Day 1 - Casablanca
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco. Aromatic tajines, palm-spotted, red-earthed landscapes and limitless generosity define this friendly, vibrant and flavourful Berber-Arab-Spanish-Portuguese-French melting pot. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today, where we’ll be collecting your insurance and next of kin details. You can arrive at any time during the day, as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Modelled after Marseille in France, the bustling port city of Casablanca has a curious architectural style – famous for its art deco French-colonial buildings and Mauresque governmental institutions, an old medina and the modern-day masterpiece of the Hassan II Mosque. For those who arrive early, a pleasant way to spend the day exploring Casablanca is to wander the old medina and the city walls, then jump in a taxi to visit the Quartiers des Habous – the new medina full of shaded squares and narrow streets, lined with arcades that lead from one souk to another. This is a great place to enjoy a Moroccan coffee and maybe start improving your bargaining skills. Your food adventure really starts with a traditional Moroccan meal tonight, complete with briouate (delicious crispy yufka pastry parcels stuffed with a variety of fillings), kemias (a plethora of salads served on small plates) and perhaps even a taste of Casablanca's signature dish, seven vegetable couscous. Maybe finish the day with a walk along the Corniche, watching the locals enjoy sunset football on the beach.
Day 2 - Meknes/Moulay Idriss
Try typical Casablanca street food for breakfast – choose from Msmen (layered, pan-fried bread), omelette, Khlea (a type of Moroccan preserved meat), bessara soup or a variety of other dishes to be found amongst the stalls. Breakfast will, of course, be served with mint tea, the perfect beverage to kick-start a day in Morocco. Then board a train to the former capital of Meknes (approximately 3.5 hours). In the 17th century Sultan Moulay Ismail turned Meknes from a provincial town to a spectacular Imperial city, building his own version of Versailles with labour force of over 25,000 slaves. Jump in a taxi to Moulay Idriss (approximately 1 hour). Take a walking tour of the town, sample the famous nougat candy sold at street-side stalls, and then make a stop to uncover the local olive scene. Olives are at the heart of Moroccan cuisine and here you’ll visit an olive press to learn the secrets and sample a drop of the luxuriously golden oil. Explore the delightful medina of this ancient town, and see where the faithful gather to pay homage at the tomb of Moulay Idriss I, who was the great-grandson of Mohammed and brought Islam to Morocco. Your accommodation tonight is a guesthouse/homestay where a local family will take delight in providing the hospitality. Bathroom facilities are shared and rooming may be triple or quad share. Enjoy a home-cooked dinner in the guesthouse tonight. Your hosts will demonstrate how to hand-make couscous from scratch. Pitch in to help prepare a variety of Moroccan salads and finish with a hearty kefta (meatball) tajine.
Day 3 - Fes
This morning you’ll return to Meknes by taxi and take a walking tour with a local guide, exploring the elaborately decorated public buildings that line the winding streets of the old walled section of the city. If there is time, you may be able to visit the nearby Roman city of Volubilis, which is filled with fantastic mosaics featuring legends like the labours of Hercules in fantastic detail. Once we arrive in Meknes, it’s time to eat something a bit different, a local riff on an American classic – a camel burger! Ride the rails once again as you climb aboard a train to the living museum of Fes (approximately 1 hour), the most complete medieval city in the Arab world. Fes is the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco; vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses – with a huge, well-preserved medieval old city that’s the mother of all medinas. You’ll have free time for the rest of the day – perhaps check out the Medersa Bou Inania, a stunningly beautiful and elaborate building that cost so much that on completion the Sultan Abou Inan threw the details into the river and declared that such ‘a thing of beauty is beyond reckoning’.
Day 4 - Fes
Today head into the old city, known locally as Fes el Bali. Descending into the labyrinthine alleyways of the medina is like taking a giant step back to the Middle Ages. Walk though the twisting streets and alleyways, passing donkeys piled high with goods (this is one of the largest car-free urban zones in the world) and explore the specialty sections that divide the souk. Different areas of the Medina are known for specific types of food – from natural butters and fats, to pastries, to crepes and soups to dried and fresh produce. Pass dye-pits, stalls loaded with fruits, herbs and spices. With the squawk of chickens, the smell of spice and the sound of hammering copper filling the air, embark on a tasting trail to discover secret ingredients and fragrant flavours. Watch artisans craft pots, manipulate metal and tan leather with skills passed down over the centuries. There will be products you can buy, if you are interested, to take home as a souvenir. In the evening complete your experience with a hands-on cooking class, learning to create one of the city's signature dishes - pastilla. This intriguing salty and sweet pastry parcel will no doubt be a recipe to impress back at home.
Day 5 - High Atlas
Leave the intensity of the medina behind for the simplicity of the High Atlas Mountains. It’s an early departure and long drive by private vehicle to Aroumd and the heart of Berber hospitality (approximately 8 hours, leaving between 6.30-7am), so use the time to photograph snow-dappled mountains and valleys in full flower. The bus will stop every two hours, including for a lunch of grilled meat and kefta and arrive at Imlil by approximately 4pm. From Imlil, walk into traditional mountain village life with a gentle hike (approximately 1.5 hours, low gradient, approx 3kms) to your homestay. Set in an orchard, this is a special place beyond the reach of the modern world. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the remote village of Aroumd offers stunning views across the High Atlas Mountains and a unique opportunity to experience traditional Berber culture. Surrounded by the smell of woodstoves and bread, meet the host family and enjoy Berber hospitality and food. Facilities at the homestay are shared (both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements) but cosy, comfortable and definitely a unique Intrepid experience. Tonight sit down with your hosts and learn how to prepare Berber cuisine, like the iconic tagine, before a shared dinner overlooking the rocky outcrop.
