local family learn how to prepare a traditional tagine, which you will subsequently be served for lunch. Free time in the afternoon will allow you to absorb some of the local colors on your own. A sunset photographic walk will be offered by your Local Master Guide.
Once again, you will enjoy the Ksar Ighnda for dinner and rest (B, L, D)
Across the High Atlas Mountains to Ourika Valley
Drive across the most impressive part of the High Atlas Mountains. You will journey through valleys and pass through mud-brick villages until you achieve the Tizi N’Tichka Pass at 7,000 feet. This is the turning point, and you will now descend to the plains, driving through landscapes that change from gorges and mountains until you reach the unforgettable Ourika Valley.
The Ourika Valley will seem almost like a fairytale realm with its forested foothills, clear mountain streams, tree-filled bottomlands, and villages perched on the hillsides.
Spend the night at the award-winning Bab Ourika, set on a hill with spectacular views of the valley spread out below. (B, L, D)
An easy 1.5-hour walk is scheduled along the valley, allowing us to meet some of the local people and learn something of their traditions and culture, as well as keeping a lookout for wildlife such as painted frogs and green woodpeckers. Our stroll will continue to the local village to visit the weekly market, where you will find not only local crafts but spices and other regional specialties. After you return to Bab Ourika, you will have the remainder of the afternoon to rest, use the hotel pool, or simply enjoy the beautiful hotel gardens. Be sure to try the traditional scrub followed by a massage – the hamman – before getting ready for dinner.
Overnight at Bab Ourika (B, L, D)
Day 12 & 13
A short morning drive will take us from Ourika to Marrakech. You will now enjoy a complete tour of the famous Marrakech Medina. This is the old, walled part of the city and is filled with an incredible variety of vendors with their small stalls. The Medina is an unforgettable riot of color, sounds, and smells. Free time to simply explore and the shop is provided after you visit not only the Medina but also the gardens in the surrounding area.
The expedition will be staying on the 12th at a small, comfortable boutique Riad, which offers easy access to the Medina. On the 13th, you will enjoy a Moroccan gourmet farewell dinner and you will spend the overnight at the luxurious and exotic Palais Khum. If you like, you can sign up for a cooking class to learn some traditional recipes for your lunch.
Marrakech – Fly Home, or Continue with the Coastal Morocco Extension
You will be taken to the airport for your return flight to your home unless you have signed up for the extension.
To Coastal Essaouira
After breakfast, you will leave Marrakech and make your way towards 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 have a reputation of having a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, and you will first enjoy your 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. You will begin your exploration of the city at the old Portuguese fort that guards the harbor.
Eventually falling into Muslim hands, Mogador was renamed Essaouira in 1760, the city attracted many foreigners and oversaw the establishment of a large Jewish community. Essaouira was eventually to become Morocco’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 craftsmen 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 (BLD) Note: The total drive time for this day is 3 hours, but it will be broken with activity stops.
After breakfast, you will take a short drive south from Essaouira to Tizi Village. Your drive through the argan forest will allow you to view some of the endemic bird species. Once at Tizi, you will have the opportunity to explore a rustic Berber market, full of a wide variety of goods and furniture from the surrounding communities.
Ounarra is your next destination, and the expedition will stop at the Val d’Argan Wine Estate. The family-owned estate was established in 1994 and covers 30 acres. The winery produces red, white, and rose wines, which will be available for wine tasting. Lunch will be served on the roof terrace overlooking the entire estate.
For your return to Essaouira, you will drive through the lovely thuya forest. Your total time on the road will be approximately 3 hours.
The Heure Bleue Essaouria (B, L, D) will provide your dinner and overnight stay.
Essaouira / Oualidia / Casablanca
A coastal journey after breakfast at the hotel will provide you with stunning views. Your first stop will be the fishing village of Bhibih, where you can observe shore birds, then you will head to Safi Town, originally a Portuguese trading post in the 15th Century. Safi is famous for its unique ceramic workshops, where the skills and traditions of the craft are handed down through generations.
Oualidia is also on the coast and is an idyllic location with a beautiful beach and lagoons where oysters are bred. From Oualidia you journey to El Jadida, another old Portuguese trading center, where you will enjoy lunch at the Medina. Your afternoon travel will continue along the coast, crossing the fertile lands of Zemmour until you arrive at Casablanca. You will enjoy a farewell dinner and overnight will be at the Le Doge Hotel (BLD).
