|Posted by Alecia Cohen on July 3, 2020 at 8:45 AM||comments (168)|
Morocco stepped up during the COVID19 pandemic making it a success story and a top destination for travelers seeking a long-needed escape. The country offers fascinating Imperial cities with historic architecture, magnificent gardens, glorious houses of worship, scenic valleys and gorges along with a vast coastline that stretches across both the Atlantic and Mediterranean sea. Shopping in the souks and bustling markets of Marrakech, trekking across the Erg Chebbi Dunes in the Sahara Desert and windsurfing on the coast of Essaouira are some of the activities you can indulge in on vacation in Morocco post COVID19.
Where to Vacation in Morocco Post COVID19. Imperial Cities - Tour Morocco's Imperial Capitols led by a Moroccan guide. Explore majestic mosques, heritage sites, glorious markets, Andalusian gardens, and Romain ruins. Discover the backstreets of Fes on a Souk Tasting Tour. Stroll through ancient medinas. Experience the famous Djemaa el Fna Square at sunset. Take a Kalech ride on the cobblestoned paths of Marrakech. An Imperial City tour is ideal for couples and families who want to delve into Morocco's history, architecture and hear the ancient stories of the Jewish mellah
Valley’s & Gorges - Morocco's valleys and vast gorges make up the country's sprawling landscapes in the south. The Dades Valley is one of Morocco's natural wonders and covers 125 km between the Todra Gorge and Ouarzazate. The Dades Valley boasts limestone cliffs with uniquely shaped erosions and superb scenery along the valley’s piste. Touring the Dades Valley you will pass flower-filled fields, fertile agricultural fields, riverbanks, and several fortified ksours. At the bottom of the Gorge of Boulmane Dades, there are ruined hilltop kasbahs and valley floor gardens. One of the valleys most sought after views is it's rock formations often referred to as "monkey's fingers." This region is perfect for an arduous hike if you are an adventure traveler whereby you will witness stunning views and trek through Berber villages. All hikes are guided by a licensed and trained Morocco guide and include picnic lunch.
The Todra Gorge is Morocco's grand canyon located in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains in southern Morocco near the town of Tinghir. Both the Todra River and Dades River have carved out the cliff-sided canyons. Touring the Todra Gorge region guarantees a scenic drive along newly built roads. You will pass the mouth of the gorge and with extended time reach the villages of Ait Hani and Tamtattouchte. The Todra Gorge extends from the village of Tamtattouchte to Tinghir. With cliffs rising dramatically up to 300m on each side of a narrow corridor, the Todra Gorge a spectacle with its gigantic rock walls changing color to create magical effects with the sunlight. A day at the Todra Gorge offers the option of extreme climbing, hiking, and sightseeing. A fun and strenuous hike involve a three-hour loop used by donkeys and mules heading north of the main gorge to Tizgui, home of palmeries and ancient kasbahs. For a lighter hike, try the Petit Gorge entering at the mouth of the gorge. The mouth is an enclosed section with overhanging cliffs and is the most dramatic scenery in the gorge. Climbing in the Todra Gorge is an unforgettable experience.
Morocco's Great Desert Regions - Morocco's great desert regions of Zagora, M'hamid, and Merzouga are vast and wonderous. The desert's fresh air and open spaces allow for a wide variety of adventure activities ideal for a vacation post COVID19. Zagora Desert, known for its sunsets and breathtaking valleys, is a commonplace to begin a camel trek. Zagora is also famous for being a base to travel to Timbuktu; on one of Zagora’s streets, is a famous sign stating “52 days to Timbuktu”. In the 9th century, traders went back and forth on this Saharan Caravan Route, which went from Zagora to Timbuktu in fifty-two days. Traders carried salt, gold, slaves, and spices. Its main destination point was Sijiilmassa, present-day Rissani (Merzouga).
M’hamid Desert was once an important market place for nomadic and trans-Saharan trade. M’hamid has one of the two sand seas in Morocco where you can camel trek. The most easily accessible dunes are those at Erg Lehoudi (Dunes of the Jews) which can be reached by camel or piste with a 4x4. There are also the Erg Chegaga sand dunes which are remote and more difficult to reach than the Erg Chebbi dunes of Merzouga. While the journey to the dunes takes about two days, it is a true reward to arrive and see this protected area inhabited by the traditional semi-nomadic Aït Atta Berbers. For an authentic Sahara experience, Erg Chegaga’s dunes are worth the visit. The Erg Chebbi Dunes at Merzouga are indisputably one of the greatest sights of Morocco. These giant hills of smooth sand line the Algerian border and are a must-see for everyone. Camel trekking at sunrise or an overnight adventure to an oasis in Merzouga is one of the most enchanting and memorable experiences one can have in the Sahara. An overnight trip to sleep in a bivouac (Berber tent) by an oasis will give you the true feeling as to how the Berbers have lived and still live today nomadically.
