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Music and Food Immersion Tour

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13 Days/12 Nights of Moroccan Music and Culinary Delights

Enjoy this special cultural immersion of Morocco with an exploration of the traditional food and music of the country.  On this tour, we’ll sample a variety of local specialities, enjoy a wine tasting, participate in a full-day cooking class, and experience the music of each region with special private concerts all sandwiched between TWO of Morocco’s most well-known music festivals – the Sacred Music Festival in Fes  and Gnaoua World Music Festival in Essaouira.  Oh, and did we mention that you’re group will be led by a famous Moroccan rock star?  Led by our favorite Moroccan Rock Star, Amnay, this unique tour is perfect for music lovers and foodies alike!


 


Trip Summary

 

June 12 – 24, 2019

$2999 USD Per Person*

*based on double occupancy

$455 USD Single Supplement

Daily Itinerary
  • Day 1: Welcome to Morocco (Casablanca to Rabat)
  • Day 2: Meknes
  • Day 3: Meknes to Fes (Sacred Music Festival)
  • Day 4: Fes (Sacred Music Festival)
  • Day 5: Fes to Midelt
  • Day 6: Midelt to Merzouga
  • Day 7: Merzouga to Dades
  • Day 8: Dades/Valley of Roses
  • Day 9: Dades to Marrakech
  • Day 10: Marrakech
  • Day 11: Marrakech to Essaouira (Gnaoua World Music Festival)
  • Day 12: Essaouira (Gnaoua World Music Festival)
  • Day 13: Bon Voyage (Departure Transfer to Casablanca)
Includes
  • Private Transportation
  • English Speaking Driver/Guide
  • Guided Tour of Rabat
  • Guided Tour of Meknes
  • Guided Tour of Volubilis
  • Guided Tour of Fes
  • Guided Walk in Tinghir Palmaeraie
  • Guided Tour of Marrakech
  • Camel Trek
  • Overnight Stay in Desert Camp
  • Lunch with Local Family
  • Dinner at Home of Local Chef
  • Gnaoua World Music Festival
  • Sacred Music Festival
  • Private Concerts
  • Wine Tasting
  • Full-Day Cooking Class
  • All Entrance Fees
  • 12 Nights of Accommodations
  • 12 Breakfasts
  • 6 Dinners
  • 7 Lunches
Excludes
  • Airfare to/from Morocco
  • Meals other than specified
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Personal Expenses
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Morocco: Casablanca to Rabat
Meals Included: Dinner

Welcome to Morocco! The tour will meet at noon at the Casablanca Mohamed V International Airport.  From here, you will head directly to the Hassan II Mosque for a guided tour of this awe-inspiring edifice.  After visiting the mosque, you’ll make your way up the coast to the current capital city of Morocco, Rabat.  Once we check into our accommodations, you’ll have a little time to rest and then you will head to a local restaurant that specializes in Rabati cuisine for a welcome dinner.  Tonight will be an early night to give you a chance to recover from your journeys. Additional airport transfers can be arranged by request for an additional fee.  If you choose to arrive a day early, we will pick you up from your Casablanca hotel accommodations. 

Day 2: Rabat to Meknes
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast, you will enjoy a tour of the important monuments of Rabat, including Kasbah of the Udayas, the Royal Palace, Hassan Tower, and Mohammed V Mausoleum.  After your visit here, you will head to the lessor known imperial city of Meknes. As a contemporary of Louis XIV, Sultan Moulay Ismail built Meknes to rival Versailles and this city reflects the oddities of this eccentric ruler.  Your visit will begin by entering the old medina through the striking gate of Bab Mansour, which incorporates marble pillars that were taken from the Roman ruins of Volubilis. Once you enter the gate, you’ll visit the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail and the dismal underground Prison de Kara. From here,you will visit the impressive Agdal reservoir which brings to mind the Grand Canal of Versailles, followed by Heri es-Souani, a former granary and royal stable that once housed over 12,000 royal horses. After your visit, you will end you day with a special dinner and enjoy a private performance of local Malhon musicians.

