Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at the hotel today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. As there's no free time included in Casablanca on this trip, we highly recommend you book an additional night or two of accommodation before the trips starts so you can explore. Modelled after Marseille in France, the city is famous for its art deco buildings and the modern-day masterpiece, the Hassan II Mosque. A pleasant way to spend the day exploring Casablanca is to wander the old medina and the city walls, then jump in a taxi to visit the Quartiers des Habous, the new medina. Finish the day with a walk along the Corniche, watching the locals play football on the beach. Note: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
DAY 2 : Rabat-Moulay Idriss
Today take an early morning one-hour train to the historical town of Rabat. Store your luggage and spend a few hours strolling through the city's old quarter, then walk up to Kasbah des Oudaias and enjoy views over the Atlantic Ocean. Continue on to Meknes by train (approximately three hours), before taking a 45-minute taxi through scenic countryside to the sacred pilgrimage village of Moulay Idriss. At sunset see great views over the plains of Volubilis below. Your accommodation for the night is in a guesthouse/homestay with a local family. Bathroom facilities are shared and you may be sharing a room with two or three others.
Today, take a guided tour of the archeological site of Volubilis, which was one of the Roman empire's most remote bases. Return to the nearby imperial city of Meknes, where you'll have a few hours to explore. Sultan Moulay Ismail set out to build his own version of Versailles in the form of Meknes, constructing walls, gates and palaces with a labour force of over 25,000 slaves. The adventurous may want to try a camel burger for lunch at a local restaurant in the medina. In the afternoon take a one-hour train to Fes, where you'll spend the next two nights. Fes is the most complete medieval city in the Arab world, and the most ancient of Morocco's imperial cities.
Today take a guided walk around Fes. Discover the labyrinth of the Medina, a living monument to an ancient past and still very much alive with craftsmen, markets, tanneries and mosques. Look out for the Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's most beautiful buildings which has recently been restored and is now open to tourists. You'll also visit the famous tannery, known for the iconic view overlooking its dye pits, and a ceramic factory where you can see potters working in the traditional way. After the tour, the afternoon is free to get lost in the city's maze of streets and alleys, take a photo outside the Royal Palace or visit the nearby hills for incredible views.
Take a local four-hour bus to the isolated town of Chefchaouen today. Set against a wide valley and surrounded by the stunning Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen may take you by surprise. Its medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, red-tiled roofs and artistic doorways. Much of Chefchaouen was recreated by Andalusian refugees escaping the Reconquistia, so you might feel like you're in the hills of Spain while exploring its streets.
Today is a free day to explore Chefchaouen. Perhaps take a guided tour of the medina, or sample the delicious local goat cheese at a cafe in the Plaza Uta el-Hammam. Admire the architecture of the 15th-century Grand Mosque (closed to non-Muslims) and browse the shops in the square selling woven goods and small sweets. Also within the plaza is the walled fortress of the Kasbah. Wander through the tranquil gardens inside, check out the ethnographic museum and admire wonderful views from the rooftop. Alternatively, you might prefer to get out of town and enjoy a hike and picnic in the surrounding hills. In the evening, tuck into a tagine at a local restaurant or visit a hammam, a traditional Moroccan spa.
Today take a local three-hour bus to the coastal town of Tangier. At Europe's gateway to Africa, Tangier has long been of strategic importance. After WWII, the city fell into disrepair, but has been significantly cleaned up and revitalised over the past few decades. Make a short visit to Tangier town and its recently redeveloped promenade. Perhaps enjoy a fresh seafood dinner by the port, before boarding an overnight sleeper train bound for Marrakech.
Arrive early into Marrakech on the overnight train. The day is free for you to explore. Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Explore the Medina and the city's seemingly endless mosaic of souqs. Each is devoted to a separate trade: pottery, woodwork, copper, leather, carpets and spices. Perhaps visit the well-known Koutoubia Mosque and its 12th-century minaret, which was the famous prototype for the Giralda tower in Seville. Take a wander through the tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle (now owned by Yves Saint Laurent). You might like to check out the Palais Bahia, a superb example of Muslim architecture, or the ruins of the Palais Badi, reputedly one of the most beautiful palaces in the world in its time. The Saadian tombs are a recently uncovered gem of the Medina. All of the above can be a challenge to locate, but that's all part of the experience of exploring the medinas of Morocco. In the evening, join the thronging crowds for dinner in the Djemaa el Fna, the city's chaotic main square. This is sure to be an unforgettable farewell to Marrakech.
Day 9 : Departure "Marrakech"
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.