Beaches & Coastal Towns - Morocco is sandwiched between the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, you won’t have trouble finding a beautiful beach for your Morocco vacation while taking in the local seafood fare. If you choose to relax by the tranquil Mediterranean shores, you are in store for unspoiled Moroccan beaches with dramatic scenery of rocky inlets and headlands. In comparison, the beaches by the 2000 mile turquoise lit Moroccan Atlantic shore are more popular as they are lined with pristine stretches of sand. You will surely be astounded by the sand dunes, mythical cliffs, and bluffs when traveling to the seaside of Morocco. The most popular Atlantic beach resorts for a Moroccan vacation are Essaouira, Sidi Kaouki, Mirleft & Legzira Baech, and Agadir. All have stunning sandy beaches with a plethora of exciting things to see and do.
Essaouira affectionately referred to as “swera” by locals, is a windy city on Morocco’s Northern Atlantic Coast. Essaouira is a top-rated destination for families for its multitude of things to do with kids. Ideal for families honeymooners and Morocco travelers Essaouira’s white and blue washed medina is revered for its charming ramparts, vibrant art galleries, shopping, and seafood gastronomy. Just three hours from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech this coastal town is the perfect weekend getaway with an abundance of unique accommodation options ranging from quaint, countryside villas, to luxury riads and hotels with sea views. Families who have an interest in vacationing at an artistic seaside community and with a penchant for adventure should add Essaouira to their bucket list.
Sidi Kaouki is a Berber coastal town 30 minutes south of Essaouira. The beach in this remote region is unspoiled and strikes a perfect balance with offering an ideal place for kite and windsurfers while staying true to its African roots. Sidi Kaouki is known for its great waves, reefs, and breakpoints. Camels saunter across the sand dunes while locals sell hand made items with local guides offering camel treks and horseback riding to those who are in search for a coastal adventure. The town is quiet and desolate therefore being the perfect destination for relaxation, contemplation, and enjoying the scenery.
Legzira Beach is well-appointed 20 minutes north of Sidi Ifni and lauded as one of the best beaches in the world for sunbathing and surfing. Legzira has been also described by travelers as a real-life painting. The geological rocky beach artfully connects the Anti Atlas Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. Legzira’s organic cave formations are fascinating and well appreciated by nature enthusiasts. Sunset in Legzira offers stunning views of rock formations surrounded by cliffs in multiple hues of burnt orange. Legzira during high tide when the ocean veil is pulled back and revealed is an ideal time to capture a photograph.
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on December 8, 2016 at 8:25 AM||comments (1)|
For travelers interested in discovering Morocco's Imperial Cities and the Great Desert region, Travel Exploration offers Morocco Expert Tours that custom designed with the perfect amount of luxury and authenticity. Our Morocco Expert Tours are offered on a private basis and tailored for couples, families and small groups. Travelers will uncover the cultural diversity of contemporary Morocco on a Travel Exploration Morocco Luxury Tour and see the country through the eyes of locals. Our tours offer nothing less then the extraordinary including visits to breathtaking Architectural sites, Berber Villages, Jewish Heritage momuments, Majestic palaces, and Glorious houses of worship and opulent gardens.
As a traveler you will dine on exceptional cuisine and view traditional Moroccan crafts being made by local artisans and shop in enticing marketplaces. When you travel with us you will experience the authentic. At Travel Exploration Morocco our bespoke, luxury private tours itineraries are detailed. They are extensive in their coverage culled from our on the ground, expert team of licensed guides. Passionately designed and chosen by the directors each itineary includes a well balanced experience of Morocco whereby our travelers never spend more then 4-5 hours in a vehicle each day. Our staff is Moroccan, American and European which lays the ground for your insider travel experience. Our Multilingual Speaking Drivers fluent in English, Arabic, French and Berber are from Morocco’s Great South or the Marrakech region. Our drivers are deeply knowledgeable about the history and culture of Morocco. They will open your eyes and share information not found in travel books. You will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and ask them questions about aspects of Moroccan culture that is hard to access as an outsider on your own.
As Morocco Tour experts we offer stays at luxury boutique riads and hotels that are well apointed in the historic districts of each city. There’s no better place to take it all in then to stay at boutique hotels and luxurious, riads in Morocco. Riads also known for their elaborate courtyard gardens that are intimate spaces filled with lush, leafy green flora and fauna often centered around stone or marble fountain filled with rose petals. Most of Moroccan riads have courtyards or gardens where roses and oranges trees grow. A Moroccan riad experience should be part of every Morocco travelers’ vacation plan. Riads serve as the perfect escape to read a book, enjoy a typical Moroccan meal, a sunset cocktail or simply decompress and take in the sights and sounds of an exotic setting when traveling to Morocco. Our country side offering include private guests houses that have panoramic views and showcase gastronomic and farm to table Moroccan cuisine.
