We will meet you at Casablanca CMN airport on
Sunday, Nov 16th or Monday, Nov 17th
(Those arriving on Sunday Nov 16th in Casablanca will stay in Casa Sofitel overnight. Those arriving from NYC on the direct flight from NY with Royal Air Maroc dep Sunday Nov 16th arrive Monday Nov 17th 06.25. We will meet you and bring you to join the group for davening in one of the Casablanca shuls, followed by breakfast)
The early morning will find us in one of the many active shuls in "Casa" as it is widely known, followed by breakfast, an overview of this extremely commercial, modern city before heading off to the elgant capital of Morocco, Rabat.
We'll end our first day to this magical country with our welcome dinner prepared by the chefs in the lovely 5* Sofitel in Fez, Palais Jamai www.sofitel.com/Fes
All guests will enjoy superior rooms overlooking the Medina.
Fez – You'll feel the excitement of a traditional Moroccan city here. FYI - the golden age of the Jewish community in Fez lasted from the 9th to 11th centuries. Its yeshivot attracted brilliant scholars, poets and grammarians: Dunash Ibn Labrat, and Rabbi Isaac Alfasi (the RIF) spent most of their lives in Fez.
From a community of some 22,000 in 1947, less than 100 Jews remain today, but the city is rich in Jewish memories, which we'll see as part of our tour of Fez.
We'll leave Fez and pass local towns and villages en route to the oasis of Bin el Ouidane.
Hidden in the heart of Berber territory in the Atlas mountains, this is the other, less well known, Morocco.
This is the Morocco of the future, using its natural resources to attract upscale and eco tourism.
We'll spend 2 nights at the luxurious Hotel Widiane www.widiane.net and have the whole of the next day to enjoy its many facilities.
Today is dedicated largely to toning up our bodies.
In the morning, those who are up for it will take a hike in the mountains to the waterfalls of Ouzoud,returning for lunch to our hotel. There's a boat ride on the lake, famous for its fish; you can choose from a menu of massages, and later we'll relax over a Bar-B-Q dinner. These are just a few of the many reasons to spend a day here!!
Today, we move on to Marrakesh, where we'll take in as much of this fascinating city as time will allow before we have to head to our hotel to prepare for Shabbat!!
For sure we'll visit the Medina, the Jewish quarter and the market, claimed to be the #1 shuk in the world by many travel blogs. The colours are simply fabulous. (BTW, our own Old City of Jerusalem shuk comes in at #2)
All Shabbat Tefillot and Meals will be in the beautiful grounds of our Hotel, the Tigmiza Suites hotel . We stay 4 nights in one hotel – YAY!!!
With Shabbat finishing early we'll have plenty of time to go back after Havdala!! The main square takes on a completely different "persona" at night.
Essaouira – today we offer to take you to the coastal town of Essaouira, one of the most beautiful and unspoilt towns in Morocco. It's quite a long drive and those who prefer to spend more time exploring Marrakesh will be able to do so.
A famous trading post 3000 years ago, Essauouira's stunning beaches have made it the mecca for surfing enthusiasts today. The city has always been a draw for artists of all genres and poets, scientists and artists have been its visitors for centuries.
The old harbour has fine examples of both Portuguese and Moroccan architecture, as does the 17th century Mosque and the local artists quarter. There are picturesque views of the fishing port and the walled medina from the bastion of Skala du Port.
There is plenty of time at leisure for you to enjoy the charms of this peaceful, relaxing resort, so different to marrakesh from where we come and to which we return.
Not everyone knows that there were Berber tribes practising Judaism openly until the 1950's.
Today we spend the whole day in the Atlas Mountains that reach 14,000 feet at Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. This chain of mountains has always been home for the semi nomadic Berber tribes. We will pass through villages and small hamlets that haven't changed for many centuries.
We board our four wheel drives to start crossing the plain of the Haouz. After a short climb, we'll stop at the very lush and green valley of Ourika and visit the shrine of Rabbi Shlomo Ben Hensh, a venerated Kabbalistic Rabbi to whom many miracles were attributed. His shrine was the elected home of a man considered as the last Berber Jew.
From there we cross the Sidi Fares Forrest on our way to the plateau of Kik where we will stop for lunch at Berber house and enjoy a tea ceremony before we set off towards the lake of Lalla Takerkoust.
Finally we 'll cross the desert of Oumnast on our way back to Marrakesh, to freshen up before our final dinner in Marrakesh!!
We'll drive through the High Altas Mountains, enjoy the panoramic views from Tizi-n-Tichka and visit an Argan oil co-operative to learn about the production process and its many benefits.
Continuing south, a short detour brings us to the famous Ait Benhaddou Ksar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At this spectacular location, several movies such as Gladiator, Jewel of the Nile, and Sahara with Penelope Cruz, have been filmed. We'll lunch in the village before continuing our journey to Ouarzazate, known as the great door to the desert and the starting point of many expeditions. Here are the world's largest film studios – Atlas Studios – you'll understand why when we are there!!
The great Taourirt Kasbah is also located here. And we will visit Ouatzazat.
Overnight at a luxurious Riad: www.ksar.ighnda.net
Next morning, we enter the deesrt proper. After the breakfast, we go from Dades Gorge to Erg Chebbi - one of Morocco's two Saharan ergs – large seas of dunes formed by wind-blown sand.
Berber villages are scattered along the way, we'll pass through Tinjdad, Jorf and Erfoud by the oasis of Tafilalet. After a brief stop in Merzouga,we'll ride the camels through the sand dunes.
Our overnight will be in a luxurious (by Saharan desert standards) private camp http://www.desertcampmorocco.com/private-camps/ in the middle of the Sahara. Here you'll take unique pictures of the sunset from one of the high dunes nearby, and sunrise, before our final, moving Shacharit in this spectacular setting.
On this final day, we will bring you to Errachidia airport to catch a morning flight to Casablanca to begin your journey home, laden with gifts and wonderful memories from this beautiful country!!