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Honeymoon itinerary advice - Morocco (Marrakesh/Fez/Essauoira)


Jul 31st, 2011, 07:44 AM
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Honeymoon itinerary advice - Morocco (Marrakesh/Fez/Essauoira)

Hi all,

My fiancee and I are getting married at the end of September and would welcome your suggestions on our Morocco itinerary. Our current thought is to arrive 9/28 and leave 10/9, to spend some down time in Essauoira, and we'd like see Marrakesh and Fez, with perhaps do a few nights at Kasbah du Toubkal. Would also be lovely to be able to do a day trip to the Sahara if time. We are looking for some romantic quiet time, the sensory experience of Morocco, as well as some memorable explorations in the desert/mountains.

Any suggestions on 1) itineraries/other places 2) hotels 3) travel routes/best airports for arrival/departure to NYC /transport between locales would be greatly appreciated! For accommodations, we're looking to do a combination of lux (perhaps a few nights in Essa or Marrakesh) and unique/off-beaten-path affordable perhaps in Fez and mountains. We'd like to keep the trip around $4500k for two.

DancingGirl is offline  
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Jul 31st, 2011, 11:06 AM
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How wonderful! You are going to have a great time. My first bit of advice is that the Sahara is not a day trip, unfortunately. It takes about 10 hours each way from Marrakech. Most people do it in about 3-4 days, depending on how long you want to stay in the desert. I did this trip in June and we did Marrakech--> Draa Valley--> Erg Chebbi (desert)-->Ourzazate -->Marrakech (one night in each place). It's still a lot of driving so you have to be ready to be in the car for long days. You get to see all the amazing things in between, though--the High Atlas, Valley of the Roses, etc., and of course the amazing Berber peoples everywhere in between. I had my eyes glued out the window trying to soak it all in as we whizzed by all the small towns in between our stops. I will never get tired of seeing random camels, goats, and sheep on the side of the road (and the beautiful Berber women tending them!).

Our favorite place was Essaouira. We spent three nights at the Sofitel, which is an excellent value (we were exhausted from the desert trip and wanted to indulge in some Western luxury). We got a great internet deal for 125 euro/night, and it is a perfect location, right on the beach, pool, and <5 minute walk into town.

We could have spent a week in Essaouira, wish we had more time. Esp. if you want to really relax, it is the perfect mix of Muslim, surfer & artist mellow, and maritime cultures (crazy, huh? but it is wonderful!). You can ride a camel on the beach! The souk/medina is a smaller version of Marrakech, so lots to see, buy, eat.

The only city you can fly back home from is Casablanca, and the flight leaves at 1 a.m. (Lufthansa to Frankfurt). It is a long day but really the only option if you don't want to stop off in Europe or somewhere else on your way home. We took a train from Marrakech in the early evening and then straight to the airport (we did not spend any nights in Casablanca and don't regret it).

The last thing I'll say is when you are in Marrakech and Fez, invest in a guide. Pay for the hotel to pick you up at the airport and take you to your riad. I couldn't imagine having to do this alone. Also, if you go on the Sahara trek, hire a tour company. It is the best $ you will spend on your trip. There is a sense of security (and efficiency) in having a local navigating the roads and culture of the area. I went with Around Morocco Travels (www.aroundmorocco.com) and was very happy with the service and value.

You'll get lots of riad recommendations on here for Marrakech and Fez (we did not make it to Fez). I just wanted to share my particular experiences. I'm late 30s if that helps with regard to what I found interesting. You will have a GREAT time! I can't wait to go back.
amybizboz is offline  
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Jul 31st, 2011, 03:56 PM
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Thanks, Amy! All very helpful to know. On reviewing your suggestions I think we'll cut out the Sahara. Do you think Marrakesh, Essaouira, Fez and a stay in the Atlas mountains is doable 9/29-10/9?
DancingGirl is offline  
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Aug 1st, 2011, 05:20 AM
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Hi Dancing Girl
Yes, that sounds doable. I'd suggest staying in the medina in Marrakech, Essaouira and Fez. You might not need that long in Essaouira as the end of September is autumn rather than high summer. You can contact me direct for some guesthouse suggestions [email protected].
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Aug 1st, 2011, 07:39 AM
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I agree with Amy--but the Sahara experience is awesome. We did it in 3 days, with one day each way-from Marrakech to Merzouga, arriving before the 4:30 ride out on camels, then overnight in the Sahara, back and drive to Fez in one day, so actually that's just two days. I would pick that over time in Fez. It's such a cool memory for my husband and me (but we've been married 40 years!). You definitely don't want to drive around Marrakech. (We did our own driving, but you have to speak French or Arabic to do that--IMHO--and still you don't want to drive in Marrakech--we parked the car.) Instead of spending time in Fez, we went on to Chefchaouen, which is lovely place, but probably too much driving/riding for your time there. If you want to check them out, I have several photos at www.pattyroth.com with separate galleries of Chef., Ess., Marr, ...... Have a wonderful time. I love Morocco--and be sure to check out safety recommendations before you go!
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Aug 1st, 2011, 09:49 AM
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Oops, I just realized that my separate galleries of Morocco images are at www.pbase.com/pattyroth not at the other site.
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Aug 11th, 2011, 07:49 AM
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Hi, I would suggest either:

