We will spend this first day in Casablanca. If we arrive early we can visit the Hassan II Mosque, the world’s second largest, and the only working mosque in Morocco that can be visited by non-Muslims.
Today we will drive via Rabat to the charming city of Meknes, with its yellow ochre houses and green tiles, situated amongst orchards and olive groves. Formerly an Imperial City, Meknes boasts a huge system of ramparts that form part of the ancient palace complex.
A short drive from Meknes will take us to the once-great Roman city of Volubilis, the UNESCO-sponsored Roman ruins, where we can combine a visit to its impressive ruins with an exploration of the nearby pilgrim city, where the bones of the founder of Islam in Morocco, Moulay Idriss, reside. We will then continue to Fes.
Today we will pay a visit to the old Medina of Fes; a particularly exciting experience because when you enter the sprawling labyrinthine alleys you feel like you have stepped back in time. Donkeys and mules are the only form of transport in these steep, narrow streets. Delicious scents come from the souk, where perfumes and spices are traded. In contrast, however, the most appalling stink emanates from the leather tanneries, where men often stand up to their waists treating leather in noxious baths, in much the same way as has been done for centuries – don’t let this put you off visiting there too; ethnic leather goods make great souvenirs!
Today we will leave for the largest of all the Imperial Cities and the southern capital, Marrakech, where we will spend the final two nights of the tour. Our journey will take us through the Middle Atlas mountains, where cedar forests abound, and nearer to Marrakech we will be able to glimpse the even more imposing snow-covered peaks of the High Atlas mountains.
Today is a free day to explore the heritage-history of Marrakech. The city has a magical reputation because of its immense souks, numerous landmarks and ancient Berber heritage. Its central focus is Djemaa El Fna, the famous square where young and old alike gather every evening to enjoy arts and crafts, storytellers, snake-charmers, herbal doctors and jugglers. As darkness falls, food stalls appear, and you would be forgiven for feeling that you had stepped back a thousand years or more. Marrakech is also famous for great gardens, of which the Majorelle Gardens, created in 1920 by the French artist of the same name, is probably the most beautiful. The bright blue villa contrasts perfectly with the surrounding tropical plants growing in enormous jars and pots.
Departure from Marrakech.