Highlights of Andalucia & Morocco

Highlights of Andalucia & Morocco

From $ 5,260 AUD

Description

Marvel at the sights, sounds and smells of Andalucia and Morocco on this 20-day cultural adventure. Feast on a variety of region-specific tapas, explore historic hilltop cities and bask in the laidback and friendly atmosphere, passing through Seville, Ronda and Granada. Admire the impressive Roman ruins of Volubilis, go behind the scenes of a film makers heaven in Ait Benhaddou, discover the dramatic red dunes of the Sahara Desert and stroll through the blue streets of Chefchaouen. Journey into Andalucia and Morocco’s heart through its food, religion, language and culture to better understand these exciting countries and passionate locals.

Trip Name
Highlights of Andalucia & Morocco
Last Updated
2019-07-24
Days
20
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Visit the spectacular mountain-top village of Zahara de la Sierra and enjoy an olive oil tasting at a local family-run mill.
  • Granada is a city like no other. Explore the outstanding Alhambra Palace, wander through the mythic Moorish quarter and feast on the city's world-renowned cuisine – all with the benefit of local knowledge.
  • Visit the grand Mosque of Hassan II in Casablanca, one of the most impressive temples in Morocco, before exploring the sights of the country's first imperial city of Meknes.
  • Stay in a traditional Berber homestay to understand the culture and tradition of an indigenous population who have stood the test of time.
  • Discover the dramatic red dunes of the Sahara Desert and spend the night camping under North African stars.

