MOROCCO
Detailed Itinerary
All itineraries subject to slight changes.
Please contact Baraka Journeys for most current itinerary

Day  1
Depart LAX for Morocco via Paris.  

Day 2
Arrive and depart Paris.  Arrive at Mohamed V airport in Casablanca.  Transfer to your hotel to freshen up and rest.  Dinner and overnight at the Sheraton Hotel. 

Day  3
Enjoy a tour of this modern, cosmopolitan city of 4 million inhabitants, the commercial and financial center of the country and the fourth largest port of Africa.  It is hard to believe that about 100 years ago this city did not exist except for what is now an elegant suburb area of Anfa.  Architects began planning this model city in 1912.  So newly built, Casablanca has almost a California potpourri of architectural styles.  In particular Art Deco is a predominant architectural theme and efforts are underway to rekindle public appreciation of the city’s collection of 1920’s and 30’s examples in building facades, doors, staircases and balconies. 

Visit the “old” medina and Central Market, the modern city with its wide boulevards, the residential suburbs, the Gates and ground of the Royal Palace of King Mohamed VI, the 30-story World Trade Center. You will visit the relatively new Hassan II mosque (largest in the world), completed in 1993 and a stunning example of Islamic architecture in a majestic location by the Atlantic Ocean.  Its prayer hall can accommodate 25,000.  Enjoy a seafood lunch overlooking the Atlantic.

In the evening, in a private residence in the suburb of Hai Hassani, experience your first lovingly offered Moroccan home hospitality with our friend, M’barka and her family, for a light dinner.  Overnight at the Sheraton Hotel.

Day  4
Continue getting to know Casablanca, with a morning visit of the city including the Mohamed V Square, the Habbous quarter.  Drive through the residential area of Anfa (site of the historic World War II meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt) and the beautiful Ain Diab Corniche twisting along the Atlantic Coast.  Very special lunch and presentation in another private home.  Restful, light dinner and overnight at the 5* Sheraton Hotel.

Day  5
After breakfast, enjoy an easy morning drive of approximately one hour to one of Morocco’s four imperial cities and its current capital city, Rabat.   Rabat is a beautiful walled city with over 1,000 years of history located on the banks of the Bou Regreg estuary.  During your stay in Rabat you will explore the necropolis of Chellah (built on the site of the ancient Roman city of Sola Colonia), and the picturesque Kasbah des Oudaias overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  You will see the Mechouar, the ramparts and walls surrounding the royal palace and will visit the Rabat Museum of Moroccan Arts.  You will also see the immense Hassan Mosque and Tower and its lovely gardens and the Royal Mausoleum of Mohamed V.  It was Mohamed V who achieved independence for Morocco in 1956.   Overnight in Rabat at the Tour Hassan Hotel.

Day  6
Morning depart for Tangier (approximately a 3 hour drive).  Enjoy a short visit and lunch overlooking the sea in the tiny arts village of Asila on the way.  Many historic homes in Asila are being restored to their former glory.

Tangier is at the crossroads of civilization where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean and where its magnificent bay lays below lush green hills.   There, visit the Kasbah, the highest point in the medina.  There you will visit the palaces and gardens of the sultan.  A magnificent sampling of Moroccan art can be seen in the rooms around the courtyard.  Visit Dar El Makhzen, the former governor’s palace, which has now been converted into a Moroccan Art and Antiquities Museum.  You will also see the Grand Socco a large permanent market at the entrance of the old medina and the Petit Socco, a small square at the entrance of the old city, famous for its colorful alleys.  Dinner with a music and dance performance in the medina.  Overnight at Hotel El Minzah.

Day  7
In the morning, depart Tangier for Tetouan with lunch en route.  Drive through artistocratic and exclusive neighborhoods to visit the Caves of Hercules where many pre-historic remains have been discovered and Cape Spartel, the extreme north-westerly point of Africa.  

Built on the rocky slope of a mountain, Tetouan was founded in the 15th century by Muslim refuges from Spain.  Upon arriving in Tetouan you will still feel the influence of Spain in the architecture, city planning, and shop names written in Spanish.  You may even hear the language being spoken or broadcast on TVs in the shops.  Visit the Bab El Rouah Gate, the souks behind the Royal Palace and the Place de l’Oussa. 

