Morocco | A Classic Odyssey
Imperial Cities, the Mountains and the Desert
September 29 - October 10, 2018
Cost: $3495 (double occupancy)
Single Supplement: $500
Cross Cultural Journey Leader:
Justine lived extensively in Morocco as a part of a School for International Training year abroad program and then again as a research assistant for renowned anthropologist Elaine Combs-Schillings. During that project she researched the interconnectedness of the modern nation-state, Islam and the place of Berber female saints and travelled extensively throughout the country.
If you ask Justine about the magic of Morocco, she will tell you "Aziz A Li"... something (or someone) that moves rapidly into your heart. She says she left a huge part of her soul in Morocco and is thrilled to be able to help bridge and share the unique beauty and warmth of the history, culture, architecture and people with her Cross Cultural Journeys community.
Other fun facts about Justine....with a BA in Political Science and Women's Studies from Vassar College, she has had an exciting 15 year career in Hollywood as a music video producer working with hundreds of A-list directors and artists such as Gwen Stefani, Death Cab for Cutie, Dolly Parton, Maroon 5, and many more. She also enjoyed performing throughout the LA basin as a belly-dancer at Arabic nightclubs and weddings.
She currently lives in Pacific Northwest on beautiful Bainbridge Island, WA, together with her three children and husband Steven. In 2013, she completed her MBA from Washington State University with a focus on International Entrepreneurship.
Bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, Morocco is distinguished by its Berber, Arabian and European cultural influences. One of the most diverse African countries, Morocco is home to majestic high mountains, sweeping desert dunes, rugged and fertile coastline, and labyrinthine alleyways in historic medina cities and open air markets. The lyrical landscapes of the deserts and mountains are only matched by the rich traditional and contemporary society of the ever active influence of peoples and ideas in this colorful cultural crossroads. Explore the singular solitude of the desert, to count the stars and follow ancient trade routes, then dive into the festive chaos of the souqs.
Day 1 | Saturday, September 29 | Arrive in Casablanca / Overnight in Rabat Your driver will be waiting to greet you as you exit the Casablanca airport upon your arrival to Morocco. From here, you will head to the ocean and visit the Hassan II Mosque. You’ll have a guided tour of this amazing place – the 3rd largest mosque in the world. After you visit here, you’ll head up the coast to Rabat, the current capital of Morocco where you will stop for the night. Hotel des Oudaias (D)
Day 2 | Sunday, September 30 | Rabat to Chefchaouen This morning after breakfast, you will have a guided tour of Rabat. Your visit will include all of the important sites: Hassan Tower, Kasbah of the Udayas, the Royal Palace, and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. After your tour here, you make your way further north to the beautiful blue city of Chefchaouen nestled in the Rif Mountains. This picture-perfect town is known as Morocco’s Blue Pearl. You’ll have some free time here in the late afternoon to explore this small magical city. Dar Echchaouen (B)
Day 3 | Monday, October 1 | Chefchaouen You will have another day to relax in this beautiful city and discover the narrow blue streets on your own. In the morning, you’ll have the option to go to nearby Cascade d’Akchour with its 3 waterfalls. The hike to the first one takes about 2 hours roundtrip and the hike to the highest waterfall is about 6 hours. Group members who do not wish to hike can have a free time in Chefchaouen. In the afternoon, there will be a guided tour of the city. Dar Echchaouen (B)
Day 4 | Tuesday, October 2 | Chefchaouen - Volubilis - Meknes - Fes After breakfast, this morning, you’ll depart Chefchaouen and head to the lessor known Imperial City of Meknes. Along the way, you’ll visit the Roman ruins of Volubilis. After this visit, you will continue on to Meknes. Your visit will include the beautiful gate of Bab Mansour (which incorporates pillars pillaged from Volubilis), the tomb of Sultan Moulay Ismail, Agdal reservoir, and Heries-Souani (a former granary and stable). After this visit, you will drive the rest of the way to Fes. Riad Al-Makan (B)
Day 5 | Wednesday, October 3 | Fes After breakfast, your local guide will meet your local city guide at your riad for a guided tour of the city. To start your tour, you will head to the Borj (towers) and get a panoramic view of the entire medina. Next, you’ll head to a mosaic house where you will have a demonstration of traditional pottery methods that are still used today by Moroccan artisans. After this, the tour will take you 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. You’ll have the afternoon free to explore the medina. Don’t worry if you get lost – that is all part of the experience. Riad Al-Makan (B)
