Morocco. 

28 September – 15 October 2024.

A journey of discovery – and rediscovery – from Marrakech and the Agafay Desert to Fez and Tangier. 

In a past life I travelled frequently to Morocco, always to Marrakech and almost always to buy rugs. A whirlwind of exotic sights and sounds, it is one of those places that makes your heart beat just that little bit faster, with the frenzy of the souk and the profile of date palms against 900-year-old ramparts, the snow-capped Atlas Mountains in the distance and otherworldly calls to prayer. I have long wanted to return, to lose myself in the magic of the pink city and to see my friend Elsa, whose riad in the medina is a favourite home away from home. Not to mention – having shaken off my rug-merchant shackles – discovering other corners of the country.

So when a guest from the Malaysia trip mentioned wanting to spend her birthday in Morocco, I jumped at the chance to put something together, to not only share my passion for Marrakech but to discover – together – thrilling new destinations such as Fez and Tangier. 

La Pause, The Pursuit Of Morocco.

The Pursuit Of Morocco moves from Marrakech to the Agafay Desert in the deep Berber south, then up to Fez – the beating heart of Moroccan culture – before finishing by the sea in cosmopolitan Tangier. You’ll experience the rich culture of its ancient cities and the vast beauty of the desert, bed down in gorgeous guesthouses and discover fabulous Moroccan cuisine. With five nights in each city, two in the desert and a  relaxed pace throughout, there’s plenty of time to lose yourself in the rhythms of this unique and mesmerising land.

Choose from the full itinerary of 17 nights – let’s put the slow into slow travel – or a more compact but immersive 10 nights taking in Fez and Tangier.

The Pursuit Of Morocco
Marrakech to Tangier:  28 September – 15 October, 2024 (17 nights) from AUD19,900 pp double occupancy 
Fez to Tangier:  5 – 15 October, 2024 (10 nights) from AUD11,800 pp double occupancy
50% deposit with balance due 90 days prior to departure

Day 1-6: Marrakech

I met Elsa on my third trip to Marrakech. Her home, Riad UP, has been my own home there ever since. For anyone yet to experience the joy of staying in a riad, the term refers to a traditional Moroccan home built around a courtyard or garden. Inward looking, with walls of thick rammed and few external windows, the design allows for both privacy and protection from the weather. Marrakech is home to more than a thousand riads, many of which are now guesthouses.

Riad UP is at the more minimalist end of the spectrum, although therein lies its charm. After a day of sensory overload in the souk, the white walls and sparse, rustic chic of Elsa’s place is like being thirsty and then happening upon an oasis in the desert. There’s also its stellar location – close but not too close to Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square – and, arguably, some of the best food in Marrakech.

Our eyes and souls rested, we’ll dive into the pink city’s delights, from market stalls in the souk to atmospheric house museums and rooftop terraces as the sun sets, sipping on a chilled glass of Moroccan vin gris before stepping out into the night.

Day 6-8 Agafay Desert.

If Marrakech has you spinning, La Pause is the antidote – a sumptuous eco camp sans electricity in the moon-like terrain of the Agafay Desert. Accommodation comprises individual Berber lodges constructed in pise (mud and straw), decked out with large beds, Berber rugs, open fires and private en-suite bathrooms. (Yes, there’s hot water.) Lighting comes in the form of candles and oil lanterns, making for magical nights. La Pause features two swimming pools, one shaded by olive trees and another capping a hill with panoramic views. There’s quad biking in the desert and camel riding at sunset – and Bedouin tents making for perfect spots to enjoy mint tea, a glass of wine and candlelit suppers, gazing up at the stars.

Day 8-13: Fez.

Get ready for a triple dose of history, culture and epic architecture. From La Pause we travel north to Fez, Morocco’s ancient capital and the most complete medieval city of the Arab world. The Fez Medina is enormous, home to around 800 acres of mosques, madrasas, tanneries, foundouks, hammams, riads and historic mansions. One such mansion, the 600-year-old Dar Seffarine, is our home in Fez.

Dar Seffarine belongs to Alaa, an Iraqi architect, and Kate, a Norwegian graphic designer, who together share a passion for the preservation and renovation of historic architecture. Through their mutual love of ancient medinas, medieval buildings and Islamic art, they found the perfect project, built centuries ago according to Kate, as a family home in the ‘posh’ part of Fez, close to the Al-Qarawiyyin mosque and university. Even against the city’s wealth of monumental architecture, Dar Seffarine’s grandeur is impressive, with four-metre-high cedar doors, soaring columns, exquisite carved plasterwork and zellij tiles.

We’ll explore the city’s big-ticket items, such as  the 9th-century University Al-Qarawiyyin and the 11th-century Chouara Tannery – each the oldest of their kind in the world – and magnificent madrasas (religious schools) such as Al-Attarine and Bou Inania. But we’ll also discover a more intimate side to Fes, touring private houses in residential areas with Alaa, who will talk us through the challenges – and delights – of restoring historic residential buildings.

Hotel Nord Pinus Tangier, The Pursuit Of Morocco small-group travel.

