Morocco is a welcoming, friendly country. As we saw and heard from our local guide, it is a place of much tolerance for differing cultures, religions, and ethnic groups. This is a country of extremes with modern malls and stores in the big cities and donkey carts in the very active souks of the ancient medinas. Our visits to the Kasbahs and medinas were certainly an adventure, through the narrow winding streets within the old city walls.
Our first day began with a short walk around the grounds of the Royal Palace in Rabat before making our way to the vast Chellah Roman ruins. Next, our group was treated to a walk through ancient narrow streets of the Medina where rich blue and white colours adorned the buildings. Our drive to Meknes took about two hours. Walking through the enormous storage granaries there, gave us glimpse into the past food preservation practices. Nearby, we toured the incredible restored Roman ruins of Volubilis before making our way to the ancient city of Fes.
On the following day, we spent several hours wandering through the maze of extremely narrow alleys in the medina of Fes. There were small shops that lined the walkways with merchants selling everything from food to textiles, metal works to fine leather goods and so much more. Meanwhile, donkey carts transported all manner of goods through the narrow streets. The Moroccan people are pleasant and helpful, always wanting us to have a great experience in their country. Having a bit of French is really helpful as almost everyone there speaks French, along with Arabic. Many people, especially the merchants, can converse in English. Our local guides spoke perfect English and they were not only knowledgeable, but had a keen sense of humour.
The next day we made our way across the Atlas Mountains to the western edge of the Sahara Desert. Our resort here was exceptional with spacious rooms and views across the dunes. The courtyard surrounds a gigantic pool surrounded by palm trees and colourful flowers. The next evening, we prepared for a camel ride at sunset. Our caravan crossed over numerous dunes in the Western Sahara before arriving at a secluded tented camp in the desert. After a wonderful Berber dinner, we were treated to some traditional music under the stars before retreating to our tents. A small group of us arose early to climb to the top of the high dune beside our camp to view the incredible sunrise. Later, we boarded the 4x4’s which took us to visit a Bedouin nomad family before stopping at an area rich in fossils. Next, we made our way through the Todra Gorge before entering the Dades Valley. Here, we toured the famous Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah – site of numerous Hollywood movie scenes. Driving through the magnificent Atlas Mountains, we headed toward our next destination – Marrakesh.
Our accommodation in Marrakesh was situated down a winding alleyway inside the walled medieval city. A short stroll took us to Jemaa el-Fnaa, the famous Marrakesh marketplace. Here acrobats, snake charmers, fortune-tellers and Berber musicians competed for our attention. Bustling crowds flowed between the lines of tiny shops displaying their bewildering array of handicrafts. In the evening, the music became louder and more and more people crowded into the square as dozens of food stalls opened with their flavourful aromas filling the air. The following morning, we were all taken on a walking tour through the medina which included the Museum of Islamic Art and the Muslim school for Imams. Later, we attended a cooking school where we all had an opportunity to prepare our lunch using local spices. The rest of the afternoon we were free to explore the meandering alleys leading to the grand market, or simply rest back at our riad.
The next day, after a delightful breakfast on the rooftop terrace, the group departed in two vans for a trip to Toubkal National Park located in the mountains about 70 km south of Marrakesh. Here we divided into two hiking groups with varied levels of difficulty. Our leisurely walk took us over mountain streams and along ancient paths where we occasionally met local women and children on their way to and from the market and men riding donkeys carrying baskets of local produce. Our hike ended in a small village where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch in the home of a local family. After a two-hour drive back to Marrakesh, we arrived at our riad where we had time to rest before enjoying evening cocktails and hors d'oeuvres on the rooftop overlooking the city.
Our final destination was Casablanca, where we first had a brief city tour before visiting the magnificent Hassan II Mosque and the Royal Palace courtyard. The hotel was located right on the Atlantic Ocean and many of the group spent the afternoon enjoying the warm sun and lovely beach. Our farewell dinner that evening was at Rick's Café, a recreation of the famous restaurant featured in the film Casablanca. Sadly, our wonderful tour had come to an end.
Everywhere we went, whether in a group or just a couple of us exploring on our own, we always felt safe and very welcome. For everyone in our group, this was an educational and positive experience in a country no longer foreign to us.
Join our next journey with Group Escort Karen Cullen | Morocco OCT 11 - 26, 2020