Archive for the ‘Morocco Private Tours’ Category

Pasha Glaoui’s Legacy & Kasbahs in Morocco, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Friday, July 23rd, 2010
Pacha Glaoui

Pasha T’hami Glaoui was the most powerful man in Morocco between 1953 and 1956, in addition to being one of the richest men in the world at that time.  The title Pasha means Governor.  Glaoui was the Pasha of Marrakesh (since 1912), Ouarzazate, and most of the Moroccan south during the time Morocco was under French rule. The most important Kasbahs’ in Morocco that were occupied by the Pacha Glaoui during his reign and are frequented by Moroccan travelers today are Kasbah Taouirt, located in the center of Ouarzazate, Ait Benhaddou, located 15 kilometers outside Ouarzazate and Kasbah Telouet which sits in the village of Telouet nestled outside the Onilla Valley.

Glaoui Palace in Marrakesh during the days of Pacha Thami El Glaoui

As a result of the Pasha Glaoui siding with the French since the beginning of the 20th Century, Moroccans view Glaoui as a traitor.  However it was the Glaoui’s siding with the French which propelled him toward such enormous wealth and power.

Thami El Glaoui in center front row watching Paris dancers in Marrakech in 1952

So, how did Glaoui become so powerful?  Glaoui was born to Si Mohammed ben Hammou, who was a baron (also called a “caid” in Morocco) and his Ethiopian concubine Zora, in 1879.  Si Mohamed died in 1888.  T’hami became the teenage assistant of his eldest brother Si Madani, who took over after their father’s death.

Kasbah Taouirt Ouarzazate

In 1893, while Sultan Moulay Hassan was on a tax-gathering expedition, the two Glaoui brothers and their mother had the good fortune to save the sultan from a blizzard and starvation while he was on a tax-gathering expedition through the mountains.  To show his gratitude, the sultan gave the Glaouis a gift of the 77-mm Krupp cannon, which can now be viewed in the Kasbah de Taourirt in Ouarzazate.  At that time, this was the only such weapon outside of the imperial army.  The Glaouis used it to subdue rival warlords in the surrounding then-feudalistic society, which continued through the 1950’s.

77-mm Krupp Cannon given to the Glaouis

In 1907, Si Madani was appointed as the Grand Vizier to Sultan Moulay Hafid, and Thami was appointed as Pasha ofMarrakesh.

The Glaoui’s actual family name is El Mezouari, a name given to their ancestor in 1700 by Sultan Moulay Ismail.  El Glaoui refers to their belonging to the Glaoui tribe, which is mostly located around the 4 x 4 mountain pass of Telouet.  Many natives of Telouet now have the name Glaoui, but are not actually part of the El Mezouari family.

Glaoui Kasbah in Telouet

The Glaouis were already rich, and their early wealth was based on salt.   Their wealth continued to grow though what was brought by the camel caravans crossing the Sahara from as far away as Mauretania and Sudan.  Once Glaoui sided with the French, they gave him free reign in “pacifying” the South, as well as giving him both the olive and saffron trades, and Moroccan salt and mineral mines.  Glaoui also earned a substantial income from the red light district in Marrakesh known as the “Quartier Reservé.”

T’Hami El Glaoui (center) in LIFE Magazine

In 1953, Pasha Glaoui conspired with the French in the exile of Moroccan Sultan Mohamed V.  However, Mohamed V returned to Morocco in 1955 after the French decided Morocco was falling into chaos, and left, abandoning their support of Glaoui.  All of Glaoui’s property was siezed by the state, and his kasbahs fell into disrepair.  In 1956, Morocco gained independence, and Glaoui died.

Thami L’Glaoui

In recent years, much restoration has been done on the various Glaoui kasbahs, which are considered a very important part of Morocco’s heritage.

For more information about a Morocco Travel visit to the Pachi Glaoui’s Kasbahs in Morocco

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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How to Prepare Moroccan Terjla, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Moroccan Terjla Prepared for the Table, as a Side Dish

Moroccan terjla (the Moroccan Arabic name) is frequently prepared as a side dish, and can be served either hot or cold.  Terjla, a succulent plant, known as purslane in English and verdolaga in Spanish, is not only one of the most delicious Moroccan plants, but it is simple to prepare.  Being a dark green plant, it is loaded with iron, vitamins, and minerals.  It also has a mild lemony flavor. When traveling to Morocco make sure to ask your Moroccan Travel Agency to recommend restaurants or local places where you can taste Moroccan terjla in a traditional restaurant.

Close-up View of the Moroccan Terjla Plant

Close-up View of the Moroccan Terjla Plant

Terjla is not often available in the major supermarkets because it is considered a traditional Moroccan dish, and the supermarkets often cater to products they feel will appeal to a broader audience of foreigners and less traditional Moroccans.  However, terjla can easily be found from late spring to late autumn in all the local vegetable markets.  The best place to find it in Marrakech is the small vegetable sellers just inside Bab Dukkala; however, it is found in many other places.  It’s a traditional staple in the cuisines of Fes, Casablanca, Tangier, Agadir, Ouarzazate, and Marrakech.

If you are traveling in Morocco, you are most likely to eat terjla in a private home.  If you are staying in a smaller hotel or riad and would like to try it, request it a day in advance, and they can look for it in the local market.  Most places would probably be delighted to prepare it for you.

How to Prepare Terjla

Traditional Moroccan Method:

Chopped terjla with whole garlic cloves

Discard any bruised leaves, and chop terjla (stems and leaves together) into 1/4″ (1/2 cm) pieces.  Put into a deep bowl.  Fill with water, and swish well; pour through a large strainer to drain out wash water.

Put terjla into water with some salt (it’s not a bitter plant, so take care not to oversalt it) and boil about 20 minutes until tender, but not limp). Drain water.

Season and toss gently with a clove or two (depending upon quantity) of freshly minced garlic, a little cumin, a little paprika, salt to taste (carefully) OR a very small piece of preserved lemon (but not if you added salt–use only one or the other), and a little olive oil.  Red olives can also be added.

Adapted Method which Yields Excellent Results:

Washed and trimmed terjla, ready to chop

Wash and trim the terjla of any bruised leaves (if it is just fresh from the market, it will only need to be washed).  I suggest swishing it two or three times in a deep mixing bowl of water.  Sometimes some very tiny black seeds will fall out if the terjla is in bloom.

Tiny terjla seed pods

But if there, these seeds are so tiny you don’t need to worry about them.  I trimmed off the tiny seed pods before chopping the terjla.

Chop terjla (stems and leaves together) into 1/4″ (1/2 cm) pieces.  Have ready one large unpeeled garlic clove for each cup of chopped terjla.

Two cups of chopped terjla placed in a steamer basket with two large garlic cloves

Choose one of the following cooking methods, both of which work:  boil chopped terjla with whole garlic cloves in plain water, or lightly salted water OR steam chopped terjla with whole garlic cloves in the basket for about 20 minutes.  (A Moroccan suggested the steam method to me, and I prefer it, since the vitamins don’t go down the drain with the boiling water.)

When the terjla is done, the garlic will be cooked inside.  Remove the garlic cloves, and carefully slice off the end.  The cooked garlic can be easily squeezed out into a small bowl from the opposite end.  Mash it into a paste with the back of a large spoon.  Add a small amount of black pepper and paprika to taste (1/8 tsp. of each for each cup of terjla).

slicing off the end of a cooked garlic clove squeezing a cooked garlic clove out of its skin garlic paste with black pepper and paprika in a bowl

Choose ONE of the following two : salt (lightly, to taste) OR a small piece of Moroccan preserved lemon (no more than 1/2 tsp. per cup of terjla, and take care not to use ANY salt).

Mix well, and add 1/2 Tbsp. of virgin olive oil for each  cup of cooked terjla (or more to taste).  Mix again well.  Add cooked terjla, and toss gently with a spoon until mixed well.  Optional, for olive lovers:  add two or three whole red olives for each cup of terjla.

