Posts Tagged ‘Morocco Tours’

Morocco Books, Recommended Reading Before You Go

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
Lords of the Atlas, By Gavin Maxwell

Lords of the Atlas, By Gavin Maxwell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Exploration Offers a Hand Curated and Select Picks of Morocco Books to read before you go. The Books to Read before you visit Morocco offer an insight into the country’s history, culture and traditions. Preparing an exciting Reading list of Morocco Books ranging from History to  Fiction and Non Fiction as well as Design & Decor is part of the the holiday planning process. To better understand Morocco’s traditions carve out time to list to Moroccan Music and watch Moroccan Films. From Galvin Maxwell’s account of the rise and fall of the House of Glaoui to Tahir Shah’s story of moving his family to  Casablanca and Paul Bowles, Spider’s House that weaves a web through the ancient medina of Fes Travel Exploration’s Reading List is a must for your Morocco adventure.

READING LIST (Available on Amazon.com & Barnes & Noble.com)

HISTORY  (Available on Amazon.com & Barnes & Noble.com)

  • Morocco That Was – By  Water Harris
  • Morocco Since 1830  –  By C.R. Pennell
  • Lords of the Atlas: The Rise and Fall of the House of Glaoua  –  By Gavin Maxwell
  • The Conquest of Morocco – By Douglass Porch

FICTION & NON- FICTION  

  • Culture & Customs in Morocco – By Raphael Njoku
  • In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams – By Tahir Shah
  • The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca – By Tahir Shah
  • The Spiders House – By Paul Bowles
  • The Sheltering Sky – By Paul Bowles (Book & Film)
  • Let It Come Down – By Paul Bowles
  • The Last Storytellers: Tales from the Heart of Morocco –  By Richard Hamilton
  • Their Heads are Green & Their Hands are Blue – By Paul Bowles
  • Dreams of Trespass: Tales of A Harem –  By Fatima Mernissi
  • Berber Odes: Poetry from the Mountains of Morocco – By Michael Peyron
  • The Hamadsha: A Studio of Moroccan Ethnopsychiatry
  • A House in Fes –  By Susannah Clarke
  • For Bread Alone – By Mohammed Choukri
  • The Last Storytellers: Tales from the Heart of Morocco – Richard Hamilton
  • The Mountains Look on Marrakech – Hamish Brown
  • The Exile – By Abdullah Laroui
  • The Game of Forgetting – By Mohammed Berrada
  • Hideous Kinki – By Esther Freud
  • Leaving Tangier – By Tahar Ben Jelloun
  • The Red City – By Barnaby Rogerson & Stephen Lavington
  • Shadows of Marrakech – By Philip Brebner

 

DESIGN & DÉCOR 

  • Living in Morocco: (German Edition) – By Barbara Stoeltie
  • Moroccan Interiors  – By Lisa Lovatt-Smith
  • Living in Morocco from Casablanca to Marrakesh – By Lisl Dennis and Landt Dennis
  • New Moroccan Style: The Art of Sensual Living – By Susan Sully
  • Moroccan Textile Embroidery – By Isabelle Denamur
  • Berber Carpets of Morocco. The Symbols. Origina and Meaning By Bruno Barbatti
  • Imazighen: The Vanishing Traditions of Berber Women – By Margaret Courtney-Clarke and Geraldine Brooks

 

MOROCCAN MUSIC  (Available on Amazon.com or I-Tunes Apple Store)

  • Andalusian Music from Fes By Abdelkrim Rais
  • Andalusian Music from Tangier By Cheik Ahmed Zaitouni
  • Jilala: Sufi Trance Music from Morocco By Jilala
  • Music of Islam 5: Aissaoua Sufi Ceremony By Music of Islam
  • Under the Moroccan Sky  – Various Artists
  • B’ismillah – Fes Festival of World Music
  • Berber Blues By Cherifa
  • The Master Musicians of Jajouka Featuring Bachir Attar
  • The Master Musicians of Jajouka – Jajouka Between the Mountains
  • Baptism of Solitude – By Paul Bowles and Bill Laswell (Spoken Word)
  • Arabic Groove – Putumayo World Music
  • Rough Guide to North African Café
  • Rough Guide to Arabic Café
  • Gift of the Gnaoua – Hassan Hakmoun & Adam Rudolph
  • Berber Music from the High Atlas & Anti-Atlas

FILMS SHOT IN MOROCCO

  • Othelle (Orson Welles)
  • Flight to Tangier  (Charles Marquis Warren)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much, starring * James Stewart
  • Lawrence of Arabia, started Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif
  • The Jewel of the Nile, Directed by Lewis Teague, starred Michael Douglas
  • Kundun, directed by Martin Scorsese
  • Hideous Kinky (Marrakech Express)
  • Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott, starred Russell Crowe
  • Rules of Engagement, directed by William Friedkin, starred Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson and Guy Pearce
  • For more information about the Morocco Books to Read or a Morocco TourMorocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Moroccan Door Knockers,Treasures of the Medina,Your Morocco Tour Guide

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Marrakech, Door Knocker

In the ancient medinas of Morocco old Riad doors have become much sought after items by tourists and collectors along with new riad owners. Riad doors are in particular famous for their unique architectural design and colors in Marrakech,Fes and Essaouira. Other Moroccan cities in the North such as Asiliah and Chefchaouen also have medinas with charming door knockers that standout against their rich blue doors and city backdrop color. In Marrakech these doors they can be found in antique door specialists, craft shops and at the Bab el Khemis or Thursday market by the northern medina gate.

