Mint Tea Tours’ 6-day Casablanca Sahara Private Tour – our most efficient short tour with private English-speaking driver for easy traveling in Morocco! You’ll arrive in perhaps Morocco’s most famous city (Casablanca), then head east to Fes, Morocco’s center for shopping and traditional handicrafts, then south through the cedar forest of the Middle Atlas onto the best sand dunes of the Sahara Desert at Merzouga and finally the bustling Red City of Marrakech.
Upon arrival at Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport, meet up with our team (private driver with an option of an additional private guide or host). Cast aside any jet lag, for when you are in Morocco, the adventure starts rapidly.
Start your overall tour in Morocco from Casablanca by exploring the magnificent architecture of Casablanca’s Hassan II Mosque. This mosque is what makes Casablanca unique and distinguishes it from other Moroccan cities. Hassan II mosque is the largest mosque in Morocco, and the 13th largest in the world. The mosque gloriously hosts the tallest minaret the world has ever seen. It was completed in 1993 and stands on the Northern Atlantic coast of Morocco, with half of it constructed over water. Enjoy a tour inside the mosque, which is also one of the few in Morocco that are open for non-Muslims and then we will drive to Rabat, the capital of Morocco.
When you arrive in Rabat, start your visit by exploring the iconic site of the city, Udayas Kasbah. The Udayas Kasbah is a small, beautiful historical kasbah with blue-painted walls. It is located at the mouth of the Bou Regreg River, opposite the city of Salé. The Udayas Kasbah is often described as a haven of tranquility, with all its magnificent flower-filled little streets, Andalusian garden, and Moorish café. More interesting, UNESCO recognized the significance of the Udayas Kasbah and was approved as the most recent add to World Heritage sites in Morocco.
Next, we will move to visit Rabat’s old, maze-like medina. This small medina was all there was of Rabat before the French came in 1912 and expanded the city, creating new neighborhoods. Within the medina of Rabat there are lots of traditional shops and craft places that you can visit and explore. Rabat’s medina is a pleasure to walk around in, as it is regarded as having a more relaxed and easy-going ambiance, compared to other major medinas of Morocco.
Later, visit the ambitious but unfinished mosque of Hassan Tower. Hassan Tower was initially started in 1195 by Yacoub el-Mansour, known for his title “The Victorious”, around the same time he oversaw the construction of the Udayas Kasbah.
The mosque was supposed to have been the greatest in Morocco and the second largest mosque in the world, but its construction was never finished. Actually, the construction was abandoned in 1199, after El-Mansour’s death, and never resumed.
In spite of that, the mosque’s prayer hall was in use until a great earthquake occurred in 1755 and brought down the supporting columns, some of which have been restored to give an idea of its potential size. All in all, Hassan Tower remains one of the most beautiful pieces of Almohad architecture in all Morocco, even if not fully completed.
Next door to Hassan Tower, visit the beautiful mausoleum of Mohammed V. Just across these unfinished ruins of Hassan Tower stands the striking mausoleum of Mohammed V. It was built in the 1950s and inaugurated in 1961, six years after the death of Mohammed V. The structure is considered today a masterpiece of modern Alaouite Dynasty architecture. The mausoleum is characterized by its plain exterior of white walls and typical green-tiled roof which contrasts deeply with the elaborately ornamental interior. However, the main features of the mausoleum are, of course, the glorious tombs of King Mohammed V (the grandfather of Morocco’s current king) and his two sons.
Finally, return into the van for an approximate 3 hour drive to Fes for your overnight.
The city of Fes is full of wonders, history and harmony. Fes consists of two main parts, Fes el-Bali (“old Fes”) and Fes el-Jedid (“new Fes”).
First we start our day from Fes el-Jedid, by visiting the famous golden gates of the king’s palace. The palace was constructed in the 14th century of neat and beautiful architecture. Even today it is still considered among the largest and the oldest in palaces in Morocco. Not so far from the king’s palace is situated the Jewish mellah. “Mellah” is the typical name of traditional Jewish quarters. The mellah of Fes is the oldest among all other Jewish quarters in Morocco. The mellah was usually established next to the king’s palace so the Jews could feel safe under the personal protection of the king. Within the same neighborhood we will visit the Jewish cemetery and the Ibn Danan synagogue, which are recognized as a cultural treasure and an important piece of art of Moroccan Jewish heritage.
Next, after a walk through the well-preserved streets of the mellah, we enter the Bab Boujloud Gate, the famous blue gate of Fes. Once we enter the gate into the old medina, we will observe the green-tiled minaret of the Bou Inania Medersa, our next stop, jutting into the sky. The Bou Inania Medersa was built between 1351 and 1358, and functioned as both an educational institute and a mosque. Today it is still an active religious building, and it is one of the few mosques in Morocco that are open for all visitors, including those that are not Muslim, providing a unique experience for tourists. It is also one of the most stunning examples of Merenid architecture in the world.
