Posts Tagged ‘Sahara Desert’

The Caravan Routes of Morocco

Monday, March 30th, 2015
52 Days to Tombouctou Sign, Zagora

52 Days to Tombouctou Sign, Zagora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a much-photographed sign in Zagora, in the spectacular Draa Valley in Morocco. Beside the image of a blue-swaddled desert nomad is written: “TOMBOUCTOU 52 JOURS.” The journey is considerably quicker today, but if you go by camel, it probably still takes 52 days. Zagora is a popular starting point for trips on camel back into the Sahara Desert and this famous sign gives some indication of the significance of this area back in the mists of history.

Camel caravans (or – more accurately – dromedary caravans, as it is the one-humped version that is used in the Sahara) have existed since the 3rd century; the last caravans were officially closed down during the French and Spanish Protectorates in 1933.

For centuries the camel trains were the main means of transportation of goods and people between North African ports and economic hubs (such as Marrakech and Fes), across the Sahara to sub-Saharan Africa and eventually the Levant. For example, the camels travelled from as far West as the Moroccan Atlantic Coast right across to Ethiopia and Sudan in East Africa. An important north-south trade was salt (from Morocco) with gold (from the then Ghana Empire). One of the key caravan routes connected Tifilalt in Morocco, one of the largest oases in the world; Sijilmassa, an important salt mine; Tindouf in the deep south of Algeria, and Timbuktu in Mali.

Map of Caravan Routes of Morocco

Map of Caravan Routes of Morocco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloth, manufactured items and paper were brought in from Europe. On the return leg, they carried gold, slaves, ivory and ostrich feathers as well as beads and shells for currency. On the way, the traders may have picked up silver, salt, dates or handicrafts for exchanging on route. Slaves flowed in both directions, but particularly northwards. It has been estimated that from the 10th- 19th century, as many as 7,000 slaves were transported northwards into Morocco.

The procession of the camel train was a carefully planned affair. In previous times, the Sahara fringes and the Sahel were greener than today and the camels would be fattened for a number of months on the plains before being rounded into a caravan. The famous 14th century Moroccan explorer, Ibn Battuta, describes the size of the camel trains: 1,000 camels but occasionally as large as 12,000.

The leaders of this solemn procession were well-paid Berbers and Touareg tribesmen who literally knew the desert like the back of their hands. Along with their camel herds, this knowledge was a valuable commodity. Furthermore, they had invested time in building the relationships and connections necessary to ensure safe passage of the valuable cargo. The routes changed according to these allegiances, the rise and fall of economic might of different towns and cities and – importantly – the existence of rivers and oases, many of which in the desert are ephemeral and unpredictable. Runners would sometimes be sent ahead to oases to bring water back to the caravan because of the difficulty of transporting the water necessary between sources. It was not unusual for them to travel 3-4 days in each direction to provide this service.

The peak of the caravan trade coincided with the boom in the fortunes of the Islamic rulers of the greater Maghreb and Al-Andalus region, from the 8th century until the late 16th century. These routes were even responsible for the spreading of Islam from North Africa into West Africa. The decline was caused by improvements in maritime transport by the European powers and the discovery of gold in the Americas. However, the link between, for example, the port of Mogador (modern day Essaouira) and Timbuktu was significant as late as the 19th century, when Jewish traders in both cities exchanged goods and slaves from sub-Saharan Africa with produce imported from Europe and further afield, such as gunpowder tea from China.

Today, some sections of the routes are passable. In fact, many of the unmade trails used today by all-terrain vehicles to traverse the desert are actually the remnant of the old camel routes. Modern political tensions have made many Saharan borders impassable to tourists and travellers. However, the local tribesmen still know the routes and still use ancient navigation techniques passed down through the generations. It’s unlikely they would let a modern construct such as a line on a map hinder their passage!

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.

For more information about Moroccan Caravan Routes from Zagora or a Morocco Tour 

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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Visiting Morocco In Winter, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Monday, November 24th, 2014
Morocco Winter Vacation, Kasbah Tamadot

Morocco Winter Vacation, Kasbah Tamadot

Morocco is the perfect travel destination regarding of season. Visiting Morocco in winter can make for a rewarding holiday travel experience. The period around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year is a popular time to take vacation and a great time of year to get away from it all. Morocco is a cold country with hot sun. Morocco enjoys sunny, mild weather year round and makes a perfect winter vacation destination.

Depending on the type of vacation you seek as a Morocco traveler a private tour can be arranged with varied trips that focus on one or two centers as well as tours encompassing as much or as little of this fascinating country as you have time and interest to visit.

To give you some idea of the variety Morocco has to offer, here are a few suggestions…

The coastal resort of Agadir enjoys over 300 days of sunshine per year and is the perfect base for a family holiday or for exploring Morocco’s Southern Atlantic Coast. The daytime temperature is typically around 70°F (although evenings are cool – pack a sweater) and although the sea is cooler than in summer, most hotels and resorts have heated pools and there is none of the sea fog characteristic of the hotter summer months. With a new marina development, Agadir offers fine dining and also plenty of nightclubs and casinos for those looking for a party!

Agadir is also a great base or starting point for a more active vacation. Morocco’s Southern Atlantic Coast is world-ranking for surfing and other water sports. December to March is the peak surfing season in Taghazout (15 miles north of Agadir), when the big winter swells from the North Atlantic hit. Equipment and instruction is easily obtained locally and non-surfers can enjoy deserted beaches and mountains for long winter walks as well as yoga lessons and plenty of opportunities to relax gazing out at the ocean, coffee or wine glass in hand.

