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Morocco’s mystique can be found
in medinas that brim with color, soaring mountains that give way to endless desert, and stunning Moorish architecture. Discover the enchanting cities of Marrakech and Fez, venture into rose-colored kasbahs, and visit little-known mountain villages. Delve into the alleyways of spice-scented souks, and listen to the strains of Berber music in the Sahara.
Explore the Roman ruins of Volubilis and the ancient adobe village of Aït Ben Haddou, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Ride a camel at sunset from a tented camp nestled among the sculpted dunes.
Observe artisans plying their timeless crafts in the workshops of Fez.
Explore the Atlas Mountains from your
base at the Kasbah du Toubkal, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World
(two departures only).
Itinerary - 10 Days
Day 1 — Casablanca, Morocco
Arrive in Casablanca and meet your fellow travelers for a welcome lunch at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This afternoon, stroll through the city’s Habous district and the mechouar, the ceremonial meeting place outside the Royal Palace. Tonight, gather for a festive welcome dinner. Sofitel Casablanca Tour Blanche (L,D)
Day 2 — Casablanca/Marrakech
Drive through the elegant Anfa neighborhood on the way to Marrakech, Morocco’s legendary “pearl of the South.” Enjoy a poolside lunch at the hotel before exploring the city of Marrakech. See the splendid Koutoubia Mosque and the Saadian Tombs, and visit Bahia Palace. Explore the labyrinthine streets of the medina, lined with market stalls and craftspeople; and soak up the colorful chaos of Djemma el Fna Square, where snake charmers and magicians captivate the passersby. Tonight, gather for a rooftop reception and dinner accompanied by traditional Gnaoua music in the heart of the old medina. Sofitel Marrakech (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Marrakech
Continue exploring the sites of Marrakech today. Meander through the stunning Majorelle Garden, once owned by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, and see an exclusive collection of Berber objects originating from diverse regions of Morocco at the Berber Museum. Explore historic Moroccan architecture at the 14th-century Ben Youssef Madrasa. After lunch, venture back to the lively medina with our local guide or explore on your own. Sofitel Marrakech (B,L)
Day 4 — Telouet/Aït Ben Haddou/Ouarzazate
Cross the High Atlas Mountains over the Tichka Pass, stopping to board 4x4s for the trip to the Kasbah of Telouet. Once home to the powerful Glaoui clan, the kasbah’s crumbling exterior belies its rich tile and woodwork. After lunch in the village, drive through the Ounila Valley to the ancient fortified village of Aït Ben Haddou, and delve into its warren of twisting lanes. Continue to Ouarzazate, a former colonial trading post now known for its movie studios where films such as Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia were shot. Le Berbère Palace (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Ouarzazate/Boumalne Dades
Learn about traditional adobe architecture in Taourirt Kasbah this morning. Then set out on the fabled Road of 1,000 Kasbahs. Arrive in Boumalne Dades, a small town nestled amid the crags and plateaus of the semidesert landscape. After lunch, head out on a walk in the dramatic Dades Gorge, admiring the spectacular scenery and enjoying an up-close look at rural life. Xaluca Dades (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Erfoud/Rissani/Merzouga
Follow the Road of 1,000 Kasbahs to Erfoud, passing spectacular rock formations, oases, and rose plantations. In Erfoud, climb into 4x4s for the drive into the desert. Visit the souk in Rissani, a historic camel caravan stop. Later, ride into the dunes on a camel to watch the sun set on the Sahara. Settle into our comfortable Berber tented camp to dine under the star-studded sky and enjoy an evening of Berber folk music. Bivouac Tented Berber Camp (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Merzouga/Fez
If you wish, wake early for a walk in the nearby dunes as the rising sun paints the dunes orange and gold. Return to the camp for a hearty breakfast, then head north into the high-mountain plains on your way to Fez. Arrive in Fez early this evening, and check in to our hotel. Hotel Sahrai (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Fez
Spend the day exploring this magnificent imperial city. Visit the Royal Palace and Fes Jdid, home to the historic Jewish quarter. Delve into the lively medina, where merchants preside over colorful mounds of spices and tanners soak skins in vats of dye. Discover the 14th-century Bou Inania Madrasa, characterized by its intricately carved stucco walls, arches, and cornices. See the
Nejjarine Fountain, covered in exquisite mosaics, and the Kairaouine Mosque. Hotel Sahrai (B,L)
Day 9 — Fez/Volubilis and Meknes
Today you may choose to explore Fez at your own pace or take an excursion to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, a World Heritage site, and Meknès, Morocco’s 17th-century capital. Toast our Moroccan adventure at a farewell dinner tonight. Hotel Sahrai (B,D)
Day 10 — Fez
This morning, transfer to the Fez airport for your return flight or transfer to Casablanca for flights departing in the afternoon. (B)
Geographer David Scott Silverberg (Ph.D. MIT, postdoc Harvard) has worked throughout the North Africa-Middle East region since 1989 helping to map Moroccan geography, mentor Moroccan doctoral students, and explore the history of exploration and discovery by Moroccan adventurers. He is reaching completion of a geography and art book on the Atlas-Sahara transition. One of his current projects is restoring a Marrakech riad where he spends European winters in his Moroccan atelier. His digital photo and video talks on Morocco and Saharan geography, Berber, Arab, and Saharan cultures have been popular with National Geographic travelers. He has served as executive director for research at EarthWatch and helped launch AmeriCorps's environmental programs. David is a fellow of the Explorers Club, the Royal Africa Society, the Royal Geographical Society, and the Royal Asia Society. He is passionately committed to community-based protected area projects on six continents. As this expedition moves from coast to mountains to the Sahara to lush cedar forests, David will illuminate the relationship of Morocco’s fascinating cultures to its diverse geography.
ALT indicates a departure that has a slightly different itinerary than the one shown on this page. Click the ALT icon to see the day-to-day itinerary.
*The alternate departures are two days longer and include a stay at Kasbah du Toubkal, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.
2016 - 2017
2017 (12 day)
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single-room, add $1,495 for the 10 day program, or $2,095 for the 12 day program. Airfare to Casablanca and return from Fez is not included in the expedition cost.
What To Expect
Our hotels are first-class, well-located properties that reflect the character of each region. In Marrakech, Ouarzazate, and Fez, each hotel has a lovely pool and stunning tropical gardens. Our camp in Merzouga
features comfortable Berber-style tents with en suite
bathrooms and generator-powered electricity.