UPDATE for 2022 program: We are cautiously optimistic with the availability of vaccines and decline in COVID, we should be able to offer another tour to Morocco (and separately, Turkey) in Spring 2022. If you are interested in being a part of that, email us at email@example.com
The last Morocco Illuminated Tours was: March 13-22, 2020.
The cost of that journey will be around $ 3,500 per person, based on double occupancy. (There is a $ 500 single supplement for those desiring to have a single room.) The 2020 Morocco program will be led by our wonderful experts in Morocco, Courtney Erwin and Adnane Raiss.
Friday, March 13th, 2020: Program will begin in Marrakech, Morocco
Participants can arriver either in Marrakech directly, or arrive by 2 pm into Casablanca, where we can arrange for a transfer to Marrakech via a shuttle.
4:00pm: Bus shuttle transfer departs Casablanca airport with a guide. Transfer to Marrakesh (2.5 hours). For those arriving at different times or airports, we will provide recommendations on how to get to your hotel using public transportation and/or taxicabs. Alternatively, private transfer service is available at an additional cost of USD $280 per vehicle (Mercedes Viano for 6 pax).
7:30pm: Walk to “home base” riad (TBD) to enjoy a welcome tea ceremony and traditional Moroccan pastries. Your tour leader will begin the trip’s evening lecture series.
9:30pm: Later in the evening, option to explore Jamaa El Fna on an independent basis. This is a 1000-year old UNESCO site with everything from snake charmers and acrobats, magicians and storytellers, to food stalls and orange juice stands.
Saturday March 14th, 2020 Marrakech
9:00am: Meet at “home base” riad to begin the morning tour with 2 expert guides in addition to your tour leaders. Explore the most important sacred and historical sites of Marrakesh. Founded almost 1000 years ago, Marrakech is a feast for the senses and has remained at the heart of Moroccan life ever since, acting as Sultanate capital on occasions. Begin with a morning walk through the different artistic guilds of the Marrakesh medina. Here, you may witness the leather auction, the copper welders and wood carvers at work.
11:00am: Visit Madrasa Ben Youssef, an Islamic college in the old medina, named after the Almoravid sultan Ali ibn Yusuf who reigned in the early 12th century. This is the largest Madrasa in all of Morocco and one of the largest theological colleges in North Africa - housing as many as 900 students.
12:00pm: Tour of the Koutoubia Mosque (from the outside - Muslims may enter if doors are open at the time) - completed under the reign of the Berber Almohad Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur in the late 12th century. It is a sister monument to the Giralda of Seville and the Hassan Tower of Rabat.
1:00pm: Bus transfer from Koutoubia Mosque to AMAL Foundation. Have lunch at Nora Fitzgerald’s AMAL Foundation - a non-profit that helps disadvantaged women gain work experience by training them in culinary arts.
3:00pm: Bus transfer back to Koutoubia Mosque. Afternoon and evening at leisure for discussions and lecture series.
6:00 PM: Retun to “home base” riad for discussions and lecture series. Evening at leisure.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Sunday, March 15th, 2020 Marrakech
9:00am: Meet at “home base” riad to begin a tour with 2 expert guides in addition to your tour leaders. Hidden in the medina away from the hustle and bustle of the bazaars, lies a hidden source of spirituality for the city: the Seven Saints (awliya) of Marrakesh. Interestingly, most of the Seven Saints are not even from Marrakesh; during the 17th century in an effort to increase the importance of the city, Moulay Ismail ibn Sharif ordered their remains to be removed from various parts of Morocco and placed in the old city. Visit some of the Seven Saints, namely:
1. Sidi Ben Slimane Al-Jazuli
2. Sidi Bel Abbas al-Sabti
3. Sidi Abd El-Aziz
4. Sidi Abdullah al-Ghazwani
5. Qadi Iyad
6. Sidi Youssef bin Ali
7. Sidi Al-Suhayli
1:00pm: Lunch break for 1 hour in the medina.
6:00pm: Retun to “home base” riad for discussions and lecture series. Evening at leisure.
Monday, March 16, 2020 Marrakech
9:00am: Lectures on-site in Marrakech.
12:00pm: Bus transfer back to drop-off location. Afternoon at leisure for additional touring, discussions and lecture series. An expert guide and vehicle will be at disposal.
Tuesday, Tuesday March 17th, 2020 Marrakech Desert
9:00am: Meet at “home base” riad to walk to bus pick-up and transfer to La Pause in the rocky desert landscape outside of Marrakech.
10:00am: Arrival at La Pause where you will be greeted by the staff and settled into your accommodations - early check-in depends on availability this day. Morning at leisure to enjoy the peaceful grounds of La Pause.
12:30pm: Meet at the private tent for lunch.
Afternoon & Evening: At leisure for lecture series and discussions.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Wednesday, March 18th, 2020
Morning: At leisure. Activities on the grounds of La Pause can be organized 48 hours in advance at an additional cost to be paid directly to La Pause.
