8 Days from Fes Desert Trips and Imperial Cities.
Day 1: Airport – Fes.
A day to visit with local guide the royal city of Fez with their numerous medresehs, its tanneries and the famous Medina. Dinner and overnight at a hotel or Riad.
Day 2 : Fes – Volubilis – Moulay Idriss Zerhoun – Meknes – Fes
Our day’s excursion to 2,000 years in the past starts at 9 o’clock from your hotel when we drive across the Saiss Plain to the wonderful Roman ruins at Volubilis, the Volubilis of really ancient olive presses, mansions, incredible mosaics, monumental arches and Corinthian columns where you’ll have a real sense of Roman lifestyle and of that of a subsequent medieval Berber town.
The site contains the Mansion containing the mosaic of the Labors of Hercules, the Baths of Gallienus and Baths of Forum with their fragmentary mosaics, the House of Orpheus and its Dolphin mosaic and Orpheus Myth, the Cortege of Venus many of whose mosaics we may only see from the outside yet will get to see the medallions of Bacchus, Diana and the Abduction of Hylas, the Gordian Palace with its bath house and pooled courtyards, the House of the Wild Beast, the House of Nymphs, the House of the Seasons, the House of Flavius Germanus, the Knight’s House with an incomplete mosaic of Dionysus Discovering Ariadne Asleep, the Triumphal Arch , the Capitol and the House of Ephebus with its pictorial mosaics, especially that of Bacchus Being drawn in a Chariot by Panthers.
We then leave Volubilis behind to drive alongside the dark, outlaying ridges of the Zerhoun Hills to stop for a visit of the town of Moulay Idriss, the holiest Islamic town in the kingdom of Morocco, where thousands of Moroccan faithful comes on pilgrimage (moussem) every August to pray at the tomb of this descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. Arriving at the elongated square we see above us the green-tiled pyramids of the Zaouia with its two conical quarters on both sides and stroll amidst the labyrinth of alleyways before leaving for the Imperial City rebuilt by Moulay Ismail.
And now to the Imperial City of Meknes (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), here we shall visit the easily most beautiful Bab, or gateway, in all of the Maghreb – the Bab Mansour. From here to the El Heri es-Souani – the granary of huge vaulted structures and stables built by Moulay Ismail’s soldiers next to a pool fed by underground channels that brought fresh water all the way from the distant Middle Atlas Mountains, the Moulay Ismail Mausoleum and the Place el-Hedim to see the famous State-owned stallion stables of Haras where these Arabo-Berber horses are bred.
Time for lunch before leaving Meknes around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, arriving back in our hotel at around 5 o’clock.
Day 3: Fes – Ifrane – Midelt – Ziz valley – Erfoud – Rissani – Merzouga (Erg Chebbi).
After breakfast we will embark on a picturesque journey towards Ifrane, through hills covered in forests of cork oak and giant cedar, home of a few Barbary apes. Crossing beautiful and tranquil passes over both the Middle and High Atlas ranges we will catch a first glimpse of the south’s incredible architecture. Lunch in Midelt, approached through a bleak plain of scrub and desert. The dramatic peaks of the High Atlas, rising behind the town, provide a spectacular background. Crossing Tizi-n-Talremt (Pass of the She-Camel), we will descend into a desert plain along the Ziz valley. We will then head south to Erfoud and Rissani, a huge oasis containing over six million palm trees, edged by many ksours (fortified villages). Continuing along a striking route that marks the transition to desert, when we reach Merzouga we will be greeted with a glass of tea.
We have time to relax, then we get ready to ride camels into the pink sands of Morocco’s highest dunes. We will have time to wander the dunes before sunset. Dinner is served, followed by traditional music and the night in a nomad tent.
Day 4: Merzouga – Todra Gorges – Dades valley and gorge.
If we wake up early enough, we can watch the spectacle of sunrise, when the colour of the dunes combine with the play of shadows to make an awesome sight. After breakfast we ride the camels for a couple of hours (or less; it is up to you) before leaving for Tinghir and Todra Gorges for lunch.
The road passes through Tinejdad and the Todra Valley. This stunning area affords plenty of opportunities to walk, such as along the river through the gardens or up the road on the other side of the gorge. Later, we will continue to the Dades Valley and the Dades Gorges before spending the night in a hotel.
Day 5: Dades Valley – Rose Valley – Skoura – Ouarzazate – Ait Benhaddou – Atlas Mount – Marrakech.
After breakfast, we will drive through the villages of this charming area, passing fields cultivated by the Berber women, with the peaks of the High Atlas as a fitting backdrop. Our journey will then continue toward Ouarzazate, along the Valley of the Roses, famous for its Rose Festival in May, and past the Kasbahs of Skoura oasis. then to Ouarzazate, known as Hollywood of Morocco, we will visit the cinematographic museum, Than the Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, a World Heritage site and the backdrop to many Hollywood blockbusters, this is the most famous kasbah in Morocco. From here start crossing the highest pass in Africa, Tizi n’Tichka, was controlled. At late afternoon we will arrive in Marrakech. Night in a nice riad/hotel.
Day 6 : Visit of Marrakech
After breakfast, you will have a guided tour of Marrakech, the southern pearl of Morocco. You will discover the Palace of the Bahia, the Saadian Tombs, and many other hidden treasures. After lunch, you will continue with the tour on to the magnificent Koutoubia Mosque and the famous Djemaa el-Fna, one of the center attractions of Marrakech. The tour will conclude with an exploration of the souk (market) lined with fresh fruit, mounds of spices, intricately woven Berber carpets and many other art objects of Morocco. night in a nice hotel/riad.
Day 7 : Marrakech – Casablanca – Rabat – Fes
Transfer to Fes from Marrakech via Casablanca and Rabat.
Day 8 : Transfer to the airport.