(Fes, Merzouga, Boumalne/Dades, Skoura, Marrakech, High Atlas Mountain)
Explore Morocco in a different way. This adventure not only explores the Imperial Cities, it also takes you to the spectacular Todra and Dades Gorges, the Kasbahs of the south, palm groves and whipped sand dunes. Along with spending a night in your own private camp in the desert you'll also experience the country by foot, camel, bike and four-wheel drive. Get a taste of the lush villages nestled among the cedar forest in the Middle Atlas mountains with a traditionnal bush lunch. Discover the atmospheric old city of Fes wandering with your local guide through the colorful stalls of the markets and visiting artisans workshops where metal and leatherwork are still practised by master craftsmen. Round off this trip with an authentic stay in the middle of the dramatic snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains. Located just 45 minutes outside of Marrakech it's the perfect end to this incredible journey.
A private vehicle with English speaking vehicle will provide a transfer from Casablanca to Fes. The approximate travel time is 5.5 hours.
Explore the cultural and spiritual center of Morocco during this full day tour of Fes. Also known as Fes el Bali, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was founded in the 9th century, and is home to the world's oldest university. The city of Fes reached its true economic and cultural height in the 13th–14th centuries under the Merinids, when it replaced Marrakech as the capital of the kingdom. Although the political capital of Morocco was transferred to Rabat in 1912, Fes has retained its status as the country's Artisan centre. Artisan workshops in the medina are as active today as they were 100 years ago, and strongly contribute to the city’s industrial economy. Trades such as blacksmithing, leather working, ceramics, silk, tapestries, and sculpting are still practiced in these workshops today. The original ramparts still protect this ancient city and its estimated 9000 narrow passageways and bustling streets.
Riad Le Calife is located in the middle of the Medina (old city) of Fez. It is the historic home of the last century (1933), recently converted into a charming guesthouse. Accommodations at Riad Le Calife include three prestigious suites and four charming rooms. Three lounge areas overlooking the patio are available to guests for their leisure: a lounge-bar, a dining room and a reception-lounge–library. The Riad also has two terraces (the pergola bar and the Caid’s tent), which offer a stunning panoramic view of the Medina.
A private vehicle with English speaking driver will be at your disposal for the day.
After breakfast, your local chef will meet you at your hotel with your private car and driver. You will drive southwards towards the foothills of the Middle Atlas to spend the day near to the town of Azrou, nestled amongst the cedar forests for which Morocco is renowned. You will help your chef to prepare a traditional Berber bbq in the forests; this is designed to be a fun, interactive experience after which you will enjoy lunch of your morning’s culinary efforts. After the lesson you will have the chance to explore the forests and the town of Ifrane. Mechwi is an important part of ceremonies in Berber villages. It is the main course at weddings or in ceremonies honoring an important guest. In villages where every family has a herd of sheep and goats, it is deemed an honour if a family slaughters one from his herd. Mechwi may be cooked either over a pit or in an oven under the ground, depending on the region. Ceremonies usually take place at night and while the meat is roasting, the celebration commences. Guests gather around the pit and play drums, sing, dance and talk.
Sit back and relax as a privately driven vehicle, with English speaking driver, provides you with a transfer between Fes and Erfoud. En-route you’ll pass through a scenic forest of cedars and across the Middle Atlas Mountain range to the mineral mining city of Midelt, where a stop for lunch is scheduled. This journey continues along through the dramatic Ziz Gorge, passing en-route the ancient, holy city of Rissani. It is here where the one would find the ruins of Sijilmasa, a once capital and merchant stopping locale for the ancient caravan routings of the 8th century. After an approximate 7 hours of travel you will arrive at your final destination of Erfoud.
Enjoy a traditional Moroccan lunch at the hotel Taddarte in Midelt.
A 4x4 vehicle will be waiting for you to continue your adventure by heading towards the dunes of Erg Chebbi, possibly the largest dunes in the Sahara desert. The dunes of Erg Chebbi are a strikingly strange natural formation. On the top of the flattest area you could imagine, suddenly a long mountain of sand rises. This mountain is surrounded by flat and desolate nature on all sides, and you could end up wondering if it really is real. But so it is, even if its existence is so weird that it has given rise to legends and myths among the locals. Upon arrival at the camp you will witness the sunset from over the desert dunes and be astounded by the peace and calm as well as the changing colours of the landscape. If you're up to it you can also ride a camel!