For your Sahara Desert adventure we offer a 1001 Arabian Nights experience, fireside with music under the stars. Our Luxury Desert Camp has inclusive access to Merzouga's Erg Chebbi Dunes and is private, for our travelers only. Our private Sahara Desert Luxury Camp is situated southeast of the village of Merzouga. Located just one-hour drive from the city of Erfoud. The Luxury Desert camp is in the heart of the impressive Saharan sand dunes, away from the areas visited by tourists. Hotel room comfort, traditional meals prepared by our Moroccan chef, and served by candlelight are just a snapshot of this once in a life time experience. Our luxury tours are affordable. While the rates we provide are not the least expensive, they are lower then agencies based in the USA and Europe, with an exceptional value. Travel Exploration Morocco private tours rate better then those offered in Conde Naste Traveler and Travel & Leisure magazines for their inclusion of tax free travel, upgrades at boutique riads and hotels along with exclusive access to monuments, historic sites and rural kasbahs not offered otherwise.
Travel Exploration Morocco donates 5% of our proceeds to Berber Villages through our charity organization called Project Feed. We are an ASTA approved travel agency and has won several accolades for our travel expertise. Don't miss out on a luxury travel experience that goes beyond your wildest dreams. Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on September 5, 2016 at 11:55 AM||comments (1)|
The city of Marrakech was Voted the World's Top Holiday Destination by TripAdvisor. Marrakech is the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and is a three hour drive from High Atlas Mountains. The location of Marrakech makes it ideal for taking Sahara Desert Tours and Private Day Trips for travelers whose schedule allows for a limited time in the country. Ideally positioned an hour from Spain and three hours from Paris, the locale of Marrakech and its contrasting landscape has made it a top destination for Morocco Travelers. There are a vareity of Desert Adventure Tours to the Sahara from Marrakech to choose from. For travelers who have a liimited amount of time some options are a 3-Day, a 4-Day or a 5-Day Sahara Desert Tour. Visitors that have a longer timeframe can instead choose a Tailor Made Tour.
Our Top Recommendation for a 4-Day Sahara Desert Morocco Adventure Tour Itinerary is:
Day 1: Departure from Marrakech to Ouarzazate via the Tizi-N-Tichka Pass. Along the route you will see panoramic views of the High Atlas Mountains as well as sights of fertile valleys, blue and red colored pise villages and other striking mineral environments. Visit Kasbah Telout, one of Morocco’s hidden jewels and a famous Kasbahs that is the origin of the Pacha Glaoui Family. Continue to the Skoura Palmeraie. Overnight in Skoura at a Charming Boutique Riad.
Day 2: Explore Skoura and the Valley of 1000 Kasbahs. Visit the Valley of Roses. Next, drive towards the Sahara Desert. Visit Erfoud, the capital of fossils. Tea in Mount Mgoun with Nomads. Continue to the Erg Chebbi Dunes. Trek by dromedary for 2 Hours before sunset. Arabian Nights dinner and couscous. Overnight in a Luxury Desert Camp.
Day 3: Travel by pise across the Sahara Desert. Continue the towards Rissani. Continue to Rissani for a breadbaking lesson on Madfouna. Next continue to a Berber Village. Sip Mint tea and eat Couscous with a Berber family. Next take the road to Ouarzazate. Overnight at a Charming Boutique Riad in Ouarzazate. Day
4: Travel to the Oasis of Fint. Visit this Oasis which is reached by off road pise. Then continue to visit the Atlas and Cinema Studios in Ouarzazate. Enjoy a guided historical tour of Ait Benhaddou. Located 32 km from Ouarzazate lies the picturesque village. Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here along with dozens of other Hollywood films. Many refer to Ouarzazate, as the Hollywood of Morocco. part of the village was rebuilt. After visiting Ait Benhaddou, return to Marrakech T
he 4-Day Top Sahara Desert Holiday Tour From Marrakech Includes: Transport in 4x4 Land Cruiser with an English, Multilingual Speaking Driver/ Guide Accommodations Daily at Charming Guest Houses Overnight in Luxury Desert Camp with Arabian Nights Dinner & Music Celebration Overnight with views of the Dades Valley Hiking Excursion to the Todra Gorge Sunset Camel Trek with Berber Camel Guide Lunch with a Berber Family Other Top Desert Tours Advetnure Tours from Marrakech: 3 Day Sahara Desert Tour from Marrakech 4 Day Sahara Desert Tour from Marrakech 5 Day Sahara Desert Tour from Mararkech
For more information on a Sahara Desert Safari or Desert Adventure Tour Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on April 17, 2016 at 12:00 AM||comments (16)|
If you want discover the interior of Morocco with other kindred female spirits then consider visiting Morocco on a private tour crafted Just For Women. Morocco Traveler has launched a comprehensive tour that offers women travelers an enchanting journey to experience to Morocco's Imperial Cities and the great South along with the the coastal region of Essaouira. Our Just For Women Tours are an intimate group of 8-10 travelers and hand curated with the option to explore Morocco for 10, 12 or 14 Days. Morocco’s heritage offers women travelers an encounter with an exotic society, new customs, an incomparable cuisine, and a shopper’s paradise of magnificent markets.
