7158
Morocco
Morocco: Melting Pot of Cultures
Discover the vibrant culture of Morocco as you get hands-on with cooking classes, meet local artists, explore stunning landscapes and learn the complex story of this ancient land.
Rating (4.9)
Program No. 7158RJ
Length
17 days
Starts at
4,499
Flights start at
875
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
17 days
16 nights
39 meals
15 B 13 L 11 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive, Check-in, Orientation, Intro to Morocco, Dinner
Rabat
D
Cantor Hotel Terminus

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Upon arrival, we’ll check into at the hotel and have some time to rest before heading to the Center for Cross Cultural Learning and beginning with Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Unless otherwise specified, transportation will be provided primarily by motorcoach and will require ascending/descending a few steps when getting on/off. We will be accompanied by our Study Leader who will lead most lectures and field trips, unless otherwise indicated. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Then our Study Leader will provide an introductory lecture focused on contemporary issues in Morocco such as immigration, economic issues, and gender roles.

Dinner: At the Center for Cross Cultural Learning, which is in a traditional Andalusian house, we’ll have plated meals with coffee, tea, water included.

Evening: We’ll then return to the hotel. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure.

DAY
3
Islam’s Veils, Rabat History, Cultural Diversity & Clothing
Rabat
B,L,D
Cantor Hotel Terminus

Activity note: Lectures last about 1.5 hours in a conference room with air-conditioning, with a break. Driving about 2 hours for field trip aboard bus; no onboard restroom.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a breakfast buffet with coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: Setting out aboard a bus with a local expert and our Group Leader, we’ll ride along through the four major sections of the city to get a glimpse into the daily lives of the citizens of Rabat. Along the way our leader will offer commentary on key places in the city and tell us about some of the important community events that take place throughout the year. Upon our return to the hotel, we’ll gather in the conference room for the first presentation in our lecture series given by a local professor of political science from the Graduate School of Law and Economics. Our lesson will focus on Moroccan politics as it explores the role of the monarchy in the Moroccan political arena and how it works with the two chambers of Parliament, as well as the government at large.

Lunch: At the CCCL, we’ll have plated meals with tea and water included.

Afternoon: In the conference room at the Center, our next lecture will be given by the co-founder of the CCCL who is an expert researcher of religion and women’s issues. She’ll teach us about women’s issues and the role of the veil in Islam. An intriguing subject to both Muslims and non-Muslims, one may find a wide variability in the definitions of the veil, its subtleties, and its religious and social significance. She will aim help us understand this diversity by providing some social, historical and religious context to the veil in Islam. After a break for refreshments, we’ll continue our lecture series with a fashion show of Moroccan costumes. We will see and be invited to try on some examples of casual and more elegant formal clothing representing a multitude of different regions for both men and women, including rural and urban areas. This will help us to understand how different head coverings and dresses that women wear in different regions of Morocco can represent what tribe they belong to, how they interpret aspects of their religion, and disclose their marital status.

Dinner: CCCL plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Landmarks, Moroccan Politics & Music
Rabat
B,L,D
Cantor Hotel Terminus

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving less than 1 hour within the city. Lectures last about 1.5 hours in a conference room with air-conditioning, with a break. Walking about 1 mile; approx. 1.5 hours total; mostly flat terrain, some steps.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll begin by boarding the motorcoach for a field trip led by a local expert to the Chellah, a necropolis or large burial ground that dates back to the Roman Era. Upon arrival, we’ll go for a walk around its ancient fort. Our next stop will bring us to Hassan Tower, the large minaret of a 12th century mosque that commands a beautiful courtyard. After a walk around, we will continue to Oudaya Kasbah for a stroll through its famously lovely gardens.

Lunch: CCCL plated meal.

Afternoon: In the Center’s conference room, we’ll settle in for a lecture on the Arab Spring and other social movements in Morocco. A doctoral expert on social and cultural movements in Morocco will teach us about how Morocco has been able to resist the wind of the Arab Spring – a unique experience in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Dinner: CCCL plated meal.

