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5 things to not miss on a luxury tour of Morocco

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You are planning on taking on a private luxury tour of Morocco and you are wondering what is that you can not miss. It is no less than a daunting task, considering the explosion of luxury hotels, restaurants and brands in Morocco in the last few years.

Perhaps not as over the top as Dubai or Shangai, Marrakech has become synonym with opulence and hedonism and one of the favorite getaways of the rich and famous. If you haven’t yet heard of the riads and palaces of Marrakech, the odds are you have lived under a rock for the last 10 years. But it turns out that the boom of the red city spurred these last few years a country- wide breed of places and activities that cater for the well- heeled that wanted their options not limited to only the red city. We have compiled a list of what we think are the best ones. This is also about diversity for there is hardly a country more spectacular and spectacularly diverse. Naturally, we could have included a stay at La Mamounia, but La Grande Dame was also there 40 years ago. These are our 2014 favorite things to do on a bespoke tour of Morocco:

1. BE A GUEST AT DAR AHLAM

Ranked a few years back by Harper’s Bazaar as the first among the 15 most fabulous villas in the dar ahlam main kasbah and pool world, Dar Ahlam is above all a home which embodies its atmosphere and follows your rhythm. More than a guest house, the accent here is put on the experience, not the size of your suite. On the what but even more so on the how. Naturally, the standard is there: noble materials have been employed dar ahlam luxury en suite tent throughout the house, the perfumes and bathroom products have been created by none other than Olivia Giacobetti and the two resident French chefs work wonders in reinventing the Moroccan cuisine. But if you are looking for huge suites with a tennis field- size bathrooms and express check outs, you’ve come to the wrong place. Here, you will find no TV’s, no telephone and no card keys either…

Each day, unique experiences are tailored to each guest with the unique purpose of dar ahlam wild luxury camping surprising and enchanting. How would you like to find your room differently arranged at night then when you left it in the morning ? To never know where the next lunch or dinner will be served? Or consist of ? To loose track of time ?... The location of your next meal is always a surprise: it may be inside a private lounge in the Kasbah, one of the secret gardens of the guest house, in a nearby gorge for a magic dinner or a picnic set within the Valley of Roses…

Included in your room rate, an English speaking driver- guide and a private modern 4x4 are at your dar ahlam lunch secret garden disposal to take you on an excursion around the area, depending on your mood and wish, at the time of your choice. Luxury means also not having to make any plans. Here, you are forgiven for doing things on a whim… If you want to step outside this garden of Eden, you may choose to visit the salt mines and witness the almonds blossom in spring. Or catch the sunset on Ksar Ali, the ruined Kasbah majestically overlooking the palm grove. Trek in Dades gorge and find out the meaning of ‘monkey fingers’. Visit a 14th century Kasbah, meet the local potters and ironmongers or act like a local and bargain the price in a Berber souk.

Each experience is organized around a theme where each detail is thought accordingly. The menus change. And so do the linen, the cutlery, the candles, the colors, the site… ‘ You know, everything can become reality here’ are the first words one hears when checking in (one day one of the guests took this so seriously that for her immersion into the ancient Egypt, she asked that her bathroom should be regularly filled with camel milk… No, that wasn’t accommodated for.)

Days go by here as anywhere else, but they never look alike. And for dar ahlam lunch in the gardens the first time in many many years, you give up fighting time and rather surrender to its passage. More often than not, the guests feel like having a ‘vacation from a vacation’ after staying at Dar Ahlam. For the spell to really settle in, you need to spend at least 2 nights here, in a place where the charm cannot really be put into words… Dar Ahlam is currently being offered on our Divine option of accommodation with all of our private tailor made Morocco tours

2. SEE (AND HEAR) FES WORLD SACRED MUSIC FESTIVAL

fes music festival concert inside a riad Throughout the years, Fes World Sacred Music festival has progressively yet discreetly built a reputation that sets it apart from other similar festivals. If the word ‘sacred’ is making you think of liturgy music or a church choir, think again. This is a festival where flamenco shares stage with gospel, tango and fado succeed themselves to traditional sitar music or the griot music of Mauritania. The organizers have somehow always succeeded in finding diamonds in the dirt, low- key yet extremely talented bands and artists and have them share the stage with some of the most prolific world music actors of recent decades. Past artists include: Bjork, Patti Smith, Paco de Lucia, Ravi Shankar, Joan Baez or Youssouf N’Dour ( who will be performing again this year).

But what makes the festival really exceptional and somehow brings out fes music festival old city panorama the best in the music is the décor itself. There can’t possibly be any other better scene for this type of music than the century- old palaces and gardens of one of Arab world’s jewel cities – Fez. I remember one particular late summer night last year walking down a derb sidelined by candles throughout the maze of Medina’s streets and entering Dar Adyel, a three century old palace, all zellij, marble and cedar columns. Berber carpets were spread out in the patio and chairs were sidelining the walls. By the time the band settled into their fes music festival band inside riad traditional music from northern India, a hand’s reach from the audience, only a few dim lights around and the starred sky above , it’s fair to say everyone present went into a silent trance. Or the Sufi nights in the parks of the city way past midnight where the locals could enjoy one of the very rare occasions of listening to traditional Moroccan music in public. Or Aicha Redouane bringing back to life some of the golden age Arab poets with her incredible singing in the gardens of Batha palace in front of a mesmerized audience.

This year, the festival’s theme is ‘Conference of the Birds’ in allusion to a the 4500 lines epic written by a Persian poet in which the birds of the world gather to decide fes music festival paco de lucia who is to be their king, as they have none. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simorgh, a mythical Persian bird roughly equivalent to the western phoenix. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represent a human fault which prevents man from attaining enlightenment. When the group of thirty birds finally reach the dwelling place of the Simorgh, all they find is a lake in which they see their own reflection. It is the Sufi doctrine that God is not external or separate from the universe, but rather is the totality of existence.

As the poem, this edition is a spiritual and artistic journey through the cultures and traditions of the world , which are gradually revealed in their depth, through a concert , an exhibition, a film or a conference. All continents are represented by the greatest artists , proven masters in the practice of fes music festival sufi nights their art or their song : Roberto Alagna, one of the greatest tenors of modern times that will present a worldwide premiere for the festival, Tomatito , a living legend of flamenco guitar ( Paco de Lucia, that performed last year, sadly passed away last February), Yossou n’Dour and Johnny Clegg presenting a joint project paying homage to Nelson Mandela, and Rokia Traoré representing the deep Africa; Kadem Saher , the prestigious Arabic singer from the Middle East or Zakir Hussain , the most famous Indian musician in the art of tabla. From Latin America we will have Luzmilla Carpio (Bolivia) and from North America Buddy Guy, the great Chicago blues legend who visits Morocco for the first time, surrounded by the greatest representatives of this legendary African- American music.

Artists from China, Palestine, Ireland, Hungary, Mauritania and many other countries and cultures will also perform in the afternoon at Batha Museum , the evenings at Bab Al Makina or within Dar Nights Medina , not to mention the much sought- after Sufi nights at Dar Tazi, out in the gardens under the moon and the stars. Fez, the conservatory and rather frozen- in- time city, truly comes to life during the festival, hosting a variety of exhibitions and educational activities, which take place simultaneously in the city and its gardens. Also, recently, a new project was born, the ‘living itineraries’ that allow the discovery of a millennia old Medina to the rhythm of Sufi music and lost-in-time tales.

