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Fes & Ifrane National Park

Explore More of Morocco's Rare Nature & Ancient Culture on This Diverse 4-Day Extension
Day 1: Marrakech / Fes
After breakfast we depart by road for Fes, the best-preserved medieval city in the Arab world. On arrival we check in to our hotel, whose tranquil inner courtyards and gardens provide a peaceful respite from the city’s bustle. If time permits we begin to explore the ancient city’s evocative Medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – we again have time on Day 3 to explore Fes should time not allow upon arrival. The Medina is the original heart of the city founded in the 9th century and home to the oldest university in the world. Fes reached its height in the Middle Ages, when it replaced Marrakech as the capital of the kingdom. The principal monuments in the Medina—madrasas, fondouks, palaces, residences, mosques and fountains—date from this period. Although the political capital was transferred to Rabat in 1912, Fes remains Morocco's cultural and spiritual center.

Day 2: Ifrane National Park
Ifrane National Park, in the Middle Atlas Mountains, lies about 40 miles outside Fes. We spend the day exploring its trove of natural treasures, which include the largest forests in Morocco, full of Mediterranean oak and cedar trees, 200-plus species of birds, and more than 100 species of fauna. The park is home to most of the world’s Barbary macaques. This Old World monkey species is the only wild primate found in Europe—a population lives on Gibraltar—though most inhabit the cedar, oak and pine forests of Morocco, in troops of 10-30 individuals. The monkeys are used to seeing people and we will observe them at close range. Look, too, for birds of prey.

We’ll also take a nature walk through the Cedre Gouraud Forest, an important habitat for Barbary macaques and rare birdlife. More than a thousand species of flora, including 250 endemics, thrive in these forests that are watered by the abundant rivers and lakes of the Middle Atlas. These mountains hold enough snow to support a Moroccan ski area nearby! Before returning to Fes we enjoy a sumptuous lunch at the Michlefin Ifrane Hotel, a spectacular mountain lodge marrying wood and stone with heavy Berber carpets, roaring fireplaces and traditional Moroccan décor.

Day 3: Fes / Casablanca
More natural and cultural highlights are in store today as we drive from Fes to Casablanca on the Atlantic coast. We’ll further explore the rambling Fes Medina this morning, learning about the handcrafts for which this city is famous, and perhaps bartering for some souvenirs to take home. Once we leave the city we’ll stop first at a vineyard in the imperial city of Meknes, Morocco’s most fertile agricultural region known for its wine and olives. We also stop at Volubilis, a site of extensive Roman ruins including well-preserved mosaics. And while none of the many presses remain, the Romans once produced prolific amounts of olive oil from Volubilis. Late this afternoon we reach Casablanca and check in to our elegant boutique hotel in the city's historic Art Deco district, almost certain that Humphrey Bogart will be waiting for us in the bar downstairs.

Day 4: Casablanca / Depart
A transfer is included to the airport this morning for departing flights.

Physical Rating: Moderate

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