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Morocco Meandering trip report

Old May 3rd, 2007, 01:28 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 946
Morocco Meandering trip report

thought I would post a bit of a trip report here, altho most of the details
and pics will be on our blog:
http://www.soultravelers3.com/blog/blog.html

Which I am still in process on. As many of you know, I was very nervous about
this trip. I was excited when I planned it ( la artista's Berber report
helped pyche me) but the closer it got the more I was dreading going.

I call myself a scaredy-cat adventurer and Morocco is a little more exotic
than I am used to. Since we are on a multi-year open ended trip around the
world, it was time to dip into something more exotic and get our feet wet.

I have some mobility challenges and we travel with our daughter who is a
skinny unvaccinated kid, so those were some of the concerns. I also never
thought about going to Morocco or Sahara before as I still had visions of
that old movie "Midnight Express" where a traveler ends up in a horrible
prison there ...or similar country.

We are also on a fixed budget since we retired early and always try to keep
costs down and Morocco was extremely expensive for us as we winter in Spain
on about 33 dollars a day. I booked it all myself ( thanks to some great help
here!!) which I found pretty challenging as I am not used to having to book
rooms and everything since we mostly travel by small RV.

We might take the RV next time,but we thought it best to get this first taste
thru mostly nice riads.Mostly we had a spectacular time,especially in the
desert with a very special violin concert from my 6 yo to 50 Berber kids
which was the highlight of our camel trek and over night.She made her grand
entrance on a camel and the kids and she just LOOOVED it.

We adored the high level of creativity in Morocco and found it the ultimate
unschool adventure from the concert to taking a Hamman together.

I wrote this earlier and am following thru with my reviews of these places
..pros and cons.

We are starting in Fez at Dar Seffarine in a suite for two nights.
http://www.darseffarine.com/index.html

They have a great review on i-escape, but I enjoyed this blog review with
more pics:
http://www.travelblog.org/Africa/Mor...log-77000.html

I like the exceptional beauty, service and hospitality along with the
authenticity ,price and killer terrace view and location.

Then we will go to the desert for 2 days with these people who I am
absolutely thrilled with so far:
http://www.nomadsaharabivouacmerzouga.com/

They have been fantastic with information via email.We will stay one night
with a special family in the desert ( via camel ride), another night
privately in their oasis, and they have set it up so my child will do a
little violin concert for some school children in traditional dress. WOW!

Then we are going to eco Kasbah Ellouze for one night near the world heritage
site where "Gladiators" etc was shot.
http://www.kasbahellouze.com/Index_en.htm

I booked it mainly to avoid that long ride between Merzouga and Marrakesh,
but there are so many lovely things there that I wish I was staying longer.

We picked Riad DE L'ORANGERAIE in Marrakesh for location,beauty, and
reputation for service.The indoor pool was a nice touch with a child too.
http://www.riadorangeraie.com/

Then we picked the suite at the eco B&B Lalla Mira in the Medina at
Essoauira.

http://base.lallamira.net/Default.aspx?tabId=1225

I wanted to support the eco goals, plus we loooove organic food and the
ancient public baths and massages there sound great.It seemed a little
different and in a good location.

We will see if any of these work out as nicely as they seem...stay tuned.

When we fly into Madrid we will then stay at this hotel that a savvy Spaniard
in the travel biz told me about (it is where he stays with his family!):

________________________________________
Author: WTnow
Date: 04/30/2007, 05:08 am
Mostly we were really happy with our choices and were very,very happy with
our route.

Going into Morocco from Spain by ferry & train ( etc) to Fez totally on our
own was one of my worries and it was MUCH easier than I expected. SIMPLE with
no hassles..what a relief.

We absolutely fell in love with Alessandra and Les Nomades and she and our
time with her and her crew in the desert was the highlight of our trip.
http://www.nomadsaharabivouacmerzouga.com/

I can not rave about them enough as she is a phenomenal person who we are
soooo glad that we met. They go way about and beyond any thing expected and
we feel like we have made friends for life and gotten a real sense of desert
life and nomad culture.

