21 days
Duration
Africa
Destination
Level 2 - Moderate
Activity

Morocco tour: an exotic gateway to Africa

Odyssey's Morocco tour is a small group escorted touring program for mature & senior travellers. The North African Kingdom of Morocco is often described as a gateway: step through and discover a world of colour, diversity and wonder, unlike anything you have experienced before. Rich traditions and heritage are very much alive here, but there is a paradoxical youthfulness to the culture, and a warmth that will draw you further and further in. Get lost in the myriad of cobbled alleyways, or feel small within the red sands of the desert, or at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. This  Morocco tour offers something for everybody. From adventurous nature walks and bustling marketplaces, to the pristine silence of the Sahara, enjoyed over traditional mint tea. Keep an open mind and heart, and you will be rewarded by experiences that will take your breath away.

Highlights of Odyssey's Moroccan tour

This Moroccan tour weaves its way from cosmopolitan Casablanca to coastal Essaouira, taking in the spellbinding diversity that Morocco has to offer. Highlights of this small group tour for mature and senior travellers include the historic city of Fez, Morocco's cultural and spiritual centre. We can if you wish, ride camels through the sand dunes at sunset to a nomad camp, where we sleep in luxury tents in the Sahara after a traditional meal. And we view the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of KsarAit-Ben-Haddou, which you may recognise from such films as Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator. There's Meknes, touted to be the Moroccan Versailles, and the vibrancy of Djemma El Fna place in Marrakesh.

On this tour of Morocco, when we travel from one city to the next, we watch as the deserts give way to lush oases, or as mountains strike up before the red dunes. We learn about traditional processes, such as leather-making and the extraction of prized Argan oil, and we meet people from Saharan nomads to charming street performers. The colours and patterns of the Moroccan landscape are matched only by the vibrant palettes of its' traditional crafts and wares.

Travel tips and articles of interest

If you interested in taking a small group tour Moroccan tour, you might find the following articles useful. Here, we share our advice for packing. Or read a two-part discussion on small group tour travel for seniors, here and here. Odyssey Traveller welcomes mature and senior travellers, both couples and singles. Should you be travelling solo, this article might inspire you to take the plunge. So if Morocco sounds like a place you wish to experience, and you are keen to do so with experienced guides and amongst like-minded people, get in touch with us today! Please call or send an email.

For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.

Tour Notes

Itineraries may change if flight schedules, site availability, and other inclusions have to be amended prior to departure.


PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

1
Experience the vibrant Djemma El Fna place in Marrakesh
2
Learn about traditional crafts, like leather-making, ceramics, and Argan oil extraction
3
Step back in time as we explore historic Fez
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Marvel at Moorish architecture on this Morocco Tour
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Visit KsarAir-Ben-Haddou, the historic sub-Saharan settlement that has a place in Hollywood

Overview: We make our way to the hotel individually. In the evening, we meet for orientation and dinner in a local restaurant.

Accommodation: Mercure Sherazade or similar

Overview: Following breakfast, we explore Rabat, Morocco’s administrative capital. We visit the Royal Palace: this is the primary and official residence of the King of Morocco. We visit the Oudaya Kasbah, a fortress built in the 12th century, and the mausoleum of Mohamed V, which contains the tombs of the king and his two sons. The building is considered a masterpiece of modern Alaouite dynasty architecture.

We then explore the Hassan Tower. Begun in the 12th century, the red sandstone tower forms part of an incomplete 12th century mosque. It was intended to be the world’s largest, but construction stopped with the death of Sultan Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur, of the Almohad Caliphate.

Accommodation: Mercure Sherazade or similar

Overview: Today, we explore Casablanca on a day trip. Casablanca is the business capital of Morocco. We visit the Mechouar of the Royal Palace, and view the exterior of the great Hassan II Mosque. We visit Mohamed V square, the hub of Casablanca’s ‘new town’, followed by the vibrant United Nations place. Our tour also includes the impressive central market, and the French-inspired architecture of the Habous quarter. A visit to Anfa – the oldest part of Casablanca – is followed by a stroll along the Ain Diab coast, which is dotted with swimming pools and restaurants.

