I'm putting together an itinerary for Morocco for this coming January. I've read through all the comments and trip reports for the past 18 months or so, and I appreciate all the comments from posters on this forum. They've been very helpful and have us super excited about our Morocco trip.
A little about us:
American family of 4, parents in our early 50s, 2 college aged kids - male and female
In addition to English, several family members speak fluent Spanish but we don't know French or Arabic.
Experienced travelers, independent travelers
Cultural, arts, and culinary focus. Kids are very outdoors oriented - one is a surfer, the other is a skier, both like any outdoor activity and are more physically adventurous. More so than parents
Any suggestions on the itinerary below?
We are planning a trip between 11-14 days. What should we cut out from our lengthy itinerary?
Any tips for traveling in January? Is there anything not doable due to weather conditions and temperature in January? I know its probably not an ideal time to go, but carving out vacation time with our kids schedule is increasing difficult and this works well for all.
Chefchaouen - overnight or just stop for several hours enroute form Tangier to Fes?
Do the Atlas/desert portion? Just the Atlas portion? Will January weather/temps make this less fun than focusing on more urban parts of the trip?
Most likely will fly in and out of Rabat, as it has the cheapest and most convenient flights from our home city, connecting through Paris on Air France.
We are planning on renting a vehicle rather than hiring a guide and driver as we are used to traveling independently and used to our privacy. We are experienced driving in snow and on rough road conditions. Any thoughts/guidance on this would be welcomed.
We were planning on hiring guides by the day in places where we think we would benefit from guided assistance and cultural insights.
We are planning to rent private riads where we'll be staying a few nights and book rooms in riads/hotels for those places where we'll stay just a night.
I would call our budget moderate. We like to stay in stylish places and eat great food, but will use airbnb and the like over staying in high end experiences to get that. We don't need room service, concierges, bell boys, and the like.
Prefer authentic experiences.
Early stage itinerary thoughts (this is the dream list incorporating everything we'd love to do but we need to pare this down to fit our schedule as we obviously can't fit it all into our timeframe):
Arrive in Rabat around noon. Pick up rental and drive to Tangier.
3 nights: Tangier - 1 day explore the medina/city, 1 day trip to Asilah (or should we just stop in Asilah on the way from Rabat to Tangier and just stay 2 nights?)
1 night: Chefchaouen - should we stay overnight or just stop for lunch/walk around/photo op on way to Fes?
3 nights: Fes - 1 day to explore/sightsee in medinas, tanneries, 1 day trip to Meknes/Volubilis/Moulay Idriss Zerhoun.
3-4 nights: Trip to Desert/Atlas mountains. This is where I get the most confused and am trying to determine what we should attempt/not attempt. What is appropriate weather-wise in January? I've read so many reports that the Desert trip is a highlight for many travelers but it comes across as a tad hokey to me. I'm not sure why I feel that way, probably because I feel the whole camel ride/staying in tents on the edge of the desert is designed purely with tourists in mind. Plus, it does take some time to get there. Help me out here.
3 nights: Marrakech - 1 day explore the medinas/souks, 1 day Majorelle gardens, museums, new city. Try to squeeze in cooking class and/or hammam experience.
2+nights: Essaouira - This place really speaks to me from all I've read and the photos I've seen. One kid is a surfer and artist so I think this small city and its vibe would appeal. Sounds relaxing, too.
Fly out of Rabat.
Thanks in advance for your guidance and insights! I know I have to tweak things quite a bit
and I'm sure your thoughts will be helpful in doing so.
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