Morocco

Typical of the style of Art of Living Tours, this captivating itinerary offers sublime and intimate riad and heritage accommodation, deep interaction with the local culture, authentic cuisine and a sense of adventure in an exotic destination that through the centuries has embraced Arabic, Persian, Andalusian and French influences – a tour for the mind and all the senses.

We invite you on a luxurious magic carpet ride of Morocco – a country that is an eye-opening example of modern and extremely sophisticated Islamic culture – tolerant of all belief systems; with well ordered cities and infra structure; beautifully preserved monuments; stunning craftsmanship, with dazzling aesthetics, spell-binding scenery, wonderful food and inordinately generous people.

HIGHLIGHTS

• sleeping in the sand dunes under desert stars – you might even ride a camel
• ancient imperial cities, souks, spices and Berber villages,
• traditional crafts, Moorish gardens
• stunning and varied monuments and scenery
• entrée to private homes to meet expats and locals

AT A GLANCE

LENGTH: 16 Days
ACTIVITY LEVEL:   Moderate
TYPE: Small Group Tour | AoL Escorted | Bespoke
STYLE: Culture  | Crafts | History | Food | Adventure
START/FINISH: Rabat | Marrakech
Most flights will be in | out Casablanca

INCLUSIONS

All meals, wine with dinner, local guides, activities, tour manager, domestic flight

HOTEL STANDARD:

Deluxe hotels, luxury desert camp + luxury riads

TRANSPORT:

 Luxury A/C Mercedes minivan

TRAVEL DATES

22 May – 6 June 2020 Filling fast

PRICING

from AUD 12,000 per person based on twin/double share
Minimum 6 | maximum 12 guests

TOUR GALLERY

ITINERARY OVERVIEW

  • DAY 1

    RABAT

    You will be met on arrival in Casablanca (or Rabat) and transferred to the elegant palm-lined boulevards of Rabat, an historic city now the administrative and political capital of Morocco since independence in 1956 from 44 years of French rule. Two nights are spent in a charming family owned Auberge, in the heart of a citrus grove with beautiful, extensive, tranquil gardens and wonderful objets d’arts.

  • DAY 2

    RABAT

    Enjoy a tour of this ‘royal’ city known nowadays as the ‘Washington’ of North Africa, because of its parks, boulevards, monuments, embassies and government buildings, and as the seat of the Royal Family, with a great many bewitching palaces, mosques and parks-all in the sensual North African style.
    Visit the picturesque Kasbah des Oudayas with its winding alleys and sea glimpses, the Royal Palace, the Hassan II Minaret and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. Lunch will be in a seafood restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, followed by a walk in the Medina.

  • DAY 3

    TANGIER

    On today’s drive, stop at the very charming, artistic town of Asilah before a seafood lunch overlooking the sea. Later arrive into the cosmopolitan bustling city of Tangier bounded by the Rif Mountains, the calm waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
    Tangier still retains the allure that captured the imagination of so many celebrities from Barbara Hutton, Noel Coward, Paul Bowles to Kerouac and Yves St Laurent.

  • DAY 4

    TANGIER

    Today’s excursions include St Andrews Church, the souk and Medina and a very special private visit to the American Legation where you will see the fine collection of paintings, prints, and books with a room especially devoted to Paul Bowles. Lunch today will be at the private home of a local Tangier expat in a charming garden.

  • DAY 5

    FES

    Fes is a great jewel of Spanish Arabic civilization.
    On arrival, check into your sumptuously restored riad, located within the medina, with its tiled courtyard gardens filled with fragrance, panoramic roof terrace and hammam.

  • DAY 6

    FES

    Today is devoted to exploring the fascinating UNESCO world-heritage Medina. You will walk through the gardens of Jnan Sbil by the Medersa and Karaouiyine Mosque, the shrine of Zaouia Maoulay Idriss II and see craftsmen working in the narrow lanes much as they’ve done for centuries. A charming Frenchman will host dinner in the gardens of his private riad including a tutored wine tasting of local wines.

  • DAY 7

    MEKNES/VOLUBILIS

    This morning depart for the Imperial City of Meknes. Founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids as a military settlement, Meknes became a capital under Sultan Moulay Ismaïl who turned it into an impressive city in Spanish-Moorish style.
    Lunch will be a special stop at Moulay Idriss Zerhoun (Morocco’s holiest town) – Dar Akrab, with its fabulous, soulful home cooking and incredible mountain views overlooking the vast plains of Volubilis.
    After lunch visit the UNESCO Archaeological Site of Volubilis- the Mauritanian capital, founded in the 3rd century B.C. that became an important outpost of the Roman Empire and was graced with many fine buildings.

