Morocco: Sahara Sands, Markets, and a Feast for the Senses

Trip Overview

Travel with AdventureWomen to Morocco in March 2018 for an authentic, cultural experience in this vibrant land of contrasts. With its roots in Northern Africa, proximity to the Sahara Desert and close ties to Europe, Morocco has a colorful culture expressed in its unique architecture, textiles, music, and cuisine.

This richly diverse country springs to life through the warm and hospitable Moroccan people who share a passionate love 
of music, art, and sublime food. Morocco has a long history of social traditions, a reputation for religious and ethnic tolerance, and enjoys the longest running monarchy in the world, all combining into the multi-faceted "fabric" of this modern-day, magical kingdom. Your journey with us through this fascinating land is a feast of sensory and cultural delights.

Start your AdventureWomen trip on the Atlantic coast and discover modern Morocco in Casablanca before heading north to the charming town of Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains. You will be enchanted by this sleepy Moroccan village with narrow, winding streets and lanes and houses painted in a vibrant blue. The contrast of the small blue-washed "medina quarter" of Chefcahouen among the majestic mountains makes for stunning views. Soak up the atmosphere of this town with so many mixed cultures, and witness the influence of the native Berbers, Muslims, and Jewish refugees from Spain. Visit a traditional workshop to learn about the Djellaba, a long loose-fitting robe with full sleeves worn in the Maghreb region of North Africa and enjoy a walking tour of the mazes and meandering streets of the medina.

Continue your exploration of Morocco as we travel to the medieval city of Fes which will give you a glimpse into Moroccan life as it was centuries ago. Fes is the second largest city in Morocco and known as "the Mecca of the West". The medina area in Fes is the largest car-free urban area in the world!

After two busy days in Fes, escape the hustle and bustle of the city for the countryside passing through Midelte, known for its apple plantations. You will have the chance to cross over the Atlas Mountains via Tizi n Talghemt (the pass of the camel). The colors, landscape, architecture, and the vegetation changes constantly along this journey as you head towards the expansive sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. Spend the night at a luxury tented camp in the middle of the dunes, journeying to this private camp by camel, and enjoy the night sky unspoiled by urban lights.

Skoura, a huge and flourishing oasis, is your home for the next night. This region is also known as “1000 Kasbahs” route where fortified, mud Kasbahs (local fortresses) dominate the green cultivated fields. Discover the culture of everyday life in Morocco joining a local family for a delicious couscous lunch. Then sit with a local women’s cooperative and learn from these fascinating artisans about their production of Moroccan handicrafts.

Round out your Morocco adventure in the colorful city of Marrakech, where you will visit historical monuments and explore packed souks (marketplaces) and the vibrant medina, experiencing Moroccan culture alongside the locals. Back-dropped by the stunning Atlas Mountains and once a key city of trade on the ancient caravan routes, Marrakech retains its fascinating blend of Arab, African, and European influences.

Your local expert guide will be your compass through the amazing alleyways of Marrakech. Explore the monuments which will help you understand the rich history of the city. In addition to the gardens and monuments, visit museums such as Dar Tiskwine and ‘Maison de La Photographie’ which explain life in Marrakech during the French protectorate. Finally you will discover vibrant souks displaying a great selection of traditional Moroccan handicrafts. You will be amazed with the skills of the artisans as well as the amount of items piled in a tiny space. The Djemaa el Fna Square gets even more fun in the evening with musicians, story tellers, acrobats, and many other performers.

Join AdventureWomen in 2018 on this new and colorful journey through the many facets of Morocco's culture!

Main Attractions

  • Spend time with artists at a women’s textile cooperative in Sefrou
  • Ride a camel in the Sahara Desert to a luxurious tented camp
  • Enjoy a morning with the Berbers; learn the village social structure and local agriculture while making traditional tea
  • Explore the labyrinth of the Fes Medina, meeting local craftspeople and enjoying local cuisine
  • Visit Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, a striking example of southern Moroccan architecture, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site

What You'll See and Do

  • Anthropology
  • Camel Trekking
  • Cooking Class
  • Crafting
  • Cultural Exploration
  • Hiking
  • Historical Sites
  • Local Delicacies
  • Spa Element
  • Walking
  • Wine Tasting
  • Women-To-Women

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Morocco: Sahara Sands, Markets, and a Feast for the Senses

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Sunday, March 18, 2018 - Arrive in Casablanca
Welcome to Morocco! Colorful and lively, this richly diverse country is populated with warm hospitable people with a passionate love of music, art, and sublime food. A long history of social traditions, a reputation for religious and ethnic tolerance, and the longest running monarchy in the world all contribute to the fabric of this modern-day magical kingdom. Your journey through this fascinating land is a feast of sensory and cultural delights.