Serve in side dishes at room temperature, warm on a cold day, or chilled on a hot day.  Terjla is delicious at any temperature.  Moroccans usually eat it with bread, as they do tagine; however, it may also be eaten with a spoon as a salad.

How to Find Terjla (Purslane) Outside of Morocco

Purslane grows in sunny areas from Canada to the Carribean, but is considered a weed in North America.  However, since it is a green vegetable used in Mexico and many Latin countries, you might be able to find it at Latin green grocers in North America.  (If collecting wild, take care that it is not in an area that has been deliberately poisoned as a weed.)

Wild summer purslane

According to experts, purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other green leafy vegetable plant.  It also contains vitamins A, C, and B, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

Upright purslane species grown as a vegetable

Wild species often grow along the ground, while cultivated species often stand more upright.  It has been used both as a salad and medicinal plant with many uses for hundreds of years.  Purslane is commonly used in salads in France.  The plant is believed to be native to the area of India and Iran.

For more information about a Moroccan Terjla or a Taste of Morocco Private Tour

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Morocco Tour, Trade Bead & Moroccan Jewelry Treasure Hunting, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Khamsa (Hamsa) Necklace

Khamsa (Hamsa) Necklace

Morocco Tour: Trade Bead & Moroccan Jewelry Treasure Hunting Fall 2010 Itinerary
September 20th – October 3rd, 2010

Excitement awaits you on a Trade Bead & Moroccan Jewelry Treasure Hunting Tour Hosted by Travel Exploration and North African Jewelry Expert, Sarah Corbett. Come join us on a Morocco Tour Adventure that covers the Imperial City of Marrakech, the seaside artist colony of Essaouira and Southern Morocco’s hotspots: Tiznit, Taradount, Agdz, Zagora and Ouarzazate for bead making and treasure hunting for best antique amber and Berber silver jewelry in all of Morocco.

Travel Exploration specializes in tailor-made Morocco Tours with a distinctly authentic Moroccan flavor. Travel Exploration Morocco provides unique itineraries that offer an unparalleled diversity of travel and terrain through a people that are naturally hospitable, warm and friendly. You can count on Travel Exploration’s benefits of an Anglo-Moroccan partnership as you depart on a Trade Bead & Moroccan Jewelry Treasure Hunting Tour. This Morocco Tour is an exclusive of Travel Exploration and created by Director, Alecia Cohen & North African Jewelry Expert, Sarah Corbett.

Berber Woman Wearing Ait Serrouchen Necklace

Berber Woman Wearing Ait Serrouchen Necklace

SEPTEMBER: 20th – MARRAKECH ARRIVALS
►Airport arrivals, visit of Djemma El Fna Square and the Souks.

►Check into your Riad.  Afternoon treasure hunting in the heart of Marrakech.

►Welcome dinner gathering at Le Maison Arabe – Moroccan food and Andalucian, Arabic music.

Spend the night at a 4 Star Riad in Marrakech.


SEPTEMBER 21st – MARRAKECH (GUIDED HISTORICAL TOUR)

►Breakfast at your Riad. Begin your one-day Historical Tour of Marrakech.

►Your introduction to Marrakech will begin in the new city, we will navigate our way to French, Gueliz and head to the Majorelle Gardens, a magical and lush small garden estate designed by Jacque Majorelle and maintained by Yves Saint Laurent. The Majorelle Garden is filled with colorful walkways, ponds, cactus and plants as well as a beautiful shop with hand-made goods. On our return to your hotel, we will pass by the La Mammounia Hotel Garden (where Alfred Hitchcock wrote the famous film The Birds).

►Visit the 19th Century Bahia Palace, originally built for Si Moussa, a former slave who became King Moulay Hassan’s chamberlain. The palace holds a courtyard and riads decorated with and the most beautiful carved stucco, Arabic architecture. Next visit the 16th Century Saadian Tombs and El Mansour mosque. Marrakech is a city of underground channels built by the architects from Cordoba, Spain to provide water for the town and Palmery.

►Next visit the old, Medina, the old quarter of the Marrakech. From here we will explore this historically charming area by foot. In Djemma el Fna, you will visit the famous 12th century Koutouba Mosque and its influential minaret.

►Your guide will lead you through the labyrinth streets and alleys of the Djemma. Enjoy aromatic smells, taste fresh squeezed orange juice and venture into the souks specializing in Berber carpets, silver jewelry, artisan workshops, handmade shoes and tanneries.  Enjoy a three- course lunch consisting of fresh salad, tajine and fruit at one of Marrakech most delectable restaurants.  Lunch after mid-day.

►Afternoon treasure hunting and jewelry shopping in the Souks of Marrakech.

Jewelry & Treasures of Marrakech Viewing of Tuareg Prize Collection:
Evening viewing of Moroccan Jewelry pieces at your Riad by a local Tuareg Trader in Marrakech. Enjoy a private two- hour viewing of fabulous beads, jewels and local silver pieces available for purchase and historical discussion about the origin and meaning of these pieces.

Spend the night at a 4 Star Riad in Marrakech.

Dar Tiskiwin Museum, Marrakech Morocco

Dar Tiskiwin Museum, Marrakech Morocco

SEPTEMBER 22nd – MARRAKECH – ESSAOUIRA

►Breakfast at your Riad in Marrakech.

►Next we will visit the Tiskiwin Museum, a private museum dedicated to popular arts & crafts, styled as a beautiful Spanish-Moroccan house, next door to Dar Si Said palace, a smaller version of the Bahia.

Tiskiwin Museum Lecture: You will have a first hand viewing of the Tiskiwin and listen to a one-hour lecture and exploration of its history, be shown its private bead and jewelry collection.

►Departure for Essaouira in the early afternoon.  Lunch en route to Essaouria.

Take the road to visit the seaside port of Essaouira. The journey to this former Portuguese fishing village offers up only a few roadside towns and the occasional Berber village. In the ’60s and ’70s, Essaouira was a pitstop on the hippie trek from Marrakesh. Jimi Hendrix made the pilgrimage, as did Bob Marley  and Cat Stevens. Essaouira was the inspiration for Hendrix’s song “Castles Made of Sand.”

►Witness the Argan goats in trees nestling in to eat away at the Argan nuts which are typically used in making Argan Oil, Butter and Cosmetics. Stop at Chichoa en route.

►Arrive in Essaouira. Check into your Hotel. Take a stroll along the town’s sunlit pedestrian main square, Place Prince Moulay el Hassan and the Skala du Port, the fishing harbor, offers breathtaking views of the Portuguese ramparts. Explore the ramparts and the old medina. The medina of Essaouira (formerly “Mogador”) is a UNESCO World Heritage listed city, as an example of a late-18th century fortified town. Evening walk along the Ramparts by the sea.

►Dinner at Taros or El Mer, Essaouira’s top eats with sea views and fresh fish.

Spend the night at a 4 Star Hotel in Essaouira with views of the sea.


SEPTEMBER 23rd – ESSAOUIRA – AGADIR –  TIZNIT

▶Rise, breakfast at your Hotel.

Bead & Jewelry Hunting in Essaouira:
Take time out in Essaouira’s old medina to visit the jewelry shops that specialize in antique Venetian beads, Berber Silver, Amber and Copal.

▶ Have lunch at the fish-grill cafes, with wooden tables and benches laid out overlooking the sea that was once- in the 19th century- the onlyMoroccan port south of Tangier. After lunch take a relaxing walk on the beach in Essaouira.

▶Depart Essaouira in mid afternoon and drive up the coast passing the seaside Berber city of Agadir with an evening arrival in Tiznit.

▶Dinner at your hotel in the center of Tiznit.

Spend the night at a 4 Star Hotel in Tiznit.

