Last Modified: 22 Apr 2014
Real Food Adventure - Morocco
Trip code: XMZF
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
****A tip before booking****
Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Days 1-2 Casablanca
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Aromatic tajines, palm-spotted, red-earthed landscapes and limitless generosity define the home of the Maghreb. Any visit, whether one week or one month, will give you a glimpse of the friendliness, vibrancy and flavour of this Berber-Arab-Spanish-Portuguese-French melting pot.
Modelled after Marseille in France, the bustling port city of Casablanca is now the undisputed economic capital of Morocco, with one of Africa's largest ports. The architectural style of the city is curious - famous for its art deco French-colonial buildings and Mauresque governmental institutions, an old medina and the phenomenal modern-day masterpiece, the Hassan II Mosque.
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. Finish the day with a walk along the Corniche, watching the locals enjoy sunset football on the beach.
Start your Real Food Adventure dining in a local restaurant in the heart of the medina. Enjoy your first traditional Moroccan meal, complete with briouate (deilcious crispy yufka pastry parcels stuffed with a variety of fillings), kemias (a plethora of salads served on small plates), fragrant harira (a tomato and lentil soup spiced with ginger, pepper and cinnamon) - not to mention Morocco's signature dish, the tagine.
Travel to the coastal village of Oualidiya and visit the town's celebrated oyster farms (approx 2.5 hours). On the way, pass through the fortified city of El Jadida. Originally a Portuguese stronghold, the Portuguese abandoned the city in the mid 18th century. It still retains many of the architectural hallmarks of this period, including the towering walls which mark the city's perimeter. El Jadida was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004,
Continue to Oualidiya, and enjoy a guided tour of one of the town's oyster farms. Morocco's first oyster farm was launched in Oualidiya in 1957 and today the area produces more than 200 tonnes of oysters per year, most of which is sold locally.
Return to Casablanca for the evening.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 3 Meknes/Moulay Idriss
Head by train to Meknes (approx 3.5 hrs).
Meknes was once an imperial city of Morocco and the capital of one of its most colourful eras, when the Sultan Moulay Ismail (a contemporary of Louis XIV) set out to build his own version of Versailles, constructing walls, gates and over 50 palaces with an unstoppable labour force of over 25,000 slaves.
On arrival, take a tour of Meknes with a local guide, then drop in at a local eatery to try a local riff on an American classic: a camel burger!
Continue by taxi to Moulay Idriss.
The small medina of ancient Moulay Idriss is a pleasure to explore as the faithful gather to pay homage to the founding father of Islam in Morocco at the 8th-century mausoleum. This charming town is superb come sunset with views over the plains of Volubilis below.
Moulay Idriss is named after the great-grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. His tomb is a pilgrimage site for Muslims. Until recently, it had been forbidden for non-Muslims to sleep overnight in the town, although this is now allowed and many locals have begun to convert their homes to guesthouses.
The town is famous for its nougat candy which is sold at stands all around the square and near the mosque. It also has the only cylindrical minaret in all of Morocco.
Our accommodation 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. Our hosts will demonstrate how to make a variety of Moroccan salads, as well as a hearty kefta (meatball) tajine.
- Guided walking tour in Meknes
- Tagine Cooking Demonstration
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Fes
Drive to the vineyards of Boufekrane. While it may seem counter to Morocco's modern Muslim culture, wine has in fact been produced in Morocco for over a thousand years; indeed, evidence of wine production in Morocco can be dated back to the first millennium BC.
During the period of French colonisation, vines were planted around the foothills of the Atlas mountains in the region of Meknes, recognised for its favourable climactic conditions, to satisfy both local demand, as well as for export to France.
Enjoy a tour of some of the local vineyards to get a taste for the local drop. Don't forget to try Moroccan 'champagne', a version of sparkling wine made using methods traditional to the Champagne region of France.
Travel by train to Fes (approx 1 hr)
Fes is the most complete medieval city in the Arab world. The most ancient of Morocco's imperial cities, it exists suspended in time.
Descending into the labyrinthine alleyways of the Medina is like taking a giant step back to the Middle Ages. The Medina itself is one of the largest car-free urban zones in the world and goods within the Medina are still transported using donkeys, mules and handcarts. Different areas of the Medina are also known for specific types of food - from natural butters and fats, to pastries, to crepes and soups to dried and fresh produce.
Embark on a tasting trail within the Medina, discovering secret ingredients and hidden gems.
If you are keen for another foodie fix, join a hands on cooking class learning how to prepare traditional Moroccan pastry dishes with local women, from briourates to the Fez classic, b'stilla (or pigeon pie).
- Vineyard tour & wine tasting
- Guided walking tour Fes
- Medina Tasting trail
- Pastry Making Demonstration - MAD90
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 6-7 Marrakech
Travel by train to Marrakech (approx 8 hrs).
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.
The monuments of Marrakech are numerous and range from the well-known Koutoubia Mosque and its superb minaret - famous throughout the Islamic world and the 'sister' to the Giralda in far-away Seville, to the lesser-known tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle (now owned by Yves Saint Laurent). There's the Palais Bahia, a superb example of Muslim architecture, and the ruins of the Palais Badi, reputedly one of the most beautiful palaces in the world in its time. The Saadian tombs are a recently uncovered gem of the Medina. All of the above can be a challenge to locate, but that's all part of the experience of exploring the phenomenal medinas of Morocco.
Undoubtedly, Morocco's most famous ingredient is cous cous. Cous cous is a traditional Berber dish, made by hand, creating granules from semolina, or durum wheat. Learn to make this dish from scratch at a unique cooking school that aims to empower underprivileged women through teaching them skills in cooking and literacy. Following the demonstration, enjoy a meal of your very own hand-prepared cous cous for lunch.