3. EXPERIENCE ‘LE SPA’ AT SELMAN MARRAKECH

Recent years have seen quite a few openings of opulent hotels in and around Marrakech, selman palace spa indoor pool each trying to out- shadow the other by its décor, restaurant menu, concept and almost always, a spa. We think of Palais Namaskar and its Feng- Shui- inspired spa, Jardins de La Koutoubia and its Clarins Spa, the spa at La Mamounia- always a reference, or Dior spa at Es Saadi gardens hotel. But perhaps the one that really stands out is Le Spa at Palais Selman, a 61 room lavish hotel, 10 minutes drive outside Marrakech. Selected by Conde Nast Traveler as one of ‘THE BEST NEW SPAS IN THE WORLD IN 2013’, Le Spa is a standalone space from Henri Chenot, more famously known for his medical spa in the Italian Alps which focuses on rejuvenation rather than relaxation.

selman palace spa hammam Based on the Henri Chenot method, founded at the Palace Merano over 40 years ago whose focus is the combination of principles of Chinese medicine with the latest scientific advances, Le Spa @ Selman has now created its own bespoke offering. The mission: to rebalance the body by helping it. Each day, the body lives a new cycle of 24 hours; this cycle is divided into three specific phases while observing the natural biorhythms: The Elimination, The Assimilation and finally the Regeneration. By recognizing this natural division, one will be able to make the right choices for his/ her body in terms of nutrition, physical activities, relaxation, etc.

In the case where the three cycles are somehow selman palace spa hydrojet room 2 identical within minutes of each other, further Chenot methods are to be considered. Another pillar of the Chenot Method is based on traditional Chinese medicine, determining the energy field that each individual possesses. Henri Chenot has defined five elements among which we find the profiles that allow a relevant diagnosis and customized prescriptions. Finally, the energy circulation is the third pillar of the Chenot method. The identification of individuals problems enables working on specific energy points and potential restrictions- meridians. The method enables developing treatments that will allow sustainable actions regarding specific problems the body will encounter (fatigue, health problems, stress, skin problems, etc…)

Built away from the grand pool, sheltered by the main building, the spa is a tribute to oriental well-being. Arranged around a central square pool, its seven treatment rooms are hidden behind latticework screens. The vaulted ceiling seems to sparkle like a starry sky, perforated to let light gently filter down from above while the main room and arcade are plunged in semi-darkness, promoting utter relaxation. Light and dark, shadow play, shimmering mosaic tiles, traditional plasterwork... unquestionably inspired by the Orient, equipped with two heated outdoor pools and completely secluded from the rest of the hotel, evoking the ancient hammam of Istanbul. Steam room, sauna, water jets, hydrotherapy... all contribute to a matchless state of being.

In order to put these principles into practise, Le Spa is equipped with selman palace hydrojet room 7 treatment rooms, 4 hydrotherapy rooms, a jet-massage pool and an expansive Hammam area. There are an additional 2 outdoor heated pools, a Jacuzzi and an indoor relaxation pool and fitness suite. In addition, there is a private spa suite complete with its own Hammam, Massage and Hydrotherapy areas. For guests to be able to have a complete experience of Selman, Dominique Chenot has integrated their signature ‘Bio-light’ cuisine within all three restaurants: ‘The Biolight proposition serves to demonstrate that our 'diet' is well-harmonized with good food that is beautifully presented. The Chef at Selman Marrakech, Ludovic Gomiero, learned the philosophy of our cuisine with me. It is a diet which above all considers the selection of produce and methods of cooking. It teaches us that to follow a healthy diet is also a pleasure. The cuisine presented is part of our true identity and our research.’ Independent from the rest of the hotel lie the stables with 16 boxes housing a collection of pure bred Arabian award- winning horses, 6 outdoor paddocks and a spring garden of 4000 sqm where signature horse shows are organized .

selman palace library The spa together with the hotel and the stables were all designed by Jacques Garcia, the French architect responsible for the restoration of La Mamounia in Marrakech or Le Fouquet in Paris. To quote Conde Nast Traveler: ‘Every square inch is set for seduction, from the smoky-gray corridors lined with red silk- shaded lamps, to the formal dining room, with its violet-velvet banquettes and fireplace nooks’. To give you an idea of the work that has gone into place here, every brick of the façade and every piece of mosaic was laid in by hand. And there are a few. Mr Garcia said in an interview when asked about what inspired him when building the spa: ‘’The spa is of course inspired by the Orient. It reminds me of the hammams of ancient Istanbul. For me personally, the ultimate one is at the harem of Topkapi. The optical illusions of light and shade cast by the mashrabiya screens…. It’s quite fleeting and mysterious. It is a place of pure comfort and refinement. With its two private pools, the spa is an oasis within an oasis.’’

4. SPEND A NIGHT IN AN EN- SUITE TENT IN THE SAHARA

azalai camp a tea in the desert Most people booking a private Morocco tour want to spend a night in the dunes of the Sahara. And for good reason. Even those coming from countries like Australia, US or South America where the desert is also present. Why ? There is something about the Sahara that startles the imagination of even the most conformist person. Is it the tales of 1001 nights ? The Hollywood blockbusters and their portraying of the desert knights, a mix of ruthless and mysterious, cherishing their freedom as their greatest good ? The tales of die- hard romantics like Lawrence of Arabia or Isabelle Eberhardt ? The stories of the caravans slowly crossing the dunes carrying gold, slaves, ivory or the most unheard- of spices or precious stones? Hard to answer. One thing is certain: a night in the desert always exceeds the expectations and is something remembered for the years to follow.

For those that don’t want to rough it, living the desert experience doesn’t azalai camp camel ride necessarily mean spending the night under a wool tent hardly larger than your mattress or sharing toilets with the rest of the camp tenants. The last few years have seen quite a few openings of ‘luxury’ camps. Bouchaib and Khouloud, the young couple owners of Azalai Desert Camp in Erg Chigaga have taken things a step further. Instead of the typical Berber wool tent and bulky Syrian armchairs, they have designed something different, using linen instead of wool ( so the tent doesn’t keep the heat) and white and beige as the main colors throughout, a style that has been termed ‘ Gentleman Voyageur’. This is not a coincidence since the owners’ favorite movie is ‘Out of Africa’ whose poster hangs on the walls of the lounge of their Azalai Desert Lodge hotel in Zagora. Back at the camp, pouffes are laid out at night with cushions to admire the Milky Way and watch stars up close with the on- location Sky Watcher telescope.

azalai camp luxury tents There are only 4 luxurious canopy roof tents that accommodate exclusively the lovers of the great sand dunes and travelers wishing to experience the overwhelming otherness of the Sahara. Each 20 square meters, they have everything you can dream of : mosquito nets, a Simmons- mattress 180 cm wide bed and a real bathroom not only functional but full of charm. Placed on a walkway behind a veil of linen insulation of the room, as out of the novels of last century, the bathroom unveils the oddity of a beautiful sink from Fez, embedded in a marble top
capping a stylish wooden furniture. White canvas tents are all lined with linen, soft and bright. The exquisite Moroccan dinners are prepared back at the hotel in Zagora and served hot in an open air ‘dining room’ set in front of every tent.

