Mosaic of Wild Morocco

About the Experience

Morocco’s landscape is a juxtaposition of vast deserts, buzzing ancient cities and the enormous Atlas mountain range. It’s a true mosaic and the culture is felt in the extremes of colour, patterns and Berber villages.

On this 15 day tour, we’ll cut through prolific palm groves in the oasis and ride through the brown sugar dunes of the Sahara Desert. We’ll journey through the fragrant cedar forests in the Middle Atlas mountains, and stand knee-deep in the raw force of the Atlantic Ocean.

We’ll ride camels through the bronzed expanse of the Sahara. Their relaxed footfalls and sway lends to their nickname, “the ships of the desert.” As the sun retires, we’ll experience a spicy feast before stretching out to sleep in a luxury tent. 

This trip explores the ancient medinas of Fes, Essaouira and Marrakech. The rainbow hues of the famous tanneries are mesmerizing: the pinwheel of red (derived from the poppy flower), orange from henna, and indigo blue, dot the city like a cartoon grid. We’ll meander around the vibrant market where baskets overflow with spices and tapestries of delicate handmade weaving entice.

In a complete departure from the congestion and hustle of the city, we’ll hike in the fertile serenity of Ziz valley, through palm and olive trees, Kasbahs and small rural villages. 

We’ll take part in a sacred henna ceremony and be privy to genuine Moroccan hospitality by sharing a tagine, chicken pastilla and sweet mint tea with a local family.

On this exceptional journey we will visit the cedar forests near Ifrane, home to the only primate found north of the Sahara, the Barbary macaque. We’ll also feel the rush of the dramatic Todra Gorge – a series of cascading limestone ledges that soar up to 400m. We’ll sleep closer to the stars at a magical eco guesthouse in Toubkal National Park. Kasbah du Toubkal, perched on a plateau at 1,800m, is like sleeping in the beating heart of the Atlas Mountains. 

Mosaic of Wild Morocco will let you experience northern Africa’s towers, turrets and tagines on foot, by camel, horseback and bike. This mosaic is not a mirage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Mosaic of Wild Morocco

About the Experience

Morocco’s landscape is a juxtaposition of vast deserts, buzzing ancient cities and the enormous Atlas mountain range. It’s a true mosaic and the culture is felt in the extremes of colour, patterns and Berber villages.

On this 15 day tour, we’ll cut through prolific palm groves in the oasis and ride through the brown sugar dunes of the Sahara Desert. We’ll journey through the fragrant cedar forests in the Middle Atlas mountains, and stand knee-deep in the raw force of the Atlantic Ocean.

We’ll ride camels through the bronzed expanse of the Sahara. Their relaxed footfalls and sway lends to their nickname, “the ships of the desert.” As the sun retires, we’ll experience a spicy feast before stretching out to sleep in a luxury tent. 

This trip explores the ancient medinas of Fes, Essaouira and Marrakech. The rainbow hues of the famous tanneries are mesmerizing: the pinwheel of red (derived from the poppy flower), orange from henna, and indigo blue, dot the city like a cartoon grid. We’ll meander around the vibrant market where baskets overflow with spices and tapestries of delicate handmade weaving entice.

In a complete departure from the congestion and hustle of the city, we’ll hike in the fertile serenity of Ziz valley, through palm and olive trees, Kasbahs and small rural villages. 

We’ll take part in a sacred henna ceremony and be privy to genuine Moroccan hospitality by sharing a tagine, chicken pastilla and sweet mint tea with a local family.

On this exceptional journey we will visit the cedar forests near Ifrane, home to the only primate found north of the Sahara, the Barbary macaque. We’ll also feel the rush of the dramatic Todra Gorge – a series of cascading limestone ledges that soar up to 400m. We’ll sleep closer to the stars at a magical eco guesthouse in Toubkal National Park. Kasbah du Toubkal, perched on a plateau at 1,800m, is like sleeping in the beating heart of the Atlas Mountains. 

