Imperial Sea to Sahara Tour
Designed and Accompanied by Anna Kwiecinska
15 NIGHTS, 1 - 15 OCTOBER 2020
Cost AU $4599 twin share / single supplement AU$1190 (Land Only)
ONLY 12 PLACES AVAILABLE
This is my new classic Sea to Sahara Tour, now with all four imperial cities as a feature, plus luxurious nights in the Sahara by a desert oasis and by the sea on the Atlantic coast to create a relaxing finale to your journey, getting you back to Casablanca for your direct onward journey, after celebrating our adventures with dinner at Ricks Café on our last night together.
WHO WILL THIS TOUR SUIT
Especially designed for those that wish to travel a little more leisurely, with more ‘down’ time at the beginning and end of the tour. Plenty of resting spots along the way, 2 nights in most places, 3 in the cities of Fez and Marrakech, and no destinations which require hilly climbs or too many steps. October is a cooler moth to travel throughout Morocco..
CASABLANCA – RABAT(1) – via MEKNES and VOLUBILIS - FEZ (3) - MERZOUGA (2) – TINEGHIR (1) – SKOURA OASIS (2) – MARRAKECH (3) – ESSAOUIRA (2) – CASABLANCA (1)
15 nights accommodation in authentic and historic luxury accommodation throughout including a luxury tented camp in the Sahara
15 breakfasts / 7 lunches / 7 dinners
Luxury 18-seater bus with bottled water provided daily
20 Entrances to monuments and events
Fully guided throughout plus specialist city guides
Quick checklist of included highlights
Unwind from travel slowly, with this relaxed first day with only an hour driving to get you to the Imperial city of rabat on the Atlantic coats. Spend the day exploring the medina, and staying at a gorgeous traditional riad with some typically fine seaside dining this evening.
A unique invitation to the home of a bibliophile photographer in Fes for a unique view into his collection and daily life
Relaxed private shopping possibilities in Fes for leather goods and Berber jewellery – no hassle, no obligation – just a relaxed opportunity to browse and have bespoke articles made for you to be ready by the end of the tour
Private dinner in a beautiful traditional riad Fez with classic, live oud concert performance
An illuminating 2-hour guided walk through the only permanent oasis in Morocco
Guided walk through the ancient frontier town of Tineghir where Jewish communities flourished
A day in the dunes with your own camel - ride for as long as you like - this is your day in the Sahara!
Be invited to enjoy lunch at the home of an artist in the desert and see how life could be if you chose to live here as an ex-pat!
A caravanserai concert in a private riad the medina of Marrakech by Gnaoua musicians from the Sudan and Mali.
Special Dining Events and Accommodation Highlights
Apart from spending months in Fez in 2018 and several months there in 2017 studying Arabic languarge, I've spent many visits discovering wonderful places to stay and dine – not just for great food, but ambience, service and personality– these are my recommendations. Some of the restaurants are included, some are optional* but highly recommended as unique experiences
The notes below are just a brief description of all the richness, diversity and surprises await you on this wonderful journey. For a full itinerary please contact me and don't hesitate to discuss whether this tour will be right for you.
CASABLANCA (pre-tour night)
Surely one of the most legendary cities in the world. Colonial Art Deco architecture, a little worn at the edges, the Hassan II mosque poised on the edge of the Atlantic - the second largest mosque in the world, and a vibrant corniche. You'll spend a relaxed morning here before starting the 1-hr journey along the Atlantic coast to Rabat.
Choose your own hotel here or allow me to book you into my favourite 5-start luxury hotel in the heart of the city.
A World Heritage Imperial City by the sea - 1 night
Rabat is Morocco's capital whose Islamic history and more recent French colonial past sit side by side in monuments, buildings, streets and urban spaces that lie along the shores of the Bouregreg River and the Atlantic coast. The C12th century Hassan tower stands witness to its geneis by the mighty Almoravid dynasty and the ancient medina is a World Heritage site. Spend a leisurely afrenoon and evening with a guided tour here as you wind down from your arrival yesterday.
FES, VOLUBILIS and MEKNES
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 a riad lovingly restored by a passionate Frenchman – so you know the food will be marvellous! With fine terrace views to the Merenid tombs this off-the-beaten-track location is perfect to escape the clamour of the heart of the medina. Amongst the 9400 tiny alleyways within medieval walls you'll find the oldest university in the world, the extraordinary dyeling vats, the age-old arts of fine leather working, filigree cutting, and superb architecture.
*Dine at an exquisitely restored riad with a private classical oud performance to entertain you in the style of days of old.
* enjoy lunch at a hidden garden paradise
Explore the beautifully situated ancient Roman city of Volubilis and the Imperial city of Meknes as you move from Tangier to Fes.
Erfoud, Rissani and Merzouga (2 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 off the beaten track (1 night)
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 keep going, deeper and deeper into the gorge, 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, 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, an excellent wine list and a guided oasis walk are highlights of this off-the -beaten-track destination.
MARRAKECH via AIT BEN HADDOU
The red city of the desert now a caravanserai for modern times with everything you can imagine – 3 nights.
Witness the Workd heritage Ait ben Haddoun kasbah, before continuing to ascend the Hight Atlas, follow the Glaoui Route to visit a local rug cooperative for exquisite local carpets and lunch. Reaching Marrakech this evening, you’ll stay in a artfully-restored authentic riad in the heart of the medina with good food a highlight here. Two and half days of expert guided tours, with museums - including the Jardin Majorelle and the stunning new Yves St Laurent museums, a concert, dining and of course, free time for shopping i this incredible market city.
*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.
You've made it: Sea to Sahara - and back to Sea!
Spend 2 nights here in a stunning sea-side location within the World Heritage medina
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.
From here we return to CASABLANCA the following day, via the seaside towns of Safi and El Jadida returning to stay at a
5-star central city hotel for a comfortable night (night 15), before your departure tomorrow.
Tonight we celebrate with dinner at Rick's Cafe !