On Morocco Traveler's Just For Women Tour, you will Roam Like Royalty Through Morocco’s Imperial Cities. This Boutique Tour is created for women by women to experience the wonders of Morocco. We’ll visit breathtaking architectural sites, majestic palaces, glorious houses of worship, opulent gardens, see traditional Moroccan crafts being made by local artisans, and shop a dazzling array of unique and enticing marketplaces. We’ll enjoy exquisite cuisine and elegant accommodations all along the way of this magical voyage. Included in the Just For Women itinerary is a henna party and a ceramics workshop in Fes, an Exotic Cooking Workshop, a Hot Air Balloon ride over Marrakesh’s Atlas Mountains, Camel Trekking on the Beach in Essaouira, Spas and Hammams, Visits to Women's Cooperatives, Wine Tastings, and more from our Morocco Travel Experts. All overnights at luxurious riads & boutique hotels.
Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca
The medieval medina of Fes
Fes Food Tour Private
Henna Party Arabian Nights Dinner in the Sahara
Spa indulgence in Marrakech
Cooking class in Marrakech
Moroccan Tea Ceremony
Yves St. Laurent’s Garden in Marrakech
Wine & Cheese Tasting in
Essaouira Optional 5 day extension package to the Sahara Desert
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on August 31, 2015 at 5:25 PM||comments (9)|
Ouarzazate became famous when it’s nearby Kasbah; Aït Benhaddou appeared in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. This spellbinding quiet town is the perfect home base for exploring the southern region of Morocco which is comprised of ancient Kasbahs, the Dadès Valley, the Gorge of Todra, the Atlas Films Studios, the Skoura Palmeraie along with the Sahara Desert regions of Merzouga, Zagora and M’hamid / Erg Chigaga. On a private tour from Ouarzazate there are many site seeing opportunities ranging from visiting the historic Ait Benhaddou Ksar, Kasbah Taourirt, open air forts Atlas landscapes to the the Valley of Roses and Erg Chebbi Sand dunes.
Ouarzazate is often referred to as a city “without noise” and is a direct translation of its name. This dusty Sahara town has immense desert charm and is the Hollywood of Morocco. Ouarzazate’s unique combination arid and dry North African landscapes boast stunning views of the Atlas Mountains. Ouarzazate was once the leading administrative city in the region and was purely developed for this purpose by the French during colonization. As the region of the South expanded, Tinghir and Errachidia, became a provinces with Ouarzazate losing its name as a hub for administrative purposes.
“See Ouarzazate and die” are feelings often expressed by Moroccans with regards to this magical city that is the door to the Sahara desert. Located just four hours from Marrakesh, Ouarzazate is the main Berber city in the south. It is also known for its spectacular sunsets and dramatic mountain and desert scenery. Surrounded by breathtaking valleys, Ouarzazate was once crossing point for African traders seeking to reach northern cities in Morocco and Europe. During the French period, Ouarzazate expanded considerably as a garrison town and became the administrative centre of the Zagora region. As a diverse region Ouarzazate offers various site seeing opportunities ranging from the Atlas Film Studios, the CLA Film Studios, the Oasis of Fint, Ancient Ksars and Kasbahs along with Berber Villages.
What to Visit in the Region of Ouarzazate:
Atlas Film Studios/ The Oscar Film Studios are flanked by Holly-wood style Egyptian figures and cover 30,000 square meters of desert. David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia at The Atlas Film Studios in the early 1960’s. Since then many famous directors have followed in his footsteps to exploit the magnificent scenery. International blockbusters shot here in recent years include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara along with the series Game of Thrones. Most of the filming takes place in the desert in the south however you can view the Tibetan monastery featured in Scorese’s Kundan and an Egyptian temple from Cleopatra.
CLA Film Studios was established in 2004 in partnership with Dino de Laurentis, Cinectittà and Sanam Holding. CLA Studios is open daily to travelers visiting Ouarzazate and the ideal place to see a combination of costumes, props, film sets other movie items used in major independent films and television productions. CLA studios is surrounded by varied landscapes, from desert to oasis. Renowned directors like David Lean, Bernardo Bertolucci, Martin Scorsese, Ridlye or Oiliver Scott Stone, chose to film at CLA Studios for its location. Films and television series shot at CLA Studios range from Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky, Black Hawk Down, Kundum, Gladiator, The Mummy 1 and 2, Alexander the Great, The Kingdom of Heaven, Sahara, Troy, Exorcist 1 and 2, Hidalgo and Babel.
Ancient Moroccan Ksars & Kasbahs Ait Benhaddou Ksar is located 32 km from Ouarzazate lies the picturesque village. Aït Benhaddou of Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss Massa Draa on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Aït Benhaddou is one of many locations in this region used for shooting Hollywood films.