Continue from Tetouan on a glorious drive inland to Chefchaouen through the Rif mountains.  You will see Berber women in their unique hand-woven stripped dress and straw hats.  You are officially in Berber territory!  Of the 24 million Moroccans, 65% are Arabs and 35% are Berbers.  Berbers are believed to have migrated from the Caucasus in 1500 BC.  They are often fair-skinned and blue eyed.  They are comprised of hundred of tribes, some sedentary, some nomadic.  They practice both animism and Islam.

Enjoy seeing rivers cutting through the countryside.  The surrounding area is known for its cannabis production, an intrinsic part of the city life, being sold with vegetables, herbs and spices.  Upon arrival enjoy lunch and leisurely afternoon strolling in the small, charming, Hispano-Moorish city, washed in light blue paint, resembling ice.  Dinner and overnight at the picturesque and creatively decorated Riad, Casa Hassan.

Day  8
This is a day of driving through cork forests and magnificent countryside including many picturesque streams and lakes.  Along the way you may see locals selling olive oil they’ve produced from olives they’ve grown.  We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch.  Early evening arrival in Fez for dinner and overnight at Palais Jamai.

Day  9
Morning departure for nearby archaeological site of Volubulis, the most impressive Roman ruins in Morocco now a UNESCO world heritage site.  The Romans ruled in this area for over five centuries, and the original buildings are remarkably well preserved.  Even the mosaics remain in their original settings and still sparkle.

Afternoon visit to Meknes, where we will enjoy lunch and a visit.  Meknes is another of Morocco’s Imperial cities with magnificent gardens and palaces.  It is known as the Moroccan Versailles because it was founded and built over the course of 50 years, at the end of the 17th century by King Moulay Ismail who was a contemporary of Luis XIV.  There you will visit the massive ramparts and King Moulay Ismail mosque.  See the gates of Bab Mansour (considered to be the finest gateway in Morocco) and Sekkarine Street, famous for its tiny shops of jewelers and lantern makers. See stables built to accommodate 12,000 horses.  Visit the Hari Souani and the old and new medinas.

Later in the day, visit the nearby holiest and first Islamic city in Morocco and home to tomb of the country’s most revered saint: Moulay Idriss and many Sufi orders which have been formed through the  centuries.  Learn about Moroccan Sufism and reverence for local saints known as “Walis.”  It is said that five trips to this site are equivalent to the Hajj in Mecca.  

Continue to Fez for dinner in a special local restaurant and overnight at the Palais Jamai.

Day 10 and Day 11
The Medieval city of Fez (founded in 800) is the oldest of the Moroccan “Imperial Cities,” including Rabat, Meknes, and Sale. Fez is known for its spiritual and education al contribution to Moroccan culture. You will see that Fez is built in Moorish-Andalusian architecture with many minarets and towers, which give it a dreamy feel.  Roofs are often tiled in green.  Again and again the architecture will illustrate the Arab tradition of maintaining privacy and presenting somber facades and lavish interiors.  You will see spectacular examples of zwag or elaborate painting on wood, ceilings, doors, walls…anything that can be adorned!!
Enjoy an introductory visit to the medina.  Daily over 200,000 people make their living or do business in the medieval labyrinth medina of Fez.  There visit Fez El Bali the oldest part of the city.  This oldest part is full of palaces, mosques and Islamic universities known as medersas.   See the Bou Inania Medersa which is considered to be the most elaborate, extravagant and beautiful of all Merenid monuments.

The medina is so enormous that it is comprised of 187 quarters, each with a mosque, Koranic school, fountain, public bath and communal bread oven.  Even the widest streets are too narrow for cars.  Donkeys are the only form of transport.  There are over 300 mosques within Fez el Bali.

You will visit the Dar Batha Museum housed in a former palace and containing a good collection of antique Moroccan crafts.  The 9th century Karouine Mosque and the Nejjerine Fountain. Time permitting, visit the fortress, the gardens, and the libraries.

You will have a chance to see the work of many crafts people, and see them creating their work.  Fez is rich in handicrafts of all kinds. It is a famous ceramic production center.  The majority of Moroccan ceramic styles and colors continue to be the same as those in the 17th and 18th centuries. Visit a ceramic production center, which will initiate you into the art of Moroccan zellig mosaic tile work.  

