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Trip Report Morocco Trip Report

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Just back from a memorable 16-day trip to Morocco and wanted to give thanks to everyone who helped me with their much-needed advice and guidance. I always find looking at other people’s itineraries very helpful so I thought I would do a quick trip report. While I don’t have the amazing writing skills of Seemskt, whose itinerary I used as a basis for this trip, I hope someone finds this helpful.

Arrive in Marrakech. We are picked up by a driver from Dar Rocmarra, where we will be staying two nights. We are exhausted and we both have the feeling of “we’re not in Kansas anymore” (Actually, we’re from Chicago) We have a wonderful dinner at the Dar (Jamilla is a fantastic cook.) We walk around a little bit to try and get our bearings and then sleep for 12 hours.

Jamilla has arranged a guide for us for the day who shows us all the sites. He was great, and it was my own fault that I told him that I wanted to buy a rug before going home. I hate shopping, cannot make a decision, and let’s just say we ended up having the classic rug-buying experience of tea, a show, high pressure, and ended up paying WAY too much, but felt helpless to get out of it. But it’s a story we’ll always laugh at. That evening we walked over to Jemaa al-Fnaa square and got a drink at Le Grand Balcon du Café Glacier and watched the show from the balcony. We then walked around a bit, but I found it kind of touristy and didn’t like seeing monkeys dressed up. We ate at one of the food stalls, which actually was quite good and a fun atmosphere.

We are picked up by our guide/driver from Desert Majesty. I had communicated with many different companies and found widely different prices for tour guides/drivers. Desert Majesty had a much more reasonable price than the others and were agreeable to letting me plan exactly where I wanted to go and where I wanted to stay. They just charged me a per day price. We stopped at Kasbah Telouet, which is absolutely amazing. We were the only ones there and it is just exquisite. In contrast, Ait Benhaddou felt very touristy. We stayed at Les Jardins de Skoura for the night, and like all the reviews said, we wished we had stayed two. We had a wonderful dinner in front of a roaring fire while a musician played his lute. There are so many gorgeous nooks and crannies to hang out in, but we just didn’t have enough time.

The hotel arranged a guide for us to take a long walk through the palmeraie. We then were picked up by Muhammed, our driver, and made our way to our next stop, Auberge Le Festival, in the Todra Gorge, stopping along the way to buy rose products in “Valley of Roses” and a stop at Dades Gorge. The setting for the hotel is incredible. We were the only ones staying there that night. We stayed in a cave room, and could sit on the front terrace and listen to the water trickling over the rocks. In the morning, we could hear the bleating of the sheep and goats as nomads walked them through the hills in front of the hotel. A very unique place to stay.

Muhammed took us to the market in Rissani. We saw a “donkey parking lot” and people buying and selling sheep and goats. It was colorful chaos and we greatly enjoyed it. But now it was on to the highlight of the trip. Our desert trek. After researching different treks, I chose Kasbah Mohayut because they offered several things I was looking for. I wanted to stay in a small, private camp. I wanted a 1-½ to 2 hour trek. I didn’t need a luxury tent since I figured I would rather be out looking at the dunes and the stars. And…..I wanted a bathroom. Mohayut was perfect. In the beginning, it was just my husband and I. Later, while we were watching the sunset, two other girls arrived. It was just a magical experience that I will never, ever forget.

We chose to stay another night at the hotel so we didn’t feel like we were rushing all the time. Muhammed did pick us up and take us to see Gnawa music being performed. We also had tea in a nomad’s tent, which was quite a unique experience. At this point though my husband wasn’t feeling great so we asked to go back to the hotel to hang out. Our room had a balcony facing the pen where they kept the camels so we were able to watch other trekkers leaving for the night. Fun to watch them.

Slept in and then drove to Midelt, sort of a half-way point between Merzouga and Fez. Stayed at Riad Villa Midelt where they had a nice fire and we had a fantastic dinner.

Azrou. We stopped and watched the highly-entertaining barbary apes. We then went to Dar Neghrassi, which I had read about online, and had a much better rug-buying experience. Not a lot of haggling, no tea, fair prices, lovely rugs, very nice shop-owner and his son. Our driver then took us to the bus station and train station in Fez so we could buy tickets for other destinations we’d be doing on our own, which saved us a lot of time and hassle. He dropped us at our hotel, the gorgeous Dar Seffarine. It‘s truly like staying in a palace. We enjoyed what was, unfortunately, to be our only night up on the lovely roof terrace as the next day the weather turned cold and rainy for most of the rest of our trip. We had a fantastic dinner at the hotel. It’s hard for us to get used to eating dinner so late though.

DAY 10
Walking artisinal tour with Culture Vulture to see and talk with local craftsmen. Highly overpriced, even though I know the idea is to help support the artisans. Visited the tanneries, which is incredible. Bought some pouffes and gifts. Just hate the haggling and always feeling ripped-off.

DAY 11
Friday is a holy day so thankfully things are much more quiet and laid back. We also had a temporary break in the weather so after visiting all the usual sites we stopped at a café by the Blue Gate and people-watched. There is always something to see.

DAY 12
Took the CTM bus to Chefchaouen and stayed at Casa Perleta. It was pouring rain, but I was still blown away by the beauty of the town. Like walking into a watercolor painting.

DAY 13
Gaped at and photographed the color blue.
Bus back to Dar Seffarine, where we had stowed our luggage. Last fantastic dinner at the hotel.

DAY 14
Spent the day packing and relaxing. In the afternoon we were picked up by a translator and two sisters from Plan-it-Fez to cook dinner with a local family. Another highlight and a wonderful way to end an incredible trip.

DAY 15
Train to Casablanca. Overnight at Ibis Hotel across from the tracks.

DAY 16
Cab to airport. The nightmare begins……..Cancelled flights, rerouting, 36 hours in airports and planes.

DAY 17
Home sweet home.

So hard to write a short trip report because I am leaving out so much. It's such a completely different culture. I have to say I was surprised to see so many cafes filled with only men. The women work very hard in the fields. I can’t even begin to describe the beauty of the scenery. The pink almond blossoms, the baby camels, the snow-capped mountains, the berber villages, the donkeys, the people, the haunting beauty of the call to prayer. It’s total sensory overload and just too much to put in a trip report.
Thanks again!

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