Spring 2020 - The Travel Renaissance and Vacation Bound

Photo Mar 11, 5 55 28 AM.jpg
Photo Mar 11, 5 55 28 AM.jpg

Spring 2020 - The Travel Renaissance and Vacation Bound

400.00

To secure your spot, a $400 non-refundable deposit is required.

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Dates:

April 17 - 26, 2020


Travelers:

20 - 30 travelers


Itinerary:

  • APR 17 - DEPART BOSTON

    • Depart Boston on an overnight flight via Royal Air Maroc.

  • APR 18 - CASABLANCA, FES (L, D)

    • Arrive in Casablanca and meet your driver outside the airport.  

    • Begin with a visit to the stunning Hassan II Mosque, the largest in Morocco and the third largest mosque in the world that non-muslims are allowed to enter, able to accommodate up to 105,000 in prayer.  This marvel of modern Moroccan architecture is the work of hundreds of expert craftsmen from around the country, many of them donating their work.

    • Enjoy Moroccan hospitality with lunch at a local family’s home in Casablanca.

    • Complete your journey to Fes, where you will check into your hotel for the night.

    • Dinner included at the hotel.

    • Overnight in Fes.

  • APR 19 - FES (L, D)

    • Tour Fes with a private guide. (Walking tour with some transportation between sites)  

    • Begin at the royal palace, with its seven golden doors, and learn about the significance of the intricate decor.

    • Stroll through the Mellah, or Jewish quarter, which was built next to the palace to offer protection.

    • Take in the view of the city from Borj Sud, a former fortress and one of the lookouts on a hill where you can see all of Fes laid out, allowing you to spot landmarks otherwise hidden by the skyline-obscuring buildings.

    • Visit a pottery co-op to see how they make the unique Fes pottery, as well as handcrafting the intricate mosaics adorning half of Morocco.

    • Head into the ancient medina and step into a sort of living museum.  The Fes medina is very much a local community that lives and works and goes about daily life in the medina, so be sure to keep moving and watch out for the donkeys!

    • Stop by the Al-Quaraouiyine University, the oldest degree-granting university still in operation, having been founded in 859 CE by a woman.

    • Visit handicraft workshops, where you will see why Fes is considered the handicraft capital of Morocco.  This can include, among other things, the silk weavers, where beautifully colorful fabrics are woven from silk fibers of the agave plant, and the famous Fes tannery, where they process all manner of animal hides by hand, much as they have for nearly 1,000 years.  They also sell leather items in every shade and style, and can even alter an item to be delivered to your riad by the end of the day!

    • During your tour of the medina, you will stop for lunch in a restaurant that would be very easy to walk right past but is truly a hidden gem.

    • That evening, enjoy dinner at the historic La Maison Bleue.  

    • Overnight in Fes.

  • APR 20 - MEKNES, FES (L)

    • Travel south to Meknes, where you will visit Morocco's premier winery, Les Celliers de Meknes.

    • Tour the building where the wines are made and stored, followed by a tasting of three wines in their beautiful tasting room.

    • Enjoy a delicious lunch at Chateau Roslane, the winery's five-star boutique hotel, situated in the midst of the vineyard.  If the weather is good, dine outside by the pool.

    • Return to Fes for a free afternoon.

    • Overnight in Fes.

  • APR 21 - ATLAS MOUNTAINS, MERZOUGA (L, D)

    • Depart Fes after breakfast and begin your journey south.  

    • Make a coffee stop in Ifrane, a small ski resort town that is also known as the Swiss village due to its alpine-style architecture.

    • Visit the wild monkeys in the cedar forests outside of Azrou, where they are happy to be fed but surprisingly well mannered.

    • Stop in Zayda for lunch, enjoying fresh barbecue in one of the many streetside restaurants.

    • Take in the scenery as you cross the Atlas Mountains

    • View the lush green date and almond trees filling the gorge in Errachidia

    • Arrive in Merzouga in the evening and check into your riad.

    • Head into the dunes on a one-hour quad excursion through the Sahara Desert.  Enjoy the exhilaration of speeding through the sands and up the dunes, where you will stop to enjoy a peaceful moment to watch the sun set with just sky and sand for as far as you can see.  You will have a professional guide to ensure you don't get lost!.

    • Return to your riad for dinner.

    • Overnight in Merzouga.

  • APR 22 - SAHARA DESERT (L, D)

    • Begin your day with a visit to a local shop that sells goods made by local women.  Weaving, sewing, and otherwise crafting items is one of the few jobs available to women who have no other means for support.

    • Visit the Gnawa Village to listen to their entrancing music.  The rhythmic, hypnotic music has long been part of their ceremonies, from the time their ancestors were brought to the area as slaves.  The music has influenced an entire genre that is performed all across Morocco and has even inspired several music festivals.

    • Enjoy a Rissani specialty, medfouna, for lunch.