You will also visit Dabbaghin, the ages old, traditional leather tannery, the form of which resembles a honeycomb and where men coat their legs with olive oil to protect them as they work immersed up to their thighs in dye.  Fez has long been the center of the famous Moroccan leather industry.  

On the other side of town, where you will be introduced to Fez el J’did (the new city) with its chic café-lined avenues, a true contrast to the ancient city.  Fully one half of the total area of the new city is taken up by the inaccessible city within a city, which is the Royal Palace, also known as Dar El Mohsen, which you will see the exterior of.  Later visit the Mellah (the Jewish district), completely enclosed within its own walls.  In the early evening, enjoy a sunset city drive.

Lunch both days will be at different restaurants within the medina.  Dinner on one of these days will be at a local Italian restaurant and the other evening it will be another luscious Moroccan meal.  Overnight at the Palais Jamai.

Day 12
This will be a driving day to Erfoud, through gorgeous countryside and the spectacular Middle Atlas Mountains.  70% of Morocco is mountainous!  You will begin your journey to the south passing by the ancient and beautiful cedar forests of the region including the Ski Resort of Ifrane.  You may see nomadic tents sprinkled throughout this area! 

Also pass through Berber village of Azrou, an important handicraft centre known for wood carving and carpet weaving.  Lunch will be in Midelt at a local restaurant. Continue to the high Atlas Mountains via the Ziz Gorges and handsome adobe colored university city of Errachidia. 

Arrival in the late afternoon in Erfoud, one of the largest oases in all of Morocco. This region is famous for its almost one million date palm trees. 

For those who would like a desert experience, 4-wheel drive or camel expeditions can be arranged to the dunes of the region to see the sunset.  Dinner and overnight accommodation at the Kasbah Hotel Xaluca.
Day 13
After breakfast, be introduced to the many fossils of the area of Erfoud and see the interesting products that are being sculpted from them.  Time permitting, visit an impressive fossil quarry near Erfoud.

The rest of the day will be spent in the Middle Atlas region on the Edge of the Sahara.  You will be taken through the scenic Todra Gorge (one of the world’s most spectacular geological formations) and fertile river valley with lush gorges of fruit and palm trees are a striking contrast to the arid desert colors surrounding it.  The Todra Gorge is comprised of stunning ochre-colored cliffs cut into the High Atlas and wonderfully sculpted by Mother Nature.  At one point the Todra Gorge has two sheer cliffs 300 meters high separated by a narrow corridor only 20 meter wide.  Hugging the lush riverbed are many of Morocco’s most scenic, crenellated Berber kasbahs and ksours.  Stop for a walk a date oasis, one of the largest, most decorated kasbahs in Morocco.  Lunch at Yasmina, a restaurant situated at the foot of the canyons, overlooking the gorge.

Continue towards Ouarzazate via the “road of the 1,000 old Kasbahs”, an area which gives us insight into the history of the Berber people and their ochre colored forts. Continue through the Dades Valley and the route of Kasbahs, famous for its acres of roses and their products.  Enjoy a brief stop in Kelaa M’gouna where we hope to visit a factory of rose-water products.

In the late afternoon you will arrive in Ouarzazate where the roads between the Draa, Dades and Ziz valleys cross.  Enjoy the geometrically patterned, blue and golden yellow motifs of famous Ouzgita carpets adorning the outside of local shops.  Dinner and overnight at Berbere Place Hotel.

Day 14
Today you will visit two magnificent Kasbahs.  First visit the Kasbah of Taourirte within the city of Ouarzazate and then continue on to Ait Beni Haddou (30 km towards Marrakesh), to see the most spectacular and best -preserved fortress in the South of Morocco (currently under UNESCO protection).  Perched on a hilltop, this Kasbah or fortified village has served as décor for many films including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.  Visit the Berber house in the Kasbah.

Enjoy lunch on the terrace of the restaurant facing the Kasbah Ait Beni Haddou.  

