For centuries, southern Spain and Morocco — separated by the 9-mile Strait of Gibraltar — have had a long and deeply connected history. Their distinct cultural identities are balanced by a rich, shared heritage that has left them forever intertwined.
Southern Spain is known for its sleepy rural villages and bull fighting arenas, delicate orange blossom groves and thrumming guitar strains. It is a historic and cultural melting pot, evidenced in its Roman ruins, fortified Moorish hill towns, and converted medieval mosques.
Morocco provides an intoxicating mix of ancient and modern, from brightly-colored medinas and imposing imperial cities to French colonial resort towns and luxurious design hotels. Morocco casts a spell with its bustling souks, sun-baked desert vistas, colorful zellij mosaics, and North African-spiced tagine stews. Prepare to be enchanted by both destinations.
Our 11-day journey blends world-renowned sites and lesser-known cultural gems, punctuated by invigorating day hikes through unique landscapes of two countries. We walk through fruit orchards, past karst massifs, along shepherds’ paths, and on cobbled streets. This adventure leads us to a better understanding of the intricate threads that connect these tightly woven, ancient lands.
Arrival in Granada
Bienvenido a España! Our adventure begins in the Andalusian city of Granada, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This morning, we meet our guide and begin with a brief orientation to the coming days.
We set off on a walk along the River Darro, which winds gently through the heart of Granada. The river was named by the Romans, who once panned for gold along its banks. Our path leads us to the Alhambra, a 14th-century complex of royal palaces and gardens built by the last Muslim emirs in Spain. The complex was first described by Moorish poets as "a pearl set in emeralds" for its beautiful, luminescent architecture and mountainous, woodland setting. Today the Alhambra is one of Spain's most renowned attractions and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Upon arrival, we tour the palaces — including the breathtaking grounds of the Palacio de Generalife — with a specialist guide. Afterward, we enjoy lunch at a restaurant overlooking the city of Granada before making the 1.5-hour journey west, where we settle in to our countryside hotel near Antequera.
Hotel la Fuente del SolAntequera
Designed in the style of an Andalusian cortijo, this quaint hillside hotel in the Torcal de Antequera countryside overlooks rolling farmland and the distant, white villages of the Mediterranean. Brightly-appointed guestrooms feature exposed beams and radiant heating.
Torcal de Antequera
After breakfast, we make a short transfer to the Torcal, an extraordinary limestone massif that forms part of a nearby nature reserve. Located in the Sierra del Torcal Mountain Range, the whimsical rock formations were part of a Jurassic Age marine corridor that once extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. When the waters retreated, they left behind an unusual mountain range of flat-lying limestone and caves with visible fossil deposits.We explore the park's exhibition and do some fossil hunting along a high platform in the Torcal before hiking around this unique landscape.
We next transfer to the town of Antequera, located in the heart of Andalucía. This small, hilltop settlement was called Anticaria by its original Roman settlers and gradually grew in regional importance from the second millennium BCE.
We explore the old part of town and its major attractions, including the alcazaba, or fortress, which Christians reclaimed from the Moors in the early 15th century. We also see the Dolmens of Viera and Menga — these structures are considered masterpieces of megalithic architecture and are some of earliest ceremonial monuments in all of Western Europe. This evening, we enjoy a dinner of regional and Mediterranean specialties at our hotel.
We begin with a transfer to the whitewashed mountain town of Grazalema, less than two hours west, where we leave our bags and set off to stretch our legs in the mountainous, rugged terrain of southern Andalucía. Our route begins on the cobbled roads of Grazalema, where we follow a backstreet lined with quaint, whitewashed houses. Arriving at the top of the village, we can see Peñon Grande, the 4,320' peak that towers above town.
Winding along country paths and through tracks of Mediterranean woodland, we gain elevation, while enjoying views over the surrounding farmland and the twin peaks of Reloj and Simancon. Continuing on to Presillas Pass, the path begins to wend downhill, following the Guadalete River. This river once marked the frontier boundary between Christian and Moorish Iberia, a designation that earned it the nickname, 'Río de los Muertos', or 'River of the Dead'. We descend over the scenic Boyar Pass, eventually returning to Grazalema.
This evening, you are free to explore the village before dinner at a nearby restaurant that specializes in regional game dishes, including venison, wild boar, and partridge.