  • DAY 8

    AGAFAY DESERT

    Fly or drive to the Agafay desert.
    Today experience the more rural aspects of Morocco during the journey to reach La Pause, a rough, dry, red moon-like desert 40 minutes south-west of Marrakech with a surrounding landscape, all rolling, pastel pink mountains, palms and olive trees.
    Take time to relax around this amazing eco-friendly oasis. Ride a camel at sunset. Dinner is served under the stars and you spend the night in a comfortable cabana.

  • DAY 9

    ATLAS MOUNTAINS

    The next two nights are at a peaceful Franco-Moroccan retreat offering spectacular views towards Mount Toubkal, the highest peak of the Atlas Range. The luxurious, dreamy property mixes North African traditional style with modern Marocaine: think earthy tones, large tiled bathrooms, and comfy beds.
    Lunch today is a typical Berber feast served in a traditional village home that can be reached via a gentle scenic trek, mules, or jeep.

  • DAY 10

    ATLAS MOUNTAINS

    Spend the day in the Atlas Mountains to enjoy your retreat to swim, relax or take massages and hammams before dinner.
    For those with an historical interest we will arrange a morning excursion to the fascinating nearby medieval archaeological site of Aghmat to meet with the passionate and erudite Professor Emeritus Ron Messier.

  • DAY 11

    ESSAOUIRA

    Drive three hours to reach the gorgeous walled town that hugs the Atlantic where you will stay two nights.
    En route stop for lunch at a local Fromagerie, to see cheese making and understand the process of expelling the famous Argan nut oil. Later meander the medina and port area.
    Essaouira is a delightful town flanking the Atlantic with its ancient ramparts and busy fishing harbour designed by the Frenchman who designed Brittany’s most famous port town, Saint-Malo. Once you enter the walls, it is infinitely Moroccan.

  • DAY 12

    ESSAOUIRA

    This morning enjoy a guided walk of the town seeing the souk, the ramparts, and the harbor. The afternoon is free to ‘flaneur’. The fortified medina’s spice-scented lanes and palm-lined avenues have many galleries and boutiques
    Dinner at La Table where style meets substance at Essaouira’s best restaurant.

  • DAY 13

    MARRAKECH

    Your hotel the last three nights is the product of a careful renovation by Italian aristocrat Fabrizio Ruspoli who was ahead of his time when he bought the property and oversaw three years of renovations to transform it into a chic riad. Now it’s grown to 26 rooms (most with fireplaces and private terraces) in two buildings that flank a serene swimming pool.
    Today’s walking Historical tour visits the Madrasa and the new Marrakech
    Museum, with lunch in the Medina before walking through the souks where
    you will see everything from exquisitely embroidered shoes and belts to heady sacks of spice, woodwork, brass and copper-work, and kaftans.

  • DAY 14

    MARRAKECH

    This morning depart in your horse-drawn calèche for the famous Les Jardin Majorelle gifted to the city by its inspired creator Yves Saint Laurent.
    Within the gardens is the splendid Berber Museum with displays of exceptional jewellery and ethnic costumes. Next door is the stunning new Museum dedicated to Yves St Laurent, designed by the French architectural firm, Studio KO. Within and around the gardens are some of the best contemporary boutiques in the country.
    This evening’s dinner includes a tutored wine tasting of local wines that are far better than you might expect.

  • DAY 15

    MARRAKECH

    Today guests have the choice to stay in Marrakech for last minute shopping, spa treatments or simply to relax. Our guides are on hand to help you plan this last day according to your needs and interests.
    For those who are interested, we can arrange a half-day cooking class or a game of golf.
    A special Farewell Dinner will be held in the courtyard of a stunning riad where the food and service is exceptional.

  • DAY 16

    MARRAKECH | INTERNATIONAL DEPARTURES

    Today, we provide transfers from Marrakech to Casablanca International Airport in time to meet your international departures.

