Day 1: Welcome to Morocco!
Welcome to Morocco! Arrive at the Casablanca International Airport. You'll be met by your driver and guide who will transfer you to the hotel for check-in. Relax and get some rest ahead of your busy week, or head out for a short city tour to get acquainted with the city. Dinner is included at your riad.
Day 2: Culture of the Capital City
After breakfast, head out for a full day tour of the capital city of Rabat. Begin your tour with a visit to the 2nd-century Chellah Necropolis, established originally as a Phoenician colony. Continue to the Yacoub al-Mansour Esplanade to see the Kings' Masouleum which houses the remains of several kings and the unfinished 12th-century Hassan Tower.
Head to Kasbah des Ouadayas, a 12th-century Almohad fortress. From here stroll through the winding streets or enjoy a mint tea at the Cafe Maure overlooking the Bou Regreg River.
Finish your tour at lunch, then hit the road for Chefchaouen, the famous Blue Pearl of Morocco. The drive north takes about four hours, and you'll arrive just in time for sunset in the mountains. Head to your riad for dinner and a well-deserved rest.
Day 3: Wonders of the Blue City
Spend the day exploring the winding streets and blue alleys of Chefchaouen. Your guide will lead you on a walking tour of the 15th-century city, starting with the Kasbah in the center of town. Enjoy panoramic views of the area from the tower, then find your way through the cobblestone streets to the town's waterfall, a popular gathering spot. Locals meet here to chat, do laundry, and relax.
Cool off by the water and enjoy a coffee at a cafe on the riverbank before continuing your tour of the town. Grab lunch in the medina, then meet your driver and continue to Fes, Morocco's cultural epicenter. Arrive in time for dinner at the riad.
Day 4: The Wonders of Fes
Enjoy breakfast on the rooftop terrace, then head out for a full-day tour of the city. Founded in 781AD, Fes is now considered the world’s largest car-free urban zone. Keep an eye out for the mule-drawn carriages that speed through the alleyways as you explore the city streets.
Stop at the medina's Jewish quarter, the medersas, then continue to the legendary tanneries to see ancient techniques being used to prepare leather. The vast tanneries use a variety of traditional methods to produce high-quality Moroccan leather, which is used in everything from clothing to bags and other handicrafts.
A must-see in Fes is the world's oldest and the longest-operating institution of higher learning, the University of Al Quaraouiyine, which was founded in 859AD. Break for lunch at a restaurant in the medina, then spend the afternoon resting or exploring the city on your own.
In the evening head out for a quiet dinner on your own, or join a tasting tour to visit three local souks and sample traditional Moroccan street food. Tour a honey souk to taste a variety of wild honey and visit a communal hammam bathhouse, then end your night with a visit to a tea house.
Day 5: Into the Sahara
Your day begins with a drive into the golden sands of the vast Sahara Desert. The trip will take approximately eight hours, but the numerous stops for photos and sweeping vistas make the drive pass easily. At the end of the drive, leave the pavement behind and head into the desert on a camel caravan.
Arrive in camp in the evening in time for dinner accompanied by traditional music. Enjoy views of the starlit skies before relaxing for the night in the comfort of your luxurious tent.
Day 6: The Desert to Dades
Rise early today for sunrise over the sand dunes. After breakfast at camp, spend the morning explore the surrounding desert. Tty surfing down the dunes on a sandboard or just enjoy the peace and quiet.
In the early afternoon hit the road once more for a drive through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs. This vast area is full of abandoned kasbahs, ancient fortified forts made from pise mud. Locals here rely on farming and nomadic herding as a way of life.
Arrive in the deep Dades Gorge and the small mountain village where you will spend the night. Enjoy a delicious Moroccan dinner before relaxing for the night in a comfortable inn.
Day 7: Kasbah Ait Benhaddou
After breakfast head out for an adventurous day of exploring, starting in the village of El Kelaa Mcgouna. Here the intensely cultivated plots of farmland are bordered by rose bushes, which are used in the cosmetic industry to make rose water and rose oil. In May a Rose Festival takes place, celebrating the year’s production.
Continue west from here to Ouarzazate, known as the "Hollywood of Morocco". Tour the local movie studios to see props which were used in the filming of famous films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, and Game of Thrones. Visit the Cinema Museum to learn more about the filmmaking process, then end your day in the village of Aït Benhaddou, home to Morocco's most famous Kasbah.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated on the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains and is a striking example of southern Moroccan architecture. This extraordinary fort offers an incredible look at pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques.
Add some adrenaline to your afternoon with an ATV tour of the complex to reach the surrounding outlooks for a bird's-eye view of the city.