Kasbah Taouirt was was built by the Pasha Glaoui. Kasbah Taouirt’s location was strategic for trading routes and in the 1930’s when the Glaoui ruled the South it was then one of Morocco’s largest Kasbahs. Explore its nooks and crannies and discover some local female painters who sell their art inside as well as the many quality silver shops just steps outside the Kasbah. Kasbah Tifoultoute is an ancient Kasbah (fortress) in Ouarzazate located 8 kilometers West of the city. Kasbah Tifoultoute once belonged to the family of Thami El Glaoui, the Pasha of Marrakech. The kasbah of Tifoultoute served as decor for films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Jesus of Nazareth. There is a stunning view from the terrace of the Atlas Mountains.
Berber Villages: The Berbers are the original inhabitants of Morocco. The Berbers once occupied much of North Africa before they were persecuted and driven out or into the mountain ranges by the Arabs who came from Yemen in the 7th Century. One-third of Moroccans are Berber and live in the mountains, in villages within the Middle-Atlas and within remote areas of Morocco. Today, most Berbers understand and speak Arabic but their primary language is Berber. During a private tour to Morocco you can visit Berber villages in the High Atlas, the Middle Atlas or Anti-Atlas Mountain regions of Morocco. Within the Berber Villages you can visit old ksars, have lunch with a Berber family, and also learn about their village life. Ait Ouzine is a small village of 1200 inhabitants nestled within the Middle Atlas Mountains. Aït Ouzzine-Nkob is a Berber village inhabited by over 300 families who live in beautifully painted crenulated kasbahs, with their own henna fields, water wells, livestock, and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani. On a private tour, travelers can meet a local Berber family, sip tea in the Saghro Mountains, and dine on couscous.
Sahara Desert Regions: Merzouga is a small village in Southern Morocco which is home to the highest and most gold dunes called Erg Chebbi. Merzouga is located in the Moroccan Sahara Desert and has the largest underground natural body of water. It's Erg Chebbi dunes are the most visited by Moroccan tourists who want a majestic and authentic Sahara experience for camel trekking and desert camping. M’Hamid El Ghizlane is the last Oasis in the Great Sahara Desert and historically where caravans gathered before setting off on journeys to Timbuktu. M’Hamid is also referred to as Bounou which historically was a village of various Southern tribes such as the Ait Atta Berbers, Drawa and the Hassani. Zagora is referred to as the "direct door to the Sahara” since it is the last town before one reaches the heart of the Dunes of Tinfo, M’hamid and Erg Chegaga also known as Erg Chigaga. Erg Chegaga (Erg Chigaga) is one of the two major regions of dunes in the Sahara Desert, the other being Erg Chebbi of Merzouga. These dunes are located in the region referred to as the Sous-Mass- Draa and approximately 50 kilometers west of M'Hamid El Ghizlane and 98 kilometers south of Zaogra. Erg Chegaga remains virgin and an untouched region of Morocco and can be reached only by 4x4 land cruiser or camel trekking on a private tour to Morocco.
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on June 2, 2015 at 7:45 AM||comments (5)|
Morocco is a captivating travel destination for families with children of all ages ranging from tweens to teens. Morocco's temperate climate allows for a variety of family activities and cultural experiences that are a good fit year round. On a private tour to Morocco families can participate in adventure activities such as zip lining across the Atlas Mountains, hiking in valleys and gorges, quad riding in the Sahara and camel trekking across the desert dunes. Moroccans love children and are family oriented. A family vacation to Morocco is not complete without an up close cultural exchange in a Berber village that comprises of a bread baking, a hands on cooking class of how to make a tajine along with a henna party. Activities on a Morocco family tour can be customized to a families needs based upon their preference of very active to moderately active and the age of their children. Natural wonders indigenous to Morocco such as the Merzouga Sahara Desert, the Todra Gorge and Dades Valley also offer an outlet for active family travelers. Camel trekking across the Merzouga Sahara Desert and hiking surrounded by panoramic views of Morocco's Gorges and Valleys are for active family travel. Morocco is the ideal family vacation destination. With it’s wide range of cultural and adventure activities families’ traveling with children of all ages are guaranteed to have a lifetime memorable experience. Travel Exploration’s Family Adventure Tour takes families to a magical world of vibrant and colorful souks, Kasbahs an, mountains and rural villages. Each day is filled with siteseeing and adventure holiday activities ranging from ziplining to camel trekking, bread baking to a traditional Fantasia horse show.
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on May 1, 2015 at 6:45 AM||comments (1)|
Although, compared to neighbouring Algeria, Morocco has only a fraction of the Great Sahara Desert within its territory, yet Morocco offers the safest and best-organized access to the Sahara of the whole of North Africa. Whether you want a quick glimpse of the magnificent dunes on camelback, the thrill of sand boarding down the dunes, an overnight experience under the vast starry skies in a nomad's tent, or a longer excursion to explore the expanse of the dune complex and the people who inhabit it, Morocco has it all. There is nowhere else where you could be in some of Africa's highest snow-tipped mountain ranges and in the depth of the sandy expanses of the desert in the same day. And your trip to Morocco’s Great Deserts will take you through centuries-old oases on route. Along the way, you will meet local nomads and villagers whose families have worked this land and survived its hardships for generations. Morocco lies on the northwesterly tip of the African continent with a long Atlantic coast. This coast runs approximately southwest to northeast. Almost parallel to the coast, behind the fertile plains of Morocco's principal rivers, are the Atlas Mountain ranges (from north to south, the Middle, High and Anti-Atlas). The Sahara desert begins in the foothills of these mountains on their eastern (interior) side. Sandwiched between the mountains and the Algerian border are the principle dune regions of Morocco. Further south, the Sahara meets the ocean where Sahara cities Laayoune and Ad Dakhla are known for their sandy dunes, unique flora, bird life and beaches.
