Marrakesh & the Atlas Mountains
Visiting Morocco really is like stepping back in time and is everything you imagine it to be and more. This is a country of great contrasts: it has had many influences, with some of the earliest records from Phoenician times, then coming under the sway of Carthage, the Romans, from the 7th century the Ottomans and finally the French. All have left their own mark, creating a unique country which today, though relatively near, still remains delightfully exotic, mysterious and unspoilt.
Morocco possesses a wonderful scenic beauty with an incredibly varied landscape: on the coast we have sweeping beaches with rocky headlands, backed by the eerie emptiness of the desert; then inland, undulating hills dotted with the occasional shepherd tending their sheep, and clusters of palm trees with the timeless landscapes of barren rocks and dried-up riverbeds creating almost biblical scenes. Mud-brick villages, unchanged for centuries, are strewn across a countryside so different from what we see in Europe. Forming the stunning backdrop, lush green foothills and of course the ever-present Atlas Mountains puncture the sky. It has long captured the imagination of cinematographers, being used to film ‘Gladiator’, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ and ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.
Morocco’s most vibrant city, full of myths and mystery, ochre-coloured Marrakesh is today an anachronism: one of the most exciting and romantic places you will ever visit, with one foot in the present and one firmly in the past. It was once an oasis on the ancient caravan routes to the south, thus becoming a natural centre of commerce and consequently, during medieval times, Morocco’s capital. Vast wealth poured in from nearby Moorish Spain and skilled artisans built the city you see today. Surrounded by almost intact medieval ramparts, it has some amazing buildings. Dominating the traditional low-rise skyline is the amazing Koutoubia Minoret, over 200 feet high, visible for miles around and a classic example of Moorish architecture. Then there are the Saadian Tombs, the intricately decorated final resting place of the descendants of Mohammed, plus the Royal Palace and a host of other things to experience. The city’s maze of tiny streets is interspaced by tranquil gardens watered for centuries by an ingenius underground water system, still functioning after all these years. At the centre of it all though is the Djemma el Fnaa, a huge square and site of one of the world’s greatest spectacles. Here, especially atmospheric at dusk, street restaurants serve all kinds of delicacies with mouth-watering aromas filling the air, surrounded by what can only be described as a medieval circus. Storytellers recount tales of old, whilst fire-eaters and skilled acrobats entertain the crowds. Scribes write letters, whilst open-air dentists and barbers are busy at work. You can have your shoes cleaned, watch snake charmers and see herbalists dispensing ancient remedies. Permeating the whole scene is the heavy drumbeat of musical troupes playing their instruments, the sights and sounds of which are enchanting. The balmy warmth of the Moroccan evening adds to the atmosphere and all this under an ocean of stars: what a fabulous experience!
- Return flights
- Five nights half-board in a four-star hotel
- Guided tour of Marrakesh - including the famous souks and centre of the ancient caravan routes
- Second tour of medieval Marrakesh and hinterland
- Visit to the Royal Saadian Tombs, one of the finest examples of Moorish architecture
- Tour to the foothills of the stunning Atlas Mountains, Africa’s highest mountains
- Visit to the ancient port of Essaouira, one of North Africa's most beautiful cities
- Escorted by our experienced tour manager
- The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at a supplement of £125 per person. The price includes return flights, airport departure taxes, five nights dinner bed and breakfast, all tours as mentioned, all transport, two guided tours of Marrakesh, visit to Essaouira, tour into the Atlas Mountains and the services of a Riviera tour manager.Where hotels feature an outdoor swimming pool, this will be open summer months, weather permitting.
- Visas & Health
- UK passport holders do not require a visa, but other passport holders should check with the relevant embassy. Please consult your GP regarding the appropriate inoculations at least a month before departure.
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