Absolute Morocco Tour Marrakech, Fes, Meknes & Ouarzazate
Absolute Morocco Cultural Tour: A 9-Day Tailor Made Imperial Cities & Sahara Desert Holiday Adventure
Tour Marrakech, Fes, Meknes, Volubilis & Ouarzazate
Duration: 9:00am - 6:00pm
Morocco Travel: In Luxury 4x4 vehcile. English, French Speaking Driver, Guide
Starting & Finishing Point: Marrakech
ABSOLUTE MOROCCO PRIVATE TOUR - TRIP HIGHLIGHTS:
Tasting Marrakech, Evening Food Tour at Sunset in Djemma El Fna Square
Explore the Yves Saint Laurent Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech
Discover UNESCO World Hertiage Fes and the Oldest working Medina in the World
Private Guided Tour of Volubilis Mosaics and the Roman Ruins
Afternoon Tea at the Oasis of Fint
Overnight in a Luxury Desert Camp Merzouga in the heart of Erg Chebbi Dunes
DAY 1: MARAKECH
►Arrive in Marrakech, your driver will pick you up at Marrakech, Morocco's Menara Airport and transport to your riad or hotel.
►In the late afternoon your introduction to Marrakech will begin by traveling outside the Medina, the old quarter of Marrakech. Visit the Djemma el Fna, Square a UNESCO world heritage site. Stroll Djemma’s labyrinth like streets where snake charmers fiddle flirtatiously with their cobras, fire swallowers eat fire, storytellers entertain big crowds, fortune tellers mesmerize Moroccan travelers with stories and the rhythms of African and Arabic sounds hypnotize the crowds. Enjoy an Evening Food Tour, Tasting Marrakech in Djemaa El Fna at Sunset.
►Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.
DAY 2: GUIDED TOUR MARRAKECH MUSEUMS, SITES & GARDENS
►After breakfast begin your tour of Marrakech. Travel Morocco's "Red City” or Al Hamra, "located in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.
►Your tour of Marrakech will first take you to the Majorelle Garden. The exotic floral paradise was built by Jacques Majorelle to complement his Moorish Villa designed with zellij tilework covering the front door and blue-green and dark red tones decorating the interior. Today the garden surrounds the home with colorful flowers like yucca, bougainvillea, bamboo, laurel, geraniums, hibiscus, cypresses, 400 varieties of palm trees and 1,800 species ofcactus.
►After visiting the Majorelle Garden, we will explore the Bahaia Palace. Built by two grand vizers, Si Moussa and Ba Ahmed, the palace complex is made up of two separate parts that are distinguished by the different needs of the rulers.
►Next, we will drive to the Lower Medina to explore more of Marrakech’s secrets: El Mansour mosque, where you will see the sixteenth century Saadian Tombs with its stark towers and also visit the 16th century El Badhi palace.
►En route we will travel to Djemma el Fna, the center and symbol of Marrakech.
We will stop to visit the 12th century Koutoubia Mosque. Strolling through the labyrinth streets, you will recognize the Koutoubia Mosque by its influential minaret. The Mosque is one of the largest in the Muslim world and served as a model for the Giralda in Seville as well as theHassan II tower in Rabat.
►Marrakech is admired by Moroccan travelers for its history of being a city of underground channels built by the architects from Cordoba, Spain. These channels provided water for the town and Palmery.
►Lunch in the city center of Marrakech.
►From here we will explore the old quarter of Marrakech by foot and browse the souks, considered to be the most fascinating among Moroccan travelers. The souks are lined with fresh fruit, mounds of spices, intricately woven Berber carpets, jewelry, Moroccan slippers and tanneries.
►Visit the Contemporary Art Museum of Marrakech. Return to your riad to relax. Dinner at the Chez Allez Fantasia Horse and dinner show in Marrakech's palmery. Spend the night in Marrakech.
►Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.
(Book a Tour or call (800) 787-8806)
DAY 3: MARRAKECH - FES
►After breakfast, tour the La Mamonia Garden, the only remains of 18th century Alouite residence of Sidi Mohammed. The La Mamonia Garden, spans over thirty-two acres and is filled with olive trees. It boasts a newly, modern renovation. Surrounding the garden is La Mamonia Hotel, an Art Deco and Moorish style residence where many famous people including Winston Churchill, Richard Nixon and Orson Welles have stayed.It is at this famous hotel where Alfred Hitchcock wrote “The Birds”, in 1963.