Once a prized door has been negotiated and purchased, the adorning piece to complete it is an ornate brass knocker which in itself is now a sought after collector’s item created by skilled craftsmen in brass or wrought iron. Door knockers in Morocco are an important part of the character of the medina and a symbol of divine protection for the home. They are an important expression of Moroccan cultural traditions and symbolism. The first contact with the riad or house you are entering in the Medina is the brass knocker which you tap to gain entry, it’s a refreshing change from the world of door bells and entry phones.

Essaouira, Door Knocker

Often the solid brass or caste iron knocker will take the palm shape of the Hand of Fatima often referred to as the figure five for the fingers and thumb of the right hand, Khamsa in Arabic. It commemorates the Prophet’s daughter Fatima Zahra and is believed to ward of the evil eye. It also appears in Levantine Christian mythology as the Hand of Mary and in the Jewish tradition the Hand of Miriam the sister of Moses and Aaron. The five fingers that appear on a Moroccan door knocker or a Khamsa refer to the  five books of the Torah to Jews, the Five Pillars of Islam for Sunni Muslims . The symbolism of May, (fifth month in the year and sacred to Mary for the Christians). The fingers of a Khamsa may point up or down. There are Jewish mellahs in all Morocco’s  medinas as Morocco had a sizeable Jewish population for centuries until the 1960’s and Essaouira’s Jewish community made up 40% of the total population in the early 19th century. Jewish symbols decorate the Mellah and Jewish craftsmen and artisans, particularly the silver jewelry have influenced Moroccan metal work for generations.

Asiliah, Door Knocker

Moroccan door knockers develop a green patina which resists corrosion. Other designs for Moroccan door knockers include an ordinary clenched hand or an eight pointed star. Sometimes you will also see a lion’s head although Islamic art generally avoids the depiction of animals

Morocco’s skilled craftsmen are renowned for their brass work and if you have a copy of a design you would like to use they can usually make it for you. Door knockers in Morocco’s magnificent royal palaces have also played their part in the exotic traditions of door knockers. Moroccan metal craftsmen in brass and caste iron  are a source of skilled invention drawing on ancient traditions and design which draw their inspiration from as far a filed as Damascus with its legendary metal work. Marrakech in particular is also the home of highly original Moroccan and European designers who blend ancient and modern.

Whilst there are very few articles on Moroccan door knockers they are on sale on the internet on a number of different websites  such as Tazi Designs in San Francisco which is a sure sign of their popularity.

For more information about Moroccan Tour Knockers or a Marrakech Tour

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

 

Colorful Chefchaouen, Morocco’s Idyllic Escape, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Chefchaouen, Blue and White Washed City

Chefchaouen lies inland from Tangier and Tetouan. Chefchaouen is a unique Moroccan city known for its blue and white washed medina walls that surround it. Filled with old world charm, a walk through Chefchaouen’s blue alleys  evokes being in a magical story book, similar to Aladdin and the magic lamp from One Thousand and One Nights. An early morning stroll through Chefchaouen’s  winding streets is a great to discover this Riffian town famous for fresh goat cheese, local crafts and peaceful setting.

Chefchaouen was originally a small fortress town founded by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rached El Alami to resist the Portuguese expansion in Morocco. Built up by Jewish and Muslim occupants in 1471 Chefchaouen served as a refuge for those who fled Andalusia following the Reconquista led by the Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

When Spanish troops occupied Chefchaouen, or Chaouen,as the locals call it, in 1920 as part of the Spanish Protectorate in the north of Morocco, they found the population still speaking an archaic form of Catalan which they had brought with them centuries before. It was a closed city to Europeans until 1920 and was only visited in disguise at the risk of a european’s life. Charles de Foucauld and Walter Harris were amongst only 3 foreign visitors. Chefchaouen was returned to Morocco on its achieving independence in 1956.

Chefchaouen’s medina is a delightfully picturesque maze of streets and derbs leading to the Outa el-Hammam square and the restored kasbah. The grand 15th century Tarik Ben Ziad mosque has an octagonal minaret which was inspired by the Torre de Oro in Seville. It is part of the Andalusian influence on architecture found in the kasbah and its gardens in the heart of the medina. There is also a ruined Spanish replica of a mosque.