We return to our accommodation in Rabat for the evening.

Accommodation: Mercure Sherazade or similar

Overview: Today, we make our way to Tangier. This major city is located on the Maghreb coast where the Mediterranean Seat meets the Atlantic Ocean. Its position at the western entrance of the Strait of Gibraltar places it right at the gateway between Europe and Africa. As such, it offers an incredibly unique blend of cultures.

On arrival at Tangier, the afternoon is set aside for your leisure.

Accommodation: Hotel Solazur or similar

Overview: Today we experience a tour of this intriguing city, with visits to the Kasbah (medina) of Tangier and the Grand and Petit Soccos (bazaars). We view the Legation of the United States, which was the first American historical monument to be built outside of the States. We also visit St Andrews Church, which was consecrated in 1905 and exhibits a Moorish architectural style.

Finally, we make our way to the Cave of Hercules. This natural cave is located 10km from Tangier. According to Greek mythology, this was the site Hercules went to rest after his exploits.

Accommodation: Hotel Solazur or similar

Overview: Today we drive to Chefchaouen, Morocco’s mysterious ‘Blue City’. This mountain village offers a sense of tranquility and calm, and its distinctive blue-washed buildings are like an oasis in arid lands.

The reason for the colourful palette attracts a variety of theories. Some speculate the blue repels mosquitoes. Others say that this hue was introduced by the Jewish population who fled Hitler in the 1930s. Either way, many believe the blue symbolises the sky and heaven, and this may account for the spiritual experience that many travellers speak of.

The city was founded in 1471 to defend against Portuguese invasions of the north, and attracted many people who escaped the Reconquista of Spain. Don’t forget your camera as we wander the streets of Chefchaouen today!

Accommodation: Hotel Parador or similar

Overview: Today, we take a scenic tour to Fez. Along the way, we stop in at the Roman ruins of Volubilis and sacred town of Moulay Idriss Ist. Next, we continue on to Meknes. This city was founded by Moulay Ismail at the end of the 17th century, and is known as the Moroccan Versailles.

While in Meknes, we will visit the Dar Jamai Museum, and Bab Mansour – the best preserved gate in Morocco. We check out the intricately designed horse stables of Moulay Ismail which, perhaps surprisingly, is among the region’s greatest ruins. Indeed, Ismail considered it his finest architectural achievement. It was built to accommodate 12,000 horses. Finally, we stop in at the Christian Prison, which is an eerie, underground space evocative of dark moments in history.

On arrival to Fez, we check in to our hotel and spend the remainder of the day at leisure.

Accommodation: Hotel Barcelo or similar

Overview: Ancient Fez is considered Morocco’s cultural and spiritual centre. One of the holiest cities in the Islamic world, Fez will take you back in time. We learn about the city’s history as a centre of government, philosophy, medicine and religion, while making our way through its most impressive landmarks and attractions. This includes the  Jewish quarter, city ramparts, gates of the palace, and the Medersa Boulnania: this 14th century construction is considered a marvel of Marinid architecture.

We then take to the streets for a walking tour of Medina, a 9th century city that is home to one of the oldest universities in the world. We will visit the Borj Nord fort, and make the most of its’ panoramic views across the tombs of the Merinids. As we pass through old Medina, we will witness craftspeople practicing traditional techniques, including a ceramic workshop to end the day.

Accommodation: Hotel Barcelo or similar

Overview: Today, we will visit one of Fez’s most iconic sights (and smells!). The Chaouwara tanneries offer a unique window into the production of world-class leather, using methods that have changed little since medieval times. In 2015-16, the facility did, however, undergo a restoration to spruce up the crumbling environs surrounding the pits. Lucky for us, this includes the viewing terraces, affording us great vision of this fascinating process.

