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Luxury Family Desert Holiday

A fantastic family holiday for those looking for an adventure with creature comforts. Ideal for half term, Easter or Christmas holidays, this trip takes you from Marrakech past Unesco World Heritage sites and oases deep into the Saharan desert to get away from it all at a luxurious desert camp. Suitable for children aged 3 +

DAY 1: ARRIVAL & TRANSFER TO MARRAKECH

You will be picked up from the airport and transferred to your riad El Fenn in Marrakech. After check in your riad and some refreshment, you guide will lead you to an exploration journey of the abundant historical and cultural wealth of Marrakesh.

Start with the most of the city’s “unmissable” sights found within the old city walls. Visit the Koutoubia, the great square of Jemaa el Fna and the Menara

The Almohads started on the building of the Koutoubia in 1150. It took them 40 years to complete. Koutoubia is regarded as one of the Maghrib’s most beautiful monuments due to its simplicity of design, highly sophisticated decoration and perfectly balanced proportions. In fact, it served as a model for two sisters mosques, The Giralda in Seville and the Hassan Tower in Rabat. Its 77meter minaret can be seen from 25 kilometers away and, lit up in the evenings, it becomes the city’s “spiritual lighthouse”.

Wander into Jemaa el Fna , the living heart of the city listed by UNESCO’s as an Immaterial Heritage . Its fame is related to its size, its bustle of activity and its unique atmosphere. It is scattered with restaurants stalls offering an endless variety of food and rind. Jemaa el Fna really comes to life at night, with locals and visitors alike gathering to the terraces and the cafes that surround to it. There you find storytellers, marvelous acrobats, the famous Gnaoua dancers, jumping to the hypnotic rhythm of their “krakachs’ (metal castanets) .

Visit the Saadian Tomb located near Bab Agnaou. The Saadian Tombs are a royal necropolis (14th  to 16th century) ornamented with columns of Italian marble and topped by a finely worked cedar wood cupola.

Continue to the impressive ruins of the El Badi palace, once regarded as the wonder of the Muslin world and a source of meditation on bygone glories. Only its high walls remain popular as a nesting place for the region’s storks.

Visit the Bahia Palace and its gardens build in the  late 19th century by the architect El Mekkin and a residence for the Vizier, Ba Ahmed Ben Moussa. The palace is a true masterpiece, outstanding for the sophistication of its décor, its garden, fountains and tree shaded courtyards and for is architectural design. The place was home to the Vizier’s family, which included 4 wives, 24 concubines and countless children.

The layout of its rooms, doors and corridors was designed to ensure that each occupant could protect his or her privacy and avoid unwanted meetings with others who lived there. It took 7 years to build – a fact at the origin of Moroccan expression, the Bahia is finally finished, referring to any piece of business that has taken time to get done

 Continue to the Dar Si Said Museum that holds rich collections of poplar arts and crafts from Marrakesh and the surrounding Berber regions. Also close by is the Dar Tiskiwin Museum, home of the Bert Flint collection and a perfect complement to Dar Si Said.

Visit the Menara Gardens buit by The Almohads in the 14th century, a graceful summer pavilion with an artificial lake surrounded by a huge orchard planted with olive trees. As nights falls the place becomes a heaven, glowing with every shade of gold. The lake serves as a basin for irrigating the olive grove and is supplied by a 700 years old hydraulic system that harnesses water from the mountains and brings it in through 30 kilometers of pipes.

The Ben Youssef Medersa was built by the Saadians and is an undisputed jewel of Moroccan architecture, a great Koranic university composed of marble, stuccowork, mosaics and carved cedar wood and which attracted students from throughout the Muslim world.  Facing it, the Almoravid Koubba ( or Koubba Ba ‘ Adiyn ) built in 1064 , is all that is left of the Almoravids and there architecture. The nearby M’Nebhi Palace has been superbly restored and now houses the Marrakesh Museum and its exhibitions of contemporary art an Moroccan cultural heritage.

Stop for lunch at one of the finest restaurant in the medina before continuing your joyful exploration of the wonderful medina.

You have the choice of sampling delicious Moroccan dishes or the finest in international cuisine. You can dine in gourmet restaurants or seated beneath a start studded sky at one of the stalls in Jemaa Fna. The great local specialty, tangia Marrakshia, a real institution whose flavor is not just a matter of its ingredients, but also of how they are cooked.

In fact, there is nothing like getting lost in the medina’s souks if you want to get a real idea of the richness of Marrakeshi craftsmanship and of the extraordinary know how of the city’s master craftsmen. visit souk Cherratine for fine leather goods, Souk Zrabi for carpets, Souk Fekharine for pottery, Souk Sebbaghine for dyers, Souk Seffarine for copperware, and so on. You will never want to leave…

After the visit, back to your Riad, B&B accommodation

Accommodation: Bel Haj / Dar Thania / Dar Vedra / Riad Boussa / Riad W

Transport (where relevant): Private Transfer

DAY 2: DAY AT LEISURE IN MARRAKECH

Today we suggest you set off and explore Marrakech's medina. You can spend all day pounding the souks and taking in the atmosphere or visit some of the main cultural sights of Marrakech, including the Medersa Ben Youssef, Palais el Badi and the Bahia Palace, interspersed with a leisurely lunch watching the storks nesting on the ramparts of the ancient city. In the evening, be sure to head down to the main square here food stalls, acrobats, snake charmers and story tellers congregate creating an unforgettable atmosphere which is compelling for adults and children alike.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Bel Haj / Dar Thania / Dar Vedra / Riad Boussa / Riad W

Transport (where relevant): n/a

DAY 3: MARRAKECH - AIT BEN HADDOU

Pick up at Marrakesh and start your journey towards Ouarzazate region to explore its famous Kasbahs-sandcastles beyond the reach of time.