Kasbah Ellouze was also a spectacular place and the perfect place to be after
a profound Sahara experience.We did not like our first room, but I could
easily stay there a week in one of their nice rooms just relaxing and taking
in the astounding beauty and atmosphere.

Dar Seffarine and wonderful Kate and Alaa made our time in Fez very special (
after a little rough arrival due to phone problems and entering the medina on
our own).

There were some problems at L'Orangerie which was our most expensive lodging,
so I did not expect that and probably colored our stay in Marrakech more
negatively. Still we had one of our best meals there,ended up at a stupendous
300 dollars a night riad for one night and ended up having a nice time there
once things got straightened out.

The suite at Lalla Mira was nice enough, but I was disappointed with the
organic food. The hammond there tho was wonderful and a highlight of the trip
and free for riad guests. It was the closest thing to taking a roman bath
which was a nice history lesson for Mozart as she got massaged.
________________________________________
Author: jgg ([email protected])
Date: 04/30/2007, 11:42 am
WTnow - Glad to hear you enjoyed Morocco. I too was a bit apprehensive about
heading there, but found it warm, friendly and easy to get around in. Of
course we had a guide or driver most of the time, but once there, I realized
that it wouldn't be that hard to go it on your own.

Sounds like a magical experience your daughter had in the desert!
________________________________________
Author: schlegal1
Date: 04/30/2007, 12:50 pm
WTnow:
Glad to see you are adding a trip report here. I followed your blog link from
another post and got really engrossed in it--very enjoyable. Mozarts concert
in the desert was so fun to imagine--what a special experience.
________________________________________
Author: Sir_Acket
Date: 05/01/2007, 01:07 pm
Thank you for the complete post on your trip. With my wife we are still
deliberating on whether to make the trip to Merzouga with the company you
mention. We are excited about the desert trip but we have an issue with how
lengthy the trip to get there really is. From Merzouga to the eco kasbah how
long did it take? Thanks again
________________________________________
Author: WTnow
Date: 05/01/2007, 02:41 pm
jgg..thanks! Your going and a few other parents I talked to really helped
give me confidence. I was thrilled when you returned happy. Good sign for
us!!

schlegal1 Thanks, glad you enjoyed the blog. It is too much to write it all
both places, but I wanted to put some of the basic information here as it is
hard to find lots of information on Morocco and these were some of the
questions I wanted answers for when I was looking.

There are soooo many riads, it is hard to know what to pick and the same
thing with desert tours.

With our concerns, I wanted to be extra careful. I did contact Omar first and
liked him. I liked Elena too, altho she lost my email so there was a long
time before I heard from her. They were also too pricey for our budget.

John Sakura of virtual tourist who goes to Morocco a lot was where I first
heard about Alessandra and Les Nomades. Then from another girl who was living
in Morocco for a while and wanted a special trip for her birthday. It just
seemed to be the right one for us as things unfolded,but I was unsure for a
while. She speaks good English, but does not write as well,but her caring
showed thru.

I don't think we will ever get over that concert and our experience in the
desert. Just one of those miracle things that falls together some how.
Rainbow was the clincher.

Sir Acket,
Thanks! DO try to make it to the desert as I really think it is the best
thing about Morocco. It IS a long way from Fez or Morocco, so that is a big
pain.

From Merzouga to Kasbah Ellouze I believe it is about 6 hours drive. Now we
went slow and stopped as it is a nice drive ( not real curvey) and across the
area called "Valley of a thousand Kasbahs".

I think it is about 9 or 10 hours total from Marrakech to the desert. We
wanted to break it up about half way, but then liked that Kasbah ( which WAS
a perfect choice after the camel trek).

