In addition to our itinerary below, we will have a henna hand event, and are seeking an interesting speaker to address the group. Morocco is only 6 hours from New York but a thousand years in difference. Join us for a Christmas time African adventure for markets, minarets, and muezzins.
Day 1: Mon Dec 23 Depart New York (JFK)
Depart from New York this afternoon on board Royal Air Maroc for the short flight to Casablanca.
AT 201 23DEC 1 JFKCMN 545P 625A+1 763
Day 2: Tue Dec 24 Arrival Casablanca / Rabat (L,D)
On our arrival in Casablanca, we will be greeted at the airport by our English speaking guide/escort.
Drive through Casablanca on the way to our hotel in Rabat, the capital. (55 miles)
After lunch in Rabat, enjoy a city tour of Rabat visiting the Kasbah of Oudayas, Hassan Tower, the minaret of the great mosque, Mohammed V Mausoleum, the Medina, the Royal Palace, the city gates and Chellah Necropolis. Get together for a welcome dinner at a the hotel this evening.
Overnight at the Sofitel Jardins des Roses.
Day 3: Wed Dec 25 Rabat / Meknes / Fes (119 miles) (B,L)
After breakfast, we will proceed to Fes via Meknes and Volubilis. Meknes became the capital of Morocco in 1672 during the reign of Moulay Ismail, a contemporary of the French King Louis XIV, whom he emulated by building a huge palace, nicknamed the "Versailles of Morocco". Unfortunately, the Lisbon earth-quake of 1755 destroyed most of it. The remains are the ramparts, the majestic Bab El Mansour gate and some of the stables that used to house thousands of horses.
After the tour of Meknes, proceed to the well preserved Roman ruins of Volubilis from which the lions came for Roman Gladiator fights. From Volubilis, view the holy city of Moulay Idriss, which holds the tomb of Moulay Idriss, the great grandson of the Prophet Mohamed and the founder of Islam
in Morocco. His shrine is a pilgrimage site for Muslims from all over the world. Continue to Fes. Overnight at the Sofitel Palais Jamai (Ramparts or garden View).
Day 4: Thu Dec 26 Fes (B, D)
After breakfast, our English speaking tour guide will take us on a tour of the medina (old city). The Fes medina is a World Heritage Site. Founded in the 9th century and home to the oldest university in the world, Fez reached its height in the 14th century. The principal monuments in the medina - palaces, residences, mosques and fountains - date from this period. Walking through one of its gates takes you to the middle ages. We take a tour behind the gates: including the University Karaouine one of the oldest universities in the world founded in 859 by a woman.
You will also see the fountain Nejjarine and,at its far end, the Fondouk el-Nejjarine with its richly decorated facade, probably built in the 17th century and recently converted into a Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts. Then the Medersa Bou Inania (former Koranic school from 14c. The medresa is one of the few religious buildings open to non Muslims.
We continue to the tanneries, unchanged since medieval times.
This afternoon explore the souks in the old Medina. The souk is a complex network of streets selling luxury goods like fine silks and brocades, high quality kaftans and jewelry. There are also souks selling spices, a slipper souk and a henna souk, plus leather and ceramics areas. We spend the afternoon shopping in the souks, accompanied by our guide. Non shoppers will have cameras ready. (Try on some henna lipstick!)
Listen to the muezzins call to prayer from the roof of our hotel at sunset, unforgettable sounds and sights.
This evening enjoy a dinner with entertainment (wedding ceremony) at Palais Medina Restaurant.
Day 5: Fri Dec 27 Fes / Marrakech (290 miles) (B,L)
After breakfast, depart for Marrakech via the Middle Atlas mountains. Dress comfortably as it is a long drive. You will be driving through picturesque pine forest scenery that will make you think more of Switzerland than Morocco. You will see Ifrane, a very popular ski and summer resort among Moroccans. Lunch stop in Beni-Mellal. Early evening arrival in Marrakech. Overnight at the Kenzi Menara Palace.
Day 6: Sat Dec 28 Marrakech (B,L,D)
After breakfast, our English speaking local guide will take us on a tour of the historic monuments: The Koutoubia Minaret completed in the 10th century, a replica of the Hassan Tower in Rabat and the Giralda in Seville. The Saadian Tombs which date to the 14th century, sixty members of that dynasty are buried there. The pavilion at the Menara Gardens was built in the 12th century and used as a summer residence by the Sultan. The Palais Bahia is a private palace built at the end of the 19th century. The rooms are decorated with stunning Islamic patterns and painted carved cedar wood ceilings.
In the afternoon, we will be driven to the cooking class at the Riad La Maison Arabe. (Priced separately.)
Day 7: Sun Dec 29 Marrakech (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we'll visit the beautiful "Les Jardins Majorelle" in Marrakech. It is a botanical garden created by Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s; the plants are imported from around the world and highlighted by structures painted brilliant cobalt known as the "Majorelle Blue". The gardens were owned by the French couturier Yves Saint Laurent who died in 2008 and whose ashes are scattered in the gardens.
Spend the rest of the day exploring and shopping in Marrakech. A guide will again be available. The medina and Jemaa El Fna Square come to life in the afternoon with its acrobats, snake charmers, fortune tellers, singers, healers, poets and food stalls.
This evening enjoy dinner at a typical Moroccan restaurant with an accompanying folklore show (Fantasia Evening).
Optional: Essaouira Excursion w/ lunch (106 miles)
After breakfast, our driver/escort is at our disposal for a full day optional excursion to Essaouira on the Atlantic Ocean. Essaouira, formerly known as Mogador, was founded by the Romans and inhabited by the Portuguese from the 17th century. A typical Portuguese harbor with fine examples of both Moorish and Portuguese art, it is one of the most important and oldest fishing ports in Marrakech. It has a nice medina with local handicrafts such as the local thuya wood carvings.
On the way, stop at one of the Argan cooperatives run by women who share the Argan products. Morocco is the only country where you can find Argan trees, their fruit, which is similar to an olive, is used to make oil in cosmetics. The Argan trees are also famous for the fact that you can see goats climb the trees, eat the fruit then spit up the kernel then ground to make the oil. Visit the bustling fish market, the ramparts and the bastions which served as the location for the Orson Welles film version of Othello.
Day 8: Mon Dec 30 Depart Marrakech (B)
Transfer to the airport for our departing flight.
AT 414 30DEC 1 RAKCMN 850A 930A 738
AT 200 30DEC 2 CMNJFK 1225P 345P 763
Arrive home with treasured memories of your sojourn in this enchanted land!