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Festivals in Morocco

 Imilchil Betrothal Festival Guided Tour in Morocco


Join Morocco Tours for this one of kind, personal experience with the natives of Morocco! Up in the peaks of the Atlas Mountains lives a culture that still believes in its ancestral rituals. Imilchil Festival is a marriage fair where brides select their grooms at their own discretion as the tradition carries for many centuries.

The Berbers are the indigenous people of North Africa. They are herders, nomads, mountain rug weavers of the land and they live a free-spirited mountain lifestyle; very liberal and democratic compared with their Arab neighbors.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 Neolithic period.

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. They gather at the end of summer, in the early days of September, having spent the spring and the hot days of summer, in the early mountain peaks with their flocks. Now it is time to begin the transition to leave the nomadic life behind and settle in for the winter months. It is the time to prepare the plots and terraces for the fall plough. And now it is the time, as it has been for centuries, for the social gathering to occur. Now it is time for the fair.

Imilchil Betrothal Festival in Morocco
September 19-Oct 1, 2013

Sep 19th : JFK/Casablanca
Overnight flight to Casablanca on Royal Air Maroc.

Sep 20th : Casablanca/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 will highlight the Mellah, the Mohamed V mausoleum, the Oudaya Kasbah and the Andalous gardens. Dinner is at the hotel.

Sep 21st : Volubilis/Meknes/Fes
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 to 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.    

Sep 22nd :  Fes
Start the historic sites by the mellah, the king's palace and the Bat'ha museum of Moroccan arts. Then, there will be the 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 life time. Lunch is served in a typical Moroccan restaurant. For the afternoon, continue visiting and shopping. Dinner is at the Hotel.

Sep 23rd : Fez / Midelt / Imilchil
We will be travelling from Fez to Imilchil via Midelt visiting Berber villages and natural sights across the High Atlas Mountains. We will arrive to Tisi'n'Isly pass in mid-afternoon, where a caravan of mules will take us up Mt Tarrirecht (3km) in the High Atlas 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)

Sep 24th : Imilchil
After breakfast we will take a mild hike to the breath taking plateau des lacs. We shall return to camp for lunch. Afternoon will be devoted to the festival activities among the Berbers. (Camping) Closing Ceremony.

Sep 25th : Imilchil
After breakfast, we will take a morning walk in the mountains visiting the Berber nomads in their tents and sipping mint tea with them. Return to Imilchil for lunch. The afternoon is to share the happiness of the newly wed couples in a festive atmosphere with the indigenous Berber in their joyful chants and dances.

Sep 26th :  Imilchil / Tinghir
Travel across the High Atals breath taking valleys to reach the Gorges of Todra.  The whole afternoon will be devoted to explore the region and its marvelous Kasbahs.  Dinner and accommodations are at Hotel Bougafer.

Sep 27th : Tinghir / Marrakesh
Travel in the morning back to Ouarzazate visiting the Dades Valley and continue to Marrakesh across the Tizen=Tichka pass.  Dinner is at the hotel.

Sep 28th : 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.

Sep 30th :  Marrakesh
Day at leisure, relax and reflect or go to the colorful souks of Marrakesh.   Farewell dinner at a Shehraman  Restaurant 

Oct 1st : Marrakech / Casablanca / New York

Early morning transfer to Marrakesh Airport to connect with the transatlantic flight to NY/JFK from Casablanca with a memorable trip of a life time.   

Imilchil Festival Tour Includes:
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.

Cities and Hotels Used
Rabat, 1 night, Hotel Chellah (4 Stars)
Fes, 2 nights. Riad Anebar (4 Stars)
Tinghir, 1 night. Hotel Kasbah Lamrani (4 Stars)
Imilchil, 3 nights, camping
Marrakesh, 3 nights. Hotel El Andalous (4 Stars)

Cost per person based on double occupancy:   $2895.00


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I want to thank our guide Hamid Mernissi, who came specially from his residence in America to guide our group through his home country. His knowledge, natural warmth, and his connections throughout the country made the trip, and even some of the interminable bus rides, special. The man was knighted by the nation of Morocco for his contribution in keeping alive ancient many elements of its ancient culture. The King actually had to insist on Hamid’s presence due to my man playing hooky during the first ceremony, not wanting the pomp and circumstance of it all...” (see below video)

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