Mosaic of Wild Morocco will let you experience northern Africa’s towers, turrets and tagines on foot, by camel, horseback and bike. This mosaic is not a mirage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY ONE: WELCOME TO MOROCCO

Upon arrival at the international airport in Casablanca (CMN), you will be greeted (“As-salamu ‘alaikum” or السلام عليكم is “hello” in Arabic) and transported to your hotel. You will have time to explore a little or grab a catnap until the early afternoon. 

At 2pm, meet your fellow Wild Women and guide at the rendezvous point. We will begin with a tour of the magnificent Hassan II Mosque, the largest in Morocco and fifth largest in the world. On this tour, we will discover the most ambitious project of late King Hassan II. Completed in 1993, it was partially built into the Atlantic and possesses the world’s tallest minaret (210m) and can hold up to 25,000 worshippers inside the mosque hall. It’s also the tallest structure in Morocco. Part of the mosque floor is glass, allowing worshippers to kneel and pray directly over the sea.

Minarets are vantage points from which the resonating calls to prayer are made five times a day. When night falls, lasers shine a hopeful beam from the minaret toward Mecca. This beam ensures that everyone knows the direction of Islam’s holiest city and the direct path to God.

After the mosque tour, there will be a trip debriefing followed by a wholly authentic dinner prepared and hosted by a local family.

 

DAY TWO:  MEKNES AND VOLUBILIS

This morning we will drive to Meknes and take a walk through the historical medina known for its ancient gate, triumphal arches and mosaic tiling. Lunch will be at a local family-owned restaurant and it will be a savoury affair!

In the afternoon we will take a short drive north (40 minutes) to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Volubilis for a guided tour of the fertile plain and Roman ruins (one of the best preserved sites in Morocco). We’ll learn about the partially excavated Berber city, believed to have been home to 20,000 residents whose wealth was linked to local olive production.

The 42-hectare walled city represents ten centuries of occupation, from prehistory to the Islamic period and are documented in elaborate mosaics, marble and bronze statues and hundreds of inscriptions.

After exploring Volubilis, we will drive onward to Fes where we will be staying in a classic riad for the next two nights. Originating from the Arabic term for ‘garden’, a riad is a traditional Moroccan house that is two or more stories high and built around an inner courtyard with a garden and a fountain.

For dinner, we will be treated to a signature Fes dish– the sweet and salty chicken pastilla. The savoury Moroccan skillet pie is filled with shredded chicken and aromatic spices wrapped in crisp layers of pastry. 

 

DAY THREE: MAGICAL MYSTICAL MEDINA

This morning, we will take a tour of the old medina of Fes. The snaking maze of streets will lead us past working artisans, and what was once one of the world’s great centers of education and culture, both Islamic and Jewish. We will spend the day exploring the old city and Fes’s famous tanneries and ceramic arts studio. The stunning architecture of Medressa el Attarine and Fondouk Nejjarine stops everyone in their tracks. We’ll also see the oldest university in the world (recognized by UNESCO), founded by a Moroccan Muslim woman, Fatima al-Fihria. Entrance to the university is only permitted to locals but the property and architecture can easily be appreciated from outside.

Tonight your dinner will be independent. Your guide can provide you with several tempting recommendations in the vicinity of the riad or you can spontaneously follow your nose!

 

DAY FOUR: CEDAR FORESTS OF IFRANE

In the morning, we’ll leave the energetic city market scene and head south to the region of Ifrane. Nicknamed “Little Switzerland”, it’s a magnet for skiers. Even the architecture of the Middle Atlas Mountains is alpine-style.

We will visit a local park and go for a 1-2 hour walk under the canopy of the renowned cedar forests of Ifrane. More than 200 species of birds are found in this area but it’s the Barbary macaques that get all the attention. They are the only macaque species found outside of Asia and the only primate species found north of the Sahara. The macaques are abundant here (Ifrane has the world’s largest population) and they like to travel in troops of 10 to 30 individuals.

We’ll head back to our hotel near the town of Azrou for an authentic dinner and a serene night in the countryside.

