Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco. Your adventure begins today with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. As there's little free time included in Casablanca on this trip, consider coming a day early to fully explore the city. Modelled after Marseille in France, the city is famous for its art deco buildings. A pleasant way to spend a day exploring Casablanca is to wander the old medina and the city walls, then jump in a taxi to visit the Quartiers des Habous, the new medina. Then perhaps take a walk along the Corniche, watching the locals play football on the beach, or take it easy with a glass of sweet mint tea in one of the many great cafes. This evening, join your group for a welcome dinner of delicious traditional specialties.
Say goodbye to Casablanca and take an early train to Meknes. In the 17th century, Sultan Moulay Ismail turned Meknes from a provincial town to a spectacular Imperial city. On arrival, get to know Meknes on an orientation walk with your leader. For lunch, visit a friendly local restaurant in the medina and try a Moroccan delicacy – a deliciously rich camel burger! Next, drive on to Moulay Idriss and settle in at a local guesthouse, where the art of hand-rolled couscous is lovingly demonstrated along with an authentic Moroccan meal.
This morning, drive to Chefchaouen, or the ‘blue city’ – arguably one of the prettiest places in Morocco. Set against a wide valley and nestled between two peaks in the stunning Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen may take you by surprise. Its medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, red-tiled roofs and artistic doorways. Much of Chefchaouen was recreated by Andalusian refugees escaping the Reconquista, so you might feel like you're in the hills of Spain while exploring its streets. Ease into the relaxed pace of life in this rural retreat. This evening you’ll get a real insight into Moroccan food with a home-cooked dinner prepared with seasonal ingredients – bursting with flavour and made with love.
Enjoy your morning in Chefchaouen, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the medina, the shops in the square selling woven goods and small sweets, and, most importantly, enjoy a taste of the town’s famous goat’s cheese. Herds of goats wander the sparse hillsides that surround Chefchaouen, and their cheese is sold in great fresh rounds in the street markets. In the afternoon travel to Fes, the most complete medieval city in the Arab world. Fes is the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco – vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses. You’ll have free time for the rest of the day to explore. This evening is a great time to seek out Moroccan specialities like harira (chickpea soup).
Take a guided group walking tour of the old city, known locally as Fes el Bali. Step back into the Middle Ages as you explore the labyrinth of the Medina, which is alive with craftsmen, markets, tanneries and mosques. Pass donkeys piled high with goods (this is one of the largest car-free urban zones in the world) and explore the specialty sections that divide the souk. Look out for the Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's most beautiful buildings, which has recently been restored and is now open to tourists. Also, visit a ceramics factory where you can see traditional handmade pottery being made. Your local leader will guide you on a 'tasting trail' along the way today before enjoying an evening cooking demonstration, where you’ll learn how to create one of the city's signature dishes – pastilla (or bastilla) – a salty and sweet pastry parcel.
Start the day right with a tasty street food breakfast of msemmen (flatbread) with olive oil and boiled egg or omelette paired with coffee or mint tea. Then, leave the intensity of the city behind for the simplicity of the scenic Middle Atlas Mountains. On the way, stop at a local supermarket and get a broader view of the contemporary food habits of modern Moroccans. Here, you’ll get an everyday-life insight into the culture, and your leader will pick up some local popular snacks for the group to enjoy. Drive south, inland, through varied and spectacular scenery – fertile valleys, cedar and pine forests and barren, rocky landscapes. The area is populated with wandering nomadic shepherds attending to their flocks. Pass through cedar forests, home to North Africa's only monkey – Barbary apes – and on to your destination of Midelt. Nestled in a valley, Midelt is a market town, originally built as a mining base and surrounded by farmland and orchards. Stretch your legs as you explore the nearby village of Bremmen and take a closer look at local farming life. In the evening, a special meal will be prepared using the aromatic herbs native to the region.
Enjoy a scenic drive towards the Sahara Desert with plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the panoramic views of the kasbahs and palm groves (valleys lush with date palms, fields and orchards). You may also have a chance to pause in some of the frontier towns such as Erfoud and Rissani before reaching your destination, the small Saharan settlement of Merzouga. Enjoy a demonstration of medfouna (also called 'Amazigh pizza'), a traditional stuffed bread prepared with meat, herbs and spices by the nomadic peoples of the High Atlas. Traditionally prepared by women to feed local farm workers, this hearty delicacy is a great introduction to the cuisine of the desert region. Later today you will leave your gear at a simple auberge and then ride camels to the edge of the Sahara Desert, enjoying a spectacular sunset along the way. The dunes are stunning, especially as the evening light plays across them and sets off the colours. Dinner this evening at your desert camp will be a traditional spread of Moroccan soup, tajine and seasonal fruit.
After breakfast prepare for a scenic drive filled with stunning landscapes on the way to the M'Goun Valley. The journey will take you past ancient kasbah ruins, former colonial military outposts, austere mountains and valleys of palm trees and irrigated fields. Dinner tonight is an Amazigh tagine prepared in a traditional clay pot cooked over an open fire.
While the early morning holds the option of exploring the nearby village souk of Kelaat M'gouna or witnessing Moroccan bread-making techniques in action, today’s adventure will take you out on foot to explore the beauty of this largely untouched Moroccan backcountry. Accompanied by a local guide, pass through Berber villages, meeting local people along the way. You’ll take a trail that undulates slightly but isn't too challenging if you have a basic level of fitness. The walk takes approximately 3 hours, and the scenery is certainly worth the walk! Pass through agricultural land and learn about the produce grown in the region, then find out first hand over a plant-based dinner this evening. Tomats, beans, walnuts, almonds, figs, apples and grapes are all grown in the M'Goun Valley, which you might enjoy in tagine, couscous, Moroccan soup and seasonal fruit platters.
Today, head to your final destination – Marrakech. On the way, you’ll stop by a women's cooperative, where they produce locally grown argan oil. A product that’s endemic to Morocco and used for both culinary and cosmetic purposes, you’ll see the trees that produce the argan oil and learn the process of how the workers extract it. Learn about how it’s used and all the benefits before continuing to Marrakech. When you arrive, a local guide will take you on an orientation walk and tasting trail through the medina. Visit a locally-owned coffee shop for an insight into how this cultural practice uses hot sand to brew a unique, spiced coffee. This evening, maybe join the crowds for dinner at the famous Djemaa el-Fna – one of the largest public spaces in the world and unique to Marrakech. When night falls on this square, it transforms into a hive of activity, with henna painters, performers and storytellers sharing the square with a street food bazaar (where you can try snail soup)!
Start your day by learning to prepare splendid Moroccan salads, a staple of the table, at the amazing Amal Women's Cooking Centre – a non-profit empowering women through culinary skills and education, then feast on your creations for lunch. The afternoon is free to explore the sights of the city – you might like to drop by the Koutoubia Mosque or the dazzling Bahia Palace. In the evening, perhaps ascend the stairs of one of the surrounding restaurants for a birds-eye view of the action or head back into the medina for some shopping, where every step brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. This evening, you may like to join your group for a farewell dinner.
Your food adventure across Morocco comes to an end this morning. If you are extending your stay, perhaps stroll through the tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle, or return to the medina. The Saadian tombs are another recently uncovered gem of the medina. Be sure to take a break from the bustle to sip on tea or eat a tagine, filled with the quintessential flavours of Morocco.