Bowel of Silver Moroccan Jewelry

Bowel of Silver Moroccan Jewelry

SEPTEMBER 24th:  TIZNIT – TAROUDANT

Moroccan Jewelry & Antique Silver Treasure Hunting in Tiznit:

►Rise, have breakfast at your Hotel in Tiznit.

►Tiznit is a town in the southern Moroccan economic region of Sous-Massa- Draa founded in 1881 by the Sultan Hassan I.  It has a population of approximately 50,000.  Tiznit is well-known for its silver jewelry, daggers and sabres.

►Spend half-day visiting the Jewelry Souk in the center of Tiznit and a a journey to Bab Lakhmis Ait M’hamid where you will have access to and study the variety of kinds of Southen Moroccan and Mauranitian beads and jewelry. You will also be able to make purchases there to add to your collection.

►Have lunch near Tiznit 20 kilometers by the sea, then take the road to Taradount.

►Arrive in Taroudant. Arrive and check into your traditional Moroccan Riad in a bungalow, located inside an interior of a garden. Evening relaxation by the pool.

►Dinner and Spend the night at a 4 Star Riad in Taradount.

Ait Atta Headdress Pendant

Ait Atta Headdress Pendant

SEPTEMBER 25th:  TIZNIT – TAROUDANT

►Rise, have breakfast at your Riad, then begin your exploration of Taroudaunt.

Taroudant is a Moroccan city located in the Souss Valley in the southern part of the country. It is situated east from Agadir on the road to Ouarzazate and south from Marrakech. It has the feel of a small fortified market town on some caravan route. It is also known for its local crafts like jewelry and carpets. Taroudant is often referred to as the “Grandmother of Marrakech” because it is a scaled down, slowed down town that resembles Marrakech with its surrounding ramparts. Unlike Marrakech, Taroudant contains almost the whole city within its walls.

►Visit the old medinas’ ramparts with a guided two-hour tour then spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the souk of Taradount and treasure hunting in its shops that are filled with antique silver,  beads and shaded alleys occupied by gentle craftsman and shop owners.

►Dinner and Spend the night at a 4 Star Riad in Taradount.

Bead Making by Fire in Taradount

Bead Making by Fire in Taradount

SEPTEMBER 26th: TAROUDANT

►Rise, have breakfast at your Riad in Taradount then take the road to spend an entire day watching the Bead-making Process, rare demonstrations of Bead-making traditions. Lunch during your Bead-Making workshop.

View The Bead-Making Process:
View the bead-making process detail at the workshop where you can create your own jewelry from the beads that you have seen produced that day –  which will be yours to keep as a souvenir of your visit. There will be access to a wide selection of beads available.

Bead Demonstration Of Rare Bead-making Traditions:
During your workshop you will have the opportunity to witness a demo of three different styles of bead making. Bead making enthusiasts will enjoy this demonstration as it will enable them to view how old traditions are still be practiced, produced and carried on in Morocco. Some of these traditions include utilizing couscous and other original Moroccan traditions to create beads. Travel Exploration Morocco was the first agency to record this “rare” bead-making process and your group will be second to experience it first hand.

►There will be an opportunity to also purchase beads and special silver and other Moroccan Jewelry during your Bead Making Workshop in Taroudant.

►Lunch in Taroudant at La Valla, a local restaurant in Taradount or at the Bead-Making workshop.  After lunch continue Moroccan Bead and Jewelry Treasure Hunting or return to your Riad to relax for the evening.

►Dinner and Spend the night at a 4 Star Riad in Taradount.

El Haj Bead-making in Taradount

El Haj Bead-making in Taradount

SEPTEMBER 27th – TAROUDAUNT – TALIOUINE – AGDZ

Breakfast at your Riad. Then spend take the road to Agdz.

En route to Agdz, you will stop at the Taliouine Saffron Cooperative. Taliouine is the traditional area of cultivation of saffron in Morocco and has been for hundreds of years.  The Taliouine Souktana cooperative is on the road to Taroudant, in the village of Taliouine, in the heart of Sirwa Mountains. The Taliouine Cooperative sells only a truly biological saffron, cultivated according the traditional ways, with natural fertilizers . The mountains dry climate is ideal for such a culture.

After visiting the Taliouine Saffron Cooperative , continue the road to Agdz.

Arrive in Agdz and visit a local, traditional Moroccan small shop that is famous for its antique beads such as amber, coral, copal and also offers up a fantastic array of antique silver Moroccan Jewelry. After treasure hunting in Agdz, continue the road to Agdz center.

Dinner and Spend the night at a beautiful 4 Star Kasbah Riad in Agdz.


SEPTEMBER 28th- AGDZ  – AIT OUZZINE – ZAGORA

►Breakfast at your Riad. Take the road to visit the village of Ait Ouzzine.

Aït Ouzzine is a Berber village inhabited by over 300 families who live in beautifully painted crenulated kasbahs, with their own henna fields, water wells, livestock and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani.

►Meet a local Berber family, partake in a cooking lesson of how to make traditional bread, couscous and a tajine.

►Then explore and tour the village by foot. Walk in the green fields and see how the traditional Berbers live with their gardens of herbs, live stock, and henna plants.

Lunch will be served to you in Aït Ouzzine by a traditional Berber family. The menu will include a traditional meal of fresh baked bread with spices and a chicken and vegetable tajine and fresh local fruits for desert.

►After lunch, you can have your hands and feet painted with henna or your hair adorned with saffron by a local village artist and relax.  Experience the tradition of Berber perfume made from musk and amber along with the villages own spices.

►End the afternoon in Ait Ouzzine with mint tea and almonds.  Take the road back to Ouarzazate.

Dinner and Spend the night at a 4 Star Riad located within the Palmary of old Zagora.

Southern Cross, Mold in Amzrou, Zagora

Southern Cross, Mold in Amzrou, Zagora

SEPTEMBER 29th:  ZAGORA – TAMAGROUTE – AMZROU – OUARZAZATE

►Breakfast at your Riad in the Zagora Sahara, then begin your visit of Zagora, a Saharan desert town in the southern Draa Valley. Zagora is favored by travelers for its desert dunes, palms, 45 varieties of dates and its Hollywood sunset mountain backdrops. Take the road by pise (windy road) to discover the land where caravans once transported sugar, tea, dates and other dry goods to Ouarzazate.

Explore the Tamegroute Pottery Cooperative:
Learn how the local, forest  green, glazed pottery is made and fired using regional henna.  The holy village of Tamegroute’s claim to fame through out history is the beautiful pottery created that has a glaze made of henna and is sun dried.

►You will enjoy a workshop lead by Tamagroute pottery masters whereby you will learn how the pottery unique to this region of Zagora is made.  You will learn the history as well as their local techniques. An English translator will be provided along with all necessary materials for you to make your own Tamagroute pottery. Everything you make you will be able to keep.

►Visit the ancient Zaouia site and the Koranic library. Tamegroute has a Koranic Library that once held 40,000 volumes and theological college dating from the 11th century. The library contains a collection of illuminated Korans, the oldest of which are written on gazelle skins.

The Art of Silversmiths in Amzrou:

Next, visit the village of Amzrou, Zagora and it’s old Jewish Mellah. See how silversmiths work to make hand made silver fibulas and Southern Crosses.  Watch how molds are made from scratch, then how the Sahara’s sand is used to bind the molds for creating jewelry. The silver smiths in Amzrou were taught their craft by the Jews who inhabited this village in the 1950’s. Before they fled to Israel, they left a long history of craftsmanship along with the land to continue their silver making jewelry tradition. There will be an opportunity for bead buying, silver buying and also for purchasing of old artifacts.

►View the old Mellah’s Museum and artifacts for viewing and for purchase.  Amzrou and the old city boasts a private area filled with artifacts that are of Berber, Jewish and Arabic origin.

►After exploring Amzrou, take the road to Ouarzazte.