Evening: We’ll be treated in the hall of the CCCL to a special performance of Andalusian music by professional musicians from the Music Conservatory of Rabat. The music will be accompanied by readings of Arabic poetry to reflect the Andalusian heritage in Morocco. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
5
Arts in Asilah & the North, Daily Life in the Rif Mountains
Chefchaouen
B,L,D
Riad Darechchaouen

Activity note: Driving approx. 227 miles throughout the day; about 3 hours each in the morning and afternoon with rest stops. Walking approx. 1.5 miles; less than 1 hour; level terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll board our motorcoach and begin our transfer to Chefchaouen. Along the way, we’ll make a stop for a field trip to see the murals of Asilah, a town known for its international art festival every August.

Lunch: At Casa Pepe Restaurant in Asilah, we’ll have plated meals with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Continuing our drive to Chefchouen, we’ll hear an onboard motorcoach lecture given by the Study Leader that will cover the topics of drug plantations and businesses, as well as illegal migration in northern Morocco. Upon arrival, we’ll check into the hotel and have some time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have plated meals with water included; non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Chefchaouen – The Blue Pearl City From 1471
Chefchaouen
B,L
Riad Darechchaouen

Activity note: Walking approx. 1.5 miles; about 3 hours, with stops; some hills and inclines. If desired at any point during the field trip, participants can be transferred by taxi back to the hotel.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Setting out from the hotel on foot led by a local expert, we’ll explore the town of Chefchaouen and its medina, which is famous for its blue-rinsed houses and buildings – a tradition that comes from the town's former Jewish population. A growing attraction drawing visitors to Morocco in recent years, the town is easily navigable, exudes a sense of serenity, offers many hiking possibilities, and is filled with friendly locals who are often open to personal communication. The locally-made goat cheese is also delicious.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Chefchaouen, we’ll have plated meals with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Back at the hotel, we’ll gather for a group discussion and Q&A led by our Study Leader before enjoying time for independent exploration.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
7
To Fes, Sufism in Morocco, Farming Field Trip
Fes
B,L,D
Hotel Merinides

Activity note: Driving approx. 125 miles total throughout the day; about 5 hours altogether; 2 hours before lunch and 3 hours after. Walking about 2 miles; up to 1 hour in Ouazzane; some uneven terrain. Shuttle available.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll set out by bus from Chefchaouen and head to Fes via Ouazzane. Along the way, we’ll engage in a lecture explaining how the health care system works in Morocco. A town north of Fes, Ouezzane is considered a holy city by Morocco's Jewish population, and is a popular destination for those wishing to venerate the tombs of several Moroccan saints known in Berber Marabouts. While here, we’ll go on a field trip led by our Group Leader to a typical rural weekly market, followed by a visit to the mosque of Moulay Abdellah Cherif.

Lunch: In a private house in Ouazzane, we’ll enjoy a delicious plated meal with coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: Our next lecture, given by our Study Leader in the private home in Ouazzane, will focus on Sufism in Islam and religion in Morocco generally as a combination of both spiritual knowledge and popular culture. Knowledge is based on the written texts and belief in popular culture is a more concrete entity that is expressed through rituals and practices that are sometimes unique to Morocco. Our visits to the sanctuary towns such as Chefchaouen, Ouezzane, Mouley Idriss and Fes will highlight the idea of spirituality, Sufism, Moroccan mysticism and sainthood, and the concept of Maraboutism in Morocco. Resuming our transfer to Fes, we will travel through one of the breadbaskets of Morocco. We’ll stop at one of the farms en route with our Group Leader to learn about the different crops and what some of the cultivation practices are, as well as what role the government plays in the system of subsidy farming. Upon arrival in Fes, we’ll check into the hotel with time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a tasty buffet with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Fes, 12 Centuries of Urban Life
Fes
B,L
Hotel Merinides

Activity note: The walking field trip through Fes is approx. 3 miles; about 5.5 hours total including several stops and lunch; uneven terrain. If desired at any point during the field trip, participants can be transferred by bus back to the hotel.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a breakfast buffet with juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Setting out on foot, we’ll explore the Old Medina of Fes to get a glimpse of daily life in the area. Accompanied by local experts from the city, we’ll venture through the narrow streets and alleys of Fes, our senses challenged by the smells, sights and the sounds of the oldest Islamic city in Morocco. As we admire the beauty of Fes’s Arab and Islamic architecture, we will explore different monuments including the Medersa Attarine, the Fondouk Museum, and the leather tanneries. We will also walk by the mausoleum of Moulay Idriss, the founder of the first Islamic dynasty in Morocco, as well as visit the Al-Qaraouyine Mosque and University, which was founded by a woman in the 9th century.