In the evening, enjoy one of Marrakesh's local restaurants, or join a food crawl taking in the sights, sounds and flavours of Marrakesh's famous souks at night.
2 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 8-9 Essaouira
Before departing for Essaouira, why not take a cooking class on the art of creating the perfect Moroccan tagine. You'll also go on a shopping expedition to pick up your ingredients and be shown how to make a Berber Whiskey (the local name for Moroccan mint tea!)
Travel to Essaouira by local express coach (approx 3hrs).
The name Essaouira means image, which is appropriate since it's such a picturesque town. Its charm is undeniable - within the stone ramparts you'll find whitewashed houses with bright blue shutters, art galleries and wood workshops. This laidback artists' town is a former Portuguese trading colony and was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations. The town faces a group of rocky islands - called the Mogador - and is surrounded by an expanse of sandy beaches and dunes.
It's still a busy fishing port and its pretty harbour is filled with tiny colourful boats which go out early every morning for the day's catch. Visitors who have been seduced by its charms include 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.
Wander around Essaouira's famous fish market. Choose the catch that takes your fancy and we'll take it to a local eatery where it will be cooked to order for a delicious lunch.
Stay in a wonderfully restored riad - a traditional nobleman's house unique to Morocco that has become very popular with travellers as an oasis of escape, charm and tranquillity from the hustle and bustle of the Medina. Our riad features a central courtyard and is beautifully designed and decorated in traditional Moroccan style. We're sure you'll love the cosy, friendly atmosphere and it will be one of the most memorable stays on your journey in Morocco.
2 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch
Riad (2 nts)
Days 10-11 Marrakech
Board a local bus to Marrakech (approx 3 hrs).
Enjoy your final night with one of the world's most iconic 'real food' experiences - dinner in Djemm el fnaa, Marrakech's famous night-time street food bazarre. Set within a World Heritage listed square, a myriad of stalls sell all manner of Moroccan delicacies and is the perfect way to conclude this Real Food Adventure.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Hotel (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
- Real Food Adventure Morocco - Single Supplement (XMZF)
- Real Food Adventure - Galicia (ZWZG)
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Hotel (7 nts), Riad (2 nts), Guesthouse (1 nt)
10 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 1 Dinner
Private vehicle, Taxi, Train, Minibus, Public bus
59 Rue ibn Batouta
Quartier deb Omar (near Central Market)
Phone: 212 5 22 45 29 67
Joining point description
The Hotel Maamoura has 55 rooms equipped with air conditioning, television, Internet and 24 hours room service.
The hotel is located in central Casablanca approx 15 minutes from the train station, close to shops and restaurants.
Joining point instructions
Taxis are easy to locate from outside the airport for the 25 kilometre journey into Casablanca city centre. The Taxis are large Mercedes vehicles and have no meter. You need to agree on the price before you get in! The rate is MAD 250 (EUR 25) during daylight hours and MAD 300 after 8.00pm
Alternatively take a local train from the airport into the central station (Casablanca Voyageurs) and then take a taxi to the hotel. Trains run every hour from 6.00am until 10.00pm, take 35mins and cost MAD 30. From Casablanca Voyageurs Station take a Petit taxi to the hotel. You will have to negotiate the taxi fare before getting in! Aim to pay MAD 25.
The hotel is well known and located in the centre of town, a few streets away from Place du 16 Novembre. Don't believe any taxi driver that tries to tell you that it is closed or full.
Pre booked arrival transfer from the airport:
If you have pre booked an arrival transfer, the driver will be waiting for you at the information desk in Terminal 1 near the entrance to the train station. Your driver will be holding a board with your name on.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) please follow the instructions under the "Joining point instructions" in order to find our driver. Should you have any problems locating your driver, please call the number for our transfer company which can be found below. Should you continue to experience any difficulties, please call the emergency number for our local operations team which is available on the 'Emergency Contact' section of these trip notes.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
If you have any issues locating your driver please contact Travel Expert +212 661 315 626 or PEAK Adventure Travel’s Office on +212 (0) 66192 2693
Hotel Le Caspien
12, rue Loubnane
Phone: 212 52442 2282
Finish point description
Centrally located in the Gueliz district 5mins walk from Avenue Mohammed V, the Caspien hotel has 40 rooms all with en-suite bathrooms, A/C, TV, telephones. The hotel has a small swimming pool and 2 restaurants.
Finish point instructions
Marrakech Menara Airport is approx. 5km from the city centre. Petite taxis (small cars which are light brown in colour) can easily be hailed from the street, or ask the hotel to assist. Negotiate the fare before getting in and aim to pay no more than 100MAD (150MAD at night).
Departure from Casablanca:
For those of you that are flying out of Casablanca: Trains from Marrakech to Casablanca, depart on the hour every 2 hours between 5:00am and 9:00pm and cost EUR8 for 2nd class and EUR12 for 1st class. The trip is scheduled to take 3 hours & 10 minutes and is subject to frequent delays.
From Casablanca Voyageurs Station, trains run to the Casablanca airport every hour at 5 mins past the hour. First departure is at 5:00am and the last departure at 10:00pm. The trip takes 35 minutes. Check the useful website (in French) for more information - www.oncf.ma
Alternatively, from Casablanca city the 25km taxi ride to the Casablanca airport costs MAD250 (EUR25)
Pre booked departure transfer to the airport:
If you have pre booked a departure transfer, you will be collected from your hotel 2 hours prior to your flight.
Please reconfirm your departure transfers with your tour leader.
In case of flight cancellations, changes or if you not find the driver please contact to the emergency phone numbers: Desert Evasions: +212 (0) 6599 70989/ +212 (0) 6612 43106 or PEAK Adventure Travel on +212 (0) 66192 2693.
Carbon Offset C02-e 135.00 kgs per pax.