Morocco Sahara Odyssey

Highlights & InclusionsItineraryPricing Information Terms & Conditions
Departure Date: February 15, 2019
May 11, 2019
November 30, 2019
Duration: 15 Days / 14 Nights
Price from: $3,395
Single Room Supplement: Waived
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Highlights & Inclusions

  • Be sure to mention booking code G9-25972 to receive all the Gutsy benefits!
  • Airport transfers are included when you purchase our operator's International air to coincide with trip's day by day agenda.
  • Watch our Morocco Video!
  • Accommodations for 14 nights
  • 34 meals—daily breakfast, 9 lunches, and 11 dinners (including 2 Home-Hosted meals)
  • 22 small group activities
  • Services of a resident, English-speaking OAT Trip Leader
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers, camp staff, and luggage porters
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit toward your next OAT trip
  • All land transportation
“Where women go, relationships follow, from encounters with nature to special moments of connection and friendship with others.”
Marybeth Bond, Author of Gutsy Women


Itinerary

Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

Travel to Morocco enthralls even the most experienced adventurer. Tradition infuses its labyrinthine medinas, overflowing with centuries-old customs and the colorful bounty of the Earth. Village oases seem to rise from the desert, mirage-like. And the mighty Sahara, a timeless sea of sand, stretches to infinity.

In the intimacy of our OAT small group, we’ll meet Moroccan people, experience their traditions, and taste the secrets of their flavorful cuisine. We’ll discover the beauty of mosques and sample regional specialties during Home-Hosted meals. And to get a true feel for the mighty Sahara that has so decisively shaped this culture, we’ll camp amidst its dunes for two unforgettable nights—and even explore by camel.

DAY 1 - Depart U.S.

Depart the U.S. today on an overnight flight to Casablanca.

DAY 2 - Arrive Casablanca, Morocco • Overland to Rabat

An OAT representative meets us at the airport in Casablanca this morning. Then we begin our transfer overland to Rabat, one of Morocco's ancient imperial cities and its capital since 1913. We'll arrive at our hotel in the early afternoon, followed by some time at leisure.

This evening we meet our fellow travelers who took the optional pre-trip extension to Tangier, Chefchaouen & the Berbers of the Rif during an orientation briefing. Tonight, we'll enjoy dinner on a boat that is docked on the Bou Regreg river, which separates Rabat from the city of Salé.
MEALS: D
OVERNIGHT: Le Dawliz Hotel or similar

DAY 3 - Explore Rabat

After breakfast this morning, we have a brief introduction to the Arabic language before heading out on a guided tour of Rabat. We see the exterior of Rabat's Royal Palace and its impressive Bab ar-Rouah (Gate of the Winds), and visit the ruins and wild gardens of the Chellah, a 14th-century Merinid necropolis. We walk in the Andalusian Gardens, within the walls of the kasbah (fortress) of the Oudaya. We stop at the Hassan Tower, a huge unfinished mosque, built mostly at the end of the twelfth century.

Enjoy lunch on your own in Rabat, and then the afternoon will be yours to make your own discoveries. Tonight, we gather for a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.
MEALS: B D
OVERNIGHT: Le Dawliz Hotel or similar

DAY 4 - Overland to Fez • Arrive in Fez

This morning, we leave the coast and Rabat behind, and set off for Fez. We'll drive past sweeping fields, rolling countryside, and the tree-covered slopes of Mount Zerhoun, which mark the beginning of the Rif Mountains. Depending on the time of year, the fields and slopes may be speckled with poppies, prickly pear, olive trees, or snow.

Upon our arrival in Fez, we'll stop for lunch at a local restaurant. Then we'll take a short drive up a hillside to take in a panoramic view of Fez's tightly clustered Old City, the medina, which we'll explore in depth tomorrow. Afterward, we'll learn how Moroccan pottery is made at a local ceramics workshop.

We'll then check into our riad—a Moroccan home that has been refurbished into an intimate hotel. Dinner is at our riad tonight.
MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Riad Dar Dmana or similar

DAY 5 - Explore Fez • Home-Hosted Dinner

Following breakfast in our riad, we'll begin our full-day exploration of Fez. Led by our Trip Leader and a local city guide, we leave our bus, the 21st century, and all previous conceptions of urban design behind as we enter Fez's medina, often considered the world's most well-preserved medieval city, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We start by exploring the traditional Jewish quarter, called the mellah, where we'll view the elegant gates of the Royal Palace.