Chefchaouen Artisan

Chefchaouen’s main square in the medina is lined with cafes, craftsman, artists and weavers. Tourists can also visit the Kasbah near Plaza Outa el Hammam and the museum in the medina. Chefchaouen’s Kasbah was built by the legendary ruler Moulay Ismail and is surrounded by gardens. Inside the Kasbah, there is also a museum containing antique weapons, musical instruments, berber artifacts and photographs of the old medina. The town boasts a number of excellent restaurants as well as some many charming Moroccan Riads and boutique hotels.

Morocco travelers can visit souks where they can find local products which are special to the region such as woven wool garments and blankets ,carpets, djellabahs, wooden furniture, pottery and artifacts .

View of Chefchaouen

View of Chefchaouen

The area around Chefchaouen is a hashish and cannabis growing region as it is the only crop that can be grown in the mountainous region. This may also partly account for the relaxed ambiance and you may well be offered some of the local product but smoking cannabis remains illegal, so tourists must avoid it as Moroccan laws are very strict and the penalties severe.

The name “Chaouen” refers to the mountain which dominates the town and is said to resemble the horns of a goat. Climbing one of the surrounding mountains and trekking in the hills is a popular excursion. You can visit the Talassemtane Park and climb the region’s highest mountain Jebel Lakraa at 2,159 meters or visit the Bouhachem Park. For the adventurous there is the Kef Toghobeit Cave, nearly four kilometres long and over 700 metres deep, one of the deepest caves in Africa. There is also the Achkour cascade (waterfalls) and a natural bridge called locally “the Bridge of God” to visit.

Chefchaouen is a delightful and relaxing excursion from Fes and also a great place to visit on a Morocco tour en route from Rabat to Fes.

For More Information about a Chefchaouen Tour

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

 

 

 

The Moroccan Music Scene, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Traditional Musicians Gnaoua

On Marrakech’s Jemma el Fna Square amongst  the orange juice stalls and story tellers you will find stalls with  CD’s  testifying to the popularity and importance of Morocco’s contemporary music scene which began with the accession of King Mohammed VI in 1999 when greater liberalization of musical genre  especially for young people  who sought music which reflected  their aspirations was gradually phased in and supported with musical festivals organized with royal support and sponsorship like the  annual Mazawine Music Festival in Rabat, The Gnawa  Festival in Essaouria and the World Sacred Music Festival in Fez.  Moroccan TV and radio channels also play an important role with live performances. Young musicians are encouraged to perform and Morocco which has successfully fused elements of its ancient Berber musical traditions with modern music such as Chaabi, Hiphop and Rai and Rap.

This has not been without controversy with orthodox Islamic opinion and 14 young members of a heavy metal band were arrested for making “satanic music”, though they were eventually released. Rap stars who make sensitive political comments are sometimes imprisoned. Members of the Islamic led PJD government have also criticized music festivals for corrupting Moroccan youth but generally Morocco’s spirit of compromise wins through despite the tensions affecting the region. Indeed you can see and hear moveable cassette vendors with their barrows playing religious music with other wares for sale on the main Avenue Mohammed V in Marrakech’s  ville nouvelle, Gueliz.

Traditional Berber folk village music called Ahwash, is very much alive and is on display in July each year at the National Festival of Popular Arts at the Badii Palace in Marrakech.  The music performed by professional musicians called Raiss includes comedy and dances in their performances.

Master Musicians of Jajouka

Two famous traditional musical bands are Bachir Attar’s  Master Musicians of Jajouka who originally met with Brian Jones and the Rolling Stones in 1969 and recorded with them. Their music celebrates the pagan rites centered on the figure of Boujeloud who has been likened to Pan. They perform regular concerts  in Morocco and abroad including the United States and Germany playing with international musicians. They recently featured in Anthony Bourdain’s  “Parts Unknown “  program on CNN. The other traditional band is the Daqqa of Marrakech who perform a ritual dance for the religious festival of Ashura.

Chabbi Musicians

Chaabi is a popular music descended from Moroccan folk music. Originally performed in markets, it is now performed during celebrations or meetings. Chaabi songs end with a swift rhythmic section and syncopated clapping. Modern instruments like electric guitars and buzuks are also used as well as lutes and a drum.

Andalusian classical music called Al Ala was brought to Morocco following the Reconquista in Spain when Muslims and Jews were forced to leave. It is an urban form of music which is highly popular and performed with large orchestras frequently on TV and radio.  Jewish musicians had a profound influence on Al Ala.

Gnawa was  brought to Morocco by Sub-Saharan Africans and later became part of the Moroccan tradition. Much of the modern fusion draws on Gnawa and the annual Essaouira Gnawa Festival is now broadening its musical performances to include a more contemporary repertoire.

Classical Malhun  music which translates as “gift” or “inspiration” is Arabic in origin and is derived from  Sufi inspired Arabic Andalusian poetry.

