Deep in the heart of Morocco survives a culture with an ancient way of life virtually untouched by the worlds outside. Until today, scattered among the peaks of the High Atlas Mountains, Berber tribes maintain traditions begun by their ancestor's hundreds of years ago.
The Berbers are the indigenous people of North Africa. They are mainly pastoral herders, nomads, mountain rug weavers of Morocco, and they leave a free-spirited mountain lifestyle; very liberal and open-minded tribal culture compared with their Arab neighbors especially in Morocco. Throughout the centuries, Berbers have been exposed to organized faiths with Islam at last, they have nevertheless kept their rituals and beliefs, a heritage which can be traced to the Paleolithic and Neolithic time.
One of the most unique of these rituals is the betrothal ceremony at the Imilchil fair. High on a verdant plateau sits Imichil, the pastoral gathering place for the surrounding tribes of the Ait Sokham and Ait Bougemmaz in the highlands of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. They gather at the end of each summer, in the early days of September, having spent the spring and the hot days of summer, in the mountain higher peaks pasturing their flocks of mainly sheep and goats. Now it is time to begin the transition to leave the nomadic life behind and settle in lower slopes to avoid much of the winter harsh months. It is the time to prepare the plots and terraces for the fall plow. And now it is the time, as it has been for centuries, for the social gathering to trade, settle next season pasturing valleys, and to celebrate nature's goodwill. Now it is time for the fair, a festival to celebrate life, offerings, and social existence. It is also time to celebrate youth and union. Time to celebrate love and sharing, the essence of this betrothal festival of Imilchil. Join us to celebrate tribal wisdom on this Morocco expedition.
Included / Excluded
- Flight Ticket
- Accommodation in hotels as indicated or similar, half-board
- Land transportation in Land Rovers.
- Fees of escort, museums and guides.
- Dinners outside the hotels. Full Board during the festival.
Day 1: Casablanca
flight to Casablanca from your destination. if you come from Europ we will transfer to a hotel in Casablanca.
Day 2: Casablanca/Rabat
Upon your landing at Casablanca, you will meet our representative who will transfer you to your hotel in Rabat. Rabat is an imperial city with a rich history of kingdoms that have swept through it since the tenth century, leaving behind a collage of different architectural styles and a unique legacy. Afternoon sightseeing with your local guide will highlight the Mellah, the Mohamed V mausoleum, the Oudaya Kasbah and the Andalous gardens. Dinner is at the hotel.
Day 3: Volubilis / Meknes / Fes
Our cultural expedition will travel east to Fez visiting some notable historic towns and villages. Transfer to Fes via Volubilis, the Roman capital of Northwestern Africa. Lunch is in the interesting city of Meknes. In the afternoon you will arrive at Fes with sightseeing of the Ramparts, the Gates, the Borjs (forts) and the Andalous quarter. Dinner is at the hotel, followed by an orientation meeting to talk to you about the nature of Imilchil festival history and the makeup of its existence.
Day 4: Fes
A special local guide will take you on a historical walking tour of Fez in the morning. Start the historic sites by the Mellah, the king's palace and the Batha museum of Moroccan arts. Then, there will be a walking tour of the Medina. This fascinating walled city with its incredible maze of medieval twisting alleys, blind turns, mosques, shrines, fountains, workshops and every conceivable kind of market. This is an experience of a lifetime. Lunch is served in a typical Moroccan restaurant. For the afternoon, continue visiting and shopping in best craft workshops and guilds in the Medina. Dinner is at the Hotel.
Day 5: Fez / Midelt / Imilchil
We will be traveling from Fez to Imilchil via Midelt trekking Berber villages and natural sights across the High Atlas Mountains. We will arrive at Tisi'n'Isly pass in mid-afternoon, where a caravan of mules will take us up Mt Tarrirecht (3km) in the High Atlas peaks to Imilchil where the Festival is taking place. A Caidal tent is pitched beside the Chief of the tribe as an honor for us (the guests), also to enjoy all the ceremonies and the festival activities. Dinner is with the Berbers around the campfire. (Camping)
Day 6: Imilchil
After breakfast, we will take a morning hiking session to the breathtaking plateau of the lakes to explore the mythic lake of Isly where it all started here as the legend narration goes. We shall return to camp for lunch. The afternoon will be devoted to the festival activities as most of the tribes start gathering at Imilchil village. (Camping) Closing Ceremony.
Day 7: Imilchil
After breakfast, we will take a morning walk in the mountains visiting the Berber nomads in their tents, sharing their festive time with them and sipping mint tea with them as the tradition goes. Return to Imilchil for lunch. The afternoon is to share the happiness of the newlywed couples in a festive atmosphere with the indigenous Berber celebration in their joyful chants and dances.
Day 8: Imilchil / Tinghir
Travel across the High Atlas Mountains breathtaking valleys to reach the Gorges of Todra. The whole afternoon will be devoted to exploring the region and its marvelous Kasbahs. Dinner and accommodations are at Hotel Bougafer.
Day 9: Tinghir / Marrakesh
Travel in the morning back to Ouarzazate visiting the Dades Valley and continue to Marrakesh across the Tiz-in-Tichka pass. Trekking oases and valleys out of this world. We will make a pause for lunch at the legendary Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, hike the valley of Telouat and proceed to Marrakech on the back scenic roads exploring cliffhanging villages. Dinner is at the hotel.
Day 10: Marrakech
The historic visit of Marrakech will include the Menara, a magnificent pool surrounded by flowers, reflecting the image of a beautiful Moorish construction built in 1866 for the dignitaries. See glorious sunsets with the Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. Also, the pool is a functional irrigation system to the surrounding areas. The tour will see several impressive sights: The Koutoubia Minaret (the twin tower of la Giralda in Sevilla, Spain), the Saadian tombs demonstrating Moorish architecture in its perfection. The tombs, consisting of splendid mausoleums built in the sixteenth century, were walled for some time, not to be discovered until 1917. Other sites include the Museum of Dar Si Said with the best display of Berber arts and crafts to be found; the remains of the Badii Palace, a historical monument chosen to host the annual National Festival of Popular Art, beginning the second Friday in June. The Bahia Palace still hosts dignitaries in the heart of the Mellah (Jewish quarter) today. Lunch is at the hotel then, a walk through the colorful souks of Marrakech in the afternoon. Conclude the day with a sunset drink overlooking the exciting Jamaa El Fna Square. Dinner is at the Hotel.
Day 11: Marrakesh
Day at leisure, relax and reflect or go to the colorful souks of Marrakesh. Farewell dinner at a Shehraman Restaurant
Day 12: Marrakech / Casablanca
Early morning transfer to Marrakesh Airport to connect with the transatlantic