    SUGGESTED TOUR EXTENSIONS

    Portugal
    Spain

TESTIMONIALS

Our recent trip with the marvellous Marieke certainly delivered “Morocco the Magnificent”! In true Marieke style the itinerary was wonderful, thoughtfully researched & cleverly curated to ensure an experience that delighted all of the senses. We returned home feeling enlightened by what we had learned, inspired by the welcoming, knowledgeable local people we met, and enriched by the exposure to so many fascinating aspects of Moroccan culture. The diverse accommodation was part of the appeal and the culinary delights nothing short of amazing! Marieke made sure all our needs were met and that each day held something special and memorable – always with a smile, an entertaining tale or two, boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm for the joys of travel!
Chris + Andrea B Melbourne | September 2018

Thanks again for the wonderful tour of Morocco. Your choice of five cities and two additional overnight destinations (in the Agafay Desert and the Ourika Valley) provided us with as broad and varied an exposure to Morocco as could possibly be fitted into two weeks. Carolyn and I have, at last,  “twigged” to your focus on authenticity and on getting close to the sense of a place.
 
On this tour, again, your choice of accommodation, your selection of tour guides and the numerous locations you identified for meals, all reflect your own style as well as your intuition for the tastes of more occasional travellers such as us. For meals, the food and the ambience and the view provided, repeatedly combined to create unique experiences; your ability to identify local artisans gave those of us so inclined with the focused opportunity to shop and to learn still more about this incredible country; the unexpected interactions with hotel and Riyadh owners, ex-pats and academics left us feeling enlightened and very special.
 
Perhaps the best “measure” of your talent is the fact that we both had such an extraordinarily good time, one of our very best holidays. There were just so many high spots and we proceeded at such an agreeable pace, rarely pushed but never bored. And always exceptionally well fed and watered.
 
Many thanks once again for your expertise and guidance and wonderful company.
 
Kind wishes, Michael + Carolyn L Perth | September 2018

Dear Marieke

Thank you for providing us with an opportunity to experience the rich history and natural beauty of Morocco. We were lucky to have a variety of wonderful experiences and leave having a better understanding of Morocco’s history, cuisine, culture, art, geography and geology.
Your local guides were generous with their time and knowledge. I felt safe to travel through busy souks knowing that the guides were there to make my shopping pleasurable, interesting and hassle free.

The experience of travelling through the countryside gave us a more sobering perspective of Moroccan life. We drove through mud brick villages where donkeys and mules are the main form of transport and where there is often no electricity.

Travelling through Morocco allows you to experience many different changes of landmarks, landforms and colours. Some towns and villages were whitewashed with brilliant blue trim, Fez was ochre yellow and it is essential that Marrakech’s buildings are coloured the orange pink that correspond to the nearby Atlas Mountains.

The mosque is the focal point of villages, towns and cities and the call to prayer five times a day is a gentle reminder that we were in a muslim country.

We were not just observers, we rode mules up into the mountains to meet up with a Berber family who provided a traditional lunch of vegetables and meat cooked in tangines over charcoal fires. We rode camels in the desert, took a horse drawn carriage in Marrakech, were entertained by expats and locals in their riads, their restaurants, their homes. We saw artisans use their age-old skills and were able to buy items directly from the craftsperson. We stayed in lovely riads and enjoyed the hospitality, the mint tea and the delicious meals provided by local owners. We also stayed a night in the desert and in a stylish hotel high up in the mountains.

If I had my time over I would have wanted to see more of Morocco! No time is time enough to experience all that Morocco is!  September is a good time weather wise. Not too hot or cold, just right! Thank you Marieke for organising a tour that was diverse, fascinating, informative and stylish. Thank you also for Soufian your right hand man who solved any problem that came along effectively and affectionately. Sally Cousens, Sydney 2018

YOUR GUIDES

Your Tour Leader, Marieke Brugman is an avid global traveller/foodie/yogi who has been leading luxury groups of discerning travellers throughout the world from Europe to Asia for twenty-five years. Whilst the sub continent is her most passionate ‘subject’, Morocco is not only easy to fall in love with but also gets under your skin and leaves lasting memories. There is such a sweep of history such a melting pot of cultures, such beautiful Islamic architecture and crafts, such exciting food and such hospitable people, it makes in her view, an exquisite mélange of experience. For those who may be keen, she also offers yoga each morning as a brilliant way to start the day.

Soufiane is the Tour manager who coordinates all the timings, vehicles, drivers, jeeps and transfers and speaks all the local dialects. He is also there to facilitate any extra activities for our guests, whether it be a game of golf or specialist shopping.

Tour Guides
In each of our destinations you will meet a local guide with immense knowledge and expertise to illuminate the wonderful sites we visit.

BOOKINGS & ENQUIRIES

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