Day 6 | Thursday, October 4 | Fez - Azrou - Midelt After breakfast, you will depart from Fes and head towards the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi near Merzouga. On the way, you will travel through the largest cedar forest in Africa which is also home to the barbary apes (aka Atlas Monkeys) which are sure to entertain. You’ll continue over the Middle Atlas Mountains to the city of Midelt, located in the high plains between the Middle and the High Atlas Mountains, where you will stop for the night. After checking into your accommodations and having a mint tea welcome, if you wish you can go for a light hike in the ecological park that is next to Ksar Timnay. This is the beginning of the land of the Berbers, so after you’ve stretched your legs, the ksar owner (former regional director of tourism and Berber activisit) will hold a discussion about the structure of the Berber tribal system and how this system has preserved the oral tradition of the Berber Culture. After this, you’ll have a delicious locally sourced dinner followed by live music and dancing. (Bonus, there is a bar here!) Ksar Timnay (B/D) (
Day 7 | Friday, October 5 | Midelt to Merzouga After breakfast, you will depart from Midelt and travel over the High Atlas Mountains and then following the Ziz River Gorge to the desert. If this happens to fall on the Market Day in Rissani, you’ll head here to see the hustle and bustle of this dusty city. Here, you will also get to try the local specialty of Medfouna (aka Berber Pizza). After your visit here, you’ll head to meet your camels and at sunset you will trek into the heart of the dunes to your luxury camp for the night. (If you prefer, you can transfer to the desert camp via 4x4). 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 traditional music and more stargazing, before retiring to your tent for the night. Caravanserai Luxury Desert Camp (B/D)
Day 8 | Saturday, October 6 | Merzouga – Dades This morning your camel guide will wake you early so that you can watch the sun rise over the dunes and then breakfast will be served at camp. When you are ready, you’ll head back to the edge of the dunes via your camels and make your way towards Dades Valley. Along the way, you’ll stop to visit the ancient irrigation system that once brought water to the desert from the distant Saghro Mountains. After this, you’ll head to the oasis town of Tinghir where you will have a guided walk of the palmeraie and Mellah (old Jewish area). Next, you’ll visit nearby Todgha Gorge where you will walk through the most impressive part of the canyon. After this, you’ll head to your accommodations located in the breathtaking Dades Valley where you will enjoy a delicious dinner. Auberge La Vallée des Figues (B/D)
Day 9 | Sunday, October 7 | Dades and Valley of Roses This morning after breakfast, you’ll make the short drive through the Dades River Valley (also known as the Valley of Roses) to the village of Taltnamarte near the small city of Kelaat M’Gouna in the heart of the Rose Valley. Here, you can visit the Taltnamarte Village Association. After this, you’ll have lunch with a local family and afterwards, if you wish, you can experience a traditional hammam. (There could also be a light hike option this day, if anyone is interested.) Auberge La Vallée des Figues (B/D)
Day 10 | Monday, October 8 | Valley of Roses — Ouarzazate — Ait Ben Haddou — Marrakech After breakfast, you will take the road of 1000 Kasbahs on your way to the city of Ouarzazate (pronounced: Wor-za-zet and known as the Hollywood of Morocco). Here you can visit either Kasbah Taourirt or Musee du Cinema before making the short drive the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ait Ben Haddou. When you’ve completed your visit of Ait Ben Haddou, you will travel 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. Riad Mabrouk (B)
Day 11 | Tuesday, October 9 | Marrakech After breakfast, your local city guide will meet you at your riad and 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 morning tour, you’ll have a cooking class (possibly at Amal Cooperative). In the evening, you’ll have free time to explore on your own. Riad Mabrouk (B)
Day 12 | Wednesday, October 10 | Transfer to Airport (Casablanca or Marrakech Departure) This morning after breakfast, you’ll head transfer to the airport (either in Marrakech or Casablanca) in plenty of time for your departing flight. Riad Mabrouk (B)
NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change to take advantage of the serendipity of the moment when we are in Morocco; to meet someone special, to engage in an activity that might occur unexpectedly, or to accommodate circumstances beyond our control. Restaurants or hotels may change in similar category.
INCLUDED: In country transportation per itinerary; best available accommodations in Morocco (double occupancy); breakfast daily at the hotel plus 5 dinners (B/L/D per itinerary); Cross Cultural Journeys trip manager; Moroccan English speaking local guide; all entrance fees on itinerary; preparation materials; tips for bellman and hotel staff, included meals on itinerary and bottled water on the bus.
NOT INCLUDED: International air travel to Morocco; meals not on itinerary, 10 lunches and 6 dinners (B/L/D per itinerary); alcoholic drinks; excursions not on the itinerary; tips for local guide and driver (optional, yet customary); and a Travel Protection Plan (we recommend travel protection and information will be sent upon registration).
TRAVEL PROTECTION: For more information on the available plans or to enroll, enroll here or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 47-0272. Please advise Travelex that Cross Cultural Journeys is the travel company for this trip.
September 29 - October 10, 2018
Cost: $3495 (double occupancy)
Single Supplement: $500