Itinerary

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Seville
Hola! Welcome to Seville. There are no activities planned for during the day, so you may arrive at any time before an important welcome meeting at 7 pm. If you do have time beforehand, take the opportunity to visit Barrio Santa Cruz – with its multicultural history, it is a great place to start. This neighbourhood was designed in medieval times to provide a shaded space from the Andalucian heat. After your welcome meeting, take an orientation walk around the close neighbourhood and then why not head out for a dinner with your group (at your own cost), where you’ll have a chance to sample some local tapas.
Day 2 - Seville
Have an easy morning before heading on a walking tour of Seville's finest sights. With the knowledge of your local leader to guide you, you will explore the maze of narrow cobblestoned streets and sun-speckled squares in Barrio Santa Cruz and El Centro. After the tour it is recommended to visit a Catedral de Sevilla – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the third largest cathedral in the world, housing Christopher Columbus’ elevated tomb. Another great site to visit is the lovely botanical gardens in Maria Luisa Park and the incomparable Plaza de Espana. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore the town. Visits to Seville's magnificent Alcazar Palace – one of the country’s most impressive and historic monuments and Giralda Tower are both highly recommended. Tonight, you can join the Sevillanos (Seville locals) and soak up the ambience of the city as it comes alive after dark. The locals usually dine late, so embrace the local schedule. Perhaps round off your evening with an optional flamenco show; your guide will offer you some history of this unique dance style.
Day 3 - Ronda
After breakfast, travel by private minibus to Ronda. This little town, perched on a mountaintop, is one of Spain's oldest villages, dating back to the 9th century BC. There is plenty to see and do in your free time today. Perhaps go for a walk into the picturesque gorge or along the Puente Nuevo, walk along a country path surrounding the town, visit a local museum, do some shopping, or simply relax, have a coffee and enjoy the small-town atmosphere. Your leader will provide you with a map and will point out their favourite hotspots before you set off on your own adventure. Later on, reconnect with the rest of your group and your leader for an alternative orientation walk. In the evening, you might like to enjoy some tapas and a glass of crisp Spanish beer in one of Ronda's lively local eateries.
Day 4 - Ronda - Grazalema
Today you will transfer by private minibus to Grazalema National Park. On your way, stop to explore the splendid village of Zahara de la Sierra. The awesome mountain-top location of this whitewashed village makes it visible for many kilometres. It's also known as the 'Moorish Eagle's Nest'. On this leader-led tour of Zahara you will walk up to a 15th-century watchtower and marvel at the spectacular views over the Zahara-Gastor Resevoir and the surrounding countryside. Also today you will visit Molino El Vinculo, a traditional, family-run ‘cold’ olive oil mill, and enjoy a tour of the factory and a tasting. Andalucia is the world's largest producer of olive oil, and the locals enjoy it at all times of the day. It is also the basis of Andalucia's most famous contribution to world gastronomy – gazpacho. From here it's a short drive (approximately 30 minutes) over the stunning Puerto de las Palomas (Dove Pass), high up in the sierras, to the village of Grazalema. Enjoy a drink and a snack before boarding your minibus and heading back to Ronda for the evening.
Day 5 - Ronda
Today is as clear as the blue Spanish skies in summer. You can choose your itinerary for today – your group leader will have a whole list of recommendations in Ronda and the surrounding area. Enjoy some easy scenic walks, taste the local wine, and enjoy the traditional food of the area. You are in the heart of Spain, after all, so take time to appreciate all its offerings!
Day 6 - Granada
After breakfast, continue to Granada by private minibus (approximately 3 hours). Along the way you will take in views of Andalucia’s rich and diverse landscapes. In Spring, you may still see snow on the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the distance as you approach Granada. Arrive in the city and walk through the historic Christian cathedral district to witness the Moorish influence first-hand. In the afternoon, there is the option to visit Granada Cathedral and the Royal Chapel (which contains the tombs of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand from the early 16th century). Alternatively, you can wander through the Alcaiceria (old silk market area). In the afternoon you will be taking part in an exclusive local produce tasting tour taking place in a small, family run delicatessen. You can expect to try different types of cheeses, hams and wine during this delicious tasting. In the evening, you may want to go out on a tapas tour of the city, through some of Granada’s lively squares beneath the Alhambra Palace. Granada does this style of food like no other city in Spain. Alternatively, head to one of the small flamenco taverns around the city and see how the art form here differs from Seville's version.
Day 7 - Granada
Today, visit Alhambra Palace, either in the morning or in the afternoon (depending on when you are booked for). Discover this 11th-century marvel and its dominating red fortress towers, palace decor, architectural styles and magnificent gardens. It's all set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. With fountains, impeccably maintained hedges and pools, centuries-old defensive walls, turrets, and views overlooking Granada, this renowned palace will not disappoint. After lunch, your leader will take you deeper into Granada’s Moorish Albaicin quarter and to the area of traditional tea houses. The view from this area across to the Alhambra Palace is not to be missed. Tonight, indulge in a group dinner in Granada, looking back on your Andalucian experiences.
Day 8 - Casablanca