The remainder of the day is set aside for your leisure. You may like to catch up on some rest, or venture further into charming Fez.

Accommodation: Hotel Barcelo or similar

Overview: Today, we depart Fez for Erfoud. Along the way, we experience spectacular views of cedar forests, and visit the cute Barbary macaques at Ifran. We tour through the beautiful and scenic Midelt en route to the Sahara. And our passage through the Ziz Valley and Efous Oasis affords us incredible photo opportunities.

Accommodation: Xaluca Erfoud or similar

Overview: Our day begins at Erfoud’s fossil factory and museum, where fossilised rocks are fashioned into decorative objects. Then, we make our way to the Saharaoui town of Rissani. We stop here for lunch, and to experience the regional speciality of Medfouna. This savoury pastry can be compared to an Italian calzone.

After lunch, we board 4×4 vehicles and weave our way through various nomadic villages of the Sahara, before we arrive at the edge of the dunes. Here, we board camels bound for a nomad camp. We traverse the stunning fine sands of Merzouga as the red sun falls toward the horizon.

As night falls, we listen to intoxicating Berber drum music and song. We experience the traditional pouring of mint tea, followed by a delightful Moroccan feast. We sleep in luxury tents, enjoying an unrivalled sense of tranquillity in the serene desert.

Accommodation: Accommodation in luxury tents

Overview: Following breakfast, we depart for Boumalne via the Toudra Valley, Dades Valley, the thousand kasbahs road, and Kalaat Megouna – the “Town of Roses”.

Boumalne is located within the upper Dades Valley and sits at the edge of a desert plateau. This idyllic village is home to a population of around 12,000, many of whom are Berber people: a group indigenous to North Africa.

Accommodation: Hotel Xaluca or similar

Overview: Today, we depart Boumalne for Ouarzazate. En route, we stop in at the Kasbahs of Tinghir and Tifelttout, whose atmospheric ruins emerge out of red sands.

Next, it’s onto the UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of the KsarAit-Ben-Haddou: an impressive feat of Moroccan architecture. Here, earthen buildings crowd together within defensive walls, in the style of pre-Saharan construction and dwelling.

Finally, we arrive at Ouarzazate, which is nicknamed “the Door of the Desert”.

Accommodation: Ksar Ighnda or similar

Overview: We journey from Ouarzazate to Marrakesh today. We drive along the Atlas Mountains following the Tizi n’ Tichka. This scenic route brings you through lush oasis valleys, and alongside imposing mountains.

Little by little, the red earth of the country rises up, contrasting with the clear blue sky and the eternal green palms. Finally, we arrive at Marrakesh.

Accommodation: Plaza Opera Hotel or similar

Overview: Today, we explore Marrakesh in detail. This second oldest imperial city is known as the ‘Pearl of the South’. It boasts an impressive Jewish quarter and the Sidi bel Abbes Mosque – both of which we will visit. We also check out the Ben Youssef Madrasa, a 14th century Islamic college that now serves as a historic site. The Koutoubia Mosque is the largest in Marrakesh; we view this, along with the Bahia Palace.

Our day concludes at the world famous Djemma El Fna place, an exotic bazaar that promises varied and endless entertainments. Expect storytellers, snake charmers, fire-eaters, and more.

Accommodation: Hotel Plaza Opera or similar

Overview: This morning, we enjoy a tour of Majorelle Garden, one of the most visited sites in Morocco. The enchanting garden is the product of forty years of passion from French artist Jacques Majorelle. Majorelle was a noted Orientalist painter, but is best remembered for Les Jardins Majorelle.

In 1923, the artist bought a four acre plot of land on the border of a palm grove. He began planting and establishing a luxuriant garden before commissioning architect Paul Sinoir to design a Cubist villa within the grounds. Majorelle later painted this villa in a distinctive cobalt blue which soon became synonymous with the gardens. In fact, this colour earned the name “Majorelle blue”.

