Starts any day. January to December10 days from $7295.00
Arrive Casablanca & Rabat, Morocco
Upon arrival you are met by your expert local guide and assisted through Moroccan customs and immigration. Before departing Casablanca for the hour drive to Rabat, visit the beautiful Hassan II Mosque, dramatically poised on the Atlantic coast. The second largest mosque in the Islamic world, this architectural masterpiece is larger than Saint Peter’s in Rome, and capable of holding 80,000 worshippers. After time to freshen up at your Rabat hotel, enjoy a tour of this Imperial city. Visit the labyrinthine Kasbah des Oudaias, and explore its lovely gardens. Tour the Mohamed V Mausoleum, the resting place of the late King Mohammed V and of his son. See the minaret of the Great Mosque, and the majestic 12th century Hassan Tower, whose construction was left unfinished at only half of its intended 260-foot height.
Rabat to Fès
Begin Day 2 with a visit to the ancient necropolis of Chellah, whose ruins date from the Roman to Islamic periods. Then drive inland to the ancient Imperial City of Fes, exploring some notable archaeological wonders en route. Tour Volubilis, an extensive UNESCO World Heritage Center, filled with ancient Roman mansions, monuments and mosaics. View the splendid Moulay Idriss Mausoleum, the holiest Muslim site in Morocco, and then stop in the Imperial city of Meknes, whose origins trace back to the Roman occupation in 3 B.C. There are 25 miles of ramparts, imposing monuments and babs (gates), a huge underground granary, and stables that housed the Sultan’s 20,000 horses. (B)
Explore Fes with a visit the extensive museum at Foundouk Nejjarine, and the Souq el-Atterine, a strikingly beautiful Medersa overflowing with stalls selling spices and savory delights. View the Dar Batha Museum with its impressive 16th century pottery collection, the stunning gates of the Royal Palace, and Bou Inania Medersa; allowing time to explore the countless souks and famous tanneries in the Fes medina. (B)
Fès to the Sahara Desert
Drive south, through the scenic cedar forests of the Middle Atlas Mountains and along the green Ziz River valley, into the Sahara desert. When the last paved road ends, (at the oasis town of Erfoud) change to a 4X4 vehicle for transfer to your private desert encampment. Spend the night by the legendary dunes of Erg Chebbi, perhaps the largest dunes in the Sahara. Take a dune walk to watch the glorious sunset, and then savor a traditional Berber dinner under the beauty of the Saharan night sky. (B,D)
The Sahara to Ouarzazate
Arise early to take a short camel ride and witness the sun rising over the desert dunes, the perfect preamble to your 4x4 adventure in the Sahara desert. Explore the crumbling ruins of once grand kasbahs, now half buried by sand. For centuries, these fortified outposts were the first signs of civilization for caravans after months of hardship on the open desert. Return to Erfoud by jeep, and then drive west along a millennium-old trading route, to the lush Todgha Gorges and Dades Gorges. Take a nature walk to explore the dramatic natural scenery, before continuing west to the oasis of Ouarzazate, a former outpost of the French Foreign Legion. (B,D)
Ouarzazate & the High Atlas Mountains
Spend this morning exploring Ouarzazate, site of countess movies from Lawrence of Arabia to Gladiator. Visit the Kasbah Taouirirt, and the UNESCO-restored Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou, an impressive 11th century structure with high, elaborately decorated pisé walls, crenulated ramparts, and arched babs. This afternoon, drive west into the High Atlas Mountains via roads with hairpin turns and dramatic passes. Arrive at famed Kasbah Tamadot for a two night stay. Nestled in the rolling foothills of the High Atlas, this is Richard Branson’s retreat, luxurious and alive with a unique blend of Moroccan colors and textures. (B)
High Atlas Mountains
Today is yours at leisure to enjoy the retreat’s facilities – ride a horse, camel, or mule; swim in the pools; or take a Hammam (traditional Turkish steam bath) at the spa. Or perhaps enjoy a guided stroll to a local Berber village. (B)
High Atlas Mountains to Marrakech
Today, drive to Marrakech, the second of the four Imperial Cities. Stroll this ancient pink-walled medina and visit the 12th century tiled minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, the defining landmark of Marrakech. Explore the frenetic Djmaâ el Fnaâ Square. Its ever-changing entertainment reaches its climax at sunset when the square is alive with storytellers, healers, snake charmers, acrobats, and countless food stalls. (B,L)
Begin at the tropical Majorelle Gardens, and then visit the opulent Saadien Tombs. Dating back to the 1550s, this is the ancient cemetery of the descendants of the Prophet Mohammed. Explore the medieval Medersa ben Youssef; built in the 14th century of carved cedar wood, exquisite stuccowork, and colorful zellige tiles. And wander the colorful souks of Marrakech, where each trade - spices, carpets, jewelry, enamel, copper, brass, and cedar, is positioned in its own unique quarter. (B,L)
Marrakech & Depart
After a morning at leisure, you will be taken to the airport for your departing flight home or onto your next destination. (B)
Villa Mandarine, Rabat
Surrounded by greenery and close to the prestigious Dar Es Salam Golf Club, the Villa Mandarine is a home that was extended and reinvented into an exclusive hotel. Nestled in the heart of an orange grove, the Villa Mandarine perfectly combines comfort and hospitality. This rare place offers a peaceful hideaway that has kept the charm of the old family home. From the old house, the hotel has kept that special atmosphere that makes every guest feel at home. The interiors have been decorated with a blend of family heirlooms and architectural elements only found in Morocco: glazed Taddelakt, Zellige mosaics, Beijmat tiles and iron work abound in the villa landscape. The house is comprised of a spacious living room with a fireplace, billiard room, bar, and a gift shop with a selection of local items. The French windows offer beautiful natural lighting and exquisite views of the garden.