Sufi Brotherhoods (tarikas) are widespread in Morocco, and music is an integral part of their spiritual tradition. The purpose is to induce a trance state which inspires mystical ecstasy. Leading  Sufi Brotherhoods include the Derkoua, Hamadasha, Aissoua and the Jilala.

Modern music includes Rai which is associated with Algeria in the international music scene, but Morocco has produced its own stars lincluding Cheb Mimoun and Hanino. Other genre include Hiphop, Electronica and Fusion, which draws on Gnawa,  Jazz and heavy metal. Casablanca is a major center for contemporary Moroccan music.

Pirating remains a concern for Moroccan musicians as it is difficult to establish copyright for music performances and CD’s, although Morocco has an intellectual property rights law. In Marrakech an English music producer Nick Wilde set up Marrakchi Records a record label, music publishing and artist management  company to support young Moroccan musicians. Marrakchi Records provides a management service for Moroccan musicians and promotes them thus helping to establish them in the fast moving contemporary Moroccan music scene. It covers all genres from Rock, Hiphop, Electronic,   gnawa ,  blues and African music. Artists who have successfully produced albums with Marrakchi Records include Caravane, Blue Medina, DJ Haze, Mwanssa, Chaabi and Nisrine.

By Colin Kilkelly

For More Information about a Marrakech Tour and the Marrakech Music Scene

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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The Tissa Horse Festival, Your Morocco Guide

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Tissa Horse Festival, Fes

During the year, the small town of Tissa,on the edge of the Rif region, in the province of Taounate, is a quiet rural community, tucked away in the hills of the Moroccan countryside, fifty kilometers away from Fez. From 8-13 October 2013, the town will be transformed, as it is each year, in to one of the premier horse festivals in Morocco.

The culture and tradition of horses and horsemanship is deeply rooted and widespread in Morocco. The Fantasia or Tborida are contested by competing teams dressed in colorful traditional gandouras and djellabas, charging the full length a field only pulling up at the last minute whilst firing their djezail flintlocks with a thunderous explosion. The Tborida teams led by a ma’alem, or teacher,form up Into a single line and at the signal begin the charge. In the closing stages they must rotate their djezails with one arm at full gallop before pulling up and firing.

They are assessed by the judges for horsemanship, maintaining their line during the charge and successfully pulling up at the end. The horses are trained to do this, but even so, riding at full gallop with the reins in one hand and the djezail in the other is an impressive feat of horsemanship. Very rarely a horse may run on after the halt. To stand in front of the charge even though it is behind a barrier is to sense something of the fear these riders inspired in the enemy. The firing of the djezails is very loud and the smoke billows in the air,along with the occasional wad from one of the djezails dropping to earth.

The French Romantic painte, Eugène Delacroix, immortalized the Moroccan tribal horseman riding into battle following his first visit to North Africa in the 1830’s and the son of the Pasha of Marrakech, Hassan El Glaoui, famous for his paintings of Moroccan riders and horses once remarked that his father who died in 1956, went to war on horseback.

The large tent city erected for the festival also provides traditional music and dancing as well as displaying artifacts, ceramics and jewelry and providing food and drink. The festival is an important event for the local economy and has been held in Tissa since medieval times. It coincides with the mouassem of a local saint, Sidi Muhammad ben Lahcen who lived in the 15th century.

Like all good horse shows the different breeds of horses are the subject of close attention; pure bred Arabian stallions, Barbary mares and Arab-Berber horses are bought and sold. To bring the Horse Festival of Tissa to a close, there is a huge parade in the stadium. The international horse show at El Jadida under the patronage of King Mohammed VI has done much to reintroduce the Barb horse , which has great strength and endurance , back into international breeding circles.

Tissa has a great reputation as a horse show with a fair, sometimes a circus, a huge bazaar, and finally the official folklore of the region “Hayti”. It is visited by 4,000 spectators each year and is a great opportunity to enjoy an important regional event and mix with the locals and Moroccans who have brought their horses from all over the country. Moroccans living abroad in France, Spain and Italy also participate in festivals such as Tissa.
Tissa was garrisoned by the French during the protectorate because it was on the way to Fes and has an upper Tissa on the hill with a church and other buildings and lower Tissa lies at the bottom of the hill.

For More Information about a Marrakech Riads or a Marrakech Tour

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Summer in Morocco: Seaside Communities Things to do in Essaouira, Agadir and Oualidia

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Morocco Coastline

In Morocco in July and August when temperatures are on the high side, you can avoid the sweltering heat of the cities by heading to coastal resorts  or  the Atlas Mountain retreats where cooler breezes allow you to escape inland heat. Agadir’s  long  clean crescent beach on the Atlantic coast, offer opportunities for surfing, snorkeling,  wind surfing and  jet skiing. Most of the larger hotels and surf clubs on the beach rent out water sports equipment and surf boards and cool sea breezes keep the temperature down.

