Discover the tradition and history of Moroccan Gardens
This nationally guided Boutique Morocco Tour is developed by horticulture and garden experts for garden enthusiasts. Journey through Morocco's private and public green spaces and experience the sensory pleasures of lush gardens and flora on this exotic 10-Day tour that includes Morocco’s Imperial Cities and rural regions with an optional 4-Day extension to the Gardens of Taroudant and the High Atlas Mountain green spaces of Imouzzer des Ida Outanane.
The Gardens of Morocco Tour is an ideal way to connect with fellow gardeners and garden-lovers from around the world while exploring the ancient gardens of Morocco with licensed historical guides, expert gardeners, botanists, and herbalists to share their knowledge of the local history and flora.
GARDENS AND PUBLIC GREEN SPACES
- Andalusian Gardens at Kasbah Oudaia and Exotic Gardens at Sidi Bouknadal in the Rabat region
- Roman Ruins Garden at Volubilis
- Sultan Gardens at Jnane Sbil and Batha Garden & Museum in Fes
- Moorish and Art Deco Gardens at Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh
- Propagator and Native Drought-Tolerant Nurseries in Marrakesh
- Historic Landmark Garden at La Mamounia in Marrakesh
- El Harti Gardens, the Cyber Park, and Oasis Gardens at the Palmerie in Marrakesh
- Marrakesh Private Villa Garden
- Saffron Gardens in the Ourika Valley
- Herbal and Medicinal Gardens at Nectarome in the Ourika Valley
- Gardens at La Roseraie in the Ouirgane region
DAY 1: CASABLANCA - RABAT
- Arrive in Casablanca.
- Visit the Mosque of Hassan II. Casablanca is home to the Hassan II Mosque, designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau. Situated on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic with a gigantic glass floor and room for 25,000 worshippers, the Mosque is an enormous architectural masterpiece, the second largest religious building in the world with the world’s tallest minaret.
- Visit Kasbah of the Udayas and Andalusian Gardens.
- Tea and Pastries at Café Maure in the Kasbah Oudaia.
- Located on a rocky outcrop high above the river the Kasbah Oudaia was an imposing sight for pirates of yore. When you enter the grounds of Oudaia you immediately notice the Andalusian influence, with whitewashes walls and blue accents throughout, cobblestone streets, massive doors, and beautifully wrought iron. The formally structured Andalusian-style gardens are bordered with red hibiscus, hedges, morning glories, angel’s trumpets, date palms, and orange trees with long walkways shaded by grape vines.
- The Kasbah of the Udayas also has beautiful and quiet residential areas and is a haven for artists attracted to the beauty of the area and soothing tranquillity.
- Lunch by the sea at Borj Eddar in Rabat. Visit Sidi Bouknadel Exotic Gardens.
- In 1951, Marcel François, a French horticultural engineer acquired 4 acres of land in Sale, Morocco, and ten years later he opened his childhood dream, Bouknadel Exotic Gardens, a horticultural and artistic achievement, listed among the wonders of nature and classified as a national cultural heritage site in 2003.
- The gardens are a composition of exuberant creativity and technical ability. Francois traveled all over the world collecting plants from China, South Asia, the Savannah, the Congo, Japan, Brazil, and Polynesia.
- The gardens are divided into three areas: a reception area, horticultural production area, and, by far the most impressive, the garden area. All through the garden there are secret passages, waterfalls, swamps, pools, fountains, bridges, and an aviary all accessible via charming walkways throughout the garden.
- Welcome Dinner at Sofitel Le Jardin Des Roses.
- Spend the night at Sofitel Le Jardin Des Roses in Rabat.
DAY 2: RABAT - MEKNES - VOLUBILIS
- Breakfast at your Hotel, then take the road to Fes. En route to Fes visit the Imperial City of Meknes & the Roman Ruins and Gardens of Volubilis.
- Arrive in Meknes and pass through Bab Mansour, the triumphal arch, and enter Place El-Hedime, the Square of Ruins, which links the medina and the kasbah. The square is lined with modern residential buildings and a covered food souk.