Maybe the ocean isn’t your thing and you prefer the mountains? From Marrakech, the High Atlas Mountains are within easy reach, including the ski resort of Oukaimden. Yes, you read right – skiing in Africa! Facilities are not as developed as in the European or North American resorts, but if you fancy skiing at Africa’s highest resort (5 runs at 11,000 ft) and experiencing snow sports ‘Moroccan style,’ this is your chance! Trekking is also possible in the Atlas Mountains in winter, although ascents of snow-covered Mount Toubkal (North Africa’s highest peak at 13,671 ft) are only recommended for those experienced in winter conditions.

From snow-covered peaks to vast sandy deserts…. Morocco’s Sahara Desert is very accessible in winter, once the heat of the summer has died down. At night, you will need the winter clothes you wore to get here, but you will experience stunning clear, starry skies as you sit around the campfire with your Berber hosts. And early risers will catch the unique sight of sunrise over the sand dunes. Morocco has two principal dune ranges: Erg Chebbi and Erg Chegaga. We can arrange trips and overnight stays in both starting from the desert city of Ouarzarzate – in luxury Berber tent or boutique kasbah accommodation. Including camel rides, of course!

Moroccan-Berber-Carpets

Moroccan-Berber-Carpets

If all of that seems rather active for your winter vacation, Morocco’s medinas (old cities) offer plenty of distractions – and relaxation opportunities. Indulge in an authentic Moroccan hammam where you will be scrubbed clean and warmed from the inside out. Spa treatments are also available. Shop til you drop and haggle for bargains in the souks of Marrakech, Fes and Essaouira. And don’t worry – the vendor will be happy to ship that carpet right to your door back home! At the end of the day, enjoy a fireside dinner of traditional Moroccan cuisine in your historical riad guest house (restored townhouse, often more than 200 years old) or modern resort hotel. In either you will be surrounded by the famous Moroccan warmth and hospitality.

Events winter vacationers may wish to travel for include:

Marrakech International Film Festival – 5-13 December 2014, Marrakech. Annual festival features new Moroccan and international films plus retrospective categories and is attended by a star-studded jury.

New Year’s Eve – 31 December 2014. Moroccans typically don’t celebrate new year according to the lunar calendar, but there are plenty of events in tourism centres catering for those wishing to ring out the old and bring in the new!

Marrakech Marathon – 25 January 2015. Road race in this historic city with Half Marathon option.

However you decide to spend your winter vacation in Morocco, a private tour company like Travel Exploration can design your trip of a lifetime!

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients. You can contact Lynn at: lynn@maroc-o-phile.com

For more information about Visiting Morocco in winter or a Private Tour to Morocco

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 Sahara Desert Camps, Standard or Luxury Bivouac

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Sahara Desert Luxury Bivouac Camp

When visiting the  Morocco Sahara desert or Merzouga, M’hamid or Zagora you will be offered the option of a standard or luxury tent. When you go on a camel trek or by a 4X4 in the Moroccan Sahara there are many options of places to stay. There is a wide range of Standard bivouac camps, several top end Luxury Bivouac Camps and also Luxury Guest Houses all worth while of consideration.

Depending on the amount of time you want to stay in the desert and your desire for privacy it may be worth your while considering a luxury tent or bivouac. There are a number of standing camps and the luxury ones are private, usually for two  or more people with superior furnishing and bedding , showers and a toilet and a tent or area  for relaxing. Meals are provided. If you plan a romantic night under the stars (there are special honeymoon tents) or you want to enjoy the desert in comfort, this is for you, but the experience comes at a price. The campsites which offer luxury tents include  Le Belle Etoille, Travel Exploration Morocco, Assou, Les Nomade and Le Red Sand Luxury Desert Camp. At these Morocco Sahara Desert Luxury camps the tents have been designed by top French interior designers. They have 6 tents of around 30 square meters. Each tent has its own bathroom (hot/cold running water) and toilets. This is a permanent camp offering tailor made excursions for relaxing, or more adventurous desert tourism with various sporting activities.

 The  Erg Chigaga Luxury Camp, can accommodate 16 people in 8 tents. The tents are spacious (25 sq m) with the highest quality mattresses, linen and pillows, whilst each tent is equipped with ‘wall-to-wall rugs’, solar-powered lighting and handcrafted furniture. Each tent has en suite facilities. For those seeking privacy, the Erg Chigaga Luxury Camp has two private camps each situated within a 15-minute walk from the main camp. Each camp consists of two luxury en suite tents and a separate relaxing tent, nestled in the dunes.

 For those that want a trip deep into the Sahara desert and to sleep in a different locations each night, they have a nomadic camp for camel treks of 3 and 4 days’ duration. These are also privately run trips, with each camp accommodating between 2 and 4 guests. The nomadic camps are ‘semi-luxury’, with a comfortable bed and fresh linen, private bathroom, Moroccan lounge and cold drinks.

Sahara Desert Morocco Standard Bivouac Camp

The standard  berber tent  is simply a tent  to sleep in for the night without any other facilities. These may be out in the desert but most are in regular camping sites which have shared facilities showers and toilets.

The standard camps are large and shared with other tourists who often stay in local hotels and visit the campsite for a night out in the desert with a meal and entertainment with traditional music and dancing  which can go on late into the night.

You need to make quite certain about  what services  and excursions are offered  including a luxury or standard tent, meals, availability of bottled water  excursions  by camel or 4X 4 and pick up and drop for your onward journey.  All this should be agreed beforehand so ask your travel agent to agree the details. If you are agreeing a deal either with a tour company in Marrakech or actually at Merzouga you need to confirm all the details very carefully before you pay for the trip. You can also stay in a desert camp near Marrakech in the Agafay area an hour’s drive from Marrakech if you do not have time to visit  the desert locations in Merzouga, Zagora or M’hamid.

