Travel consultant focused on cultural travel in the Middle East & Mediterranean
After our arrival in Casablanca, our 15-day tour starts in the attractive capital of Rabat, with its old medina overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, an ancient kasbah, the splendid mausoleum of King Hassan II and the medieval Chellah Necropolis.
From Rabat we drive to Meknes, once the imperial capital associated with the great ruler Moulay Ismail, and now a charming and historic old city. Nearby Volubilis, the country’s major Roman site, well repays a visit.
Fes is the oldest Islamic city in Morocco, and is a living treasure house of history and culture (the old city is listed in its entirety by UNESCO). It’s a major centre of art and craft, and it seems to be the Moroccans’ favourite city – the bustle of the medina is very appealing.
After a long drive south, covering plains, mountains, rivers and traditional villages, we reach Erfoud, our staging post for a visit to the Sahara Desert -we take in the orange sand dunes, a village of musicians descended from African slaves, an abandoned mining village and a large salt lake. The (optional) balloon flight gives us a wonderful perspective on the desert landscapes.
After driving through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs (the name says it all) and the spectacular beauty of the Todra Gorge, our next stop is the charming and laid-back town of Ouarzazate. Nearby is the UNESCO-listed kasbah of Ait Benhaddou - a beautifully preserved small fortified town, where several movies were shot. Ouarzazate is known as the Hollywood of Morocco, so naturally we tour of one of the movie studios.
Marrakech is always a highlight of any trip to Morocco. The city has an ancient medina, with a huge central square famous throughout the world, palaces and bazaars, museums and quiet medieval alleys, and an elegant New Town. From Marrakech we take a day trip to the Berber villages of the High Atlas Mountains, meeting some of the locals and sharing their food.
Next stop is Essaouira on the Atlantic coast, a quiet and beautiful old town favoured by Moroccans as a summer resort. It started life as a fortified port in the 18th century, prospered as a fishing and boat-building centre, and lately flourished as a charming resort and artistic town, attracting such people as Orson Welles, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie. Its well preserved medina is still home to most of the inhabitants, and its craft workshops and restaurants are a delight.
Heading up the Atlantic coast, we stay at the fascinating Portuguese-Jewish-Arab port city of El Jadida, a calm place where we enjoy strolling around and admiring the traditional Berber crafts. Our last stop is Casablanca where we spend some time at the magnificent Mosque of Hassan II – modern Moroccan architecture at its finest.
One of the great things about travelling in Morocco is the accommodation in riads, little boutique hotels in old restored mansions – very comfortable, beautiful and staffed by welcoming people. Because these are quite small, our numbers on this tour will be limited to about fifteen.
Included *The services of Patrick De Gabriele as tour manager, a highly qualified English-fluent guide, and a professional driver for our air-conditioned coach throughout the tour
*Excellent accommodation in boutique riads
*Meals of a high standard, with European and Moroccan choices – all breakfasts and dinners, and several lunches
*Entry fees to included sites
*Tips and gratuities
A 15-day journey along the wonderful Adriatic coast, from the mediavel Croatian city of Dubrovnik to Venice, ‘Queen of the Adriatic’, with some spectacular diversions along the way.
We begin in the UNESCO-listed city of Dubrovnik, heart of the old maritime Republic of Ragusa, with its splendid public buildings and complete 15th century walls.
A short excursion from Dubrovnik takes us to Kotor in the Republic of Montenegro. The city is set in the Bay of Kotor, long regarded as the most beautiful in the Adriatic. We also visit the nearby city of Cetinje, the old royal capital of Montenegro.
A short ferry ride from Dubrovnik takes us to the island of Korcula, one of the greenest in the Adriatic. We have plenty of time for a relaxed exploration of the Old Town.
Back on the mainland, we take a diversion inland, this time over the mountains to the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, specifically to the town of Mostar. This picturesque old Ottoman town has a famous 16th century bridge that is a Bosnian national symbol.
Back in Croatia, we head to Split, where the Roman emperor Diocletian built a huge retirement palace for himself. The old palace was partly filled in during medieval days, and is now an enchanting blend of the ancient Roman, the Gothic, and the trendy modern. Near Split is the old Venetian city of Trogir, a tiny ‘Venetian’ architectural gem on a peninsula.
We then turn inland, to the Plitvice Lakes National Park – a spectacular 300 sq km area covered in lakes, forests and waterfalls, where we spend two nights.
Our last stop in Croatia is on the Istrian peninsula. Istria is a relatively unspoilt region of hill-top villages and old Adriatic trading ports, with a strong flavour of ancient Rome and medieval Italy.We start in Pula, famous for its magnificent Roman amphitheatre (the sixth biggest in the Roman world). And we spend three nights in Rovinj, an old and charming Italianate which we use as a base. We visit Poreč with its magnificent 6th century Basilica of Euphrasius, as well as some stunning hill-top villages.
From Rovinj we cross by coach into Italy and the magical city of Venice for three nights. La Serenissima needs no introduction – after a short orientation tour, we will have several days to explore the unique beauty of this enchanted place.
At the formal end of the tour, travellers will have the option of spending more nights in Venice. I will be in attendance, and will be very happy to share my knowledge of the city.
*Accommodation and meals as indicated
*Services of Patrick De Gabriele as tour escort throughout the tour
*A single English-proficient driver and air conditioned coach throughout the tour, plus local step-on
*Tips in Croatia, and Venice city tax (not payable in advance), please allow A$150
*Personal expenses, drinks at included meals
*Travel insurance (highly recommended)