Our small group of adventurous travelers started in Marrakech (Morocco’s red city), traveled over the High Atlas exploring ancient kasbahs and mountain towns, camped in Bedouin-style tents under the stars in the Sahara desert, trekked through the curving dunes on camels, explored the ancient medina of Fez and walked through 1,000 years of history, marveled at Chefchaouen (Morocco’s pretty, pastel blue mountain hamlet) and experience modern Morocco in Casablanca as we walked through one of the most impressive modern mosques, the Hassan II Mosque.
It was an exciting 11 day tour packed full of adventures, memories, great laughs and once in a lifetime experiences, as well as lots of tasty food! Relive with us a few of our favorite experiences and moments.
We began in the gorgeous Red City – Marrakech. One of the ancient imperial cities of western Morocco, Marrakech’s walled medieval medina dates back to the Berber Empire. Twisting, turning cobbled streets weave through burnt red plastered buildings. Craftsman sell brassworking, textiles, pottery, carpets and almost anything you can image from souks. Our group explored this thriving, colorful city, learning about the history and daily life in the medina with Fatima, our local guide.
Eating like a Local in Marrakech
In Marrakech, a highlight for our group was our Marrakech Food Tour – it was a chance to eat like a local in Marrakech. We learned about food and culture in Marrakech, tried classic Marrakechi dishes, ate in small local cafes way off the tourist route, and met many of the local farmers and vendors who are a key part of medina life.
Telouet and the high Atlas
From Marrakech, we headed east over the rugged High Atlas mountains, the roof of North Africa. Along the way we visited one of the best, and least visited, ancient kasbahs – Telouet. From the outside the kasbah looks more like a shell than a magnificent palace, and many of traveler has passed by without taking a further look. Climbing it’s twisting, turning staircase, we reached the main floor, which is a stunning example of Moroccan decoration and tile work. Huge vaulted ceilings, magnificent tile designs, beautiful wrought iron work show the opulence that of this historic palace. The view from the roof is just as breathtaking, with sweeping views of the dramatic countryside.
Exploring the Best Preserved Ancient Kasbah – Ait Ben Haddou
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Ait Ben Haddou is the best preserved ancient Kasbah in Morocco. We showed up for sunrise over this impressive historic town and fortifications, though sadly sunrise decided to sleep in. This still let us be one of the first travelers in the site. This kasbah was once a key stopping point for caravans on the road from the southern Sahara through Morocco. It provided lodging, protection, food and supplies to the camel caravans making the long journey over the High Atlas mountains. Four families still live in this ancient village and we were able to enjoy tea with one family.
Adventures in the Sahara
Known as the Great Desert or Great Sand Sea, the Sahara stretches across North Africa, covering a land mass the size of China or the US. It’s the largest hot desert in the world and the 3rd largest desert (after Antarctica and the Artic). Only a small portion of the Sahara is actually covered by sand dunes and Morocco is lucky to have a small section of these great dunes. Our group of intrepid travelers took a camel trek into the Sahara to a Bedouin style camp. We caught a spectacular sunset over the dunes and marveled the star packed night sky – even the milky way was visible. We leaned about Berber traditions and how they wrap their scarves to protect themselves from the blowing sand and sun.
Fez – the World’s Oldest medieval Medina
We spent a full day exploring the incredible medina of Fez. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fez’s ancient medina is considered one of the world’s largest pedestrian area. Fez also is home to the world’s oldest continuously running university – University of Al Quaraouiyine.
Staying in Historic Riads
Morocco has incredible lodgings for travelers to stay in – riads, dars, historic homes, Berber tents and desert lodges. Each place we stayed was family owned and run and had it’s own story. The most memorable of all these locations is our riad in the heart of the Fez medina. Our Fez’ riad was a 14th century historic mansion in the heart of the medina that had been restored and was now a guesthouse.
Discover the Pretty Pastel Blue Hamlet of Chefchaouen
A mountain hamlet straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, Chefchaouen is one of the prettiest towns in Morocco. Pastel blue streets and builds, red tile roofs, Andalucian architecture – Chefchaouen was awash with colors, beautiful streets, small markets and all set in the beautiful Rif Mountains. Its a place we were all happy to linger for an extra day to enjoy this beautiful town.
Marveling at the Modern Wonder of the Hassan II Mosque
Our Majestic Morocco tour wrapped up in Casablanca, Morocco’s modern economic center. The crowning jewel of Morocco’s White City is the modern Hassan II Mosque, the 5th largest mosque in the world, is a stunning representation of modern Islamic architecture. Our group arrived in time for the Friday Call to Prayer, which was beautiful to listen to melodiously echoing around the building. Then we had time to explore the magnificent interior of this mosque.
Our Majestic Morocco tour is a small-group tour with a maximum of 8 travelers. This lets us travel through Morocco not as a traditional tour group, but more like a group of friends. It lets us be flexible, arrive at sites and locations before the tourist crowds, stay in the historic medinas, stay in beautiful riads and dars, have an intimate and personal travel experience, spend quality time with locals, and have a culturally immersive travel experience rather than staring through a bus window checking off sites.
Can you spot our small van surrounded by our much larger cousins at the Hassan II mosque?