Dust and dusk
Morocco offers more than just a taste of the unknown: this place will be wholly different from anything you and your family have experienced. And yet, paradoxically, even in this unfamiliarity you will find yourself surprisingly at ease. The itinerary I have planned for you strikes a balance between exploring the unknown—dusty deserts, grand holy sites, and overflowing markets—and finding comfort and relaxation. Your family will leave with broadened horizons, and memories of the gentle kiss of dust on their skin.
Day 1: Arrival
When you arrive in Casablanca you will be met by Brahim, your guide, and taken immediately to Fez, the ancient capital of Morocco. En route you may wish to see the ruins of the Roman settlement at Volubilis, which have been well preserved for thousands of years and provide a great wealth of epigraphic evidence. Lunch will also be available before your arrival in Fez, and you will stay overnight at La Naison Bleue after an afternoon of exploring.
Day 2: Medieval Fez
This day belongs to Fez, a city considered by scholars to be the last true example of a typical Medieval Arab town. In the company of Brahim and your city guide, you will walk through the labyrinthine streets of 9th century, exploring shrines, rich markets, leather tanneries, koranic schools and the world’s oldest functioning university.
I have reserved a spot for lunch at Che Zksar Tijani, which is located next to the mausoleum of the Muslim holy man, Si Tijani. In the afternoon, you may wish to visit a factory where pottery and zellige mosaic tiles are made. Tonight, dine at a colorful Moroccan restaurant in the Palais Jamai.
Day 3: New Fez and beyond
This morning, Brahim will take you to the 14th century ‘New’ Fez to visit the Jewish quarter next to the Royal Palace. Then, visit the Bou Inania Koranic school, the famed Blue Gate and the Dar Batha palace of the 18th-century sultan Moulay Hassan—now a museum of northern crafts.
You will lunch locally and, in the afternoon, you may wish to visit the Jewish village of Sefrou. There, you will find a fascinating medina, designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2013. Also located nearby is the Berber village of Bhalil, where you can catch a glimpse at how everyday life unfolds for traditional Berbers. You will dine tonight at Zagora in the new part of Fez.
Day 4: On to Marrakech
Depart early today, and commence a journey along the foothills of the Atlas range to Marrakech, the former Imperial capital of western Morocco and a bustling ancient city teeming with life. On the way, you will visit the mountain resort of Ifrane, which is often claimed as ‘the Switzerland of Morocco.’ You will also see the site of an international university, and the Berber enclaves of Azrou and Khenifra. You will pass through cedar forests and pristine farmland. You will be hungry after all that traveling, so I have reserved a spot for lunch at Beni Mellal in the Restaurant de Paris. By early evening, arrive at Riad Farnatchi, in Marrakech’s medina. Manager Lynn Perez will greet you with her renowned graciousness. Massages have been scheduled for this evening after a light dinner on the riad’s roof terrace.
You will pass through cedar forests and pristine farmland. You will be hungry after all that traveling, so I have reserved a spot for lunch at Beni Mellal in the Restaurant de Paris. By early evening, arrive at Riad Farnatchi, in Marrakech’s medina. Manager Lynn Perez will greet you with her renowned graciousness. Massages have been scheduled for this evening after a light dinner on the riad’s roof terrace.
Day 5 & 6: Exploring Marrakech
You will be met early these two mornings for full days out in the medina, new city and the souks of Marrakech. The city is one of the most exotic and enchanting this close to Europe, and its thousand-year history is full of turbulence and sultry tales. The main square of Jemaa el Fna is maze-like and expansive, bedazzling the senses in every way.
There are plentiful sites to visit and much shopping to accomplish—and, of course, wonderful evenings to be spent strolling in the Place Jemaa el Fna and dining in any one of Marrakech’s authentic and ambient restaurants. If you want to do some specialized shopping we will send you out to the Industrial Area, where quirky and niche items are to be found. If you wish to ride horseback, Brahim can help you arrange a glorious day in the foothills of the Atlas with Fred, a friend and expert horseman.
Day 7: Desert journey to Skoura
You will depart this morning with Brahim in your 4×4. Drive over the Tizi n Tichka pass of the High Atlas Mountains into the south of Morocco towards the desert. This is a gorgeous drive. Red laterite mountain crests merge with mauve slopes in the distance; snowcapped peaks vanish and reappear through swirling clouds. Rugged mountain landscapes metamorphose into moonscapes as you reach the southern shoulder of the Atlas range. Peering down, you will spy emerald valleys of dates and wheat running in the earth’s crevices. Crenellated adobe Kasbahs stand watch over desert landscapes. You will arrive in Skoura in the late afternoon and settle into Dar Ahlam, your home for the next three nights.
Day 8 & 9: Sojourn in Skoura
Per your preferences, these days will be largely unstructured, allowing you to get to know this desert according to the beat of your own hearts. The lovely staff of Dar Ahlam will organize your days according to your desire: ride camels in the desert, take long walks, spend some time in the hamam and have a therapeutic massage. You may also wish to lunch and dine in private spots dotted around the property.
Day 10: A desert expedition
Today, you will be taken to Dar Ahlam’s tented encampment, located even deeper in desert. The all-immersive desert experience is a difficult one to present and Dar Ahlam does a superb job in allowing their guests to feel the magic of this vast, silent environment. You will feel like part of the family as they educate you on the stories that have blown over these desert landscapes during thousands of years. Enjoy an unforgettable night in the embrace of the great sand dunes of the Sahara.
Days 11-12: Taroudant
Today, return to Dar Ahlam and spend your last night in this lovely spot. On the way back, though, you will take your time, enjoying the journey through the desert which you have come to understand and appreciate. The following morning you will depart early for Taroudant, where you will stay at the Gazelle d’Or. In its former life, this inn was the hunting retreat of the French Governor. Set in the most wonderful gardens of orange trees and roses, you will be enchanted by the charming villas, lovely swimming pool and the delicious food.
Days 13-14: Gazelle d’Or
You will have two days at Gazelle d’Or. Enjoy the gardens, play tennis, horseback ride and, in the late afternoons, venture into the walled town of Taroudant, which is very accessible and easy to navigate. Enclosed by these ramparts, it feels like the most quintessential Moroccan market town. The local Berbers use it as a place of business, trading the produce of the rich and fertile Oued Souss plain. The souks and the squares have a healthy dosage of Maghrebi mystique, and both may seem less overwhelming than those of Marrakech and Fez. You can also use this as an opportunity to catch up on any souvenir shopping.
Day 15: Agadir
This morning, you will bid farewell to Taroudant and depart for Agadir and your international flight back home.
Edward, it has been my pleasure to plan this Moroccan itinerary for you and your family. Please feel free to contact me at any time, should the need arise.