    • In the early afternoon, meet your camels for your trek into your desert camp.  You will journey through the dunes, and your camel guide will be able to get some great pictures for you as well!  

    • Arrive at your camp and enjoy a welcome glass of tea and some Moroccan cookies.  Enjoy the afternoon in the camp. OPTIONAL: head back out into the dunes via camel to watch the sunset.

    • Enjoy dinner at the camp.  Afterwards, head out to the bonfire for the live music.

    • Overnight in the Sahara Desert.

  • APR 23 - BOUMALNE DADES (L, D)

    • Optional:  Wake up early to watch the sun rise over the dunes.  Remember it gets cold in the desert overnight, so don't forget your jacket!

    • Enjoy a traditional Moroccan breakfast at the camp.

    • Depart camp via camel (or SUV if one camel was enough for you!).

    • Meet up with your driver once more, and begin your journey west.  

    • Make a stop in Boumalne Dades to see the stunning Todra Gorge, carved from the red rocks of the landscape by a river.

    • Check into your accommodations in Boumalne, and then head into the Rose Valley for a guided hike, which can be as relaxed or as challenging as you would like.

    • Dinner at your riad that night.

    • Overnight in Boumalne Dades

  • APR 24 - OUARZAZATE, MARRAKECH (L, D)

    • Depart in the morning to make your journey to Marrakech.

    • When you reach Ouarzazate, you will tour Kasbah Taourirt, which was the former el Glaoui palace.  This historic building is a peak into the past, with much of its intricate ceiling decor still intact.

    • As you are leaving town, make a stop at Ait Ben-Haddou, an ancient Ksar that has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Located along the former trade caravan route between the Sahara Desert and Marrakech, the Ksar is now often used as a filming location for movies including The Jewel of the Nile, The Mummy, Gladiator, and Kingdom of Heaven.

    • Continue across the Atlas Mountains via the winding Tichka Pass to arrive in Marrakech in the late afternoon.

    • Check into your riad in the medina.

    • Overnight in Marrakech.

  • APR 25 - MARRAKECH (L)

    • Take a morning cooking class at La Maison Arabe.  Begin with a lesson on the uses of common Moroccan spices, followed by how to make a proper pot of Moroccan mint tea.  After that, head into the kitchen to learn to create your own Moroccan dishes, a way to take home of piece of Morocco to share with your friends and family.  Enjoy the fruits of your labor for lunch.

    • After lunch, enjoy an optional tour of the city.  

      • Visit the Koutoubia minaret, the tallest in Marrakech.  Within the city walls, no building is allowed to be taller than the Koutoubia's 253 feet.  The minaret is part of the largest mosque in Marrakech, which was completed in 1199.

      • Stop at a Berber Apothecary shop, learning of the medicinal uses of many of the common spices and herbs that are still used across Morocco to treat common illnesses.  While it's not as picturesque as the heaps of spices you find in the market, it is far more informative!

      • Tour the Bahia Palace, a late 19th-century palace built for the grand vizier and named for his favourite wife.  The rooms set in a 2-acre garden include the rooms which housed his harem, an often political position.

      • Explore Jemaa el Fna, the primary square in the medina and a UNESCO world heritage site.  Though now filled with street performers, snake charmers, merchants, and orange juice stalls, when it was created in 1050, it was used for public executions, perhaps leading to its name which can be translated as "assembly of death".  

      • Head into the souks surrounding Jemaa el Fna, where you can find everything from cookies to clothing, jewelry to hand-crafted lamps, and everything in between..

    • Alternatively, enjoy a free afternoon to explore the city on your own, or perhaps indulge in a traditional hammam.

  • APR 26 - DEPARTURE

    • After a leisurely morning, check out of your riad and travel north to the Casablanca airport for your return flight.


Cost:

$3,145 per person, based on double occupancy,  $300 single supplement applies


Includes:

  • Round trip airfare between BOS and CMN via Royal Air Maroc

  • Ground transportation via air conditioned motor coach

  • 8 nights accommodations in 4* hotels/riads with breakfast

    • Ramada Fes, or similar, in Fes

    • Riad Madu and luxury Sahara camp, or similar, in Merzouga and Sahara Desert

    • Hotel Xaluca Dades, or similar, in Boumalne Dades

    • Riad Bahia Salam, or similar, in Marrakech

  • 8 lunches (L)

  • 6 dinners (D)

  • Professional city guides in Fes and Marrakech

  • Professional hiking guide in Boumalne Dades

  • Entrance to all included sites and monuments

  • Winery tour and tasting at Les Celliers de Meknes

  • 1-hour quad excursion in the Sahara Desert

  • Camel trek in the Sahara Desert

  • Cooking class at La Maison Arab

  • Tips for included meals, hotels, and activities (does not include city guides)


Does Not Include:

  • Beverages

  • Meals not noted as included

  • Snacks and incidentals

  • Hotel services, such as room service or laundry service

  • Tips and gratuities for city guides, group guide, and driver

  • Travel Insurance