Notes: You will only need to carry a day pack on the walk today. Your main luggage will be stored in a secure location in a nearby village.
Day 6 - Essaouira
Lend a hand with a traditional Berber breakfast and fill the table with handmade flatbread (tafournout), cakes drizzled with honey and melted butter, and sweet mint tea and aromatic coffee. Then perhaps take a walk to Sidi Chamharouch (approximately 3 hours return) and look down on its ancient shrine. Otherwise stay in the village to relax, or get in the kitchen and help prepare lunch. Share a final mountain meal of salad, lentils and Berber Omelettes with your hosts before bidding them farewell and descending the mountain (approximately 1.5 hours). On the road to the coastal city of Essaouira (approximately 4.5 hours) taste local flavours with stops at an Argan oil cooperative and a family-owned vineyard. Argan oil is highly-prized for its culinary and cosmetic uses and is only produced in Morocco. Discover the strenuous process behind its production (one litre can take 20 hours to produce) and dip in a piece of bread to enjoy its distinctly nutty flavour. Arrive in Essaouira in late afternoon, a city where the medina brushes up against the Atlantic Ocean. Sandstone walkways contrast with whitewashed houses, bright blue sky and the sand of the surrounding beaches and dunes. Stay in a restored riad, or Moroccan mansion, a traditional nobleman's house unique to Morocco that’s a calming oasis away from the buzz of the medina. Your riad features a central courtyard and is beautifully designed and decorated in traditional Moroccan style, cosy yet historical. This evening is free for your own food adventures.
Day 7 - Essaouira
Get into the laid back vibe of this Moroccan town with a European seaside twist. The name Essaouira means image, which is appropriate since it's such a picturesque town. This artists' town is a former Portuguese trading colony and was once home to a sizeable British and Jewish populations, and its charm has seduced people like Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. More recently, filmmaker Ridley Scott chose the ramparts as an important location for his film, Kingdom of Heaven. On a guided walk give way to the cart-haulers calling ‘ballak, ballak’ in streets of art galleries and workshops, pass the harbour filled with colourful boats which go out early every morning for the day's catch, see camels and surfers sharing the beach and finish with an exploration of the fish souk. Choose a catch of the day that most catches your eye and follow your leader to a hidden restaurant, popular with locals, but well off the tourist path. Here, locals drop off their fresh produce in the morning and return later in the day to a hot cooked meal, made by the cook, from their ingredients. Follow their lead – hand over your market purchase where it’ll be grilled for the freshest of lunches. Take the rest of the day to search the less hectic medina, enjoy cafe life on the main square or sit back and watch the kitesurfers ride the crashing waves.
Day 8 - Marrakech
Chat with locals on a shared bus ride to Marrakech (approximately 3 hours), an ancient, exotic city wrapped in European modernity. Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Be enticed by the alluring scents and brilliant colours of the spice markets, the sounds of the musicians, the rich folds of carpets, delectable foods, acrobats and perfumed gardens. Surrounded by the Koutoubia Mosque and dazzling Bahia Palace, take a tastebud-tingling tour through the bustling souks, the lifeblood flowing through the medina and a place where it could almost be any century. Sniff the aromas of a spice souk, snack on olives, dates and biscuits, stop past a community oven, eat mechoui (slow-cooked lamb) cooked beneath the floorboards, and finish with a feast of harira soup and mint tea in the action-packed Djemma el-Fna, one of the largest public spaces in the world and unique to Marrakech. When night falls on this square it transforms in to a hive of activity. Snake-charmers, henna-painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies, including snail soup! Perhaps enjoy a bite of famous Moroccan pastries with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, and then maybe finish your day with a cup of tea on one of the roof-top restaurants overlooking the square.
Day 9 - Marrakech
Today, uncover the mysteries of all the food you saw last night at a unique cooking school. Learn the art of sumptuous Moroccan salads, a staple of the table, at a school that seeks empowerment for underprivileged women through cooking and literacy skills. Feast on your creations for lunch. In the afternoon perhaps see some last-minute sights or head back into the medina for some last-minute shopping, where every step brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. Watch skilled artisans perfect their craft, practise your haggling skills or take a break from the hustle to sip on tea or share a tajine, filled with the pure scent of Morocco. A cocktail at Le Grand Café de la Poste, an iconic art deco bistro located in the city centre, gives a taste of Marrakech from the French Colonial-era. For your final evening, choose to feast with new friends at one of the capital's fantastic restaurants in the ville nouvelle or watch the entertainment showcase at Djemma el-Fna once more.
Day 10 - Marrakech
Your Real Food Adventure ends this morning. There are no activities planned for your final day and you are free to leave at any time. If you decide to stay on longer, perhaps tour the impressive Saadian Tombs or relax in a hammam (Moroccan bath).
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money