Spend the night in a 4 Star Charming Riad in Ouarzazate.

Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, Ouarzazate

Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, Ouarzazate

SEPTEMBER 30th: OUARZAZATE (GUIDED HISTORICAL TOUR & AFTERNOON SHOPPING)

►Rise early, breakfast at your Riad and then take the road to visit the Ouarzazate region and its famous Kasbahs.

►“See Ouarzazate and die” are feelings often expressed by Moroccans with regards to this magical city that is the door to the Sahara desert. Located just four hours from Marrakech, Ouarzazate is the main Berber city in the south known for its spectacular sunsets and dramatic mountain and desert scenery. Surrounded by breathtaking valleys, Ouarzazate was once crossing point for African traders seeking to reach northern cities in Morocco and Europe. During the French period, Ouarzazate expanded considerably as a garrison town and became the administrative centre of the Zagora region. Ouarzazate became famous when it’s nearby Kasbah; Aït Benhaddou appeared in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

►Take the windy road by piste visit the Oasis of Fint passing the “Plateau de pierres“.  Journey on a one-hour walk inside the Oasis where you will have a cup of tea with the headmasters family Azziz Ouaziz and tour the surrounding area where date palm oases and dramaticdesert scenery are king.

► Then take the road to Ait Benhaddou. Located 32 km from Ouarzazate lies the picturesque village. Aït Benhaddou of Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa Draa on a hill along the Ouarzazate RiverLawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Aït Benhaddou is one of many locations in this region used for shooting Hollywood films. Aït Benhaddou which once served as the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river; ten families however still live within the ksar.

►Your guide will lead you on a private tour through this Berber village of towered and crenulated Kasbahs that once guarded the lucrative caravan route through the Atlas Mountains. Explore the Kasbahs by foot with the option to ride a donkey across a river. Aït Benhaddou which once served as the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river; ten families however still live within the ksar.

►Enjoy lunch at a Kasbah that overlooks Ait Benhaddou. Next, visit Kasbah Taouirirt. Kasbah Taorirt was built by the Glaoui. Its location was strategic for trading routes and in the 1930’s when the Glaoui ruled the South it was then one of Morocco’s largest Kasbahs. Explore Kasbah Taouirirt’s nooks and crannies and discover some local female painters who sell their art inside as well as the many quality silver shops just steps outside the Kasbah.

►Spend the afternoon jewelry shopping in Ouarzazate. Discover treasure hunting in this calm, oasis of Southern Morocco that was originally an administrative center during the French Protectuate. Discover jewelry just outside Kasbah Taouirt and in the old market alongside the smells of Berber Amber and Musk.

SEPTEMBER 30th: OUARZAZATE (GUIDED HISTORICAL & AFTERNOON SHOPPING TOUR CONTINUED)

Dinner at La Kasbah Des Sables in Ouarzazate. Le Kasbah Des Sables is a gastronomic experience with a menu that combines the cuisine of Fes, Meknes, Tangier, Arab and Berber with first class fare.  This restaurant offers a museum- quality atmosphere as its’ decor has been hand stitched together and is filled with Berber, Morocco traditional furniture and art that was hand crafted by local artisans in the Ouarzazate region. Each section of the restaurant offers an intimate environment and the opportunity to eat on tables that are hand painted and adorned with silver fibulas, Amber and other regional jewels.

Spend the night in a 4 Star Charming Riad in Ouarzazate.


OCTOBER 1st: OUARZAZATE – MARRAKECH
►Rise, have breakfast at your Riad and then take the road to Marrakech.

►During your journey to Marrakech you will also pass the olive groves of the Oued Zat, as you ascend onto the Tizi-N-Tichka Pass Road. Built by the French in the 1920’s, the Tizi-N-Tichka Pass can be described as having mountainous barriers, Mediterranean and oceanic influences and desert borders. long the route you will see panoramic views of the High Atlas Mountains as well as sights of fertile valleys, blue and red colored pise villages and other striking mineral environments.

▶En route you will go by piste to visit Kasbah Telout, one of Morocco’s hidden jewels and a famous Kasbahs that is the origin of the Pacha Glaoui Family. Kasbah Telout is hidden among a tiny road in a small village that is 20 minutes outside Tichka. It’s history stands alone with its original zellij tile, authentic, preserved silks and grand remnants of the Glaou family. Unlike the other Kasbahs in Southern Morocco, Telout was occupied by the Glaoui’s instead of the slaves and has stunning views. This Kasbahs has yet to be coined a UNESCO World Heritage site and while it appears in parts to be in ruins on the exterior, its interior is one of true splendor.

►En route stop for lunch and visit the Argan Cooperative where Argan Oil, Butter and Cosmetics are made with the Argan nut by hand as Berber women crack the nuts and the grind them one by one. Have a complimentary tasting.  This cooperative is run entirely by women. Lunch in the village of Tadart.

►Arrive in Marrakech. Evening Free.

►Spend the night at 4 Star Riad in Marrakech.

OCTOBER 2nd: MARRAKECH (SHOPPING DAY)

►Rise early, breakfast at your Riad. Free Day to Shop the Souks of Marrakech for the special Moroccan Beads and Jewelry you missed out on the first time around.

►Sarah Corbett is available by arrangement for morning shopping guidance.

Jewelry & Treasures of Marrakech Viewing:
Evening viewing of Moroccan Jewelry pieces at your Riad by a local Berber Trader in Marrakech. Enjoy a private two- hour viewing of fabulous beads, jewels and local silver pieces available for purchase and historical discussion about the origin and meaning of these pieces.

►Spend the night at 4 Star Riad in Marrakech.


OCTOBER 3rd: MARRAKECH MENARA AIRPORT DEPARTURES:

▶Breakfast at your Riad. Departure from Marrakech’s Menara Airport.

Sarah Corbett, North African Jewelry Expert & Alecia Cohen, Director Travel Exploration Morocco

Sarah Corbett, North African Jewelry Expert & Alecia Cohen, Director Travel Exploration Morocco

COST PER PERSON: 14 Days/ 13 Nights
$3,850 USA / 2,620 GBP / 3,115 EUROS/ 3,930 CAD

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: 14 Days/ 13 Nights
$1,050 USA /700 GBP /850 EUROS/ 1,070 CAD

For more information about  a Morocco Tour or the Trade Bead & Moroccan Jewelry Treasure Hunting Itinerary

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Moroccan Coffee and Café Ambiance, Your Moroccan Travel Guide

Friday, June 25th, 2010

A Café in Marrakesh, Morocco – Photo by Richard Mueller

Enjoying the ambiance in various Moroccan cities is partly what a trip to Morocco is all about. When traveling to Morocco, make sure to take time out to enjoy Moroccan coffee and the cafe ambiance that each city offers. MarrakechTangier, Essaouira and Agadir are known for having the most and the best cafe’s, the best variety of Moroccan Arabic coffee and are spacious, comfortable hotspots for people watching. Moroccan coffee is different from American coffee. The two most commonly-ordered types are black, served in a Moroccan teaglass, and coffee with milk, usually served in a cup, but sometimes in a tea glass.There are several types of coffee with milk.  The first is café cassé, which means black coffee broken with a little bit of milk.  The other common type is “café nss nss”  (no vowel in nss), which means half coffee (made with water) and half milk.

Café “nss nss”

The third type is café crème, which means a cup of hot milk to which instant Nescafé is added (but it is not made with cream, which was never available in Morocco until recently, but would never in any case be found in a café).

Enjoy Your Coffee on the Balcony at the Hotel Continental in Tangier, Morocco

Traditionally, mint tea has been the beverage of choice in Morocco. Some travel across the world just to sample authentic Moroccan tea in the land where its masterful preparation has become almost as much of an art-form as the Japanese tea ceremony. It is believed that tea was first introduced to Morocco in the 18th century, and began spreading through the country in the mid-1800s at the time the trade between the Maghreb and Europe started flourishing. It is reported that Sultan Moulay Ismail received many bags of tea and sugar as gifts and recompenses given by European envoys in order to release European prisoners. Moroccans quickly developed a fondness for the tea, but adapted it to their own ways by adding mint.