Enjoy your special night under the stars at this beautiful Oasis in a premium tented camp. Experience a camel ride at sunset and sunrise from the top of the dunes. Your desert experience includes an authentic Moroccan dinner under the stars and breakfast in the morning.
A 4x4 vehicle will transfer you back to Erfoud where your private vehicle awaits for your onward journey.
Continue westwards to the date-palm oasis town of Tineghir, crossing the Jebel Sahro mountain range. Lunch will be taken here at a local home, the ideal opportunity to enjoy famed Berber hospitality and to gain an insight into a way of life far removed from the West’s. Expect to taste a rather special dish of Saharaoui stuffed bread. Just beyond Tineghir, visit one of the most striking natural sights in Morocco, the Todra Gorge. Craggy and pink-coloured rock walls of up to 1,000 feet loom over a lush narrow valley dotted with oasis-like date palmeries and irrigated fields of grain. Walk to explore its depths; it is also a haven for rock-climbers. Continue to overnight accommodation near to the town of Boumalne Dades.
A private vehicle with English speaking driver will provide a transfer between Erfoud and the Boumalne/Dades area. The approximate travel time is 3.5 hours.
At an altitude of 1612m, surrounded by majestic mountains at the very spine of the Atlas range, whose impressive ravines sketch out to the winds in the sky, the Xaluca Dades Hotel, enjoys a panoramic view of the Dades Valley, sprinkled with friendly Berber villages and snowy peaks. Hotel Xaluca Dades offers 110 beautifully designed, welcoming rooms, exquisitely decorated with materials from different African countries. It is a true paradise in the middle of the mountains.
Travel by a privately driven vehicle westwards to the date-palm oasis of Skoura, via the route of ‘1,000 Kasbahs’, to your overnight accommodation. En route, enjoy a short walk through the Dades river gorge, to the village of Ait Youl. Marvel at the natural beauty of the unusual rock shapes and colours that enclose the lush farmland on the banks of the river. View the ruined splendour of the abandoned Kasbahs perching on vantage points along the gorge.
A private vehicle with English speaking driver will provide a transfer from Boumalne/Dades to Skoura. The approximate travel time is 2.5 hours.
Take a two hour exploration of the palm grove and surroundings by horse, bike, or quad. The views of the High Atlas from here are simply wonderful.
Ideally located 45 minutes from Ouarzazate City (international airport) towards the Dadés & Todra Gorges, Merzouga’s desert. This exclusive ‘maison d’hôtes’ of a typical and traditional architecture, is nestled in a palm grove, 6 kilometers from the village of Skoura stretching towards the High Atlas Mountains.
Relax as a private vehicle with English speaking driver provides a transfer to Marrakech, for a visit to the village of Ait Ben Haddou. Located approximately 60 kilometers from Skoura this fortified village (or ksar) is ideally positioned along a once frequented, ancient caravan route linking the Sahara and Marrakech. Ait Ben Haddou has been used in numerous Hollywood film productions for its distinctive architecture. In 1987 this famed location was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Next, travel to the village of Telouet, located approximately 1 hour north of Ait Ben Haddou. Telouet hosts one of the area's most recognized structures, the palace of the 'Lord of the Atlas.' This palace was the residence of the once Vizier of Marrakech, back in the early 20th Century. An evocative relic of the time when the Glaoui clan ruled over the Atlas and Marrakech, the palace was the family’s Headquarters and was situated in a dramatic location, on a broad mountain valley, providing sweeping views of the peaks on all sides. Continue from here back onto the main road back to Marrakech, crossing on the dramatic Tizi n'Tichka passage through the High Atlas Mountains range on the way. Whilst passing take time to notice the many beautifully-terraced valleys and adobe villages perched precipitously on the hillsides.
Travel today between Skoura and Marrakech in a private vehicle with an English speaking driver.