You could conceivable break it up with another stop if you do not want to
drive that long. Unless you are a big shopper, one or two days is PLENTY of
time for Marrakech which is very frenetic and loud.

If you are more in to history and authenticity, Fez is a better choice and
also has good shopping.It is crazy too, but without the cars and motormikes,
it is less crazy in the medina. BOTH will assault your senses,but then all of
Morrocco will and that is part of the beauty.

OUr experience is that it was 8 hours from Fez to Merzouga ( with bad weather
and a few short stops for monkeys etc). It costs 160 ( the other quote I got
in Fez was 200 euro).

Then from Merzourga to past Oazasate area to that Kasbah was about 6 hours (
with some stops) nice ride.

The ride from Kasbah Ellouze to Marrakech was about 3 hours ( again slow
driving with stops for pics and such).That drive is spectacular thru the high
atlas mts but also very trecherous at places.

The roads are good ( put in during colonialization) but drivers are pretty
wacky like most things in Morocco.We would drive if we had to do it again I
think as at least we would have seat belts,but it would help to read French.

If you want to drive, ask Clifton his experience as they drove all of this in
an old Puegot ( thier 4x4 was not available upon arrival).

When are you going? I hear they have a new road being built that will connect
Marrakech and Fez quickly. Not sure if that will affect the desert or not.

Don't go to Morocco and miss the Sahara! (even my 6yo could handle the
drive.)All of Morocco is fascinating,but the desert trek is the peak
experience.



________________________________________
Author: cruisinred
Date: 05/01/2007, 03:20 pm
Thanks for your wonderful report. Morocco is definitely on my list for a
future trip! May I ask the ballpark cost for the desert experience with
Alesandra's company?

Thanks again
________________________________________
Author: WTnow
Date: 05/01/2007, 04:39 pm
Cruisinred,

Thanks! I am uploading more about the trip in the morning. I am done writing
the Morocco part, I just have to deal with pictures and upload now.

This prices are listed here:
http://www.nomadsaharabivouacmerzoug...g-morocco.html

We found them quite reasonable, especially considering what was delivered.
They all tell her she does too much, but that is her way. She is also very
careful about the food which was important to us ( as a westerner who has
been sick she understands the importance of not cutting corners there).

We left her a big tip because we were so impressed.

What was the most expensive item of our trip was Grand taxi's.

We paid 160 from Fes to Merzouga..8hr

120 from Merzouga to Ouzazzate area. 6 hr

110 ( I think I said the wrong price on this earlier) for 3 or 4 hours from
Kasbah Ellouze near Ouzazate ( sp?) and Marrakech.

I think it is most likely MUCH cheaper and safer to drive your self,but I
have not done it so could not say for sure.

DO go, it is an exciting country and quite the adventure! We have been back a
few weeks now and the images still reverberate through me as it is like
nothing else. Part Berber,Part Arab, Part French...all exotic Morocco.

We were there 9 or 10 days and it felt like we were gone for ages. Sooo much
to absorb, like another planet.
________________________________________
Author: WTnow
Date: 05/02/2007, 02:58 pm
The next five entries on the blog about Morocco with pics are up now, starts
here:

http://www.soultravelers3.com/blog/7...E27AE1B1F.html

If you don't see it refresh.Give a few minutes for pics to show up first time
if you are on a slower connection.

This one starts in the desert, with lots of Berber life and Berber kid photos
and ends with some great shots in valley of 1000 kasbahs.

Enjoy!
________________________________________
Author: nyama
Date: 05/02/2007, 03:11 pm
WTnow, could you please read "What happened to the word wrap?"
(http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...4&tid=34991747) and then start a
new thread WITH MORE SPACES in the subject line. Thank you.
________________________________________
Author: thit_cho
Date: 05/02/2007, 03:12 pm
nyama, thanks for topping and reinvigorating the problem.
________________________________________
Author: schlegal1
Date: 05/02/2007, 03:14 pm
WTNow:
thanks for the update!