Next, we leave the medina behind as we drive to El Borj of Fes, the fine fortress, which was built by Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour in 1582 to monitor the populace of Fes. From there, you can have a panoramic overview of the three parts of Fes.
We continue our short drive to reach the pottery and zellij tile cooperative. In this place, the production is totally handmade, relying on old techniques of how zellij and pottery were traditionally made. You may be invited to try your hand to produce a ceramic pot in the traditional way and experience how challenging this art is. This place is also a perfect shopping opportunity for those who admire fancy quality handmade Moroccan goods.
Later we return to the medina for our walking tour. We enter the old medina of Fes el-Bali, the center of manufacturing of all local goods. We walk through local markets of all kinds, selling fruits, vegetables, delicious local pastries and different types of craft and workshops, such as Nejjarine and Seffarine squares. We stop at the University of Al-Qarawiyyin that was founded by Fatima al-Fihri, a woman who came as a refuge, fleeing her homeland of Tunisia for Morocco, in 859 AD. UNESCO considers it to be the oldest university in the world whose libraries have several extremely valuable documents dating from c. 780 A.D.
Later we visit Fes’ tannery. The oldest and largest of all traditional tanneries of leather in Morocco and the world, Chouara Tannery dates back to medieval times. The sight of the multi-colored dyeing vats in the central courtyard of the tannery is indeed a unique picture that should not be missed. The tannery is famous for its intense smell. Of course, “the smell is free… but if you want to buy, you have to pay” is the phrase that merchants in the tannery often say. Not far from the tannery lies our last destination for today: the carpet workshop and market where you will learn about everything concerning the different types of Moroccan carpets, scarves and local handicrafts.
Erfoud is the ultimate destination for today, but along the way, we will make some stops and explore the charm and beauty of Ifrane and Midelt. Ifrane was built by the French in the mid-1930s mainly for its strategic location in the mid-Atlas, which makes the atmosphere of the little town feels like an alpine resort. For this reason, Ifrane has earned the nickname “Little Switzerland”. Ifrane is also famous for its fresh and clean air, scrubbed streets and tree-lined streets, as well as the mountains peaks which are often well-adorned with snow in winter months. Next stop before reaching the final destination is Midelt, which is known for its fossils and rocks. Midelt is located between the Middle and the High Atlas Mountain ranges, where the landscape offers some breathtaking views.
Evening arrival in Erfoud – make sure to relax and refresh for your upcoming Moroccan Sahara Desert adventure in the morning.
Having already explored sea and mountains, now it is time to discover the golden sand dunes of the Moroccan Sahara. Erfoud, being the closest point to the Sahara desert, acquired the nickname “Gate of Sahara Desert”. Start your morning by discovering local arts and crafts which makes use of fossilized stone in a very impressive and elegant way.
Later in afternoon, meet a local 4×4 driver who will take you to Merzouga and into the Sahara Desert where its magnificent orange and golden sand dunes can reach as high as 150 meters.
There, you will have one of the most stunning experience in your life that will stay with you forever. Start by riding your own camel through the dunes, until you reach a stunning point of view where sunset makes you feel like you are in another world with all of its glory. Another no less remarkable experience is stargazing upon nightfall, where you are likely to be treated to millions of stars which make the sky look like a beautiful painting. This view will most likely make a tear stream unconsciously down your face.
Get an early start today so as to not miss the Sahara’s magical sunrise, and then, once ready, join the driver to start today’s adventure. It is known about Morocco to be home for a number of stunning palm groves. Today’s first stop is the Ziz Valley, where rivers flow through the dry expanses bringing with them flourishing belts of green palmeries, which stretch into the distance for as far as the eye can see. The valley’s golden prehistoric walls which tower above, as well as the dusty ancient kasbahs and ksar which dot the palm groves makes the place a pearl within the oasis.
Next stop on today’s trip is Todra Gorge, which is an impressive natural oasis in the mountains where one of the most spectacular canyons is situated. Eventually, arrive to the appealing little town of Boumalne Dades, which is believed to be one of the most attractive Moroccan touristic cities. The town is famous for its beautiful and charming landscapes where you can also visit the historical sites of Kasbahs of Boumalne Dades and the Kasbah of Mohdach as well as exploring the local traditional art.
Today is our final day of adventure south of the Sahara, and it takes us to a new region which is most famous among film makers. The region of Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou became famous as the “Hollywood of Africa” for being the backdrop of a number of worldwide movies such as “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Gladiator” among many others. Upon arrival to Ouarzazate, wander around Taourirt Kasbah, Ouarzazate’s main historical attraction. There, explore the maze-like passageways, steep steps and dizzying ramparts in addition to recognizable features such as the harem quarters and palace kitchens.
Later, drive for another 30 minutes to discover Ait Benhaddou, a living example of the outstanding traditional architecture of the Moroccan culture in the south. After you discover it all, drive towards Marrakech where your private Moroccan tour comes to an end.
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