Then we'll enter the souks (markets) of Fez, walking through myriad tiny lanes. This ancient section of Fez is a maze of narrow streets, and one of the largest car-free urban areas in the world. Every inch of space is filled with bazaars, cafés, shops, donkeys, and people. You can't help but be amazed by the vibrant display of age-old urban tradition, and the intensity of life bursting around every corner. The thrill of it must be experienced to be understood.

We have lunch in a local restaurant and then explore the medina some more before returning to our riad.

Early this evening, we have a bit of free time to continue exploring Fez. Then we'll join a local family for a Home-Hosted Dinner, where we'll get the chance to taste authentic regional cuisine, and learn even more about daily life in this ancient city.
MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Riad Dar Dmana or similar

DAY 6 - At leisure in Fez • Optional Volubilis & Meknes tour OPTIONAL TOUR

After breakfast in our riad, the day is yours to make your own discoveries in Fez.

Or, you may join a full-day optional tour of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Volubilis and Meknes. First we’ll explore Volubilis, one of the most well-preserved Roman cities in North Africa. Led by a local guide, we'll wander amongst its historic ruins and striking mosaics, and our guide will help us envision what life was like in ancient times. From this vantage point, we'll be able to gaze upon the panoramic, whitewashed vistas of the holy city of Moulay Idriss in the distance.

Then we’ll set off for Meknes, onetime home of the Moroccan sultanate. After passing through the monumental gates of this walled city, we’ll stop for lunch at a local restaurant. Then we’ll embark upon a tour of the Old City, including the immense stables—a massive structure that once held 12,000 horses—and granaries that were built for 17th-century sultan Moulay Ismail.

Upon returning to our riad, we'll regroup for a stroll down Hassan II Avenue, a palm-lined boulevard in the French-influenced Ville Nouvelle district. Your Trip Leader will be happy to provide you with recommendations as you seek out dinner on your own.
MEALS: B
OVERNIGHT: Riad Dar Dmana or similar

DAY 7 - Cross the Middle Atlas Mountains • Overland to Erfoud

Our Sahara odyssey begins today, as we drive across the Middle Atlas mountain range, winding through beautiful pine groves and giant cedar forests. The contrast of the rich purple soil and the tall evergreens is magnificent. We cross a 6,000-foot pass in the mountains and head further toward the Sahara. This is a long, but fascinating transfer as we witness the varied geologic and ecological zones we travel through. Along the way, we'll briefly stop in the ski resort town of Ifrane, and we'll have lunch at a restaurant in Midelt.

In the late afternoon, we descend into Erfoud, a small trading village that is the gateway to the vast Sahara Desert.

This evening, we'll enjoy dinner in our hotel.
MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Kasbah Hotel Chergui

DAY 8 - Discover Rissani • Off-road Sahara adventure • Overland to Sahara Desert camp

After breakfast, we'll board rugged 4x4 vehicles and drive to the village of Rissani, where we visit a family home and learn about their traditional way of life. Then we head into the desert, where we enjoy a chance to hike on top of the dunes, and to travel the desert the traditional way—on the back of a camel. Lunch is served after the camel ride in a ceremonial tent facing some of the highest dunes in Morocco.

Afterward, we journey to our private tented campsite, at a sea of sand dunes near Merzouga, experiencing the remote environment of the Sahara: No roads, no people except an occasional nomad, and total silence as we navigate the sandy tracks. Should we encounter some nomads during our drive, we'll stop to visit with them.

We arrive at our campsite in the late afternoon, and gather around the dining tent for tea. Keep your journal handy as our Moroccan chef gives us a lesson in preparing Moroccan cuisine. Most Americans are familiar with couscous, a nourishing staple of Moroccan diets, but savory discoveries abound in this exotic cuisine: harissa, a fiery sauce made from hot red pepper, olive oil, and garlic; tajine, a slow-cooked stew named for the pot that it's cooked in; and the crowning glory of bstila, squab pie made with 100 individual layers of flaky dough. We'll come away with not only a delicious meal, but also some authentic cooking tips to take home with us.
MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Private tented camp

DAY 9 - Sahara Desert walk • A Day in the Life of Khamlia

Today, we absorb the feeling of the extraordinary desert environment. We are camped where few foreigners venture, along routes known only to the camel and goat-herding Tuareg nomads. If you wish, you can rise before dawn to watch the sunrise in the Saharan dunes, then stretch your legs during a guided walk.