A fifth VIP tent ( 35 square meters), with its own dedicated private butler is azalai camp outside lounge there for those looking to linger for a few nights in the dunes in complete privacy and has plenty of extras to make sure you have things to do when dune watching is over: an area to sample refined cuisine and a lounge- library to surrender to the pleasure of a board game or a travel novel. In a style suitable to the peculiar spirit of the destination , picnic chic , camel rides and even hypothetical rounds of golf on a green mini set a few sand dunes away, punctuate the passage of time .

If you are planning to spend a few days, you should know that the area is filled with interesting sites to see. After all, we are on the banks of the mythical Draa valley, a valley so often followed by the caravans coming from or heading over the dunes into Sudan, the word used to designate the black kingdom south of the Sahara. The lodge invites you to azalai camp vip tent discover the palm grove of Zagora either on foot or on a mountain bike, to roam around adobe villages in the shade of the palms in the middle of the palm or hide and seek around Ksar Tissergat and its wells of light, a village built almost entirely underground. The nearby Kasbah of Amezrou reminds the rich Jewish presence in the area, controlling the silver manufacturing and trading. Only 12 families were left when they decided to flee Amezrou for Israel back in 1956. The small synagogue can still be visited, illuminated by a skylight during the day. At the bottom of it was placed the Torah in a niche, and small holes are drilled into the walls where the kippas were once deposited. Tamegrout , the potters village, is where the locals make and export throughout the country their famous and unmistakably green pottery. It is also the siege of one of the most prestigious zaouïas ( Islamic school ) in North Africa, containing nine century old manuscripts, valuable scientific treatises , religious books dating from the Andalusian golden age and flourished Korans .

But perhaps the most interesting is to travel back in time, hop on a camel and have an intimate tête- a – tête picnic on the banks of Sacred Oasis, with white tablecloth and silverware. Now just lay back on the sand, close your eyes for a second and imagine the caravan traders reaching the source of water after weeks of navigating the relentless sea of dunes. For those short on time that can’t do without the bliss of spending a night in the Sahara, good news is on the way. Soon, a small plane flight (only the pilot, 2 passengers and their luggage) will carry the few lucky ones from Marrakech over the snowcapped peaks of the Atlas Mountains into the desert for a stay at Azalai Luxury Camp. To be continued…

5. FLY IN A HOT AIR BALLOON OVER MARRAKECH

hot air balloon flight Waking up on your holidays at 5 AM has to be for a good reason. Especially when you have to convince your other half to follow your example. Or the children if it is a family holiday. Seeing the ‘red city’ , the Berber dwars and the millennia old palm grove. From above. 400 meters high. Is that a good reason ? We think it is. If you are worried about catching up on your sleep, know that the whole affair will be wrapped up by 11 AM and you can have a snooze by the pool back at your Riad in Marrakech , after an early lunch. If this is not a romantic way to surprise your loved one(s), well, we don’t know what is. Especially considering the choice to take a normal flight or have the more high- end option of having the balloon all for yourselves with nothing more than the pilot and the butler filling your glasses with champagne while you take in the panorama.

Making it to the meeting point just after dusk, you get picked up by a hot air balloon flight berber village view spotless 4x4 and driven to the palm grove where the team starts filling the balloon. Once the gas bottles and burners are set up inside the basket, they check to see if there is no gas escape, place the basket on the side and attach the actual parachute. Then the inflation begins. The powerful fan draws cold air inside the envelope. The pilot turns on the burners which heat up the air inside. Meanwhile the assistants help keeping the hot air balloon down. The last tests are being performed: the panel opening parachute, on board panels, radio tests , then passengers can come on board : the preparations are finished. The pilot continues to heat up the balloon – it must reach a temperature close to 100 ° C at the top of the envelope.

hot air balloon flight take off Finally, the order is given by the pilot: " RELEASE ALL ! " All aids release the cords at the same time. Everyone is holding their breath. The moment is magical as the journey begins. For those who remained on the ground, the show is fabulous. For those on board, it is both fascinating beauty and adrenaline. This delightful sensation of floating in the Moroccan sky, suspended inside a balloon quickly replaces the initial surprise of the vertical takeoff.

During the trip, many questions are asked while everyone raves about the beauty of Morocco below and the pleasant feeling of having left all their problems on the ground. Seen from here, everything becomes more beautiful and the everyday worries seem all but important. The red adobe villages below contrast with the lush green of the palm groves and other olive farms, while in the distance the Atlas Mountains show off their majestic peaks covered in snow. Soon enough hot air balloon VIP flight it is time to think about the landing. The pilot chooses a flat area and starts the approach after having explained to the passengers what to do upon making contact with the ground. With a bit of luck, there is no wind and we have what we call a ‘kiss landing’. If the wind picks up, we may get dragged along a few meters. What better after the flight, then to enjoy a mint tea and talk about the sensations we just experienced? The 4x4 tour takes us to one of the small Berber villages we just flew over and discover the enticing Moroccan hospitality by having a mint tea with Moroccan pastries or freshly- baked bread dipped in olive oil.

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Desert and Roses ( 4 - 5 days)

erg chigaga desert tent

This classic Morocco desert tour from Marrakech visits the dunes of Erg Chebbi and is best done over 4 or 5 days. 

The extravagant ruined palace at Telouet -- postcard like UNESCO world site Ait Benhaddou –  Dades Gorge and Rose Valley – the 300 meters high Todra Gorges -- ruined Kasbahs and lush palm groves – camel trek into the dunes of Erg Chebbi – sleep in the Sahra – prehistoric rock carvings at Tazzarine -- century old traditions and crafts - bread cooking in a village stove - Berber granaries and nomad grottos - all part of this 4x4 Morocco tour. 

Click here to see detailed map

DAY 1 Marrakech - Telouet - Ait Benhaddou - Skoura/ Dades Gorge ( 5/6 hour drive)

As our private  tour of Morocco leaves Marrakech, the distant haze begins to resolve itself into a jagged mountain range - the High Atlas mountains, jutting abruptly from the plain. Our route follows the same one caravans used centuries ago, to bring into Marrakech slaves, gold and precious wood from the other side of the ocean of sand, the Sahara.

Beautiful scenery and small villages built in tiers succeed among oak trees, walnut groves and snow patches before arriving at the Tizi n Tichka pass, at 2260 meters high. Once over the pass a totally different picture is unveiled: the lunar landscape of the Anti Atlas. Scent of thyme from the bushes around fills the air. Just after the pass, the tour leaves the tarmac and goes off- road to then reach Telouet and former pasha's palace dominating the village, a fortified citadel that is both a microcosm of an empire and its demise. Pacha Glaoui had managed to overshadow the sultan by controlling most of nowadays Morocco and decided to erect a palace in the middle of nowhere, where his family had originated from. He had employed the most skilled artisans to build and decorate his main residence and, in its golden age, armies, stables and Christian slaves were confined within its walls while a flourishing Jewish community was managing the nearby salt mines. Of the three palaces, only one survives and throughout its large rooms, one can admire the excellence of the Moroccan craftsmanship from more than a century ago.

