Moroccan Discovery
From the Imperial Cities to the Sahara

This land of dramatic contrasts invites us to encounter its ancient ruins and sacred mosques, endless desert and storied mountains, imposing kasbahs and spirited souks. As we travel from the imperial cities of Rabat, Fez, and Marrakech to the High Atlas and vast Sahara, we open our eyes, and hearts, to a truly foreign land, an age-old culture, and genuinely hospitable people.

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Dates: November 19 – December 2, 2024

Please note, all prices are for a standard, double room unless listed otherwise.

Land Only: $4,695

From San Francisco*: $6,079

Single Supplement: $1,495 (additional cost)

*Other cities listed on brochure, which can be downloaded on the overview tab of this trip. Airline prices are subject to change, and airline upgrades will be additional to the costs listed above.

Your Tour Price Includes:

  • Exclusive departure for the University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Small group size limited to 24 guests
  • Round-trip air transportation from listed cities
  • 12 nights’ accommodations in listed properties
  • 31 meals: 12 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 11 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described in day-by-day itinerary, including all entrance fees
  • Services of a dedicated Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout the trip
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers


If you would like to reserve your place on the Morocco tour, fill out the reservation form on the back of the trip brochure and email it to IEtravel@ucsc.edu.

On receipt of your signed reservation form and deposit, we will, subject to availability, reserve your place on your trip.



Travel Dates: November 19 – December 2, 2024

Tuesday, November 19, 2024

This evening we depart the US for Morocco.

Wednesday, November 20, 2024

Upon arrival this afternoon in Casablanca, the commercial center of Morocco, we transfer by coach to Rabat and our hotel located near famed Hassan Tower. We have time to relax and refresh before dinner tonight at the hotel.

Accommodations: La Tour Hassan, Rabat


Thursday, November 21, 2024

One of Morocco’s four ancient capitals, or imperial cities, Rabat is again the ­country’s capital, at once historic and contemporary, as we discover on today’s tour. We visit the necropolis of Chellah, built on ancient Roman ruins, and the Mohammed VI contemporary art museum then have lunch in a private home. On tap this afternoon: the 12th-century Kasbah of the Oudaias, the peaceful Andalusian Gardens, and Rabat’s medina, a UNESCO site. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner of traditional Moroccan fare at acclaimed Dinarjat in Rabat’s Old Town.

Accommodations: La Tour Hassan, Rabat


Friday, November 22, 2024

This ­morning we depart Rabat for Fez, stopping along the way in Meknes, Morocco’s youngest imperial city (and UNESCO World Heritage site). Here we visit the Dar Jamai Museum, housing a collection of traditional Moroccan ceramics, jewelry, textiles, metalwork, and cedarwood crafts. Then we continue on to the ancient Roman ruins at the UNESCO site of Volubilis, known for its intricate and colorful mosaics. Late afternoon we reach Fez and our elegant hotel overlooking the medina.

Accommodations: Hotel Sahrai, Fez


Saturday, November 23, 2024

Today we explore Morocco’s oldest imperial city, considered the “Athens of Africa” for its wealth of cultural, educational, and religious institutions. We begin with a comfortable walk through the Fez medina, where we see some hidden treasures, including the Blue Gate, the most picturesque of the Old City’s historic gates; the medieval school of Bouanania; the 12th-century home of Jewish scholar Maimonides; and the authentic food market. We also visit the traditional quarter where we watch artisans craft the acclaimed Fez pottery and ceramics. After lunch together in the medina, we tour the old Mellah (Jewish quarter) and its 17th-century synagogue and the royal gates.

Accommodations: Hotel Sahrai, Fez


Sunday, November 24, 2024

We begin today with a visit to the Al-Attarine Madrasa, whose highlight is a small courtyard showcasing intricately detailed tilework and carving decorations dating to the early 1300s. We then continue our discovery on a walking tour of the medina focusing on the artisans’ quarters, the 14th-century Koranic schools, and Al Karaouine, the medieval theological university. The remainder of the afternoon is free for independent exploration and lunch on our own. Tonight, we enjoy a private dinner at an intimate family-run riad in Fez.

