itinerary part one
17 September Casablanca at Hotel Diwan - Bonjour! Salaam! Welcome to Morocco! Day One of our trip starts in the exotic hub of Casablanca. Modelled after Marseille in France, the city is famous for its art deco buildings and the modern-day masterpiece, the Hassan II Mosque. A pleasant way to spend the day exploring Casablanca is to wander the old medina and the city walls. Finish the day with 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. Depending on your arrival time, we will visit Villa des Arts and have a welcome dinner together.
18 September Meknes at Hotel Riad Dor - We head inland on an early-morning 1 hour historic train ride to Rabat for lunch, and to spend a few hours strolling through the city's old quarter, then walk up to Kasbah des Oudaias and enjoy views over the Atlantic Ocean. Afterwards, continue to Meknes on a three-hour private mini van ride. The imperial city of Meknes was built when Sultan Moulay Ismail (a contemporary of Louis XIV) set out to create his own version of Versailles, using over 25,000 slaves to construct walls, gates and over 50 palaces, where we will spend the night.
19 September at Riad Azrou - 23 September Fes/Azrou Homestay - We leave mid-morning to head to Azrou, a small town around 2.5 hours south of Fes to begin our first project with local artisan women who weave traditional Moroccan wares. Here we meet Karin from Fair Fabrics, to be introduced to the first of the two collectives of artisan women. Here we will spend 3 nights with local Berber women in a traditional home stay. The homestay is very, very basic. Facilities are very limited with no electricity, no hot water, no bathroom (outdoor outhouse), sometimes no running water). Drinking water is available from the small community shops.
itinerary part two
24 September Midelt at Kasbah Izoran - Today we head further south en route to Marrakesh. Drive south around 2 hours, inland through a variety of 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 which are home to Barbary apes, North Africa's only monkey, and on to your destination of Midelt. Nestled in a valley, Midelt is a market town, originally built as a base for mining in the area, and surrounded by farmland and orchards. Stretch your legs as you explore the nearby village of Bremmem and take a closer look at local farming life.
25 September Todra Gorge at Hotel Tomboctou - We travel around 4 hours south in private car. This afternoon, enjoy free time to explore the Todra Valley. A guided hike through the gorge and over a nearby mountain pass is highly recommended. There are a couple of circuits to choose from, but the most popular choice, and the one we recommend, is a 10 kilometre circuit that will take about four hours. Accompanied by a local guide, you’ll walk a trail that undulates slightly here and there, but isn't too challenging if you have a basic level of fitness. On the walk you'll pass Berber villages, meeting local Berbers along the way and perhaps having a chance to share a cup of mint tea with some of them. The surrounding mountains and the famous Rose Valley in the distance make a sensational setting. To fully enjoy the walk, you need a moderate level of fitness, good walking boots or sturdy trainers, sunglasses, sun cream and plenty of water. For lunch you can join some local ladies in their mud-brick kasbah, a fantastic opportunity to see how people live in this largely unchanged culture. Simply lounging by the hotel pool with views over the lush palmeries and soaring cliff faces is also a great way to spend your day here.
26 September -1 October Hotel Villa Oumnas Marrakes Tameslouh and a special surprise for the last night - Riad Le Perroquet in the heart of the Marrakesh Medina! - Here we meet the second of the two collectives of artisan women specialising in pottery and glass painting and an adjacent orphanage at which we will spend a few hours giving art classes. Marrakesh is an incredible melange of cultures and we will spend time visiting some well-known landmarks, such as Koutoubia Mosque and its 12th-century minaret, which was the famous prototype for the Giralda tower in Seville or to take a wander through the tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle now owned by Yves Saint Laurent. Also an option for hot air ballooning (cost is not included in the tour price, around AUD$300 extra per person), to meet some camels and to visit a local Hammam for a much deserved massage.
We have a special dinner organised in the extraordinary Djemaa el Fna square for a final goodbye.
* Please note: this is our prospective itinerary, and is subject to modifications that will improve our Excursion; these include changes of venue, local weather amendments, and any other 'out of our control' things that may arise, to ensure our time together is the best it can be! Dealing with local challenges will sometimes affect even our most organised efforts.