Magnificent Morocco: A Feast for the Senses

Sunday, September 24 to October 5, 2023
In conjunction with Sweet Bakery, a 12-day exploration of this fabulous Northern African country, featuring superb coastal, mountain and desert scenery, Islamic art and architecture, exotic cities such as Fes and Marrakesh, fascinating history dating back to Antiquity and amazing cuisine!!  Stacey and Justin Bester together with our excellent local guide will be your hosts.  Group size will be limited to 20 participants in addition to the tour leaders.   
Proposed itinerary

BOOKING INFORMATION

September 24 - October 05, 2023

$7,195 per person based on double occupancy

Single supplement: $1,295. Land Only: $6,245

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DOWNLOAD PDF OF ITINERARY

*If the tour is SOLD OUT, please contact us to be added to the waitlist.


ITINERARY

Day 1 - Sunday, September 24: Flight from Toronto

Late afternoon departure on Air Canada to Casablanca via Montreal.  Full inflight services including dinner, breakfast and entertainment provided.


Day 2 - Monday, September 25: Casablanca (D)

Morning arrival in Casablanca where you will be met by your local guide.  We begin our exploration of this unique country with a detailed sightseeing tour of it’s largest city.  Highlights include; the League of Arab States Park, the Kings Palace, a tour of Hassan II Mosque and free time at Corniche, a beach front district offering an array of dining experiences.  In the mid afternoon we check into our hotel, Barcelo Afna for a chance to relax.  This evening we will meet for a welcome cocktail followed by dinner at the iconic “Rick’s Café”.  

Day 3 - Tuesday, September 26: FES (B,D)

Breakfast followed by departure for the 1½ hour drive to Rabat, capital city of Morocco. Sightseeing tour of Rabat, the first of no less than eight UNESCO sites included in this tour! We first explore the new town, built during the 1920s, when the country was a French Protectorate, with imposing administrative buildings, fine residential areas, commercial developments, and a botanical garden. On to the old town, the Medina, dating back to the 12thcentury, when the Almohad Dynasty ruled the country as well as Andalusia, i.e., southern Spain. Sights here include the Hassan Mosque, the Mausoleum of King Mohammed V, the Almohad ramparts and gates, the mighty Oudaia Kasbah (fortress), the Mellah or Jewish Quarter, and the Chellah, a Medieval necropolis on the site of ancient Sala Colonia, one of the most distant outposts of the Roman Empire! (The Chellah was the original Jewish Quarter, whose original inhabitants may have arrived here with the Phoenicians.) We will also enjoy a beautiful view of the town of Salé, on the other side of the mouth of the Bou Regreg River; Salé becames infamous in the 17th-century Europe as a den of “Barbary Pirates” and slave market! Continue to Fes for overnight at our riad, EL AMINE, situated at the start of the Medina and overlooking the Palace Gardens (www.riadelaminefes.com). Dinner tonight at Maison Blanche Restaurant.

Day 4 - Wednesday, September 27: FES (B,D)

A day of sightseeing in Fez, capital of Morocco during the Middle Ages, and the country’s cultural and spiritual centre; its medina is one of the most extensive and best conserved historic towns of the Arab-Muslim world (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/170). Among the highlights will be the tanneries, where leather-making techniques have remained unchanged since the Middle Ages; Bou Inania Madrasa, a breathtaking 14th-century Koranic School; Moulay Idriss II Mausoleum; the Qaraouyine Mosque, dating back to the year 859, Morocco’s religious heart; the Mellah with the Jewish Cemetery; and of course the countless fascinating souks (shops), selling spices, carpets, and of course the traditional Moroccan slippers!  In the late afternoon we make our way to Palais Amani for a cooking class and learn how to prepare several types of traditional Moroccan dishes like tagines, salads, pastilla and more. Enjoy dinner of what we learned to cook and more.

Day 5 - Thursday, September 28: Volubilis (B,D)

Breakfast followed by a drive to Volubilis, a flourishing Roman trade city in the 2nd and 3rd centuries selling oil, corn and wild animals. The Berbers, who had been converted to Christianity, occupied Volubilis until the 8th century. The earthquake of 1755 destroyed the city.  Excavations started in 1887 and continue to this day.  From Volubilis we continue to Meknes, founded in the 9th century by Zenata Berbers. Highlights of our visit to this former Imperial City include the old ramparts; the Agoudal Basin, once used to water the royal gardens and amuse the favorite concubines, granaries and House of Water (Dar El Ma), built in the 17th and 18th centuries to house, feed and water the sultan’s twelve thousand horses. We end the day with a visit to Bab El Mansour, one of the most beautiful gates in Morocco before returning to Fes.  Tonight, enjoy a special dinner show at the La Palais Medina restaurant.

Day 6 - Friday, September 29: MERZOUGA (B,L,D)

Departure from Fez after breakfast. We cross the Atlas Mountains, already legendary in the days of the ancient Greeks, and motor via the resort of Ifrane and the town of Midelt to Errachidia, a former Foreign Legion base famous for its “blue spring.” We are now in the Tafilalt (or Tafilet), the biggest oasis in the Moroccan Sahara and one of the largest oases in the world, irrigated by the Ziz River and famous for its luscious dates. Group lunch in the town of Erfoud, situated on the edge of the Sahara and the famous sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. Then we continue a short distance to the settlement of Merzouga, where we will experience the sand dunes at sunset, enjoy dinner, and spend the night.at our home for the night, a Deluxe permanent Berber Camp.  