Continue via the famous Tiz-in-Tickha pass to Marrakesh.  This pass offers an impressive landscape in the heart of the Atlas mountain chain, and reaches an altitude of 2,260 meters.  Here you will pass many Berber villages and see many of the locals along the road.  Berber women dress distinctively can often be seen carrying large loads of twigs and branches on their backs. You may also note many children walking to and from their schools, long distances from their remote villages.  Arrive in Marrakesh for dinner and overnight at the newly restored, historic, Mamounia Hotel.

Day 15, Day 16, and Day 17
We have provided an ample three full days in Marrakesh because it is such a fascinating place.  Marrakesh is nestled in a lush oasis at the foot of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains.  It is sometimes known as the Pink City or the Pearl of the South.  It was beloved to Winston Churchill and he spent much time there.   Marrakesh is famous for a great amount of stunning architecture.   Over the course of the next three days in Marrakesh you will visit all the best that the city has to offer including the Bahia and Bedii Palaces with 5 gardens.  You will visit the Saadien tombs (walled up and hidden until 1917!).  You will also see the Agdal and Menara gardens.  The Menara gardens have a magnificent pool surrounded by flowers reflecting the image of the beautiful Moorish construction in 1866 for dignitaries to enjoy glorious sunsets with the Atlas mountains as a backdrop.  The famous Koutoubia mosque and minaret will be a landmark which will frequently help you locate yourself.

Marrakesh is so different from the pink cities of the north because of its Berber influence.  It is the 2nd oldest of the imperial cities, founded by Almoravids at the end of the 11th century. 

Over the course of your three day stay in this city, you will enjoy a horse drawn carriage tour around the city ramparts and the palm groves because it will familiarize you with the city and views from this leisurely ride will transport you through time. 

You will also visit the famous museums of the city including:

Dar Si Said Museum of Moroccan Arts housing a collection of southern Berber jewelry and weapons. There are also displays of eighteenth and nineteenth century woodcarving, Berber rugs, traditional wedding chairs and typical Moroccan costumes.

Maison Tiskiwin: a beautiful typical house privately owned and converted into a museum of Moorish and Moroccan arts. Each room of the museum features carpets, fabrics, clothes and jewelry from different regions and towns.

Majorelle Gardens: is one of the most delightful place in Marrakech – a small, meticulously planned botanical garden created from the 1920s by the French painter Jacques Majorelle. Now superbly mature, it is owned and splendidly maintained by Yves Saint Laurent.  In the artist’s former studio, a museum of Islamic arts exhibits Saint Laurent fine personal collection of North African carpets, pottery and furniture.

For those of you who love to shop, we will have an optional visit to two elegant Marrakeshi arts Boutiques such as l’Orientaliste or Dar Koum.  Others, who prefer not to shop, can rest and enjoy the hotel.

Naturally plenty of time will be devoted to visiting the  Souks and Djemaa el Fna square. 

The Djemaa El Fna square, the name literally translated is the Mosque or Assembly of Death. It is taken to refer to the custom of displaying the heads of vanquished rebels or criminals, since the square is known to be a place of public execution even up to the last century. Then it has been a centre for public meetings and even riots.  Today it is a small open square where by day local shop keepers spread their wears on mats, but which by evening and late into the night, the area has the appearance of an open air circus, providing constant ever-changing entertainment.  You will see fascinating characters, storytellers, snake-charmers, acrobats, folkloric bands, fire-eaters, teeth-pullers, tame monkeys.  The visit will end at a rustic café, overlooking the square.

The Souk or marketplace is a riot of colour, noise and activity, a wealthy storehouse of all the treasures of this vast and varied country.  You will find all the silver merchants in one corner, all the gold merchants in another, and rows of stalls selling exclusively leatherwork or copper goods or jewelry.  The real fascination is to watch the craftsmen at work, gilding on leather, or inlaying with enamel the sheaths of ornate silver daggers, hammering out copper, or smoothing out the surface of cedar wood table.  As an ancient cultural crossroads, the market places of Marrakesh have been meeting places for merchants and travellers for centuries.

Each day you will have one light meal at lunch or dinner in combination with an elaborate, traditional meal at the other time of day.

One of your spectacular dinners will be a very special one of Moroccan cuisine at Yacout restaurant an old palace with Andalousian courtyard and pool in the heart of the Old Medina.  This restaurant was decorated by an American designer named Bill Willis from Mississippi.  You will learn about how he moved to Marrakesh in the 1960’s and triggered a revival in restored old properties.  When the king of Morocco visited this restaurant he found it too far to traverse from the closest city gate so he had the ancient city wall broken through and a new gate constructed for his convenient entry!

