Discover the Northern Shores of Morocco & Forbidden Gates to Europe through the Tiny Spanish Enclaves of Ceuta & Melilla
November 06 to 16, 2019
Ceuta and Melilla are two small forbidden enclaves on the coast of Morocco. Despite seemingly being a part of Morocco, they actually belong to Spain. Coveted by Morocco, they have long been a flashpoint in diplomatic relations with Spain. Madrid asserts that both territories are integral parts of Spain and have the same status as the semi-autonomous regions on its mainland. Increasingly Ceuta and Melilla's heavily fortified borders have come under pressure from African migrants seeking a better life in Europe. Ceuta and Melilla have a long history. Both cities date their original establishment to the Phoenicians, the sailors and merchants of the ancient Mediterranean. Later Ceuta and Melilla became the site of a Carthaginian settlement, which was taken over eventually by the Romans. In the 5th century the city was captured by the Vandals, who in time lost it to Byzantium. After that the Visigoths, Arabs, Portuguese, and finally the Spanish in 1580 seized control. Since that time, except for a period from 1694 to 1720 when the Moors gained control, the enclave has remained under the jurisdiction of Spain. Separated from Spain by the Straits of Gibraltar and sandwiched between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean lies Morocco on the northern shores of Africa. Discover the rich history and culture of the Imperial Cities and the north. This tour will capture the dramatic contrasts of the kingdom. Against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery, the footprints of history wind from antiquity through the pinnacle of Islamic achievement in a country determined to modernize on its own terms. Its culture is on display every day in its buzzing souks (marketplaces). Discover this glorious land in the enchanting city of Fes—a walled enclave suspended in a medieval dream. Be mesmerized by the truly stunning desert oasis where golden dunes stretch to the horizon. Morocco offers the opportunity to experience a rich Islamic culture in a safe and tourist-friendly environment.
Tour cost (land Only): $3,995.00 per person sharing in double occupancy
Single Supplement: $300.00
Price based on a group size minimum of 4 and maximum of 8 participants
Your tour does not include
Roundtrip International air.
Moroccan Visa - Currently Gratis to US citizens and obtainable upon arrival at Casablanca airport.
Photography and video making fees.
Dayrooms or extra hotel overnights if necessary.
Activities and sites not described in the itinerary.
Drinks during meals (soft or with alcohol) or meals not listed in the itinerary.
Items of a personal nature (laundry, phone calls, emails, excess luggage charges, etc.)
Travel protection insurance.
Your tour includes
Arrival and departure transfers.
AC transportation throughout the tour.
Accommodation in double room as mentioned in the program in standard 4* hotels and authentic Moorish Riads with breakfast.
Professional English-speaking guide throughout the tour.
All meals in local restaurants as specified in the itinerary.
All activities described in the tour and entrance fees to all sites mentioned unless listed as optional.
Gratuities to guides, drivers and porters.
Bottled water per person per day.
II Active -Some hikes, slightly more demanding walks at or to sites, few elevations, comfortable but busy schedule and some long rides.
***Superior - Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined service and comfort level acceptable to western standards. (3 or 4 stars)
Your guide Driss Elkorchi is a native of the Sahara Desert. He was born in 1972 near the highest sand dunes of Merzouga and led a nomadic life wandering through the desert with his family looking for water and grass for their goats and camels. As a child, he enjoyed discovering places and meeting other people who shared the same lifestyle. No doubt these experiences helped him to his current profession! He attended primary and high school and then went to the university in the coastal city of Agadir to study for his BA in English Language and Literature (1993-1997). Driss liked traveling to attend traditional festivals, meeting people and learning about their cultures. In 1999, he attended a rigorous one-year training program to become a certified official national tour guide by the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism. Since then, Driss has been an active professional tour guide based in the fascinating city of Marrakesh. He loves to share all the unique things that make Morocco special. He is also a member of many social, cultural and human-right associations that fight for the welfare of the indigenous inhabitants of his homeland.