Day 7 - Saturday, September 30: OUARZAZATE (B,D)

Early morning wake up, we begin the day with a camel trek to watch a fantastic sunrise over the dunes of the Sahara.   Return to the camp for a Champagne breakfast then it is time to jump in the 4 X 4s and head to Rissani, cradle of the Alaouite dynasty now reigning in Morocco. View the Mausoleum of Moulay Ali Cherif from the outside, and then enter the Kasbah Ouled El Hadim for a visit before making our way back to Erfoud.  Here we visit the famous date market and the fossil factory. Next we drive through Tinejdad, Tineghir and the Todra Pass in the beautiful 1,000 Kasbah Valley to El Kelaa des Mgouna and Skoura.  After Skoura, the palm trees are replaced by orchards and irrigated gardens. Roses for making perfume are the specialty of El Kelaa des Mgouna. Paris, the famous perfume by Yves Saint Laurent is made from the extract of these roses. You will find some nice shopping here for rose products such as rose water, body milk, dried petals etc. By late afternoon we arrive in the film industry center of Ouarzazate.  Dinner and overnight at the comfortable Riad, DAR CHAMAA,  located 1 mile from the center of town.  www.darchamaa.com

Day 8 - Sunday, October 01: MARRAKECH (B)

After breakfast depart for a visit of the Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah, an impressive 11th century structure which has been declared an historical treasure by UNESCO.  We then drive through mountainous and semi-desert landscape, over the High Atlas Mountains at Tizi N’Tichka Pass (7,400 feet) and across the fertile countryside of the Haouz Plain to the pink city of Marrakech. Our home for the next 4 nights will be 2 CIELS LUXURY BOUTIQUE HOTEL & SPA, ideally located in the heart of Marrakech, surrounded by the exclusive Hivernage and the Gueliz, a short walk from the legendary Jemaa El Fna Square, the heart of the medina. http://2ciels.com/

Day 9 - Monday, October 02: MARRAKECH (B,L)

Breakfast at your hotel followed by a transfer to La Maison Arab for our second cooking school experience. The class usually starts with a comprehensive introduction that highlights the importance of cooking in Moroccan society, and review the variety of recipes’ created by dadas (traditional woman cooks) over the centuries for special occasions such as marriages, baptisms …A presentation of the most traditional recipes, spices, herbs will be given before the cooking class begins.  Each participant will have his or her own workstation and equipment, and will follow step by step, the preparation of that day’s dish. In a typical workshop, one learns how to make a main course as well as a Moroccan appetizer or salad. At the end of the class you will enjoy the fruits of your labour and have learned a great deal about Moroccan cuisine and culture.  This afternoon we walk off our midday meal on an introductory tour of Marrakech, Africa’s most exotic city.  Highlights include a visit of the Menara Gardens, with its Saadian Pavilion and olive groves, the Old Medina with a stop at the foot of the famous Koutoubia Minaret. the Bahia Palace, with its lush Moorish style garden and Majorelle Garden, with a large variety of trees, plants and flowers from different countries. On our way back to the hotel we stroll through the colorful souks of the medina and the famous Jemaa El Fna Square, an ancient meeting place of North African tradesmen, entertainers, musicians, snake charmers and storytellers. 

Day 10 - Tuesday, October 03: Imlil Valley (B,L)

Breakfast followed by departure in our 4 X 4s four for our tour to Imlil Valley located in the Atlas Mountains and home of the Berbers and Jbel Toubkal the highest peak in North Africa.  View the green landscapes of this valley.  The lazy meandering torrent of the rivers combined with the small red adobe Berber villages hanging on the slopes will enchant you. The tranquility of Berber Village life provides the perfect contrast to the hubbub of the city. From the village of Imlil, footpaths and through lush, irrigated terraces, apple orchards and walnut groves to other villages, where the way of life has changed little for centuries and traditional values and hospitality are unaffected by the outside world. Lunch at Kasbah Toubkal, perched on a great rock outcrop above the main village with a panoramic view of the mountains, valleys and waterfalls.  Return to Marrakech in the late afternoon.

Day 11 - Wednesday, October 04: Essaouira (B,L,D)

Breakfast before departing for the seaside village of Essaouira, renowned for its production of "Murex" a small shellfish used to make the purple dye for Roman togas. Essaouira is now a very active fishing harbor still showing traces of Portuguese occupation from the 16th century. The city was later used by Sultan Mohamed Ben Abdellah as a base for his corsairs. Today, protected from the sea and the wind by its commanding fortified walls, Essaouira shelters a flourishing craftsmanship in marquetry, working citron-and-lime wood with ebony, mother of pearl and silver thread to make tables, chess boards, caskets and bracelets. In the 1970s, American rock stars such as Bob Dylon, and Cat Stevens spent a lot of time in Essaouira. Enjoy a seafood lunch at Palais Heure Bleue Restaurant.  Return to Marrakech.  

Day 12 - Thursday, October 05: Return flight to Toronto

Early morning transfer to the airport for your return flight home via Montreal.

ITINERARY PDF

EXPLORE THE AREA

INCLUDED

• Air from Toronto on Air Canada • All airport taxes and departure fees • Maximum group of 22 • 10 nights’ accommodation based on twin occupancy with private facilities • All transportation in Morocco • All meals as outlined. Local wines served with dinner. • All scheduled excursions with local English-speaking guides • All entrance fees on excursions • Gratuities for local guides and drivers • Services of a tour escort

NOT INCLUDED

• Meals except where indicated • Drinks with meals unless indicated. • Items of a personal nature (e.g., laundry, telephone calls) • Travel insurance; rates available upon request

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