- Explore the spice souks, gardens and hammams of Marrakech and buy fresh fish for lunch on the harbour wall in Essaouira
- Discover the mud mosques of Tiznit, the art-deco Spanish colonial outpost of Sidi Ifni and the deserted wild Atlantic beaches of the deep south
- Visit the oasis kasbahs and camel markets of the Sahara and the Berber villages of the High Atlas Mountains
London / Marrakech
Afternoon departure from London Gatwick on a British Airways flight to Marrakech arriving in the early evening. Transfer to the Palais El Arsat where three nights are spent. A charming boutique hotel, the Palais El Arsat is located right in the heart of the Medina near the Jamaâ El Fna Square. Candlelit welcome dinner at the hotel.
Depart for La Maison Arabe. Originally a restaurant run by two French grand dames, whose patrons included the likes of Winston Churchill and Ingrid of Denmark, La Maison Arabe is now owned by Italian prince Fabrizio Ruspoli who has had the property readapted as a suitably regal riad.
Morning cooking demonstration conducted by a dada (traditional Moroccan cook). Learn how to make a variety of traditional Moroccan dishes including the traditional Moroccan bread baked on a bed of hot stones in a clay oven and see ritual of the preparation of Moroccan tea. Lunch in the garden at La Maison Arabe.
Visit the famous gardens created by the orientalist painter Jacques Majorelle, owned by Yves Saint-Laurent since the 1980s. You will then go on to the beautifully designed Berber museum displaying Yves Saint Laurent’s personal collection of Berber antiques. Starting at one of the historical gates of the Medina, you will walk through some of the oldest districts of Marrakech. Visit the 16th century Ben Youssef theological school and sumptuous palace.
Next you will see the archaeological site of the Almoravid dynasty dome and the historical caravanserai (called Fondouks) once used as inns for the caravan traders. Return to the hotel. Dinner under own arrangements.
Explore the exquisite architecture and history of Marrakech’s palaces to learn about the glorious past of this city. Stop at the archaeological site of the Koutoubia mosque and minaret for a comprehensive introduction to the history of Marrakech. From there, you will go through the historical ‘Bab Agnaou’ gate to visit the Saadian Necropolis of the 16th century and walk through the 12th century Kasbah with its food markets, bakeries and narrow alleyways.
Visit the remains of El Badi palace built in the 16th century and then the 19th century Bahia palace and discover the intricate work done by the local artisans on wood, plaster and with tiles to decorate this splendid home of the then Moroccan prime minister. Transfer to the Paradis du Safran, an organic saffron farm owned by a Swiss woman, Chrsitine Ferrari. Watch a demonstration of the traditional method of bread-making.
After lunch in the garden, explore the farm and garden to learn all about saffron and its uses. Return to the hotel. Evening visit to the UNESCO world heritage site, Jemaa El Fna square, to explore the souk and hear some of the local folklore traditions such as the Berber musicians, Gnaoua drummers, story tellers and snake charmers. Dinner under own arrangements.
Marrakech / Essaouira
Depart for Essouira, a charming old fortified fishing port on the Atlantic coast founded and occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century to take advantage of the Trans- Saharan trade routes. Stop on the way at the Val D’Argan vineyard which has been owned by the French Melia family since 1994.
Explore the winery before you are invited for some wine tasting. Also visit a local women’s co-operative who make Argan Oil. Learn about the extraction of the oil and how to make Amlou, a traditional delicacy made with roasted almonds, honey and Argan Oil. Lunch under own arrangements. Check-in to the Villa de L’O where two nights are spent.
A beautiful stone, eighteenth century riad, sheltered by the walls of the Essaouira medina, Villa De L’O is just a few metres from the beach and has a sun terrace with stunning views of the ocean. Rest of the afternoon at leisure to relax. Evening photography workshop with Chris. Dinner at the hotel.
Morning walking tour of Essouira. See the impressive town fortifications consisting of an amazing mixture of Portuguese and Moroccan military architecture. Explore the spice souks, the jewellery market, different artisan markets and the carpentry workshops devoted to cedar and thuya cabinet making.
Essaouira has attracted artists and musicians from different parts of the world and you will see some of their works in the different art galleries of the city. The tour ends with lunch on the harbour wall to sample the freshly caught barbecued fish being sold by the local fishermen. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner under own arrangements.
Essaouira / Mirleft
Depart for Kasbah Tabelkoukt where two nights are spent. Perched atop a cliff overlooking the beach, Kasbah Tabelkoukt is an ideal base for exploring Morocco’s coastline, with a stylish Moroccan interior and a beautiful infinity pool with unrivalled views over the Atlantic. Lunch under own arrangements. Afternoon at leisure to relax or go for a walk on the beach. Dinner at the hotel.
Sidi Ifni / Tiznit
Depart for Tiznit, an old walled medina town. It was originally the site of a cluster of forts that were encircled in the 19th century by some 5km of pisé wall. It quickly became a trade centre and remains a centre for Berber jewellery with an impressive silver souk. Lunch in a local restaurant.
Continue to the town of Sidi Ifni. Returned to Morocco by the Spanish as late as 1969, the slowly decaying blue and white art-deco buildings are a haunting reminder of colonial ambitions. At the heart of what was the Spanish Sahara, Ifni was once a base for slave-trading operations and later a large exporter of fish to the Spanish mainland. Return to the hotel. Dinner at the hotel.
Mirleft / Taroudant
Transfer to Taroudant and check in to Dar Zitoune where one night is spent. The peaceful Berber style “house of the olives” is tucked away amongst the olive trees a couple of miles outside Taroudant in the beautiful Souss region of Southern Morocco. Lunch at the hotel on arrival.
Afternoon spent exploring Taroudant, sometimes known as “little Marrakech”, hidden by magnificent red-mud walls with the snowcapped peaks of the Atlas Mountains beckoning beyond. Dinner under own arrangements.
Taroudant / Ourika Valley
Transfer to La Kasbah Bab Ourika where two nights are spent. Bab Ourika perches majestically on a hilltop at the apex of the Ourika Valley, guarding the gateway to the snow-capped Atlas Mountains with 360 degree panoramic views. The Kasbah is one of the most eco-friendly hotels in Morocco; constructed principally from rammed earth, the traditional Berber building technique. Lunch on route.
Remainder of the afternoon at leisure to enjoy your impressive surroundings. Dinner at the hotel.
Depart on a gentle walk through the Ourika Valley. See some of the farms that grow herbs and flowers in the valley for the perfumers and herbalists who sell a wide variety of exotic perfumes in the Medinas. Visit a traditional Berber mountain village. Lunch in the Berber village. Return to the hotel. Dinner under own arrangements.
This morning depart for La Pause where one night is spent. Set within olive groves and extensive rolling countryside perfectly nestled in the Agafay Hills, La Pause is just 30 minutes from the centre of Marrakech. The guestrooms are beautifully furnished in a traditional style, some with walls that are just a curtain to separate you from the elements.
Pisé walls protect you from the heat of the sun and strategically placed hammocks give the perfect place for you to relax in the shade.
Lunch on arrival at the hotel. Afternoon desert safari. Farewell dinner at the hotel including a traditional Gnaoua music performance.
Marrakech / London
Transfer to Marrakech Airport for a British Airways flight to London Gatwick arriving late afternoon.