11:00am: Bus transfer to Marrakesh airport where you will board your non-stop flight to Fez. We recommend getting a bite to eat at the airport. [Alternative plan is to take a bus to Fez, which would include a stop over in Rabat, and visit Hasan II Mosque and historic sites]
2:25pm: Air Arabia flight 702 departs Marrakesh for Fez Saiss Airport.
3:35pm: Flight arrival at Fez. A guide will welcome you at the airport. Bus transfer to your hotels.
6:30pm: Meet at “home base” riad for lecture series and discussions.
Thursday, March 19th, 2020 (Fez)
9:00am: Meet at “home base” riad to begin your tour of the Fez Medina with 2 expert guides in addition to your tour leaders. Spend the day exploring the winding alleys of the Fez medina (the old town) where some of the most important religious sites can be found. Fez is the oldest of Morocco’s imperial cities and its medina is the largest car-free urban UNESCO site in the world. During this special tour, experience the alluring charm of the old town, the colorful streets and souks, and the rich tapestry of life that exists within its ancient walls.
11:00am: From the outside, visit the world’s oldest university, Al Quaraouiyine; Aïn al-Khail mosque where Ibn Arabi used to pray; Medrasa Seffarine, built in 1270 and still in use today; and of course the tomb of Moulay Idriss, the founder of Fez and great grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslim travelers will be able to enter the sites.
1:00pm: Lunch on your own.
3:00pm: Continue your tour visiting the mosque and zawiyah of the Sidi Ahmed Tijani, founder of the Tijani tariqa. Pilgrims have for many years come here from across West Africa, often on their way to Mecca. Tijani, who died in Fes in 1815, has millions of followers around the world.
6:00 PM: discussions and lecture series in the home riad.
Friday, March 20th, 2020 (Fez)
9:00am: Meet at “home base” riad to walk together to the bus pick-up location. Bus transfer through the Fez countryside and surroundings to explore the religious town of Moulay Idriss Zerhoune (approx. 1.5 hours away). This is Morocco’s most spiritual center. It was here that Moulay Idriss I, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, arrived in 789, bringing with him the religion of Islam, and starting a new dynasty. In addition to founding the town named after him, he also initiated construction of Fez, continued later by his son, Moulay Idriss II.
12:00pm: Visit the ancient capital of Meknes, considered to be the Versailles of Morocco. Meknes is the “poor brother” among imperial cities of the country. It was developed as a capital late in the history of the nation, in the 17th century, and only briefly by Sultan Moulay Ismail’s (1672–1727). Meknes is named for the Miknasa Berber tribe. The city’s Friday mosque was built in 1199-1213 along with the main city gates. Back then, Meknes was a prosperous commercial city, known also as a spiritual and educational hub. Meknes offers a “snapshot” of Morocco’s last imperial era. Moulay Ismail’s palace-city (over 40 km. of walls, not counting outer defences) is a stupendous investment of might in masonry. It also proved both durable and adaptable to modern city growth.During the Protectorate, Meknes was an important center of European colonization.
1:30pm: Have lunch in Meknes at your leisure.
6:00: Back at “home base” riad, enjoy the late afternoon and evening at leisure for discussions and lecture series. We may try to have a Sufi dhikr and music concert featuring traditional Nasheeds (devotional music) this evening.
Saturday, March 21, 2020 (Fez)
Workshop during the day.
5:00pm: Meet at “home base” riad to walk together to the bus pick-up location. Bus transfer to the top of Mount Zalagh which overlooks the city of Fez, and learn about the spiritual significance of this mountain. Mount Zalagh, covered with olive groves and scented by wild lavender, offers a view of the entire city and the surrounding landscapes—the Sebou Valley, Rif Mountains and Sais Plain.
Part of the Rif Mountains, this mountain is considered sacred to Moroccans, as it is the retreat site of a well known saint and scholar: Sidi Ahmed al Barnoussi. Sidi Ahmed El Bernoussi was a 15th century sufi saint who was a master in theology, numerology and alchemy. His best work is the foundation of Moroccan sufism. He still has disciples to this day who come to Mount Zalagh to give prayers and pay their respects.
Watch the sunset from Mount Zalagh - prayer rugs will be provided for those who wish to perform their prayers in this sacred place.
6:00 possibility of a goodbye dinner in our Riad.
Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 Fez
There is no obligation to leave from Casablanca. Some friends will choose to fly out of Fez directly.
7:00am: Meet at bus pick-up location for the Casablanca airport shuttle (approx. 3.5 hours).
International departures from Casablanca Airport:
London - 12:10pm on AT 802
Paris - 12:20pm on AT 764
New York - 3:30pm on AT 200
Dubai - 2:55pm on Emirates 752
For those departing at different times or airports, we will provide recommendations on how to get to the airport using public transportation and/or taxicabs. Alternatively, private transfer service is available at an additional cost of USD $280 per vehicle (Mercedes Viano for 6 pax).