Riad Amina invites you to discover the welcoming atmosphere of an authentic aristocratic household. A veritable haven of peace and tranquility deep inside the vibrant old city of Marrakech, our luxury guesthouse keeps alive all the traditional, stylishness, warmth and comfort from which the great house's of Marrakech were once so famous for. True to its centuries of history, and in keeping with the way of life of the rich an noble families whom used to inhabit it, Riad Amina continues to marry modern luxury with a traditional atmosphere.
Your tour usually starts at the 12th century Koutoubia Mosque. This mosque's beautiful minaret dominates the skyline of Marrakech and can be seen from almost every approach to the city thanks to a long-standing planning ordinance that forbids any other building in the old city to rise above the height of a palm tree. You will also visit the El-Bahia Palace, this 19th century palace is elaborate in its decoration and was built over a period of seven years for Ba Ahmed, the son of the Grand Vizier Si Moussa. There are row after row of apartments—that once housed Ahmed's harem—a trapezoidal garden, a huge tiled courtyard, and many hidden treasures, both in the form of antique objects d'art and the palace's convergence of Andalusian and Moorish architecture. One of most visited sites in Morocco is the Saadian Tombs which were only accessible via the mosque next door. However, in 1917 they were opened to the public and can now be accessed via a narrow passage that leads to an enclosed garden watched over by two mausoleums that include more than one hundred mosaic decorated tombs. The Koranic School Medersa Ben Youssef which is a Theological college founded by the Merenid Sultan Abu Hassan in the 14th century, and restored in 1564 by the Saadians who made it the largest theological college in the Maghreb and a rival to the important Medersa Bou Inania in Fés.
Enjoy time at leisure to explore at your own pace, or relax at your hotel.
A private vehicle with English speaking driver will provide a transfer between Marrakech and the High Atlas Mountain region. The approximate travel time is 1 hour.
Enjoy a half day of canyon climbing around the High Atlas Mountain region today. This experience requires some strenuous movements but can be done even those with very little canyon climbing experience. All equipment, including footwear, is provided for. Begin this vertical tour as the team leader guides a downhill journey through the canyons and narrow streams, boasting some fantastic perspectives.
The Kasbah du Toubkal is an extraordinary venture, the product of an imaginative Berber and European partnership. There is a shared belief that the beauty of the Toubkal National Park should be accessible to all who respect it. To this end the Kasbah has been transformed using traditional methods, from the home of a Feudal Caid into an unprecedented haven; one that provides a variety of accommodation and event possibilities to meet differing requirements.
Prepare for a day of exploration and cultural enrichment as you head out aboard a 4-Wheel Drive vehicle into the picturesque surroundings of the High Atlas Mountains Ranges accompanied by a local expert guide. Depart in the morning from Asni to the hamlet if Imlil where the off-road adventure begins. Enjoy the view as you'll be driven along the serpentine, non-graveled roads to one of the highest perched villages of the range, some 2000 feet high. En-route, marvel at the many terrace-lined towns and small mud-brick houses. Make a stop along the way to the local old hydraulic and olive press which to this day is still in use. A visit to the Takherkhort Reserve is also scheduled where you can enjoy a walk through native flora and fauna, stopping along the way to take some photos of the Barbary sheep and the over 150 species of birdlife. Upon your arrival to the Mountain Lodge you will feel the greatest sense of homeliness and comfort by the welcoming scent of freshly baked bread, as the local woman demonstrate Berber hospitality at its finest. As the ancient oven continues to bake, you will be seated on a panoramic terrace and served local delicacies and of course some of that freshly baked bread as you admire the almost surreal surroundings. From here, you will be driven to the town of Tahanoute, a picturesque village set amongst a variety of olive groves, and citrus trees for an opportunity to admire the red clay structures built according traditional Berber construction techniques. A local resident will prepare a home-cooked meal for your enjoyment, with a special "table-setting" atop their roof. This opportunity allows you to experience the everyday life of these mountain people.
A private vehicle with English speaking driver will provide a transfer from the High Atlas Mountain region to Casablanca. The approximate travel time is 4 hours.