- Visit the Musée Dar Jamaï. The Jar Jamai museum shows modern Moroccan arts, woodwork, ceramics, carpets, costumes, jewelry, and metalwork. The sophisticated building was once a palace incorporating a mosque, menzah, courtyard, kitchen, and hammam.
- Visit the Moulay Ismail Mausoleum and the former gardens of the Royal Palace.
- Visit the Olive market which sprawls throughout the old souk and the main square.
- Lunch in Meknes at a restaurant in the old French neighborhood with excellent Moroccan cuisine and a variety of local wines from the region.
- Visit the Roman Ruins of Volubilis. The breathtaking archaeological site of Volubilis, also referred to as Oualili, was once a thriving town occupied by the Romans. Volubilis has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and gained international acclaim when Martin Scorsese made it a feature location for the film The Last Temptation of Christ. Discover the fascinating Roman ruins adorned with beautiful mosaics and colorful tiles depicting Roman mythology. The ruins are spread out across several acres and what remains visible is several fragments of wall, parts of massive columns, the capitol, the basilica, and a triumphal arch. The ruins reveal how the Roman Empire transformed the original Carthaginian settlement into a typical Roman city complete with mansions, a town center, a triumphal arch, and temples devoted to Roman gods.
- Enjoy tea at the small café that sits just below the Volubilis ruins before taking the road to Fes.
- Dinner in Fes at your riad or hotel.
- Spend the night at a traditional Moroccan riad or hotel in Fes.
DAY 3: FES - JNANE SBIL GARDENS - BATHA MUSEUM - ANDALUSIAN GARDEN
- Breakfast at your riad or hotel in Fes.
- Visit Jnane Sbil Gardens originally created by the Sultan Moulay Abdallah. Jnane Sbil encompasses 7.5 hectares, is located in the heart of city, and is one of the oldest gardens in Fes. Because of its historical importance, great care was taken to restore the garden to its original design. After four years of detailed restoration and renovation of the heirloom plants, the hydraulic systems, and the famous waterwheel, the project was completed and re-opened in June 2010.
- Next visit the Batha Museum & Andalusian Gardens. Dar El-Batha Museum and Andalusian Gardens offer up a great collection of pottery, leatherwork, wood, books, and manuscripts from the nineteenth century. The Batha Andalusian Garden boasts a three-hundred year old Quercus Rotundifolia, Washington Fifera, Cycas Revolta, and gorgeous Moroccan fountains. The Batha Garden is a serene escape from the bustling medina in Fes. Every June during Fes Festival of Sacred World Music various world music groups perform in the Museum and gardens.
- Visit Palais Jamai Hotel Gardens, the oldest example of Andalusian style gardens in Al Hambra Classical Axial lines.
- Lunch at Palais de Fes Dar Tazi, a traditional palace-style riad.
- Relax at your riad. Optional shopping excursion in the old city.
- Dine at your traditional Moroccan restaurant.
- Spend the night at your riad in Fes.
DAY 4: FES GUIDED HISTORICAL TOUR
- Breakfast at your riad or hotel in Fes. Discover Fes el-Bali, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The old medina is thought of as a living museum.
- The 14th Century Palace Gates of the King – The Royal Palace in Fes from the 14th century is one of the oldest and largest in Morocco.
- Jewish Mellah – A mellah is the Jewish quarter located in the old cities of Morocco with a walled boundary. The Fes Mellah is also walled and it has a fortified gateway. These Jewish quarters are located near the royal residencies which enabled its inhabitants to be protected from the wrath of the Muslim populace. The Fes Mellah was once solely inhabited by Jews. This was the first mellah in Morocco and originated in 1438. In contrast with the young Casablanca Mellah, the Fes Mellah is over 650 years old. This picturesque neighborhood adjoins the royal palace where Jews took shelter during the 1912 pogrom.
- Jewish Cemetery and Tomb of Solica. The cemetery contains the tombs of more Jewish saints than any other cemetery in Morocco. One of the more important saints is Lalla Solica, who was killed for refusing to convert to Islam. Solica was born in Tangier in 1817. At the age of 16, she was courted by a Muslim man, but refused to marry him. To force her hand, the man went to the caid, the local government official. The man told the caid that Solica could not refuse his offer of marriage because she was no longer Jewish, having converted to Islam of her own free will. When called before the caid, she refused to acknowledge having converted. The Sultan called her to Fes, where she again denied her conversion. As a result, she was condemned to death for apostasy and killed in 1834.
- Walk through one of the oldest and most beautiful preserved Jewish streets in Morocco from the time of the inquisition.
- Rcife – Fes el Bali, also known as Rcife, is the heart of manufacturing for Fassi goods. Cross the local fruit and vegetable market and visit the stalls of local traders while watching locals buy their daily goods.
- Visit the Dyers Souk, a dyers market, located along Rue de Teinturies, is the best place to see the dying vats which have been used for centuries to dye cloth and sheep, goat, cow, and camel leather. You will see many tanned hides colored with natural pigments of all shades and hues.
- Place el-Seffarine is the most important center for the production Fasiss style ceramics, brass-ware, and silverware in Morocco.
- Visit the Chourara, or the Tanner’s Quarters, one of the most lively and picturesque souks in Fes. Located near the Wadi Fès and far from residential areas due to the tannery smell. See the wide array of local leather work, a proud tradition of Fes.
- Lunch at Restaurant Nejjarine near Nejjarine Square.
DAY 4: FES GUIDED HISTORICAL TOUR CONTINUED
- Weavers Cooperative – Visit the Weavers Cooperative located in a residential neighborhood. The workshop specializes in weaving the finest jellaba fabric made of silk and wool threads imported from Italy. The shop also makes a quality jellaba fabric from a locally spun, textured wool thread called hubba. Hubba is sometimes referred to as couscous because its nubby texture resembles Morocco’s national semolina dish of the same name.
- The Bou Inania Madrasa – The Madrasa Bou Inania is a madrasa founded in AD 1351–56 by Abu Inan Faris. It is widely acknowledged as a major example of Marinid architecture. The madrasa functioned as both an educational institute and a congregational mosque. It was the last madrasa to be built by the Marinides.
- Visit the Pottery and Zellij Tile Cooperative, a renowned Pottery Cooperative where you can view how Fasis pottery and zellij tile are made by hand. Tour the cooperative to see how the various artisans work using the ancient Fasis techniques that are unique to this Imperial city and region. View the galleries and shops of the artisans.
- Mausoleum – Zaouia Sidi Ahmed al-Tijani contains the tomb of the 18th centry Sufi Shaykh founder of the Tijaniyya order. The facade of the Mausoleum is highly ornamented with carved wood, stucco, and glazed tilework.
- University of al-Karaouine – Founded in 859, this university is one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world, and is considered the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning in the world.
- Nejjarine Square – This interesting square is dominated by the beautifully restored Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts & Crafts housed in an 18th-century foundouk. There is also a superbly decorated wall fountain. Browse the shops before venturing into the carpentry souk with its amazing array of glitzy wedding chairs.
- Walk along Attarine street filled with the spice and perfume scents of Fes.
- Dinner at a traditional Moroccan restaurant in the old city of Fes or Ville Nouvelle.
- Spend the night at a Moroccan traditional riad or hotel in Fes.
DAY 5: FES - MARRAKESH
- Breakfast at your riad or hotel in Fes. Take the road to Marrakesh.
- En route to Marrakesh, stop to see the view of Ifrane University and go for a short walk around the garden. Ifrane is nick named “Little Switzerland” of Morocco for its architecture, cedar forest, and winter ski resort options. Developed by the French during the protectorate era for their administration due to its Alpine climate, this Morrocan town has a remarkable European style, as if it were an Alpine village. Because of its elevation, the town experiences snow during the winter months and a cool climate during the summer. Ifrane is also the place where the lowest temperature was ever recorded in Africa. Animals to be found in the vicinity include the threatened Barbary Macaque. Among the local tree species are the native Atlas cedar, Scrub oak, and the introduced London plane.
- Enjoy coffee, tea, and pastries in Ifrane at an outdoor cafe.
- Make a short stop in Zaouia Cheikh near the dam. A brief history about the dams in Morocco which originated with Hassan II who built one dam a year to irrigate the country.
- Lunch at Hotel Paris in Beni Mellal.
- Spend the night at a riad or hotel in Marrakesh with a garden setting.
DAY 6: MARRAKESH
- Breakfast at your riad or hotel.
- Visit to the Majorelle Gardens
- Early rise. Start your visit at 8am in the Majorelle Gardens to take advantage of the optimal morning light. The atmosphere of the Majorelle Gardens is peaceful and the area composed and colored like a painting. Moorish and Art Deco inspired structures with bold color palettes are assembled among a vast, opulent array of exotic plants and trees collected from the far reaches of the world. The courageous use of the famous Majorelle blue paint in the architectural design enlivens the garden and acts as a strong backdrop to the plant collection with over 1800 types of cacti, 400 species of palms, and other rare varieties of flora. This bold action revolutionized the way in which gardens are viewed. An elaborate system of canals connects the planted areas and infuse the garden with the sight and sound water. The contrasting effects of light and shadow are repeatedly played against each other throughout the gardens capturing the harsh sunlight and transforming it into a tamed element that defies explanation.
- Visit the El Bahia Palace. The El Bahia Palace in Marrakesh is a beautiful building and an excellent example of Eastern Architecture from the 19th century that represents the trends and standards of the wealthy at that time. The palace is surrounded by an eight hectare garden.
- Lunch in the old Medina of Marrakesh and explore the souks. Visit La Mamounia Gardens
- Go by horse and carriage to La Mamounia’s Landmark Gardens. Tea and garden tour of La Mamounia Gardens, if available. Built in 1929, this famous historical landmark hotel and gardens in the center of Marrakesh is cared for by 40 gardeners who twice a year plant 60,000 annuals. The gardeners provide immaculate care for the citrus and olive orchards, desert gardens, rose gardens, and tropical gardens, as well as the many fountains. The 200 year old avenue of olive trees leads one to the garden pavilion where you can soak in the peace and solitude with a cup of Moroccan mint tea. At the back of the 15 hectare gardens there is an herb and kitchen garden whose produce is used in the fresh daily menus at the hotel.
- End the day visiting the Harti Gardens and Cyber Park. Option to enjoy these public parks, shop in the old city souks, or relax at your hotel.
- The Harti Gardens is located in the new city of Gueliz and dates back to the Almoravid dynasty. Harti has an Olive Avenue, a Desert Cactus Garden, and a Rose Garden all set among mature trees. This garden is a combination of a city center garden and park where young and old come to enjoy its serene atmosphere.
- Cyber Park is a beautiful 8 hectare park in the heart of Marrakesh just a five minute walk from Djemaa El Fna Square. Cyber Park was originally a vegetable garden created in the 18th century by Prince Moulay Abdeslam. This expansive park uses the ancient Moroccan trench irrigation method for the lemon and olive groves. Public computer terminals are available throughout the park and there is an internet cafe in the center.
- Spend the night at a riad or hotel in Marrakesh with a garden setting.
DAY 7: MARRAKESH
- Breakfast at your riad or hotel.
- Begin the day with a drive-through tour of the Marrakesh Palmerie. The legend of the plamerie is that the millions of seeds from the dates eaten and thrown away by the nomads traveling from the Sahara all came together at this particular place. The Palmerie’s oasis of 13,000 hectares with over 100,000 trees has been protected by law since 1929. For the Arabs, the palm tree is a symbol of life, the most generous of all trees as it gives shade to everyone except itself. The Phoenix Dactylifera (date palm) grows up to 30 m high and can live up to 300 years. Every year 82,000 tons of dates are harvested from the Palmerie. Today the palm grove is mixed with exclusive private gardens and palatial villas.
- Next, visit MOB Nursery in Marakech. The MOB Nursery covers 12 hectares and employs 70 gardeners who maintain and produce ornamental trees, fruit trees, herbs, cactus, shrubs, annuals, perennials in greenhouses and ground plantings. They have on-site specialists in plant identification, pest control, aboriculture and garden designs.