For More Information on Morocco Sahara Desert Tours & Luxury Bivouac Camps

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.

Visit Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Sahara Desert & Seaside Resorts, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Visit Morocco where the sun shines 300 days a year. Morocco is one of the ancient intersections of civilization. Boldly situated on the far northwestern corner of Africa, its expansive shoreline stretches from the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar to the Mediterranean. The cultural diversity of contemporary Morocco reflects its historic vantage point  as a gateway to Europe and the world. Morocco’s heritage offers visitors an encounter with an exotic society and its customs, an incomparable cuisine, and a shopper’s paradise of magnificent markets. Visit Morocco and explore it’s Imperial Cities, Sahara Desert and Seaside resorts. Visit Morocco and hike, trek, cook, sunbathe. Visit Morocco and indulge in all things Moroccan. Visit Morocco to explore Berber villages and off the beat places. Morocco should be on everyone’s bucket list. Make Morocco your next holiday destination!

For more information about a Visit to Morocco

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

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel 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.

 

Exploring Morocco’s Sahara Desert, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Merzouga Sahara Desert, Erg Chebbi Dunes

The Sahara Desert is a region worth exploring in Morocco. Morocco’s Sahara Desert is vast and  extensive comprising of four peak desert dunes referred to as Merzouga, Zagora, M’hamid and Erg Chegaga.  Each part of Morocco’s Sahara Desert offers travelers a unique experience. Merzouga is known for it’s vast and golden Erg Chebbi Dunes that are hundreds of meters high. The regions of Zagora and M’hamid are known for longer, rolling more rustic and earthy colored dunes. Their sister Sahara Desert, Erg Chegaga has a legend of being primarily for the die-hard Morocco adventure traveler who wants to say they made it to one of the last regions. Regardless of which dunes are visited on a Morocco Sahara Desert trip any traveler is guaranteed to be enchanted with the region they choose to visit.

With a limited amount of time available for a Morocco holiday, the best way to explore Morocco’s Sahara Desert region is to begin by starting in Ouarzazate. Ouarzazate is one of the leading provinces in Southern Morocco and a former French protectorate administrative center. Ouarzazate is also considered the door to the Sahara Desert and used as a starting point for all Sahara Desert trips and excursions.

To maximize a Sahara Desert regional experience a six day Morocco adventure is most advisable. Travelers can start their desert trip in Ouarzazate with a visit it’s famous Kasbahs. Ouarzazate is known for it’s UNESCO World Heritage site Ait Benhaddou Kasbah along with the Glaoui Kasbahs  called Kasbah Taourirt and Kasbah Tamadaght. Kasbah Tifoultilte is another Kasbah that is worth visiting for tea and a sneak inside at it’s magical interior.

Not to be missed when exploring Morocco’s Sahara Desert region of Ouarzazate is the Atlas Film Studios. The Atlas Film Studios is where David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia in the early 1960’s. Since then many famous directors have followed in his footsteps to exploit the magnificent scenery. International blockbusters shot here in recent years include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara.

Camel Trek Sahara Desert

The finale of any Sahara Desert trip is a camel trek on the back of a dromedary into the either the Merzouga Erg Chebbi dunes or those located in Zagora, M’hamid or Erg Chegaga. Each region has several excellent bivouac camps both luxury and budget for an overnight stay. All those who visit the Sahara Desert are guaranteed a Tuareg guide or a Berber guide who will assist a Sahara journey across the silent, mystical dunes.

If time allows then a few other places not to be missed on a Sahara Desert exploration are the Rissani, Erfoud and the Berber Village of Ait Ouzzine. The Souk, the Madid Ksar and fresh bread called  Madfouna are three things not to miss doing in Rissani. For Erfoud, a pitstop to this capital of fossils is a must. For those who truly want to see the “real Morocco” then considering a bread baking lesson, henna time and lunch in the Berber  village of Ait Ouzzine with a Moroccan family is a must.

For more information about Morocco’s Sahara Desert region

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 in the USA at 1 (800) 787-8806 or in Morocco 1 (212)618-88-26-81 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

 

Feng Shui Your Way to Morocco, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Jayme Barrett, Feng Shui Expert

Feng Shui Your Way to Morocco for an eight-day retreat with best selling author Jayme Barrett. Experience how the laws of energy can be utilized to enhance your life.  A Feng Shui travel retreat is an ideal way to discover Morocco’s great spaces within the “red hamra” city of Marrakech, the Ourika Valley and seaside Essaouira.

Feng shui is a Chinese system of geomancy believed to use the laws of both Heaven and Earth to help one improve life by receiving positive energy. The term feng shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English. Historically, feng shui was widely used to orient buildings—often spiritually significant structures such as tombs, but also dwellings and other structures—in an auspicious manner.

Feng Shui Workshop Morocco, Jayme Barrett

This Morocco retreat with Feng Shui expert Jayme Barrett pays homage to the practice of Feng Shui in culminating the wind-water intention through private group teachings and activities. Participants can anticipate enjoying two Feng Shui workshops, two energy/life-enhancement classes and one manifestation & meditatation class taught exclusively by Jayme.

Cooking Workshop, Feng Shui Retreat Marrakech

The retreat will take place in an 18th century Moroccan Riad courtyard in the heart of the Marrakech medina. Amenities and unique experiences include a daily yoga practice, walks in the Ourika Valley, shopping in the souks for Moroccan decor, a visit to the North African coastal town of Essaoauira, endless opportunities to dine on Moroccan delicacies plus a Moroccan cooking workshop and Spa treatments.

