Days 1-3 Transfer in Casablanca to Marrakech where we focus on the more interesting historic places secreted in the medina: caravansary, the souks for charms, magic, spices; metalwork and leather; Ben Youssef Medersa, and the massive gateways into the city as well as the most famous square, Jemaa El Fnaa.
Days 4-7 Heading south to Sarhro, we stop at Telouet, off the Tizi n' Tichka pass which offers breathtaking vistas of the High Atlas. When we reach Handour, where we camp and pick up our mules, we explore this perfect stone village that takes us back centuries. Next days we trek through one of the most dramatic and varied landscapes in Morocco: Bab n' Ali, a massive stone rise seen from miles around, camp near a natural pool surrounded by oleander; move on to a sweeping plateau crowned by giant rock masses with incredible views of distant painted canyons. On the trail, we might encounter shepherds with flocks of sheep and goat, and farmers on donkey taking their produce to market. Leaving this incredible region, untouched by modernity, we venture into a fortified village of several old kasbahs on our way to our lodgings, a contemporary kasbah, where we enjoy warm Berber hospitality, stylish Moroccan decor, with modern comforts in this family-run auberge. A visit to the local hammam (steam bath) refreshes our bodies and spirits.
Day 8 Hiking north up the Valley of the Roses, we discover another environment: vivid reds, greens, and blue alive with the sounds of birdsong and rushing water against a backdrop of snow-peaked mountains. We visit an agrarian hamlet and a local family's three-level castle where we take tea. That evening, we might have the pleasure of Berber music/dance celebration at our kasbah.
Days 9-12 Driving southeast along an ancient route of the trans-Sahara caravans, we pass kasbahs with characteristic crenellated towers decorated with geometric glyphs, dried riverbeds, palmeries, and scattering of camel, and land in the Daya Maider, off the tourist map, where we meet up with our camels and the Tuareg driving them. We spend two and a half tranquil days journeying into the desert on camel or foot: experiencing the wondrous changes of light, the vast horizon of sand dunes, timeless movement, nights of shooting stars, and if we are lucky, uncover fossils and happen upon remote nomadic settlements. Leaving the Sahara, we search for Neolithic rock carvings, and make a stop at Rissani, an interesting town once the important trading outpost on the trans-Sahara route, and return by an alternative way, leaving behind crumbling Foreign Legion sentinels and border hamlets. Last night spent at a new lodge, a replica of an ancient Skoura kasbah.
Day 13 Ouarzazate/Casablanca/ US
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