November 2012: MoroccoNovember 12, 2012 in Morocco
Day 1: Casablanca
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco. Your adventure begins today with a welcome meeting at 6pm – check with hotel reception to confirm the time. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. As there's little free time included in Casablanca on this trip, to fully explore the city consider coming a day earlier. Modelled after Marseille in France, the city is famous for its art deco buildings and the modern-day masterpiece, the Hassan II Mosque. A pleasant way to spend the day exploring Casablanca is to wander the old medina and the city walls, then jump in a taxi to visit the Quartiers des Habous, the new medina. Finish the day with a walk along the Corniche, watching the locals play football on the beach, or take it easy with a glass of sweet mint tea in one of the many great cafes.
Note: Please be aware that some of our travellers to Casablanca are being approached by locals offering excursions before their Intrepid trip commences. This has been particularly prevalent in and around the hotels used by Intrepid. These guides are in no way connected to Intrepid Travel and we cannot guarantee the safety or quality standards of their tours. We strongly advise customers against joining any tour offered by unauthorised guides. Intrepid Travel assesses the safety of all optional excursions offered by our tour leaders. If you would like more information on the excursions available, please contact us before you travel or see the Intrepid-branded notice in the reception of your hotel.
Day 2: Rabat/Meknes
Today take an early morning one-hour train to the historical town of Rabat. Rabat's history is long and colourful, having been host to Roman settlements, pirates and more recently the Moroccan parliament. It contains numerous fine Arab monuments, some dating from the 10th to 15th century Almohad and Merenid dynasties, and others that are far older. The earliest known settlement is Sala, occupying an area now known as the Chellah. Store your luggage and spend a few hours strolling through the city's old quarter, then walk up to Kasbah des Oudaias and enjoy views over the Atlantic Ocean. Afterwards, continue to Meknes on a three-hour train. The imperial city of Meknes was built when Sultan Moulay Ismail (a contemporary of Louis XIV) set out to create his own version of Versailles, using over 25,000 slaves to construct walls, gates and over 50 palaces.
Day 3: Volubilis/Fes
This morning is free to explore Meknes. In the 17th century Sultan Moulay Ismail turned Meknes from a provincial town to a spectacular Imperial city – visit his immense Heri es Souani Granary, a mammoth architectural feat, and the city's now crumbling imperial palaces. Try a camel burger for lunch at friendly local restaurant in the medina. Later, board a private minibus and travel for one hour through rolling hills and olive groves to the archaeological site of Volubilis. World Heritage-listed Volubilis was once a provincial Roman capital, a distant outpost of the empire, and the remains make an undeniably impressive sight. Upon arrival, take a tour around the ruins with a local guide. Please remember to pack drinking water, hat, sunglasses and sun cream for this tour as it may get hot and you will be exposed to the sun. And, of course, don’t forget to take your camera as the town is filled with fantastic mosaics along the Decumanus Maximus, many of which remain intact. Afterwards, make the two-hour drive to Fes, where you'll spend the next two nights. Fes is the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco; vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses – with a huge, well-preserved medieval old city that’s the mother of all medinas.
Day 4: Fes
Take a guided group walking tour of the old city, known locally as Fes el Bali. Step back into the Middle Ages in the labyrinth of the Medina, which is alive with craftsmen, markets, tanneries and mosques. Pass donkeys piled high with goods (this is one of the largest car-free urban zones in the world) and explore the specialty sections that divide the souk. Look out for the Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's most beautiful buildings, which has recently been restored and is now open to tourists. Visit the Belghazi Museum, Medresse el Attarine and the splendid Funduk Nejjarine, a beautifully restored 18th century inn. You'll also see the famous tannery, known for the iconic view overlooking its dye pits, and a ceramics factory where you can see potters working in the traditional way. In the evening, perhaps enjoy a delicious group dinner (at your own cost) of Moroccan specialities like harira (chickpea soup) and chicken-stuffed pastilla with couscous. The group may also head to the Palais Jamai for a drink. Watching the sunset over the Medina while a dozen prayer calls vie for attention is an experience you'll likely remember for a long time.
Notes: Today’s experience will include shopping in carefully selected places. As the receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Moroccan tourism industry, Intrepid has established a centralised system of receiving and distributing payments from these recommended suppliers. For more information, please refer to ‘Important Notes’ section or talk to your Tour leader on the ground.
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