Yoga Workshop, Feng Shui Retreat Marrakech

The Feng Shui Morocco retreat also offers free time to explore on your own in Marrakech and its surrounding areas. A visit to the Marrakech Majorelle Gardens designed by Jacque Majorelle and its newly reopened Museum that showcases Berber jewelry and clothing traditions should be top on the list. Relish at sunset with Cocktails at La Mamounia Hotel & Gardens or take an extension trip to the Great South. An extension trip to the Great South includes an overnight camel trek in the Sahara Desert’s Erg Chebbi Dunes, bread baking, henna time and lunch with a Berber family plus a full day visit to Ait Benhaddou Kasbah and the regions old Ksars.

Feng Shui Your Life, By Jayme Barrett

Top 5 Feng Shui Morocco Travel Keepsakes Compliments of Jayme Barrett:

1.  Create an intention for your voyage. This means not only earmarking a guidebook for the best museums or restaurants, but also envisioning what you want to experience and explore and bring home, spiritually, from the trip.

2.  Buy from local craftsman and artisans. Supporting their creativity and offering a fare price is good karma. Also, it’s better to own hand-made objects such as woven baskets and rugs. They contain life force energy, as opposed to machine-made objects.

3.  Remember what you want to manifest in your life, and find mementos that represent your passions and desires. For example, to boost romance, buy in pairs, such as two candlesticks, pictures or figurines. To encourage fertility and pregnancy, find a hand-made doll crafted by a loving mother. To increase spirituality, bring home a religious relic or statue. To boost wealth, buy a special gold box to house your written intentions. Before you can apply good feng shui you must know what you want to manifest in your life.

4.  Look for stones and shells that contain nature’s healing energy.

5.  Choose items you absolutely love. Don’t buy something because you think you “should.”

Jayme Barrett

About Author, Jayme Barrett:

As seen on “The Today Show, best-selling author Jayme Barrett is a leading authority on Feng Shui living and personal fulfillment.  Jayme empowers individuals to design their lives for increased balance, energy and motivation. Jayme’s book, “Feng Shui Your Life” is the #1 most popular feng shui book. Barett’s clients include Hollywood actors, TV directors, successful fashion designers and movie executives, attorneys, hotels and spa owners. Barrett has been featured in magazines including Body + Soul, Self Magazine, Health, ELLE, Woman’s World, Redbook, First for Women, Parents, Healing Lifestyles and Spas, Delicious Living, The Nest, Every Day with Rachael Ray, American Spa and Healthy Living Magazine.  Jayme Barrett resides with her husband in Los Angeles, California.

Feng Shui Your Way to Marrakech, Morocco Retreat Information can be found at http://jaymebarrett.com/blog

For more information on how to Feng shui Your Way to Morocco
Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel 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)618-8861 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today. 

Feng Shui, Feng Shui Marrakech retreat, Feng Shui Morocco, Feng Shui Morocco Travel Keepsakes, Jayme Barrett, Best selling author Jayme Barrett, Jayme Barrett Today Show, Feng Shui living, Marrakech, Ourika Valley, Essaouira, Riads in Marrakech, Sahara Desert

Fes, Morocco World Music Festival Tour Package, With Travel Exploration, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Fes Festival Musician

Travel Exploration & Authentic Asia Present The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music & Morocco Cultural Tour – Hosted by Music Expert, Joel Davis

 

This 13 Day/ 12 Night Morocco Fes Music Festival Tour will offer a celebratory opportunity for those who are passionate about Sacred World Music to enrich their palate with a variety of international sounds ranging from Andalusian Classical music to African, Asian, Moroccan Sufi and more while taking a journey across Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Majestic Landscapes, the Sahara Desert and Valley’s. This all inclusive 13 Day/12 Night Morocco Private group tour guarantees combined 4/5 Star accommodations at charming Riads and luxury Moroccan hotels and properties, private transport, historical guides, museum and monument entrance fees along with tickets to the Fes Festival of Sacred World Music.  Don’t miss out on this special opportunity to travel to Fes, Morocco and other regions such as Marrakech, Ouarzazate and the Sahara Desert with a music guide and historical guides who will bring depth and understanding to the meaning of Morocco’s music and vast cultural traditions.

View of Fes El Bali, Old Medina & UNESCO World Heritage Site

Fes is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the oldest world medina (old city) in the world. Come join our private group and participate in seeing renowned musicians from all over the world gather in Fes — Morocco’s spiritual capital. Travel Exploration’s private tour package includes a music guide, historical guides, daily sight-seeing tours in air-conditioned luxury minibuses or 4×4 land cruiser with multi-lingual speaking drivers that are fluent in English, Arabic, French and Berber. Also included are tickets to the Fes Festival performances in Morocco’s holy city of Fes. For more information on the 17th Edition of the Fes Festival World Sacred Music program.

Fes Festival Whirling Dervishes

Artists from around the world flock to Morocco’s spiritual capital during the annual Fez Sacred Music Festival. The top music artists from Middle Eastern and Western religious communities gather in Fez for a week of concerts, lectures, exhibitions, and intellectual and artistic exchanges. Performances have included the Sufi Whirling Dervishes of Turkey, Berber trance music, Arab-Andalusian music, Hindustani chants, Celtic sacred music, Christian Gospel, flamenco, and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Morocco, with French classical musicians always proving popular. There has also been Sufi artists from India and Pakistan, Japanese drumming bands and a group of vocalists from Mali.

The Ablution Room in the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

DAY 1:  CASABLANCA ARRIVAL – RABAT- FES
Arrival at Casablanca International Airport.