 

DAY FIVE: MIDELT AND ERRACHIDIA

Stretch your hamstrings! It will be a four hour drive to the Ziz valley–but a spectacularly scenic one! We’ll cut through fertile valleys, stands of cedar and pine and landscapes that move from barren to rocky. On the way, we’ll stop in the high plains of Midelt. The city is the commercial hub for the large agricultural hinterland. Originally, Midelt was built as a base for active mining in the area but it has now transformed into a thriving pastoral area surrounded by orchards. We’ll continue to Errachidia, once called Ksar Essouk, the capital of the Ziz Valley and one of Morocco’s largest date production areas. Yes, it’s date night!

We’ll check into our hotel in Zaouit Amelkis. The elegant traditional guest house has a superb view of the red rock formations, a palmeraie (palm forest) and river. There will be free time to absorb the stellar views and chill out before gathering for dinner.

 

DAY SIX: EXPLORING ZIZ VALLEY

After breakfast, we’ll meet our local guide and explore the rich palmeraie that is the Ziz Valley on foot. We will also tour the ancient ksar (fortified village) of Zaouiet Amelkis. We’ll cross several fields and learn the secrets behind growing dates, grains, legumes and olives by using traditional irrigation systems. We may also have the opportunity to help collect herbs, feed the animals, or even milk a cow!

Afterwards, we will visit a local Berber family to have a traditional cup of tea, lunch and experience family life in the valley.

The rest of the day will be at your leisure–the gardens at the hotel are designed for relaxation and reflection. Order some mint tea and ooze into Ziz and be sure to hang out on the rooftop terrace overlooking the palmeraie!

 

DAY SEVEN: INTO THE SAHARA

We’ll depart the Ziz Valley in the morning and stop in Erfoud, a small town known for its fossils. We’ll also check out Risaani, an area noted for its leather and goat skin trading and a lively souk. Then, we’ll continue on to the golden dunes of Merzouga, situated about 20 kilometres from the Algerian border. Moroccans come to Erg Chebbi for the healing sands believed to relieve rheumatism and other conditions. During the hottest times of the year, locals will be buried up to their necks in the hot sand for a few minutes at a time in a traditional “sand sauna.”

After the dunes in Merzouga, we’ll enjoy a local specialty: Berber pizza. It will blow your traditional pizza-lovin’ mind! Later in the day, when the sun begins to set (around 5pm) and the desert heat begins to lift with nightfall, we’ll be introduced to our doe-eyed camels who will be giving us a lift to our secluded desert camp in the dunes! (Our main luggage will be transported to the dune camp by 4×4.) The camel ride is around one-hour–and there’s a reason why pizza isn’t delivered by camelback!

Here, we’ll enjoy a sweet welcoming tea and settle into our luxury tents (yes, they have private bathrooms!). Later, we’ll enjoy an impressive desert feast, a campfire and live drumming by local musicians. The stars of this show are the constellations above!

 

DAY EIGHT: THE TODRA GORGES

After oohing and ahhhing (and yawning) in the face of the peach sherbet Sahara sunrise, we’ll enjoy a truly memorable breakfast. Then, we’ll depart the Sahara and drive towards the Todra Gorges, a series of carved limestone canyons (or “wadi”) on the east side of the High Atlas Mountains. Here, the Todra and Dades Rivers have sculpted 400m-high cliff-sided canyons on their final 40km split through the mountains.

We’ll stop here to snap dozens of pics (it’s necessary) and then continue to Skoura, one of the few palm groves that are still inhabited and cultivated in Morocco. This will be our remote oasis for the next two nights.

The gorgeous kasbah is a traditional building that showcases ancient architecture, a modern outdoor swimming pool and elegant garden of palm, apple, olive and pomegranate trees. Candles and fairy lights dangle from the trees at night creating a warm and magical atmosphere, reflected on the pool’s surface.

 

DAY NINE: CYCLING THE PALM GROVE

After breakfast, we’ll meet our local guide for a cycling tour of the palm groves of Skoura. This village is home to several privately-owned Kasbahs. Built (or rebuilt) with walls made of mud and straw, the style and quality is diverse. Many have been reinforced with more solid structures and for modern aesthetic. There is an area in the remote south of the country, known as the “route of 1000 Kasbahs.” We expect someone in the group to belt out “Rock the Casbah” by The Clash!

