Day 1 UK - Marrakech
Today you'll fly to Marrakech, a North African gem and one of Morocco's most vibrant cities. On arrival, we'll transfer you to your hotel, where after time to settle in, we'll gather together for a drink before dinner this evening.Meals included: D
Day 2 Marrakech
We'll get to know Marrakech during our sightseeing tour starting at the 19th century Bahia Palace. Located in the medina and set over two acres, it boasts 150 rooms including a harem section, as well as colourfully tiled courtyards and gardens. Other highlights include a visit to the Saadien Tombs. The resting place of the former royal dynasty of Morocco was lost for many years, and resdiscovered by archaeologists in 1917. Our final call this morning is at the Dar Si Said Museum, housed inside an opulent palace and home to the Museum of Moroccan Art.
This afternoon, you can either return to the hotel and relax, or stay with the group and visit Djemaa el Fna Square. Here we'll wander the labyrinth of lively souks where snake charmers, fortune-tellers and acrobats put on an amazing show for the thronging crowds. Why not try out your bartering skills at stalls selling everything from traditional carpets and hand-crafted pottery to leatherwear and aromatic spices.
Day 3 Atlas Mountains
We'll head to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains today. As we travel through the heart of Berber country, we'll pass the picturesque village of Tahanaout, whose red-hued buildings blend in perfectly with its mountainside location.
We'll also enjoy lovely views during lunch at La Roseraie, an authentic Moroccan retreat surounded by the Atlas Mountains, lush forests and olive groves. Excellent facilities here include an outdoor swimming pool and lovely garden, and there's time to enjoy them if the weather is in our favour before we head back to the hotel.
Day 4 Christmas Eve, Marrakech
If you enjoy cooking, or are keen to pick up tips, you'll love today's included excursion. We're going to head to a nearby restaurant where we'll take part in a cookery lesson. We'll learn to make some Moroccan specialities and then we'll sample what we've created.
Afterwards, we'll visit the Majorelle Garden, an oasis of exotic flora in the heart of Marrakech.
Day 5 Christmas Day, Ourika Valley
Today is Christmas Day, and we'll begin our celebrations with a tour of the beautiful Ourika Valley. Nestling in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, this picturesque destination offers a feast for the eyes with Berber hamlets scattered amidst a landscape of lush olive groves, towering palms and meandering rivers.
We'll stop our sightseeing for lunch in La Kasbah de l'Ourika, which boasts a hilltop position and offers stunning views of the valley and the mountains.
We'll arrive back at the hotel in time to get ready for a fabulous festive dinner.
Day 6 Boxing Day, Marrakech - at Leisure
You can spend today just as you wish, whether that's enjoying the facilities at your hotel or exploring Marrakech further with your travelling companions.
This evening you're invited to join an optional folklore show and dinner at the Chez Ali Restaurant. Entertainment comes in the shape of traditional dancing, music and acrobatics performed in Berber tents, while dinner is a feast of Moroccan specialities.
Day 7 Essaouira
After breakfast we're going to head to the charming walled seaside town of Essaouira, located on the Atlantic coast. As we drive, look out for endemic argan trees laden with fruit from which the precious commodity argan oil is derived. For centuries this has been used not only for culinary purposes but also in beauty rituals, and today it's a key ingredient in many shampoos and moisturisers. Many argan co-operatives also line the route leading to Essaouira, where women grind the fruit kernels by hand to produce the coveted oil.
Once in this UNESCO-listed town, you're free to explore at leisure before we enjoy a seafood lunch. Maybe take a stroll along the medina's ramparts or on the broad stretches of sandy beach. You could hunt for souvenirs amongst narrow alleyways lined with artisan workshops, or head to the port to watch the day's catch as it's brought in by fishermen.
Day 8 Marrakech - UK
We'll transfer to the airport for our flight back to the UK.