1. Marrakech, Imlil (Kasbah du Toubkal), Essaouira and Fez (or)

2. Marrakech, Merzouga (Sahara Desert), Essaouira.

Marrakech is a must for the experience, the Atlas mountains are very scenic and very peaceful, Essaouira is one of the most "chilled out" places on the planet, it will even get you chilled out, Fez is really nice and the people there very friendly.

The sahara desert is an experience in itself, it is at least a 3 day trip (and a lot of travelling to do), better if you can spare 4 days.

One thing I would recommend is that you stay in a riad if possible, it is a totally different experience to staying in a hotel and it feels very authentic. The two riads I have stayed in were Riad Dar Najat (www.dar-najat.com) in Marrakech, a very hip and romantic riad in the middle of the old medina and Riad Bab Essaouira (riad-bab-essaouira.com), both of the riads are owned by the same European owner who is on-site at the Marrakech riad.

The driver I have used for my trips in Marrakech is Jalil Benbili, he is a professional driver and can be contacted on [email protected], he has some of the best rates in Morocco. He speaks fluent English as he spent 7 years in the Florida area.

Do as much research as you can as this will help you get a feel for Morocco before you leave the US, the more you prepare, you more you will enjoy you journey.
na544 is offline  
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Sep 22nd, 2011, 09:25 AM
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Travel in Morocco is so slow, it might be good if you land whether Casablanca or Marrakech just to start with Marrakech as a wonderful place to spend as along as possible time, but if you land in Casablanca i would suggest to start with Fes as a first City to get lost in and enjoying the historical monuments, skipping from there to the desert to taste the adventures of camel riding and the sahara experience sharing life with locals, while you are enjoying your honeymoon, then skip the sahara via Marrakech, spending the first day enjoying the local culture and the brilliant jemaa el fena and surrounds, do a day trip to Imlil where you can enjoy Toubla as a highest peak in Morocco, overnight at Kasbah Toubkal as you mentioned in your topic. then from Marrakech to Essaouira where you keep lazy having lovely time relaxation.
and if you start by Marrkech visit Essaouira, Toubkal then skip to the desert where you can pass from there to Fes, ending in Casablanca or Marrakech.
Have a nice trip.
imortaltravels is offline  
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Sep 22nd, 2011, 08:25 PM
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Essaouria was our favorite city two years ago when our family traveled around Morocco-goats in the trees;great beaches;fabulous medina and harbor with the freshest seafood and shopping that is so much better than in Marrakesh in terms of prices!If you decide to go there,let me know and I will let you know where the "underground liquor store" is!

You mention that you have 11 days so I would probably limit how many times you "pick up your tent and relocate" .Marrakesh is definitely worth a few days and Essaouria 3/4 more days(especially if you are on a honeymoon).We did Casablanca only as a daytrip to see the big mosque but went on to Rabat,Fez,Meknes,etc.
Just depends if you want more touring or just lazing around?
dutyfree is offline  
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Sep 25th, 2011, 01:39 PM
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If I had to choose, I'd choose the Sahara experience over Fez if going to Marrakesh. But a lot of people love Fez, so it's going to be hard to choose. The advantage of leaving it out is that both Essaouira and Marrakesh are both in the south, while Fez is not.

The easiest connection is going to be through Casablanca, which has the only nonstop flight between NYC and Morocco, and then you can continue directly to Marrakesh from there. If going to Fez, then go there first and then continue on to Marrakesh. Going back, you could take the train from Essaouira directly to the Casa airport, which is usually cheaper and more convenient than going back to Marrakesh and flying.
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Sep 28th, 2011, 02:16 PM
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When did Essaouira get train service?
thursdaysd is online now  
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Sep 29th, 2011, 06:20 AM
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I'm really sorry about this, but I gave absolutely wrong advice. There is no train service to Essaouira.

You either have to fly to Casa from Agadir or fly or take the train from Marrakesh, and this changes the order of the itinerary somewhat. But I stand by the rest of my advice, just not the final travel details.

It might be best to go back to Marrakesh (a 3-hour drive) for one additional night before heading up to Casa. You could also drive from Essaouira to Casablanca, but that would take a while since it's over 200 miles.
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