Imperial Sea to Sahara
A Grand Tour taken leisurely
30 Sept - 20 October 2022
Our group is a maximum of 12 to ensure everyone has a window seat!
I'm currently in Sri Lanka, planning to return to Morocco later this year
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note : if you're viewing this on a phone screen you won't see the many photos attached to the itinerary. All photos by Anna Kwiecinska
TANGIER via RABAT
Northern most tip of Africa - the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean (2 nights)
Today you'll leave Casablanca refreshed, after two nights to settle into the hum of Moroccan rhythms, and head to Rabat, a UNESCO World Heritage zone city. Discover the kasbah of the Umayas, visit the imperial tombs and lunch.
Tangier, the legendary port city. Worth the journey. You stay for 2 nights in a luxury Heritage Hotel perched high above the historic medinas. Tomorow we spend a entire day without specialist guide for a superbly entertaining experience taking you from the Jewish synagogues near the Socco Chico, through the winding alleyways of the Kasbah.
I have many reading recommendations to get you in the mood for Tangier ... spend your first evening dining graciously with panoramic views of the medinas, and the following evening, let's head to the Kasbah for a uniquely luxurious experience of Moroccan specialties in a grand palace whose terraces overlook both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
The famous blue town of the Rif mountains (1 night)
Since medieval times, this hillside village was a secretive hideout for smugglers and sufis alike, with many sufi brotherhoods establishing 'zawiyas' here amongst the labyrinthine alleys. We'll arrive for lunch and then spend a free afternoon exploring the picturesque pathways of this unique township before an al fresco terrace dinner and a night in a pretty riad brimming with the charming artistry which makes this township unique in Morocco
VOLUBILIS and MEKNES to FES
3 Imperial cities from the 7th to 17th Centuries (3 nights)
En route to Fes, you'll explore the ancient Roman City of Volubilis, precursor to Fes' establishment, and the 17th imperial city of Meknes before arriving for 3 nights in magnificent Fes, a C.7th World Heritage medina city where medieval Arabic culture still thrives. You’ll spend 3 nights in an outstandingly magnificent riad, with swimming pool, fine terrace views across the medina, excellent cuisine and convenient access to the heart of this ancient city.
Amongst the 9400 tiny alleyways within medieval walls you'll find the oldest university in the world, the extraordinary dyeing vats, the age-old arts of fine leather working, filigree cutting, and superb architecture. Getting lost in Fes is part of the experience, and along with guided history walks and entrees into private homes, you'll have time to enjoy the ambience with a free afternoon for leisure, pleasure or shopping.
THE GOLDEN SAHARA
Erfoud, Rissani and Merzouga (3 nights, 1 under canvas)
Cross the Middle Atlas and descend into the vast Saharan desert where splendid golden dunes, Berber nomads and 2 nights beneath that 'Sheltering Sky' made so famous by Paul Bowles.
Your gorgeously exotic time here includes a night under canvas in a luxury tented camp - a camel ride away from town. Most tours offer you a 20-minute camel ride - but on this journey you’ll leave for an extended ride on the second morning to take you from your beautiful desert auberge to your camp – and you have the all the time in the world to savour this unique experience. This is not a day to be rushed.
You’re invited to enjoy Berber pizza by the dunes in a wonderful home built by an English artist out here after a morning exploring the timeless Risanni markets with their dates, spices and desert wares - and the 'mule car park' (below).
On your second night, under canvas, you’ll enjoy campfire dining, live music on Berber rugs and a fascinating astronomer's lecture explaining the Berber peoples' conception of the night sky.
A secretive hideaway way off the beaten track (1night)
Most travellers make a quick call into the Todra Gorge, take a picture, turn around and head back to a pretty ordinary hotel somewhere on a the main road. Well, we’re going to spend the night at one of the most unique places you could imagine. I’m not saying more, as I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but everything, including the cuisine, with dinner provided, is wonderful here!
Our day has been passed driving along the Ante Atlas, stopping at El Khorbatt before a walking tour this afternoon in the ancient frontier town of Tineghir, where gold trading flourished and desert and mountain cultures met.
