Top
Morocco

april 6-19 2019

From the Medinas to the Mountains

Consider the sights and sounds of Morocco. Bustling souks. Daily calls to prayer. Hot desert sun. Cold mountain snow. Brilliant blue ocean.  Morocco sits at the crossroads between Europe and Africa with a rich history and culture.  Add in Peace Corps service by more than 4,800 Volunteers dating back to 1963 in education and youth development.  Absorb this amazing diversity of experiences with our unique Peace Corps perspective.

 

 
MBanner.png
Morocco

april 2019

Interested in exploring Morocco? A Next Step Travel trip might be ideal for you! With walks of medinas and souks to spending the night by the desert dunes, this will be a bucket list experience.  Travel in the company of Morocco RPCVs and others from across the Peace Corps world.  Meet with serving PCVs and Peace Corps Morocco staff.

Trip Highlights

  • Walk the medinas and souks of Fes, Meknes and Marrakesh

  • Wander through Ait Ben Haddou, the UNESCO World Heritage site (and site for so many famous films)

  • Learn about local industries with visits to a women's coop, Berber villages and artisan factories

  • Spend a night by the desert dunes

  • Drive an ancient caravan route across the High Atlas Mountains

  • Travel in the company of a Morocco RPCVs and other RPCVs from across the Peace Corps world and meet with serving PCVs and Peace Corps Morocco staff

Note: NST’s tour of Morocco requires travelers to be in good physical shape and health. See “Physical Level” below for more information.

INSTITUTIONS AND GUESTS MIGHT INCLUDE

  • US Embassy in Morocco
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • The Moroccan-American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange (MACECE)
  • Morocco Exchange with staff in Rabat, Fes and Marrakesh
  • DARNA women’s center in Tangier
  • High Atlas Foundation (HAF) in Marrakesh
  • CorpsAfrica in Morocco volunteers
  • American Language Centers (ALC) in Rabat, Tangier Tetouan, Meknes, Fes, or Marrakech
  • American Schools in Rabat, Tangier, Fes or Marrakech
  • American Fulbright and Boren Fellows in Morocco and returned Moroccan Fulbright Fellows

ACCOMMODATIONS

Prices are based on the sharing of rooms and single members of the group will be put together by same gender in a twin room with 2 separate beds. If you wish to have a private room to yourself, there is a single supplement available.

PHYSICAL LEVEL

NST’s tour of Morocco requires travelers to be in good physical shape and health. The tour may involve: long days (usually 8+ hours), a substantial amount of walking (often 3 miles or more per day, sometimes up and down hills and steps and on uneven surfaces), carrying luggage up and down staircases (sometimes several flights of stairs, for this reason it is recommended to pack light), being in the sun in potentially hot temperatures, long journeys by bus, camel and mule rides, and other similarly challenging scenarios. If you have questions or concerns, please email us at NST@peacecorpsconnect.org so we can help determine if the trip is appropriate for you.

WHAT'S INCLUDED

  • Accommodations at hotels listed or similar in shared double rooms. Single rooms are available at the supplement.
  • All hotel breakfasts (buffet or Continental, per hotels’ offering), 13 lunches & 8 dinners, Moroccan, Continental or buffet. Select menus highlighting local cuisine shall be provided where available. Includes mineral water with each covered lunch and dinner.
  • Transport throughout the program by an a/c 27-seat coach, inclusive of drivers’ expenses, taxes and fuel.
  • Services of a national guide / tour manager throughout, plus local site guides where required.
  • Private lectures in Rabat, as outlined.
  • All meetings and other arrangements as outlined.
  • High Atlas program inclusive of mountain guide, riding mules and their handlers, tea stop in local home and lunch (included in above totals).
  • Entry fees to all monuments/museums listed in the program.
  • Mineral water on the van, a 33-cl bottle per person for each half day of touring.
  • Portage at all in-country hotels, limited to 1 suitcase per person.
  • Gratuities for national guide, national driver, local guides, muleteers, restaurant service.
  • Contributions of between $100 and $200 each — based on eventual group size — to some of the organizations visited throughout the trip, including NPCA.

