Morocco Cultural Tour: Marrakech, Essaouira & the High Atlas Mountains

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Total Trip:

8 Days
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Countries Visited:

Morocco
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Places Visited:

Marrakech, Imlil, Essaouira
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
The Atlas Mountains divide Morocco with snow capped peaks and unparalleled panoramas. The Atlantic Ocean laps at gold sand shores and the historic ramparts of an antique Portuguese fortress. This custom tailored Morocco tour shows you the enchanting culture around Marrakesh. Listen to storytellers spin tales of the country’s past. Snake charmers captivate and villagers can trace their histories back beyond

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Customizable Itinerary

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Day 1

Discovering Marrakesh

Morocco is a country with rich heritage and marveled landscapes. Arrive in Marrakesh and find the culture and the scenery displayed in the streets and around the edges of the city. The Atlas Mountains peak in the distance, their caps are bright with snow. The city’s western edges look towards the city of Essaouira and the Atlantic Ocean at the country’s fringe. Your Morocco travel agent will provide a private transfer to take you from the airport to your spectacular hotel in the heart of the Old City. The historic mansion has been refurbished with luxury and culture in mind, providing traditional atmosphere and décor mixed with cosmopolitan comfort.

The city is emblematic of charm and Morocco’s past, spellbinding in its imagery and enchanting in the vibrant soul of heritage. Djemaa el-Fna is filled with snake charmers that have captivated the hearts of visitors for centuries. Storytellers recite celebrated tales of heroes, princesses, and sultans. Rooftop cafes provide an aerial view of the bustling square and the narrow streets that wind away from the activity. The aroma of mint tea is soothing. The minaret of Koutoubia Mosque can be seen towering over 250 feet into the sky.

Concentric orbs decorate the spire and glow in the warm afternoon light. The mosque was constructed in the 12th century and the minaret acts like a compass when you travel through the Medina, visible from most directions. The top is decorated with a band of ceramic tiles. The majesty of the city embraces you from the beginning. It takes you into the celebrated history that has informed the future of the people and the country. The songs of Djemaa el-Fna ring into the evening and the delightful stories of Marrakesh are layered with new meaning.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

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Day 2

The Old Truths

The songs of the square rise with the sun. Snakes rise and sway, mesmerized by the movement of the snake charmer. Musicians sing old songs that praise nobility and grace. Wake up to the alluring aromas of traditional Moroccan cuisine. Enjoy breakfast in the courtyard near the edge of the cooling pond. The reflective waters mirror the encompassing balcony and mosaics. Breakfast is filled with the local flavors of dates and figs. Creamy olive oils and orange blossom add a bit of zest to the breads and pastries. After your meal you will venture out into the city once more to explore the famous alleyways and rising universities that have enriched the city since the 11th century.

Medersa Ben Youssef is a theological school that was constructed in the 14th century. The university revolves around a large courtyard that holds a central pool. The shallow water magnifies the checkered tiles that pave the floor and reflects the surrounding mosaics. Detailed carved cedar latticework and vibrant zellij tiles decorate the buildings. The large prayer hall is near the back of the courtyard. The walls are decorated with pinecone and palm images. The quiet atmosphere and delicate design takes you away from the heart of the city. In this place it feels like the university encompasses the streets and creates a serene and elegant neighborhood. Return to the meandering streets of the Old City and find the continuous bustle drifting along.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Searching in the Atlas

The sun shines over the hillsides and into the crevices of the Medina’s narrow alleyways. The souq comes to spirited life with people selling spices and hand-woven slippers. Breakfast is delicious with both savory and sweet offerings. Your guide meets you at the hotel and escorts you out of the city to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. The mountains separate the Sahara Desert from the Atlantic Ocean. Plains and orchards fill the countryside and give way to altitudinal plants. Wind around the roadways that offer exciting views of the distancing valley. Arrive at the Berber village of Imlil located 5,708 feet above sea level.

In spring the mountains are draped in flower blossoms and lush grass. In winter the mountaintops are covered in snow and look like passing clouds. The village is tranquil. The traditional buildings are made with red brick and stand out beneath the rising verdant trees. The Kasbah has been restored and stands along the hillside with a view of the undulating foothills. The powerful peaks dwarf the impressive structure. Mules and muleteers stroll along small and subtle paths across the mountainside. The earthen citadel beneath the fortress and the rising trees offer a mixture of aromas that flow through the crisp air. From the top of the hill you can look out over the orchards and earthen hamlets of three separate valleys.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Atlas Rising

You feel like the first person to see the sun in all of Morocco. It reaches over the nearby peaks and layers the sky with light and color. Breakfast is filled with traditional Berber flavors. Bourjeje is a traditional pancake made with flour, eggs, yeast, and salt. Sun spreads over the mountainside and the valley below bringing the verdant orchards into the light. After breakfast you will follow your guide deeper into the Atlas Mountains to explore the wealth of landscape and the Berber villages that have made the mountains their home for thousands of years.

Mules can carry almost 200 pounds on their backs and have helped locals and visitors trek the mountain passes. The tallest peaks in the Middle Atlas Mountains stand over 13,100 feet tall. The scent of cedar drifts through the range. The peak of Jebel Toubkal is over 13,600 feet above sea level. The longer you trek along the mountainside the more beautiful it looks. The air is cold and the scenery is pristine, untouched and unadulterated. You stand between snow packed hillsides and cedar forest foothills. When you return to Imlil you can relax in the hammam, similar to a Turkish bath, meant to refresh and rejuvenate the body and the spirit.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Images of the Ocean

The mountains loom large over the morning. Take in the view once more at breakfast. The entirety of Morocco looks calm and cheerful in the zesty orchards and sweeping foothills. You make your way down the citadel, wind along the mountain roads, and soon arrive in the seaside village of Essaouira. The loveliness of the village is in its preservation, from the old city to the 18th century seaport ramparts. The city feels exotic and familiar.

