Researching Morocco can be mind-boggling. The sand dunes and desert-scapes, the architecture, the food, the people, the scope for adventure…what to do first, what to leave out? Luckily, the team at FFX Adventures is expert at creating pitch-perfect Moroccan itineraries for busy people just like you. So here’s a taste of what you and your like-minded group of escapees can experience when you leave the logistics to us. We’ve hand-picked Morocco’s most exciting and authentic experiences so all you have to do is show up.
Culture collision in Casablanca
Our aromatic adventure begins in fabled Casablanca. The Academy Award-winning film of the same name was shot in the States so don’t get too excited on that front! Today, Casablanca is a thriving and forward-thinking city, where ‘Olde Worlde’ exotic meets the Millennial generation head on. It attracts young entrepreneurs from across the country, all keen to make their Moroccan millions. While in town, a visit to the flamboyant, water’s edge Hassan II Mosque is a must. Africa’s largest mosque, it holds an astounding 105,000 worshippers. The craftsmanship inside is Morocco’s finest, from hand-carved wood, gilt and marble artistry to classic geometric tile work. While in Casablanca, seize the day and explore your own passions from modern to Moorish, Art Deco to Downtown, or simply slow down and grab some beach time. Next, we’ll head out into the wilds and back in time…
The Roman Ruins of Volubilis
As a total contrast to Casablanca and a fascinating insight into Morocco’s Berber and Roman past, our first stop is to the World Heritage Site of Volubilis. This is a well-preserved colonial town from the fringes of the Roman Empire. You half-expect to see gladiators pop out from behind its impressive pillars (no surprise to hear that some of ‘Gladiator’ was shot in Morocco). Get the historical low-down from your expert guide, then wrack your brains for Roman facts to impress your fellow travelers as you explore the ruins of the basilica, the triumphal arch, the temple and many fine town houses with their large mosaic floors. Or just talk about Russell Crowe.
Fes: Mooching in the Medina
Heading due East, world-famous Fes is the next town to welcome us. The narrow streets of its Medina – another World Heritage site – make up the largest car-free urban zone in the world. The Medina is jam-packed with monuments and mosques. Go wandering freestyle in the scented, sensuous and sometimes chaotic souks or join our fully-guided day trip to see the most authentic craftspeople, the best-known tanneries and the most majestic mosques.
Hone your haggling skills, it’s all part of the selling game here! Popular local gifts are spices, lamps, intricate tea sets and shisha pipes. For architecture aficionados, several of Morocco’s most beautiful buildings are in Fes, including the Mosque and University of al Quaraouiyine. However you spend the day you’re likely to hit your step-count by midday and will crave calories. Chicken-stuffed pastilla is what the locals are eating. Join them.
1001 Nights and Nomads
Alas we don’t have 1001 nights in Morocco, so FFX Adventures has sought out the most incredible overnight desert experience for you. On a camel, you’ll head deep into the Saharan sand dunes near the wonderland of Merzouga – so spectacular it’s known as a natural desert theme park. You’re only doing this once, so you’ll want to do it in style. Ride on a camel, tick. Dunes like on the postcards? Tick. Night under the stars in a nomad camp, tick. Delicious dinner and glass of wine at the ready, tick. Sunset and sunrise behind the golden sand dunes? You got it – double tick. Swap Saharan stories with your friendly hosts. Watch those stars blur overhead as you fall asleep beneath a cool desert moon dreaming of Lawrence of Arabia.
From the Sahara to the Dades Valley
Your batteries will be flat from your photogenic nomad experience in the Sahara. Get them charged up quick-smart for the the remarkable journey south to the Dades Valley. The scenery is ever-changing and utterly Instagrammable. Think gaping chasms, rugged wadis and steep-sided switchbacks that will leave some feeling vertiginous. (It’ll make others want to grab a mountain bike and just go for it!) Either way, sit tight and look forward to passing the colourful Berber villages en route, where life has barely changed down the centuries.
With scenery like this it’s no surprise Morocco has been the backdrop for so many films, from the Prince of Persia to The Mummy. It’s even believed to have certain environments so similar to those on Mars that scientists have set up research stations here. Otherworldly indeed…
Rock the (1000) Kasbahs
If you love a good drive, prepare for the Road of 1000 Kasbahs (fortified citadels). If you stopped to photograph each, you’d never reach our goal for today, the town of Ait Benhaddou. A visit to our favorite, the extraordinary Telouet Kasbah, is penned in. We hope none of our adventurers are allergic to UNESCO heritage sites because, seriously, you just can’t escape them in Morocco. The whole country is a cluster of cultural wonders. Ait Benhaddou is another fine example of this – recognizable from Game of Thrones, Jewel of the Nile and The Mummy to name but three film classics. Strolling around the town’s kasbah is a real treat. If only those walls could talk!
You’ve experienced the desert dunes. The epic drives. Now, it’s time for local delicacies to take centre stage with a foodie tour of Marrakech. Bustling Jemaa el Fna, the central square in ancient Marrakech, is where it all begins. Musicians, comedians, charmers, hawkers and acrobats jostle for attention, as music permeates the air and scents and smoke curl skywards. Street food is the order of the day.
Our expert food guide will ensure that your tastebuds experience Morocco’s tastiest local treats. Down with burgers and French Fries! Instead, look forward to delights like spicy harira soup, goat kebabs, succulent lamb tanjia and fish chermoula. Sardines are huge crowd-pleasers so, arrive hungry and prepare to tuck in. Yummunuh hummunuh.
Cookery Class and Spa Treats
To understand what makes Moroccan food taste so dang delicious, you’ve got to start with the produce. Join Chef Tarek to explore an organic kitchen garden (complete with olive groves and orchards) set in a traditional Berber douar. A douar is a picturesque group of dwellings around a central space. Your homemade tagine will forever be improved by following Tarek’s tips. Make some sharing dishes together and then, after polishing off what you cooked, return to the Medina in Marrakech for a luxurious Hammam spa experience. You know what they say – eat hard, relax hard…
The Artists of Essaouira
We’ve lost ourselves in some of the world’s most renowned medina markets. We’ve slaked our desert thirsts with cold drinks while exploring Berber villages and ancient kasbah. Our Moroccan adventure is now drawing to a close. It’s time to hit the beach, to feel the refreshing Atlantic waves on our toes and to taste the salt-water in the air. Welcome to Essaouira, the coolly coastal artists’ town that allegedly kept Jimi Hendrix busy throughout the 1960s. Totally on-trend with today’s surfers and watersports lovers, Essaouira also has a colourful seafood market where lunch awaits. To loosen up again ready for a final full day’s sightseeing in Casablanca before departure, take advantage of an authentic Berber massage in Essaouira then slip in the sea for a dip as the sun sets over the horizon.
It’s a wrap – book today
That is how you experience the rich tapestry and traditions of Morocco, FFX Adventures style. You get to visit the crème de la crème of the country’s historical, archaeological and architectural sites. You get to immerse in the epic dunes, desert scapes and nomadic lifestyle of the Sahara. You get to cook – and eat – authentic, organic Berber food with a local chef. You get down time, spa-time, me-time and team-time as part of this small-group adventure experience for like-minded people in their 30s and 40s. All topped and tailed with exquisite food, high-quality accommodation and safe, reliable and trained local drivers and guides. To book onto an FFX Adventures departure to Morocco in 2020, get in touch today.