Day 3: Meknes - Moulay Idriss Zerhoun - Volubilis - Fes

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

This morning, you will have a later start – you can use the extra time to explore on your own or get a little extra sleep so that you’ll be ready to enjoy a later night at the music festival.  From Meknes, you travel to the once sacred city of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun where you will lunch “like the locals”: fresh meat and locally source vegetables grilled to order.  After eating, you’ll take a peak through the gateway towards the tomb of Moulay Idriss I, the founder of the first dynasty of Morocco and credited with spreading Islam throughout the Maghreb (what is now Morocco). This important and sacred mausoleum is the site of pilgrimages for those who cannot afford to make the journey to Mecca.  After this, you make the short drive to the Roman ruins of Volubilis. Before the Romans came, Volubilis was an Amazigh city known as Oulili (pronounced wa-lee-lee) which dates back to the 3rd century B.C. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in the 18th century and subsequently further damaged by Moulay Ismail’s architects (see above), it is still “an exceptionally well preserved example of a large Roman colonial town on the fringes of the Empire”, according to the UNESCO World Heritage listing. The city was reclaimed by the local Amazigh tribes around 235 AD, but later abandoned when Moulay Idriss I established the first dynasty of the Kingdom of Morocco on a nearby hill, the city that is now named after him. After your guided tour here, you will make the short drive to Fes, where you will check into your riad and then attend the Sacred Music Festival.

Day 4: Fes Immersion!
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

This morning after breakfast, you’ll have a guided tour of this beautiful imperial city.  You’ll start with a visit to the Royal Palace where you will learn about Fes’s rich history.  From there, you’ll take a walk in the Jewish quarter of the city before heading to the Borj (city tower) where you will get a panoramic view of the city.  Next, you will head to a local mosaic house, where you will have a demonstration of the traditional pottery methods still used by artisans today.  After the visit here, you’ll be taken to the edge of the medina where you will continue your tour on foot. You will enter into the medina of Fes through Bab Boujloud (the Blue Gate), where you will discover the ancient streets and neighborhoods, as well as Al-Qarawaiyin University. Founded in 864 AD and still in operation today, it holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest continually operated university in the world.  Of course, no medina tour is complete without visiting some of the local artisans to see the ancient techniques still employed today.  During the tour, you’ll stop for lunch at Restaurant Najarine located in the center of the medina, where you will sample a variety of traditional Fesi dishes.  After the tour, you’ll have some free time to discover more of the city on your own before attending another night of the Sacred Music Festival. 

Day 5: Fes to Midelt
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today after breakfast, you will make your way to the desert. You’ll travel through the Middle Atlas Mountains through Azrou and through the largest cedar forest in all of Africa. This is also home to the Atlas Monkeys (aka Barbary Apes) that are always entertaining. After visiting the monkeys, and a picnic lunch in the cedar forest, you’ll continue to Midelt located in the high plains between the Middle and the High Atlas Mountains.  You’ll check into your hotel for the night and enjoy a traditional welcome of Mint Tea.  After tea, you’ll have the option to join a light hike in a nearby ecological park to stretch you legs.  Dinner tonight will be served at the hotel and it will consist of freshly caught local trout from the volcanic lakes in the region.  Bonus: This accommodation also has alcohol available for purchase.  Dinner will be followed by dancing to Atlas music performed by local musicians.

Day 6: Midelt, Medfouna, and Merzouga Camel Trek!
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, you’ll travel over the High Atlas Mountains directly to the city of Rissani – the last city of any size before reaching the dunes of the Sahara.  For lunch today,  you’ll sample the local specialty, medfouna.  Also known as Berber pizza, this dish is the Moroccan take on an Italian calzone.  After lunch, you’ll head to a village comprised of Gnaoua musicians, Khamlia, where you will be served tea and treated to a private concert.  After listening to this spiritual music and learning about its sub-saharan routes, you’ll head to a hotel on the edge of the giant dunes where you will be able to refresh yourself with a dip before climbing aboard your camel and trek through the dunes to your Berber camp for the night. Once there, you can climb the nearest dune to watch the sun set and the stars come out. Dinner will be served at camp followed by more traditional music while you relax and stargaze.  When you are ready, you can retire to your tent for the night… or, if you wish, you can sleep under the gazillion stars of the Sahara.

