Casablanca, Rabat, Fes, Marrakech, Cairo, Giza, Aswan, Luxor, Memphis
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Morocco and Egypt, countries separated by the Sahara, bring a colorful history of civilizations of elegance and enchantment. One is bustling and bright, created by the artisans and arouse every single one of your senses. The other is desolate and imposing, ancient relics a majestic showcase of power and early mastery. Their legacies may lay in different eras, but Egypt and Morocco both celebrate the diaphanous beauty of desert civilization and this handcrafted luxury tour to Egypt and Morocco...
Rabat – Beauty and Boutique Styles from Casablanca to Rabat
The Casablanca Corniche glistens in the morning light, a window onto the oceanfront on the very west of the Sahara. One of the world’s largest mosques is nearby, its compass point the 220-meter minaret that stands proudly above the city. Take a look inside, admiring the calligraphy and harmony of design and enjoying the tranquility of the style. After landing in Casablanca, you will take a quick tour of these two sites, perhaps fueled by the thick local coffee before the one-hour drive to Rabat, the first of Morocco’s imperial cities you will visit. Well worth the extra drive, Rabat is abounding with boutique alleyways and the legacy left by the artisans. Check into your hotel and relax, the rest of the day at your leisure in this blissful little city.
Fes – Morocco’s Sublime Artisanal Cities of Meknes and Fes
Each of the imperial cities has its own color usually revealed through the sloping tiled roofs and decoration that lines the whitewashed mosques. Each of them also promotes the work of artisans, not applying any taxes to local products and crafters, while heavily taxing outside goods and designs. So a beautifully carved ornamental ceiling in Rabat looks different to a ceiling in Meknes and Fes, both in color and design. Likewise, the calligraphy on the side of a mosque has a contrasting hue in each of the cities. Such an approach means that around 15% of the cities’ populations are in the artisan trade, from creating mosaics to embroidering leather, and from laying wood to designing windows.
Spend the morning in the maze-like lanes of Meknes, admiring the contrasts of design and the fabulous doors that stand out on streets barely wide enough for a donkey. Take lunch here on a cobbled main square that looks out onto the decaying remains of a palace, before stopping off at the Roman ruins of Volubilis. Arriving in nearby Fes, you will notice that the color is blue, symbolizing the water and the sky, two integral parts of desert life. Check into your hotel where the rest of the day is at your leisure, the classic experience is to sip tea on one of the rooftops, absorbing the urban soundtrack that floats up from the maze of lanes.
Fes – Imperial Delights of the World’s Largest Walled City
Founded in 790 AD, Fes is an epic portrayal of lifestyle unchanged. Start by understanding the scale by driving up and into the hills surrounding the town and looking down on the extent of the world’s largest walled city. Once inside the maze, it almost always feels like you are lost with every narrow street looking the same at first glance, nothing ever straight. The guide knows where to go, and you will explore the highlights of the medieval Medina, ending in the small neighborhood of Nejjarine, where a magnificent fountain is your cue for a meze lunch characterized by all the typical Moroccan flavors: hummus, cinnamon, couscous, ginger, saffron and more. The afternoon and evening are at your leisure as Morocco is a surprisingly relaxed country and the more time you take, the more you uncover.
Fes – Crafts and Cultures in the Labyrinthine Souks
While the imperial cities hold a dozen centuries of history, they are continually kept up to date by the artisans. Time does not stand still, and crafts certainly change, but across all four of the cities, the design is based on the idea that there is no substitute for handmade quality. Spend today with artisans, from those that create fragrant spice mixes to those that paint intricate henna. Follow the scent of cedar wood to wood carvers, then take an in-depth private tour of the tannery, the smell of leather growing stronger. Colors are everywhere, and sounds compel you to keep exploring, while on this day tour there is always another opportunity to share a glass of tea with someone you have just met.
Marrakech – Immersed in the Atlas Mountains and Berber Lifestyles
A spine of mountains rises ruggedly from the desert, the peaks glistening with snow throughout the winter months. Following a winding mountain road, you will explore this calming wilderness as the vistas extend towards sand dunes out on the horizon. This is the land of the Berbers, and you will stop at two delightful little villages. In the first, you will be invited into a home for lunch, and then you will stop at a handicrafts cooperative in the other. Continue your drive and traverse the trees of the mid-Atlas range, arriving in Marrakech for a relaxed evening. Your guide will point out a wonderful little cafe terrace for watching the sunset, two stories above the snake charmers and traditional musicians that work the main square.
Marrakech – The Dazzling Sights and Sounds of the Pearl of the South
The Koutoubia Minaret reflects the morning sun, a symbol of Marrakech from which a hauntingly beautiful call to prayer rings out. It is the only building in the old city permitted to rise above the height of a palm tree, something that means Marrakech has lots of staggeringly tall palms amongst a wide urban labyrinth that is almost impossible to navigate. Hiding amongst the souks and sounds are sublime gardens, important tombs, astonishing palaces and Islamic schools holding seven centuries of history. This is the red city, paint made from local clay, the colors faded to a rosy tint beneath the relentless desert sun. You will spend the whole day discovering its highlights, and like always, there is lots of time to stop, rest, drink a sweet glass of tea and converse with strangers.