►Have breakfast upon arrival, then visit the Mosque of Hassan II. Casablanca is home to the Hassan II Mosque, designed by the French architect Michel Pinseau. It is situated on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic, which can be seen through a gigantic glass floor with room for 25,000 worshippers.Its minaret is the world’s tallest at 210 meters. It is an enormous architectural masterpiece and the second largest religious building in the world. On Fridays, the Mosque of Hassan II is open to non-Muslims.The Mosque of Hassan II’s promontory offers lovely views overlooking Casa in the residential Afna quarter.

►After visiting the Hassan II Mosque, take the road to Rabat for a half-day tour of this Imperial City.

►During your half-day tour you will learn Rabat’s history and enjoy its beautiful domes, minarets, wide avenues and green spaces. Your guide will escort you on a walk around the picturesque Almohad northern walls of the Oudaïa Kasbah. The kasbah was built by Moulay Ismaïl from 1672-1727 to protect the city and is enclosed by ramparts dating from the Almohad period. Visit Bab Oudaïa, a monumental gate and example of Almohad military architecture. See the Musée de Oudaïa, Moulay Ismaïl’s palace exhibiting collections of Moroccan folk art. Before moving on to city medina, relax in the Moorish style Andalusian garden.

►Visit the Royal Palace, the Hassan Tower which stands on the hill overlooking the Wadi Bou Regreg. It is a gigantic mosque, emblematic of Rabat and famous for its unfinished minaret where storks nest.

►Next door, visit the beautiful Mausoleum of Mohammed V decorated with stained glass windows, white marbleand a wrought-iron entryway with a stairway leading to an impressive dome.

►Lunch in Rabat, by the Sea.

►Explore the gardens nearby and visit the Palace of Rabat and visit the Necropolis at Chellah/ Kasbah of Chellah.

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Fes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moulay Idriss Mosque Fes

DAY 2:  FES (GUIDED HISTORICAL TOUR)

 

►After breakfast your day will begin at the Merenid Tombs of Fès.

►Next, stop at the Musée des Armes, a fortress that once protected Fès. Today it is possible to see a display of 8,000 pieces of artillery from Makina, the arsenal built by Moulay Hassan I.

►Enter the Fès el- Bali through the symmetrical horse shoe arches at Bab Boujeloud (The Blue Gate). Fès -el Bali, best characterized as a sea of rooftops embellished with minarets and domes, is too narrow for cars. Aside from walking, donkeys and mules are still the best way to travel within the cities old walls.

►Upon entering Rue Talaa Kebira, the main street in the medina, you will see lines of shops covered by canopies. Make your way to the Karaouiyine Mosque. Located in the Karaouiyine quarter, the Mosque is one of the oldest in the world and functioned as the first university in Morocco. After your visit, continue along the streets which will lead you to some of Fes’ most important buildings including Dar el- Magana, a fourteenth century water clock and Zaouia el Tijaniya, containing the tomb of Ahmed el Tijani, who spread his infamous doctrine Tariqq el- Tijaniya (The Way) throughout Morocco.

►We will also stop to visit the Ech Cherabliyine Mosque (Mosque of the Slipper makers) then browse the souks selling henna, slippers, caftans, silks, jewelry and spices.

►Next onto the UNESCO recognized site, Fondouk el- Najjarine. Within the foundouk’s three floors is the Musée de Bois, which displays carved doors from the Bou Inania Medersa.

►Stop for lunch within the medina at one of the fine Moroccan palace-restaurants that serves an extravaganza of mezas for lunch.

►After lunch we will visit the Musée Dar el- Batha to view the great collection of pottery, leather-work, wood, books and manuscripts from the nineteenth century.

►Next, enter Bab el Ftouh, the “Gateway of the Aperture” to explore the Andalusian quarter, a residential part of the medina laced with monuments. Our last part of the tour will take you into the Fès el Jedid, a kasbah which functioned as Morocco’s administrative center until 1912. Explore the royal palace and many interesting quarters including the Moulay Abdalllah Quarter, the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) and a little farther down south lies Ville Nouvelle (The New Quarter).

Within the Fes medina, we will the following historical sites:

Medersa Bou Inania: An (Islamic school) founded by Abu Inan Faris that is highly decorated from floor to ceiling. The medersa is one of the few religious places in Morocco that is accessible to non-Islamic tourists.

Kairaouine Mosque: Morocco’s second largest mosque was built by Fatima in 857. The Kairaouine Mosque became the home of the West’s first university and the world’s foremost center of learning at the beginning of the second millennium.

 

University of Al-Karaouine: Founded in 859, this university is one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world and is considered the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning in the world.

Zaouia Moulay Idriss II: A zaouia (shrine) dedicated to and the tomb of Moulay Idriss II, who ruled Morocco from 807 to 828 and founded the city of Fès for the second time in 810.

Dar Batha: A Hispano-Moorish palace dating from the end of the 19th century that houses admirable collections of traditional art from Fès.

Weavers Cooperative: We will also visit the Weavers Cooperative located in a residential neighborhood off a main shopping street. The workshop specializes in weaving the finest jellaba fabric, made of silk and wool threads imported from Italy. The shop also makes a quality jellaba fabric from locally spun, textured wool thread called hubba -sometimes referred to as couscous, because it’s nubby texture resembles Morocco’s national semolina dish of the same name.

Tanneries: The Chourara or the Tanner’s Quarters is the most lively and picturesque souks in Fès. The Tanneries are often located near watercourses like the Wadi Fès and at a distance from residential areas due to the strongly unpleasant smells they produce.