Day 7: Merzouga to Dades Valley
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

This morning you will be awoken by your camel guide before dawn so that you can witness the breathtaking beauty of the Saharan sunrise. Afterwards, you will take your camels back to the kasbah on the edge of the dunes where breakfast will be served. You will also be given a room where you can shower and prepare for your day. After breakfast and showers, you will start the journey towards Marrakech. On the way, you’ll stop to visit the ancient irrigation system that once brought water all the way from the Saghro Mountains to the desert. Next, you will head to the town of Tinghir. where you will have a guided walk of the oasis palmeraie before heading to nearby Todgha Gorge. You’ll have another opportunity to stretch your legs once again as you walk through the most impressive part of the gorge. From here you will make the short drive to the Dades Valley to your auberge for the night.  This auberge is one of our favorites for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is the food.  Made with locally sourced organic ingredients, this is Moroccan food the way mom makes it.  Delicious and plentiful, you may want them to save the leftovers for breakfast!

Day 8: Local Immersion in the Valley of Roses!
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today, you will have a choice of a leisurely morning and breakfast, or go for a light hike in the valley.  After your morning hike (or morning of leisure), you will spend the rest of the day living like the locals.  You’ll head to one of the local markets to acquire ingredients for lunch and then head to a local family’s home.  Once there, you can participate in the lunch preparations or just relax and visit with the family before enjoying a traditional lunch of couscous.  After lunch and a little rest, you will have the opportunity to experience a traditional Hammam OR discover a little of the nearby town center.  In the late afternoon, you will return back to your hotel for another delicious dinner.  After dinner, you’ll have another private concert of local musicians and you’ll be invited to join in the fun participated in Ahidous – the tribal music and dance of the region.

Day 9: Dades to Marrakech via Ait Ben Haddou
Meals Included: Breakfast

After breakfast, you will take the road of 1000 Kasbahs on your way to the city of Ouarzazate (pronounced: Wor-za-zet, also known as the Hollywood of Morocco). After passing through Ouarzazate you will make the short drive to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ait Ben Haddou. You’ll have a chance to explore this impressive ksar, before traveling over the High Atlas Mountains via the Tizi n’Tichka path, reaching an altitude of nearly 7500 feet above sea level. There will be plenty of stops for tea and photographs as you take in the breathtaking vistas before arriving in the evening to Marrakech.  Upon your arrival in Marrakech, you’ll check into your riad and then head to nearby Jemaa El F’na (located less than a minute’s walk away) where you can dine at one of the many food stalls that pop up just as the sun sets and which offer everything from chicken brochettes to brains of sheep. If you are an adventurous foodie, this is the place to be! When you’ve had your fill, literally, you can head back to your riad for the night.

Day 10: Marrakech Immersion!
Meals Included: Breakfast

After breakfast, you will meet your local city guide who will show you all around Marrakech. Your tour will include visits to the old Ben Youssef Madrasa, El Badi Palace, the Saadian Tombs, and the beautiful Koutoubia Mosque. After you’ve visited these monuments, your guide will escort you to the souks of Marrakech to see how artisans still use traditional methods for their handicrafts today. After your tour, you will be free to explore on your own.  Marrakech has a vibrant international restaurant scene, so it is a perfect place to have a meal at an upscale restaurant of your choice — and since you will have been eating like a Moroccan for 9 days straight, you may be ready for some non-Moroccan food.  Amnay can offer some suggestions and/or help you with reservations as needed!