Kasbahs are great rise colored citadels standing proudly on the hillsides, defying anyone who passes to ignore them. These are the far famed kasbahs of the Moroccan south, residences built from adobe, a mixture of clayey earth and straw, their architecture of striking originality and rare elegance. Morocco’s kasbahs retain all of their poetry, serene in their power and living witness to the victory and apogee of the mountain culture that brought them into being. Perfectly adapted to their natural surroundings, they are also an expression of the social life of a sedentary mountain people. Standing eternal, they are southern Morocco’s dearest heritage.

You will pass the olive fields of the Oued Zat as you ascend to the Tizi n’Tichka pass (2260-meter-high) that will take you through spectacular mountainous land. Along the road you will see panoramic sights of the High Atlas Mountains as well as rich valleys, colorful villages, and striking geology.

Explore The majestic Taourirt Kasbah listed as a national heritage monument. It was built in the 19th century and was the Pasha of Marrakesh ‘s largest residence. Its architecture, with its many crenellated towers, geometric motifs, and interior richly attired in painted stuccowork and cedar wood, is a marvel to behold. The Kasbah has just been restored throughout, and now houses exhibition galleries, a library and an Amphitheatre.

Visit The Tifoultout Kasbah Built in the 17th century to accommodate the pasha of Marrakesh’s guests, The Tifoultout Kasbah was renovated 30 years ago and is now a hotel and restaurant. It stands beside the village of Tifoultout, near Oued Draa, a spot where tranquility and peace of mind reign supreme.

From its terrace, you can enjoy magnificent views of the city of Ouarzazate below, and of the surrounding mountains while having your lunch

Visit Telouet Kasbah whose construction started in 1860, and further buildings were added over the course of the decades. The result is a masterly work of art, fortress, chateau and caravanserai all rolled into one, a marvel of painted woodwork, wrought iron, sculpted stucco and colorful zellij. Legend has it that it took 300 craftsmen three years to sculpt its ceilings and walls.

B&B accommodation in a nice riad Accommodation: Kasbah Ellouze

DAY 4: AIT BEN HADDOU - AGDZ

Explore The Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou. A revelation of pure beauty listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah is a stunning work of architecture overlooking the Ounila Valley. A graceful ensemble of adobe kasbahs, this one of the oldest and most impressive ksars in all morocco. The earliest of its buildings, a granary standing on the hilltop, dates back to the 11th century. The village gradually grew up around it over the course of the centuries, adding houses, more granaries, cowsheds, a well, and protective surrounding wall.

Architecturally, this museum village located some 30km from Ouarzazate, is without parallel. Its outer walls sport few shutters and only two doors, making sure that its inhabitants knew who was coming and going =, while inside, a public square, a mosque, a koranic school and the village residences jostle for space. Immortalized in such films as “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Babel” and “Indiana Jones” , this magnificent fortress stands radiant and untouched by time, an uncut diamond shining proudly forth from its rocky setting.

Leaving Ait Ben Haddou, you will drive over the mountains before descending into the Draa Valley before arriving in Agdz, an oasis in the Draa valley where you can spend the afternoon relaxing around the pool or you might want to take a stroll through the palmery. Walk through the towering date palms, past large cacti and then through lush farmland, with beautifully maintained plots. If you're lucky, a local farmer might invite you to take a look at his land and point out the different vegetables and plant that he's growing.

Total Driving Time- around 2 hours

Meals Included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Kasbah Azul

Transport (where relevant): Private Transfer

DAY 5: AGDZ - ERG CHEGAGA

This morning you will have an early start. Passing palmeries and hundreds of kasbahs, you will reach Zagora. Famed as the gateway to the Sahara, this town was seen as the start of the trans-Saharan trading route and you can see the famous sign in the town, depicting the length of time taken to reach Timbuctu (52 days.) After leaving Zagora, you head further into the barren desert, leaving the palmeries behind. You will pass some smaller dunes, a teaser as to what lies ahead. In the small town of M'hamid, you will leave the asphalt road behind you and continue your journey off-road. The final leg of the journey takes about 2 hours. Passing nomadic farmers and herds of camels, it is a bumpy ride. Once you arrive at the camp, however, the length of today's drive will fade away. Nestled in the dunes, the camp is a luxurious retreat away from modern day life. On your first evening, you might want to wander up to the high dunes to see the sea of sand around you, then wander down to the camp to enjoy a sundowner and await the emergence of the fantastic stars - a night sky you will never forget.

Total Driving Time- around 4 - 4 1/2 hours

Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

Accommodation: Luxury Desert Camp

Transport (where relevant): Private Transfer

DAY 6: ERG CHEGAGA (LUXURY DESERT CAMP)

Today is at leisure in the camp. You might want to go camel trekking, sand boarding, visit a nomadic family or just kick back on one of the sun loungers and read a book.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Full board Accommodation: Luxury Desert Camp

DAY 7:  DESERT CAMP-MARRAKESH

After breakfast, you will begin your journey back to Marrakech. It is a long day's drive, but you will stop along the way for lunch, photo stops and comfort breaks. You will arrive back in Marrakech in the evening.

Total Driving Time- around 10 hours

Accommodation: Bel Haj / Dar Thania / Dar Vedra / Boussa / Riad Wo

DAY 9: DEPARTURE

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport to catch your flight home.

WELCOME TO MOROCCO

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