Leaving Telouet behind, flat top bluffs and rocky buttes that wouldn't be out of place in a John Ford Western loom above the route. The gardens by the river bed melt into a gigantic green serpent imprisoned between the barren light brown walls of the canyon, only to escape out into the horizon. Here and there, decaying Kasbahs stand witnesses of an age soon resolute. To fully immerse, have lunch at Kasbah Ellouze. The ingredients come from their own gardens, the meals are unpretentious yet inspired. There's a French twist to it, the guest house owner being a former chef.

Late afternoon. Then it's the time to visit UNESCO site of Ait Benhaddou, the postcard- like adobe citadel. A fat, red sun, only underlines the beige tones of the mud- and- straw mixture and through the covered passages and stone walls, the past filters itself into the present. In spite of the local ‘guides’, the best is to just lose yourselves in its alleyways. There is always a new way to reach its peak, from where the snowcapped Atlas Mountains framed by the denim blue sky will steal your breath away. If the climb up hadn’t already... Past Ouarzazate, our bespoke tour of Morcco reaches yet another lush area, nested between the deserted crest and the desolate plateaus: Skoura palmgrove. 

Then, our trip reaches Kelaa des Mgouna, famous for the nearby Valley of Roses and 'Rose Festival', where at the end of a 3 day celebration usually held in May, a local girl is crowned 'Rose Queen'. The most looked after product is eau- de- rose and two factories in the area distil and export the product. The process uses approximately three thousand kilograms of rose petals to extract a liter of rose oil.

Further on, Boulmane de Dades follows, the starting point to explore the spectacular Dades Gorge, a lush carpet set against the massive rocks and quite popular among those interested in trekking in Morocco. Your stop for tonight's dinner and accommodation is a charming Kasbah lodge in the area.

DAY 2 Skoura/ Dades - Tinerir - Todra Gorge - Rissani - Merzouga - Erg Chebbi ( 5/ 4 hour drive)

Today, we can pursue our custom Morocco tour right after breakfast or first have a few hours trek in the nearby Dades Gorge - the local guides are experts in the local fauna and flora and easily adapt to your level of fitness. Back on our desert trip, our first stop is Tinerhir (Tinghir), with its extensive palm grove, the Ksours built into the rocky hills above it and its mysterious decaying Jewish quarter. No more than a mountain Berber village, set at 1300 meters altitude, it has been for generations a stop for nomadic Berber tribes travelling from the mountains north of it towards the desert during the winter months. A rather inconspicuos hidden gem is the 19th century adobe mosque nested within the old crumbling ksour, a heaven for photography enthusiasts. 

The most spectacular ( and touristy) gorges  of Morocco, Todra Gorges , lie only 15 km from Tinerhir, presenting an arresting spectacle with its crystal clear river emerging from it, its huge walls changing color to magical effect as the day unfolds. Its 300 meters ( 1000 feet ) high walls are home to more than 150 bolted routes and at any time of day you can catch a glimpse of someone rock climbing his way up the gigantic walls.

Before reaching Merzouga where the tarmac ends, our 4x4 Morocco tour passes Erfoud and Rissani. In Erfoud we can stop for a visit at Musee des Oasis. Rissani used to serve as last stop on the great caravan routes south and gold and slave auctions were taking place here as late as 1800’s. Before it, the caravan trade and the most important city in Morocco was Sijilmassa, the ruins of which lie opposite Rissani. From its gates, Ibn Battuta and Leo Africanus left Morocco to embark on their illustrious journeys across the Sahara into African countries, at a time when Sijilmassa was the trading hub between Europe and Africa and Arab pure bred horses from Morocco a much coveted commodity at the court of Timbuktu:

[Here ( in Timbuktu) are many shops of artificers and merchants, and especially of such as weave linnen and cotton cloth. And hither do the Barbarie merchants bring cloth of Europe... Here are verie few horses bred, and the merchants and courtiers keepe certainn little nags which they use to travel upon: but their best horses are brought out of Barbarie. And the king so soon as he heareth that any merchants are come to town with horses, he commandeth a certain number to be brought before him, and chusing the best horse for himselfe he payeth a most liberal price for him.] ( Leo Africanus - History and description of Africa)

Soon after we reach Merzouga and in the distance you glimpse the first leviathans of sand forming the Sahara: the dunes of Erg Chebbi. We'll stop for a break at a local kasbah where you can leave some luggage and/ or have a shower before being hopped onto a camel and taking the route to the camp nested in the middle of the dunes. Then, while the staff of the camp is unloading your luggage and preparing your dinner, you climb onto the highest dune you can find. Take a moment and watch the sun descend with what seems like unnatural haste behind dunes heavily shaded, shadow turning them from golden to burnt orange. There is nowhere else you would rather be. After dinner, the camp staff turn out to be quite gifted musicians . At night, dazed by the millions of stars glittering above, the silence is so thick you feel you could cut a strip and wear it as a scarf, as you fall asleep.

DAY 3: Erg Chebbi - Erfoud - Alnif - Nkob - Agdz ( 4 hour drive)

Should you have missed the sunrise… well, try not to. Stories of Scheherezade, Ali Baba and his 40 thieves and Hollywood have created a mythical Arabian landscape that reality often struggles to match. Except here and now, reality exceeds imagination. With the handful of sand you pour inside your pocket, comes the wish to carry this moment with you forever.

The road to Tazzarine sees almost no traffic, providing a scenic link between Tafilalet and Draa Valley. Aside from the landscape, fossils and prehistoric rock carvings are this region’s main attraction. The scenery grows wilder as you approach Tazzarine, set in a grassy oasis surrounded by bare mountains. On the way to Nkob, with its prominent old Kasbah and dense palm grove, we will awe at Djebel Saghro, a starkly beautiful jungle of volcanic peaks, quite unlike the mountains we have already encountered so far. One can only wonder whether the stark conditions of life around these parts have helped shaping the character of its inhabitants. This is where in the winter of 1933, a 2000 Ait Atta Berber army resisted a 83000 man and 44 planes strong French army as the French were looking to complete their colonization of Morocco. 

General Guillaume, one of the French army heads wrote: ''Our opponent reveals the best warrior of North Africa. He is brave to temerity. He accepts deliberately to sacrifice his possessions, his family, let alone his life, to defend his freedom... This instinctive horror proven against all coercion and domination justifies the  desperate resistance opposed to any foreign penetration. Everyone defends his territory until the end, with a fury that can surprise, but which commands admiration.''

After the desolate landscapes of the last few hours, our boutique Morocco tour reaches the lush Draa Valley, with its numerous oases, Biblical villages and kasbahs, used as overnight stops by the caravans until not too long ago is the beginning of the 'caravan highway' connecting for centuries Timbuktu, Gao and the kingdoms of Ghana and Mali to Barbary ( present day Morocco).

DAY 4 Agdz - Ouarzazate - Fint Oasis - Marrakech ( 5 hour drive).