►After visiting the La Mamonia Hotel & Gardens, take the road to Fes.
►Arrive in Fes, dinner at a Fassis traditional restaurant that boasts delicious food and traditional entertainment. Spend the night in Fes.
DAY 4: FES - GUIDED TOUR
►After a breakfast at your riad, begin your exploration of Fès at the Merinid Tombs. Standing among olive trees and blue agaves, the 16th century elegant ruins of marble and epitaphs face a breathtaking view of the Fès.
► Next, enter the Fès el- Bali through the symmetrical horse shoe arches at Bab Boujeloud ,The Blue Gate. Fès-el Bali, best characterized as a sea of rooftops embellished with minarets and domes, is too narrow for cars. Aside from walking, donkeys and mules are still the best way to travel within the cities old walls. Inside we will visit the UNESCO recognized site, Fondouk el- Najjarine. Within the foundouk’s three floors is the Musée de Bois, which displays carved doors from the Bou Inania Medersa.
►Next, enter Bab el F-touh, the “Gateway of the Aperture” to explore the Andalusian quarter, a residential part of the medina laced with monuments. Experience the El- Sahrij Medersa and theMausoleum of Sidi Bou Ghaleb.
► Visit Fès el Jedid, a kasbah which functioned as Morocco’s administrative center until 1912. Explore the royal palace and many interesting quarters including the Moulay Abdalllah Quarter and the Mellah (Jewish Quarter).
►Stop for lunch within the medina at one of the fine Moroccan palace-restaurants that serve an extravaganza of mezas (small plates of food) common among Fassis tradition. The mezas that are often brought to your table prior to the large mid-day meal will be several of these: Choukchouka salad, Zaalouk salad, Carrots with Cumin Seed, raisin and orange salad, Cold radish, orange, and Fennel Salad. The mezas are traditionally followed by the main meal which will include the option of a Tagine or couscous. For desert you will be served with fruit/ or local Moroccan pastries along with Mint Tea.
►After lunch explore the souks in the old Medina El Fès Bali. Every souk is reflected in the value of the items sold to all Moroccan travelers. The layout of the souk is a complex network of streets selling luxury goods like fine silks and brocades, high quality kaftans and jewelry. There are also souks like the El-Attarine Souk selling spices, a slipper souk and a henna souk, which is set in a shaded area planted with arbuses.
(Book a Tour or call (800) 787-8806)
Visit the following ancient sites in Fes:
►Medersa Bou Inania: An (Islamic school) founded by Abu Inan Faris that is highly decorated from floor to ceiling. The medersa is one of the few religious places in Morocco that is accessible to non-Islamic tourists.
►Kairaouine Mosque: Morocco’s second largest mosque was built by Fatima in 857. The Kairaouine Mosque became the home of the West's first university and the world's foremost center of learning at the beginning of the second millennium.
►Medersa el Attarin: A (Koranic school) that was named for local spice merchants known as attar. Founded by Sultan Abou Saïd in the 14th century as a students' dormitory, it is attached to the Kairaouine Mosque.
►Zaouia Moulay Idriss II: A zaouia (shrine) dedicated to and the tomb of Moulay Idriss II, who ruled Morocco from 807 to 828 and founded the city of Fès for the second time in 810.
►Dar Batha: A Hispano-Moorish palace dating from the end of the 19th century that houses admirable collections of traditional art from Fès.
►Weavers Cooperative: The workshop specializes in weaving the finest Moroccan jellaba fabric, made of silk and wool threads imported from Italy.
►Berber Carpet Demonstration: The Famous Exhibition of Antique and Modern Carpets is one of the places in Fès el Bali where Moroccan travelers can see a Berber carpet demonstration.
►Tanneries: The Chourara or the Tanner’s Quarters is the most lively and picturesque souks in Fès.
►Dyers Market: The dyers market, located along Rue de Teinturies, is the best place to see the dying vats which have been used for centuries to soak the skins of sheep, goat, cows and camels after they have their hair and flesh removed is best seen from the neighboring terraces.
►Potter's Cooperative: Also known as Place el-Seffarine, this kisseria is the most important center for the production Fasiss style ceramics, brass-ware and silverware in Morocco.
► Enjoy dinner at a restaurant in the medina which boasts incredible views of the old Fes or at your riad and then prepare for next day’s journey.
►Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Hotel in Fes.
DAY 5: VOLUBILIS & MEKNES GUIDED TOUR
►After a traditional Moroccan breakfast travel on an excursion outside of Fès to explore the breathtaking archaeological site of Volubilis (Walili) and the Imperial city of Meknes.
►Once occupied by the Romans, Volubilis has been recognized by UNESCO as aworld heritage site and gained international acclaim when Martin Scorsese made it a feature location for his film, The Last Temptation of Christ.
►Begin your visit by discovering the fascinating Roman ruins adorned with beautiful mosaics and colorful tiles depicting Roman mythology. The ruins are spread out across several acres and what remains visible is several fragments of wall, parts of massive columns, the capitol, the basilica and a triumphal arch.
►You can view how the Roman Empire transformed the original Carthaginian settlement into a typical Roman city complete with mansions, a town center, a triumphal arc and temples devoted to the Roman gods. Volubilis once functioned as a final stop of the Roman imperial roads that went acrossFrance, Spain, down Morocco’s northern city of Tangier and eventually into Volubilis.
►Next explore the open air museum with remains of altars, sculptural fragments and colorful mosaics.
► Take the road to Meknes. Lunch in Meknes and then begin your historical tour of this Imperial City. Pass under the arches framed by protruding towers and enter Place El-Hedime (Square of Ruins) which links the medina and the kasbah. The square is lined with modern residential buildings and a covered food souk (market).
►We will stop and visit the Musée Dar Jamaï, a museum showing modern Moroccan arts, woodwork, ceramics, carpets, costumes, jewelry and metalwork. The sophisticated building was once a palace incorporating a mosque, menzah (pavilion), courtyard, kitchen and hammam. Be sure to look for these as well as an Andalusian garden planted with cypresses. Moving along, stop by Bou Inania Medersa to explore the beautiful Koranic school established by the Merinids in the 14th century. Opposite of the Medersa, see the Grand Mosque.
►Browse Rue de Souks, a street filled with hardware merchants (akarir), corn chandlers (bezzazine) and metalsmiths (haddadin). Visit the En-Nejjarine Mosque, a 12th century Almohad built structure.
►Among the most impressive elements of this imperial city is the grand gate named after the architect, El-Mansour, a Christian renegade who converted to Islam. It was completed 5 years after Moulay Ismail's death, in 1732. The design of the gate plays with Almohad patterns. It has zellij mosaics of excellent quality. The marble columns were taken from the Roman ruins of Volubilis.
►Visit the palaces and mosques located within the heart of Ksar Dar el-Kebira, the heart of the Imperial city.
►Next,continue on to see Dar el Makhzen, the “Palace of Labyrinths” and then to Bassin de l’Aguedal, a water tank built to supply water to the palace and imperial city. Before returning to Fès, we will visit the well known Haras de Meknès, the largest national stud that can accommodate up to two-hundred and thirty one horses. It's the home of noble Arabian and Berber Horses. Created in 1912, Haras de Meknès promotes the best breeds of horses to be used during a fantasia or competitive horse races.►Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Hotel in Fes.
DAY 6: FES - MERZOUGA
►Rise early, breakfast at your riad and take the road to Merzouga.
►Lunch en route. Sunset camel trek to your private, Luxury Desert Camp in the Merzouga's Erg Chebbi Dunes. Enjoy 1001 Arabian Nights Dinner and Berber Music.
►Overnight at a Luxury Desert Camp in Merzouga.
DAY 7: MERZOUGA - LUNCN IN A BERBER VILLAGE - OUARZAZATE
►Merzouga Rise. Take the road to Erfoud. Visit Erfoud. The capitol of fossils and Rissani's Mausoluem. Contineu to the Berber Village of Ait Ouzzine. Sip Tea with the Berbers in the Sahgro Mountains.
►Just 5 kilometers after N’kob is Aït Ouzzine (the nice village). Aït Ouzzine is a Berber village inhabited by over 300 families who live in beautifully painted crenulated kasbahs, with their own henna fields, water wells, livestock and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani.
►Meet a local Berber family, partake in a cooking lesson of how to make traditional bread and a tajine. Then explore and tour the village by foot. Walk in the green fields and see how the traditional Berbers live with their gardens of herbs, live stock, and henna plants.