Carpet Demonstration: Antique and Modern Carpets is one of the places in Fès el Bali where you can see a Berber carpet demonstration. You will be offered mint tea and follow your guide up a coil of stairs to a small area to watch carpets being made by young girls who come from the mountains to show tourists how Berber carpets are made.

Dyers Market: The dyers market, located along Rue de Teinturies, is the best place to see the dying vats which have been used for centuries to soak the skins of sheep, goat, cows and camels after they have their hair and flesh removed is best seen from the neighboring terraces. You will see many tanned hides colored with natural pigments ranging from shades of brown, black, turquoise fuchsia, yellow and orange.

Potter’s Cooperative: You will also visit the Potter’s Cooperative. Also known as Place el-Seffarine, this kisseria is the most important center for the production Fasiss style ceramics, brass-ware and silverware in Morocco.

►Welcome Dinner at Le Maison Bleue,  an exotic and fine Fasis restaurant in the Old Medina with a quaint show of Gnaoua Music as you dine.

First night- showcase of the Fes Festival of Sacred Music’s sites and sounds at the Bab Makina in Fes.

►Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Fes.

DAY 3:  FES – MEKNES – VOLUBILIS

►Breakfast at your Hotel in Fes. Then take the road to Meknes.

►Arrive in Meknes. Begin your visit at the 18th Century Palace built by Sultan Mohammed Ben Abdallah.

►Then pass through the triumphal arch. Standing at sixteen meters high with an eight meter long arch, the intricately patterned triumphal arch is argued to be the most beautiful in Morocco. Enter Place El-Hedime (Square of Ruins) which links the medina and the kasbah. The square is lined with modern residential buildings and a covered food souk (market).

►We will stop and visit the Musée Dar Jamaï, a museum showing modern Moroccan arts, woodwork, ceramics, carpets, costumes, jewelryand metalwork. The sophisticated building was once a palace incorporating a mosque, menzah (pavilion), courtyard, kitchen and hammam.

►Next we will visit the Bou Inania Medersa to explore the beautiful Koranic school established by the Merinids in the 14th century. Opposite of the Medersa, see the Grand Mosque.

►Among the most impressive elements of this imperial city is the grand gate named after the architect, El-Mansour, a Christian renegade who converted to Islam. The design of the gate plays with Almohad patterns. It has zellij mosaics of excellent quality. The marble columns were taken from the Roman ruins of Volubilis.

►Lunch in Meknes.

►After visiting Meknes, take the road to explore the breathtaking archaeological site of Volubilis (Walili). Once occupied by the Romans, Volubilis has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site and gained international acclaim when Martin Scorsese made it a feature location for his film, The Last Temptation of Christ.

►Begin your visit by discovering the fascinating Roman ruins adorned with beautiful mosaics and colorful tiles depicting Roman mythology. The ruins are spread out across several acres and what remains visible is several fragments of wall, parts of massive columns, the capitol, the basilica and a triumphal arch. The ruins reveal how the Roman Empire transformed the original Carthaginian settlement into a typical Roman city complete with mansions, a town center, a triumphal arc and temples devoted to the Roman gods.

►Enjoy tea at the small café that sits just below the Volubilis ruins. Next explore the open-air museum with remains of altars, sculptural fragments and colorful mosaics.

►Commence your visit in Volubilis, then take the road to Fes.  Arrrive in the evening.

Second night- showcase of the Fes Festival of Sacred Music’s sites and sounds at the Bab Makina in Fes.

►Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Fes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fes Batha Museum

DAY 4:  FES (FASIS POTTERY COOPERATIVE, SIDI HARAZEM SPA & FREE EXPLORATION)

 

►Rise, have breakfast at your Riad, then stroll the Jnan S’bil Garden, a popular botanical garden in Fes where locals frequent for morning and afternoon walks, to read a book or relax. Jnan S’bil Garden has been closed for several years for a reservation and it is re-opening spring 2010.

►Next, visit Fes’ renown Pottery Cooperative where you can view how the Fasis pottery and zellij tile are made by hand. Tour the cooperative to see how the various artisans work using the ancient Fasis techniques that are unique to this Imperial city and region. Participate if you wish by throwing a pot or starting to make your own zellij tile. See the works of the artisans which are available for purchase as well.

►After visiting the Fasis Pottery Cooperative enjoy the rest of the afternoon visiting other sites on your own or exploring the old Fes medina cobble stoned streets or consider a visit to a Spa just outside of Fes.

►Fes, is believed to be the world’s largest contiguous car-free urban area and you will be able to roam free, only having to move aside for the donkeys that will need to pass bringing goods across from place to place.

►If roaming around Fes on your own is not of interest, then take the road to visit Sidi Harazem, a Spa and green area just outside of Fes which contains hot water springs that are rich in magnesium. The benefits of these curative waters may be enjoyed at the health spa.There is also an ancient sacred pool surrounded by eucalyptus, palm and pink laurel trees.

►The other option is to visit Moulay Yacoub an old French, style Spa with thermal stations, cold dipping pool along with rock hot saunas and steam rooms. Compliment your visit with an old world, French- Moroccan massage with rose, orange or jasmine oil, receiving a treatment from head to toe.

 

►Dinner options are at your Riad, in the Ville Nouvelle (new city), Le Palais D’Medina or Le Maison Bleue.

Third night- showcase of the Fes Festival of Sacred Music’s sites and sounds at the Bab Makina in Fes.

►Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Fes.

DAY 5:  FES – ZIZ VALLEY – IFRANE- MERZOUGA

 

►Rise, have breakfast at your Riad. Then take the road to Merzouga. Enroute to Merzouga, we will pass Ifrane, stopping to see the cedar tree forrest and the local barbary monkeys.  We will also pass the American- Moroccan University which was built by the Saudi’s.