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

  • Any airfare
  • Any meals beyond those listed in the program, nor any beverages beyond standard breakfast, mineral water with included lunches and dinners, mineral water on the coach.
  • Any personal insurance nor medical expenses.
  • Any gratuities for room service or other strictly personal services.
  • Any airport–hotel transfers beyond 1 scheduled group transfer on arrival and departure.
  • Any passport fees (no visas required for US citizens), other purely personal expenses nor services beyond the extent of listed program.

CANCELLATION POLICY

  • A $400 per person non-refundable deposit is due to guarantee reservations.
  • Final payments of land costs will be due in our hands no later than 61 days prior to departure.
  • Cancellation penalties for individual cancellations are: (a) If canceled up to 61 days prior to departure — $400.00 deposit withheld; (b) From 60 to 31 days — 25% of land costs; (c) From 30 to 15 days — 50% of land costs; (d) 14 or fewer days — no refund. Cancellations must be in writing and are considered valid as of the day of receipt in our office. Trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended.
  • Should NPCA decide to cancel the program, all payments, including deposit, shall be refunded.
  • Costs are based on average exchange rates and hotel prices as of November 2018. Unexpectedly large hikes in hotel or restaurant rates or exchange rate fluctuations in excess of 5% may result in cost adjustments.
  • Air bookings will be processed upon request and may be settled by credit card. Airfare cancellation fees are strictly up to individual airlines' policies. Cross Cultural Adventures will not intervene for route alterations, cancellations, nor refunds for air arrangements not booked by us.
 
Morocco Reservation
400.00
Quantity:
Purchase Reservation

Trip Price: $2980

single supplement: $554

trip size: maximum of 15

Reservation fee will be credited towards full ticket.

Trip operated by Cross Cultural Adventures - a RPCV Morocco run tour company.

click here to express interest

 
 

Itinerary

Subject to change

B, L, D = Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 1 — Casablanca and Rabat (L)

9:30am Group pick-up at Casablanca airport, with second pick-up in Casablanca city for early arrivals. A driving tour of city highlights with an 11am visit of the Hassan II Mosque. (The program is based on arrivals by the direct Royal Air Maroc fights from the US. Participants arriving a day earlier will be picked up at a hotel location in the city. Participants arriving later on Day 1 will be provided with the option of a prepaid private transfer or public transport to Rabat.)

12:15pm Lunch at Rick’s Café Casablanca.

Post-lunch A 11⁄2-hr transfer to Rabat, with expected arrival by 3pm. Hotel check-in.

4:00pm Walking tour of the Oudaya Kasbah, with explanations on the history of Rabat, its corsair days and the consequent first international recognition of the independence of the United States by Sultan Sidi Mohamed ben Abdellah. Also a stop at the Mohamed V Mausoleum. Dinner is on your own. Suggestions for restaurants in the vicinity of the hotel shall be provided.

HOTEL: Le Pietri Urban Hotel, 3 blocks from the train station and a block from the Museum of Contemporary Art (2 nights).

DAY 2 — Rabat (B,L,D)

8:30am Departure for the Chellah fortress to see its Roman remains and the intricate necropolis of the 14th-C. Merinid Dynasty. From there proceed to the Museum of History and Mediterranean Civilization and from there to the new Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, is a magnificent structure of neo-Moorish architecture.

12:30pm Seafood lunch at the Borj Eddar.

2:00pm A briefing on the current projects and goals of the Peace Corps in Morocco at their downtown offices (a different venue shall be offered for a larger group).

Post-meeting Free time to explore old Peace Corps haunts in Rabat.

7:30pm Welcome Moroccan dinner at Dar Zaki in the medina.

