Casablanca.Mosque

The mere suggestion of Casablanca, Marrakesh and Rabat stirs a hint of spice in the nostrils. Morocco has been thoroughly mythologised, and for good reason ~ the light is shimmering, the art extraordinary and the region’s history comes alive in its Imperial medieval cities, Roman ruins, Berber Kasbahs and Islamic monuments. It is to this remarkable destination that Somerset Tours & Travel invites you to join them on a journey of discovery.

Departing from South Africa on 18 November 2017 we’ll fly on Emirates via Dubai to Casablanca where we’ll spend one night with time to explore this fascinating city before heading to the Imperial city of Rabat. Over the centuries Rabat has been owned by the Phoenicians, Romans, Almohads and Merenids and there are plenty of monuments in the city honouring these past cultures, not least in the ancient medina.

From Rabat, the tour continues to Fes, visiting Meknes and Volubilis en route. Meknes is a Moroccan gem and a good place to immerse oneself in the “real” Morocco. As always, the heart of the city is in the medina. Ornately decorated gates punctuate the 40kms of ramparts that surround the city; each a work of art in its own right. Once inside the ramparts, beautiful blue and green murals line the walls and traditional souks.

Dating back to 5000 BC, Volubilis is a partly excavated Berber and Roman city commonly considered as the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Mauretania. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. There are some notable triumphal arches, basilicas, capitols, baths, houses, palaces, villas and fabulous mosaics.

Fes is the oldest of the Imperial cities and is known for its spiritual and educational contributions to Moroccan culture. Fes is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has been called the “Mecca of the West” and the “Athens of Africa”. We’ll be spending two nights in this very exotic city with time to visit the medieval medina and explore the souks.

From Fes we’ll cross the Middle Atlas Mountains passing picturesque Berber villages and the ski resort of Ifrane. Travelling via Midelt and the Ziz Canyons, a spectacular route offering wonderful scenery, we’ll arrive in Erfoud on the edge of the Sahara Desert. The sunrises in the Sahara are not to be missed! We’ll take an early morning 4×4 trip into the Erg Chebbi dunes for a really memorable sunrise experience.

We’ll travel along the Route of a Thousand Kasbahs via Tinerhir and Boumalne, exploring the Todra Canyons and magnificent oases before reaching Ouarzazate, gateway to Southern Morocco.

Heading south through the desert we’ll drive from Ouarzazate via Agdz along the fertile Draa Valley punctuated with lush oases to Zagora visiting the ancient library of Tamegrout and doing a bit of camel riding in the dunes en route. Zagora lies on the edge of the vast Sahara Desert with its wonderful landscapes and sand dunes. During the Saadian dynasty’s rule, Zagora was an important spiritual and scientific centre; to this day its library contains many ancient manuscripts.

The tour will then proceed to Taroudant, pearl of the Sous. The town’s origins are uncertain but it did have twenty years of glory as the Saadian capital when that dynasty first reigned. Even when the rulers moved to more strategic Marrakesh, they did not forget Taroudant and returned frequently on long pleasure trips. It’s easy to understand the sovereign’s desire to return when you see Taroudant ~ a medieval town entirely surrounded by dark, red-brown crenellated walls twenty feet high.

It’s a short drive across the impressively high Atlas Mountains to mystical Marrakech. Here we will spend three nights to explore this fascinating city, possibly the most important of Morocco’s four imperial cities that were built by Moroccan Berber empires. Marrakech has a glorious history. Like many Moroccan cities, Marrakech comprises an old fortified city with a medina packed with vendors and their stalls. We’ll be exploring the beautiful mosques, palaces and gardens and fascinating souks.

From Marrakech, the group will drive to the medieval white-washed, blue-shuttered town of Essaouira situated on the Atlantic coast for two nights. We’ll be in for at treat with the thuya wood workshops, art galleries, silversmith studios and mouthwatering seafood. The city that once lured rock stars like Jimi Hendrix here in the Sixties, still retains its character. Protected by the 18th century seafront ramparts which were designed by European engineers, old brass cannons line the city walls; a reminder of its history of blood and thunder.

With our trip winding down towards a close, we’ll travel along the coast to reach Casablanca for an overnight stop before flying back to South Africa on 04 December.

Liz will be accompanying the group from South Africa and a professional local guide will be escorting the group throughout the region.

If you have any queries, or would like to secure your reservation on this tour, please do not hesitate to contact me on +27 (0)21 786-2598 or cell +27 (0)83 357 4855 or email info@somersettours.co.za. I look forward to booking your place on this unique tour.

Morocco is a land of stupendous contrasts. From the exotic and magical enchantment of its imperial cities to the magnificent Sahara Desert, all through the untamed and rugged beauty of the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco has many great wonders to offer its travellers. We hope you will be able to join us.