Day 11: Marrakech to Essaouira with Some Wine in Between!
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Light snack with wine tasting

You’ll have another late start today.  Before departing “crazy” Marrakech, you’ll head to the home Madame Nawal for lunch.  Madame Nawal is a sought after chef of traditional Moroccan cuisine and today she will prepare for you one of the specialties of Marrakech: Rfissa. After enjoying this special lunch, you say good-bye to Madame Nawal and Marrakech and head for the coast to the tranquility of Essaouira. This laid-back beach city is the perfect place to end your trip and to help you unwind and get in an “Essaouira” state of mind, you’ll make a stop at a local winery for a tasting.  The wine will be accompanied by small plates of French cuisine to hold you over until dinner.  After the wine tasting, you travel through the groves of Argan trees where you just might see some goats snacking on one of their favorite foods. You’ll also stop at one of the local Argan oil cooperative to see how Morocco’s “liquid gold” is produced with their help.  Argan oil used both cosmetically and for cooking, so you’ll also have a chance to sample this nutty oil at the cooperative. After this, you’ll finish up the day’s drive at your accommodations in Essaouira. You’ll have some free time to explore this cool medina and grab a bite to eat before attending the Gnaoua World Music Festival later in the evening.

Day 12: More Essaouira
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Today, you’ll have the morning on your own and just before lunch time you’ll head to another local women’s cooperative where you’ll learn to make a traditional Moroccan meal using the specialty of the region: Argan Oil.  This cooking class will include everything from start to finish including shopping at the local market for your fresh ingredients to eating your creation!  After your class, you’ll have free time to continue to explore Essaouira.  Don’t miss the sunsetting over the ramparts!  The soundtrack to this nightly event is provided by street musicians and adds to the party-like ambience of this great city.  After the sunset the party will continue with another night of the Gnaoua Music Festival.

 

Day 13: Bon Voyage!
Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning, you’ll have an early breakfast and then make your way back to the airport in Casablanca.  The estimated arrival time is 12 PM, so make sure your flight departs after 3 PM (to allow time to check in and get through security).  At the airport, you’ll say bon voyage to Amnay and Morocco until your next visit!

Transfers to Marrakech can be arranged upon request for an additional fee.


Accommodations

Whenever possible, we prefer to use locally owned and operated accommodations that are hand picked by us.  The following list represents our preferred accommodations for this tour, but these may change depending on the group size and availability.  Substitute accommodations will be at least the same level of comfort as the ones listed below. 

 

Rabat: Hotel des Oudaias

This charming hotel originally opened in 1918 as L’Hôtel des Oudaias dit Transatlantique and is itself immersed in the history of the current capital city of Rabat.  Hotel amenities include free wifi and air conditioning.  The en suite bathrooms are equipped with hairdryers, bathrobes, and even slippers.  Situated just a couple of blocks away from the Kasbah of the Udayas with many shops and restaurants within walking distance, the terrace boasts amazing views of the Kasbah, the ocean, and the Bou Regreg River.  The interior with its mix of traditional Moroccan and French aesthetic won't disappoint either.  

Fes: Riad Al-Makan

Your immersion into the history of Fes will be complete when you return to this 17th century traditional riad.  Ideally situated inside the medina near the famous Blue Gate, this gorgeous riad serves as your home base for exploring the winding alleys of this ancient city.  And don't worry... you will be able to enjoy the traditional Moroccan features from hand-carved wood and plaster to mosaic tiles without giving up modern conveniences like air conditioning, en suite bathrooms, and free wifi!  The riad also features a sun terrace with breathtaking views of the city.

Midelt: Ksar Timnay

Owned and operated by the former director of the regional tourism ministry and Amazigh activist, Ksar Timnay is more than just a hotel.  It is also a culture center for the local people.  You'll be comfortable here as the guest rooms are equipped with air conditioning an en suite bathrooms.  The hotel offers a beautiful swimming pool and free wifi and it is located next to an ecological park (15 minutes by foot) perfect for stretching your legs.  Since this is a place where artists and musicians gather, don't be surprised if a party breaks out after dinner!