Seagulls glide around the embankments and colorful fishing boats linger on the horizon. When you enter the Old City you find the distinctly Moroccan culture awaiting you. The alleyways are narrow and the sea air sweeps through the city. The aroma of spics and wood hang on the back of the breeze. Palm trees cast shadows over the exterior walls and a rhythmic beat calls out with fun and lively spirit. The city teems with culture, from local tribes to distant visitors that have added a splash of eclecticism to the streets.

Local artists were inspired by the museum and now capture dreamlike landscapes in colorful palettes. The city has Carthaginian roots from the 5th century BC and the Portuguese constructed the encompassing walls in the 16th century AD. Check into your hotel inside a comfortable historic riad located at the heart of the Medina. Sit on the rooftop terrace, listen to the water splash against the ramparts, and watch the pleasures of the charming streets pass by.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Leisure Along the Coastline

The streets of the Medina are lined with stone and weave beneath archways. Art galleries provide insight into the colorful culture of the city and its connection to the greater history of Morocco. After breakfast you will have a day at leisure to explore and experience the city at your own pace. To the south of town is the Ile de Mogador, a set of two islands and tiny islets home to Eleonora’s falcons. The breeze blows over the golden shores. The water laps against the nearby islands. You can see the falcons gliding in the air over the landmass. Their wingspan can extend up to 41 inches long. They perch on thin branches and search for insects and dragonflies.

When you wander through the Medina you always transport yourself back to the central bustle of the 18th century walls. Vivacious shops press against whitewashed houses. Old and heavy doors are painted with shining hues. The Skala de la Ville is an impressive sea support along the cliffs. Brass canons line the walkways of the ramparts and you can pass them by for an aerial view of the charming cityscape. Costumes and customs come to life in the Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah Museum. Jewelry and weapons, musical instruments and handmade carpets are displayed. There is also an area that describes the signs and symbols that local craftspeople use.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

Return to Familiar Streets

The ocean laps at the ramparts and the sounds of the marketplace course along the narrow streets. After breakfast your private transfer takes you back to the familiar streets of Marrakesh. Settle into the comforts of the old riad and hear the music emanating from Djemma el-Fna. Your guide meets you at the hotel and escorts you to the remarkable 19th century palace that now houses the Dar Si Said Museum of Traditional Crafts. Continue to the historic Bahia Palace. The 19th century palace resembles a peacock in stature and color.

The palace was home to the Gran Vizier Bou Ahmed. The grounds are decorated from floor to ceiling with gilded paint and inlaid woodwork. The Petit Court is filled with sunburst zellij tiles that dazzles in the light. Traversing the grounds provides a view into the opulent life of the sultanate and the delicate tastes of the time. Stained glass windows offer colorful light to the harem and the gardens encompass over two acres. The 800-year-old wooden pulpit was taken from the Koutoubia mosque. Return to the city and relax in the iridescent night.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 8

A Culture Foretold

You arrived in Morocco wanting to experience the heritage and otherworldly landscape that has inspired and enchanted explorers throughout time. At breakfast you listen to the drifting music of the square one last time. The storytellers had conjured images of the stately country, filled with legends of flying carpets that influenced a romantic history. Your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to the airport. The wonders of Morocco surpassed the brilliance of your imagination, showing you how magical history and heritage can be.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Indulge in modern luxuries with a view of the lush valleys and snow capped peaks in the Atlas Mountains
  • Experience the persistent Berber culture in mountain villages
  • Witness the historic spirit of Morocco in the vibrant square and animated Medina of Marrakesh
  • Explore the seaside charm of Essaouira, whose culture dates back to the Carthaginians
  • Discover the hidden niches and secrete shops of the Portuguese fortress in Essaouira
  • Visit the dazzling architecture of the Bahia Palace
  • Stroll through the eclectic marketplaces and find handmade wares, from rugs to jewelry
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Detailed Description

Spread across Morocco is the mythical mountains of the High Atlas. The foothills descend dramatically when they reach the edge of the cobalt Atlantic Ocean. Fishing boats linger around the horizon with colorfully painted bows. Villages speckle the mountainsides and have inhabited the region for millennia. You find the majesty of the culture informed by the magnificence of the landscape. Each town is rich with heritage and every glowing inch of the scenery leads you back to Marrakesh.

On this 8-day journey through Morocco you will discover the relationship between land and heritage, history and mythology, emanating from the wonders of countryside. Arrive in Marrakesh and settle into your luxurious hotel located inside an historic riad. Meet your guide and spend time exploring the monuments that decorate the cityscape, from the Koutoubia Mosque to the celebrated Djemaa el-Fna. Continue your walking tour and visit the theological university of Medersa ben Youssef built in the Middle Ages. Explore the souq and discover the Old City.

In the foothills of the Atlas Mountains is Imlil, a Berber village built from the earthenware of the local supplies. Visit the old Kasbah and let the panorama of sweeping valleys and rambling mountain peak enchant you. Follow your guide on a tour through the mountainside, exploring the landscape on ancient footpaths to visit other Berber Villages. In Essaouira you will settle into a comfortable riad in the classic Medina. The historic streets charm you in front the backdrop of drifting Atlantic Ocean.

Wander through the fortress and indulge in the delightful narrow passageways constructed by the Portuguese. Return to Marrakesh and leave no cultural stone unturned. Journey to the Bahia Palace and witness the colorful and intricate work at the Islamic Art Museum. Your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and take you to the airport for your flight home. As the flight rises over the Atlantic you can see the golden ramparts of the old fortress on the coastline.

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Starting Price

$1795 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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