An unrelated request--the fact that your title doesn't have spaces in the
second line is creating browser problems for reading through the threads.
Someone actually started a thread to try to figure out the problem and this
seems to be it.

Any chance you could copy the thread and re-post with a new title (with
spaces between the places)? It would be most appreciated.





--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: WTnow
Date: 05/03/2007, 12:41 pm
LoL, what a crazy ride that was!! Thanks MomLiz and the Fodor editor and techies that helped get this straighted out!!

I am sooo sorry about the problem, I guess my typo of missing a space caused a problem. Then my post disappeared for a while. Then I "talked" to an editor in the Spain forum ( since some helped me there for this trip I posted a link to this one).

I sent her my email last night, but maybe she still had trouble with it as I never heard from her. Apparently Momliz made contact.

Yea! Glad to have the thread up again without causing any problems on the wrapping issue (which I don't fully understand...but then I am a self taught typer who is a tech dummie).



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: Momliz
Date: 05/03/2007, 12:54 pm
The technical issues involved here, I think, are pretty complex, so please do NOT blame yourself. Who knew about the word wrap? I'm glad it worked out!



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: Leely
Date: 05/03/2007, 02:05 pm
WTnow, it was an honest mistake! Stop apologizing.

I'm just glad all was saved, including the questions people asked.

Your photos are stunning, by the way.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: Katie_H
Date: 05/03/2007, 04:01 pm
Photos are great!

In my morning stupor I must have thought that Momliz's email was from WTnow--sorry WTnow--it sounds like I never got back to you. My gaff! Next time I promise not to undertake technical matters/correspondence without coffee.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: WTnow
Date: 05/03/2007, 05:19 pm
Thanks Leely and Katie_H, glad you like the photos!

No worries Katie, I am just glad it is up again and that you corrected the problem!!

It will be a little confusing to some maybe with Momliz as the author,but they will figure it out..or not.

It is late here again, so I will put more entries and photos tomorrow.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: Katie_H
Date: 05/03/2007, 05:22 pm
You could always repost it yourself... I know I know.. this is really kind of funny.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: WTnow
Date: 05/03/2007, 05:25 pm
Hmmm, I just noticed that this thread does not show up on the Morocco board and my whole purpose in putting it up is mainly to give those looking for information on Morocco some BTDT advice.

It does show up on the Africa main board but I worry that those most in need of seeing it, will miss it.

I might try to copy and paste it again myself and see if that works. If not maybe you can help Katie.

Sorry this is getting so complicated.




WTnow is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2007, 01:31 PM
  #2  
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OK, here we go again! It seemed to work. Ha ha...this really is funny. Is there a full moon or something?
WTnow is offline  
Old May 5th, 2007, 06:59 AM
  #3  
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Posts: 946
I just uploaded 5 more entries with lots of pics on Morocco at :

http://www.soultravelers3.com/blog/blog.html

It is about Kasbah Ellouze near Quarzazate, Ait Ben Haddou ( world heritage site),High Atlas Mountains,Marrakech and riads.


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Old May 5th, 2007, 11:34 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 617
WTnow/Jeanne.....your Morocco blog entries are magnificent and I am reading each entry several times. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to bring the world to your readers. I will be in Morocco in late October and will be visiting all the places you are describing. Boy, have you made me excited about my upcoming trip.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 10:03 PM
  #5  
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 946
Gee thanks Marthag, I really appreciate the feedback. It is really nice to hear that you are enjoying it and that is is useful to you.

You really do have an exciting adventure to look forward to and Morocco has a way of changing one forever because it is so different. I loved it because it felt like we were away for months and months instead of just 10 days.

It was intense because we saw a lot in 10 days, but I am really glad that we saw everything that we did.

Morocco is an adventure..October should be great...you will love it!! If you have any specific questions, I am more than happy to answer anything that I know.
WTnow is offline  
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