November 08, 2012
"I am a world traveller and this was one of my Top 3 vacations ever! Kensington Tours did a great job with EVERY little detail, from the planning to being met and catered to every step of the way. Our favorite lodges were Tau Pan in the Kalahari, Botswana & Moon Mountain in Sossusvlei, Namibia. We especially loved the Batswana people and all the animals we saw at Camp Moremi on the Okavanga River. The highlight of our trip was actually our stay in Swakopmund when we stayed on the South Atlantic & went for an exciting boat ride to see all the sealife up close and personal (like a seal coming onboard the boat!), a rollar coaster dune ride in a 4 X 4!! the balloon ride over the red sand dunes over Namibia and several champagne brunches in the middle of the desert. Also, will never forget all the sundowmer game drives which ended with our favorite cocktail, watching the sunset with wildlife close at hand!
Unforgettable. Thanks Ivona for planning it all!"
October 26, 2012
"35 Goose Pond Road
Lincoln, MA 01773
Re: Steven Weru Kinyua, Kenya tour guide
We recently returned from a wonderful 8 day tour of Kenya with Steven, he is an exceptional individual. But one example: As we returned to the Samburu lodge from our first game drive, Steven pointed out a young, sick-looking lion in the shade of a tree. We observed it momentarily and soon returned to the lodge for dinner.
The next day Steven mentioned he had reported the weak young lion to the local Samburu ranger. Steven explained that due to the arrival of a new alpha male in his pride the young lion had likely been chased out before he was able to hunt for himself. He further explained that the young lion would be welcome back in a week or two, if he were alive. I pursued the full story w/Steven. The ranger Steven had reported the weak lion to had been unresponsive, indicating he would do nothing. Steven, unsatisfied w/that response told the ranger to report it to the Head Park Ranger, or he would. The Head Ranger agreed with Steven's analysis of the situation; bought 10 kilos of meat for the young lion; and directed his staff to feed it appropriately.
Steven understood the workings of that lion pride, and has an exceptional knowledge of all the wild animals of Kenya. Furthermore he has a passion for their well-being. He would not accept a lazy, disinterested response from the local ranger. During our trip in Kenya I had occasion to speak to groups of secondary school students. I related Steven's actions as an excellent example of a Kenyan's knowledge, passion and commitment.
One day Steven pointed out a cheetah. We saw the cheetah w/a young impala in its mouth. After the cheetah had choked the young impala, Steven explained the mother cheetah was calling her cubs --it was thrilling to see the 3 cubs come tearing across the plain creating a mini-dust storm in their wake. The mother gave the kill to her cubs. Steven explained they had to learn to open it up. Shortly she sent them off the kill, twenty paces or so, then froze, looking westerly. A lion, smelling the kill Steven explained, was moving off to the north about a 1000 yards away. Intent on the lion the mother cheetah remained frozen in place (as we're the cubs, mimicking their mother). After the lion passed the mother called the cubs back to the kill. Not 15 minutes later the lion came back, followed by yapping jackels, this time moving off to the east of the cheetahs. As soon as the lion appeared, the mother cheetah repeated her previous actions, sending off the cubs and freezing over the kill, intently watching the lion. Steven explained that the jackels were distracting the lion from the kill, knowing if the lion found the kill, nothing would be left for them. Again the lion passed off to the southeast, never able to find the cheetah kill.
This summary highlights events that played out over a 90 minute period. In that time several tourist rovers and vans came, took pictures of the cheetahs, and left. None of those tourists had a complete explanation of the scene that was playing out before us. Game-viewing w/Steven is a rich experience, a clear cut above the average.
In our time w/Steven we had lengthy conversations about the pluses and minuses of grass-burning, the challenges of maintaining wildlife corridors, park encroachment by locals, roadway underpasses for big game, etc. in addition we discussed ukabila and other political challenges facing Kenya. Steven Kinyua is an exceptional Kenyan guide. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and made our Kenya safari a wonderful learning experience we will cherish for years.
Mark Masterson, Ed.D."
Avi J.Moskovitz ,
February 03, 2014
"We finally returned from the most magical vacation in Morocco and we cannot thank Lily and Kensington Tours enough!! This trip was beyond amazing and we are so appreciative for everything done to make this trip happen last minute for us!