Starting in the north, the most frequently visited dune network is at Erg Chebbi, near the towns of Rissani and Merzouga. Erg Chebbi's dunes are the largest in Morocco, with some reaching around 150m in height. They cover an area of 50km (31 miles) from north to south and are about 5-10 km (3-6 miles) across. This area is easily accessible from Fes (via the Middle Atlas). A longer drive from Marrakech, takes visitors via the spectacular Tiz n'Tichka pass and the city of Ouarzazate or the stunning Dades Valley. This accessibility and the size of the dunes have meant that the infrastructure around the dunes at Erg Chebbi is very well developed, both in terms of desert bivouacs, luxury desert camps and guesthouses and hotels. This is great for those visitors who want a convenient way to see the desert on a tight itinerary, but those with more time or who seek to explore the Sahara in greater depth may prefer a more remote destination. Further south, and also reached via Ouarzazate (but this time via the beautiful Drâa Valley and its date palm oases and ancient defensive kasbahs) are the desert areas around Zagora and M'Hamid. At Zagora, you can see the famous sign indicating "TOMBOUCTOU 52 JOURS," ("52 days to Timbuktu"), which gives an indication of the importance of the desert and this region in particular for the camel caravans and trade routes of the past. Today, Zagora is a popular starting point for trips on camelback into the Sahara. The landscape here is flatter, although there are dunes at Tinfo, and near the town agriculture is relatively well developed, giving a different desert experience. Erg L'Houdi (meaning the Dunes of the Jews) and Erg Ezahaar (the Screaming Dunes) are respectively one or four days' camel ride from M'Hamid, which is itself around 100km (60 miles) further along the Drâa Valley towards the Algerian border. The paved road ends here. M'Hamid feels much more like a nomadic outpost. Being much more remote, this area is considerably less visited and many of the local sites of interest, such as sacred springs, ancient zaouias (sites of religious pilgrimage in honour of saints) and local Berber and nomadic villages are more easily (and comfortably) accessed in a 4x4 vehicle with an experienced guide. Being such an important region for trade and artisans, the area between Zagora and M'Hamid features some interesting historical and cultural sites, such as the village of Amezrou - base of former Jewish silversmiths with an Ancient Jewish Mellah - and Tamagroute, with its pottery cooperative, zaouia and Koranic Library.
The last of the four main dune networks is Erg Chegaga, between M'Hamid, 50km (30 miles) west of the town towards the settlement of Foum Zguid. After Erg Chebbi, these are the second most popular dune destination. Erg Chegaga has the highest dunes in this southerly area, but they are still considerably lower than the dunes at Erg Chebbi to the north. A favourite activity is to scramble to the top of the dunes in time for sunrise over the Sahara. Running uphill on sand is not an easy task, so this is an activity for early risers only! Many visitors to Morocco manage to fit in an overnight stay under canvas or in a Kasbah-style hotel at one of the main dunes areas of Erg Chebbi or Erg Chegaga. However, for the more adventurous or those wishing really to escape the distractions of the modern world, the trip down to south to Morocco’s Great Deserts and also to M'Hamid and beyond is certainly worthwhile. For those with less time, however, the larger dunes still offer the chance to get away from it all. And while a journey on camelback is certainly not the most luxurious in terms of comfort, it is unlike anything else! Climb aboard the "ship of the desert" and image the great trains of camels, which once crossed this magnificent sandy expanse, transporting gold, silver, and salt across the African continent! Written by Lynn Sheppard Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.
For more information about Morocco's Great Sahara Desert Tours Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on April 7, 2015 at 4:45 AM||comments (1)|
Morocco is such a photogenic country. The Best Times to Travel to Morocco and discover the 6 Best Views is spring and fall. The bright, Mediterranean sunshine makes for a special light, whether you are photographing deserts, mountains, cities, dunes or coastal scenery. The colors of the natural elements, the architecture and the handicrafts such as carpets, highly polished teapots, hand-stitched and embroidered leather babouches slippers or flowing caftans make for great subjects, as do the people and animals of Morocco. It's best to always ask before taking someone's picture and don't be offended if they refuse given many Moroccans are modest and private. Morocco also has several stunning vistas which you will want to snap during your trip. Here is a lowdown of where to go to capture the six best views of Morocco.