Riad Fès, Fès
A subtle blend of Andalusian splendor and Moroccan lifestyle, Riad Fès is a warm example of a sophisticated civilization and prestigious past. This majestic palace is an authentic example of Hispano-Moorish architecture. There are three patios with harmonious styles, panoramic views of the Medina and the Atlas mountains and a wonderful spa offering Hammam and massages. Other features and services include an outdoor pool, horseback riding, a beauty salon, gift shops, laundry services, and a business center with complimentary internet access. The restaurant offers sophisticated cuisine, and there is a trendy lounge bar. The 26 individually decorated air-conditioned guestrooms all feature Egyptian cotton linens and premium bedding, with amenities including minibars, satellite TV, complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access, complimentary bottled water, coffee/tea makers, and bathrooms with bathrobes, slippers, and makeup/shaving mirrors.
Private Desert Encampment, Sahara Desert
Drive south through the scenic cedar forests of the Middle Atlas Mountains, following the green Ziz River valley until it ends at the Sahara desert. Soon you will arrive at the Tafilet oasis. The Tafilet Oasis was the last stop on the trans-Saharan trading route before Timbuktu. This oasis is also the home of the dynasty of His Majesty King Mohamed VI, the Alaouite dynasty, which has ruled Morocco for the last four centuries. As the last paved road ends at the edge of the oasis town of Erfoud, transfer by 4X4 to your accommodations. You will spend the night in a private desert encampment near the village of Merzouga and the legendary dunes of Erg Chebbi. From here, you can climb the dunes to watch the glorious sunset. A traditional Berber dinner will be prepared for you at the encampment. After dinner, you will be at leisure to enjoy the beauty of the Saharan sky and the magnificence of your surroundings.
Le Berbère Palace, Ouarzazate
Le Berbère Palace offers magnificent accommodation at the gates of the desert. With its fragrant alleyways surrounded by jasmine and roses, it provides a warm welcome to all guests. Le Berbère Palace invites to relaxation and offers excellent service. The guestrooms in this exclusive property are sumptuously decorated and luxuriously equipped. They come with a range of modern comforts such as hairdryer, desk and mini bar to name but a few. Room service is provided 24 hours a day. Guests can enjoy an intimate breakfast in the comfort of their rooms (not included in the room rate). At Le Berbère Palace, guests can sample the best of oriental cuisine and some mouth watering international dishes. One can dine at La Maison Arabe and enjoy Moroccan specialties, at l'Oasis which offers international cuisine or at Tablapizza serving Italian snacks by the pool. Guests can relax under the typical Berber tent and indulge in a calm and serene atmosphere. Cintra offers exotic cocktails in the luxurious setting of a piano bar. For guests' moments of leisure and relaxation, Le Berbère Palace features a fitness centre, hammam, hairdresser, Jacuzzi, gym, sauna and massage service. It is a perfect accommodation choice for holidays under the sun in Morocco.
Kasbah Tamadot, Asni
Kasbah Tamadot is part of Virgin Limited Edition, Sir Richard Branson's portfolio of unique retreats. Bought by Sir Richard Branson in 1998 during one of his famous ballooning expeditions, Kasbah Tamadot is set at the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains one hour from Marrakech. As part of our commitment to the community, Kasbah Tamadot actively approached the leaders of the local communities to offer villagers the opportunity to work at Kasbah Tamadot. Today the hotel employs 120 staff, proudly trained in all aspects of hotel operations and English. Kasbah Tamadot's extensive grounds are filled with beautiful staircases, courtyards and gardens - so getting yourself oriented is extremely exciting. Kasbah Tamadot has 27 bedrooms and suites, including nine luxury Berber Tents, some of which have private plunge pools. All are individually decorated using traditional Moroccan furnishings and antiques, as well as items from the vast collection of Luciano Tempo, Kasbah Tamadot's former owner. As a renowned antiques dealer and interior designer, Luciano brought together artifacts from all over the world, many of which are featured in the bedrooms.
Villa des Orangers, Marrakech
The Villa des Orangers is a luxury five-star hotel located in the heart of Marrakech - it is a true haven of peace. Everything has been carefully chosen to make guest stays relaxing and sophisticated: Elegant decoration, delicious cuisine with Mediterranean and Moroccan flavors, a large garden, lush courtyards, three swimming pools, a traditional Moroccan Hammam, massage rooms, beauty salon, fitness room, and an open bar to enjoy a mint tea with Moroccan pastries throughout the day.