After breakfast, do not miss a walk in the palm grove, an amazing world of its own: date palms at the edge, terraces of olive, pomegranate, almond and fruit trees further in, with grain and vegetable crops planted in between. Here, the river is diverted and separated by man- made streams to irrigate each and every garden as everyone gets his '8 hour slot' of water. You can witness the ingenious distribution of water through kettaras and seguias and the local craftsmen shape their colorful potteries. Succulent trees ripple in a breeze that wafts down the valley as the village is softly hushed, the only sound the bleating of far- off goats. 

Back on the road, our 4 day Morocco tour leaves the palmgrove behind as the road climbs, twists and turns its way up into the mountains, before breaking through the scarp at the pass of Tizi n'Tinififft. Stopping at the pass and looking back, you catch a glimpse of the Draa valley and the oases, a green river of palms snaking up into the haze bordered by the Kasbahs, adobe guardians rising as if from the earth where the green gives way to the desert.

The nearby Fint Oasis provides a precious opportunity to witness life within an oasis set among a stone desert, albeit hundreds of miles away from the Sahara. Smaller in size than a palm grove, an oasis is an essential component of the desert, where water comes out of the ground and used to be shared equally among the caravans. A small community still inhabits the lush gardens surrounding the oasis, preserving the century-old traditions.

Then our tour crosses Ouarzazate, made famous by its film studios where scenes of  'Game of Thrones' were recently shot. We will then start our way back crossing the High Atlas. Few people know it but this route was first laid out by the French Foreign Legion back when Ouarzazate was no more than a French army outpost. Our trip serpents its way through the abrupt valleys and mountain peaks and our desert tour arrives in Marrakech later in the evening.

You may choose to follow the original tour itinerary as described on the website or have us create a tailor made itinerary around you. Please note that all our tours of Morocco are private and that stops are accommodated along the way as often as you desire, for you to visit a site, take a stunning photo or stretch your legs.

We believe our guests deserve to be spoiled and stay only at the best properties while on a customized tour of Morocco. We spend a great deal of time and effort to anonymously test and hand- pick the best boutique and luxury hotels, Riads , eco lodges and Kasbahs across Morocco . These select properties are constantly monitored and updated. Each one of them is inspired by and reflecting the culture, architecture and cuisine of its location. They do not fit into a rigorous star rating system, so we have named them Dreamers, Privilege and Divine, to best resume their nature. Once we receive an enquiry, we provide a day- to- day customized Moroccan itinerary with the names of the accommodations suggested at each overnight.

Please find below the resumed itinerary (driving times don't include stops):

Day 1: Marrakech - Telouet - Ait Benhaddou - Skoura ( 5 hour drive). 
Day 2: Skoura - Tinerir - Todra - Rissani - Merzouga - Erg Chebbi ( 5 hour drive ).
Day 3: Erg Chebbi - Erfoud - Tinejdad - Tinerir - Dades ( 4 hour drive). 
Day 4: Dades - Ouarzazate - Marrakech ( 5 hour drive).

Feel free to let us know if you would like to include a site/ activity of your own in the itinerary. If you don't know where to start some ideas are:

- visit the nomad grottos and Berber granary;
- learn about life in the palm grove, the khetarra irrigations, the pottery craft, the olive oil press, etc.
- Moroccan cooking class with introduction to Medina's street food;
- traditional Moroccan hammam ( steam bath) with eucalyptus soap body scrub;
- visit a traditional adobe ksour, its century old mosque and the 'wells of light';
- visit the Black People village, have tea with the nomads and pick up fossils;
- cook bread with the local ladies in the village's oven;
- trek or hike in Dades Gorge and their 'monkey fingers'.

Below you will find our rates based on two persons travelling together, with the relevant accommodation option:

Dreamers: 595 €/ 640 US $/ 510 £ per person ( double room & private desert tent);
Privilege: 775 €/ 830 US $/ 665 £ per person ( junior suite & luxury tent with en suite shower and toilet);
Divine: price available on request.

Pricing is tentative and can vary slightly at different times of the year. December, January ( outside end of the year holidays), February, July and August are low season and so you will be charged the quoted rates or less, if you travel with us during these months. We can only quote an exact rate once we have agreed on the precise itinerary, accommodation option preferred, the extras you would like to include and the duration of the journey. Discounts apply when 3 or more persons share the vehicle(s). You can also choose to mix the different accommodation options within the same circuit.

Our rates include:

- private use of the English fluent driver- guide & modern air- conditioned Toyota 4x4;
- boutique/ luxury hotel accommodation for 2 nights;
- Sahara camel trek and private basic/ luxury tent for 1 night;
- 3 three- course- meal dinners and 3 breakfasts for 2 persons;
- airport or hotel pick- up and drop- off;
- private guided visit of a palm grove or trek in the High Atlas with local guide;
- refreshing drinks inside the vehicle all along the itinerary;
- local English speaking guides;
- admission fees to all local sites and attractions;
- 24 hours travel assistance ( with Privilege and Divine level);
- gasoline and transport insurance;
- VAT and visitors tax.

 

This itinerary can also be arranged on a tour from Marrakech to Fez over 3 nights and 4 days with spending one night in the Sahara desert.

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Feathers, Ivory and Gold ( 8 - 10 days)

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This tailor made 8 day Morocco trip tours the imperial cities, palm groves, Kasbahs, gorges, Atlas Mountains and Erg Chebbi desert dunes. 

Centuries ago, caravans laden with gold, ivory and feathers were delivering their loads at the sultan’s palace in Marrakech and Fes after weeks of crossing the  Sahara. This Morocco tour follows some of the ancient route but before that, we start off with Casablanca and Rabat to then witness the splendor of the Roman heritage at Volubilis. After a day in  Fez,  we shall cross the lush countryside to reach the desert. Before crossing the Atlas mountians, we will uncover mysterious adobe honey-comb ksours and their wells of light, trek in the Dades or explore century old palm groves.  We will end our tour in sensual Marrakech, after visiting pasha's palace at Telouet. The travel can start/ end in Marrakech/ Casablanca or be done in reverse order. If you can add an extra night to your Morocco itinerary, it would be best spent in Chefchaouen, Fes or in the High Atlas mountains. 

Click here to see detailed map

Day 1: Casablanca - Rabat ( 1 hour drive).

Our private Morocco tour starts off with Casablanca ( we can also start the tour in Marrakech or Rabat, to suit your flights) which, despite the legend, does not hold much in the way of monuments. That is mainly the reason why the former king decided to give the city a landmark- the second largest mosque in the world.  The last few years of its completion, 1400 craftsmen worked by day and 1000 by night. The marble, cedar wood and granite all come from Morocco while the glass chandeliers and white granite columns were brought from Murano, Italy. 

