7 Days: Marrakech and the Sahara Desert
Flight Information from Washington, D.C.
February 22, 2018
Depart Washington (IAD) 10:00pm, Arrive Casablanca (CMN) 10:10am+ 1 day
March 1, 2018
Depart Casblanca (CMN) 4:50pm, Arrive Washington (IAD) 8:15pm
Why Morocco? Located in the northwest corner of Africa, just across the Gibrlter Strait from Spain, Morocco is a perfect blend of the familiar and the exotic. Get lost in the maze-like souk in Marrakech, camel trek into the vast sand sea of the Sahara Desert, explore kasbahs and remote villages, and experience the rich traditions and culture of the Berbers. All in one country and in one trip!
Join us as we enjoy a curated private tour of this mysterious land. Highlights will include a guided tour of Marrakech, a camel trek and overnight stay in the dunes of the Sahara, a stay in an authentic Kasbah, and experience first-hand the warmth and generosity of the Moroccan people.
February 22, Day 1: Depart from Washington, DC (IAD) and fly overnight non-stop to Casablanca arriving at 10:10 am local time.
February 23, Day 2: Arrival in Casablanca and Transfer to Marrakech
Meals included: Dinner
Welcome to Morocco! Our personal driver will be awaiting our arrival at the airport in Casablanca to transport us to Marrakech where your Moroccan journey will begin. Upon our arrival to Marrakech, we will check in to our riad and relax a little from our travels. We’ll meet for an early welcome dinner to get to know our fellow travelers and meet our guide for the trip. After dinner, if we feel up to it, we can take a short walk to Jemaa El F’na for our first glimpse of Marrakech.
February 24, Day 3: Marrakech
Meals Included: Breakfast
Today, after breakfast, we will meet our local city guide at our riad to start our guided tour of the city. We’ll see all the important monuments, such as Ben Yousef Madrassa, Bahia Palace, and Koutobia Mosque, and we will visit the artisan sections of the souks to witness traditional Moroccan handicrafts in the process of being created. In the afternoon, we will have the option to explore more on our own or venture outside of the medina to the famous Marjorelle Gardens. We end the tour in Jemaa el F’na where we will watch the sun set over the city and the square come to life from a café terrace. Then, we will wade into the sea of excitement to experience the busiest square of Africa firsthand! We can pick one of the many food stalls that pop up out of nowhere for a delicious Moroccan meal — we’ll find everything from kebabs to sheep heads here. Once we’ve had our fill (figuratively and literally), we will take the short walk back to the riad as a group.
February 25, Day 4: Marrakech to Dades Valley
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
After breakfast, our driver will meet us at our riad and we’ll begin our trek to the desert. Our adventure will begin as we travel over snowcapped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains via the Tizi n’Tichka path, reaching an altitude of nearly 7500 feet above sea level. There will be plenty of stops for tea and photographs as we take in the breathtaking vistas before beginning the descent to Ouarzazate. Here, in the city known as the Gateway to the Sahara and famous for its film studios, we will break for lunch, after which we’ll visit the former palace of the Glaoui clan, Kasbah Taourirt. Or, if we prefer, we can do a backlot tour of one of the film studios. After our visit here, we’ll follow the Road of 1000 Kasbahs through the Valley of Roses, arriving to our accommodations in nearby Dades Valley before dinner. We’ll be welcomed with mint tea and then have time to relax on the terrace or enjoy a little downtime before enjoying a delicious dinner.
February 26, Day 5: Dades Valley to Merzouga
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
This morning, after breakfast, we will have the chance to take a short hike through the unique rock formation known as the Monkey Fingers, before we continue our journey to the desert. Along the way, we will stop at Todgha Gorge where we’ll walk through the most impressive part of the canyon. In this narrow section of the gorge (as little as 33 feet wide), the rock walls climb straight up 525 feet on either side. We’ll stop for lunch and then continue. Just before we reach the dunes, we’ll make a quick stop to visit the ancient irrigation system that once brought water from the distant Saghro Mountains to the desert. When we reach the edge of the dunes, we will have a few minutes to enjoy some (you guessed it) mint tea and prepare for backpacks with the necessities for the night. Before sunset, we’ll climb aboard our camels that will take us to our own berber camp in the heart of the dunes. Once there, we’ll climb the nearest dune to watch the sun go down and the stars come out. Dinner will be served at camp followed by more stargazing and traditional music around a campfire as we immerse ourselves in the magic of the desert.
February 27, Day 6: Merzouga to Agdz
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today, we’ll be awoken early by our camel guide, so that we can watch the sunrise over the dunes. The morning light makes the reddish gold sand dune look like they are glowing. After enjoying this experience, we will travel once again via camel back to the kasbah on the edge of the sand sea where breakfast will be served and you will have an opportunity to shower and prepare for the day. Next, we’ll stop to visit Rissani, the last town of any size after the desert, the last city of size before the dunes. Here, we will make a quick visit the mausoleum of Moulay Ali Chrif, the founder of the Alaouite Dynasty (the current ruling family of Morocco). For lunch, we can try the local specialty, Medfouna – also known as Berber Pizza – although it is probably really closer to a calzone. After our visit here, we’ll make our way through the Draa Valley, also known as the Valley of a Thousand Palms, to Kasbah Talmnougalt near the oasis town of Agdz. Tonight, will will stay in an authentic kasbah that dates back to at least the 17th century. Upon our arrival, we’ll relax and enjoy tea on the terrace overlooking the lush gardens, before taking a guided tour of the kasbah and palmeraie. We’ll return back to the kasbah for a delicious dinner before heading to our cozy rooms for the night.
February 28, Day 6: Agdz to Marrakech
Meals Included: Breakfast
After breakfast, we start our journey back Marrakech, passing through Ouarzazate once again. Be on the lookout for a gas station that looks familiar and yet out of place along the road just before Ouarzazate -- it is actually a leftover movie set from the filming of The Hills Have Eyes. Just outside of Ouarzazate, we’ll take a slightly different route to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ait Ben Haddou located nearby. If this impressive ksar looks familiar, it is because it has starred (or at least made an appearance) in many movies and TV shows including Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, and Game of Thrones. After exploring and having lunch, if the roads are good and if there is time, we will follow the route of the Old Salt Caravans through the Ounilla Valley We’ll stop for a guided tour of the former palace of the Glaoui Clan, Kasbah Telouet, before once again crossing the High Atlas Mountains arriving back to our accommodations in Marrakech.
March 1, Day 7: Departure Day
Meals Included: Breakfast
We have nothing scheduled for today, so we have the chance to do a little shopping for some last-minute souvenirs and/or gifts or have a chance to sleep in a little. Our driver will meet us at our riad at 10 AM to transfer us back to the airport in Casablanca in plenty of time for our afternoon flight, where we will say au revoir to Morocco until our next visit!