We'll return to camp for breakfast, and then board our 4x4 vehicles to experience A Day in the Life of Khamlia, a remote desert village. This region is renowned for the ritual music of its Gnawa musicians, and we'll get the chance to hear their melodic chants during a lively musical performance. Then we'll visit a local school supported by Grand Circle Foundation, and after we tour its facilities, we'll have the opportunity to meet its friendly students and teachers. We'll then sit down with a group of women from the village who will tell us about their roles within the community and socioeconomic concerns, such as illiteracy, and afterward, we'll enjoy a Home-Hosted Lunch with a local family.

On our way back to camp, we'll learn more about everyday life in the desert as we visit a nomadic family, and stop by a farm and Muslim cemetery.

This evening, we'll hear about the basic tenets of Islam during a fascinating discussion before dinner at our camp. We'll spend our last night sleeping beneath the starry desert sky, where (weather permitting) the Milky Way appears uncannily clear and bright.
MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Private tented camp or similar

DAY 10 - Overland to Ouarzazate • View Dadès Valley • Visit Berber family and imam • Arrive in Ouarzazate FOUNDATION VISIT

This morning we leave the open desert behind and set off for the oasis town of Ouarzazate, making several enlightening stops along the way. On the outskirts of the desert, we'll investigate an aqueduct and water canalization project. Then we'll cross the J'bel Sahro Range (at about 4,500-5,000 feet), taking in spectacular views of the snow-capped High Atlas Mountains, followed by a scenic drive through the spectacular Dadès Valley where we'll stop for lunch at Dadès Gorge.

Afterward we'll stop by the home of a local Berber family who will show us how to transform grain into delectable khubz, or bread. And outside the village of Kelaat Megouna, we’ll visit a kasbah (fortress) to speak with an imam (Muslim scholar) about Berber wedding customs. He'll also tell us about his role within the community, and we'll get the chance to ask him questions.

Early this evening we'll arrive in Ouarzazate, which was built by the French as a garrison outpost in the Sahara. Upon settling into our hotel, we'll gather for dinner.
MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Le Berbere Palace or similar

DAY 11 - Discover Aït Benhaddou • At leisure in Ouarzazate

Today, we visit Aït Benhaddou, a picturesque, mountainside ksar (fortified city) that features one of the best-preserved kasbahs in the entire Atlas region. Scenes from the classic films Lawrence of Arabia and The Man Who Would Be King were set here, and Aït Benhaddou has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its striking example of southern Moroccan earthen architecture.

After lunch, we'll return to Ouarzazate, where the remainder of the afternoon is yours to make your own discoveries. However, if you're interested, your Trip Leader will arrange the following optional outings: after our days of "roughing it" in the desert, you can relax—in true Moroccan style—at a local hammam (bathhouse) that complies with Islamic laws of hygiene and purification; afterward, you'll get the chance to participate in a henna demonstration.

Tonight, we'll enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Le Berbere Palace or similar

DAY 12 - Cross High Atlas Mountains • Overland to Marrakesh

We travel through the High Atlas Mountains today en route to Marrakesh. Along the way, we'll pause high above narrow green valleys to take in spectacular views. This is a somewhat long, yet scenic drive.

Upon our arrival in Marrakesh, we'll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Then we'll check into our riad early this afternoon. If you wish, your Trip Leader will take you on an orientation walk, and lend suggestions on where to go for dinner on your own.
MEALS: B L
OVERNIGHT: Riad Nesma or similar

DAY 13 - Explore Marrakesh

In the morning, we explore the legendary city of Marrakesh in a traditional horse-drawn calèche. We begin in Gueliz, the modern part of the city designed and built by the French in the early 20th century, then visit the Koutoubia minaret, the Saadian Tombs, the Moorish spice market, and the opulent Bahia Palace.