Day 8: Crossing the Atlas
In the morning start the drive back to Marrakech, driving through the snow-capped Atlas Mountains on your way back to the dry plains of western Morocco. Trade the tranquility of the desert for the hustle and bustle of vibrant Marrakech.
Check into your riad and enjoy some downtime after the drive. In the evening, unwind in a local hammam spa or head out to explore the city.
Day 9: Sights and Souks of Marrakech
Enjoy breakfast at your riad, then head out for a full-day tour of the Ochre City. Start by visiting the iconic Koutoubia Mosque, then continue to the Bahia Palace and Saadian Tombs to see traditional Moroccan architecture and tile mosaics. Stop by the Mellah, or former Jewish Quarter, to learn about Morocco's little-known but significant Jewish heritage.
Stop for a mid-day lunch on a terrace overlooking the spice markets. Try the tagine and refreshing mint tea, then head out for the afternoon to explore the souks, or markets, which spread through the winding alleyways of the medina. The shops sell everything from spices to clothing, household goods, and a variety of traditional Moroccan gifts and souvenirs.
In the evening make your way to the sprawling Djema El Fna Square to see a colorful medley of street performers, fortune-tellers, musicians, and food vendors.
Day 10: Majorelle Gardens and Tagine Time!
Start your day with a late wake-up and relaxed breakfast. Head out for another day of sightseeing, starting with the lush Majorelle Gardens. Wander around the colorful gardens, looking for hidden alcoves and enjoying the vibrant plants and small Berber Museum. From here head next door to the Yves Saint-Laurent Museum, which honors the global fashion icon's love for Marrakech and houses a permanent collection of the designer's best-known works.
Finish your fashion-filled morning with a trip to 33 Majorelle, located next-door to the gardens and featuring a chic collection of clothes and art by trendy Moroccan designers.
In the afternoon head to a cooking class to learn how to prepare a traditional Moroccan dish—Tagine, a thick stew of chicken and vegetables. Learn how to make the accompanying dishes, including Moroccan bread, fresh salad, and mint tea. End your class with a celebratory dinner to eat your own masterpiece, ending with a sweet dessert—almond paste cookies.
Day 11: Into the Atlas
Depart Marrakech by 9:00 A.M. for the 1.5-hour drive to the nearby Berber village of Imlil to meet your expert mountain guide who will accompany you throughout the day. Spend the day exploring rural life in the Atlas mountains on foot. Walking sticks, rental hiking boots, and a mule will be provided during the day for visitors needing assistance with the trekking.
The hike is a moderately difficult 3-hour climb into the mountains, although it can be adjusted for difficulty and duration. Enjoy views of the snow-capped mountains and learn about the local culture and history as you hike. For lunch, settle in on the terrace of a family home for an incredible home-cooked meal with views of Mt. Toubkal.
Return to Imlil on a 2-hour hike, then drive back to Marrakech in time for dinner and a relaxing evening.
Day 12: Ochre City to the Ocean
Opt for an early morning start and a hot air balloon ride above the palm oases and small Berber villages that surround Marrakech. Afterward, begin the drive to the coastal city of Essaouira.
Stop along the way to visit an Argan oil cooperative, which has gained worldwide popularity in cosmetic and beauty products. Around 88 lbs (40 kg) are needed to extract 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of oil, which requires 8 hours of backbreaking labor by the mostly female workforce. Unfortunately, as a result of demand and labor-intensive process, the argan trees are subjected to exploitation.
Afterward, head to Val D’Argan, a local vineyard, for lunch and a wine tasting of regional wines. Arrive in Essaouira in the late afternoon and enjoy a relaxing evening on the coast.
Day 13: Exploring Essaouira
After breakfast head out for a guided visit of the city's old quarters, starting with the medina, artisan cooperatives, and the Jewish heritage sites. The brilliant blue and white architecture, easy coastal charm, and lovely beaches give Essaouira a relaxed coastal vibe. Spend the day learning about the city's Carthaginian, Roman, and Portuguese history.
Explore the 18th-century sea walls and the wood workshops, artist enclaves, and quiet alleyways that line the city's old town. Walk along the harbor to see fishermen unloading the day's catch, then enjoy a fresh seafood lunch in a streetside cafe.
Spend the rest of the afternoon to tour the rest of the city. Enjoy shopping for wood carvings, pottery, and other gifts in the laid-back medina and market. If you're up for an adventure, try kitesurfing or another water sport.
Day 14: Departure Day
Bid farewell to your driver and guide, who have by now become your life-long friends, then head to the Marrakech airport for your connecting flight home. Safe travels!