Marrakech – Hot Air Balloon Ride Above the Desert
Only from the air can you make out the enormity of old Marrakech as the red roof tiles stand above endless swathes of clay brick and tightly-packed souks. You can also admire how the city has conquered the Sahara with so many green gardens opening out from the maze. From your hot air balloon, you can also view the colors of the desert and how it sparkles through red and yellow and orange. Your morning ride is followed by a private cooking class with the chef taking you first to the market for an understanding of the spices, and then showing you the fundamentals of Moroccan delicacies which are known across the world. Later in the day, a guide will help you to navigate Djemaa el Fna, a square that bustles with acrobats, story tellers, musicians and an exotic caravan of life from the Saharan middle ages.
Cairo – Pyramids on the Other Side of the Northern Sahara
The daily flights from Casablanca to Cairo take just under five hours, and you will cross the entirety of the Sahara Desert from west to east. Earlier in the day, it is a 45-minute flight to Casablanca from Marrakech. Touch down after this day of travel, and you will be transferred to a hotel that is barely a mile from the ancient wonder of the world. Although it will be past dusk, the Great Pyramids of Giza are lit by spotlights in the evening, providing a mesmeric view from the hotel rooftop. Immediately, you will sense the change in atmosphere between the countries. The cities of Morocco are low and widely spread, enveloping you with the subtleties of their sounds and smells while the monuments of Egypt are towering and imposing, showcasing the dramatic grandeur of both scale and design.
Cairo – Exploring Ancient Memphis and the Legacy of the Pyramids
Pass the Great Sphinx of Giza, afforded such space as it rises like a phantom from the sand. Wander towards the pyramids and admire the simplicity of the design with such seductive construction that looms large, and when you stand at the base, their engineering seems impossible. As the Saharan sun reflects off the façade, you will enter the Grand Pyramid, exploring the epic size from the inside. Nearby, the smaller Mankaure Pyramid provides a more detailed insight into the myths and beliefs of the old kings, so much detail etched into the stone.
These pyramids are far from the only iconic sites that dot the desert on the outskirts of Cairo. Ancient Memphis stretches for 15 kilometers, and you will find the crumbling remains of temples and tombs, leftovers forever changed by the roaring Sahara winds. Among them is Saqqara, the first of the pyramids, edges rounded as the structure slowly returns to what it was before: Saharan rock and dust. It will be a full day of touring to get around these sights, but you will have a few quiet hours back at the hotel before a traditional dinner at a Bedouin restaurant.
Aswan – Seductive Temple of Philae and Sailing the Nile River
Fly one hour south, and the definition of oasis surrounds you with gardens and green groves rising on the banks of the River Nile. Aswan is peaceful and pristine, merging desert culture with an Arabic influence from further afield. Time moves slowly here, and nothing is ever rushed, certainly not an afternoon felucca sailboat cruise on the river. Earlier in the day, you will be introduced to Aswan by visiting Philae, a dramatic rock-cut temple that had to be rescued from the flooding created by Aswan. Explore the old part of the city, stopping for lunch and coffee on the banks of the river, and then set sail throughout the afternoon with flourishing island gardens among the potential places you can stop.
River Nile – A Relaxed Luxury Cruise, Stopping at Majestic Temples
It is your luxury Nile cruise that ensures your ambitious itinerary to Morocco and Egypt stays relaxed. After ten days spent exploring with your senses taking in so many new impulses, there is an unusual calm to cruising down the River Nile. Desert landscapes are admired from your private balcony with sand dunes and oases dotting the journey. When the boat docks, the sights are majestic, like the Kom Ombo Temple and a collection of mummified crocodiles, or a horse and carriage that takes you to the inspiring remains of Edfu Temple. This is the Nile cruise experience, serenity mixed with the sublime legacy of the ancient Egyptian civilization.
Luxor – Tombs and Temples of the Valley of the Kings
As you cruise into Luxor, you will glimpse the astonishing columns and temples found in the world’s great open-air museum. Disembark in the morning, and 64 tombs await with the Valley of the Kings carved into the rock on Luxor’s West Bank. Around ten of them are open to visitors, the fame and glory of restored Ramses IV’s tomb matched by the nuanced design and musty smells of lesser-known kings. Enter one tomb, and then keep descending to another, where King Tut was once buried beneath it all. With its sculpted porticos, Queen Hatshepsut’s temple stretches over three floors, a stylish alternative to the more rugged styles of the kings. It will take a full day to really experience it all, completed by the staggering Colossi of Memnon, a symbol of Ancient Egypt’s power. Spend the night on the same Nile vessel, docked on the edge of Luxor.