Hotel La MejoranaGrazalema
This boutique guesthouse is centrally-located in the village of Grazalema and offers easy access to the shops and restaurants in town. Enjoy porches overlooking the gardens, an outdoor swimming pool, and a library and lounge that feel like home.
El Pinsapar Hike
Our trailhead today starts ten minutes outside the village of Grazalema at a small abandoned sand quarry. The trail begins uphill, running through open pine forest to the ridge of the Sierra de las Cumbres. The views from the ridge are spectacular, and the change in the vegetation is dramatic after we switch to the north face of the massif and gradually enter the protected fir forest of Grazalema, a relict forest from the last period of glaciation. We contour across the northern slopes of the peaks of San Cristóbal and Torreón and then undertake a steady descent through more open evergreen oak woodland and pastures, walking down to the isolated village of Benamahoma, famed for its pure spring water.
We enjoy a picnic lunch along the way, and upon arrival in Benamahoma, relax with a well-earned beer at a local pub. A 30-minute transfer returns us to Grazalema, and the evening is free to relax and enjoy dinner on your own at one of the charming local restaurants in town.
Cork Forest and Ronda
Departing Grazalema, we descend into the Guadalete Valley. We stop for a short hike that descends through cork forest along the banks of the Campobuche River before transferring east to the ancient, picturesque town of Ronda.
Surrounded by Spanish fir trees and perched along the nearly 330-foot-tall El Tajo Canyon, Ronda offers one of the most breathtaking vantages in all of Andalucía. Prominent figures including Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway frequently visited the area and were inspired by the town's beauty and longstanding bullfighting tradition.
This afternoon, we check in to our hotel situated on the edge of the Guadalevin River Gorge and enjoy lunch before a guided exploration of Ronda's charming Casco Antiguo, or Old Quarter. Beginning at our hotel, we cross the 18th-century Puente Nuevo Bridge, which spans the El Tajo Canyon. Today's stops include the main square of Ronda, the parish church of Santa María la Mayor — known for its Renaissance choir and range of architectural styles spanning 200 years, and the Arab Baths, which offer a rare glimpse at Moorish daily life from the 13th to 16th centuries.
We enjoy dinner together at a cliffside restaurant and toast our time in Spain, while anticipating tomorrow's journey to Morocco.
Parador de RondaRonda
This stunning, cliff-side property is located in a former Town Hall building next to the famous Puente Nuevo Bridge in the heart of Ronda. The hotel’s spacious guestrooms are tastefully decorated, with views of the nearby Tagus River or the surrounding ravine.
Transfer to Morocco
This morning we transfer overland from Ronda to Tarifa, Spain. At the harbor, we board a ferry and continue our journey by sea. The short trip crosses the Strait of Gibraltar, and we land in Tangier, Morocco.
After we disembark, we meet our Moroccan guide and head to a nearby restaurant for a lunch of local specialities, enjoying the flavors of a new cuisine that contrasts with our meals in Spain.
With our appetite satisfied, we set off with our guide for a walking tour of Tangier. Before Moroccan independence, Tangier was part of an "International Zone" that was home to artists, writers, vagabonds, businessmen, spies, socialites, and everyone in between. Its eclectic history, 'anything goes' attitude, and blend of cultures make Tangier a fascinating city to explore.
As part of our afternoon adventure in this new land, we visit the kasbah — an old style of medina that was formerly used as a fortress — and the Kasbah Museum, housed in the former sultan's palace. We stop for tea along the way, and our guide regales us with stories about the people who have called Tangier home — including Paul Bowles, Henri Matisse, and Eugene Delacroix.
This evening, we enjoy time to relax before dinner at our lovely riad.
Palais ZahiaTangier, Morocco
Palais Zahia is ideally-located in the heart of Tangier’s medina and only a 5-minute walk to the coast. Colorful woodwork and tiles create a bright and inviting atmosphere, while room décor is inspired by some of Tangier’s most notable personalities. Enjoy excellent service and hospitality, delicious food, and a terrace overlooking the city.
Tangier to Chefchaouen
Departing Tangier, we take a short detour west to the coast en route to Chefchaouen. Here, we enjoy panoramic views over the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean from Cape Spartel, where the two bodies of water converge. We also visit the Caves of Hercules and learn about the unique mythology of this site.