DAY 3 — Rabat and to Tangier (B,L,D)

9:00am Meeting at the US Embassy’s Public Affairs Section, for a presentation on Moroccan politics and international affairs by its Political Counselor and Cultural Affairs Officer.

10:30am Informational sessions by Professors at the Center for Cross Cultural Learning, as follows:

-10:30am–11:15am — “Sharia and Human Rights.” Tea/coffee break.

-11:30–12:15pm —“Political Developments in Morocco Post the Arab Spring”

-12:30 — Moroccan lunch at the CCCL

2:00pm Depart on the limited-access autoroute to Tangier (±3 hrs). Hotel check-in.

7:30pm Dinner at El Morocco club in the Tangier kasbah.

HOTEL: The centrally located, historic Hotel Rembrandt, fully refurbished in 2017 (2 nights).

DAY 4 — Tangier (B,L)

9:30am Departure for the American Legation, the sole building on the National Historic Register located outside of U.S. territories, which served as the Peace Corps training center until 1973. After a briefing from the Legation’s Director on the institute’s various outreach programs (women’s literacy, cultural exchange, etc.), tour the Legation Museum’s collections of art and historical documents with its Curator. From the Legation, proceed on a tour of the Kasbah, with its produce markets.

Noon Seafood lunch at the Saveur des Poissons, a simple “hole in the wall” that was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” segment on Tangier.

Post-lunch A short excursion to the Malabata Cape, for a panoramic view of Tangier and Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar. Return to Tangier, with the remainder of the day free for personal pursuits. Dinner is on your own to sample from the city’s vast array of eateries.

DAY 5 — Chefchaouen, Meknes (option Volubilis) and to Fes (B,L,D)

8:30am Departure for Chefchaouen (±2 hrs), with a walking tour on the cobblestone alleys of the old city and the Kasbah museum of local life upon arrival.

Noon Moroccan lunch at Casa Hassan in the old city.

Post-lunch Transfer via hilly farmland until Imperial City Meknes (±3 1⁄2 hrs), to see Sultan Moulay Ismaïl’s astounding granary (World Heritage Site), the Mansour Gate, Morocco’s largest, and the Dar Jamaï Museum of city crafts. (The ruins of World Heritage Site Volubilis, Rome’s commercial hub for the region, renowned for its mosaics in situ, may be substituted for Meknes.)

7:30pm Moroccan dinner at the hotel.

HOTEL: Les Merinides, atop a hill overlooking the medina (2 nights).

DAY 6 — Fes (B,L)

8:30am Walking tour of 9th-C. “Old” Fes, with explanations on its culture and history, covering its Islamic shrines and former theological institutions, the Nejjarine Museum, and workshops for various crafts and goods in the area of the world’s oldest functioning university, the Qaraouïne. Moroccan lunch (included) during the visit. Expected end of tour around 3:00pm.

3:30pm Meeting with members of the Association Arouaba, to explore the social services they provide to the most vulnerable and overlooked segments of the city’s population, along with a discussion on policies of aid to the poor in the country from the points of view of government, NGOs and religious associations. Dinner is on your own, with shuttle to the new city provided.

DAY 7 — Cedar Forests and the Sahara (B,L,D)

7:30am Departure South into the Middle Atlas via mountain station Ifrane, with a side trip into the heart of the last forest of giant Mediterranean cedars, where we should spot a band of the indigenous Barbary macaques.

Noon Estimated time of lunch at the Hotel Taddert near Midelt. Post-lunch Continue South over the multi-hued expanses of the Eastern High Atlas until the desert regions, following the palm-filled valley of the Ziz to Arfoud. From there we follow a track into the Sahara until Merzouga, with estimated arrival around 6pm.

7:30pm Dinner at the hotel.

HOTEL: Riad Madu, an inn at the foot of the Erg Chebbi sea of dunes, with in-room bathrooms.

DAY 8 — Tafilalet Oasis, Sijilmassa and Todgha Gorge (B,L,D)

Dawn An optional camel excursion on the Erg to see sunrise over the Sahara.