Accommodations: Hotel Sahrai, Fez


Monday, November 25, 2024

Traveling inland today, we cross the fertile plains beyond Fez and continue through the Middle Atlas mountain range. We stop in the small town of Midelt for lunch. Continuing on we cross the Ziz River, passing rows of sky-scraping palm trees and fortified villages before reaching our kasbah-style hotel in Erfoud late in the day. Dinner tonight is at our hotel.

Accommodations: Le Palais du Desert, Erfoud


Tuesday, November 26, 2024

This morning we visit the city of Rissani, with its 18th-century ksar, a virtually impenetrable warren of alleys. We enjoy a tour highlight this afternoon as we set out on a sunset excursion to the breathtakingly beautiful sand dunes at Merzouga on the edge of the Sahara. In the enormous silence we watch the sun set over the desert as we take a camel ride along the erg. Following this experience, we’ll have dinner together in this desert setting before returning to our hotel tonight.

Accommodations: Le Palais du Desert, Erfoud


Wednesday, November 27, 2024

Our destination today is in the snow-topped High Atlas. The day features one beautiful scene after another, including the village of Tinehir, a stunning mountain oasis rising on a series of riverside terraces lush with palm trees; and the spectacular 984-foot Todra Gorge, home to a variety of rare bird and plant species. Following lunch here we visit El Kelaa des Mgouna, known for its roses, then set out on the fabled “Route of a Thousand Kasbahs” ancient caravan route, a region of fortresses with elaborately decorated façades. Late afternoon we reach the town of Ouarzazate (the “door of the desert”) where we spend the night.

Accommodations: Le Berbere Palace, Ouarzazate


Thursday, November 28, 2024

En route to Marrakech today, we stop first at uninhab­ited Ait ben-Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of southern Morocco’s most scenic villages that is often used as a location for fashion and film shoots. Its old section consists of deep red kasbahs packed together so tightly they appear to be a single unit. Then as we begin our descent from the High Atlas, we pass through typical villages with fortified walls and stone houses with earthen roofs. In Tizi N’Tichka, we traverse the Pass of the Pastures (alt. 7,415 feet), where life is much as it was centuries ago: shepherds bring their flocks to the high pastures every summer, then return with them to their villages in autumn. We arrive in Marrakech late this afternoon and dine tonight at our hotel.

Accommodations: Sofitel Marrakech, Marrakech


Friday, November 29, 2024

Once the capital of southern Morocco, the imperial city of Marrakech is an allur­ing oasis with a temperate climate, distinct charm, and fascinating sights. Our day-long tour includes the beautifully proportioned Koutoubia Mosque with its distinctive 282-foot minaret visible from miles away; the lovely Andalusian-style El Bahia Palace (part of which is still used by the royal family); and the ruins of 16th-century Palais El Badii. After lunch at our hotel, mid-afternoon we embark on a walk­ing tour of the medina, ending at Djemaa el Fna Squ­are, a UNESCO site and the heart of Marrakech, crowded with snake charm­ers, ­entertainers, story­tellers, musicians, barbers, and sellers of fruit, water, and spices. Dinner tonight is on our own in this exotic city.

Accommodations: Sofitel Marrakech, Marrakech


Saturday, November 30, 2024

This morning we travel by horse-drawn carriage from Menara Park to Majorelle Gardens, a private botanical garden with some 15 species of birds native to North Africa and known for its cobalt blue accents. Following a tour of the gardens we visit the nearby Yves St. Laurent Museum, housing a vast collection of the designer’s haute couture and design works. The afternoon is at leisure before dinner tonight at a local restaurant in the city’s Old Town.

Accommodations: Sofitel Marrakech, Marrakech


Sunday, December 1, 2024

We leave Marra­kech this morning by coach for storied Casablanca, Morocco’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. After a brief orientation tour of the city, we visit the magnificent Hassan II Mosque, Morocco’s only functioning mosque open to non-Muslims. Sitting on the Atlantic shoreline, the mosque boasts a prayer hall the size of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. Tonight we celebrate our Moroccan adventure at a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodations: Hyatt Regency Casablanca, Casablanca


Monday, December 2, 2024

After breakfast this morning we transfer to the airport for our return flight to the U.S.