We will also visit the Kasbah Ameridhl–it was once previously featured on the Moroccan 50 dirham note. This Kasbah appeared in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia for Peter O’Toole fans. The museum showcases the traditional architecture of the building, local artifacts, tools, an olive press and bread oven. The courtyards, towers, terrace and gallery of ochre arches truly feel like a film set.

We’ll continue our ride through narrow city alleys, along trails and gravel roads. There will be several breaks under the shade of palm trees of the oasis and later, we’ll enjoy a picnic-style lunch.

In the early afternoon, we’ll return to our hotel in Skoura and have the rest of the day for pure leisure. We highly recommend enjoying the sun’s warmth poolside with a ‘Berber whiskey.’ (You’ll see!)

 

DAY TEN: THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS

We’ll depart Skoura this morning and make a short stop in Ourzazate, Morocco’s ‘Little Hollywood’. This area has been featured in several films like Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (Ewan McGregor! Kristin Scott Thomas! Emily Blunt!), The Mummy (Brendan Fraser! Rachel Weisz) and scenes from Game of Thrones

We will explore the pulse of the small mountain town of Imlil, where our accommodation for the night is located. Alpinists with titanium quads set off from here for the 5-hour climb to snow-capped Jebel Toubkal (4,167m), the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco and North Africa. 

Upon arrival in High Atlas, our luggage will be transported by mule and we’ll have the opportunity to stretch our legs after the long drive (6 hours) on a short, uphill walk through the peaceful village to our accommodations which are only accessible only by foot or mule hooves.

Tonight we will have a pampered stay at Kasbah Toubkal, an eco-guesthouse that has been sustainably designed. The local community was involved throughout the process and 5% of each booking is contributed to Education for All, an organization founded by the owner of the Kasbah that supports rural Moroccan girls  their continuing education.

 

DAY ELEVEN: THE SHRINE OF SIDI CHAMHAROUCH

Today, rise and greet the mighty mountains from your uninterrupted Kasbah view. After breakfast, we’ll strike off on a moderate 4-hour (12km roundtrip) mountain hike to the shrine of Sidi Chamharouch. There is an elevation gain of 400m (400m loss on return).

Located near a cascading ribbon of waterfall, there’s a cluster of pisé (rammed earth) homes. In the past, the bones of prophets and royalty were found under the huge boulder (that has since been painted white). It has been a sacred place of pilgrimage since pre-Islamic times.

When we return to our Kasbah, soothe your spent muscles by taking advantage of the on-site hammam (steam bath) with your fellow Wild Women.

 

DAY TWELVE: THE OCEAN BECKONS

Today we will depart the shadows of the Atlas Mountains and drive four hours to the chill coastal town of Essaouira. This Atlantic seaside town was once home to a large British and Jewish population. The vibrant art hub vibrates and continues to be a hub for Moroccan and international contemporary artists seeking a muse.

Essaouira is also a major fishing port and we’ll be able to indulge in the day’s freshest catch! After checking into our hotel, we’ll meet our local guide  who will lead us to a divine seafood market lunch.

A guided tour of the late 18th-century fortified town will follow. The major international trading seaport has long-linked Morocco and the Sahara hinterland to Europe and the world. The signature “Alizée” trade winds make Essaouira’s crescent beach nirvana for surfers, kitesurfers and windsurfers. 

Dinner is independent today and you’ll find everything you didn’t even know you were craving–from handmade tagliatelle to pumpkin tagine veggie burgs to lobster.

 

DAY THIRTEEN: HORSEBACK RIDING ON THE BEACH

After breakfast, we will have the option to ride horses along the windswept beaches of Essaouira. This powerful experience will allow us to embrace the early morning calm of the coast and recharge our energy in the spiritual moment. *An alternative activity will be offered to those who do not wish to go riding.

Afterwards, we will have the option to experience an authentic Moroccan hammam. It’s an essential Moroccan experience– hammams are deeply rooted in everyday communal life and involve an intense steam bath and invigorating massage and scrub. This activity is offered at an additional cost (around 150dh or $17US). The investment is priceless!