Further up the coast the ancient fishing port town  of Essaouira with its ramparts,  long idyllic beach and sea front, provides opportunities  for wind surfing and other water sports . It has a reputation for being windy but temperatures are much lower than inland which means that you can enjoy the fun of Essaouira’s colorful relaxed souks and walk the ramparts with their 17th century cannons or simply enjoy the thriving cafe life and many good restaurants. You can take a private tour to Essaouira with a Morocco travel agency which is the easiest option. Other less convenient options of travel to Essaouira is the CTM and Supratour buses offer regular daily luxury airconditioned  bus trips from Marrakech to  Essaouira return, which take three hours with a stop on the way at a roadside café. This for budget travelers and the way to travel if you do not have other transport arranged or the budget for a private Essaouira Tour.

Sidi Kaouki

Two more relaxed alternatives to Essaouira are Sidi Kaouki  some 20 kms drive from Essaouira and the alluring lagoon  and beaches at  Oualidia which is between Safi and El Jadida. Both locations are quiet and uncommercialised. Sidi Kaouki is a delightful small town with a few small hotels and an unspoilt beach which is also ideal for surfing and relaxing. The Hotel Villa Soleil, is a white villa with a garden and restaurant close to the beach. Other hotels along the beach are Hotel windy Kaouki, a traditional   Moroccan residence and Hotel Blue Kaouki.

Oualidia is becoming more popular with tourists.  The lagoon and extensive beaches were a well kept secret and a favorite of Moroccans as a seaside venue and a place to unwind, the beaches extend for miles. It is a beautiful natural beach and fishing location where surfing and swimming in the shallow waters of the lagoon can be enjoyed by all the family. It is ideal for swimming, surfing, wind-surfing or water-skiing. You can also hire a kayak and explore the lagoon or go fishing. There is a French run surfing school for children and beginners.

Oulalidia is a very important ecological location. Among the marshes and wetlands there are curlews, flamingos, sandpipers, plovers, and many other migrating species making it a paradise for bird watchers.

It  is the  main place in Morocco for oysters and you can enjoy them and the best seafood in the restaurants and small hotels along the beach. The most luxurious hotel is the luxury boutique hotel La Sultana Oualidia situated on the edge of the lagoon. It has an infinity pool ringed with jacuzzis,  whose waters seem to merge with those of the lagoon, and an exotic, terraced garden as well as a five star health spa and an underwater restaurant.

Alternatively you can drive to the Atlas Mountains to places such as the trekking town of Imlil and the Shangri la setting of the Kasbah Toubkal surrounded by mountains with outstanding views from its terrace. You can experience the life of the Berber people and the cool clear air of the mountains. Even a trip to the Ourika Valley with its bubbling streams or further up  to the seven waterfalls of Sebti Fatima which leads on to trekking in the mountains. The ski station of Oumkaimeden offers views over the Vale of Marrakech.

Other mountain locations include Midelt, Ifrane and Azrou which are high up winter stations and offer a cooler temperate climate with forests and national parks to explore.

Even when you are in Marrakech, you can find a shady spot in the eco paradise of the Majorelle Gardens owned by Yves Saint Laurent or the green palm tree lined Moulay Abdesalam  Park off Avenue Mohammed VI or the delightful  Harti Park near the Place 16 Novembre  and Macdonalds which has a children’s playing ground with two large stone dinasours.

You can take the family for the day to the Oasiria Water Park just outside Marrakech,or the Beldi Country Club 6 km outside with its adult and two children’s swimming pools, Spa  and three restaurants, set in fine gardens with roses,olive trees and flowering plants. This is also an hotel and the club serves non guests. For the seriously trendy there is Nikki Beach in the Palmeraie which has a DJ with groovy music as well as an excellent restaurant and swimming pool. Many hotels and some restaurants in Marrakech now welcome guests and nonresidents for lunch and a dip in their pool.

For More Information about the Morocco in Summer in Agadir & Essaouira 

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Oualidia the Well Kept Secret, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Oualidia, Lagoon at La Sultana Boutique Hotel

The lagoon and extensive beaches at  Oualidia, lying between El Jadida and Safi, were a well kept secret and a favourite of Moroccans as a seaside venue and a place to unwind. Oualidia is a new Honeymoon Tour destination in Morocco given it’s remote location and romantic surroundings.  Over the years Oualidia as a tourism destination  has increased in popularity given it offers a beautiful, sheltered natural  beach and fishing location where surfing and swimming in it’s blue lagoon are enjoyed by more travelers on a break from the busy streets of Casablanca and Marrakech.

Oualidia is also an excellent location for bird watching with pink flamingos in spring and summer, amongst other species. The unspoiled beaches extend for miles and are ideal for walking and horse riding. There is a French run surfing camp for young and old, ideal for families with children. Members of the royal family reputedly learn to surf there. As well as  the ruins an ancient Kasbah built by Sultan Al Walid there is the former King Mohammed V’s palace which is now largely derelict.