You will be picked up at the Casablanca Airport by your guide and transferred to your hotel in Rabat.
Meals on Your Own

Overnight: Villa Mandarine
http://www.villamandarine.com/index_us.php

Nested in the heart of an orange grove, the Villa Mandarine marries comfort and hospitality. This rare place offers peaceful hideaways that have kept the charm of the old family home. Surrounded by greenery, the Villa Mandarine is a home that was extended and reinvented into an exclusive hotel.

Day 2

Monday, March 19, 2018 - Rabat to Chefchaouen
Explore Rabat this morning, visiting the Mohamed V. Mausoleum, Hassan Tower, and the National Museum. Walk the narrow alleyways of Kasbah Oudaya, an old fortress.

Later today, drive into the Rif Mountains. Enjoy lunch on your way to Chefchaouen. When you arrive, have a brief orientation of the small, blue-washed town before settling into your hotel. Chefchaouen lies between two mountains in the Rif mountain range. The contrast of the small blue-washed Medina among the majestic mountains makes for stunning views.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Riad Lina
http://www.linaryad.com/

Surrounded by magnificent cerulean mountains and nestled in the heart of the medina, this luxurious riad enjoys a privileged position in one of Morocco’s most unique destinations. The spa with its heated indoor pool, oriental baths and Hammam will offer traditional delicious moments of relaxation. The personalized service promises a unique and unforgettable stay in an area where authentic Medina living is still preserved.

Day 3

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen was founded as a fortress in 1471 to fight Portuguese invasions of northern Morocco. This is a rich cultural area and a unique place to learn about local customs and traditions.

Enjoy a walking tour of the Medina in Chefchaouen, visiting the main sites of the city. Soak up the atmosphere of this town with so many mixed cultures, and witness the influence of the native Berbers, Muslims, and Jewish refugees from Spain. Visit a traditional workshop to learn about the Djellaba, the traditional long, loose-fitting outer robe worn in the area. Most djellabas have a hood that comes to a point in the back.

After your walking tour, join a local family for lunch, before taking a short hike up one of the hills surrounding Chefchaouen to get a panoramic view of this unique place.

After a day in the city, you might want to treat yourself with a Hammam or a massage at the hotel.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Riad Lina

Day 4

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - Chefchaouen to Fes
Enjoy a scenic drive across the Rif mountains to join the fertile Saiss plain. You will see a varied landscape as you drive south, including green forests, isolated villages, and olive groves. Stop at a vineyard in Meknes. This vineyard is one of the finest in the area. Enjoy a tour of the vineyard and taste the local wine.

Volubilis, an unexpected Roman site, lies on a rich river valley with the dark Zerhoun mountain ridge as a backdrop. It was once a capital of a Roman province and the southern border of the Imperial road. You will see some of the most preserved mosaics of the Roman era in Morocco at Volubilis.

Arrive in Fes late this afternoon, the second largest city in Morocco and known as the Mecca of the West. This medina is the largest car-free urban area in the world. Also found in Fes is the oldest functioning madrasa in the world, Al-Qarawiyyin.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Riad Fes
http://www.riadfes.com/en/

Riad Fes is located in the heart of the ancient city of Fes. It has succeeded in combining refinement with inspiration and invites you to relax and enjoy your stay in a serene atmosphere with decor reminiscent of Arabian Nights. Riad Fes provides guests with the opportunity to travel back in time and enjoy the splendour and authenticity of the lifestyle of Fassi nobility. The prestigious history and refined civilization of this imperial city are reflected in the Spanish Moorish architecture and attention to detail seen in the decor.

Day 5

Thursday, March 22, 2018 - Fes
You will be transported back centuries while walking through the labyrinth that is the Fes Medina. Within the Medina all transport of goods is provided by donkeys, mules and handcarts. From a small hill, enjoy a nice view of the city of Fes, one of the most preserved medieval Islamic cities in the world. Your expert native guide of Fes will accompany you to the old Medina, through the very narrow streets, to the souks and the tanneries. Explore the Karaouine Mosque, the Medersas, and the Nejjarine.