Note: Our travel time will encompass approximately 6 hours (Multiple activities in between).
Casablanca / Fly US
After breakfast at the Le Doge, you will be driven to the Casablanca Airport and assisted for check-in for your flight home.
Le Doge – Casablanca
Hôtel & Spa Le Doge is a luxury 5-star “Relais & Châteaux” establishment located a few steps from the Sacre Coeur Cathedral. Rooms are cozy and carefully decorated to create a warm atmosphere that makes you feel like in a cocoon.
At the “Jasmine” restaurant, you will be able to enjoy a traditional and tasty Moroccan cuisine with authentic flavors.
If you wish to enjoy a drink, a library bar with a superb chimney offers an intimate space. You also have the option to visit the new roof floor lounge bar with an incredible view over the white city. If you need relaxation time, you will find a wellness area including a hammam, a steam room, and also the possibility to have a relaxing massage.
Riad Palais Amani – Fes
Situated in the walls of Fez’s ancient medina, just a few minutes walk from the Golden Triangle. It is ideally located near the Cultural, Historical, and Religious Center.
Housed in an ancient palace, Palais Amani offers spacious rooms and suites. Each is decorated with traditional furniture and has en-suite facilities. You can choose to have breakfast in the dining room or on the terrace with a lovely view of the garden. The hotel’s restaurant serves an a la carte menu for lunch and dinner offering a savory Morrocan and French cuisine. You will also find many beauty treatments, including massages, facials, and manicures.
Palais Amani is one of the largest riads in the medina. It underwent a three years restoration to repair and replace the complex mosaic, stained glass, plaster carving, and woodwork that one would expect in a Moroccan listed building. It has also been an opportunity to add all the modern comforts making the riad the fine luxury hotel that it is today. Palais Amani is very spacious so to respect your privacy providing at the same time an intimate atmosphere and the personal attention you deserve.
Exclusive Sahara Desert Camp – The Sahara
This luxury camp is nestled deep within the dunes providing a very private atmosphere that gives you the chance to feel like a very special guest as if you were the only one.
The en-suite sleeping tents are equipped with a king-size bed with high-quality sprung mattresses, percale sheets, duck-down duvets, and lovely pillows. Each tent has ‘wall-to-wall’ plush rugs, a full-length mirror, bedside tables, an armchair, and space to hang your clothes; all items being handmade in Morocco. The en-suite bathroom has a toilet, dressing table, and silver pewter buckets for washing. Light is provided by solar power.
The camp offers relaxing areas outside with day beds, cushions, and hammocks.
Breakfast is served under the morning sun, and dinner is served under the stars. Cold drinks, including beer and wine, are always available.
Many activities are proposed to discover the incredible surroundings, such as; camel trekking, guided walks, picnic lunches, and sundowners on the dunes.
Kasbah Azul – The Draa Valley
In the heart of the palm grove of the Draa Valley, is located the gorgeous guesthouse Kasbah Azul, built of natural materials in the authentic tradition of antique techniques of southern Morocco.
This majestic house is harmoniously set into the natural and protected ecosystem of its surroundings. A peaceful Garden of Eden for those who love nature. Here you will find a one-hectare garden, with palm trees, oleanders, and many flowers. At night, you will probably smell the sweet perfume of jasmine, orange trees, and henna plants.
The rooms are spacious and comfortable, decorated in vibrant warm colors for a ravishing stay in an oriental atmosphere.
Engaged in an ecological perspective, the owners grow vegetables and fruit, which they use to prepare a subtle French-Moroccan mixture cuisine.
When to go
The best time to visit Morocco is during spring (mid-March to May) or autumn (September to October). The weather is warm but pleasant, unlike the cold temperatures and snow of winter, or the scorching heat of summer.
The coastal regions can be visited year-round. In the winter they are pleasantly mild, while in the summer they bask in temperatures hovering around the mid-20°Cs.
The High Atlas Mountains can also be visited all year round, although it does get cold in winter. The summer may still be a bit hot to embark on any long-distance hikes, but if the heat doesn’t bother you then conditions are fine any time between April and October. Outside these months, there is snow on the peaks, which makes hiking more dangerous, but creates some spectacular panoramas.
The Islamic festival of Ramadan will affect transport in Morocco. The dates vary each year, so it’s worth checking what they are while planning your trip.
If you have any questions, please let us know. The NPE expedition advisors are here to help.
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