Thanksgiving in the Sahara

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Nov 28th, 2004, 06:45 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 39
Thanksgiving in the Sahara

Three of us just got back from 9 days in Morocco and had an amazing time. We booked the trip through Sahrara Trek and visited Fes, Marrakesh, camped in the desert, and ended with a night in Ouarzazate.

A few thoughts for anyone planning a similar trip at this time of year. Riads are charming but can be cold. In Fes, our riad, Dar Masmoudi, had beautiful tile work everywhere meant that all the rooms were freezing, even when they turned up the heat. By the time we got to Marrakesh, things had warmed up a bit but our riad there, Dar Pangal, was built around a traditional open courtyard so it wasn't much better. If you go at this time of year, no matter what the weather report, pack several wool sweaters and a jacket.

We took a train from Fes to Marrakesh and basically lost a day traveling. Fly instead, even though it costs more. Whoever said traveling first class on a train in Morocco was on par with Europe has clearly never taken a train in France or Italy. That said, one of my traveling companions speaks some Arabic and she enjoyed talking with a family who sat in the same compartment, an experience she wouldn't have had on a plane.

Julio, the owner of Dar Pangal, was an amazing host and very interesting to talk to. He walked us through the Jamaa el Fna the first night and had great restaurant recommendations. After two nights in Morocco, we were already tired of tagines so he took us to a wonderful Thai restaurant, Narwama, next to the Jardines de la Koutoubia hotel. We also ate at Ryad Tamsna, and Dar Moha -- our best Moroccan meal of the trip. Lunch at La Mamounia is a good way to see this historic but faded hotel.

Stores, at least those in Marrakesh, don't like to take credit cards except for large purchases like a rug. Inevitably, my card, was rejected or the system was down. It's also hard to make a purchase with a 200 dirham bill so if you take money out of an ATM, get change at a bank or your hotel before you go shopping.

None of us are campers but it was worth it to be able to ride camels and watch the sun rise over the dunes. Our desert guide, Mustapha, was great.

If you're considering Morocco but are nervous about traveling because you're an American and/or a woman, don't be. Everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful. One of my most memorable vacations.
Callebaut is offline  
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Nov 17th, 2005, 09:59 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5
I am planning a trip to Morocco and considering using Sahara Trek. Could you tell me overall were you happy with their services. How would you rate the riads they chose. Also, other than the train between Fes & Marrakesch how did you get between points? How was your time in the Sahara? Anything else you care to share about Sahara Trek and Morocco would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Nov 22nd, 2005, 10:52 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
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Just got back from Morocco...the sahara desert trek was one of the highlights...we had a private camp for my husband and me that was one of the most extraordinary looking places I have ever seen...carpets on the sand, bedouin tents, a cook tent where we were served our dinner with great style...a tent made of carpets for our sleeping...and the sunrise camel ride over the dunes to watch the sun come up..we shall never forget that part of the trip...in fact, we are going back this spring to do it again...
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Nov 22nd, 2005, 10:54 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
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and one more thing in the camp...after dinner, while reclinging on cushions in our "living room" tent, we were seranaded by a wonderful group of African singers..a concert of 30 min...just for the two of us...how could one not fall in love with this place
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