Visit a local tannery and learn how leatherwork is still done using ancient skills. You’ll also have an opportunity to see the special blue ceramics made in Fes. Enjoy lunch at a traditional restaurant in the Medina.

This afternoon, either take a cooking class, learning to make excellently spiced (but not spicy!) local dishes, or enjoy a pottery workshop. (The option will be determined closer to departure).
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Riad Fes

Day 6

Friday, March 23, 2018 - Fes to Midelte
After two busy days in the Medina of Fes, escape the hustle and bustle of the city for the countryside. Leave Fes for Sefrou and spend the morning with a women’s cooperative that makes djellaba, fabric, scarves, and rugs. Learn how the women make cherry buttons, and perhaps try it yourself! Enjoy lunch with the women and have a chance to learn more about their lives.

Continue your journey to Midelte. Settle into your hotel when you arrive this evening. Midelte is an area known for its apple plantations.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Kasbah Asmaa

Located in Midelte, in eastern Morocco, Hotel Kasbah Asmaa sits in the middle of a garden. Relax on the traditionally furnished terrace by the fountain.

Day 7

Saturday, March 24, 2018 - Midelte to Merzouga
After crossing the plain around Midelte you will reach the range of the High Atlas and cross via Tizi n Talghemt (the pass of the camel). On its Southern slopes the road drops smoothly down to the Ziz gorge and Tafilalet valley, the largest palmeraie of Morocco. Colors, landscape, architecture, and the vegetation changes constantly along this journey. The desert appears in the distance when leaving the town of Erfoud. Finally arrive at the expansive sand dunes of Erg Chebbi.

The camelhandlers and camels will be waiting for you when you arrive for your one-and-a-half hour camel ride into the dunes. Arrive at your luxury tented camp in the dunes of Erg Chebbi.

On arrival to the camp, you will be welcomed with a glass of mint tea while watching the sunset over the dunes. A hearty dinner with drinks will be served outside under the starry sky.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Luxury Tented Camp

Your tented camp in the Erg Chebbi dunes is complete with stunning detail. Your tents include comfortable beds with fine linens, attached bathrooms, and soft furnishings. Your stay in the desert will be unforgettable.

Day 8

Sunday, March 25, 2018 - Merzouga to Skoura
Walk up to one of the highest sand dunes to watch the sun rise over the desert. Explore the Todgha Gorge on foot, a canyon in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains. The gorge is spectacular and you will encounter local people herding camels and goats. After your explorations, join a local family for a Moroccan couscous lunch.

This afternoon, sit down with a local women’s cooperative to learn about their production of local handicrafts.

Once you explore beyond the road you discover that Skoura is very large and that what appeared to be just a line of trees is actually a huge and flourishing oasis, perfect for long walks. This region is also known as “1000 Kasbahs” route where fortified mud Kasbahs dominate the green cultivated fields.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Riad Les Jardins de Skoura
http://www.lesjardinsdeskoura.com/en/

In the heart of the Skoura palm grove, renowned for its many kasbahs, this hotel opens its doors to a universe of minerals and plants where it seems that time has stood still. This unique hotel is surrounded by a magnificent garden featuring a number of different trees and fragrances.

Day 9

Monday, March 26, 2018 - Skoura to Imlil
Explore the Kasbah on foot. Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, a World Heritage Site, is probably the most preserved Kasbah in the south of Morocco, and is a famous film location.

A short drive will take you to Ouarzazate in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. This region is well known in the film industry as it offers varied landscape and imposing lights with a mixture of colors. Visit a local women’s group, which offers education and teaches traditional skills to local people.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Kasbah du Toubkal
http://www.kasbahdutoubkal.com/

The Kasbah is only 35 miles from Marrakech and set on a hilltop above Imlil. The Kasbah is in the Toubkal National Park and set dramatically below the towering flanks of Jbel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa standing at over 13,670 feet. Imlil and its surrounding valleys are a world apart from the bustle of the city and a place of peace and seclusion. The delightful garden and large terraces offer unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains.

