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Interested in this trip in 2014? Please check out the new 15-day "Morocco Sahara and Beyond"
Arrive at any time. Transfer to hotel is included. In the evening there will be a brief meeting where you will meet your CEO and fellow group members to go over the details of your trip. On arrival, check the notice board (or ask reception) to see the exact time and location of this group meeting. Afterwards, there will be the possibility to go out for a meal as a group in a nearby local restaurant. If you arrive late, no worries, your leader will leave you a message at the front desk.
A great place to start your exploration of Marrakech is Djemaa el Fna square, the heart of Marrakech, that changes its offerings throughout the day. In the morning you’ll wander past the fresh orange juice stalls, water sellers in colourful costumes with traditional leather water bags and brass cups, and snake charmers reminiscent of an era past.
As the day progresses the snake charmers are replaced by Chleuh dancing-boys, story-tellers, magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicines. As the sun sets, the square fills with dozens of food-stalls, packed with locals and the entertaining chefs and waiters. Grab a spot on a bench with the other diners and try the Tanjia (slow cooked lamb), Harira soup, grilled seafood, famous Moroccan couscous, tajine, snails or even sheep’s head for the truly adventurous, and wash it all down with some spiced tea.
To really get a taste of everyday life in Marrakech, head into the maze of tiny streets and alleyways of the ancient medina. Tourists and locals alike will find everything they desire in the souks, whether it’s spices, traditional jalabas and slippers, or famous Moroccan lanterns, the selection here is exhaustive, and don’t forget to bargain, it's definitely part of the fun.
For history and architecture buffs Marrakech is sure to dazzle. The Koutoubia Mosque, Bahia Palace, Saadian Tombs, Ben Youseff Medersa and Almovid Koubba are all easy to get to and well worth a visit. Once you’ve tired yourself out, relax at one of the tea houses around the square, indulging in the ubiquitous sweet mint tea, watching the hustle and bustle from your shady spot.
Explore Marrakech with a local expert guide including the historical sites of Koutoubia Minaret, Palais Bahia, Palais Badi and Medresa Ben Youssef, the medina (old quarter), the alleys of the bustling souks and the famous Djemaa el Fna Square.
Travel to Aït Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Atlas Mountains, and explore this ancient kasbah village.
Aït Benhaddou is a wonderful example of a kasbah, which is a type of fortress. Carefully restored over the years and now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is now considered to be one of the best preserved kasbahs in Morocco. A few families still call the kasbah their home, but the majority of locals have gradually moved to the nearby settlement. During our visit to the Kasbah, lose yourself in the narrow, winding passageways and feel the magical atmosphere of this incredible structure. Opt to take a tagine cooking course in your free time.
Approximate driving time without stops: Marrakech to Ait Ben Haddou = 3hrs
Travel through the Draa Valley to Zagora, where we embark on 4x4s into the desert. Stop at Tamegroute and visit the famous library of ancient Islamic texts and local pottery studios. From here, travel off-road to the great dunes of Erg Cheggaga and our deluxe desert camp. Take a camel ride into the dunes for sunset or climb to the top for views across the vast Sahara. Enjoy a traditional dinner, under the stars, with a roaring camp fire.
Approximate driving time without stops: Ait Ben Haddou to Zagora = 3hrs, Zagora to Deluxe Camp = 3hrs
Enjoy the sunrise before returning across the desert to Zagora. Afternoon talk of the history of the Draa region and visit local historical sites.
Approximate driving time without stops: Deluxe Camp back to Zagora = 3hrs
Continue up the Draa Valley then cross towards the Anti-Atlas to the carpet town of Tazenakht and Taliouine, where saffron is harvested. In Taroudant, visit the leather tanneries and local markets.
Approximate driving time without stops: Zagora to Taroudant = 4.5hrs
Travel into the Anti-Atlas region to Tafraoute where the landscape changes and we view natural rock formations. In the afternoon, visit the town centre and its local markets. On Day 8, continue exploring the region, including Aït Mansour Gorge, the Painted Rocks and the Chapeau du Napoleon. We walk through a palm valley and have lunch in a local village house, then visit a local women's cooperative where beautiful handicrafts are created and argan oil is produced.
Approximate driving time without stops: Taroudant - Tafraoute = 3.5hrs
Travel north and to the Atlantic Coast to the walled port town of Essaouira. Head down to the port to see the fishing fleet unload their catch and discover the local artisans, including the wood workers. Option to take a camel ride on the beach, go sailing or visit a hammam (traditional spa and steam baths).
Enjoy this coastal city and don't miss the colourful and lively spectacle of the return of the boats to the port, with their baskets full of fish. Afterwards, head up to the ramparts on the old city wall for a great view over the city and out to sea. Browse the shops and art galleries or take a stroll along the long, sandy beach. This is the perfect place to unwind and relax with a cold beer or shisha pipe (waterpipe). The active might choose to take a surfing or windsurfing lesson, hire a fishing rod or just take a long walk on the beach.
In the evening, head to one of the local barbeque fish cafes where you can pick out the catch of the day and have it cooked to perfection for the perfect sea food dinner. Essaouira is also famous for its music scene and a great chance to check out a live performance.
Approximate driving time without stops: Tafraoute to Essaouira = 6hrs
Return to Marrakech and visit Menara Gardens and the Jardin Majorelle. Enjoy our farewell dinner at a palace-style restaurant with local folklore entertainment.
Approximate driving time without stops: Essaouira to Marrakech = 3hrs
Depart at any time.