Magical Jewish Morocco from 23rd February 2018
13 days and 12 nights includes desert extension
From Friday 23 February to Wednesday 7 March 2018 visiting Marrakesh, Ourika Valley, Essaouira, Casablanca, Rabat, Volubilis, Fez plus the lower and higher Atlas mountains and wonderful desert experiences that will stay long in the memory including the exquisite 5* hotel locations selected for this trip…………..
We will explore the fascinating past of the Jewish community, with its varied roots – Berber and Spanish – and its French affiliations. We will learn about its religion, culture, and customs and enjoy an unforgettable Purim celebration with the remaining community. We will also visit other key sites of beauty and historical interest. We will stay in excellent hotels, including a traditional riad, and have some stunning meals and experiences, including a 3-hour magical camel ride over Sahara at sunset, together with unique Moroccan cooking experience at the famous Maison Arab Riad in Marrakech.
INTRODUCTION TO OUR EXCEPTIONAL GUIDE IN MOROCCO MR RAFI ELMALEH written a book entitled Jews Under Morrocan skies worth purchasing ahead of the trip
Returned from Israel to live in Casablanca, Rafi is a Moroccan Jewish tour guide specialising in the 2,000 year history of Morocco's Jews. Rafi is at the forefront of an effort to preserve Morocco's Jewish heritage and keep the memory of former Jewish Moroccan communities alive. You will learn and see his relentless efforts on the trip through Jewish sites around the country and his discovery of numerous exciting artefacts displayed in the Casablanca Jewish museum he has helped to create. A captivating speaker, he enthrals his listeners with remarkable stories and inspirational anecdotes. He is very entertaining and makes the tour a joyful and rewarding experience.
Day 1: Friday 23rd February 2018 We recommend the EasyJet flight at 7.40am from Gatwick to Marrakech where we will be met by our guide Raffi Elmaleh and our transport will take us to our lovely Ksar Anika Riad (above) in the Mellah Jewish quarter, for a buffet lunch followed by visit to the Bahia Palace, Synagogue and cemetery. For those who wish attend, there will be a Shabbat service at the Synagogue just five minutes’ walk from our beautiful Ksar Anika riad where we will return for our kosher Shabbat meal.
Day 2: Saturday 24th FREE DAY though you might like to join the Synagogue service nearour riad and our Shabbat lunch with Moroccan cholent is included. You may also like to visit the Yves St Laurent Gardens or stroll around the medina market. Evening free.
Day 3: Sunday 25th We leave at 9am for a day trip to the Ourika Valley to see the waterfalls and then to spend time in a typical Berber Village where our guide Raffi introduces us the to the Berber family with whom he lived for some time doing research into Jewish life in the valley. Evening meal at the renowned Pepe Nero restaurant which offers a choice of Moroccan and Italian dishes, including wonderful fish dishes.
Day 4: Monday 26th We make a day trip to the unique coastal town of Essaouira, that once had the highest percentage of Jewish inhabitants in Morocco, where we see beautiful Cahim Pinto Synagogue in the Jewish quarter and the cemetery against the harbour wall. We have a BBQ fish lunch in the harbour, amongst the seagulls, and have time to stroll through the picturesque streets and visit the book/antique shop run by Essaouira’s last Jew. Buffet supper at our Riad.
Day 5: Tuesday 27th Experience either an afternoon or morning cooking course with the essence of Moroccan cuisine at the well-known Riad Arab with a spice market visit before making a meal in your own cooking work station culminating in returning in the evening to eat your own food, with Moroccan wine included, around a swimming pool.