►Lunch will be served to you in Aït Ouzzine by a traditional Berber family. The menu will include a traditional meal of fresh baked bread with spices and a chicken and vegetable tajine and fresh local fruits for desert. After lunch, you can have your hands and feet painted with henna by a local village artist and relax. End the afternoon with mint tea and almonds. Then rest at your hotel before having a traditional dinner with the Berber family of couscous and sheep’s stomach that is grilled by fire. This is similar to an American barbecue.►Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Hotel in Ouarzazate.
DAY 8: OUARZAZATE GUIDED TOUR OF OASIS OF FINT AIT BENHADDOU - MARRAKECH
►After breakfast at your hotel, we will depart Ouarzazate and take the pise (windy road) towards the Oasis of Fint passing the "Plateau de pierres". On this road you will find a shining Oasis of palms.
►Visit the Oasis of Fint that hovers under the Atlas Mountains. Journey on a one-hour walk inside the Oasis where you will have a cup of tea with the headmasters family Azziz Ouaziz and tour the surrounding area where date palm oases and dramatic desert scenery are king.
►After visiting the Oasis of Fint we will take the road to Kasbah Tifoultoute which stands majestically on the banks of Oued Tifoultoute. From a distance this old Kasbah is impressive with its castle-like architecture. In the 1960’s the Kasbah was converted into a hotel for the cast of Lawrence of Arabia. Tour the Kasbah and have lunch at its restaurant which is known for delicious mint and herb teas. See panoramic views from the rooftop.
►Lunch in Ouarzazate at a Kasbah restaurant that overlooks the old city.
►Next, visit the Telouet was once an important stop on the Southern Caravan route for traders carrying spices, slaves and other commodities. Telouet’s Kasbah also known as Dar Glaoui once served as the royal headquarters and residence of the Glaoui tribe. Until Morocco’s independence in 1956, the Glaoui had power in the central Moroccan and French administration.
►Today the Telouet Kasbah’s earth toned, dark red walls are crumbling, however, the dramatic history of its former residents makes it a favorite visit of many. After over half a century of decay this kasbah’s interior still stands out with its painted salon walls, the bright Zellij (tiles) and labyrinth of locked doors with dangling silver knockers. The kasbah boasts iron window grilles and finely carved ceilings decorated in a painterly fashion using Safron and Henna. All of the rooms that still remain include the harem, the kitchens, the cinema and roof top view which is a risky trek but enables you look down upon some of the old courts. After perusing the unbelievable myriad of connecting passages, trek up the nearby ornate central hill and see the astonishing panoramic view of this masterpiece born from quasi-medieval power created in the 20th century.
►Visit the Atlas Film Studios. The studios are flanked by Holly-wood style Egyptian figures and cover 30,000 sq m of desert. David Lean filmedLawrence of Arabia at The Atlas Film Studios in the early 1960’s. Since then many famous directors have followed in his footsteps to exploit the magnificent scenery. International blockbusters shot here in recent years include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara. Most of the filming takes place in the desert in the south however you can view the Tibetan monastery featured in Scorese’s Kundan and an Egyptian temple from Cleopatra.
► Located 32 km from Ouarzazate lies the picturesque village. Aït Benhaddou of Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Aït Benhaddou is one of many locations in this region used for shooting Hollywood films.
►Your guide will lead you on a private tour through this Berber village of towered and crenulated Kasbahs that once guarded the lucrative caravan route through the Atlas Mountains. Explore the Kasbahs by foot with the option to ride a donkey across a river.
►Your guide will share the fascinating history of Aït Benhaddou which once served as the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. Most of the town's inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river; ten families however still live within the ksar. Aït Benhaddou was once a significant stop for traders carrying gold, salt and slaves along the famous Southern Caravan route moving through the Sahara.
►For lunch, relax on a terrace with clear views of Aït Benhaddouand enjoy a traditional Moroccan meal of mfouar (steamed wheat), Takila (a Berber tajine), couscous and fruit. After lunch, browse the village shops.
►Take the road back to Marrkakech. En route visit the Argan Cooperative in the High Atlas Tichka Mountains and see how Berber women make Argan oil, Argan butter and cosmetics from the Argan nut. Have tea with a Berber family.
►Take the road to Marrakech.
►Overnight at a Boutique Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.
DAY 9: MARRAKECH DEPARTURE
►Breakfast at your riad. Marrakech Departure.
Map of Morocco
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