Next, our itinerary takes us to the capital Rabat, recently declared UNESCO world site. A quiet administrative center, Rabat has also a much richer history and makes the perfect introduction to Morocco, suspended somewhere between Europe and the Arab world. We will visit the 12th century Kasbah des Oudayas and its Andalusian Gardens, an important outpost of the Almohad dynasty. We can dwell further into the past and visit the Merenid necropolis of Chellah, where Phoenician, Roman and Merinid traces blend. But perhpas better stories are to be told about Sale, the sister city to Rabat and a flourishing piracy center, centuries ago. Water canals used to run inside its gates and its pirates were famous for rapidly attacking European ships and taking illustrous nobility as prisoners. Once inside the city, the massive doors would close and the European powers had no other choice than to pay the ransom requested. The Republic of Sale, a state within a kingdom, even came into existence briefly and refused to pay any tax to the sultan. Later on, dinner and accommodation in a charming Riad inside the medina. 

Day 2: Rabat - Meknes - Volubilis - Fez ( 3 hour drive).

After breakfast, our bespoke Morocco tour is headed towards Meknes , an imperial city that rose to prominence with the sultan Moulay Ismail ( 1672- 1727) who set the capital of Morocco to Meknes and gave it its golden age by building his imperial palace, city walls and kasbahs upon dismantling Badi palace in Marrakech and fetching to Meknes most of its marble, ivory and wood.

Places of interest in Meknes include Bab El Mansour gate, Masoleum of Moulay Ismail, the imperial palace and the royal granaries and stables. Back on the road we are to reach shortly the Roman ruins of Volubilis with its Galem’s baths, basilica, capitol and forum and the sacred village of Moulay Idriss . Moulay Idriss was Prophet Mohammed great grandson and fled Mecca during the 8th century AD. He established himself at Volubilis, converted the locals to Islam and founded the first Moroccan imperial dynasty. The journey should reach Fez late afternoon/ evening. Dinner and accommodation inside the medina of Fez.

Day 3: Fez - guided tour of the city ( no drive).

With the first light of dawn, you realize you have travelled in time. Four centuries? Five? If it weren’t for the satellite dishes adorning every roof, it could be more. Perhaps as much as the Kayraouine University and mosque, now 12 centuries old, the oldest still working university in the world. The heyday of the caravan trade coming from Timbuktu is long resolute. 

'At the end of the fifteenth century, however, Fez was still enjoying great commercial prosperity and was at the peak of its fame as a seat of learning, its mosques and libraries being the resort of students from many parts of the Muslim world. It was therefore the most natural haven for the exiles from Granada' ( E.W. Bovill - The Golden Trade of the Moors).

There are thousands of derbs, streets so narrow you could whisper in your neighbor’s ear. Your private English speaking guide will collect you from the Riad just after breakfast and try to make some sense out of the apparently chaotic old town. The numerous Islamic schools, among which the most ornate are perhaps Bou Inania and El Attarine, will wow you with their intricate stucco and cedar engravings that have so well resisted the passage of centuries. Out in the streets again, you will most likely smell the tanneries before you see them... Dozens of workers toil over open vats, dipping skins in to treat them before hand-dyeing them in bright yellow, red and white, stomping them under the hot sun to distribute the pigment. 

The guided tour of Fez takes us to Nejjarine Square you can catch your breath enjoying a mint tea on the roof terrace of Nejjarine Foundouk, an 18th-century caravanserai, turned woodwork museum after six years of painstakingly renovation. “There is a good deal of frustration involved in the process of enjoying Fez,” wrote Paul Bowles about Fez and that still holds true nowadays. Just when the walls seem to cave in on you, a little square comes up and suddenly all menace disappears. The secrets to be found around every corner draw you into the long forgotten world of the travels of Ibn Battuta and Leo Africanus. 

Day 4: Fez - Ifrane - Azrou - Mildelt - Merzouga - Erg Chebbi ( 7 hours drive).

With Fez in the background, our custom Morocco tour serpents its way up into the shade of cedar forests. Our trip takes us first through Ifrane, the ‘Switzerland of Morocco’, almost a ghost town, except during the snow season when it becomes Morocco’s prime ski resort. The waters of the lake nearby are crystal clear and boats are rented out to those wishing to paddle across it. Prettier walks are to be had in the foothills of the next town, Azrou. Country lanes wind through pine forest and lush villages. Hard to believe that the desert is only 7 hours drive away. And yet... The dense forest is also home to the Barbary macaque , almost domesticated now and the 800- year old Gouraud’s cedar. The monkeys and their babies nibble on whatever they can find to eat, spoiled by the generous offerings of the visitors.The surrounding countryside is pigmented by apricots, walnuts and plum trees and pictures of rural Berber life as we approach Midelt.

A few hours later, our Morocco trip arrives in Erfoud and the change in landscape is sharp - Sahara is not far now. Given the time we will visit the ancient Jewish district and the Musee des Oasis. Reach the kasbah by the dunes and trade the 4x4 for camels. The camel ride is swift and the transfer can also be made by 4x4. Shortly after, while the staff are busy unloading your luggage, try to find the highest dune and reach the top. Then take it all in . For as far as you can see, there is nothing but sand, an ocean of it as set to conquer everything that stands in its way. And while the sun sets, there is nowhere else you would rather be. Dinner and accommodation in a private tent in a camp in the dunes. Here, you have the choice between a basic tent with toilets/ bathroom outside or a luxury tent with en suite bathroom and toilets. If possible, we recommend adding an extra day in the dunes. Have tea with the nomads, visit the old mines, pick up fossils, visit the Black People village or quad bike in the dunes.

Day 5: Erg Chebbi - Tinejdad - Todra Gorges - Tinerir - Dades/ Skoura ( 4-5 hour drive).

Try to wake up to catch the sunrise- there is nothing quite like it... Have breakfast back at the kasbah by the dunes in Merzouga ( you can also have shower here at the hotel if you slept in a basic tent). After breakfast our route takes us first to Rissani that used to serve as a caravan trading post until a century ago. Gold and slave auctions were taking place here as late as 1800’s. Before it, the caravan trade and the most important city in Morocco was Sijilmassa, the ruins of which lie opposite Rissani. From its gates, Ibn Battuta and Leo Africanus left Morocco to embark on their illustrious journeys across the Sahara into African countries, at a time when Sijilmassa was the trading hub between Europe and Africa and Arab pure bred horses from Morocco a much coveted commodity at the court of Timbuktu:

[Here ( in Timbuktu) are many shops of artificers and merchants, and especially of such as weave linnen and cotton cloth. And hither do the Barbarie merchants bring cloth of Europe... Here are verie few horses bred, and the merchants and courtiers keepe certainn little nags which they use to travel upon: but their best horses are brought out of Barbarie. And the king so soon as he heareth that any merchants are come to town with horses, he commandeth a certain number to be brought before him, and chusing the best horse for himselfe he payeth a most liberal price for him.] ( Leo Africanus - History and description of Africa)

On the way to Tinerir, it is worth stopping and admiring a local ksour ( fortified traditional village). The most spectacular gorges of Morocco, Todra Gorges, lie only 15 km from Tinerir, presenting an arresting spectacle with its crystal clear river emerging from it, its huge walls changing colour to magical effect as the day unfolds. We are back in the Atlas mountains as we pass through Tinerir, an important center for the Berber nomad tribes with its extensive palm grove, the decaying  ksours  and 19th century adobe mosque. Less touristy, yet at least as dramatic, the Dades Gorges are worth a detour, with their awkward monkey fingers rock formations and great trekking opportunities. We will stop for dinner and accommodation in a local guesthouse. Dinner and accommodation can also be arranged in the palm grove of Skoura, one hour drive away. 