Day 6: Wednesday 28th We check out of our Riad in Marrakesh and travel to Casablanca by coach. There we drive through the verdant suburbs with their impressive white villas, visit the Jewish Museum where Rafi is a passionate guide to its engaging display of the rich Jewish life which existed throughout the country, and on to the French Colonial style city centre. Then to the Jewish quarter where we walk through the street of seven shuls (where Rafi gives an entertaining account of the 6 he does not go to!), visit the kosher bakery where we have a chance to sample the local Purim style goodies, and then visit impressive Beth el Synagogue and one of the many Jewish clubs. We check in at Le Casablanca hotel (to be confirmed). At 4.30pm we go to a Synagogue on the Corniche to join the community’s Megillah reading and Purim Party – where one wonderful dish follows another – and we join in the community in dancing and watching the entertainment provided by their younger members. We will stay in a new 5* hotel In Casablanca called LE CASABANCA Hotel overnight in a quiet neighbourhood that has a 80% excellent review on trip adviser
Day 7: Thursday 1st March – We drive to Rabat where we climb to the picturesque fortress overlooking the once Portuguese port and stroll through its gardens. We walk through the narrow streets of the mellah and see the synagogue and then visit the sumptuous King Mohammed V Mausoleum next to an imposing minaret and remains of an uncompleted medieval mosque. Then we visit the new and impressive National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, afterwards checking in at our lovely Sofitel hotel. Fish dinner at a restaurant near the sea near our Fabulous Sofitel Hotel In Rabat
Day 8: Friday 2 March Leave to visit Meknes. This is another of the Imperial Cities. Here we visit a colourful spice market and see the mellah which once contained 11 Synagogues and visit a former Talmud Torah. Then we make our way tto he famous royal stables (below), once home to 15,000 Arabian horses. Then we drive to the well-preserved ruins of Roman Volubilis (also below)
We arrive at the Hotel Palais Medina in Fez [3 nights] and we then proceed to our Shabbat meal at the community’s Maimionides club, Chez Max.
Day 9: Saturday 3 March Free day to either explore world's biggest Medina or shop or relax by the pool or visit the modern city and its wide boulevards or Visit Synagogue in morning
Day 10: Sunday 4 March We spend the day in old Fez visiting the extraordinary Jewish cemetery in the Mellah, hear the legend of Salika, visit the Ibn Dayan shul and another newly renovated Synagogue plus mikva. We then walk through the biggest medina in the world, home to the first university long before Oxford & Cambridge were even thought of. We visit the famous tannery (below) and lunch in the mellah before continuing the tour of the Medina, visiting local artisans. Before returning to our hotel we visit a park on a hill above the city of Fez to view the extraordinary size of the Medina - Evening we visit the beautiful Synagogue in the modern part of town after dinner at the Maimonides club.
Day 11: Monday 5 March – Leave early to drive over the magnificent lower and upper Atlas mountain ranges stopping at gorges and to feed the monkeys on route. We reach our Xalacu Tamboctou hotel in time to go Laurence of Arabia style into the beautiful talcum powder sand dunes for unforgettable experience of sunset the night sky with shooting stars and wonder at the incredible universe in all is glory.
Day 12: Tuesday 6 March – Leave early to see the sunrise drive over the magnificent lower and upper Atlas mountain again ranges towards Marrakesh but this time arriving in Quarazate luxury desert Hotel Berber Palace where the actors who filmed Gladiators stayed when they were filming, visiting mini Hollywood site before relaxing in beautiful hotel grounds before final night meal in the hotel restaurant.
Day 13: Wednesday 7 March – Leave hotel Berber Palace to arrive at Marrakech airport in time for flight back to the UK.
Sharing a double or twin room £2,195 per person, single supplement £995 covers excellent hotels bed and breakfast most meals all transport, Raffi as guide throughout together with all museum fees and misc. costs
Excludes air fares, holiday insurance which is vital
DO NOT BOOK FLIGHTS TILL TRIP IS CONFIRMED WITH 10 BOOKINGS – Please send £200 deposit per person to confirm place on the trip [refunded if trip does not take place]
Flights (and therefore time of arrival at airport) to be agreed by group in advance once trip is confirmed with necessary number