B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Please Note

Local Conditions and Physical Activity

We will do our best to adhere to our printed itinerary. Occasionally, though, unexpected obstacles – and opportunities – may arise that will force us to deviate from the itinerary as written. We would ask you to be open-minded and flexible should we vary the itinerary slightly. In addition, please note that airline schedules are subject to change. We will provide you with updated flight information closer to your departure. Additionally, this trip involves considerable walking on uneven or cobblestone streets and at sites of ancient ruins, and you should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to the fullest.

Audio Devices

Odysseys Unlimited provides state-of-the-art audio headsets for all guests to use on this tour. These devices enable you to hear the commentary offered by your tour director or guide during visits to museums, historic sites, and other stops on your tour where crowds may make it difficult to hear. They also allow you to stay a few steps behind as your group moves forward. Please note that a limited number of hearing aid-compatible headsets will be available as well.


Your UC Santa Cruz Study Leader 

Dr. Alma Heckman

Dr. Alma Rachel Heckman is the Neufeld-Levin Chair of Holocaust Studies and Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She specializes in modern Jewish history of North Africa and the Middle East with an interest in citizenship, political transformations, transnationalism, and empire. Her first book is The Sultan’s Communists: Moroccan Jews and the Politics of Belonging (Stanford University Press, 2021).

La Tour Hassan, Rabat / Days 2-3 / Superior First Class

Dating to 1914, the 140-room La Tour Hassan represents Rabat’s last surviving hotel to be constructed using traditional Moorish-Andalusian design. The citadel-style hotel stands inside a fortress wall at the center of the city and features three restaurants, one bar, Internet access, laundry service, fitness center with Jacuzzi, sauna, solarium, and outdoor pool. Air-conditioned rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Hotel Sahrai, Fez / Days 4-6 / Deluxe

Opened in 2014, Hotel Sahrai is a contemporary hotel located on the southern hills overlooking the Fez medina, and a short drive from this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Designed to resemble the architectural layout of the medina, the 50-room boutique hotel features a restaurant and bar, fitness center, Jacuzzi, spa with massage treatments, sauna, steam room, outdoor pool, tennis court, terrace, and laundry and dry cleaning services. Air-conditioned guest rooms offer private bath with hair dryer, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, mini-bar, in-room safe, TV, and phone.

Le Palais du Desert, Erfoud / Days 7-8 / First Class

Set on the outskirts of the city of Erfoud, this 44-room kasbah-style hotel offers a traditional Moroccan desert setting surrounding a courtyard.  The hotel features two restaurants and bar, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, laundry/dry cleaning services, full spa, health center, and an outdoor swimming pool.  Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hairdryer, minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, TV, and phone. Please note that, while this hotel represents the best of accommodations in this somewhat remote region, you may find the level of quality and service here somewhat lower than at other sites on your tour.

Le Berbere Palace, Ouarzazate / Day 9 / Superior First Class

A traditional Moroccan-style hotel, the Berbere Palace offers guests a host of contemporary amenities including two restaurants, two bars, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, fitness center, swimming pool, sauna, Turkish bath, tennis courts, terraced garden, and library. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Sofitel Marrakech, Marrakech / Days 10-12 / Deluxe

Sitting on the edge of the city at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains and within easy reach of the Medina and Jamma el Fna Square, the Sofitel boasts three restaurants and a bar; Internet access; laundry and dry cleaning services; ATM; fitness center with gym, Jacuzzi, sauna, and solarium; Turkish bath; and two outdoor pools. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, terrace or balcony, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Hyatt Regency Casablanca, Casablanca / Day 13 / Deluxe

This 255-room hotel is conveniently situated in the center of Casablanca in United Nations Square, close to the Old Medina, Habous Quarter, and the central market. The hotel has multiple restaurants and lounges; spa; fitness center with sauna, steam room, and massage treatments; unheated outdoor swimming pool; squash courts and beach volleyball court; boutiques; and laundry and dry cleaning services. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, phone, and internet access.

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