However, according to Euromonitor International, the amount of coffee consumption in Morocco has risen steadily among Moroccans, and has especially accelerated over the past few years.  An increasing number of cafés are opening all over Morocco.  Instant coffee, dominated by Nescafé is very popular in Moroccan homes.

A Café  in Agadir, Morocco

Moroccans make several variations of coffee in their own homes which you might like to try in your home.

Nescafé Classic

(Note:  Moroccans who use instant coffee mostly use Nescafé Classic –no substitute, or other type of Nescafé tastes the same.  If you prefer, use freshly brewed strong, black coffee in place of Nescafé crystals.)

Cafés in Essaouira, Morocco

Version 1:  Daily Morning Coffee, with Simple Continental Breakfast


Heat two cups of milk until boiling.  Let cool one minute; remove skin.  Stir in two rounded teaspoons of Nescafé crystals (or freshly brewed strong black coffee) and sugar to taste.  Moroccans often serve morning coffee in two thermos pitchers, one with black coffee, the other with milk, so that each person can mix their coffee exactly as they like it.

Version 2:  Coffee Spiced with Whole Cloves

Heat two cups of milk, together with three whole cloves, until boiling.  Let cool one minute; remove skin; disgard cloves.  Stir in two rounded teaspoons of Nescafé crystals (or freshly-brewed coffee) and sugar to taste.

Version 3:  Coffee with Black Pepper

Heat two cups of milk until boiling.  Let cool one minute; remove skin. Add 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper.  Stir in two rounded teaspoons of Nescafé crystals (or freshly-brewed coffee) and sugar to taste.

Version 4:  Coffee with Ras el Hanut

Ras el Hanut is a group of spices mixed together which translates as “top of the shop.”  It is used in a variety of Moroccan dishes.  Sometimes it can be purchased at Middle Eastern groceries, or better yet, on your own trip to Morocco!

If you do not have this spice mixture available, just  a pinch of a few spices can be substituted in your coffee.

Heat two cups of milk until boiling.  Let cool one minute; remove skin. Add 1/4 teaspoon of Ras El Hanout, OR a pinch of each of the followingground spices:  cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and black pepper.  Stir in two rounded teaspoons of Nescafé crystals (or freshly-brewed coffee) and sugar to taste.

Version 5:  Black Coffee with a Lemon Twist

Authentic version (probably imported to Morocco from France): To a cup of boiling water, add a rounded (or heaping, if stronger is preferred) teaspoon of Nescafé.  Or use freshly-brewed strong coffee.  Cut a 1/8-inch thick slice of lemon peel. Twist it for the oils to come out of the peel, and drop it into the coffee.  Add sugar if you like it.

Variation using Lemon Juice: Add a full tablespoon of lemon juice to strong black coffee. Add three+ tablespoons of sugar. Tastes a bit like strong, black coffee flavored with lemonade. (Note: Splenda might work, since it is made from real sugar– but aspartame products definitely taste really bad with lemon juice.) This variation is excellent, but I don’t make it often because of the amount of sugar required to balance the lemon juice. (Note that lemon juice doesn’t taste right in coffee unless real sugar is used.) An additional alternative is to use a bartender’s sweetened lemon-flavored syrup.

For more information about Morocco Travel and Morocco’s Cafe Scene

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Things To Do In Ad Dakhla, Morocco, Your Morocco Travel Guide, Part II of II

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Ad Dakhla Sahara Desert

Are you wondering what there is to see and do in Ad Dakhla, Morocco besides kitesurfing?

Dakhla also referred to as Ad Dakhla is a fishing and surfing paradise which was once the capital of the Spanish province of Rio de Oro. Dakhla or Ad Dakhla is one of the ultimate places to go where you can witness unspoiled Sahara Desert scenery. Visiting Dakhla is ideal for Moroccan travelers who want to get away from the crowds and visit a place where it is still possible to see the authentic nomad lifestyle nearby. Another place in Morocco where it is possible to see the authentic Nomad lifestyle is in the Bouthgrar region near Mount Mgoun which is often referred to as the Valley of Nomads. The Valley of Nomads can be visited from en route from Ouarzazate when passing the Valley of Roses.

It is possible to fly to Dakhla however an overland trip in a 4×4 Landcruiser is ideal to get the real feel for the Western Sahara of Morocco. The road to Dakhla hugs the cool sea coast where there are some spectacular low cliffs that hang over the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes local fisherman live in huts on the cliffs.

Fishermen's Huts on Morocco's Southern Sahara Desert Coastline, photo by Mary Mimouna

If you can only visit the Sahara Desert in the summer, Dakhla is one of the ideal Sahara Desert tours, rather than the inland Sahara Desert of Merzouga, M’hamid or Zagora which do not have the advantage of the cool Atlantic ocean. It is possible to visit Dakhla on your own or take a 4 x 4 private tour or luxury tour just south from Agadir or Laayoune, all the way to Dakhla. The cold Canary Current off the coast means that the seacoast road (even in July and August) is quite cold most of the way (foggy in the mornings, and 75°F/25°C in the afternoons).

Atlantic Cliffs in the Moroccan Sahara, along the Seacoast Road to Ad Dakhla

In a couple of places, en route to Dakhla, the seacoast road juts inland, into a couple of Saharan towns, where the temperature can shoot up to 120°F/49°C. But it only takes 30 minutes to drive in and out of these areas, and is a fascinating experience to see how quickly and dramatically the temperature changes just a few kilometers in from the seacoast. It also makes clear why most of the road does hug the seacoast. The hot inland excursions are a great reason to make your trip in a comfortable and air-conditioned 4 x 4 to Dakhla.

Driving down to Ad Dakhla, there are several great areas of sand dunes, between the road and the ocean which make great places to climb on. They are close enough to the ocean to be cool in the mornings.

Climbing on Sand Dunes in Morocco's Western Sahara Desert, next to the Seacoast Road

Anyone with even a passing interest in geology will find the trip to Dakhla interesting. Here we collected some naturally occurring gypsum crystals that we found ourselves in a place where we merely stopped to admire the scenery.

Driving down to Ad Dakhla, you are able to drive for great distances without finding any small towns, stores, gas stations, or other evidence of civilization. When you finally arrive in Dakhla, it feels like a secret still-undiscovered oasis.

Dakhla, has a population of 70,000 and is Morocco’s largest southern Sahara city. Formerly known as Villa Cisneros (founded by Spanish settlers in 1502), Dakhla is located just north of the Tropic of Cancer, 550 kilometers south of Laayoune, and 1000 kilometers south of Agadir.

Ad Dakhla, Morocco - Now a city of 70,000

Tourists in Ad Dakhla can enjoy deep sea fishing, fishing from shore, windsurfing, camel riding, visiting an oyster farm (8 km outside of town), and kitesurfing, in addition to year-round sun. Excursions to the famous White Dune in the Bay of Dakhla are popular, where sometimes pink flamingoes can be found.

Deep sea fisherman find that common fish of the area include chad, borinto, mullet, sea perch, marlin, tuna and swordfish. The new port is now home to one of Morocco’s largest fishing fleets.

The Port in Ad Dakhla (1970's)

In Ad Dakhla itself, there is no beach (located in the lagoon about 25 km north of Dakhla, which you will see on the way in to town), but there is an oceanfront promenade.

Ad Dakhla, Morocco Waterfront Promenade

Ad Dakhla itself makes an interesting destination in the Moroccan Sahara for tourists who enjoy vast stretches of beach without crowds. Dahkla is located on a pennisula, and while there are no beaches in the town, very interesting beaches are located in the inland lagoon of water, actually on your left side, which extends for 50 km as you approach Dakhla from the north.