Merzouga: Hotel Yasmina Merzouga

Another of our favorites, this hotel is situated right on the edge of the giant dunes of Merzouga.  The comfortable rooms are equipped with en suite bathrooms and air conditioning.  There is a large terrace in the common area which is the perfect place for tea upon your arrival or prior to your camel trek.  Or, if you prefer, you can have your tea by their beautiful pool.  

Yasmina's standard desert camps are located in the heart of the big dunes.  The tents have electricity and comfortable mattresses with plenty of warm blankets.  Of course, if the weather is nice, you may prefer to bring your mattress outside and sleep under the stars.  The standard tents are not en suite, but there is a tent that houses multiple flushing toilets and sinks with running water.  In the morning, you'll camel trek back to the hotel where you will have time to shower and prepare for your day.

Dades: Auberge la Vallée des Figues

Another one of our favorite places in Morocco, this warm guest house has clean and comfortable rooms decorated with a traditional Berber aesthetic.  All of the rooms have en suite bathrooms and air conditioning, and some have private terraces.  The Dades Valley is a breathtakingly beautiful area and the main terrace offers spectacular views of the valley and the opposite mountain into which time, wind, and rain has carved a face.  But the best part of this guest house is the family that owns and operates it who make you feel welcome and take care of all of your needs.  Should you want to go for a hike in the nearby Monkey Fingers, one of the guys will be happy to guide the way.  And the food here is delicious, plentiful, and served with an extra helping of the hospitality for which Moroccans are famous!

Marrakech: Riad Mabrouk

This fabulous riad will be your meeting point for this tour.  Located in the medina and a 1 minute walk from Jemaa El F'na, this traditional guest house boasts amazing views of Marrakech from its rooftop terrace.  The rooftop terrace is also where you'll find a dipping pool -- perfect for cooling off after a long day of discovering Morocco.  No need to save leg power to climb steps -- the newly installed elevator will make getting to the terrace and your room a breeze.   Speaking of your room, the guest rooms all have air conditioning, a safe, a minibar, and a television.  The en suite bathrooms are furnished with toiletries and hair dryers.  And since there is free wifi, you'll be able to post all of your photos of magical Marrakech.

There We love staying here.  The rooms are spacious and comfortable and the service for our adventurers is impeccable.  It is the perfect place to start your Morocco Immersion!

Essaouira: Riad Ben Atar

Located in the heart of the medina, this traditional Moroccan riad is just a short walk away from both the beach and the shops of the medina.  The rooftop terrace furnishes a place to relax and enjoy the breeze with spectacular views of the medina and the sea.  The comfortable rooms are a great place to unwind after a day of exploring.  Rooms are equipped with en suite bathrooms and televisions and there is free wifi that is accessible throughout the riad.


Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find the answers to some frequently asked questions about this tour and visiting Morocco. If you don't see the answer to your question, feel free to give us a call or contact us using the form below.

What make this tour so special?

While all of our tours offer opportunities to experience Moroccan culture and life, this tour will focus on Moroccan music and cuisine, giving you the unique experience to sample each region’s local specialities and learn about the strong musical traditions of Moroccan culture through several private concerts.  Not to mention that the tour is being led by a well-known Amaigh singer/songwriter who has performed throughout Morocco and Europe.  So, not only will you cross Morocco off of your bucket list and taste the wide variations of Moroccan cuisine, you’ll also travel with our own Moroccan Rock Star, Amnay.

Where should I meet the tour group on arrival day?

The tour meeting point is the Casablanca Mohamed V International Airport at 12:00 PM. This will be the official starting place of the tour, but if you arrive a day early, we will arrange to pick you up at your Casablanca accommodations, so that you don’t have to travel back to the airport. If you are unable to arrive by the 12 PM start time, we can arrange a transfer for you to meet the group for an additional fee.

What time should I arrive on the first day?

If you arrive on Day 1, you should try to book a flight that arrives no later than 11 AM, as you should allow at least an hour to pass through immigration and collect your bags. If you cannot arrive before 11 AM, we will tell you where and when to meet up with the group, and/or arrange a separate transfer for you (for an additional fee).