Day 10

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - Imlil to Marrakech
This morning, hike from Imlil to discover the traditional architecture of the Berber villages and learn about local terraced agriculture. Spend the afternoon with a local family and learn about the lifestyle of the native Berbers. Learn how to make traditional mint tea and how to cook a typical Tagine for an early dinner.

Drive about an hour to Marrakech and relax at your hotel. Back-dropped by the stunning Atlas Mountains and once a key city of trade on the ancient caravan routes, Marrakech retains its fascinating blend of Arab, African, and European influences. The second largest city after Casablanca, Marrakech was founded in 1062 as the capital of the Almoravid dynasty. The kaleidoscope of colorful architecture and incredible spectacle of Djemma el-Fna have entertained centuries of visitors from far and wide.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Hotel La Sultana
http://www.lasultanahotels.com/eng/marrakech

La Sultana captures the charm and elegance of residences from a bygone era, offering the intimacy of a smaller hotel with unparalleled one-on-one service and experiences. Made-up of five separate riads, it feels maze-like and disguises its sprawling corridors and hidden chambers for the delight of its own guests.

Day 11

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - Marrakech
Marrakech feels like no other city. Rich in history and full of contrasts between the Medina and the new city, Marrakech is an ideal location to end your trip. Sharpen your haggling skills for the local souks.

Your local expert guide will take you through the amazing alleyways of Marrakech. Explore the monuments which will help you understand the rich history of the city. In addition to the gardens and monuments, visit museums such as Dar Tiskwine and ‘Maison de La Photographie’ which explain life in Marrakech during the French protectorate. Finally you will discover vibrant souks displaying a great selection of traditional Moroccan handicrafts. You will be amazed with the skills of the artisans as well as the amount of items piled in a tiny space. The Djemaa el Fna Square gets busier in the evening with musicians, story tellers, acrobats, and many other performers.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Hotel La Sultana

Day 12

Thursday, March 29, 2018 - Marrakech
Marrakech has two main divisions, the old walled city called the Medina, and the modern city. The medina includes narrow and maze-like streets, many dating back to the 9th century. Here you’ll find fountains, palaces, mosques and monuments - but no automobile traffic!

Enjoy today on your own. Optional activities include visiting the Majorelle Gardens, full of unique native plants and exotic flowers. Alternatively, sign up for a half-day cooking class with a Moroccan chef on the outskirts of the city.

You could also enjoy the hotel spa, which has amazing Hammam and massage options. Or just choose to explore Marrakech to do some last-minute shopping.

Have a farewell dinner with your new AdventureWomen friends. Reminisce over all of the memories you have made and celebrate the end of an incredible trip!
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Hotel La Sultana

Day 13

Friday, March 30, 2018 - Marrakech and Depart
Enjoy one last morning in Marrakech before departing for the US. Say goodbye to your new AdventureWomen friends as you transfer to the airport for your flights home.
Breakfast

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Morocco: Sahara Sands, Markets, and a Feast for the Senses

Traveling to Morocco



Traveling to Morocco

Arrive: Arrive in Casablanca, Morocco (CMN) on March 18, 2018.

Depart: Depart Marrakech, Morocco (RAK) on March 30, 2018.

We are happy to help you make your flight and travel arrangements. Please contact us at:

(800) 804-8686 or (617) 544-9393
email: info@adventurewomen.com

If you’d like to do anything prior to or following the AdventureWomen trip, we’d be delighted to help you arrange any trip extensions you’re interested in.

Note: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible booking last-minute registrants, we must release hotel rooms two to three months prior to departure! Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.

Passports and Visas

Citizens of the United States must have a passport valid for six months beyond your travel dates with at least two blank facing pages. If you do not have a passport, please apply now!

Health Considerations

We rate this trip as moderate. You should be able to walk comfortably for two to three hours at a time, and you should be able to kayak and paddle in a raft. We have a partnership with FitForTrips, a company that will design an individualized fitness plan for you to ensure that you are prepared for the trip. Visit https://fitfortrips.com/partners/adventure-women/ for more information.

Make an appointment with a travel clinic. There are no immunization requirements for travel to Morocco, however your local travel clinic may have recommendations for you based on your age, health, and past vaccination history.

For more health information, go to www.cdc.gov/travel
and navigate to the page about Morocco.