8:00am A tour of Tafilalet oasis, Morocco’s largest (120,000 date-bearing palms), with a visit of the ruins of Sijilmassa, Africa’s 2nd largest city in the 10th C. Then turn West through typical desert scenery, stopping to admire a millennium- old vast network of underground aqueducts, until Tinjdad (±3 hrs). There we visit the unique Berber Museum and enjoy lunch on site.

Post-lunch Continue West to market center Tinghir for a walk through its 16th-C. adobe kasbah above the oasis, followed by a drive up the Todgha Gorge, Morocco’s “Grand Canyon.” From there continue West 1 hr until Boumalne.

7:30pm Buffet dinner at the hotel.

HOTEL: Xaluca Dades, perched like a fortress above the town, with views up the valley and the Atlas mountains.

DAY 9 — Dades Valley, Amridil, Aït ben Haddou and Ouarzazate (B,L,D)

9:00am Benefitting from optimal morning light, a drive up the Dades Valley, the South’s most picturesque, with its varied orchards guarded by adobe forts and its odd rock formations. Then still West, past rose center El Kalaa, until Amridil, the South’s largest kasbah (featured on Morocco’s 50-Dirham bank note). Amridil is still inhabited, a chance to see traditional ways of life in these ancient settlements. Local lunch at a riad next to the kasbah.

Post-lunch Pass international filming center Ouarzazate en route to the World Heritage Site of Aït ben Haddou Kasbah, a hillside assembly of several multi-storied adobe granaries, oft used a film backdrop (e.g., “Gladiator”). From there we return 25 min to Ouarzazate.

6:30pm A meeting with an association of local female university students started by a Peace Corps Volunteer, for a discussion about their ambitions and prospects in today’s Moroccan society. The chat continues as they join us for dinner at the hotel.

HOTEL: Ksar Ighnda, a luxurious inn built in local adobe style above Asfalou.

DAY 10 — Marrakech (B,L,D)

8:00am Departure North across the High Atlas on the spectacular road of the Tizi-n’Tichka pass, with vistas on deep dales and their adobe hamlets.

Noon Expected arrival in legendary Marrakech, with lunch at the historic La Bagatelle restaurant in Gueliz. Check into the hotel after lunch.

2:45pm A tour of Marrakech’s prime historical monuments, with explanations on the history of the city and its Berber founders, who made it the capital of the largest empire in the Western world in the 11th and 12th centuries. Covers the 12th-C Koutoubiya Mosque, the necropolis of the Saadian Dynasty and the Bahia Palace.

7:30pm Buffet dinner (included) at the hotel.

HOTEL: Diwan, in the heart of Gueliz (4 nights).

DAY 11 — Marrakech (B,L)

8:30am Departure for a visit of the Majorelle Garden and its unique Museum of Berber Culture.

10:00am Meeting at one of the following:

–The women's center of Al Kaoutar, helping those without any resources and in extreme poverty to learn a job and therefore earn a living. Here the women learn how to make high quality clothing and embroidery, including table linens, children’s outfits, towels, etc. The center has also a daycare facility for disabled women and their children. Moroccan lunch would then follow at the Café Argana, overlooking the Jemaa el Fna square.

–The Amal Center, which provides disadvantaged women means for economic stability and self-sufficiency through restaurant training and job placement. A culinary demonstration will be provided, followed by lunch at the Center.

Post-lunch A walking tour of the craft ateliers and bazaars of the medina, the largest in the country, with a visit of the sumptuous Dar el Bacha palace of former strongman El Glaoui, with its museum on inter-religious currents as expressed in crafts and customs. Dinner is on your own, to sample from the city’s vast array of excellent restaurants.

DAY 12 — Akhraich (B,L)

9:30am Departure for Akhraich village.