▶ We will have lunch during our journey in the Ziz Valley or at another local town en route to the Sahara desert. We will continue the road to Merzouga and arrive before sunset.

▶Arrive in Merzouga before sunset, then go by dromedary camel for 45 minutes- one-hour, at sunset into the Erg Chebbi Dunes to camp overnight luxury Biouvac tent at an oasis.  Your Tuareg guide will share some of the Sahara Deserts’ secrets. As you glide across humpback on these silent, mystical dunes there will be countless opportunities to photograph the endless rolling dunes.

Dinner & Spend the night at a Charming Bivouac near an Oasis within the Erg Chebbi Dunes of Merzouga’s Sahara Desert with traditional Entertainment in a Majestic 1001 Nights Tent.– Guest House Option Available For Those Who Prefer.

DAY 6: MERZOUGA – RISSANI- ERFOUD -N’KOB -OUARZAZATE

 

▶Rise, have breakfast and take a sunrise trek back to Merzouga center. Enjoy the flora and fauna that is unique to the Sahara. Then take the road to visit the Saharan Desert towns of Rissani and the capital of fossils, Erfoud. Visit the old ksars and then continue the road to the village of Ait Ouzzine, located in N’kob which is nestled within the Middle Atlas Mountains.

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.

Lunch will be served to you in Aït Ouzzine by a traditional Berber, Moroccan 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 through the Draa Valley back to Ouarzazate before sunset.

►The Draa Valley is the road of the old caravans that were once traveled to transport dates and other good from the Draa Region to Marrakech. Arrive and have dinner at your Riad.

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Ouarzazate.

DAY 7: OUARZAZATE ANCIENT KASBAHS

►Breakfast at your Riad.    “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 Marrakesh, 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;  Ait Benhaddou in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

► Visit the Oasis of Fint, the Atlas Film Studios, Aït Benhaddou & Kasbah Taouirt.

► Take the road to the Oasis of Fint that hovers under the Atlas Mountains. 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 dramatic desert scenery are king.

► After visiting the Oasis of Fint we will take the road to the Atas Film Studios. David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia at The Atlas Film Studios in the early 1960’s. Since then many famous directors have followed in his footsteps to exploit the magnificent scenery. International blockbusters shot here in recent years include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara.

► Next visit Aït Benhaddou. Aït Benhaddou is located 32 km from Ouarzazate lies the picturesque village. Aït Benhaddou of Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence 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. This Berber village of towered and crenulated Kasbahs that once guarded the lucrative caravan route through the Atlas Mountains. 

Lunch on a terrace with clear views of Aït Benhaddou and enjoy a traditional Moroccan or Moroccan salada and a hearty tajine.

► End the day with a short visit to Kasbah Taouirt which was was built by the Pasha Glaoui. Kasbah Taouirt’s 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 its 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.

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Ouarzazate.

DAY 8: OUARZAZATE – BOUTHGRAR (VALLEY OF NOMADS), VALLEY OF ROSES,  BOUMALNE DADES VALLEY & GORGE – SKOURA

 

►Breakfast at your Riad. Take the road to visit Bouthgrar, the Valley of Nomads and the Dades Valley.

►Begin your visit at the breakthtaking Valley of Nomads Located in Bouthgrar is the Valley of Nomads, a beautiful 10 kilometer valley where Nomads live in caves that are surrounded by Mount Mgoun. Mount Mgoun is the second highest mountain in Morocco and boasts extraordinery views. Have tea with a Nomad family.  See first hand where they make their own carpets and co exist in Bouthgrar with other Nomad families.

►Your journey will then take you through the Dadès Valley which covers 125 km between Ouarzazate and Boumalne du Dadès in the High Atlas Mountains.

►Once you reach Boumalne at first sight you notice the limestone cliffs with uniquely shaped erosions and superb scenery and the valley’s pise (windy roads). Driving along you will pass flower filled fields, fertile fields, riverbanks and several fortified ksours. At the bottom of Gorge of Boumalne Dadès there are ruined hilltop Kasbahs and valley floor gardens.

►Lunch will be served at a nearby guesthouse that offers local Moroccan fare and a panoramic view. Relax and sip mint tea while gazing at the impressive valley view.

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Ouarzazate.

DAY 9: OUARZAZATE – MARRAKECH

►Rise early, breakfast at your Riad and then take the road to Marrakech.

▶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 spelndor.

 

Lunch in the Tizzin Tichkas Pass f 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. Dinner at your Riad or in the heart of Djemma El Fna Square.

 

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.

DAY 10:  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 Centurey 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, its influential minaret and gardens.

►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.

►Next we will visit the Museum of Marrakech, a Contemporary Moroccan Art Museum or Tiskiwin, 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.

►Evening free to explore Marrakech on your own.  Your private driver will be available to escort you to a variety of restaurants we recommend.

►Dinner at your Riad or one of Marrakech’s fabulous restaurants, Le Marrakechi, Le Fonduk or Le Comptoir Darna.

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.

DAY 11: MARRAKECH – FREE DAY or OURIKA VALLEY SETTI FATIMA WATERFALLS VISIT

 

Breakfast at your Riad. Visit the Ourika Valley’s Setti Fatima Waterfalls or spend the day exploring on your own in the Marrakech medina.

Attend the CHEZ ALI FANTASIA, Equestrian & Moroccan Music show. Three Course Dinner served on site in Marrakech’s lush palmary. Return to your Riad for the evening. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a traditional Fantasia unless you visit Meknes during the Fantasia Festival.

 

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.

