20 Nights / 22 Days

From October 5th to October 22nd, 2017

Land only cost (includes one domestic flight): $6,980 per person

Discounted air is available from any U.S. city

Day 1 - Arrival---Casablanca (Oct 6):
Upon your arrival at the Casablanca airport, we will pick you up and take you to your hotel to check in.  This will be a day to rest since certain members will be arriving at different times.
Day 2 - Casablanca - Rabat
In Casablanca, we’ll visit Hassan II Mosque, the biggest mosque out of Mecca. Experience the Cornich coast and visit Rick’s Cafe before departing for Rabat, the capital of Morocco. There, you’ll see the Mausoleum, the Hassan tower and the Oudayas Kasbah.  We will stay at the Riad Kalaa hotel.
Day 3 - Rabat- Meknes-Volubilis Fes:
After a luxury breakfast at the hotel, we will travel to Fes via Volubilis and Meknes.  In Meknes, another significant imperial city in Morocco (known as the Ismaili capital of Morocco), we will see the famous gate, Bab Mansour, the Sahrij Souani Bassin and the Mulay Ismail Mausoleum.  After lunch, we will continue to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, dating to 25BC, where some of the original mosaics remain in very good shape.   Upon exploring the site, we will continue to Fes via the foothills of the Rif Mountains. Arriving in Fes in the late afternoon, we will check into the Yacout hotel in the heart of the Medina.
Day 4 - Exploring Fes:
After breakfast at the hotel, we will explore Fes, the cultural capital of Morocco, walking in its alleys and small streets.  Our visit starts by the Royal Palace, the Jewish headquarter and the first Mellah ever built in Morocco. All of the sites of cultural and historical interest will be visited including the famous Al Qaraouine University, the oldest in the region, and the Tanneries. After lunch, we will tour a ceramic factory and enjoy a panoramic view over the whole Medina of Fes.  In the afternoon, we will visit the new city for a drink.  We will stay at the Yacout hotel.
Day 5 - Fes  Ifran  Azrou   Errachidia   Merzouga:
After breakfast, we’ll leave Fes and travel to Ifran, referred to as "the Switzerland of Morocco", and then to Merzouga via Azrou and the Ziz Valley.  On the way, we’ll experience glimpses of the Middle Atlas and Higher Atlas mountains.  Stopping at Azrou, a Berber village in the middle of the famous cedar forest, the largest in Morocco, we may catch sight of Barbary apes.  As we approach the city of Errachidia, the scenery changes to reveal hints of the desert. We will then continue to  Merzouga via the Tizi Ntalghamt pass and along the luxuriant Ziz Valley , stopping for panoramic views along the way.   Upon arriving in Merzouga at the end of the afternoon, we’ll be welcomed with a glass of mint tea.  In the afternoon, we will travel on camels, guided by an experienced camel guide, to explore the sand sea of Merzouga.  After enjoying a wonderful sunset over the golden dunes, we will stay overnight at a desert camp, equipped with western style bathrooms.
Day 6 - Merzouga   -  Todra Gorges  -  Dades Gorges :260km
If you prefer, we will wake you up early in the morning to watch what may well be the best sunrise of your life.  Afterwards, we'll peacefully trek back to the village of Merzouga by camel.  On the way, we will pass the unique beauty of the spectacular Erg Chebbi sand dunes, which change with the light as the day progresses.  After breakfast at the hotel, we will travel to Rissani , Tinghir and the Todra gorges, the highest, narrowest gorges in Morocco. After lunch in the heart of the gorge, we’ll drive through the Dades Valley where we’ll see majestic sand castles and amazing rock formations known as "monkey toes".  We will then stay at the fancy Xalucadades hotel, which overlooks the Dades valley.
Day 7 :  Dades Gorge – Ouarzazat- Ait Benhaddou- Marrakech:
After breakfast in the hotel, you will travel through the Dades Valley   toward Kalaa M'gouna and Ouarzazat.  We will travel the route of the thousand Kasbahs, which will provide numerous opportunities to take some of the best photographs of the trip.  On this day, we will also have the opportunity to meet  Berber Nomads in their caves, enjoy the fertile Rose valley and the rock formations along the way.  We’ll stop at Kalaat M’gouna, "the rose city", to purchase rosewater, which will give your linen a pleasant smell a long time after your trip is over.  We then continue to Skoura and the birds valley and visit the Kasbah Ameridil, a well-preserved Kasbah in this area.  After some hiking in the valley, we will stop in a restaurant, that overlooks the whole valley, for lunch.  Afterwards, we will visit Ouarzazate, “the Hollywood of Africa”, whose geography and beautiful landscapes have attracted many world class movie producers.  Here, we can either visit the studios, containing props used in major motion pictures such as The Mummy, Gladiator and the Last temptation of Christ or we can continue through the majestic Tizi n'tichka Pass (2260m) over the High Atlas Mountains.  We will then arrive in Marrakech and stay at the Caesar hotel.  
Day 8 - Exploring Marrakech:
After breakfast, we will begin exploring Marrakech, "the red city of Morocco”.  Our guide will take us to see the most important places of historical and cultural interest here, including the Saadien tombs, the Palaces of El Bahia and El Badi and the Ben Youssef Coranique School.    We will have lunch at a restaurant near the square and, in the afternoon, we will visit the gardens at Majorelle, Menara and the Koutoubia tower.  Our stay will be at the Caesar hotel.
Day 9 - Marrakech / transfer to the airport (Tunisia)
 After Breakfast, we will drive you to the airport for your flight to Tunisia.  Upon arriving in Tunis from Casablanca, we will then be taken to Hotel Dar El Medina or Hotel Africa.
Day 10:
You will need to take the morning flight from Tunis to Djerba (one hour flight).  In Greek mythology the lotus eaters, Polybius identifies the land of the lotus eaters as the island of Djerba... Places visited by Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey.  The ancient Jewish community of Tunisia is one of the oldest Israelite colonies outside of the Eastern Mediterranean region. In fact, other than the Israelites of Palestine, Egypt and Mesopotamia, it may be the world’s oldest Jewish community. We begin our day at El Griba Synagogue.  Though the El Ghriba Synagogue only dates back to the 19th century AD, its congregation traces its roots at least as far back as the 6th century BC. This claim, surprising as it may seem, may actually be true based on the history and geography of the Mediterranean, as well as on the Tunisian Jews’ most prized possession: what is believed to be the world’s oldest Torah.  We then drive to Houmt Souk for a walk and lunch.  Our next stop is for a walk around the Jewish village of Erriadh, which has become an open air art gallery. Spearheaded by an artist from Erriadh who wanted to create a way to generate some money for the struggling village, hundreds of artists from around the world have contributed their art to the walls of this unique village.  You will then have dinner and spend the night at Hotel Radisson Blu Thalasso, beside the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.
Day 11:
We will now leave Djerba and head towards the Tatouine area. Predominately Berber in culture, the Berbers in this area live as they have for centuries, and still speak the Berber language.  On this part of the tour, you will see 4 architectural styles of Berber villages, each designed for various reasons, weather, materials available for building, and how crucial safety was at the time (One type of Berber home is called a Ksar (plural– Ksour). They are honeycomb shaped Berber structures, generally fortified granaries and homes, mostly seen in North Africa and date back to the 15th century).  Our first stop in this area is Ksar Ouled Soltaine. The ksar is spread out over two courtyards, each of which has a perimeter of multi-story vaulted granary cellars, or ghorfas.  Lunch will be in a traditional Tunisian restaurant in Tatouine, including local desert.  We then drive on to the Mosque of the Seven Sleepers (based on a story from the Koran). The mosque was built around a cave where it is said the seven sleepers lie (pre-Roman).  In Christian and Islam tradition, the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus (meaning "companions of the cave") is the story of a group of youths who hide inside a cave around 250 AD to escape a religious persecution and emerge 300 years later. The story appears in the Koran as thus is important to Islam. The Quranic story does not state the number of sleepers. The Islamic version includes mention of a dog who accompanied the youths into the cave and appears to keep watch. In Islam, these youths are referred to as "The People of the Cave".  Our last stop of the day will be the Berber mountain village of Chenini. Chenini was built between two hilltop ridges – to help protect it from raiding parties. The oldest structures on the hillside date back to the 12th century; some of the buildings are still used to store grain for the villagers, as well as for homes for those who still live here.  There will be time to explore this special village, then dinner and the night in restored cave homes turned into a tiny unique hotel in this village (Kenza Gite Hotel). This hotel was built by local Berbers who wanted to share their history with others. Your simple but clean and comfortable rooms are actual caves (including private toilet).  Dinner will be in a ‘cave restaurant’, also a restored Berber home built into the mountain. With your delicious meal, some local Berber musicians will perform for you.  Part of our tour of Chenini will be a subterranean olive press. Olive oil is pressed in the same way here since the Berbers have lived here.
Day 12:
After breakfast, we begin the drive towards Matmata, which is the area of many troglodyte homes in Tunisia (Troglodyte homes are a form of Berber architecture designed to withstand the heat. The courtyard is dug straight underground and rooms carved out of the side of the courtyard. In these homes especially; you can see the influence on the Star Wars movies).  Our first stop in the area is at the edge of the Berber village of Toujane; where ribbon-like roads slice into the mountainside dotted with villagers and their flocks.  In this area, we will be driving through some stunning desert landscapes.  Our next stop will be to see an early Star Wars Set in Matmata. Although not ancient Roman or Berber, Star Wars is also part of Tunisian history! This Star Wars set was built inside a troglodyte home.