10:30am Expected arrival in Akraich to examine the community development and educational project developed there by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. The meeting will address a variety of topics that affect rural existence in Morocco, including economic survival, education, social structures and support, community decision making, and the emerging role of women as decision makers and contributors to the survival of the community. The village will share lunch with the group. Return to Marrakech by 3pm.

The remainder of the day is free for personal pursuits in Marrakech. A meeting may be arranged with students at the American Corner.

Dinner is again on your own.

DAY 13 — Mt. Toubkal National Park (B,L,D)

9:00am Departure for the Mt. Toubkal National Park, at the foot of North Africa’s highest peak (14,000 ft). There mount mules (or hike) for a ride through walnut-shaded terraced fields to observe the traditional ways of life and work of the Berber tribesmen, Morocco’s indigenous settlers. Special focus will be on the extensive orchards that now provide a source of wealth to the area, a project initiated by the High Atlas Foundation.

1:00pm Expected lunch at the Kasbah du Toubkal ecolodge.

Late-afternoon return to Marrakech, with open time for personal pursuits.

8:00pm A farewell feast of Marrakchi specialties at a private venue in the medina.

DAY 14 — Outbound (B)

8:00am Group transfer to Marrakech airport for your homebound flights.

Optional extension trip

For pricing of extension, please contact us

DAY 14 — Taroudant (B,L,D)

Morning transfer from Marrakech Southwest to Taroudant, the millennium-old capital of the Souss region, still mostly surrounded by its ramparts. Continue first to scenic Tioute village at the foot of the Anti Atlas, for a stroll through the town and its oasis, observing traditional oasis agriculture. In the afternoon, a walking tour of Taroudant, its native market for staples, where you can observe the hand manufacture of everyday goods: pottery, furniture, shoes, etc. Also walk through its reed-shaded bazaars, rich in crafts. The Oumensour Palace, a former mansion in the old city converted to a character rich hotel (2 nights).

DAY 15 — The Anti Atlas (B,L,D)

A full-day excursion from Taroudant into the wild expanses of the Anti Atlas Mountains, passing camouflaged hilltop settlements of the Illalen Berbers until the Tafraout oasis, amid granite cliffs. See a local petroglyph site next to a hamlet perched above an escarpment. Then continue to silver market center Tiznit, before an early evening return to Taroudant.

DAY 16 — Essaouira (B,L,D)

A morning transfer North along the dramatic Atlantic coastline, past banana plantations and stands of the indigenous argan trees, with a stop at a cooperative to see how the precious argan oil, used both in cuisine and therapy, is manually extracted from the trees’ nuts. Midday arrival in picturesque World Heritage City Essaouira, whose history spans the Phoenicians to the “hippie era.” An afternoon tour of the colorful port, the setting for Orson Welles’s “Othello,” the massive ramparts with their ateliers on the local thuya wood, the Abdallah Museum of local culture, including that of the Gnawa sect who make Essaouira their spiritual home, and a gallery for the town’s very original naïve art movement. Villa Maroc, 3 former merchants’ homes near port that have been connected and converted to the Kingdom’s first boutique hotel (2 nights).

DAY 17 — Essaouira (B,D)

A free day to enjoy the sea breezes and relaxed atmosphere of Essaouira, a strollers’ paradise with no traffic allowed within the old city in daytime. You may add a visit to the former Jewish Quarter, once home to the largest and most prosperous Judaic community in Morocco, and see the restored synagogue of the city’s “patron saint” Rabbi Pinto.

DAY 18 — Outbound

A morning 2 1⁄2-hr transfer to Marrakech airport for your homebound flights. (Depending on group’s flight arrangements, the transfer may be instead 5 hrs to Casablanca airport. There are also flights from Essaouira to Casablanca, albeit not daily.)

A Note on the Final Itinerary:

Itineraries and pricing are subject to change. This particular tour has been designed with specific events in mind, and schedules and availabilities may change in coming months. If any activity or person that is advertised is missed or not available, it will be replaced with an activity or person of equal interest and value.  A final itinerary and briefing packet will be ready two weeks before the trip.