Fes The ancient capital of Fes is such a dense, labyrinthine city that when you are in it, it is hard to imagine getting an overview of the place. To get the best view, it is necessary to climb above the hustle and bustle of street level, to get away from the jostle of the souk and rise above the walls. The best place to do this is actually outside the medina (old city) at Les Merinides Hotel. Situated on a hill overlooking the medina, this five-star hotel has three restaurants (La Kouba du Ciel on the top floor; L’Impérial French restaurant and La Terrasse de Fès at the poolside), all of which offer panoramic views of Old Fes.
Moulay Idriss The main draw of this most holy of Moroccan cities is the mausoleum of Idriss I, the founder of the Kingdom of Morocco and credited with the introduction of Islam to this north western corner of Africa. The mausoleum occupies a large footprint in the medina, but is not accessible to non-Muslims. However, it is still worthwhile stopping at Moulay Idriss and hiking up to the highest point in the medina to look down on the huge mausoleum complex with its mosaic patios and glazed green roofs. From here, it is also possible to see the full extent of the ruins of the Roman city at Volubilis, just a few miles away.
Marrakech The most special moment in Marrakech occurs just before dusk. Pick your spot on a roof terrace in one of the many cafes which surround Place Jmaa el Fna and watch the magic unfold. As the sun begins to set, the hawkers and street food vendors roll their mobile stalls onto the square to set up for the night. As the call to the sunset prayer sounds from the Koutoubia mosque's minaret, the electric bulbs of the food stalls illuminate one by one, until the natural light has gone and the square is lit by hundreds of twinkling lights. Get to your chosen cafe early to secure a front-row seat and snap the sun setting behind the Koutoubia.
Essaouira The classic picture of Essaouira, which you will find on postcards all over town, is shot through a round window in the fortifications (skala) of the port. Entrance is 10DH and as well as great views looking back to the white-washed medina, you will get an aerial view of the functioning port and the canons lining the crenulations, as well seeing swooping seagulls and the islands out in the bay. For the best sunset views, head to the medina skala, or one of the many bars and restaurants along the beachfront, and wait for the sun to sink into the Atlantic.
Dades Gorge The best views of the stunning Dades Gorge are from the Auberge Chez Pierre, in the gorge itself. The ochre and red landscapes are an essential sight on your route to Zagora. Even if a night at Chez Pierre isn't on your itinerary, it is worth stopping for lunch or a drink on their terrace. The hotel is built in the traditional local style amid terraces of fruit trees, offering fantastic views of the surrounding gorge.
Erg Chebbi Dunes It is not always easy to get an accurate impression of the sheer size and majesty of the magnificent Erg Chebbi sand dunes. However, the Yasmina Hotel offers unbeatable views due to its sheer remoteness. It is located right on the edge of the dune complex and the slightly longer drive from all sense of civilization is worth it for the absolute peace and calm that gives visitors a true feeling of the vastness Great Sahara. The best views of the dunes are at sunrise and sunset. For this reason, you may not choose to sleep at Yasmina - many guests use it as a stopping point before heading into the dunes on camel-back for a night under the stars in tents. This list is offers edited and subjective highlights of our favorite views. On your Morocco trip you will certainly experience many others, take many photos and create special memories for the years ahead.
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on March 26, 2015 at 6:20 AM||comments (1)|
The Moroccan Kasbah was a place for the local Caid or Pacha to live in and a place of defense when a city was under attack not unlike the medieval European keep. Sometimes, they were built on hilltops so that they could be more easily defended such as the famous Ait Benhaddou near Ouarzazate. It is no accident that many great films like Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator were filmed here because it retains the character and atmosphere of centuries ago when it was an important post on the camel caravan route from Africa to Morocco. Ait Benhaddou Kasbah was a busy teeming Ksar (a fortified town) with fortified towers and reinforced walls. Inside the Ksar, there was a central mosque surrounded by family homes, communal areas and small palaces. In its earlier history, Ait Benhaddou is believed to have housed thousands of inhabitants. It was composed of six Kasbahs and nearly fifty houses, made with red pisé and connected through a complex maze of narrow streets. Visitors can step straight into the medieval past and it is a great place to take the family to explore.
Morocco’s Southern region and in particular the region of Skoura is referred to the “Valley of one-thousand Kasbahs,” referring to the way-stations of ancient caravan routes traveled by tradesmen and adventurers. They brought with them customs and crafts, beliefs and skills, and they sought shelter and social interaction within secure Kasbah walls. Skoura has superb Kasbahs on its doorstep, including the ruins of the Kasbah Amerhidil, and it is an excellent base from which to explore the Dades Valley, the Todra Gorge and the Valley of the Roses. The Glaoui Kasbahs at Telouet and Taourit are also historic sites to visit on a Morocco Tour. Telouet, the seat of Thami El Glaoui Pacha of Marrakech under the French is an imposing ruin with a central living area which is relatively well preserved with the Glaoui’s living quarters bedecked in flowered zellij tiles looking out on to the village of Telouet. Kasbahs were also fortified mansions built by the rich and powerful caids and local feudal leaders. Kasbah Taourit is another imposing Glaoui Kasbah in Ouarzazate the capital of the South. The Krupp cannon which founded the fortunes of the Glaoui’s which enabled them to dominate rival tribes still lies outside Kasbah Taourit.