With its mild year-round climate and quiet relaxing beaches, Oualidia is less crowded than the more populated Coastal town of El Jadida and Essaouira. It is more protected from the wind and a haven from the hot and dusty cities given it is less commercialised than other resorts such as Agadir.

Oualidia Oysters, Ostrea Restaurant

This small coastal town is also famous for it’s oyster farms at Maison Ostrea II.  Oyster farming in Oualidia started shortly after Morocco gained independence in 1956 using Japanese oysters with methods learnt from the French. Now rows of oyster beds are spread along the lagoon and are separated according to size.

There is none of the usual hassling in Oualidia.  The shallow waters of the lagoon are ideal for swimming, surfing, wind-surfing or water-skiing. You can hire a kayak and explore the lagoon.  Oulalidia is a very important ecological location. Among the marshes and wetlands there  are  curlews, flamingos, sandpipers, plovers, stilts and many other migrating species making it a paradise for bird watchers

Keen walkers can follow the cliff path for miles above deserted grottoes and beaches. Oualidia is famous for its oysters. You can sample them as well as locally-caught crab, sea bass and sea bream, at one of the many waterside restaurants or freshly grilled on the beaches by fishermen.

LHippocampe Hotel, Oualidia

The Araignee Gourmande  restaurant is highly recommended  as is L’Ostrea  and  there are a  others including the l’Hippocampe, which is also an hotel  and Le Kalypso.

 There are  small hotels including the Dar Beldi which is French run with attractive French Moroccan architecture and decoration and a fine garden. It is about 10 minutes walk from the beach.

 The luxury boutique hotel La Sultana Oualidia is at the edge of the lagoon with L’Hippocampe  and the Auberge Oualidia , which offers less costly accommodation.

Oualidia has been described as a coastal escape for connoisseurs, with something to offer out of season as well because of its milder climate and the protection from high winds by the lagoon.

For More Information on Oualidia and Seaside Morocco Travel

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Traveling with Children in Morocco, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Morocco Family Adventure Holidays

Tourists who bring their families on vacation will find a special entry into  Moroccan society. Moroccans love children and much of Moroccan society is focused on the family and their offspring. Children are warmly welcomed and treated with every consideration in Morocco. Teaching children a few words of Arabic before they come to Morocco can be very rewarding. Children are a tremendous icebreaker and waiters, maids and shopkeepers will be far more attentive when there are children around.

Family in Camel Trekking in Sahara Desert

Bringing your children to Morocco will introduce them to a magical world of  vibrant and colorful souks, Ksours and Kasbahs, mountains and countryside. When traveling with children in Morocco there’s more to explore such as long unspoiled beaches, various regions of the Sahara desert and camel treks. The sights and sounds of Morocco offers a completely different society to children and one that is accessible and fun. Morocco offers the opportunity for family adventure holidays and flights from Europe which are only three and a half hours with airports in many cities and excellent rail and road links. Morocco is the ideal family vacation destination.

A few precautions are necessary, Morocco’s sun is deep and penetrating and the light is very bright. Wearing a hat, sunglasses and sun block cream are important and in the evening when temperatures can drop a sweater is also a good idea. Some medicines for tummy trouble are also a good idea although if you eat fruits that you peel and wash and drink bottled mineral water this greatly lessens the risk. It is important for children to drink lots of water and carrying a small bottle with them helps to remind them of this.

Many hotels and Riads in Morocco are children friendly and you can check this out with your travel agent before booking. Extra beds and babysitters are available in a number of establishments. Some riads are more adult orientated but those who welcome children advertise the fact on their websites.

Club Med Marrakech Palmeraie, Family Adventure

Club Med in the Palmeraie in Marrakech has excellent children’s facilities and is very family orientated and you can also use the facilities at Club Med next to the Djemma El Fna square, it helps if you can speak a little French. Other child friendly establishments include; Les Deux Tours in the Palmeraie which has extensive gardens and the Gulf Palace Hotel which has a special children’s park. It’s also possible to book the whole of a smaller riad for your stay or self catering apartments.  It’s a good idea to book accommodation with a swimming pool . There are also numerous establishments outside Marrakech like the Oasiria waterpark and the very splendid Beldi Country Club amongst a number of others.

Visits to the souks in Marrakech, Essaouira and Fes are a must as children will be fascinated by the rich and abundant displays of artifacts and the medinas area magical world of ancient buildings. It is perhaps best to avoid the very crowded times and small children should be carried or at least have a lead. Baby carriers and buggies are not a good idea in a crowded and narrow souk and if you use them make sure they have good sturdy wheels and can fold up easily.