Day 6: Dades/ Skoura - Ouarzazate - Ait Benhaddou - Telouet - Marrakech ( 4- 5 hour drive)

This morning our boutique Morocco tour takes us first to the immense palm grove of Skoura. Have a guided tour of the palm grove with Abdel and learn about kasbah architecture, marriage customs and life in the community. In the shade of the palm trees, you will walk past pumpkins and figs, grapes and tomatoes, coriander, parsley and rosemary. Olives are pressed into the precious oil – dip your bread into it and try a local’s breakfast. Fire, water, earth and dye are what make most of things here. On Friday afternoon, when the prayer is over, the caid comes out and spreads a carpet on the grass. The villagers then succeed themselves and present their queries. Most of them are resolved on site. Time is suspended here indeed.

On the way to Ouarzazate, we can stop for a break to see the migratory birds fly over the vast Mansour Eddhabi lake if the season is right. In Ouarzazate, time allowing, we can visit the film studios where more recently some of the episodes of Game of Thrones were shot. Half an hour later, our tour turns right to shortly arrive at post- card perfect UNESCO world site of Ait Benhaddou. There is always someone willing to guide you but the best is to just lose yourselves in its alleyways. There is always a new way to reach its peak, from where the snowcapped Atlas Mountains framed by the denim blue sky will steal your breath away. If the climb up hadn’t already.

Past Tamdaght and the kasbah made famous by the slave scene from 'Gladiator', the beauty of the valley serpenting underneath the route is beyond words. In the wall of the canyon, the nomads have dug galleries of grottoes where they used to stock their grains. Telouet is next, where the former pasha's palace dominates the village, a fortified citadel that is both a microcosm of an empire and its demise. Pacha Glaoui overshadowed the sultan by controlling most of nowadays Morocco and  decided to erect a palace in the middle of nowhere, where his family had originated from. He had employed the most skilled artisans to build and decorate his main residence and, in its golden age, armies, stables and Christian slaves were confined within its walls. Shortly after Telouet, the trip joins the main road again and after innumerous twists, over Tizi n Tichka pass, we descend the High Atlas and reach the plain. Ahead in the night, lays dormant and sensual Marrakech, its walls and eighteen gates enveloping hundreds of foundouks once protecting the caravans and their precious cargos. Dinner and overnight in a charming Riad.

Day 7: Marrakech - visit of the city ( no drive).

Where Fez is the bashful scholar, the ‘red city’ is the exuberant dancer. More than its opulent night life and luxurious palaces, the design boutiques or the French restaurants, it’s something in the air. The light of the south as some may call it, a certain feeling that nothing can go wrong, a certain je ne sais quoi… A good point to start is perhaps Maison de La Photographie, located in one of the most authentic districts of Marrakech. The photos on display document life in Morocco from late 1800’s all the way to the 1950’s. The roof terrace offers 360 degrees views over the Medina and is the perfect spot for a mint tea and postcard- photo shoots.

Crossing the souks you may want to spoil yourself with some shopping. Miles of Ali Baba closet- size caves where everything glitters will lure you in. Marrakech has the finesse of craft met in Fez but also this particular design born from the crossing of local tradition with modern design that has made it a mecca for the intrepid global shopper. If it is too early in the day for shopping, you can also admire the dyeing of the wool or the looming of a Berber carpet on site. Past Place des Epices and its shops stuffed with turtles, colorful spices and witchcraft accessories, we make our way into the Kasbah. Not before entering the gardens of 19th century Bahia Palace, an epitome of Islamic art of the era and residence of the grand vizier. Uncovered by chance in 1917, the nearby Saadi Tombs hold the remains of the sultans responsible for the last golden age of the city , the 16th and 17th century. The Carrara marble stands witness to the wealth of the dynasty and so does the nearby El Badi palace, albeit only a ruin nowadays. The palace never completed and the next sultan dismantled the marble, ivory, precious wood and used it all to build his royal palace in Meknes. 

As the sun sets and the shades of its towers lose their contour, the fumes start rising on the nearby Jemaa El Fna square. Musicians, acrobats, snake charmers, witch doctors and food stalls all come alive as if they had never left the place. This is the city at its most essential, a place where people from everywhere mingle, perform and people- watch, half way between a tableau vivant and a circus show. Try to catch one of the story tellers in action, a tradition perpetuated for centuries and likely to disappear soon. A different way to discover Marrakech is by through a cooking class complete with the a tour of the medina to discover the various ingredients that make up the staple of Moroccan cuisine: the preserved vegetables, the smmen butter, the farnatchi, the herbalist, the souika market, mechoui ovens and more. 

Day 8: Marrakech.

Should time allow for it, we recommend spending the morning visiting some of the gardens that made the 'red city famous'. The Almohad dynasty of 12th century built most of them. Agdal gardens, south of the city was where the waters from the Atlas Mountains were converged by ingenious Arab engineers. They also created Menara gardens with its ornate pavilion overlooking the waters, still a favorite of marrakchi families for picnic on Sundays. One other garden belonged to a painter who had fallen in love with Marrakech in the 1920’s and decided to create his own version of paradise on earth. Majorelle Gardens were subsequently acquired by Yves Saint Laurent and then made available to the general public. They are best visited early in the morning before they become overcrowded. 

Or perhaps you fancy a Moroccan hammam ( steam bath) and body scrub with the locals in one of the dozens well- kept public baths scattered around the Medina. If you still have the energy, the village of Imlil, an hour drive from the city, offers tremendous trekking opportunities for a few hours or a full day. 

Depending on your flight out, the driver will drop you off at the airport two hours before your flight. If you are flying out of Casablanca, the route takes 2 hours and a half from Marrakech.  

You may choose to follow the original tour itinerary as described on the website or have us create a tailor made itinerary around you. Please note that all our tours of Morocco are private and that stops are accommodated along the way as often as you desire, for you to visit a site, take a stunning photo or stretch your legs.

We believe our guests deserve to be spoiled and stay only at the best properties while on a customized tour of Morocco. We spend a great deal of time and effort to anonymously test and hand- pick the best boutique and luxury hotels, Riads , eco lodges and Kasbahs across Morocco. These select properties are constantly monitored and updated. Each one of them is inspired by and reflecting the culture, architecture and cuisine of its location. They do not fit into a rigorous star rating system, so we have named them Dreamers, Privilege and Divine, to best resume their nature. Once we receive an enquiry, we provide a day- to- day customized Moroccan itinerary with the names of the accommodations suggested at each overnight.

Please find below the resumed itinerary (driving times don't include stops):

Day 1: Casablanca – Rabat ( 1 hour and a half drive).
Day 2: Rabat – Meknes – Volubilis – Fes ( 3 hour drive).
Day 3: Fes – visit of the city with local guide ( no driving).
Day 4: Fes – Ifrane – Midelt – Erfoud – Merzouga – Erg Chebbi ( 7 hour drive).
Day 5: Erg Chebbi – Rissani – Todra Gorges – Tinerir – Dades/ Skoura (4- 5 hour drive).
Day 6: Dades/ Skoura – Ouarzazate – Ait Benhaddou – Telouet – Marrakech ( 4- 5 hour drive).
Day 7: Marrakech – visit of the city with local guide ( no driving)/ cooking class.
Day 8: Marrakech or Marrakech - Casablanca (2H30 drive). Visit of the gardens/ leisure time.