Today you will transfer to Malaga in the late afternoon and take an included flight to Casablanca. A late lunch in Granada is recommended as you will be travelling during dinnertime. You will not be escorted by your Spanish tour leader on the transfer and the flight, so please note flight and boarding guidelines at the time of booking. On arrival at Casablanca Airport late this evening, you will be met by our Moroccan representative and transferred to your hotel. You will meet your Moroccan tour leader for a briefing tomorrow morning.
Day 9 - Casablanca/Rabat/Meknes
After breakfast today, Casablanca beckons. Take a 45-minute guided tour of the Hassan II Mosque and understand why this is considered the ‘diamond’ of the city. Completed in 1993, this architectural masterpiece has a retractable roof, heated glass floors which look over the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the most impressive religious monuments in the world. Hassan II Mosque can accommodate 25,000 worshippers and is one of the only religious sites open to non-Muslims. Next, it's about a 1.5-hour drive to the capital of Rabat. Rabat's history is long and colourful, having been host to Roman settlements, pirates and more recently the Moroccan parliament. It contains numerous fine Arab monuments, some dating from the 10th to 15th century Almohad and Merenid dynasties, and others that are far older. Start your visit with a walk through the Medina and Souks, then explore the lovely walled quarter known as the Kasbah des Oudaias and enjoy an included local drink. Afterwards, continue the walk to visit Mohamed the 5th Mausoleum the vast minaret of the Hassan Mosque. In the late afternoon, travel to Meknes (approximately 2 hours), the former capital of Morocco, where you’ll spend the night.
Day 10 - Meknes/Volubilis/Chefchaouen
Today enjoy a morning tour of Meknes and discover the charming streets of the old medina. From the northern gate of Bab Berdaine, walk to the shrine of Moulay Ismail – who turned Meknes from a provincial town to an imperial city in the 17th century – then explore the elaborately decorated public buildings hidden in these winding streets, including the granary of Mouly Ismail and the old souk. Next, drive to the nearby archaeological site of Volubilis, the remains of which make an undeniably impressive sight as they come into view on the edge of a long, high plateau. Enjoy a tour of the ancient hilltop ruins with a local guide, and discover the town’s fantastic mosaics along the Decumanus Maximus, many of which remain intact. Afterwards, make the 3-hour drive to Chefchaouen, or the ‘blue city’, which is arguably one of the prettiest places in Morocco. Set against a wide valley and nestled between two peaks in the stunning Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen may take you by surprise. Its medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, red-tiled roofs and artistic doorways. Much of Chefchaouen was recreated by Andalusian refugees escaping the Reconquista, so you might feel like you're in the hills of Spain while exploring its streets. Ease into the relaxed pace of life in this rural retreat. Take an orientation walk with your leader through the ancient medina and shop for handicrafts, or simply sit at a cafe and enjoy the pleasure of time passing by. If you're feeling peckish, the goats' cheese on offer is a popular treat enjoyed by many visitors.
Day 11 - Fes
Enjoy free morning to further discover Chefchaouen. Take another stroll around the streets and search for your favourite shade of blue. Then perhaps enjoy lunch before boarding our private minibus on a long journey to Fes (approximately 4 hours) for the night. The living museum of Fes has disputable origins, some believe its origins come from ancient Greece, other claim it comes from the Balkans. Nevertheless, the city is a best example of medieval Arab world, and you are soon to find out more of its past and modern times. After checking in your hotel in late afternoon, perhaps enjoy a memorable dinner of one of the city’s signature dishes, the salty and sweet pastille.
Day 12 - Fes
Today you will discover the city of Fes, the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco – vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming – a visual and pungent feast for the senses. Head into the old city, known locally as Fes el Bali, arguably the world's most fascinating and confounding old city. Medieval Fes was one of the world's great centres of education and culture, both Islamic and Jewish. Its religious institutions and libraries are legendary, its mosques of great renown. Walk through the twisting streets and alleyways, passing donkeys piled high with goods, and explore the specialty sections that divide the souk. Filled with historic khans, medressen and dye pits, stalls loaded with fruits, herbs and soups, and where the squawk of chickens, smell of spice and sound of hammering of copper fills the air, it’s not hard to imagine yourself back in the Middle Ages. Spend the day exploring the old city, visiting Medersa el Attarine, the tanneries and the splendid Fondouk Nejjarine, a beautifully restored 18th century inn. Return to your hotel in the late afternoon and perhaps spend the evening relaxing in this calming oasis, away from the buzz of the medina.
Day 13 - Midelt
Today, leave the intensity of the city behind for the simplicity of the High Atlas Mountains. Drive south, inland through a variety of spectacular scenery – fertile valleys, cedar and pine forests and barren, rocky landscapes – to the small town of Midelt (approximately 3.5 hours). Midelt is a market town, originally built as a base for mining in the area and is nestled between the Atlas and Anti-Atlas Mountains at an elevation of just over 1500 metres. It's a perfect spot to break up the journey to the Sahara and is a great base for some easy walks. Many of the locals are Berber, and the town can offer an insight into their way of life. After lunch, stretch your legs for a few hours on an easy hike in the nearby hills. Be prepared for some astonishing views of the Atlas Mountains, with snowy peaks almost touching the sky. Wander through plantations of apple trees on the way back to your accommodation for a relaxing evening, resting up before the Sahara tomorrow.
Day 14 - Merzouga (Sahara Camp)