The rest of the day will be at your leisure. You can return to the beach, poke around the art galleries and shops of Essaouira or find a sunny spot to savour some Arabian date cookies or moist Moroccan orange cake with an espresso.

 

DAY FOURTEEN: ANCIENT CITY OF MARRAKECH

Today we will drive three hours to Marrakech, an ancient city with a small touch of European modernity. We’ll have a nourishing lunch upon arrival and after checking into our riad, meet our local guide for an orientation walk around the medina of Marrakech. Yes, the famous Jemaa El Fna! 

We will also visit the Jewish quarter of the medina of Marrakech and will share an authentic Moroccan dinner with a local family. Your host will serve irresistible Moroccan salads and fresh, home-baked bread while we await the main course. Dishes will vary depending on the season and availability–the menu might include lamb with prunes and almonds or couscous with tender roasted Moroccan chicken. Vegetarian options will be available too!

The Marrakech experience is not over–this pinnacle moment is an intimate exchange of tradition, talent and ceremony. A Hennaya, or Henna tattoo artist (one of the oldest professions of Moroccan women), will design an intricate Henna tattoo on your hands or feet. We’ll learn about the origins of the henna, the henna plant and the symbolism.

Tonight we will stay at a riad in Marrakech and admire the artwork of our Hennaya, wishing that both the henna and our time in Morocco was going to last longer!

 

DAY FIFTEEN: FAREWELL MOROCCO

This morning we will close our transformative trip with one final community experience. We’ll be introduced to the subtle secrets of Moroccan cuisine under the expertise of Dadas (chef). It would be unfair to return home without a recipe up our sleeve to transport us back to north Africa! We might be instructed in preparing a tagine, couscous or Moroccan bread–regardless, everyone will want seconds! For quality control, of course.

Share some laughs with your crew of Wild Women and enjoy a reflective farewell Moroccan meal together.

You can return to your riad if you have opted to stay an additional night in Marrakech, otherwise, a transfer (30 minutes) will be provided to the Marrakech airport for flights scheduled for later in the day.

Say ma’aasalaama” (“goodbye” in Arabic) to your companions until next time…and what a time it was. You rocked the casbah!

 

 

 

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!

DAY ONE: HEADING NORTH

You will be met by your driver at your pre-trip hotel in Casablanca at 9am. The drive to Chefchaouen or the famed ‘Blue City’,  located in the humming centre of the Rif Mountain’s agricultural region is less than five scenic hours. Upon arrival, you will be directed to your hotel in the pounding heart of the medina (old quarter) and will have the rest of the day to immerse yourself in the otherworldly blue palette.

Each year the terracotta-tiled houses are washed with yet another coat of paint. The stories surrounding the favoured blue paint chip vary depending on who you ask. Jewish refugees from Europe possibly painted everything blue to symbolize heaven. Others claim that it’s a mosquito repellant!

Linger over tea in the central square or grab a fresh fruit shake. Shop for a take-home bronze teapot. Wander around the maze-like streets where artisans will encourage you to admire hand-woven rugs and pottery. For dinner, there are several nearby rooftop or terrace restaurants–the area is perfumed with spices. Cardamom, turmeric, clove, cumin–most of these will be found in your dish!

 

DAY TWO: EXPLORING THE BLUE CITY

In the morning,  meet your local guide for a guided walking tour of the true blue city. On this tour, you will learn about the local kasbahs, mosques, weaving workshops and local history. The walk will follow a trail that leads to a magnificent panorama of the town. You’ll wonder where the sky begins and ends!

You’ll have the entire afternoon to explore the town on your own and when night falls–find a people-watching spot to take in the rhythm of the city while enjoying a tagine or couscous dish by lantern or candlelight.

 

DAY THREE: RETURN TO CASABLANCA

This morning, a shuttle will take you back to Casablanca (5 hours) where you will join the anxious group and begin your Wild Women Expeditions Mosaic of Wild Morocco trip!