Being an exploratory tour for Spiekermann Travel Service and knowing the nature of such off-the-beaten track journey, all travelers joining this tour will require a high level of flexibility and tolerance and willingness to go with the flow when things change. Anyone joining this trip must understand that border crossing and visit to Ceuta and Melilla enclaves is offered by us for the first time, and participants are acknowledging their full understanding and acceptance of all terms and conditions and are admitting that they are in good physical and mental health and are equipped with open mind, a sense of adventure and a tolerant and patient spirit to cope up with the tour. We retain the full right to make any necessary changes to the itinerary, to the sequence of visits, to the choices of hotels and sites or activities previously described in the itinerary.
NOTE ON VISAS: Spain is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Spain and Enclaves for up to 90 days for tourist visit. Moroccan visa is currently gratis for us citizens and obtainable upon arrival to Casablanca airport
View Tour Itinerary
Wed – Thu, November 06-07
Depart your hometown arriving the next day at Casablanca Airport on Nov 7’Th After passing through customs you will be met and transferred to the hotel for rest after Trans-Atlantic flight. Enjoy the welcome dinner. Overnight at KENZI BASMA Hotel 4*. (D)
Note: Hotel is available from 01:00 pm on Nov 07.
Fri, November 08
Start your insight to Casablanca which is the biggest city of Morocco. Visit Hassan II Mosque, dramatically sited at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Built by the late King Hassan II at the end of his 40-year reign, this astounding edifice is larger than Saint Peter’s in Rome and capable of holding 80,000 worshippers. Then admire the monumental colonial architecture of Palace of Mohamed V and the French-built Quartier Habous. Then, visit the Jewish Museum which is the only one of its case in the Muslim and Arab world. It traces the 2000-year history in Morocco focusing on Casablanca‘s Jewish community. Transfer to KENZI BASMA or similar hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
Sat, November 09
Casablanca-Cape Spartel-Tangier (180 miles)
After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy the drive to the coastal town of Tangier, a place of strategic importance to the Mediterranean and the gateway to Africa. On the way we drive through the Cape Spartel. The cape was built in 1864 by Sultan Muhammad III and is located about 1,000 feet above sea level at the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar and it is considered a special place in Tangier because it connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Of course we will not miss our chance to visit Caves of Hercules. Upon arrival to Tangier we will explore city's Medina and Kasbah around the Place de la France in the Ville Nouvelle. Visit the American Legation Museum, the former palace of Dar el-Makhzen. The Tangier American Legation is the first American public property outside the United States; it commemorates the historic cultural and diplomatic relations between the United States and the Kingdom of Morocco. Also visit the recently reconstructed beach promenade which is lined with great restaurants. Perhaps enjoy a fresh seafood lunch by the port. Overnight at DAR KASBAH or similar (B,L)
Sun, November 10
Tangier (Morocco –Ceuta (Spain)–Tetouan (Morocco)
After breakfast we will drive to the border crossing point between Ceuta and Morocco at El Tarajal which is a cacophony of car exhausts, car horns and the chatter of thousands of people attempting to cross the border on foot. Situated in northern Morocco the autonomous city is most famous for the metallic fence that separates Europe from the Global South. Historically, Ceuta developed as military and trade center linking Africa to Europe. We will visit Monumental complex of the royal walls which dates back to the 5th century. These extensive fortifications, of great strategic complexity, have been beautifully restored. After the sightseeing we will stop at the Royal Walls Museum. Your tour also includes Africa Square (Plaza de Africa), Maritime Park, central market, gigantic Hercules statue and Mount Hacho. Our next authentic stop will be Casa de los Dragones or “House of the Dragons” which was built in a mish-mash of Mudéjar revival and 19th-century designs with four dragon statues capping the roof. If the time will permit we will stop at the Museum of Ceuta. Afterwards we will drive to the most northern Moroccan city of Tetouan. It has also been home of an important Sephardic Jewish community, which immigrated from Spain after the Reconquista and the Spanish Inquisition. Many of the houses belonging to aristocratic families are often exquisitely carved and painted in hispano-moresque designs, such as are found in the Alhambra of Granada, and the tile-work for which Tétouan is known may be seen on floors, pillars and dados. Overnight at CHAMS Hotel 4*. (B,D)