Visiting on Saturdays or off peak times is possible. For your first visit to Morocco consider booking through a private travel agency and let the agency handle choosing a guide that will be family oriented and also allow them to arrange for activities which can make the vacation planning less taxing. Other options are to take a guide recommended by your hotel or riad, or the Office of Tourism can also provide English speaking guides.

The Djemma El Fna square has snake charmers, monkies and story tellers. In the medina you need to be prepared for motorbikes and mopeds coming round the corner, sometimes at speed so it’s best to walk close to the walls rather than the centre of the narrow street. An effort is being made by the authorities to ban motorbikes and mopeds  being ridden in the souks and signs are in place, but old habits die hard. The message that a pedestrian area is for pedestrians is slowly getting through. Great care needs to be taken crossing roads in the medina and the modern part of town, the Géuliz. Crossing at traffic lights when cars are stopped in one direction, pedestrians need to be aware that traffic on the other side still flows despite the red light. Pedestrian’s rights and safety still have a way to go.

Morocco is not a society ruled by health and safety and you will see motorbikes with four family members mounted on them without a helmet in sight but life seems to carry on perfectly happily.

When planning a car trip to Ourika , Imilil or Ouarzazate via the Tizi N’Test pass it is advisable to hire a car with driver recommended by your hotel. English speaking drivers are available. You can of course hire a car and drive yourself, but on your first visit it’s best to play safe and enjoy the scenery. Morocco does not have a particularly good road safety record and the roads particularly in the mountain areas can be quite challenging.

Moroccan and international food is available in restaurants the cities. Marrakech has Macdonalds and pizza restaurants are now quite common. For snacks and other child accessories the Marjane supermarkets in Marrakech and Casablanca have a wide selection of products available and pharmacies have a wide range of medicines available. It’s a good idea to check out lists of doctors in each city provided by your embassy on line before you arrive, as a precaution.

Outside Marrakech rafting along the rivers and trekking in the Atlas Mountains and visiting old Kasbahs like Telouet and Ait Ben Haddou are highly recommended. Children can  explore the winding streets which are still inhabited and enjoy the excitement of discovering a film location which was used for Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator amongst others. A trip to Merzouga and a trek with camels is also very popular. It’s important on a first trip not to try to do too much travelling. Another option from Marrakech is to visit Essaouira which has been made much easier  by the newly finished motorway . You can even take the Supratours bus which operates several services to Essaouira and back to Marrakech daily. Children will love the long beach which offers surfing,  swimmers should be aware that there are strong under currents and care should be taken on Morocco’s many fine Atlantic beaches. Essaouira has fine battlements and ramparts with ancient cannons, excellent souks and a variety of restaurants . The busy fishing port is a great draw and fishing trips and boat trips to the Isle of Mogador are also possible. Riding in the surrounding countryside around Essaouira and trekking trips are also available.

Morocco is a year round destination but July and August are exceptionally hot and this needs to be borne in mind if you are planning on bringing children. It’s best to avoid the desert at this time and a hotel with a swimming pool is a must.

For More Information on Morocco Family Vacations 

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Taroudant, Mini-Marrakech & Walled Berber City, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Tarodaunt Walled City

If you want a relaxing stay in an authentic walled Berber town look no further than the medieval town of Taroudant. It lies beside the High Atlas mountains in the Sous Valley in the southern part of Morocco and it has retained its authentic Berber character and roots. Taroudant is well placed as a base for exploring the region  to the east of  Agadir  and its beaches, it is on the road to Ouarzazate and the Sahara desert and adrive over the dramatic Tizi n’Test pass to Marrakech.

It is said to resemble a smaller version of Marrakech with its walls and ramparts surrounding the city. For a very short time Tarodaunt was indeed the capital of the Saadian dynasty  used as a base for attacking the Portuguese in Agadir. The Saadians then moved to Marrakech. Taroudant saw its golden age during the reign of Mohammed ash-Sheikh who constructed the city walls and built the great mosque and its minaret in 1528. Taroudant unlike the imperial cities of Fes, Marrakech and Meknes does not have a ville nouvelle, a modern part of town, which greatly adds to its authentic ancient atmosphere and charm. It has a population of around 70,000 but retains its small market town character.

Taroudant remains a traditional Berber fortified  town enclosed by its ramparts which are the best preserved in Morocco, nearly 6 kilometres long with bastions and nine gates that still remain intact. A perfect way to see the town walls is to take a horse drawn caleche or hire a bicycle. It was an important staging and trading post on the ancient camel trading route and there is still a small tannery outside the ramparts selling products made from camel hide such as leather bags,sandals and belts. The town is well known for its quality leather products.

Its souks are welcoming and relaxed and excellent value for discerning shoppers, especially for local crafts and Berber and Tuareg jewellery, for which it is renowned. Prices here are significantly less than in the big cities like Marrakec and Fes. There are souks near each of the two main squares, Assarag and Talmoklate.