Lunch: At a local Moroccan restaurant in the heart of the medina, we’ll have plated meals with tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then resume our exploration of Fes before taking the motorcoach back to the hotel. The remainder of the day will be free for you to see and do what interests you most.

Dinner: On your own to explore the local cuisine.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Roman Heritage of Morocco, Volubilis Ruins, Bab Mansour Gate
Fes
B,L
Hotel Merinides

Activity note: Driving approx. 112 miles total; about 4 hours. Walking about 2.5 miles throughout the day; about 2 hours at Volubilis; uneven terrain. The motorcoach will be parked about 1/2 mile from the site; about 15 minutes walking; participants can return to it at any time.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll board the bus and set out for Volubulis with an onboard lecture on the educational system of Morocco as we travel. Upon arrival at the Roman ruins of Volubilis, we’ll enjoy an expert-led field trip to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, designated in 1997. Volubilis features some of the best preserved Roman ruins in North Africa and archaeological evidence suggests the primary settlement occurred in about 40 CE upon a pre-existing Carthaginian site dating back to the 3rd century BCE. Eventually, Volubilis emerged as the administrative center in Roman Africa until an earthquake compelled its residents to abandon the city in the late 4th century AD. Since 2000, archaeological excavations have been carried out by the University College, London and the Moroccan Institut National des Sciences de l'Archeologie et du Patrimoine. We’ll then travel to Meknes for lunch.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Meknes, we’ll have plated meals, plus coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll continue to Moulay Ismail Mosque for an expert-led field trip, followed by visits to the Granary and Bab Mansour Gate. Meknes is the youngest imperial city among the four in Morocco and these are some of the major historical edifices that resisted the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. We’ll then return to Fes and the hotel.

Dinner: On your own to sample the local fare.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
10
To Erfoud, Middle Atlas Mountains & Sahara Lifestyle
Erfoud
B,L,D
Chergui Kasbah Hotel

Activity note: Driving approx. 255 miles across the middle Atlas Mountains; about 8 hours total with several stops for refreshments and photo opportunities.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll board our motorcoach and begin transfer to Erfoud via Errachidia. Along the way, we’ll enjoy a lecture on board given by our Study Leader about Amazighi issues including identity related issues and social and economical barriers the Berber population have encountered. Along the way, we’ll make a brief stop in Errachidia to stretch our legs.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Midelt, we’ll have plated meals with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then resume our transfer to Erfoud and, en route, enjoy a lecture given by a local expert from a nomadic family as they describe for us what the lifestyle of nomads and semi-nomads of the area is like, and what some challenges are that they routinely face. After checking in at the hotel upon arrival in Erfoud, we’ll have an orientation for tomorrow’s desert tent camping experience.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet meal with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: A local band will then join us at the hotel for a musical performance of Jorfi and Malhoun music. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
11
Nomads of the Sahara, Hassi Labied, Sunset Camel Ride
Merzouga
B,L,D
Nomadic Tents