Day 13-18: Tangier

Ahhh, Tangier! Is there anywhere on the planet that conjures so tantalising an image of 20th-century hedonism? I don’t know – I’ve never been – but I’m dying to find out. The storied port city played muse to the post-war demimonde, from Tennessee Williams to Jack Kerouac, Barbara Hutton and the Rolling Stones. According to the American writer William S. Burroughs, who settled in the city for a few years in the late 1950’s: “Tangier is one of the few places left in the world where, so long as you don’t proceed to robbery, violence, or some form of crude, antisocial behaviour, you can do exactly what you want.”

There is, however, a lot more to Tangier than its infamous repute. At the juncture of Europe and Africa, Tangier has been held by the Phoenicians, Portuguese, Middle Eastern caliphates, Spanish, British and French before becoming the Moroccan sultanate’s diplomatic centre in the 19th century. And today, best of all, a new generation of Tanjawi creatives are redefining the city.

We’ll certainly have the best outlook. Built in the 18th century and once the townhouse of a high-ranking pasha, Hotel Nord Pinus is positioned at the highest point of the kasbah. The hotel’s lavish restaurant and rooftop bar make the Nord Pinus one of the most sought after spots in town, sensational views across the Straight of Gibraltar framed by the keyhole-arched windows. Rooms are kitted out in a romantic mix of antiques and vintage, with lacquered Chinese cabinets, brass beds and Iraqi stained glass.

Tangier is all about lingering, so lots of downtime to soak up the faded fabric of the place. We’ll visit the just-opened Museum of Contemporary Art – located in a former prison dating back to the 17th century – showcasing Moroccan post-war art. But for the most part we’ll wander Tangier’s famed bohemian haunts, from cafes to bookshops and the antique dealers of the old Spanish quarter, with lots of getting lost in the kasbah in between. We’ll walk on the beach and perhaps even watch a movie at Cinéma Rif, the legendary1930’s picture house made over as North Africa’s first art-house cinema. Then sundowners on the terrace, gazing across the strait to Spain, before a late dinner  – Tangier keeps to a more Mediterranean timetable – and a drink at El Morocco Club on the way home.

Rug and textile shopping in the Marrakech Medina; a digital detox in the Agafay Desert; touring hidden Fez with a local architect; and following in the footsteps of the great 20th-century hedonists in Tangier.

The Pursuit Of Morocco

28 September – 15 October  2024

Marrakech to Tangier (17 nights) from AUD19,900 pp double

Fez to Tangier (10 nights) from AUD11,800 pp double

50% deposit with balance due 90 days prior to departure

Included: 

  • Private Airport Transfer upon arrival in Marrakech
  • Five nights accommodation Riad UP
  • Two nights accommodation La Pause
  • Five nights accommodation Dar Seffarine
  • Five nights accommodation Hotel Nord Pinus
  • Breakfast plus lunch and/or dinner daily, including alcoholic beverages
  • Sunset drinks and cocktail experiences
  • All transport throughout itinerary 
  • Entrance fees, taxes and local guides where required
  • Private airport transfer upon departure in Tangier

Not Included:

  • Flights to/from Morocco
  • Comprehensive travel insurance (mandatory)
  • Visa or travel requirements for entry into Morocco
  • Room Service 
  • Massage and spa treatments
  • Laundry
  • Gratuities

Also:

  • A total of six guest rooms are available for single or double occupancy. They are beautiful spaces but often compact, ranging in size from 20m2 to 50m2. 
  • Additional accommodation can be arranged should you wish to arrive a day or two earlier in Marrakech, or if you would like to stay longer in Tangier, pending availability.
  • September-October is the ideal time of year to visit Morocco, with warm days and cool nights.
  • Dress for comfort although casual-elegant attire is required at some bars and restaurants.

Jason Mowen is an Australian interior designer and writer who divides his time between Murrurundi in the Upper Hunter and Matino, Puglia. An inveterate traveller, he has worked with tourism boards, luxury hotels and cultural institutions to promote atmospheric travel across the globe.

Jason is a contributor to Vogue Living, WISH and The Murrurundi Argus.  His words have also appeared in international publications such as Vogue and Conde Nast Traveller, while his interiors have been published in Elle Decor, Belle and AD.

His travel style is unhurried and full of passion, seeking out beauty and interest in unexpected places and always avoiding the crowd.

Terms and Conditions:

Please note, a minimum number of guests are required for the trip to proceed. You will be provided with confirmation once this number has been reached. 

If you choose to book your flight in advance of final confirmation, please book a refundable fare and/or obtain travel insurance to protect yourself against additional charges, should dates change or if cancellation occurs.

You will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of 50% of the total booking cost, unless the booking is made 90 days or less prior to departure, in which case full payment must be paid when booking. If there is an unforeseen date change or cancellation, your deposit is refundable.

Fully comprehensive travel insurance is required for the trip. Please provide proof of insurance prior to departure.

Please note that while all efforts are made to present the itinerary as presented, we reserves the right to make any changes to the final itinerary deemed necessary, or due to circumstances beyond our control, such as flight changes, cancellations, political disturbances, natural disasters, etc.

Photographs and video recordings of guests may be used by The Pursuit Of for promotional purposes.