20739
Morocco
The Best of Morocco: Ancient Medinas to Modern Identity
Gain a comprehensive understanding of Morocco, from sacred monuments to an ancient university, from palace gardens to vibrant bazaars — come learn the story of this ancient land.
Program No. 20739RJ
Length
13 days
Starts at
3,855
Flights start at
1,025
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13 days
12 nights
24 meals
11 B 8 L 5 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrival Morocco
Fes
D
Hotel Merinides

Dinner: At the hotel.

DAY
3
Spirituality, Religiosity & Daily Life in Morocco
Fes
B,L
Hotel Merinides

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Enjoy two introductory lectures, "Islam & Politics in Morocco" and "The Spirit of Fes through Women’s Narratives."

Lunch: At a restaurant.

Afternoon: Founded in the ninth century and home to the oldest university in the world, Fes reached its height in the 13th and 14th centuries when it replaced Marrakesh as the capital of the kingdom. Experience an expert-led exploration of the urban fabric and principal monuments in the medina — madrasas, fondouks, palaces, residences, mosques and fountains — that date from this period. Make your way through the narrow streets and alleys, exploring the oldest Islamic Arab architecture in Morocco, the Medersa, the Foundouq museum and the tanneries. Walk past the mausoleum where the founder of the first Islamic dynasty in Morocco is buried, as well as the Qaraouyine Mosque that was built by a woman in the ninth century.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner on your own.

DAY
4
Explore Volubilis and the Town of Moulay Idriss
Fes
B,L
Hotel Merinides

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Combine a group departure to Volubilis with a lecture, "Agriculture in Morocco." Volubilis is the site of the largest and best-preserved Roman ruins in Morocco. Dating largely from the second and third centuries, excavations have revealed that the site was originally settled by Carthaginian traders even earlier. At its peak, it is estimated that the city housed up to 20,000 people. Gain an understanding of why Islam succeeded in Morocco and why Christianity and the Roman culture left so little impact on Morocco.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Visit the town of Moulay Idriss, which is named after the Prophet Mohammed’s great grandson, who is considered the country's most revered saint. He came to Morocco from Mecca in the late eighth century, settled at Volubilis and converted the locals to Islam. He became their leader and also established Morocco's first imperial dynasty. Moulay Idriss is considered the holiest town in Morocco with the shrine of this saint causing it to be the location of the largest pilgrimage in the country as the town fills with Moroccans of all walks of life for the annual moussem in late August.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner on your own.

DAY
5
Food Market of Fes, Moroccan Cooking & Cuisine
Fes
B,L
Hotel Merinides

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Learn how to prepare Moroccan cuisine in Fes, considered the capital of Moroccan fine and delicate cooking. Begin with a grocery trip to the local souk, where participants will buy fresh ingredients and spices. The cooking lesson takes place at a Riad, a traditional Moroccan home, which has been restored to a beautiful guest house. Learn from a renowned chef who has been at the helm of the kitchens of some of Fes' best restaurants.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Enjoy a free afternoon, perhaps choosing to continue exploring Fes, the second-largest city of Morocco with a population of approximately 1 million. It has been called the “Mecca of the West” and the “Athens of Africa.” There is much to experience in Fes el Bali, the oldest walled part of Fes that was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. It is believed to be the biggest car-free urban area in the world.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner on your own.

DAY
6
Islamic Architecture Lecture at Al Quaraouiyine University
Fes
B,D
Hotel Merinides

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Visit the University of Al-Karaouine, the oldest continually functioning university in the world. Discuss art and spirituality in Morocco during a lesson at the historic Bou Inania Madrasa.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Enjoy a free afternoon.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Delight in a Malhoun musical performance led by a female singer that demonstrates the artistic combination of Andalusian music and melodic, medieval Moroccan poetry.

DAY
7
Rural Weekly Market
Beni mellal
B,L,D
Hotel Chems

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Depart for Beni Mellal via Khenifra in the heart of the Atlas Mountains and visit a rural weekly market, called a souk, where villagers come to shop, trade, socialize, and visit a doctor or healer. Traditionally ancestral, souks are evolving to include contemporary consumable products and services.

Lunch: In Khenifra.

Afternoon: Arrive in the inland trading city of Beni Mellal, at the foot of Mount Tassemit and next to the plains of Beni Amir. The walls of the city of 163,000 date to 1688, but most of the city is quite modern and is an important economic center for the region. Textile manufacturing is the backbone, but local agricultural products such as oranges, olives and figs find their way to market via Beni Mellal.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Enjoy an Ahidous performance, a traditional dance performed by Berber tribes from the Atlas Mountains in which men and women, side by side, dance in soft and undulating rounds, accompanied by singing punctuated by bendir instrument (a small drum). The choreography of Ahidous brings the community together in order to “speak” and sing the issues of daily life, be it social, economical or political.