There is also a weekly souk outside the city walls, near the new university district. Taroudant has always benefited from the diverse agricultural produce from the Souss  and remains a local market town  .The Berber market, called Jnane al-Jaami, sells spices and dried fruits but mostly clothes and household goods. The Arab souk, however, specialises in handicrafts such as terracotta, wrought iron, pottery, brass and copper, leather and carpets, rugs and jewellery. It is a place to gain a real insight into Morocco’s everyday culture and environment.

It has a very equitable climate in winter and in summer it is cooled by the current from the Canaries. It is therefore no surprise that Taroudant is home to some of the best hotels in the south of Morocco; they include the the exclusive haunt of the rich and famous, the Hotel Gazelle D’Or, which began as hunting lodge for a French baron in the 1920’s and was converted into a hotel after the  Second World War, it has superb grounds. Other well known hotels include the Dar Zitoun and the Hotel Palais Salam and there is a full range of hotel accommodation in town. The Riad al Hossoun also comes highly recommended and has a superb garden and views of the Atlas Mountains.

Activities outside Taroudant include visiting Berber villages in the foot hills of the High Atlas and Anti Atlas mountains and the Oases and experiencing the wild life and birds in the Souss Massa National Park The village of Tioute 36 kms from Taroudant has a Kasbah on a hill which has been partly converted into a restaurant area with a pool which is alluring in the summer heat. The ancient fortified village of Freija is 11 km from Taroudant also has a Kasbah, now the Riad Freija.

For More Information on a Tarodaunt Tour 

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Kelaa M’gouna, A Town of Roses & Home to Morocco’s Rose Festival, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

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At the small town of  El Kelaa M’Gouna (also referred to as the Valley of Roses) in the aSouth of Morocco, a 140km  East of Ouarzazate, in the heart of Dades Valley one can see the manual harvest of  Damas roses and the Rose Festival in May each year.

There is a thriving local industry distilling rose water, introduced by the French in the 1930’s and  cosmetic products such as soaps, gels, creams, sprays and oils and dried rosebuds these can be bought on site.The buds are dried for use in cosmetics, home decoration and cooking, while the petals are distilled into rose water and, ultimately, rose oil, a key ingredient in many  perfumes. Distillation is made in two factories in the Valley of Roses area and in April and May it is possible to visit Kelaâ’s factory, set up in a former kasbah.In Kelaâ Des Mgouna , Morocco there is also a dagger factory, in the mellah, where the Jewish craft is perpetuated, with handles and sheaths made in cedar wood or in camel bones, ornate with silver, and fixed on blades coming from another small village a few kilometres away.

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The distillation plants work with 3,000-4,000 tonnes of petals a year. With ten tons of petals required to produce a few liters of precious oil, the harvest is extensive culminating in the annual Rose Festival each year in May when El Kelaa MGouna becomes a colourful centre of berber dancing and music with stalls of  local crafts and products for sale. A festival queen is chosen from a parade of brightly coloured floats which is a highlight of the event.

Driving across the desert from Ouarzazate you come across El Kelaa MGouna and shortly afterwards you arrive at the Valley of the Roses.The greenryof the M’Goun wadi, is a sharp contrast to the desert scenery on the way from Ouarzazate.The river is hidden by a dense patchwork of palms, olive and fig trees, pink roses and swathes of red poppies. The  turrets of kasbahs in a remote village cn be seen with the snow-capped Atlas Mountains in the background.Also well worth a visit is nearby Skoura which has old kasbahs and mellahs with impressive gardens.

The fresh mountain air has a hint of fresh roses which provides opportunities  for walks and hiking and a long drive through the Hdida Valley to the plateau of Imi-n-Louh. There are a number of ruined kasbahs to explore and many opportunities to meet the local communities. The Damascene roses were said to have been introduced into the valleyin the tenth century by Morocans returning from Mecca.They grow in profusion in pinks and reds throughout the valley and in the hedgrows. In the Spring you can buy a garland of roses from one of the local children who line the route.

vallee des roses

The Dades Gorge in the valley of the roses and the Todra Gorge provide some of the most spectacular scenery in the south of Morocco. The Dades Gorge runs along the Dades River valley separating the Atlas Mountains from the Anti Atlas.  The Gorge is best known for its scenary stunning scenery and the Kasbahs overlooking the river below.

Gravity defying rock stacks in all shades of red dominate the skyline with deep gullies created by the persistent action of weathering and the river. After exploring the gorge, if you have a guide who knows the area it is possibble to venture deeper into the surrounding country side of the Anti Atlas. Some of the piste roads that lead off this are spectacular and properly remote and well worth taking a little more time to explore either by 4×4 or using a private tented camp as a base for exploring on foot.Continuing west  brings the traveller Erfoud, a small town that for many acts as the entry point for Morocco’s western desert, the Erg Chebi.  The dunes in this region are the main attraction and well worth visiting and climbing and Merzouga is close by.

For More Information About Morocco’s Rose Festival and Tours

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.