Activity note: Driving approx. 40 miles total in both a bus and 4-wheel drive SUVs; about 2 hours; bumpy road. Walking about 1 mile throughout the day; sandy, uneven terrain. Hats, sun block and sunglasses are highly recommended.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have plated meals with tea and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Morning: Setting out via bus, we’ll travel to Rissani, another town near to Erfoud, with a local expert for a field trip to the souk, or local marketplace, to learn about a typical nomadic market which still takes place three times a week. We will also have the chance to see some of the remaining Sijilmassa ruins, medieval structures that are comparable to those of Timbuktu in Mali. Continuing, we’ll transfer to the Ksour (residential compounds) of Tafilalet, the medieval city and the largest Saharan oasis of Morocco. The oasis comprises the fortified villages of Erfoud, Arab Sebbah du Ziz, Rissani, Seffalat, Aoufous, and Jorf, together with palm groves stretching 30 miles (50 km) along the Wadi (River) Ziz. Tafilalt is noted for its dates, most of which it exports. While here, we’ll learn from a local expert from a nomadic family who will explain some of the traditions his family and community practices and how these influence their way of life. We will also learn about the desert architecture all around us.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in the town of Rissani, we’ll have plated meals, plus tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then board 4-wheel-drive SUVs for an adventure into the dunes of Merzouga with local expert drivers and, upon arrival, we’ll visit an NGO in the nearby desert village of Hassi Labied and meet its members. Many children and women benefit from the, among other things, literacy classes that are offered by the organization. While here, we’ll also learn about irrigation systems in the desert and take a camel ride to the top of the dunes to enjoy the sunset!

Dinner: In the tent camp, we’ll have plated meals with water and tea included. Other beverages available for purchase prior to the desert experience; the Group Leader can recommend where.

Evening: At the camp, we’ll enjoy a unique performance of Sub-Saharan Moroccan music and dance called Gnawa of Khamlia. Gnawa or Gnaoua refers to both a style of music that fuses classical Islamic Sufism with Pre-Islamic traditions, and an ethnic group/religious order partly descended from former slaves. Characterized by deep low toned sinter melodies, call and response singing, hand clapping and cymbals, Gnawa music strives to evoke a deep hypnotic trance, often aimed at frightening off evil spirits. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
12
Architecture & Human Rights Issues in Morocco
Ouarzazate
B,L,D
Hotel Ibis Ouarzazate Centre

Activity note: Driving approx. 192 miles throughout the day in both a bus and 4-wheel drive vehicles, about 7 hours total, with several rest stops.

Breakfast: At the camp, we’ll have a breakfast buffet with juice, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Morning: Once packed and ready to go, we’ll take SUVs to Hassi labiad Oasis near Merzouga for an expert-led field trip focused on the oasis and palm trees. We will learn about the climatic challenges in the desert, irrigation of the oasis and water management. We’ll then continue back to Erfoud where we will board our motorcoach and transfer to Ouarzazate via Tinjdad and Tinghir.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in the town of Tinghir, we’ll have plated meals with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then continue our transfer to Ouarzazate while engaging in a lecture en route that will focus on human rights violations and the Equity and Reconciliation Commission, a truth commission dedicated to human rights, and their process in Morocco. We will also learn about the history of human rights in Morocco. Also en route, we’ll learn about the Western Sahara and the political challenges Morocco is going through, particularly regarding presence of the Polisario Front, a politico-military organization which aspires to gain independence from Morocco. On the way, we’ll drive along the Road of 1,000 Kasbahs and stop in the town of Kalaat M'Gouna to learn about the major crop grown in the area, Damascene rose, and all the festivities around it including the Valley of Roses celebration. Our Group Leader will provide commentary as we explore. We’ll then finish our transfer and, upon arrival in Ouarzazate, we’ll check into our hotel with some time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have plated meals with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
13
Berber Life in The High Atlas Mountains, To Marrakech
Marrakech
B,L,D
Atlas Médina & Spa

Activity note: Driving approx. 121 miles; about 5 hours total; 2 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. This route to Marrakech will cross the High Atlas Mountains and part of the drive will be at an elevation of 7,200 feet. Walking approx. 1/2 mile; up to 1 hour; stairs and uneven terrain at the Kasbah.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have plated meals with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Morning: After checking out, we’ll begin our transfer to Marrakech and stop for an en route visit to the Kasbah Glaoui Palace of the last ruling family of southern Morocco, led by a local expert. Continuing to Marrakech, we’ll have an onboard lecture focused on various issues in the Sahara such as the disputed territory that is located in the southwest side of the country.