We had a spectacular tour guide that spoke 8 languages, Ismail, and the friendliest and warmest driver, Said, whom made the experience absolutely phenomenal! Not only did we learn and see, but we laughed, danced, ate like pigs, kissed camels and snakes, ran in the Sahara desert under the stars, and enjoyed life - which is the best gift of all!
Avi J. Moskovitz & Armando Silva
October 18, 2013
"I am so happy that I used Kensington Tours to help with my dream trip to Cape Town South Africa. I was looking for a well respected tour company that planned private guided tours that was not going to cause me my leg, lol. I begin searching companies by reputation and value. I narrowed it down to Kensington Tours because of the quality and value. I felt taken care of prior to my departure due to the detailed itinerary.
From the time of got off the plane to the time I headed back to the states, I was in excellent hands. The service was EXCELLENT! I will definitely use Kensington again. Certainly, a trip of a lifetime!"
October 29, 2013
"My husband and I have just returned from the trip of a lifetime in Egypt. The sites were amazing and overwhelming. Everything was as promised. We had the most amazing pyramid view and Nile view from our hotels. Our itinerary included the most magnificent sites and we were accompanied by the most informative and friendly people. I highly recommend visiting Egypt. It is totally safe. Thank you to everyone at Kensington for this experience. It was so beyond our expectations!"
October 31, 2013
"From our greeter, who whisked us through customs in Johannesburg, to all our excellent drivers, guides and associates in Lions Sands, Cape Town and the wine country, everyone was highly professional, well dressed, well mannered, and well informed. Overall our tour worked like a superbly designed, technically perfect Swiss watch. An experience for the ages. Bravo!"
October 29, 2013
"This was a trip of a life time for me and I was never disappointed. Sylvia listen to me and give me exactly what I wanted in the way of a photo Safari as well as full tour of Cape Town and the wine country. I never had to wait one minute for a guide or any of the transportation provided. The people I dealt with along the way could not have been more courteous and friendly. I just cannot say enough about my experience with Kensington Tours, it was fabulous! "
Hanne Jones ,
October 24, 2013
"I have travelled all my life. I've combed much of Europe, from The arctic north in Norway to the streets of Seville in Spain, the beaches of Cannes and Nice in France and the medieval heart of Bologna in Italy. I've been on two African safaris (one tented, one not), both "luxurious." I've been on more than a dozen jaunts to India, some guided, others not. Over the years I have discovered that I had rather be lost and disoriented in a foreign country than submit once again to the unbending schedule of a guided tour. Hence I had given up tours of any kind, until Molly Kelly, an American Express travel agent, suggested I might want simply to list the places my friends and I wished to see in Morocco then let Kensington Tours make accessing them in an orderly way not only possible but thoroughly enjoyable as well. And this Kensington Tours did. They pulled our disparate destinations together and designed a far, far better route than we could ever have done on our own. They satisfied all our requests and threw in delicious additions, areas of interest we had never considered or even heard of. Our accommodations were well within our means and wonderful. Our guide and driver, not to mention our Mercedes SUV, could not have pleased us more. In other words, thanks to Molly and her recommending Kensington Tours, we had a sensational holiday. "
Anthoula Korina ,
September 05, 2013
"Africa had always been a myth in mind since I was child that was up until a week ago. I just returned from an epic safari adventure! Kenya, Tanzania and the Maasai are sorely missed.
Words cannot fully express the magic of this ever-flowing journey. It was awe-inspiring, breathtaking, free and powerful. My mind keeps playing tricks on me; thinking rather hoping that I'm going to see a giraffe cross a busy NYC street :)
The memories will resonate for a lifetime. To boot, I went on this trip solo; female traveler. Not sure any of it would have been possible w/out Kensington Tours!!! Thank you..."
July 12, 2013
"I had a wonderful trip visiting the mountain gorillas in Uganda. We were able to get really close to the gorillas and watched their interactions with each other. The local people are so gracious and made every minute a delight. The accomodations were great. I loved waking up in the morning to the sounds of the forest. The added luxury of a massage was a great way to end the trip!"
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