Imperial Cities, Atlas Mountains, and the Golden Dunes of the Sahara

Overview

Fabled casbahs, medieval medinas, royal cities, shimmering dunes, red-rock canyons—Morocco has a mystique all its own. We discover this land in full as we roam the magical bazaars of the walled city of Fez, visit tiny seaside Essaouira, an 18th century gem, explore the craggy Todra and Dades canyons, and meet welcoming Amizagh (Berber) people in their villages. One special experience is our time in the breathtaking Moroccan Sahara, where we overnight in a private luxury tented camp cradled in the towering dunes of Erg Chebbi.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Casablanca / Rabat / Moulay Idriss / Volubilis

From Casablanca, we head along the coast to Rabat, Morocco’s capital, for a stroll through the picturesque Oudaya Kasbah, a 12th century fortress surrounded by French-designed gardens. Traveling into Morocco’s inland valleys of rolling wheat fields, vineyards, and olive groves, we visit the hill town of Moulay Idriss and walk through the striking Roman ruins of Volubilis, a World Heritage Site.

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Day 4
Fez

One of the most perfectly preserved medieval cities in the world, Fez is hauntingly beautiful with its Arabic-Moorish architecture and honeycomb of twisting alleys. In this most evocative of Morocco’s imperial capitals, we enter the dazzling 9th century medina through one of its four medieval gates and discover a mile-long network of souks (markets), open-air cafes, courtyards, hammams (traditional steam baths), and gardens.

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Days 5-7
Middle Atlas Mountains / Sahara Camel Safari

Crossing the Middle Atlas, we descend a winding road into the Sahara to our exclusive private luxury camp at the foot of Erg Chebbi, one of the country’s greatest natural wonders, whose golden, rolling sand dunes are continually reshaped by the wind. Our activities during two days here are flexible, and we can explore on foot or ride a camel to experience this dramatic desert landscape. We’ll feel as if we have the Sahara all to ourselves as we savor the silence, watch the sunset, and stargaze under a brilliant sky.

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Days 8-10
Todra / Dades / Ait Ben Haddou / Marrakesh

In the High Atlas, we explore the rugged Todra Gorge, with its 900-foot-high limestone walls, and the Dades Gorge, a magnificent landscape of red cliffs, fig orchards, and sculpted red-rock formations. En route, we should see nomad families camped with their flocks of sheep. On our way to Marrakesh, we visit the spectacular mud-brick citadel of Ait Ben Haddou, a World Heritage Site.

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Day 11
Essaouira

Whitewashed houses with blue shutters and ornate doors give the 18th century walled town of Essaouira a decidedly Mediterranean atmosphere. We explore the port, where bright blue fishing boats lie at anchor, and the bustling fish market. This charming town has cast its spell on many artists over the years—Orson Welles filmed scenes for the film Othello here in 1949.

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Days 12-14
Marrakesh

Once known as the “red city” for its rose-tinted buildings, Marrakesh has Berber rather than Arab origins. We explore the 11th century medina and the central square called the Djemaa el Fna, replete with snake charmers, fire-eaters, and fortune tellers. In the fabled souks, we find traditional artists on every corner and everything from pottery and fabrics to silver and spices on display. Depart on Day 14.

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Highlights

Highlights

One of the most comprehensive experiences of Morocco!
Ride a camel or hike (or even a vehicle option) across the Sahara’s glistening sands
Meet the nomads of the High Atlas Mountains
Roam the labyrinthine medinas of medieval Fez and Marrakesh

Details

Length: 14 days
Cost From: $4895  
Arrive: Casablanca, Morocco
Depart: Marrakesh, Morocco
Lodging: 11 nights first-class and best-available hotels, 2 nights luxury tented camp
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 3 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Cultural exploration and walking tours, 2-day camel trek with optional 2-4 hours hiking a day, altitudes between 4,000-6,000 feet, 4WD vehicle support