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The tour starts at the Marrakech hotel. Even today, the name Marrakech conjures up images of scenes from the Arabian Nights; alleyways, souks, stalls and markets. This remarkable city, dating from the 11th century, never fails to satisfy the curiosity of adventurous travellers. The graceful architecture of the renowned Koutoubia Minaret, dominates the skyline.
Moroccan House Hotel (AAA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool
The hotel is located just outside the city walls around the old Medina. It is about a 25 minute walk to the main square Djemaa el Fna but close to local shops and restaurants
Please meet your tour leader in the hotel reception at 08.00. This morning starts with a horse-drawn calesh ride which makes a comfortable tour of the city and takes in the main sights. Then you make your way into the sprawling souk. As is usual in a souk, individual trades and crafts are concentrated in one street or area, so the shoemakers are all next to each other, as are the jewellers, the potters, weavers etc. This is the best place in Morocco to sharpen your bargaining skills, and its great fun trying negotiating in the souk. You’re almost certain to be tempted by some of the extraordinary variety of merchandise on display - perhaps a pair of traditional Moroccan slippers, or some exotic spices.
The Djemaa el-Fna provides the throbbing atmosphere of a medieval fair; it always seems full of life and continues late into the night. In this great open square at the heart of the medina, snake charmers and jugglers are among those who vie to entertain you. In the evening wonderful smells waft by as food stalls cook up their local delicacies. Each time of day seems to carry a distinct character, so do keep popping back for more!
You then have the option to transfer by bus back to the hotel or stay in the city to explore further and make your own discoveries. The tanneries around Bab Debbagh still cure leather in a way that has not changed for hundreds of years, and are extraordinarily photogenic. If you’d like to experience the relaxation of a traditional bath, your Group Leader will advise where to find the nearest hammam; for just a few dirhams, you’ll be steamed and scrubbed until you shine!(B)
This morning, you journey into the Atlas Mountains. Your destination, the hamlet of Ourika, lies 50km (a one hour drive) from Marrakech, set in a valley at 1000m. You stay in a mountain inn which offers peace and quiet in a breathtaking landscape. In springtime the almond blossom provides a colourful spectacle. This is an excellent base from which to explore the mountains in easy rambles.
Ramuntcho Hotel (AA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (BL)
Today you trek into the mountains with mule support; small children can either walk or ride mules. You will walk or ride for around 1 ½ hours. The fresh mountain air will give you a hearty appetite for your picnic lunch under the shade of the trees. After some time to relax you will return to your base. (BL)
Today you set off to the coast for a change of scenery. The journey is approx 4 hours. Arriving in Essaouira you find yourselves in one of Morocco’s most attractive coastal cities. The wild waves of the Atlantic crash remorselessly onto the rocky coastline of this old pirate’s hideout, and the windswept beach has an appealing view out to sea. Portuguese, Berber and French battlements encircle the maze of narrow lanes with tiny cafes looking out onto small squares. Two fortresses look out over the ocean, and on an offshore island stands another, even larger castle. As befits a seaport, the pace of life is more relaxed here, and the whitewashed streets lend a seemingly Mediterranean air to the city.
Hotel Miramar (AAA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (B)
This morning you can stroll around the lively old port, which is full of colour and interest. The early morning is the best time - when fishermen can be seen bringing in their catch or mending their nets. The harbour was once the lair of pirates who sailed out to plunder richly laden ships that passed along the main trade route round the Cape of Good Hope to Western Europe. It later became a free port, when it had a small international community of merchants. The cosmopolitan mixture of different influences makes it a wonderful place to explore and it is full of visual surprises. The whole day is free to relax and wander as you please. Take a leisurely stroll along the ramparts, visit the little workshops which specialise in ornate inlaid work using thuya wood (a local conifer), spend time on the glorious beach where you can take an optional camel ride or enjoy a meal of freshly-cooked sardines down on the quayside. (B)
Leaving Essaouira behind, you journey inland by private charter bus back to Marrakech (journey time approx. 3 hours) for a last chance to raid the souks.
Moroccan House Hotel (AAA) - 1 night - Swimming Pool (B)
The trip ends after breakfast in Marrakech. (B)
Key: (B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner
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