This morning there's little bit of time to relax before hitting the road again. Drive through changing scenery, from barren mountainsides to fertile valleys, on the journey to Merzouga. With a backdrop of the orange-coloured Erg Chebbi sand dunes, the charming Saharan village of Merzouga feels wonderfully isolated, like the modern world has left it behind. The Erg Chebbi dunes are the most stunning in the country and an essential part of any visit to Morocco. An erg is a vast sea of shifting wind-swept sand that's formed into picturesque, undulating crests and valleys. The Erg Chebbi is one of the world's iconic landscapes, with towering dunes up to 150 metres in height. Located at the end of a sealed road and just 20 kilometres from the Algerian border this really feels like frontier country. You will leave your gear at your overnight camp set next to a simple hotel and then ride camels into the edge of the Sahara Desert, enjoying a spectacular sunset along the way. The dunes are stunning, especially as the evening light plays across them and sets off the colours. Tonight you will camp out in traditional style, with the chance to try some fantastic local cuisine while you sit around an open fire, enjoying lively music and dancing under the stars.
Day 15 - Todra Gorge/Dades Valley/M'Goun Valley
Enjoy a real Lawrence of Arabia moment this morning with yet another camel ride, this time for an unforgettable sunrise across the desert. After breakfast drive to Todra Gorge (approximately 4 hours), a massive trench that rises over 250 metres to form one of the most dramatic and spectacular natural sights in Morocco. The limestone stacks make a perfect area for trekking, and so today you will take a short walk through the sheer cliffs. Continue your journey inland for tonight’s destination, M’goun (approximately 2 hours). You will get closer to the customs and lifestyle of the Berber this evening with the night spent in a traditional Berber house.
Day 16 - M'Goun Valley
You have a full day to explore the beauty of this largely untouched Moroccan backcountry. On foot is the best way to discover the natural and man-made landscape and the rural way of life. There are a couple of circuits to choose from, but the most popular choice, and the one we recommend, is a 10-kilometre circuit that will take about 4 hours. Accompanied by a local guide, you’ll walk a trail that undulates slightly here and there, but isn't too challenging if you have a basic level of fitness. On the walk you'll pass Berber villages, meeting local Berbers along the way and perhaps having a chance to share a cup of mint tea with some of them. The surrounding mountains and the famous Rose Valley make a sensational setting.
Day 17 - Skoura/Ait Benhaddou
Leaving the M'goun Valley today, set off on the fabled ‘Road of 1000 Kasbahs’. The first stop is at Skoura Oasis (after approximately 2 hours), home to several privately owned kasbahs. Here you’ll visit the Kasbah Ameridhl, with its extravagant decorations and mud-brick fortifications before continuing on your journey to Ait Benhaddou (approximately 2 hours). Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco's most iconic sites. If you think you recognise the place, you probably do, as the town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Enjoy a walk through the winding streets of the old town, making your way to the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy the views across the surrounding plains. After heading to your nearby hotel for the night, maybe sit back on the roof top terrace and watch the sun setting over the magical Kasbah.
Day 18 - Marrakech
Today you will drive for several hours through the winding roads of the Atlas, bound for Marrakech, an ancient, exotic city wrapped in European modernity. There’s no rush as the scenery through the High Atlas Mountain passes is magnificent, and there will surely be calls for several photo stops along the way. After checking in to your hotel, you might like to head to the great square of Jemaa el Fna, one of the largest public spaces in the world and unique to Marrakech. When night falls it transforms into a hive of activity. Henna painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies. Perhaps finish your day with a cup of tea on one of the roof-top restaurants overlooking the square.
Day 19 - Marrakech
After breakfast today, meet your local guide and set off on a morning tour of the old medina, through the bustling souks that are the lifeblood flowing through the city. Explore tranquil courtyards filled with the scent of orange blossom, and the many salons and chambers that make up Bahia Palace. This splendid mansion was built in 1866 for a former slave who rose to power within the government. Continue to the Marrakech Museum, itself a former palace, which houses a fine collection of Moroccan art and sculpture. Stop by the Koutoubia Mosque, its famous minaret is the prototype for others of its kind around the world, including La Giralda in Seville. Then walk back through the streets of the old medina to the Jemaa el Fna to enjoy a refreshing glass of fresh orange juice. The rest of the day is free to explore further or shop in the bazaar. Perhaps visit the tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle or check out the ruins of the Palais Badi, once one of the most beautiful palaces in the world. Otherwise, you might like to head back into the medina, where every step brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. Watch skilled artisans perfect their craft, practice 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.
Day 20 - Marrakech
There are no activities planned after breakfast so, if you have time, why not immerse yourself in a cooking masterclass with a local guide. Journey through the souks of Marrakech and shop for the best ingredients before learning the insider tricks on how to create a deliciously authentic tagine in a classic riad setting, while getting to know the family that live there. Take home the recipe and recreate your memories of Morocco at the dinner table. To find out more about ‘Tajine Cookery Class’, visit urbanadventures.com.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
25-04-202014-05-2020AUD $ 5,260-
16-05-202004-06-2020AUD $ 5,260-
06-06-202025-06-2020AUD $ 5,260-
04-07-202023-07-2020AUD $ 5,260-
22-08-202010-09-2020AUD $ 5,260-
05-09-202024-09-2020AUD $ 5,260-
19-09-202008-10-2020AUD $ 5,260-
26-09-202015-10-2020AUD $ 5,260-

Accommodation

Hotel (13 nights),Desert camp (1 night),Gite (2 nights),Riad (3 nights)

Transport

Private vehicle,taxi,plain

Map