A two-hour drive south delivers us to the town of Chefchaouen, perched below the Rif Mountains and known for its iconic blue medina. Upon arrival, we check in to our centrally-located riad before heading out to stretch our legs. We explore the wending cobblestone roads and narrow alleyways full of bright blue buildings with red-tiled rooftops. Along the way, our guide tells us about the history of Chefchaouen, including theories about why the buildings are painted blue, and we have plenty of opportunities for taking photos of the town's picturesque street scenes.
We retire to our riad for the next two nights and enjoy a relaxing dinner together.
Lyna Riad & SpaChefchaouen, Morocco
Located in the heart of Chefchaouen, this riad and spa boasts rooftop terraces with excellent views over the mountains and medina. Amenities include an onsite restaurant, three lounge areas, a pool, and a hammam and spa.
Hiking in the Rif Mountains
We set off for a hike in the Rif Mountains, walking along shepherds' paths through forests of cork oak trees in Talassemtane National Park.
Our hike commences with a gentle climb, eventually offering some impressive views of the surrounding landscape. We walk above fields and hillsides, enjoying views of the towering peaks of Jebel Lakraa and Jebel Tissouka. As we approach our destination, we pass a spring used for crop irrigation in the village of Mechkralla, and stop to enjoy a traditional Berber lunch with a local family.
We return to Chefchaouen later this afternoon and have time to explore the souk by night before dinner together.
Volubilis and Moulay Idriss Zerhoun
Our day begins with a scenic three-hour drive south to Moulay Idriss Zerhoun. Spread across the foothills of Mount Zerhoun, this holy city is the burial place of Moulay Idriss — the prophet Muhammad's great-grandson and the founder of Islam in Morocco. We enjoy a guided walk of the town, which only recently opened to non-Muslim visitors.
We continue to nearby Volubilis, one of ancient Rome's remote outposts and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a local guide, we explore the grounds with their impressive ruins and beautiful collection of mosaics, which offer a rare depiction of Roman life from the 1st century through 285 CE.
Another one-hour drive delivers us to Fes, where we settle in to our luxurious hotel and enjoy time to relax before dinner together.
Palais FarajFes, Morocco
This luxury 5-star hotel is steeped in traditional tilework and wood carvings, and the owner’s extensive African art collection is tastefully on display throughout the property. Enjoy luxury accommodations, an onsite restaurant and bar, spa, and swimming pool.
Today we explore Fes and its sprawling medina, one of the world's most well-preserved medieval cities. Home to more than 150,000 inhabitants, Fes' medina remains the world's largest car-free urban zone. Dense, dark, and full of narrow alleyways packed with people and donkey carts, some areas of the medina appear virtually unchanged from the way it likely looked hundreds of years ago.
Our journey begins at the King's Palace, famous for its imposing brass doors, cedar wood carvings, and ornate zellij tilework. We continue to the Jewish and Arab quarters along the River of Fes, where it is possible to take in panoramic views of the medina. Our next stop is a visit to the family-owned pottery co-operative, where we see artisans with their apprentices producing zellij tiles and hand-thrown pottery using traditional techniques and simple tools.
We continue walking to the University of al-Karaouine (also written as al-Quaraouiyine or al-Qarawiyyin), which is the oldest continuously-operated university in the world, originally founded in 859 AD by a woman named Fatima al-Fihr. We also see the restored 14th-century Bou Inania Madrasa theological college as well as the Nejjarine Fountain — a prime example of Moroccan riad architecture once used by visiting merchants and traders to store their wares. Please note, our walk does not include tours inside these sites, since they are closed to non-Muslim visitors.
Our next stop is the famous tannery of Chouara, where cow, sheep, goat, and camel leathers are preserved, dyed, and turned into the handbags, jackets, and wallets to be sold at the surrounding souks. There is also time to visit and make souvenir purchases at some of the city's famous handicraft stalls.
This evening, we return to our hotel for a farewell dinner and celebrate our adventure in this majestic and unique corner of the world.
After breakfast, you'll be transferred to the Fes-Saïs International Airport in time for your departing flight home.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Apr 26-May 6, 2020
Oct 4-14, 2020
Take over a date for your group! See "Make It Private" on Dates & Prices tab.