The Lagoon, at Ad Dakhla, Morocco

These beaches are vast and shallow, where at high tide the water comes nearly to the road. Yet, at low tide, you can walk out nearly a kilometer.

A wide range of migrating birds and other wildlife are all over the beach in Dakhla, looking for sand crabs and other delicious morsels to eat. It’s an amazing experience to be able to walk on a vast nearly flat beach empty of humans, yet filled at times with a wide range of migrating birds and other wildlife, looking for sand crabs and other delicious morsels to eat. Occassionally you can find tracks through the wet sand of other small animals. Dolphins can also frequently be seen in the Bay of Dakhla.

The town of Dakhla itself is a nice place to wander around. The Catholic church (left) was built during colonial times. A small souk is also interesting to visit.

The Souk in Ad Dakhla

If you happen to visit Ad Dakhla in February, you can attend their large music festival.

Ad Dakhla Music Festival

Many tourists going to Dakhla are particularly interested in taking an overnight excursion to the Mauritanian border, to take a look around Nouadibou, the Mauritanian town on the other side. This can be done in a bus or in your luxury 4 x 4, but in either case, you need to go as part of the convoy which leaves about three times weekly from Dakhla. (North of Dakhla, there is no need for a convoy.)

Nouadibou, Mauritanea - border town with southern Morocco

Part I – Ad Dakhla, Morocco – Best Kitesurfing in the World

For more information about what to see and do in Dakhla and Morocco’s Sahara Desert

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert, Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Morocco Traditional Food, The World of Moroccan Cuisine, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
Moroccan Couscous

Moroccan Couscous

Moroccan cuisine is the culinary star of North Africa. Imperial and trade influence has been filtered and blended into Morocco’s culture. Being at the crossroads of many civilizations, the cuisine of Morocco is a mélange of Arab, Berber, Moorish, French, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean African, Iberian, and Jewish influences.

Moroccan cooking is enhanced with fruits, dried and fresh — apricots, dates, figs, and raisins, to name a few. Lemons preserved in a salt-lemon juice mixture bring a unique face to many Moroccan chicken and pigeon dishes. Nuts are prominent; pine nuts, almonds, and pistachios show up in all sorts of unexpected places.

Moroccan Mint Tea

Moroccan Mint Tea

Moroccan sweets are rich and dense confections of cinnamon, almond, and fruit perfumes that are rolled in filo dough, soaked in honey, and stirred into puddings. The cooks in the royal kitchens of Fes, Meknes, Marrakech, Rabat and Tetouan refined Moroccan cuisine over the centuries and created the basis for what is known as Moroccan cuisine today. Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food.

While spices have been imported to Morocco for thousands of years, many ingredients, like saffron from Taliouine, mint and olives from Meknes, and oranges and lemons from Fes, are home-grown. Common spices include karfa (cinnamon), kamoun (cumin), kharkoum (turmeric), skingbir (ginger), libzar (pepper) , tahmira (paprika), anis seed, sesame seed, kasbour (coriander), maadnous (parsley), zaafrane beldi (saffron) and mint.

Moroccan Food

Moroccan Food

Traditional Food in Morocco is eaten at breakfast, lunh and dinner as well as on high holy holidays such as Ramadan and Eid El Kebir. The various types of Moroccan traditional cuisine include the Moroccan tajine and Moroccan couscous. Moroccans also have a penchant for fruit juice, Arabic coffee and mint tea along with their accompaniment of dates, nuts, deserts and pastries.

When taking a Moroccan holiday, make sure to expand your pallet by allowing yourself to enjoy a true a taste of Moroccan cuisine.

For more information about Morocco Traditional Food or A Taste of Morocco Tour

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Dakhla Morocco, Best Kitesurfing in the World, Your Morocco Travel Guide, Part I of II

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Ad Dakhla Lagoon, in far Southern Morocco, next to the Tropic of Cancer

Dakhla or Ad Dakhla, Morocco is located on the southern Sahara desert coast of Morocco, just above the Tropic of Cancer and is one of the best locations in the world for kitesurfing. Both the 2010 World Kitesurfing Championships and the 2009 Dakhla Kiteboard World Cup were held there. Dakhla has a 50-km flat-water shallow sand-basin lagoon, with perfect wind conditions, which is why it is so popular.

The Ad Dakhla Lagoon, at High Tide

The constant and strong northwesterly winds are caused by the natural thermals rising from the desert and meeting the cold temperatures rising from the Canary current in the Atlantic Ocean next to Morocco. The excellent winds ensure that a vast range of kitesurfing conditions are always available, and this is why Ad Dakhla is sought out by kiteboarders.

Kitesurfing lessons can be arranged in Dakhla for beginner and intermediate levels, for those who are interested. It’s even exhilarating just to watch the kitesurfers, especially when they make dramatic jumps in the air.

So why does kiteboarder Johara Freedom Sykes-Davies enjoy Ad Dakhla, Morocco? She says,”I love super flat spots to learn new freestyle tricks, it is so satisfying powering along a super slick lagoon and putting 100% into learning a new trick.”


Johara Freedom Sykes-Davies

Johara Freedom Sykes-Davies Kitesurfing in Ad Dakhla

Ad Dakhla is the ultimate in uncrowded desert scenery for serious kiteboarders and Morocco’s adventure travelers.

The Lagoon, at Ad Dakhla, Morocco

Where should luxury Sahara desert travelers not interested in camping stay in Dakhla? Definitely at the Sahara Regency Hotel. Ad Dakhla is Morocco’s southernmost Atlantic city, with a population of about 70,000.

View of Ad Dakhla, Morocco, from the Sahara Regency Hotel

The next post in this series will cover Dakhla activities for non-kiteboarders to see and do in Ad Dakhla.


For more information about Kitesurfing or a Morocco vacation in Dakhla

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert, Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Beat the Heat in Morocco, Top Ten Morocco Travel Tips For Summer, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Men at Sunrise Wearing Djellabas

1. Adopt a Moroccan schedule To Beat the Heat in Morocco During Summer & Other Seasons. Take advantage of the cool early morning hours in Morocco in Summer by taking a mid-moring snack and a late lunch about 1:00 PM. Take a nap in your air-conditioned hotel room or traditional Moroccan Riad, or a dip in the pool. Around 4 PM, have a snack, and head out again around 4:30-5:00 PM. You won’t miss much, because Moroccans tend to lie low during this same time. Enjoy yourself until dark, then head off for dinner around 8-9:00 PM. Take advantage of the Moroccan night life during the cool evening hours if you’re staying in Imperial cities such as Marrakech, Essaouira or Casablanca, all which boast varied restaurants with Moroccan and International cuisine along with entertainment.

2. When going out in the morning during your Morocco Travel experience, make sure to apply sunscreen and consider wearing a hat (or hat alternative) and sunglasses (protects your eyes against cataracts).

3. If you find yourself out and about, getting overheated and exhausted, use your water bottle to wet down your face, neck, hairline, and even the top of your t-shirt or dress in the upper back, shoulder, and neck areas. You can even splash some water on your arms if necessary.

Don’t worry about looking silly–it’s far better to take care of your health when traveling in Summer in Morocco. Even though you might not see them, plenty of Moroccans (especially men, or women when in their own homes) wet down their entire head and neck under a faucet if they feel severely overheated.

Under these circumstances, try also to get to a shaded area and sit down for a little while, even if you have to ask someone in a shop or elsewhere if you may use their stool to sit on. Most are more than happy to oblige if they see you need help.

4. Drink PLENTY of water. Doctors on the Moroccan radio have advised that this is the best way to avoid serious problems. (The objective is to keep your blood thin through drinking, because dehydration is what actually leads to strokes or heart attacks in the heat.)