Mon, November 11
Tetouan – AL Hoceim –Nador (210 miles)
After breakfast, we will take a scenery drive from Tetuan to Nador via AL Hoceim. The Rocade (coastal road) from Al Hoceima to Nador (80 miles) is a delight to travel. It passes through red cliffs, verdant gorges and, midway, an enormous sculpture of deeply eroded hills. Upon arrival we will check in to hotel and in the afternoon we will start our short sightseeing of Nador. It has many large resorts with its beautiful and attractive beaches and that’s not all, and it is expected with the Marchica project to become the “Nice” of Morocco. Overnight at MERCURE RIF NADOR hotel 4* or similar (B,D)
Tue, November 12
Nador (Morocco) –Melilla (Spain) –Nador (Morocco)
After having breakfast, we will head to the border to cross into strategically important Melilla enclave. The city has been under Spanish control since 1496, although it has been an important port city in the Mediterranean since Phoenician times. Now many of this outpost’s inhabitants are Spanish military troops. Start by exploring the old city’s medieval fortifications and enjoying the views of the Mediterranean from its ramparts. We will also visit the Museum of Archaeology and History and the Military History Museum, which houses an extensive collection of coins, weapons, munitions, flags and reproductions including a scale model of Melilla Square as it was in 1846. Before you leave the old city, be sure to visit Las Cuevas des Coventico, the Caves of the Convent. These natural caverns are said to have been excavated by the Phoenicians and have been used as hiding places throughout different eras (caves are closed on Mondays). After we complete our adventure in Melilla we will drive back to Nador and enjoy the dinner. Overnight at MERCURE RIF NADOR Hotel 4*. (B,D)
Wed, November 13
Nador-Fes (178 miles)
After breakfast we will start our drive to Fes. Upon arrival we will start to explore the 14th century Fes El Jedid (New Fes). Here you will admire the seven gates of the King Palace, then if you want explore the 15th century Jewish quarter (Mellah). The Mellah of Fes contains narrow streets, ancient synagogues, and an extensive Jewish cemetery. Also visit the Ibn Danan Synagogue-the oldest synagogue in Fes then the Jewish cemetery and then walk in the Mellah, the old Jewish quarter which provides an interesting insight into the Jewish architecture. Overnight at RIAD LA PERLE DE LA MEDINA or similar. (B,D)
Thu, November 14
Begin your city tour and take a step back in time to the Middle Ages when you visit Fes El Bali Medina, the largest living medieval medina-city, the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco. Fes was founded in the 8th century by Moulay Driss 1 and subscribed as a UNESCO patrimonial in 1981. Your tour of the medina includes also the Nejjarine complex that houses a beautiful fountain and the nearby Foundouk; now converted into a museum. Fes is also the capital of Arab handmade crafts; visit the medieval tanneries and then see artisans at work; see the brass workers at Essafarine. Among the highlights of Fes there is the Karaouine mosque and university and the shrine of Moulay Driss 2. Admire the stunning Bab Boujloud gate, perhaps the most beautiful gate in Fes. Visit the Bou Inania Mederssa (koranic college), a jewel of the Hispano-Moorish architecture, built in the 14th century. Then tour the Borj Nord, 16th century fort commands some amazing views of the medina. Return to your hotel for overnight. (B,D)
Fri, November 15
Fes-Meknes-Rabat-Casablanca (182 miles)
Today we drive to Meknes with the title of Imperial City and a UNESCO-stamped ancient medina, Meknes can rival the likes of Rabat and Fez. Meknes is made up of the old (medina) and the new (ville nouvelle); two distinct centers less than three miles apart but harnessing quite different vibes. Visit impressive 17th century Bab Mansour gate. Walk in Lahdim square which is known as the focal point of the medina and admire the colorful display of local products. Continue to the Heri Souani, the granary of huge vaulted structures and Royal stables, then visit house of water. We will continue our way to Rabat and upon arrival start your discovery with the visit of the Archaeology Museum that has rich artefacts from the Romans settlement in Morocco. We will also visit the 12th century Oudaya Kasbah. It is a picturesque walled Medina. Then Proceed to the parade ground of the king palace. Finish your tour with the visit of the landmarks of Rabat: Mohamed 5th Mausoleum and the Hassan Tower. This huge unfinished mosque was built mostly at the end of the twelfth century. Transfer to Casablanca and overnight at Hotel KENZI BASMA or similar (B,D)
Sat, November 16
Today you will be escorted to Casablanca airport for your flight back home. (B,D)
“We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed. “