We will then stop for a visit and cup of tea in the real troglodyte home of our dear friend Saliha and her family. Friends for many years; to know Saliha is to love her.  Our drive continues on to Douz, often called ‘The Gateway to the Sahara’.  The area around Douz is predominantly Bedouin in culture. The Bedouins are the Arabs who, until a generation ago, were mainly nomads, now living a semi-nomadic life, spending half the time in villages around Douz, and half in the Sahara.  After checking in to your hotel (Hotel Sahara Douz), You will be welcomed into this warm community, and will be the guests for Bedouin party in the Sahara, hosted by Bedouin Cameleers, who are generous, kind and have an intrinsic sense of the desert.  You will see Camel dancing, a horse performance, a wedding camel demonstration, and Bedouin music, which will include instruments made especially for the vast Sahara.  Bora will perform with the musicians.  You will also see (and have a taste) of ‘desert bread’ made in the hot coals and sand. We will also gift you with a ‘cheich’ (desert head scarf).  After sunset, you will be driven to a local open air ‘Koucha’ restaurant, where you will be mesmerized by the ambiance of twinkling lights and Bedouin tents set in the middle of a date palm oasis.  After dinner, you will be returned to your hotel for the night.
Day 13:
After breakfast, we will head towards Tozeur, stopping along the way at Chott El Jerid, the biggest salt pan in the Sahara (between 5 and 7 thousand square kilometres).  We continue on to the medina of Tozeur, still inhabited since the 13th century. The unique brickwork of this small medina dates back to the medieval times. We will stop for a coffee (our treat!) at a unique coffee shop in the medina.  We will then drive to Hotel El Mouradi to check in and have lunch.  In the afternoon, you will be taken by horse and carriage for a tour through the date palm oasis of the area, followed by dinner and the night at your hotel.
Day 14:
Our first stop of the day will be a short stop at a viewpoint to see the old Berber village of Tamerza, nestled in an oasis, surrounded by the Atlas Mountains.  Next we drive to the mountain oasis of the Chebika Gorge in the Atlas Mountains, dotted with palm trees and small waterfalls. Choose to hike a bit, or just walk to the falls.  We now begin our drive towards Kairouan (lunch will be enroute).  Kairouan became a powerful trading hub and center of Islamic scholarship in the 9th century, when Aghlabid emirs ruled Kairouan and built many of its monuments. The Great Mosque, on the edge of the medina, with its antique columns and imposing minaret, dates from this period and is a major pilgrimage site. For Muslims, 7 trips here are said to equal one hajj to Mecca.  After checking in at your hotel (La Kasbah Hotel), there will be time to walk around the Kairouan medina (Artist Paul Klee decided he wanted to become an artist after spending time in the Kairouan medina, and has painted many pictures depicting this lovely medina).  Dinner and the night in your hotel.
Day 15:
After breakfast you will have a tour of the Kairouan mosque (you will need to wear a headscarf, but if you don't have one, the mosque has some for you to use).  From here we drive to El Jem, the third largest Roman arena, smaller only to the two in Rome.  We drive on to the city of Sousse for lunch and to tour around the Sousse medina, a world UNESCO heritage site.  Sousse was an important commercial and military port during the Aghlabid period (800–909) and is a typical example of a town dating from the first centuries of Islam. With its kasbah, ramparts, medina (with the Great Mosque), Bu Ftata Mosque and typical ribat (both a fort and a religious building), Sousse was part of a coastal defense system.  From here, we drive back to Tunis, and to El Mouradi Hotel for dinner and the night.

Day 16:
After breakfast, your day will begin with a tour of Bardo Museum.  Lunch and a tour of Carthage, a world UNESCO site.  Carthage was founded in the 9th century B.C. on the Gulf of Tunis. From the 6th century onwards, it developed into a great trading empire covering much of the Mediterranean and was home to a brilliant civilization. In the course of the long Punic wars, Carthage occupied territories belonging to Rome, which finally destroyed its rival in 146 B.C. A second – Roman – Carthage was then established on the ruins of the first.  A trip to Tunis would not be the same without a visit to Sidi Bou Said, once a retreat for a Tunisian Marabout (Sufi) in the 13th C. Now a beautiful place to wander with its classic Tunisian blue doors and whitewashed buildings.  Dinner and the night at El Mouradi Hotel.
Day 17 (Oct 22):
Transport from hotel to airport for our return flight back to the U.S..