Lunch: At a local restaurant on the highest mountain pass in Morocco, we’ll have plated meals, plus water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then resume our transfer to Marrakech and check into the hotel upon arrival.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Marrakech: Authenticity & Modernity, Jemaa el Fna, Free Time
Marrakech
B
Atlas Médina & Spa

Activity note: Minimal driving. Walking approx. 2 miles total throughout the day; mostly level terrain, some steps in the Bahia Palace.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have plated with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Morning: A local expert will lead us to set out on a field trip through Marrakech to acquaint us with the area. An important former imperial city known as the Red City, Marrakech lies at the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. It also has the largest traditional market anywhere in Morocco and one of the busiest squares in Africa, perhaps even the world: Jemaa el Fna. The square bustles with acrobats, story-tellers, water sellers, dancers, and musicians. By night, food stalls open in the square turning it into a huge and lively open-air restaurant. On our field trip, we’ll also visit Koutoubia Mosque, El-Bahia Palace and Ben-Youssef Madrasa. All part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the Medina of Marrakesh, these sites preserve oral traditions and demonstrate just how much of a unique and excellent melting pot Marrakesh is for sub-Saharan and North African cultures.

Lunch: On your own to explore the local fare.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. You may wish to check out Jemaa el Fna, the open outdoor square.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Berber Women of High Atlas Mountains, Beber Cooking & Music
Marrakech
B,L,D
Atlas Médina & Spa

Activity note: Driving approx. 20 miles one way to Aghmat; about 1.5 hours roundtrip. Minimal walking.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll start out by transferring via motorcoach to Aghmat, a village not far to the southeast of Marrakech, where we will meet local women of Alkaram Cooperative and learn about their experiences in vocational training for young women in the culinary arts. Afterwards, one the members of this organization lead us in a cooking class to teach us about traditional Moroccan cooking. Even in the time of microwaves, frozen food, processed food, and tight daily schedules, Moroccan families – or, more accurately, Moroccan women – still spend a lot of time preparing meals. Making couscous is a time consuming and complicated process that holds a high degree of social importance and symbolism in Moroccan culture. We will learn about the process and its other aspects as our teacher demonstrates and explains before inviting us to actively participate in making it. Different recipes of couscous will also be uncovered to show differences in the use of spices, meat, vegetables, and sauces to create a delicious combination of sweet and salty. We will end our visit with a musical performance led by a local band of Berber music and have a chance to enjoy the beats as we dance with the members of the band.

Lunch: In Aghmat Village, we’ll be invited to a family-style meal and open group discussion with the villagers. Coffee, tea, water included.

Afternoon: While in Aghmat Village, we will be invited to watch a tea ceremony showcasing how to make authentic Moroccan mint tea as we learn about the traditions that accompany this type of ceremony. We’ll also get to try some tea and pastries made locally by the women of the co-op. For those who wish to stretch their legs, the Group Leader will then lead walk around the village before we return to Marrakech.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a buffet meal with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
16
Casablanca: Between Myths & Reality, Hassan II Mosque
Casablanca
B,L,D
Ibis Casablanca City Center

Activity note: Driving approximately 214 miles to Casablanca; about 4 hours. Walking approx. 1/2 mile; up to 1 hour at the mosque; some stairs. Appropriate dress required to visit the mosque; please wear long pants or dresses and sleeves.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll transfer to Casablanca and check into the hotel. Along the way, we will have a Q&A session to address any remaining questions from the program.

Lunch: At a lovely local restaurant in Casablanca that decorated with Art Deco and Moorish designs, we’ll have delicious plated meals of traditional Moroccan cuisine. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase including a good selection of Moroccan wine.

Afternoon: We’ll then set out on a motorcoach for an expert-led field trip through Casablanca to the Hassan II Mosque, which is the third largest mosque in the world after Mecca and Medina. Its minaret is at an impressive height of nearly 690 ft. (210 meters) and rests on the shores of the Atlantic. Impressive and inclusive, it is only mosque in the country that is open to non-Muslims. With our expert, we’ll have the rare opportunity go inside and explore different facilities of the mosque. Back at the hotel, we’ll have our final wrap-up session in the conference room. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have plated meals with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
17
Program Concludes
Casablanca
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Early breakfast at the hotel, we’ll have a buffet with juice, coffee, tea, water. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback