The Real Deal: Fourteen nights' accommodations, meals, ground transportation within Morocco, and sightseeing, from $1,250 per person—including taxes.
When: Depart May 3, 17, 31, June 14, 28, 2008; add $79 for July 12, Aug. 2, 16, 30, Sept. 13, 27.
The fine print: The $1,250 price includes a local cash payment of £149 ($291), payable in British pounds or in euros. Taxes and service charges, breakfast and dinner daily, 13 lunches, airport-hotel transfers, an overnight train ride, all ground transportation with taxes and tolls, sightseeing tours, admission fees, and the services of an English-speaking tour leader are included. Prices are per person; no single supplement. On the Go recommends budgeting a minimum of $20 a day for personal expenses. Visas are not required for U.S. passport holders visiting Morocco for less than 90 days. Group size ranges between 6 and 25 participants, with the average number being 16 to 18. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: On the Go Tours, 866/377-6147, onthegotours.com.
Why it's a deal: The $1,250 package price breaks down to $89 a day and covers all taxes, accommodations, meals, transportation, sightseeing, and special activities like camel treks. On the Go Tours specializes in travel to far-flung destinations and offers a sense of comfort and reassurance while you explore an unfamiliar place by making sure you don't miss any noteworthy sites. Plus, the company has arrangements with local hotels to offer you lower prices than what you'd be quoted if you were to book accommodations on your own.
Trip details: The Camels, Souks, and Kasbahs package includes 14 nights' accommodations—nine camping and five at various hotels. On the Go Tours doesn't provide an advance list of participating hotels because they are subject to availability.
The staff will meet you upon your arrival in Tangier to take you to your hotel for a mandatory 6 p.m. group orientation, so be sure to book a flight that will arrive earlier in the day. (If you prefer to take a taxi to your hotel, On the Go will reimburse you for the cost of the ride.) In the evening, you'll enjoy a traditional dinner and hope for a good night's rest before setting out on the packed two-week journey.
Begin with a trek up the Rif Mountains to Chefchaouen (Arabic for "look at the horns" [the peaks resemble the horns of a goat]), a picturesque white-walled medina with arched doorways and cobbled streets. In the main square, known as Plaza Uta el-Hammam, you'll find ruins of the casbah walls and the Grand Mosque, and authentic cafés. For a bargain on kilims, flat, woven tapestries, stop by Al Makhzen market, whose vendors sell a hodgepodge of traditional Moroccan goods and touristy trinkets.
You'll take a tour of the Roman ruins at Volubilis, a UNESCO-listed site that dates back to A.D. 40. Then continue on to the medieval sprawling city of Fès. While there are plenty of noteworthy mosques, only Muslims can enter them. In the evening, you'll enjoy a Moroccan dinner and entertainment at a restaurant in town.
The next morning brings a trip across the Moyen Atlas and through the Gorge du Ziz until you reach the Meski Oasis, known as Blue Spring. You'll camp here for the night before heading towards the Sahara. Enjoy a camelback ride from Merzouga to a Berber camp for a night under the desert sky.
Then spend a day in the Todra Gorge, whose vertical limestone cliffs have earned it the nickname Morocco's Grand Canyon. Pause to watch the changing colors of the gorge as the sun passes from east to west.
Next on the itinerary is an overnight stay in Marrakech, set against the snowcapped Atlas Mountains. Blockbuster attractions include the Koutoubia Tower—sister to the Tower of Hassan in Rabat and the Giralda Tower in Seville—and the lively square and market place, Jemaa -el-Fna.
Take a morning drive to Essaouira, a fishing town nestled within 15th-century Portuguese fortifications. You'll be free to explore the UNESCO-listed medina, home to souks and woodcarving workshops, or relax on the beach.
You'll also spend a day in the quaint fishing village of Moulay Bousselham, which has a lagoon and protected wetland, before visiting Cap Spartel. In more recent history, its caves, which offer panoramic views of the ocean, have played host to parties for the Tangier jet set. From Cap Spartel you'll head back to catch your flight home.
While Morocco is warm and sunny year-round, at the peak of summer it can get especially hot, with highs reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more. So try to visit in late spring or late summer when the temperatures are more comfortable at around 80 degrees. Before you go, check the weather forecast.
Getting there: International airfare is not included. A recent search on SideStep yielded round-trip fares to Tangier—departing on May 3 and returning on May 18—that started at $975 from D.C. (Iberia), $1,050 from Chicago (Iberia), $1,066 from New York City (Royal Air Maroc), $1,203 from Miami (multiple carriers), $1,220 from L.A. (multiple carriers), $1,264 from Seattle (multiple carriers), and $1,278 from Houston (multiple carriers).