Along the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs (2 nights)
Morocco's only permanent oasis creates an Eden of date palms and fruit trees and for two nights you'll stay in a traditional fortress-style kasbah built by the traditional owner of this extensive garden property. Luxuriously set around a lovely pool setting and parterre gardens, this peaceful haven is the perfect place to rest, restore and rejuvenate, and perhaps enjoy a traditional Moroccan hammam or spa.
Impressive cuisine - both dinners are provided here - an excellent wine list and a guided oasis walk are highlights of this off-the -beaten-track destination.
SAHARA to MARRAKECH
via the magnificent Glaoui Route, up and over the Col de Titchka
A stunning day with Ait Ben Haddou, the UNESCO World Heritage kasbah and spectacular mountain scenery as you ascend to the highest point on this tour, the Col de Tichka Pass, on a new sealed road which takes you through Telaout, the remote domain of the Pasha of Marrakech, el Glaoui. Arriving, finally, into the legenday C11th. city of Marrakech.
The red city of the desert now a caravanserai for modern times with everything you can imagine (3 nights)
You’ll stay in a artfully-restored authentic riad in the heart of the medina with good food a highlight here. Two full days of expert guided tours, with museums - including the Jardin Majorelle and thr stunning new Yves St Laurent museums, a concert, dining and shopping to delight all the senses.
*A world of choice awaits you in this most exotic of destinations, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy my recommendation for lunch - The Guardian newspaper listed it as one of Marrakech’s best ten finds!
*what would a stay in Marrakech be without drinks at the jazzy piano bar of one of finest hotels in the world? … a great way to bring our tour to a splendid and fitting close.
Relax, wander and bask in this arty sea-side medina - your 8th World Heritage site! (2 nights)
Immortalised by Jimi Hendrix but famed for centuries before that as a Portuguese sea port of significance, the C.16th medina of Essaouira is a relaxed and laid back place to shop, eat and take in the sea air in a leisurely way.
Famed for sardines, salt and raffia, Essaouira offers the freshest seafood imaginable – it’s a must for lunch after our walking through the port and medina, and I have a delicious surprise for you for dinner.
Our tour will finish in Casablanca, where we drive the folowing day, for a final night in our luxury hotel (1 night).
WHAT'S NEW ABOUT THIS TOUR ?
The 2022 itinerary retains all the best parts of the original Sea to Sahara tour,
and introduces several new aspects to enhance your comfort with 2 extra nights :
A complete day and 2 nights (days 1-2) in Casablanca
- to discover this fascinating Atlantic edge city with an architectural expert
- ensure that you have a whole day to recover before starting our coach journey
- a guaranteed evening of dinner ad music at Rick's Cafe
A visit to the city of Rabat (day 3)
- You will now have a chance to enjoy a tour the kasbah of Morocco's capital city,
and an introduction to its roman and medieval pasts
- a very relaxed evening in Tangier, with a 3-course dinner at your 5-star hotel
A night in one of the prettiest riads in the Blue city of Chefchaouen (day 5)
Yes! It's taken me four years to finally get a confirmed reservation in this delightful place
Your superb Riad in Fes has a beautiful swimming pool (days 6-8)
- and with three nights here you'll love this opportunity to luxuriate in leisure
Your journey to the Sahara Desert will be a leisurely one (days 9-11)
Leaving Fes you'll cross the Middle Atlas mountains and spend the night at Errachidia in a dramatic oasis setting allowing you to rest early and feel refreshed for your onward journey to Rissani markets tomorrow
The final journey from Essaouira to Casablanca will be a relaxed one (day 19)
we don't have anything planned in Casablanca for the evening our return,
so relax, enjoy the pool and the amenities of your luxury hotel before your departure tomorrow.
LENGTH OF TOUR: Arrival Day 1 / Departure Day 20
Your accommodations have swiming pools for 14 nights out of 19.
I very much look forward to travelling to Morocco as soon as possible,
so if you have any questions about the 2022 tour, or Morocco in general
please don't hesitate to be in touch with me, I'd love to hear from you.