Majorelle continued to extend his garden, purchasing more land until it fell into disrepair for financial reasons. Mercifully, a second labour of love ensued, bestowed by renowned fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge. They purchased the house and land during the 1980s and lovingly restored it. They also established the country’s first Berber Museum here, devoted to the history and culture of these indigenous people. When Saint Laurent died in 2008, his ashes were scattered here in these gardens. It is now the site of the newly established Musee Yves Saint Laurent Marrakesh, a museum that honours the designer’s contribution to haute couture.

We will wander among the reaching palms and exotic cacti of the gardens and visit the YSL foundation and museum.

Following this, the afternoon is set aside for your leisure.

Accommodation: Plaza Opera Hotel or similar

Overview: Today, we enjoy a day-trip to the former Portuguese town of Essaouira, a magnificent harbour city situated on the Atlantic Coast. It is often compared to the Greek islands for its picturesque blue-shuttered houses. The city is also famed for its Gnaoua connection, referring to an ancient tradition of African spiritual songs and rhythms. Essaouira is the ensorcelante city of the musicians Gnaoua, and site of a music festival to honour this tradition in June each year.

But first, we drive to Ounagha to learn about the vast Argan tree plantations and meet the women who extract this sought-after ‘Moroccan oil’ using ancestral processes.

On arrival in Essaouira, we will be seduced by its historic ramparts which shelter sophisticated medieval architecture, a unique colour palette and a laid-back atmosphere that attracts artists and creatives. We enjoy a seafood lunch at a local restaurant.

In the afternoon, we enjoy a tour of Essaouira, taking in the great Moulay-Hassan square, the Grand Mosque, and Siaghine Alley. In the old town, we discover traditional Moorish art and cedar woodwork. We will learn about the city’s history here, as we weave through its maze-like streets and trace along its defensive walls.

We return to our accommodation in Marrakesh for the evening.

Accommodation: Plaza Opera Hotel or similar

Overview: Today we enjoy a full day of leisure – there are no scheduled activities. You might like to revisit some of your favourite sites so far, or use the day to discover more of Marrakesh’s secrets. Alternatively, you may spend it relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere!

Accommodation: Plaza Opera Hotel or similar

Overview: This morning we visit the ruins of El Badi Palace. Its red pise walls and grand structure are enough to suggest its former glory: the palace was once nicknamed “The Incomparable”. It was commissioned by Saadian sultan Ahmed el Mansour in 1578. The funds for the project came from the ransom paid by Portuguese after the Battle of the Three Kings. The sunken gardens and 90 metre pool are still visible, and evoke a lingering sense of the luxury that once occupied this space.

As the Saadians fell and the Alaouite dynasty ascended, the palace entered a period of decline. Sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif systematically stripped the palace of its contents, material and decor to fund the construction of a new palace at his capital, Meknes.

Following Badi Palace, we visit the Saadian tombs. Al Mansour spared no expense here, either! He imported Italian Carrara marble and guilded the decorative, honeycomb shaped plasterwork with pure gold for the Chamber.

Two lavish mausoleums house around sixty tombs for members of the Saadi dynasty, with many more set in the surrounding gardens. All are overshadowed by the mausoleum of Al Mansour’s mother; its poetic carvings are guarded by stray cats.

Next, we check out Bab Agnaou, one of the nineteen gates of Marrakesh. Bab el Roor may have been the city’s official entrance, but Bab Agnaou gave entrance to the royal kasbah in the southern part of Marrakesh’s medina. It was built in the 12th century during the Almohad dynasty.

Our afternoon is free for your leisure, but we reconvene for a farewell dinner.

Accommodation: Plaza Opera Hotel or similar

Overview: Our tour concludes after breakfast.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 18 nights of accommodation.
  • 18 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 10 dinners.
  • Services of Tour Leader for the duration of tour.
  • Transport in comfortable and modern coaches or 4×4 vehicles
  • All excursions, entrance fees, and local guides.
  • Gratuities and necessary tips.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • International airfares and departure taxes.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.
  • Porterage

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