DAY
8
Diverse Cultures Merging in Marrakech
Marrakech
B,L
Hotel Sofitel Lange and Spa

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Depart to Marrakech, Morocco’s fourth-largest city after Casablanca, Fes and Rabat. Like many Moroccan cities, Marrakesh comprises both an old fortified city packed with many people working in stalls — the medina — and modern neighborhoods, the most prominent of which is Gueliz. Near the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and a few hours from the foot of the Sahara Desert, its name originates from the Berber words mur (n) akush, which means “Land of God.”

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: Enjoy a free afternoon to begin your fascinating orientation to Marrakech.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner on your own.

DAY
9
Koutoubia Mosque & Saadian Tombs
Marrakech
B,L
Hotel Sofitel Lange and Spa

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel

Morning: Begin today’s exploration of Marrakech in the Djemaa el Fna square viewing the Koutoubia mosque — dating to 1200 — whose beautiful minaret rises nearly 70 meters and can be seen from much of the city. Then experience the 16th-century Saadian Tombs, resting place of Saadian Sultan Ahmed el-Mansour ed-Dahbi, whose tastes included imported Italian marble and archways gilded with pure gold. The tombs lay hidden and mostly forgotten until 1917, when they were discovered during an aerial survey.

Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant

Afternoon: Enjoy a free afternoon, perhaps visiting the Museum of Marrakech, housed in the 19th-century Dar Menebhi Palace. Carefully restored by the Omar Benjelloun Foundation in 1997, the museum holds exhibits of both modern and traditional Moroccan art, as well as fine examples of historical books, coins and pottery of Moroccan Jewish, Berber and Arab cultures.

Dinner: On your own

DAY
10
Archeological Site Aghmat in the Suburbs of Marrakech
Marrakech
B,L
Hotel Sofitel Lange and Spa

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Depart for the archaeological site of Aghmat, 30 kilometers southeast of Marakech. As you interact with site excavators and local residents, learn how Aghmat was built around a former Arab Andalusian king (Mouatamid Bnou Abbad) who had been exiled from Sevilla in southern Spain to the south of Morocco until his death. Aghmat was an important city for routes through the Atlas Mountains on the trans Saharan trade. Locals detail how such a site intertwines with the reality of the inhabitants.

Lunch: Experience a lunch with locals.

Afternoon: Return to Marrakech.

Dinner: On your own.

DAY
11
Expert-led Explorations of Marrakech Gardens
Marrakech
B,D
Hotel Sofitel Lange and Spa

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Experience an expert-led visit to two renowned, enchanting gardens — beginning with the Majorell Gardens, home to French artist Jacques Majorelles in the 1920s. Majorelles built houses on the property and surrounded them with pools, banana trees, coconut palms and bougainvilleas. Later, the French couturier Yves Saint-Laurent bought the property and transformed part of it into a private museum of North African artifacts and opened the garden to the public. Then continue to Menara Gardens, a 16th-century pavilion surrounded by an immense, ornamental lake. This idyllic setting has offered a pleasant escape from Marrakech to its inhabitants for centuries.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Enjoy a free afternoon.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner and a musical performance at Soulayman Palace.

DAY
12
Elegant Bahia Palace, Renowned Hotel & Palace la Mamounia
Casablanca
B,L,D
Ibis Casa City Center

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning, explore the Bahia Palace and gardens, built in the late-19th century and intended to be the greatest palace of its time — the name means “brilliance.” As the black slave Abu Ahmed rose to power and wealth, he had the Bahia palace built by bringing in craftsmen from Fez. The structures tell a lot about the taste of the nouveau-riche of its time. Continue to the la Mamounia Hotel — an elegant palace that is a mythical landmark of the city. It faces the Atlas mountains and is at the heart of the old city of Marrakech. It is owned by the railways (ONCF), the city of Marrakech and the "caisse des dépôts Moroccain." Winston Churchill loved to winter here and the daughter of Russian Prime Miniester Vladimir Putin was married here in January 2013.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: Departure to Casablanca

Dinner: Check-in at the hotel. Farewell dinner.

DAY
13
Program Concludes
Casablanca
B

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Group departure to Mohamed V Airport, Casablanca.