Giving to
Bryn Mawr

Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center

Moroccan Discovery

From the Imperial Cities to the Sahara

March 28 – April 10, 2015

This land of dramatic contrasts invites us to encounter its ancient ruins and sacred mosques, endless desert and storied mountains, imposing kasbahs and spirited souks. As we travel from the imperial cities of Rabat, Fez, and Marrakech to the High Atlas and vast Sahara, we open our eyes, and hearts, to a truly foreign land, an age-old culture, and genuinely hospitable people. We invite you to join us on this

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Preliminary Itinerary
(please click on location to reveal details)

FULL ITINERARY

Day 1: Depart U.S.

Depart U.S. for Casablanca, Morocco

Day 2: Casablanca/Rabat

After arriving in Casa¬blanca, the commercial center of Morocco (and of all North Africa), we travel to Rabat, where we check in at our hotel near famed Hassan Tower. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant in Rabat’s Old Town. L,D

Day 3: Rabat

One of Morocco’s four ancient capitals, or imperial cities, Rabat is again the ¬coun¬try’s capital, at once historic and contemporary as we discover on today’s tour. We visit the fortified Kasbah of the Oudaias, the peaceful Andalusian Gardens, and the necropolis of Chellah, built on ancient Roman ruins. Then we cross the river to Sale for lunch in a private home followed by a visit to Rabat’s Archaeological Museum and a walk through the medina. Late afternoon we return to our hotel, where we enjoy dinner tonight. B,L,D

Day 4: Rabat/Meknes/Volubilis/Fez

This ¬morning we depart Rabat for Fez, stopping along the way in Meknes, Morocco’s youngest imperial city (and UNESCO World Heritage site). We visit the Bab el Mansour gateway and the ruins of the imper¬ial stables before lunch in a local restaurant. Then we continue on to the ancient Roman ruins at the UNESCO site of Volubilis, known for its intricate and colorful mosaics. Late afternoon we reach Fez and our elegant hotel adjacent to the medina, another UNESCO World Heritage site. B,L,D

Day 5: Fez

Today we explore Morocco’s oldest imperial city, considered the “Athens of Africa” for its wealth of cultural, educational, and religious institutions. We begin with a walking tour of Fez’s fascinating medina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, focusing on the artisans’ quarters, the 14th-century Koranic schools, and Al Karaouine, the medieval theological university. We return to the hotel for lunch and some time at leisure then mid-afternoon tour the old mellah (Jewish quarter) and its 17th- cen¬tury synagogue, the royal gates, and the Museum of Fez. Tonight we enjoy a private dinner at an intimate family-run riad in Fez. B,L,D

Day 6: Fez

This morning we visit a Berber village where residents live much as their ancestors did centuries ago. We share tea with a local family in their cave dwelling then continue on to whitewashed Sefrou, an old Jewish town at the foot of the Middle Atlas Mountains. Returning to Fez, we stop at the renowned pottery factories. The remainder of the afternoon is free for independent exploration. B,D

Day 7: Fez/Midelt/Erfoud

Traveling inland today, we cross the fertile plains beyond Fez and continue through the Middle Atlas mountain range. We stop in the small town of Midelt for lunch. Continuing on we cross the Ziz River, passing rows of sky-scraping palm trees and fortified villages before reaching our kasbah-style hotel in Erfoud late in the day. Dinner tonight is at our hotel. B,L,D

Day 8: Erfoud/Rissani/Merzouga

This morning we visit the city of Rissani, with its 18th-century ksar, a virtually impenetrable warren of alleys; then continue on to the ruins of Sijilmasa. We enjoy a tour highlight this afternoon as we set out on a sunset excursion to the breathtakingly beautiful sand dunes at Merzouga on the edge of the Sahara. In the enormous silence we watch the sun set over the desert as we take a camel ride along the dunes. B,D

Day 9: Erfoud/Tinehir/Todra Gorges/Ouarzazate

Our destination today is in the snow-topped High Atlas. The day features one beautiful scene after another, including the village of Tinehir, a stunning mountain oasis rising on a series of riverside ter¬races lush with palm trees; and the spectacular 984-foot Todra Gorge, home to a variety of rare bird and plant species. Follow¬ing lunch here we visit El Kelaa des Mgouna, known for its roses, then set out on the fabled “Route of a Thou¬sand Kasbahs” ancient caravan route, a region of fortresses with elaborately decorated façades. Late afternoon we reach the town of Ouarzazate (the “door of the desert”) where we spend the night. B,L,D

Day 10: Ouarzazate/Ait ben-Haddou/Marrakech

En route to Marrakech today, we stop first at uninhab¬ited Ait ben-Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of southern Morocco’s most scenic villages that is often used as a location for fashion and film shoots. Its old section consists of deep red kasbahs packed together so tightly they appear to be a single unit. Then as we begin our descent from the High Atlas, we pass through typical villages with fortified walls and stone houses with earthen roofs. In Tizi N’Tichka, we traverse the Pass of the Pastures (alt. 7,415 feet), where life is much as it was centuries ago: shepherds bring their flocks to the high pastures every summer, then return with them to their villages in autumn. We arrive in Marrakech late this afternoon and dine tonight at our hotel. B,L,D

Day 11: Marrakech

Once the capital of southern Morocco, the imperial city of Marrakech is an allur¬ing oasis with a temperate climate, distinct charm, and fascinating sights. Our day-long tour includes the beautifully proportioned Koutoubia Mosque with its distinctive 282-foot minaret visible from miles away; the lovely Andalusian-style El Bahia Palace (part of which is still used by the royal family); and the ruins of 16th-century Palais El Badii. After lunch at our hotel, mid-afternoon we embark on a walk¬ing tour of the medina, ending at Djemaa el Fna Squ¬are, a UNESCO site and the heart of Marrakech, crowded with snake charm¬ers, ¬entertainers, story¬tellers, musicians, barbers, and sellers of fruit, water, and spices. Dinner tonight is on our own in this exotic city. B,L

Day 12: Marrakech

This morning we travel by horse-drawn carriage from Menara Park to Majorelle Gardens, a private botanical garden with some 15 species of birds native to North Africa and known for its cobalt blue accents. Following a tour of the gardens we visit the newly renovated Berber Museum there, with art and artifacts reflecting Berber culture in Morocco. The afternoon is at leisure before dinner tonight at a local restaurant in the city’s Old Town. B,D

Day 13: Marrakech/Casablanca

We leave Marra¬kech this morning by coach for storied Casablanca, Morocco’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. After a brief orientation tour of the city, we visit the magnificent Hassan II Mosque, Morocco’s only functioning mosque open to non-Muslims. Tonight we celebrate our Moroccan adventure at a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 14: Depart for U.S.

After breakfast this morning we transfer to the airport for our return flight to the U.S. B


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Cost and program Inclusions

Price . . . . TBD

Program Inclusions
  • Round-trip air transportation from listed cities
  • 12 nights’ accommodations in Deluxe, Superior First Class, and First Class hotels
  • 31 meals: 12 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 11 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees
  • Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout your trip
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
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