Feel free to let us know if you would like to include a site/ activity of your own in the itinerary. If you don't know where to start some ideas are:

- visit the nomad grottos and Berber granary;
- learn about life in the palm grove, the khetarra irrigations, the pottery craft, the olive oil press;
- hot air balloon flight over Marrakech and its surroundings;
- Moroccan cooking class with introduction to Medina's street food;
- traditional Moroccan hammam ( steam bath) with eucalyptus soap body scrub;
- lunch at Richard Branson’s Atlas Mountains retreat;
- bake bread with the local ladies in the village's oven;
- trekking/ hiking in Dades Gorge.

Below you will find our rates based on two persons travelling together, with the relevant accommodation option:

Dreamers: 1290 €/ 1385 US $/ 1110 £ per person ( double room & basic desert tent);
Privilege: 1775 €/ 1905 US $/ 1530 £ per person ( suite & luxury tent with en suite shower and toilet);
Divine: price available on request.

Pricing is tentative and can vary slightly at different times of the year. If you book your tour to take place in December, January ( outside end of the year holidays), February, July and August, you will be charged our low season rates. We can only quote an exact rate once we have agreed on the precise itinerary, accommodation option preferred, the extras you would like to include and the duration of the journey. Discounts apply when 3 or more persons share the vehicle(s). You can also choose to mix different accommodation ranges within the same circuit.

Our rates include:

- private use of the English fluent driver- guide and the modern air- conditioned Toyota 4x4;
- boutique/ luxury hotel accommodation for 6 nights;
- Sahara camel trek and private basic or luxury tent for 1 night;
- 5 three- course- meal dinners and 7 breakfasts for 2 persons;
- private guided visit of Rabat with local university teacher;
- private guided visit of Fez with official English speaking guide;
- private guided visit of Marrakech;
- refreshing drinks inside the vehicle all along the itinerary;
- local English speaking guides;
- admission fees to all local sites and attractions;
- 24 hours travel assistance with Privilege and Divine level;
- gasoline and highway tolls;
- transport insurance, VAT and visitors tax.

If your flight lands in Marrakech, your customized Morocco tour can also be arranged to travel counter clockwise from Marrakech to Fez.

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Fortress or palace?

kasbah ait bennhadou - Copy

Our day trip from Marrakech to Ait Benhaddou and Telouet is best for Kasbah architecture, Atlas Mountains views and a taste of the Grand Sud.

UNESCO Ait Benhaddou site, Atlas Mountains, pasha's palace at Telouet, Fint oasis and film studios in Ouarzazate can be included in this day tour. 

DETAILED ITINERARY 

Leaving Marrakech behind, our journey encounters beautiful scenery and small villages built in tiers succeeding among oak trees, walnut groves and oleander bushes. The road snakes up before arriving at the spectacular Tizi n Tichka pass. We are now at 2260 meters high. Once over the pass a totally different landscape is unveiled: the lunar landscape of the Anti Atlas and the plain beyond it. Scent of thyme from the bushes around fills the air. 

Just after the pass, our itinerary turns left and we find ourselves on the ancient route caravans used to bring the much sought- after goods at the court of the Sultan. We soon reach Telouet. The ruins of the pasha's palace dominate the village, a fortified citadel that is both a microcosm of an empire and its demise. He had managed to overshadow the sultan by controlling most of nowadays Morocco and decided to erect a palace in the middle of nowhere, where his family had originated from. He had employed the most skilled artisans to build and decorate his main residence and, in its golden age, armies, stables and Christian slaves were confined within its walls while a flourishing Jewish community managed the nearby salt mines.

Leaving Telouet behind, the trip crosses spaghetti western backgrounds to then meet the canyon. The gardens by the river bed melt into a gigantic green serpent imprisoned between the brown ridges, only to escape out into the horizon. The road follows the green serpent and on the other side, carved into the wall of the canyon, grottoes are still being used for keeping the stock or grains over the winter by the semi nomadic people of the area. Here and there, decaying kasbahs stand witnesses of an age soon resolute. 

Late afternoon. Then is the time to visit Ait Benhaddou, the postcard- like UNESCO adobe citadel. A fat, red sun, only underlines the beige tones of the mud and straws mixture and through the covered passages and stone walls, the past filters itself into the present. In spite of the local ‘guides’, the best is to just lose yourselves in its alleyways. There is always a new way to reach its peak, from where the snowcapped Atlas Mountains will steal your breath away. If the climb up hadn’t already. Half hour later, our trip crosses Ouarzazate, made famous by its film studios where recently scenes of 'Game of Thrones'  were shot. With this background, you may want to ride a camel along the kasbah's walls, by the river bed. Further away, the Oasis of Fint is a great example of life within an oasis.

We will then start our way back crossing the High Atlas, this time on the national road, once a camel track that was turned into a proper road suitable for vehicles in the 1030's with the help of the French Foreign Legion. The excursion serpents its way past abrupt valleys and mountain peaks to descend onto Marrakech later in the evening.

You are free to choose your time of departure. However, in order to make the best out of your day out, we recommend leaving no later than 8 AM. Forecasted return time in Marrakech is 7- 8 PM.

PRICE.............................................................................................. 75 EUROS PER PERSON ( BASED ON 2 PERSONS SHARING THE VEHICLE). DISCOUNTS APPLY FOR 3 OR MORE PERSONS.

The rate includes: private ( sole use) of the modern air conditioned Toyota 4x4 and the English fluent driver- guide, entrance fees to all sites and monuments, refreshing drinks inside the vehicle, pick up and drop off from/ to the hotel/ Riad and transport insurance.

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Sun Trails

14 Avenue Hassan Seghir

Casablanca 20000

Phone : +212 638 636 719/ +212 666 915 384

Skype: sun_trails_morocco

We are open 7 days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM local Morocco time. For any last minute enquiry feel free to call us on the number(s) listed above.

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Boutique tours of Morocco

What better place than Morocco for a private tailor made tour ? It can be a day trip from Marrakech into the Atlas Mountains. Or a 14 day private luxury Morocco tour. And everything in between. With such a different culture and language, a boutique 4x4 Morocco tour with an English speaking local driver- guide guarantees the best holidays in Morocco. Choose one of the many 4x4 tours from Marrakech or another imperial city and you will discover the off the beaten track Morocco. Much more than excursions from Marrakech or Morocco desert tours, our 4x4 custom tours travel all across Morocco, covering Berber villages, majestic Kasbahs, enchanting palm groves or Touareg desert camps. From Ait Benhaddou to Chefchaouen, from Erg Chebbi to Taroudant and from camel rides in the Sahara to hardcore trekking Morocco can only offer. Browse among our 4x4 boutique tours of Morocco and book your favorite today !