- Visit a local Marrakesh Villa Garden and enjoy a mint tea ceremony and Moroccan sweets.
- Lunch at Flower Power Café, a one of a kind wholly organic restaurant that offers home made dishes with salads, herbs, and vegetables all grown on site next to the café. The café is owned and run by French expat Aurelia Tazi who moved to Morocco in 2004. Flower Power is her outlet for entertaining, creating, and decorating for guests who have a passion for organic food in green spaces. The café is charming and furnished with flea market finds purchased from the Marrakesh souk.
- Next take a tour of Casa Botanica Nursery located on the grounds of the Flower Power Café.
- Tour led by the director at Casa Botanica who has a masters in herbology and ethnobotany, Sadek Tazi. HE started the nursery in Casablanca where they produce over two-thousand species of plants by seed and propagation and specialize in drought resistant plants that have adapted to the harsh dry climate of Marrakesh. The vast three acre collection of aloes, agaves, yuccas, cacti, succulents, trees, flowering shrubs, palms, bamboo, citrus trees, roses, hibiscus, Mediterranean plants, aquatic plants, and the test gardens flourish in the shade of giant colored nets 6 m high, composed of threads of red, yellow, blue, green and silver, which protect plants from intense heat and other elements.
- Dinner at La Trattoria, an Italian restaurant hidden away in a verdant oasis. La Trattoria is also a superb villa decorated in a mixture of 1920s and Moorish styles that has become a hot-spot in the center of Gueliz.
- Spend the night at a riad or hotel in Marrakesh with a garden setting.
DAY 8: MARRAKESH - OUIRGANE
- Breakfast at your riad or hotel in Marrakesh.
- Start the day with a visit to the Ourika Valley’s plant nurseries. Nectarome Medicinal & Herbal Gardens
- Visit the Nectarome which offers a wide range of activities with traditional bread baking class, spa services, and hearty meals.
- Guided tour of the Nectarome Gardens. Nectarome specializes in the field of phytotherapy, aromatherapy, and the distillation of aromatic plants that grow naturally in the wild, or are organically cultivated. In the one hectare organic garden at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains in the Ourika Valley they grow more than 50 aromatic and medicinal plants for research, development, and educational purposes. Based on Moroccan traditional medicine they offer a wide line of wellness products made with pure and natural essential oils with all products made on the premises. With several areas to relax in the garden you can take in the fragrance of the many herbs or taste them in the traditional recipes prepared on site.
- Lunch at Nectarome and continue your afternoon visit of the gardens with options including: Medicinal Spa Treatments – Sea Salt Herbal footbaths – Argan Oil Workshop – Henna Workshop
- Visit the Saffron Gardens & Gardens
- Herbal Tea Tasting at the Saffron Gardens
- A Moroccan Doctor founded the Saffon Gardens, a six-hectare project to grow saffron and exotic fruit. The area surrounding the saffron fields is a working farm with French goats for milk and many species of plants and trees. The annual harvest by the local Berber women in the village yields only five kilos of saffron that is certified by the International Certification Lab in France. There is a small museum explaining the process of growing, harvesting, trimming, and drying the saffron.
- Dine & Spend the night at La Roseraie – a cottage style hotel surrounded by thousands of rose bushes in Ouirgane.
DAY 9: OUIRGANE - MARRAKESH
- Breakfast at La Roseraie Hotel and Gardens in Ouirgane.
- Explore the grounds of La Roseraie, a working 60 acre farm and garden with a rich display of roses, mixed flower beds, and fruit trees. Spend the afternoon in the gardens or take advantage of La Roseraie’s offerings that include horseback riding, trekking to Berber villages, and an onsite Spa.
- Lunch in the garden at Hotel La Roseraie
- Departure in the late afternoon and return to Marrakesh. Farewell dinner in Marrakesh.
DAY 10: CASABLANCA OR MARRAKESH DEPARTURE
- Breakfast in Marrakesh at your riad or hotel.
- Early morning drive from Marrakesh to Casablanca. Departures also available from Marrakesh’s Menara Airport.