Following our tour, you'll have time for lunch on your own as you explore the famous medina of Marrakesh, one of the ancient crossroads of North Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This afternoon is at leisure and dinner is on your own.
MEALS: B
OVERNIGHT: Riad Nesma or similar

DAY 14 - At leisure in Marrakesh • Optional Marrakesh Museums tour OPTIONAL TOUR

You have the day free in Marrakesh, where past travelers have greatly enjoyed time for independent exploration. As in Fez, there is much to see, do, and buy in the bustling medina, and our Trip Leader will be able to offer you plenty of suggestions about where to go. If you haven't done so already, be sure to check out the high-energy street performers in the legendary Djemma El-Fna square.

Or, you can choose to join our optional Marrakesh Museums tour, which features visits to the Jardin de Majorelle and Islamic Art Museum; the Ali Ben Youssef Medersa and Marrakesh Museum; a stroll through Marrakesh’s ancient medina, and lunch with some local Moroccans.

This evening, we’ll come together to share our stories over a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
MEALS: B D
OVERNIGHT: Riad Nesma or similar

DAY 15 - Marrakesh • Overland to Casablanca or begin post-trip extension

After breakfast we'll depart for Casablanca, enjoying lunch en route. Upon arrival, we'll set off for a discovery walk through the city center where we'll discover some of its gems—particularly its impressive colonial architecture.

While the French controlled Morocco in the first half of the 20th century, they added their unique flair to the local architecture. Today, Neo-Moorish and Art Nouveau buildings from this era are peppered throughout the downtown area, as are some fascinating and beautiful Art Deco structures. After Morocco gained its independence in 1956, the styles changed considerably as Casablanca sought to leave its colonial past behind. Some buildings from the colonial era have been beautifully renovated, while others have fallen into disrepair and await restoration to their former glory. We'll have a chance to gaze upon striking facades, horseshoe arches, and decorative tilework.

After taking in Casablanca's architectural history, we'll check into our hotel and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Please note: Travelers taking the post-trip extension will depart for Essaouira on Day 15.
MEALS: B L D
OVERNIGHT: Atlas Almohades

DAY 16 - Casablanca • Return to U.S.

If you are flying home today, you’ll transfer to the airport after breakfast for your flight to the U.S.

Accommodations

Pricing Information

View Specials & Promotions
Arrival DateSingleSharedDouble
May 11, 2019 $3,395 $3,395 $3,395
Your Savings* Past GWT Traveler?
Air from JFK $1,100
For further information call (866) IM GUTSY (464 8879) or
email reservations@gutsywomentravel.com.
24/7 booking capability is available via this via the "Request to Book" button listed above.

Be sure to mention booking code G9-25972 to receive all the Gutsy benefits!

*Discount and savings are subject to change, please call reservations (866.464.8879 for the actual price. The discount is not valid on all itineraries and will be verified at time of booking. The discount is valid for guests who’ve traveled with Gutsy Women Travel within the last five years. Other conditions apply. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. All prices are subject to change.

Africa Cancellation Policy

In order to qualify for the GWT Past Traveler Discount of 5% on the land portion of the trip, you must advise the reservation specialist at time of depositing on your 2019 trip which GWT trip you traveled on (date/name of departure and year) over the past 5 years.

We limit our trips to small groups so we suggest you deposit early to guarantee your spot. View information regarding Air Travel & Transfers here.

This trip will be operated on behalf of Gutsy Women Travel (GWT) clients by award winning Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). There are 5 Twin bedded rooms and 6 single accommodations rooms with no single supplement blocked on this trip. Once single rooms are sold out, women can secure a guaranteed share in a twin room accommodation. This trip is designed for GWT clients however if room block is not sold by 120 days prior to departure date, the trip can be opened up to OAT clients and will be co-ed. However the group size will always be capped at no more than 16 participants. There will be a dedicated OAT licensed, local travel director assigned to this GWT group block departure.

Single Room - one person, traveling solo in single accommodation
Double Room - two people, traveling together in same accommodation
Shared Room - one person, traveling solo who would like to share with another passenger and pay the per person "Double" price

Air travel arrangements for Gutsy Women's trip participants are made independently as most women are traveling from various gateway cities within or outside North America. Gutsy Women Travel includes a group transfer (if travelers purchase airfare from our operator) or individuals can book private transportation if desired.

For further information and reservations call (866) IM GUTSY (464 8879) or
email reservations@gutsywomentravel.com.
For online 24/7 booking capability is available via this website.

Please note: Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.