Throughout the centuries Morocco’s strong and enduring Kasbahs have kept silent vigil guarding communities from potential attack which was all too common in the feudal era which lasted right up to the 1950’s chronicled in Gavin Maxwell’s epic account “Lords of the Atlas.” Some of Morocco’s finest boutique riads and hotels are now converted Kasbahs. Built or rebuilt in traditional style, they have been renovated to accommodate tourists in luxury and style. A few of the best examples are found in Ouarzazate and Skoura region. In the Ait Benhaddou Region, Riad Ksar Ighnda is a restored Kasbah with modern architecture that offers a luxury experience and stay inclusive of a private pool, roof top dining, a Hammam and is away from the city center. In Skoura there are boutique riad guests houses, Les Jardins Des Skoura and Kasbah Ait Ben Damiette, converted Kasbahs that are French owned and offer up luxurious stays surrounded by gardens.
Both are located in the heart of the Skoura palmeraie. More Kasbah’s are being renovated and turned into boutique hotels and guesthouses to offer Moroccan travelers an exciting authentic experience. The most well known Kasbah Hotel in Skoura is Dar Ahlam, “Dream House” which is an an opulent boutique hotel in the heart of the Skoura palmeraie. Built around a labyrinthine converted Kasbah from the early 20th century, this luxurious property consists of nine suites and three private villas in the attractive gardens with a large swimming pool. Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot is another well-known luxury Kasbah Hotel located in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains.
This property offers fantastic service, a beautiful spa, restaurant, and a stunning mountain backdrop. Kasbah Bab Ourika in the Ourika Valley offers outstanding views of the High Atlas and is a great value place to stay with friendly staff and fantastic food made from produce from their own garden. At Imlil at the foot of Jebel Toubkal with breathtaking terrace views of the peaks and valleys, Kasbah Du Toubkal is the perfect base for exploring the Atlas Mountains and experiencing Berber culture. Today, as as Morocco traveler, the ancient Kasbahs of the Great South can be discovered through historic visits on a private tour and visitors also have the opportunity to stay in one.
For more information about Ancient Kasbahs of Morocco's Great South or a Kasbah Tour. For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on March 17, 2015 at 8:25 AM||comments (1)|
Morocco is well-known for extreme races. The marathon des sables - known as the 'toughest footrace on earth' is a grueling 156 miles (five and a half marathons) through the Sahara Desert in 100°F or more. The Trans-Atlas Marathon is a trail of approximately 177 miles in 6 stages at an elevation of up to 11,000 ft. But did you know that there are also vehicle rallies competing across some of Morocco's most challenging terrain? The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is a women-only endurance rally across a course which is all off-road and redesigned every year. 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Rally.
This year, it will bring together 185 teams of around 300 women aged 18-35 from 30 different countries. There are 10 teams competing from the USA alone. Their common denominator is determination and a commitment to the principles of the race, which are a respect for values of tolerance, solidarity and determination; for the host country and its people through the charitable activities associated with the race and for the environment. (The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles in Morocco is the only motor rally globally with the ISO 14001 certification).
The teams compete in 4x4, Crossover, Quad or truck vehicles or on motorbike. Auto company Daimler Benz Mercedes is competing with 4 teams - selected through competitions held in Germany. Each team may choose its own route - the team that drives the shortest distance wins. This means that the so-called Gazelles must reach pre-defined check points by driving the lowest number of kilometers. Eco-driving is encouraged and rewarded. This means making choices between fording rivers or finding bridges or driving around mountains or over them. Completion of the course takes skill and grit - as well as a compass, a navigational plotter and maps! The average day of competition is 10-13 hours long.
For the 25th edition, a new category of 'expert' has been introduced for previous competitors looking to compete in a car. Their terrain will be tougher, sandier and the route even more rugged! Since 2001, during the period of the race, the associated Cœur de Gazelles charity provides on average, 5000 medical consultations and around 7000 people receive donations of clothes, medicine or other needs. The Rally runs from 25 March - 2 April 2015. As the entire route is off-road, it is not always easy to view the competition, although in remote areas you may glimpse the helicopters which monitor the race and ensure safety. The Gazelles gather for a well-deserved rest and the prize-giving in Essaouira at the end of the race.
On 2 and 3 April, you can expect to see them arriving - exhausted and exhilarated- in the seaside town before the final event and prize presentation on 4 April. Registration has just closed for 2015, so if you like the idea of being a Gazelle, you have another year to prepare (and raise the sponsorship)! If that sounds a little too taxing for your vacation in Morocco, head to Essaouira at the start of April to toast their arrival at the end of the rally!
Written by Lynn Sheppard
Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.