From $6,795 Per Person
First two reserved:$485
See single supplement policy below.
10+ Guests: $6,795 per person
4 to 9 Guests: $7,195 per person
Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Additionally, some trips have minimum group sizes. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.
2020 PRICING GUARANTEE
Please note that we are holding our 2019 pricing for 2020 dates. For bookings received prior to 2020 pricing being set, Boundless Journeys will cover the first 5% of any increase in pricing, and will only ask travelers to pay any amount beyond a 5% increase.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Our Spain & Morocco: Grenada to Fes Walking journey is rated 2+, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). Southern Spain and Morocco contain a variety of terrains, from forested hills and rugged mountains, to bountiful farmlands and fertile river valleys, and even the occasional waterfall. Our hikes offer moderate elevations ranging from about 250 feet to about 1,800 feet and from 3 to 7 hours (with one day up to 11 miles), on everything from paved city streets and country paths to modestly challenging mountain trails.
Most Convenient Airport for Arrival: Federico Garcia Lorca Granada Airport, Granada, Spain (airport code GRX) Most Convenient Airport for Departure: Fès-Saïs Airport, Fes, Morocco (airport code FEZ)
Flight itineraries into Granada, Spain and out of Fes, Morocco can be a bit tricky. However, we have found that with a little creativity the rates and schedules can be quite reasonable. For example, perhaps doing a roundtrip trip ticket to Madrid, with a one-way ticket to Granada, and then one from Fes back to Madrid.
We recommend contacting one of the airfare specialists below who can assist:
Both companies do a very good job at piecing together unique itineraries. You may contact them directly, or Boundless Journeys can request a quote on your behalf.
Andalucía, Spain has a coastal climate, meaning it remains warm and relatively dry throughout the year. The annual temperatures can range from average lows in the mid-30s to highs in the mid-90s (degrees Fahrenheit).
Morocco's climate is moderate and subtropical near its coasts, thanks to the cooling breezes of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Further inland, temperatures can be more extreme, but in the north of the country — from Tangier to Fes — the annual temperatures typically range from the low-40s in the wintertime to the mid-90s (Fahrenheit) in the summer months.
The shoulder seasons in southern Spain and Morocco — from March to May and mid-September to October — offer moderate temperatures and are typically considered the best time to visit. During summer high season, the crowds pack in and traffic jams are common (July-September), especially near the coasts. While occasional rains are not uncommon in the spring, congestion is low and temperatures make it the ideal season for hiking. It's also a popular time of year to experience colorful local festivals in Andalucía.
A history of foreign invaders — Romans, Christians, and Moors — have left their mark on both Andalusian and Moroccan cuisine, and the results are still evident today. Southern Spain's five coastal provinces have made fish and shellfish an important culinary staple, while an array of spices feature prominently in most Moroccan dishes.
In Andalucía, small plates are often serves tapas-style. Fresh, cold soups such as gazpacho are common, as is Iberian ham (jamón ibérico) — dry cured and made from a prized pig breed that grazes on acorns. Popular desserts in Southern Spain include deep fried pastry dolloped with honey and almond cookies topped with powdered sugar. This region is also well-known for its sherry (fortified wine), which has been produced here for centuries.
Moroccan cuisine benefits from a wide range of Mediterranean fruits, vegetables, and livestock. Couscous is a national staple, typically topped with meats, which are often cooked inside a tagine (a triangular, earthenware vessel) alongside vegetables. A series of hot and cold salads are usually served before the tagine. Pork and alcohol are rarely consumed at traditional meals due to religious restrictions. Morocco's most popular national beverage is mint tea, served in abundance around the country.
We will do our best to accommodate specific dietary restrictions. Please call our office with any questions or concerns about our ability to meet your needs.
Nick is a U.K. ex-pat residing in Barcelona and has been guiding and designing active cultural tours in Spain for nearly 20 years. His passion for Spanish culture and heritage have, at times, led him to writing, translating, editing, publishing, and teaching, including time at the University Complutense in Madrid.
Nick's ample experience and a love of all things Spanish (especially food and wine), make him a fantastic traveling companion on our Spain tours, where guests continuously comment on his extensive historical knowledge and friendly manner.
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Easy to moderate walking and hiking, 3-5 hours and 3-8 miles per day
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
By: Karen Cleary
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