Remember when you are booking your flights that most flights depart in the evening and arrive the following morning. Double check your flight to be sure that the arrival date is the same as the Tour Start Date.
Where and what time does this tour end?

This tour will end where it all began at the Casablanca Mohamed V International Airport.  Our ETA will be 12 PM.

Although our ETA to the airport is 12 PM, you should allow plenty of time to check in and go through security.  For this reason, we suggest booking a flight that departs after 3 PM. 
Which airport should I fly in and out of?

This tour will start and end at the Casablanca Mohamed V Interational Airport, which makes it the ideal place to fly in an out of.

If you prefer to fly into Marrakech, we can arrange ground transfers for an additional fee (per transfer).

What if I want to stay in Casablanca an extra night before or after my tour?

We’ll be happy to either recommend a hotel or help you with your booking. Just let us know!

Will ground transfers to and from the airport be provided?

We will start and finish the tour at the Casablanca Mohamed V Airport, so that transfer is complementary. If you need to make other arrangements due to the time of your arrival, we can provide a transfer for an additional fee.

Ground transfers to/from the airport in Marrakech are available upon request for an additional fee. Contact us for more information.

What is the minimum number of Adventurers for this tour?

We will operate the tour as long as we have a minimum of 2 participants.

What is the maximum number of Adventurers for this tour?

Maximum: 16 PAX. We are not a “big bus” tour operator and prefer to keep our group tours small so that you can truly experience Morocco’s rich culture and way of life.

What if I have a large group that would like to do this tour?

Contact us! Groups of 10 or more qualify for special discounts and groups of 17 or more can be accommodated as a private tour (again for special pricing).

I'm ready to go! How do I book this adventure?

Simply follow this book now link. We request a 30% deposit at the time of booking. The balance is due prior to the Tour Start Date.

After you book, you will be contacted by the Morocco Immersion Adventure Organizer who will guide you through the pre-Adventure registration process, keep you updated on any tour changes, and answer any questions you might have.

What if I book and then the tour does not get the minimum number of Adventurers?

If we must cancel the tour due to a lack of participants, we will give you the following options:

  • Switch to a different tour.
  • Convert your tour to a private tour for an additional fee.
  • Refund 100% of your deposit and any other additional payments made to us.
We will not refund any loss not paid to us such as airfare change or cancellation costs. For that reason, we STRONGLY recommend the purchase of travel insurance.
What if I need to cancel after I have booked?

If you cancel 36 days prior to your Tour Start Date, we will refund 80% of your tour deposit and 100% of any additional monies paid to us.  Cancelling 35 or fewer days prior to your Tour Start Date will result in 100% loss of your deposit, but any additional monies paid to us will be refunded.  No monies will be refunded by us for no shows or trip interruptions.  Our complete cancellation policy can be found in our terms and conditions.

If you must cancel for any reason, please contact us as soon as possible.

Is travel insurance required?

No, it is not required, but we strongly recommend it to cover any losses due to trip cancellation or interruption.  Travel insurance that includes medical evacuation is also advised as some areas of Morocco are remote and may lack proper medical facilities.  Please be sure to thoroughly review our terms and conditions.

I am a solo traveler, but would like to share a room. Can you help me find a roommate?

Yes!  We will help you with that during the pre-Adventure registration process.

Will I need any vaccinations to travel to Morocco?

No vaccinations are required for travel to Morocco; however, it is generally advised that you be up to date on your normal vaccinations and consider vaccinations for Hep A and Typhoid to prevent food borne pathogens. For more information, you should contact a travel clinic or review the CDC guidelines for travel to the area.

Do I need a Visa to travel to Morocco?

US Passport holders currently do not need a visa to travel to Morocco for a duration of less than 3 months for tourism purposes.  If you do require a visa, you are responsible for acquiring it.

It is your responsibility to acquire and bring required travel documents such as passport and visa (if applicable).  Be sure to put that on your packing list!  
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