Cairo – Astonishing Sights of Luxor’s East Bank and Departure
Dozens of carved stone sphinxes surround you as hundreds of columns rise far above your head, topped off with intricate hieroglyphics and strange sculpted depictions of the gods. A temple complex opens out, and the detail is mesmerizing with the world’s largest ancient religious site requiring at least two hours of your time. You will be on Luxor’s East Bank, where the temples of Luxor and Karnak write a poignant epilogue to the last 13 days, so full of beauty yet so ineffable until you experience them first hand. After lunch, you will have use of a local hotel for freshening up before your flight back to Cairo, where you transfer onto a homebound flight.
- Explore the different styles found in Morocco’s four imperial cities as artisans shape design in Rabat, Meknes, Fes and Marrakech
- Uncover the secrets of the world’s largest walled city – Fes – where tanneries hide in labyrinthine souks and the sheer concentration of sights can be baffling
- Take a journey through the Atlas Mountains, a stark landscape on the edge of the Sahara, stopping at traditional Berber villages on route
- Immerse your senses in Marrakech, the sounds and smells of the souks accompanied by a cooking class and a hot air balloon ride above the desert
- Wander through the breathtaking remains of ancient Memphis and stand before the great Pyramids of Giza
- Sail on the River Nile near Aswan in a traditional felucca boat bringing a relaxed afternoon surrounded by a desert oasis
- Spend days cruising down the River Nile, an experience that’s indelibly tranquil yet dotted with exquisite temples from the old Egyptian kingdoms
- Delve into one of the world’s great open-air museums in Luxor and take time to discover both sides of the river, from the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank to the epic temples of Luxor and Karnak on the East Bank
The Sahara Desert cuts a dramatic imprint across North Africa, the red and yellow expanses clearly visible from space. To the east lies Egypt, home of the most remarkable ancient civilization. To the west is Morocco, built much later but with the same dedication to unique style. On the surface, there is little that connects these two great countries, but you will be intrigued as you delve into them both. Religion is one shared aspect, and you will visit some wonderfully elegant mosques and old Islamic neighborhoods. The main comparable is the need for innovation, a need pressed upon all inhabitants of the desert. In Egypt, the style was to conquer leaving an imposing legacy behind as temples and pyramids rise like phantoms from the sand. In Morocco, the style was dictated by the artists, their legacy being the wonderful sensual experience found everywhere you turn.
Inimitable and immersive, this handcrafted tour combines the highlights of these two countries on either side of the Sahara. Daily flight connections between Casablanca and Cairo are your connection across the desert, with private guides leading the experience as soon as you touch down. Spend your first week in Morocco, visiting all four of the imperial cities. The following week spent in Egypt encompasses the major highlights from the time of the kings and pharaohs, including Giza, Luxor and the temples along the River Nile.
Rabat is an introduction to boutique styles, easily reached after landing in Casablanca. The next day, you will journey to Meknes, exploring its elegance and charm before traveling beneath an ancient gate, into the world’s largest walled city. Spend several nights here in Fes, a home of craft and culture, and a city that delights all of the senses. The Atlas Mountains rise dramatically from the Sahara, and hidden amongst their folds are small Berber villages that provide a contrasting experience. Once settled into several nights in the Pearl of the South, Marrakech, you will find the nuance in an atmosphere that is as colorful as it is vibrant. A cooking class and hot air balloon ride are just part of your experience here.
Fly across the Sahara and spend the next evening looking over the pyramids, your hotel expertly situated for accessing these famous monuments. They are not the only icons here and a day in Memphis and Giza showcase a majestic old world still standing proudly amid the desert’s desolation. For the first week of your tour, there is a lot to see and take in, so a luxury River Nile cruise is a tranquil antidote as you travel from Aswan to Luxor while passing some remarkably remote and preserved temples. Then the world wonders of the open-air museum take over, from the tombs in the Valley of the Kings to the avenue of sculpted sphinxes and then the mesmeric temples of Luxor and Karnak, a fitting epilogue to the delights of the desert. Click here for more ideas for traveling in Egypt available on Zicasso.
$10,395 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
Reviews of Zicasso's Referral Service
4.83 stars based on 721 reviews
"Mahmoud was so easy to work with throughout the planning...
Reviewed By Geoffrey W.
"I can't imagine doing it without the expertise that our...
Reviewed By Darren H.
"Our travel coordinator was always very responsive and understood...
Reviewed By Steven D.
"Everything our travel planner said would happen, happened...
Reviewed By David B.
"I can't say enough good things about our experience! "
Reviewed By Christopher B.
"We could see the planner's personal touch in every day...
Reviewed By Bobby H.
Get Weekly Inspiration and Expert Advice on Travel
during the COVID and post-COVID era