Money

US Dollars are accepted in Morocco. Visa and MasterCard are are more widely accepted than American Express. There is generally a surcharge for credit card use of 3-4%. In larger towns credit cards are widely accepted, but in rural areas cash is recommended. ATMs are in larger towns only.

Suggested Gratuities: Gratuity suggestions are based on the group size. We will advise on suggested tips closer to departure, but it will be approximately $10-$15 per person per day.

How To Register

Call the AdventureWomen office at (800) 804-8686 to determine space availability and register for this trip. We can complete your registration, including taking your credit card deposit over the phone. As a courtesy, we can hold your space for five days while you are making personal and travel arrangements.

If you prefer, you can register online by clicking "Sign Up for this Trip" on the trip page.

Please be sure to read the AdventureWomen policies before registering!

Forms and Final Payment

Once you book, you will need to fill out and return to AdventureWomen:

  • Information Form
  • Booking Conditions Form
  • Copy of Flight Information
  • Copy of Issuing Page of Passport (photo page)

Final payment is due to AdventureWomen in a cash form (check, money order, or wire transfer) on or before December 19, 2017.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Morocco: Sahara Sands, Markets, and a Feast for the Senses

Included

  • All hotel accommodations throughout the trip
  • All meals as listed in the itinerary
  • All ground transportation
  • Fully-guided sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary
  • English-speaking guides throughout the trip
  • Bottled water during all drives
  • Gratuities for hotel staff and porters, restaurant staff, staff of the private luxury camp, and camelhandlers
  • One AdventureWomen Associate

Not Included

  • International airfare to and from Morocco
  • Optional activities as listed in the itinerary
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Fees for passports, visas, or immunizations
  • Cost of hospitalization or evacuation
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities for guides and drivers

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Morocco: Sahara Sands, Markets, and a Feast for the Senses

What to Bring

Morocco generally has a tropical climate, with temperatures as high as 95°F, but it can get down to the 40s in the Sahara and in the mountains. The temperature should be moderate during the day and cool in the evenings. There is a possibility of rain, but not constant rainfall.

Morocco is a conservative country. Please be sure to cover your knees and shoulders.

Clothing and Gear:

  • Duffel bag or small suitcase
  • Daypack
  • 2-3 short sleeve shirts (quick dry recommended) -
  • 2-3 long sleeve shirts (quick dry recommended)
  • 1 medium weight fleece sweater/jacket for cool evenings
  • 1-2 pairs of pants
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts (must cover knees)
  • 1-2 sets of nicer clothes for dinner (skirts should be knee-length or longer)
  • 1 bathing suit
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Hat for sun protection
  • 5-7 pairs underwear
  • 5-7 pairs of socks
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sandals

AdventureWomen Essentials:

  • Travel documents (passport, airline tickets, money)
  • 2-3 spare passport photos (in case of lost passport)
  • Write down/print out travel insurance number
  • Locks for your suitcase/duffel bag
  • Travel alarm clock with spare batteries
  • Headlamp or small flashlight with spare batteries
  • Binoculars (8x40/42 models are excellent choices; center focus models are easiest)
  • Digital camera, memory cards, battery charger
  • Power adapters
  • Sunglasses, case, and strap
  • Spare glasses, contact lenses, cleaner, saline, etc.
  • Money belt or neck pouch
  • Your AdventureWomen insulated bottle (good for hot or cold drinks!)
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Hand wipes/hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Soap, shampoo, and conditioner
  • Small packet of tissues
  • Tampons and panty liners (avoid plastic applicators)
  • Earplugs: We recommend Mack’s Pillow Soft White Moldable Silicone Snore Proof Earplugs. Available at most drugstores or at www.earplugstore.com
  • Assortment of stuff sacks and Ziploc bags
  • 1-2 bandanas/Buff
  • Reading material/journal and pens

Personal First Aid Kit:

  • Prescription medicine you usually take (in original containers)
  • Personal epi pen (if you need one, don’t forget to pack it!)
  • Bandages, Gauze, Ace bandage, blister prevention
  • Antiseptic wipes/spray
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Cotton-tipped applicators
  • Oral rehydration tablets/packets
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Mild laxative
  • Antacid
  • Cold remedies
  • Ibuprofen/acetaminophen
  • Eye drops
  • Tweezers, scissors (travel size), safety pins

If you prefer to buy a complete kit, we recommend the Smart Travel first aid kit.


If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.