After you travel to Morocco on the main trip, spend time exploring Essaouira. Known as “the pearl of the kingdom,” Essaouira boasts an exceptionally temperate climate, beautiful whitewashed neighborhoods, ornate architecture, a splendid medina, and a host of artisans’ workshops and colorful markets. Much of Essaouira’s magic comes from its artistic influence—inspired by the city’s tranquility, beauty, and splendid light.
- It's Included:
- Accommodations for 3 nights in Essaouira and 1 night in Casablanca
- 8 meals—4 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners
- 1 small group activity
- Services of our own resident OAT Trip Leader, who speaks English and the native language
- NEW for 2015: Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
- All transfers
This morning we leave Marrakesh, enjoying an included lunch en route to Essaouira, which extends from the massive historic fortifications of the old city to a long, magnificent beach on the shoreline. Offshore in the distance lies Mogador, also known as the Îles Purpuraires (Purple Islands). The ancient Romans who occupied this area used the island’s resources for creating a dye that colored their togas purple, thus giving the islands their name.
We dine with our fellow travelers at our hotel in Essaouira this evening.
Enjoy a guided tour of Essaouira this morning, discovering its narrow lanes, artisans' workshops, and bustling fishing harbor. We'll enter the city's medina—a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of white-washed houses with cheerily painted blue doors—perhaps catching the pungent scent of freshly caught sardines grilling in the open air and glimpsing dormant cannons standing guard over the fishing fleets on the wharf.
We’ll stroll through winding, narrow alleyways that make up the city’s square and watch as craftsmen carve ornate trinkets and boxes of lemonwood, briarwood, and mother of pearl inlay. Here you may notice the Star of David on some of the town’s walls. We’ll also visit a series of commanding forts built along the seafront that are a mixture of Portuguese, French, and Berber military architecture.
This afternoon, you may continue exploring Essaouira at your own pace, and enjoy dinner on your own.
You have today at leisure to make your own discoveries in Essaouira. Some travelers find the city to be like a more relaxed version of Marrakesh. Another more formal title is “Windy City, Africa,” given to Essaouira because of the profusion of windsurfers who flock to its shores to take advantage of the powerful gusts off the Atlantic—you might see some if you choose to stroll the beach today. Elsewhere on the coastal side of town, you can take in impressive views from the seaside bastion of Skala de Ville, a favorite place for watching the sunset.
You might visit the city’s small museum, which displays historic jewelry, costumes, weapons, and tapestries, or go shopping in the medina. For lunch and dinner on your own, choose among many fine restaurants—seafood, in particular, is a local specialty.
Or join us on an optional tour to learn about the making of Argan oil—a process that begins with tree-climbing goats! The Argan tree, which is native to Morocco and Algeria, produces a plum-like fruit with a pit or nut in the center. The goats have adapted to climb the thorny, gnarled branches of the tree to eat the fruit, but cannot digest the center, and it is from this "nut" that Argan oil is made. We'll walk through countryside groves of Argan trees with cameras poised, ready for a photo of these unusual animals before stopping at a nearby village for a colorful Berber market. Then we'll visit a local womens' cooperative that specializes in Argan production to learn how this useful oil is made. We'll even sample some ourselves when we sit down with a local family to a lunch cooked in—what else?—Argan oil.
After breakfast today, we ride back to Casablanca by a different route through the Moroccan countryside than the one we took on our way to Essaouira. We pause en route for lunch in the village of Sidi Bouzid and arrive at our hotel in the late afternoon. We dine at our hotel this evening and have free time to explore Casablanca tonight.
We enjoy breakfast at our hotel this morning before transferring to the airport for our flight to the U.S.