The mere suggestion of Casablanca, Marrakesh and Rabat stirs a hint of spice in the nostrils. Throughout the centuries, Morocco has been thoroughly cloaked in mystery, 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 15 November 2020 we’ll fly on Turkish Airlines 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 the blue city of Chefchaouen for a night. Chefchaouen is a city in the Rif Mountains of northwest Morocco. It’s known for the striking, blue-washed buildings of its old town. Leather and weaving workshops line its steep cobbled lanes. In the shady main square of Place Outa el Hammam is the red-walled Kasbah, a 15th-century fortress and dungeon, and Chefchouen Ethnographic Museum. The octagonal minaret of the Great Mosque rises nearby. The old town is a great place  and easy to explore.

The next stop on the itinerary is Fes, visiting Volubilis en route. 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 the palm grove oasis town of Skoura. According to legend, Skoura was founded in the 12th century under the Almohad dynasty. Here, among the palm groves there are many adobe villages and kasbahs, many of them dating from the 17th century.

Heading south through the desert we’ll drive via Agdz along the fertile Draa Valley punctuated with lush oases to Zagora. Zagora lies on the edge of the vast Sahara Desert with its wonderful landscapes and sand dunes.

Travelling north to Ourika we’ll drive across the High Atlas Mountains, experiencing the beauty of Berber villages and picturesque scenery, dramatic passes, and a cheerful welcome from the Berber people.

It’s a short drive from Ourika 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, 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 a 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 01 December.

Liz Cotton will be leading 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.