Over dinner you will have a chance to experience and learn about the famous Moroccan art form of soft, spiritual and romantic Gnawa music as a duo performs for you.

Overnight at the historic, Mamounia Hotel.   

Day 18
It may be in a village on our drive to Agadir that we will visit a social service organization dedicated to helping children.  Lunch en route.

Agadir is an Atlantic port and resort city enjoyed by Moroccans and foreigners alike and will be a perfect place for you to rest and relax.  Agadir was destroyed by an earthquake in 1960, and is now rebuilt as a modern city.  Overnight at the Hotel Le Meridien Palais Roses.

Day 19
Early morning departure after breakfast to Essaouira.  You will see argan trees growing along the route and will have a chance to learn about (and taste!) this useful and unique oil.  Honored as a UNESCO world heritage site, Essaouira is a sleepy, quaint but windy city inhabited by friendly people.  Two forts guard the fishing harbor and the city is made picturesque by its narrow lanes and alleyways.  You will notice the tall white houses, yellow details and blue doors.  Essaouira was a 60’s hippie hang-out. Now days this “laid back” atmosphere still persists and the wind has attracted many windsurfers and wind-surfing schools. Visit small workshops of crafts of delicate marqueting done in thuya wood (similar to walnut), as well as cedar, lemon and sandalwood.  Of the 16,000 houses in the Medina, at least 1000 are owned by Europeans!  The city history extends to the Phonecian period when they made an island off Essaouria‘s coast their furthest outpost in Africa.  King Juba II extracted purple dye from the Murex shells of the area for the Romans.  Lunch overlooking the ocean and offering fresh Atlantic fish specialities.  After dinner, overnight at Hotel Sofitel Mogador.

Day 20
Besides abundant resident species, Morocco boasts vast numbers and species of migratory birds.  You may see many here along the Atlantic Coast.  Surely you will have the treat of seeing large storks and their nests.  Our morning departure will take us through the countryside to the rural village home of Said an olive grower.  Said will explain how olive oil is traditionally processed.  Enjoy Moroccan mint tea and hospitality with home made bread, home churned butter, olives and olive oil with this local family.

Continue up the Atlantic Coast to Safi, one of several of a string of ports along Morocco’s Atlantic coast which had been settled by the Portuguese and now famous for its pottery.  See the country’s oldest kilns, over 200 years of age and still in operation!  Moroccan pottery has always been utilitarian unlike in Europe.  For this reason, only a few genuine antique pieces are still in existence.

At the hotel in Safi we hope to offer a cooking demonstration and you will have an opportunity to learn some of the secrets of Moroccan dishes, which are considered a world-class cuisine.  You will learn something about their use of spices and flower waters.  Dinner and overnight at Hotel Atlantique Panorama, Safi.

Day 21
The morning’s drive will be peaceful and beautiful, meandering along the Atlantic coast.  It will include a short morning visit to Walladia a pretty and charming little coastal village and bay situated between El Jedida and Safi and famous for its oyster beds.  The village is spread around the southern shores of an 11km inland lagoon filled by the sea wish enters through two beaches in the coastal rock wall.

You will enjoy a fresh fish lunch in El Jadida at the Port.  There you will visit of famous Citadel and cistern, a reminder of the Portuguese occupation of the 16th century, which is now surrounded by the French-built new town.  The cistern is amazing gothic architecture and also has been used as a setting by many filmmakers including Orson Wells in Othello.  Time permitting, visit the activities in the city square.

Continue north through much pretty farmland and newly built communities some of which offer beach summer homes for Casablanca residents.  Early afternoon arrival in Casablanca.  After a rest, enjoy a very special dinner and later overnight at the Sheraton Hotel.

Day 22
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the departure to US destinations.


Email: barakajourneys@sbcglobal.net  Telephone: (626) 570-1700   Contact: Christine Robison
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MOROCCO

Lifting the Veil and Opening the Doors. 

An in-depth itinerary throughout a Kingdom of vivid contrasts, color, mystery and rich cultures.

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