5. If you are not on a salt-restricted diet, enjoy the Moroccan olives! Ask your guide to take you on a visit to the olive souk, where you can purchase several varieties of olives (which don’t need to be refrigerated in your hotel room). Enjoy these at your leisure. While a bit of salt is quite helpful in preventing heat stroke in extremely hot weather, salt tablets are quite unnecesary if you like olives!

Olive souk in Morocco

6. If possible, doctors suggest spending at least a couple of hours per day in an air-conditioned location. Even short periods will give your body a break. If you are unable to do so, don’t feel shy about wetting yourself down. Your clothes will easily dry in 20-30 minutes.

In addition to your Riad or hotel in Morocco, air-conditioning is becoming more available now in some larger stores (supermarkets and malls). These make a cooler place you can go for a break.

Fresh produce displayed inside an air-conditioned Acima Supermarket in Marrakesh

7. When stopping at small shops or cafés, they often DO have cold drinks. But sometimes you have to especially ASK for them. If they hand you an unopened bottle or can which is not cold, it never hurts to aks for one that is cold. Sometimes they only give them to the people who ASK. Moroccans nearly ALWAYS ask!

8. If you should ever find yourself in an out-of-the-way place that is just unbearable at night, one trick to help with this situation is to travel with a cheap (thin) bath towel. (Even a large hand towel will do.) These can be easily purchased at any local souk. Wet it down, wring it out, and lay it on top of your body in the bed. If you have a fan to lie in front of, it will offer instant relief. If you don’t have a fan, wave it back and forth in the air a few times; when you lay it on your body, it will feel cold. This can give you some much-needed relief.

9. Remember the locals are better acclimated to the heat of summer and cold of winter, because their bodies have a chance to adjust gradually throughout the year. If you spend a long time in Morocco, especially without air conditioning (or heat in winter), your body will adjust, too. But most tourists are not here long enough for that to happen. Most fly right in to the summer heat, are only here a short time, and need to be careful by following the above suggestions.

If you should ever need a doctor, generally your hotel desk or tour guide can help find you one quickly, who even speaks some English.

10. Low-lying and coastal regions (northern and western coasts) of Morocco, such as Agadir, Casablanca, Rabat, and Tangier often have moderate temperatures with humidity, but less of both than is found in the American South, or American East Coast. Marrakesh, Fes, Ouarzazate, and other inland cities or southern areas tend to have dry, to very dry, heat, which is far easier to tolerate than humid heat.

So, to sum up, in very hot weather, avoid going out between 1 PM and 4 PM. Rest in air-conditioning, if possible. Drink plenty of water, and don’t hesitate to ask someone for a stool or chair to rest on if you become exhausted. If you become overheated together with exhaustion, soak your head and shoulders in water —put your health before appearances.

For more information about a Morocco Travel Tips

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert, Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Tangier Tour, Tangier Day Trip Visit To Cap Spartel and the Cave of Hercules,Your Morocco Travel Guide

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Tangier Medina

Tangier Medina

Tangier, the capital of the Tétouan Region has a rich history due to the historical presence of many civilizations and cultures that conquered this area from the 5th century BC. Tangier sits at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel. This beautiful city, only 35 minutes from Spain by modern hydrofoil or two hours by normal ferry boat service, has a hugely multicultural society, predominantly Muslim, but with small Christian, and Jewish communities who express tolerance for one another.

Moroccan travelers who wish to visit Tangier from Spain can take a one day private excursion to Tangier’s Cap Spartel and the Cave of Hercules along with Tangier’s sites, museums and cafes. This makes for the perfect private Tangier tour whether you are coming by ferry from Spain to Tangier or from Casablanca to Tangier.

View of Cap Spartel

View of Cap Spartel

In the 1950’s, Tangier was a place –and, sometimes a refuge– for many artists and writers from America and Europe. This port city that is shaped by the sea has attracted famous writers including Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. Writers of the “Beat Generation” who visited or lived in Tangier include Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Brion Gysin, who was also a painter. Notable artists who lived and painted here were Eugene Delacroix and Henri Matisse.

Celebrities who have stayed in Tangier include The Rolling Stones, who also recorded with the Master Musicians of Jajouka and Bachir Attar in the kasbah in 1989. Tangier was a favorite home to Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton, whose lavish parties at Sidi Hosni put Tangier on the map in the international press during from the 1950s through the early 1970s. Forbes magazine publisher Malcolm Forbes held his 70th birthday party in 1989 at his Palais Mendoub for 800 guests, flown in from all over the word, spending over $2.5 million in a week-end celebration.

Tangier is undergoing rapid development and modernization. Projects include new 5 star hotels along the bay, a modern business district called Tangier City Center, a new airport terminal and a new soccer stadium. Two other important investments in the region are in port of Tangier where millions of passengers and goods flow through it every year and also a new bullet train that will enable future tourists and Moroccans to travel from Tangier to Casablanca in just under 2 hours.

Cave of Hercules

Cave of Hercules

TANGIER ONE-DAY TOUR- Tangier Excursion from Spain, Tangier Day Trip

►After breakfast, your official tour of Tangier will begin. You will start your day with a city overview at the vantage point of the Colline de Bella-Vista. Then, drive to see the Grand Succo, a popular nighttime square close to the Mosque of Sidi Bou Abib and the link between Ville Nouvelle and the medina.

►Enter the medina at Rue Es-Siaghinie, the busiest part of this Roman medina lined with cafes and bazaars, a Spanish church, jewelers’ shops and an arts center displaying works depicting Tangier’s social history. Walk Petit Socco that was once the heart of the medina where businessmen and bankers frequented cafes, hotels, casinos and cabarets that have relocated to Ville Nouvelle. Move on to visit the Grand Mosque, built on the site of a Portuguese cathedral. Walking north, you will then visit the kasbah decorated with mosaics, ornamental stucco and woodcarving.

►Next to the Kasbah you will walk the ramparts and take a short break to relax by the breathtaking view of the port. Explore the Musée de Carmen-Macein exhibiting a collection of works by Picasso, Max Ernst and Georges Braque.

►Have a traditional Moroccan lunch in the city center  of Tangier then explore Quartier du Marshan, once an attractive residential area west of the Kasbah. Next, visit the Anglican church of St. Andrew built to cater to Tangier’s growing British population. After, make a stop to appreciate fine works of art at Tangier’s Musée d’ Art Contemporain showcasing contemporary Moroccan paintings.

►In the mid afternoon, take a break and experience Tangier’s cafe scene at the Cafe Hafa on the Marchan, a popular meeting place for Tangier residents, a former favorite of Paul Bowles and other famous foreigners. Cafe Hafa boasts a terrace and gardens that overlook Gibraltar –perfect at sunset and is the perfect place for afternoon tea as is Cafe de Paris. All Tangier’s cafes offer a relaxing environment where you can meet locals even over a game of backgammon.

►In the evening enjoy a traditional Moroccan meal and live entertainment at Restaurant Hammad or instead dine sea side at one of the delightful places that serve food by the sea in Tangier.

El Minzah Hotel

El Minzah Hotel

THREE DAY TANGIER TOUR FROM CASABLANCA

DAY 1: CASABLANCA – TANGIER

►After breakfast of fresh squeezed orange juice, baguette and fresh fruit, departure from Casablanca to visit Tangier, a Moroccan port city with unique character. Heading north, you will enjoy views of the sea and deserted beaches that stretch to infinity. The road will be laced with ancient and interesting places to stop in such as the tropical gardens of Sidi Bouknadel, an exotic bird sanctuary in Mehdya and the European styled town of Kenitra, a port area whose land has been transformed by irrigation and is now one of Morocco’s major agricultural areas specializing in rice, sugar beet, cotton and citrus fruits. Nearby Kenitra, we can also stop in Thamusida to view the Roman baths on the banks of Wadi Sebou.

►Time permiting we will stop in Lixus, a UNESCO world heritage site, to briefly visit the Acropolis located on a hill above the town. After Lixus, we will drive directly through the seaside town of Asliah.

►For lunch we will stop in the charming coastal town of Asiliah, whose beach is one of the most quaint and beautiful in Morocco. Asiliah is frequented by Moroccans in summer and is less touristic then other seaside towns such as Essaouira and Agadir.

►After a seafood lunch, visit seaside Asiliah a blue and white washed city with commanding views of the ocean. There is also a lagoon where thousands of birds including herons, pink flamingoes, gannets, and sheldrake come to migrate during the months of December and January.

► In Tangier, you will be transported to your hotel where you can have dinner and prepare for the next day’s activities. Options for an overnight stay include the fabulous Hotel El Minzah in Tanger that overlooks the seas, Riad Tanja, located in the medina or a private villa.

DAY 2:  TANGIER

►After breakfast, your official tour of Tangier will begin. You will start your day with a city overview at the vantage point of the Colline de Bella-Vista. Then, drive to see the Grand Succo, a popular nighttime square close to the Mosque of Sidi Bou Abib and the link between Ville Nouvelle and the medina.

►Enter the medina at Rue Es-Siaghinie, the busiest part of this Roman medina lined with cafes and bazaars, a Spanish church, jewelers’ shops and an arts center displaying works depicting Tangier’s social history. Walk Petit Socco, which was once the heart of the medina where businessmen and bankers frequented cafes, hotels, casinos and cabarets that have relocated to Ville Nouvelle. Move on to visit the Grand Mosque, built on the site of a Portuguese cathedral. Walking north, you will then visit the kasbah decorated with mosaics, ornamental stucco and woodcarving.

►Next to the Kasbah you will walk the ramparts and take a short break to relax by the breathtaking view of the port. Explore the Musée de Carmen-Macein exhibiting a collection of works by Picasso, Max Ernst and Georges Braque.

►Have a traditional Moroccan lunch in the city center then explore Quartier du Marshan, once an attractive residential area west of the Kasbah. Next, visit the Anglican church of St. Andrew built to cater to Tangier’s growing British population. After, make a stop to appreciate fine works of art at the Musée d’ Art Contemporain showcasing contemporary Moroccan paintings.

►In the mid afternoon, take a break and experience Tangier’s cafe scene at the Cafe de Paris, a popular meeting place for Tangier residents, a former favorite of Paul Bowles and other famous foreigners.

►In the evening enjoy a traditional Moroccan meal and live entertainment at Restaurant Hammad or instead tea at the Moroccan Cafe Hafa, an attractive restaurant with a terrace and gardens that overlook Gibraltar –perfect at sunset with dinner by the sea. All Tangiers cafes offer a relaxing environment where you can meet locals even over a game of backgammon.

Day 3: TANGIER – CASABLANCA

►After breakfast departure from Tangier back to Casablanca.


For more information about a Tangier Tour to Cape Spartal and the Cave of Hercules

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806  or 1 (917)703-2078  and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Moroccan Wine Guide, Choosing The Best Moroccan Wine, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Moroccan Grape Preparation For Wine Making Process

Restaurant menus and wine shops in Morocco present travelers with an astounding array of choice in excellent Moroccan wines.  But where should the person unfamiliar with Moroccan wines begin?  This article will provide a starting point and serve as a Moroccan Wine Guide by recommending some inexpensive good-value Moroccan wines.

Morocco has been a leading wine producer and its bold red and white grapes have become popular among the French, Americans and within Modern Moroccan households. When the French colonized Morocco, like the Romans centuries before them, they realized Morocco’s possibility of being a wine country. The French developed Meknès, a Moroccan Imperial City, into a wine region. Today 30,000 acres of land in Morocco contribute to wine production and Morocco sells over 40 million bottles within Morocco and abroad. Moroccan wine is in a state of revival and wine producers are taking advantage of the country’s sunny, mild temperate climate, and high altitudes.

Although most Moroccans do not drink alcohol due to religious prohibitions, Moroccoprovides a home to groups of ex-patriots and foreigners from France, England, America, Spain, Germany and Italy who enjoy healthy alcohol consumption. Wine production has greatly assisted in Morocco’s tourism sector and created much needed jobs. Close to 10,000 Moroccans are employed through the wine-making industry within the fourteen regions of Morocco. The fourteen wine making regions of Morocco  are Agadir, Boulaouane, Casablanca, Fes, Kenitra, Marrakech, Melilla, Meknes, Ouarzazate, Rabat, Safi, Sidi Ifni, Tangier, and Tetouan.

Map of the Fourteen Wine-Growing Regions of Morocco

Even though Morocco has fourteen wine-growing districts, wines from some of these regions are not widely available. Some common, easily-found appellations includeGerrouaneBeni MTtirBenslimane, and Zenatta. (Gerrouane and Beni M’Tir alone account for over sixty percent of Moroccan wine production.)

The Beni M’Tir Wine-Growing Region of Morocco

Moroccan Guide To Inexpensive Red Wines:

For anyone wanting to sample a good standard Moroccan red; or when ordering for a group of red wine drinkers of varying tastes, it’s hard to go wrong with Cuvée du Cabernet President Rouge:

This garnet-colored red wine (left) hints of orange, lemon, and bramble fruits.  A medium-bodied wine,it has good complexity, without being too heavy or too light.  It is rich and robust, with a lingering finish.

For those who prefer a heavy-bodied (14%), plum-tasting wine, Bonassia Cabernet Sauvingon (right) is a better choice. Bonassia is a rich and smooth opaque deep ruby-violet, tasting of black currants with hints of vanilla and nutmeg with a floral finish.  It is an exceptionally good value, and one of my personal favorites.  Matured in stainless steel for three months, and subsequently aged in oak.

For wine drinkers who enjoy Merlots and Syrahs, excellent inexpensive choices exist in Moroccco:

The Halana Merlot is a deep garnet-colored wine, tasting of raspberry, floral (jasmine and violet), and a hint of spice.  The Halana Syrah tastes of plum and raspberry, licorice, and cinnamon.  It also tends to be heavy with tannins.

Vineyards in Meknes

Moroccan Guide To Inexpensive Rosé Wines:

The Thalvin Boulaouane Vin Gris (left) is an especially good value and a personal favorite of mine.  It is a light wine, tasting of floral and honeysuckle, raspberry and citrus, with a pleasingly long floral length.

The Halana Syrah Rosé is medium-bodied, and stands up well to meat courses.  It tastes of rose petals, strawberry, melon and peach, and of robust minerals.

The “S” de Siroua Cabernet Sauvingnon Rosé (moderately priced in stores at about 120 Dirhams, or 12 Euros, and the most expensive wine listed in this article) is reminiscent of strawberry jam, and also a personal favorite of mine.

Grapes Being Harvested “by Hand” in Meknes

On most bottles of Moroccan wine, you will find the French words “vendage à la main,” which means “harvested by hand.”  According to the growers, this not only provides jobs for many Moroccans, but gives a superior quality to the wine when compared with mechanical harvesting methods.

Moroccan Guide To Inexpensive White Wines:

If you enjoy white wine, a light and refreshing Moroccan white you can try, which seems to please most palates,  is Thalvin Cuvée du President Sémaillon (no photo available).  It is reminiscent of green apples, light minerals, and grapefruit.

Another fresh and clean-tasting Moroccan white is Special Coquillages, found on many hotel and restaurant menus.  It tastes of green apple  citrus, and minerals, with a hint of grapefruit, and having very long length.

Cap Blanc (no photo available) is another similar white also found on many hotel and restaurant menus.  It is a pleasing and inexpensive wine tasting of grapefruit, honeysuckle, and minerals.

If you are interested in visiting the wine-growing regions of Morocco, why not book your next private tour with Travel Exploration?

For more information about Moroccan Wine, visiting the region of Meknes or a Morocco Wine Tour

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806  or 1 (917)703-2078  and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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