 

 

DAY 12: MARRAKECH – ESSAOUIRA (GUIDED HISTORICAL TOUR)

 

► Rise, breakfast at your Riad. Then 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”.

► Visit this sea-side medieval town that boasts lovely white-washed and blue-shuttered houses, colonnades, thuya wood workshops, art galleries and mouthwatering seafood.  Once called Mogador by European sailors and traders, Essaouria is known for its annual Gnaoua Music Festival that attracts 300,000+ people in June. It also has an expansive beach for surfing called Plage de Safi.  The medina of Essaouira (formerly “Mogador”) is a UNESCO World Heritage listed city, as an example of a late-18th century fortified town.

► 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 spice and jewelry souks of the medina. Your guide will take you to the old Jewish Mellah and explain the entire history of Essaouira.

► 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 only Moroccan port south of Tangier.

► After lunch visit Orson Welles’ Square and memorial, designed by Samir Mustapha, one of the towns artists, which pays homage to Orson Welles filming of Othello in EssouariaEssaouira’s history is a reminder of the times when Spain, Portugal and England fought to maintain control over its coasts. It has a typical Portuguese harbor that is a stunning example of Moorish and Portuguese architecture.

►Dinner & Spend the night at a 4 Star Charming Riad or Hotel in Marrakech.

DAY 13: MARRAKECH – CASABLANCA

►Breakfast at your Hotel. Departure at Casablanca’s International Airport.

Fes Festival Tour Rate: $4,480 Per Person (Double Occupancy Preferred, Not Required)
All Inclusive, Private Group Transport in Luxury Minibus or 4×4 Land cruiser, 4/5 Accommodations, licensed historical guides, some meals, museum and monument entrances fees, tickets to the Fes Festival of Sacred World Music

For more information about the Fes, Morocco Tour Package and the World Sacred Music Festival

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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Top 10 Things To Do in Marrakech, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Djemaa El Fna Square at Night, Marrakech

Things to do in Marrakech. The Top 10 Things to do in Marrakech, Morocco is a hot list of activities and experiences that one can do alone, with their spouse or friends and family in this majestic “red hamra” city. The most popular activities typically included spending time in and around Marrakech along with a brief departure for a High Atlas Tour or a Sahara Tour.

Cooking Class at Le Maison Arabe, Marrakech

The top 10 activities in Marrakech are Tajine Cooking Classes in Marrakech, City Sightseeing tours with a private historical guide to visit 17th Century Palaces, gardens, mosques and museums, camel trekking to Sahara desert of Morocco, attend the Chez Ali Equestrian Horse and Moroccan Music show, visit Djemaa El Fna Square at night for a Medieval Carnival experience, shopping in the old medina for Moroccan crafts, head to Gueliz – the new town for pastries and tea, take a walking tour of La Mamounia Gardens, visit the Majorelle Gardens enjoy a Marrakech Spa or local Hammam for a traditional scrub down.

M'hamid Sahara Desert


Top 10 Things To Do in Marrakech:

  1. Take a Moroccan Tajine Cooking Class
  2. Site Seeing Tour with a Private Historical Guide of 17th Century Palaces, gardens, mosques and museums
  3. Camel Trekking to the Sahara Desert of Morocco
  4. Attend the Chez Ali Equestrian Horse & Moroccan Music Show
  5. Visit Djemaa El Fna Square at night for a Medival carnival experience
  6. Shopping in the old medina for Moroccan crafts
  7. Head to Gueliz, the new town for pastries and tea
  8. Take a walking tour of the La Mamounia Gardens
  9. Visit the Majorelle Gardens
  10. Enjoy a Marrakech Spa or local Hammam for a traditional scrub down

For more information about  the Top 10 Things To Do in Marrakech and Marrakech Tours

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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Top 10 Reasons To Visit Morocco, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Map of Morocco

Give us 10 Days and we will give you 10 Reasons  to Visit Morocco. A Trip to Morocco will offer a once in a lifetime experience that is not to be missed! Morocco is a moderate Muslim country in North Africa known for it’s fascinating Imperial Cities, its majestic Sahara Desert, Berber villages, waterfalls, ancient Kasbahs and charming seaside towns. From region to region any Moroccan traveler will be stunned by Morocco’s varied landscapes, its souks, gardens, monuments, mosques, palaces and vibrant street life. Morocco is also a country known for it’s fantastic food and aromatic spices.

Palace in Rabat

Morocco’s origins as a tribal country  is what makes it both a special and different destination to travel to then  other North African nations. Morocco’s unique history of Arab and Berber inhabitants that have live peacefully together and have mixed with foreigners for centuries make it a one of a kind place to visit.

Terraces Des Spices, Cuisine of Marrakech

From north to south and east to west any Moroccan traveler will find a wide range of variation in landscapes, terrain, exotic food traditions, local crafts and beautiful people whose faces are glow happily in so many lovely shades of brown. Morocco is a place that many foreign travelers have dreamed about visiting but hesitate to do so because of their uncertainty about the country’s offerings. Make no mistake as Morocco and its Imperial city of Marrakech are on the hot list of American celebrity. Jean Paul Gaultier and John Galliano have houses in the “red hamra” city and Rapper P. Diddy recently flew in his A-list friends to party in Marrakech.  The Woolworth’s heiress Barbara Hutton, American expatriate author Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and even Tennessee Williams have all traveled and lived in Morocco during their lifetime.

La Mamounia Hotel, Marrakech

The Mamounia seems to have had great appeal for foreigners during the past century as not long after Alfred Hitchcock checked in to film The Man Who Knew Too Much (in which James Stewart and Doris Day occupy room 414) Marrakech became a hot spot during that era. The A-list of names in the hotel’s livre d’or is impressive, from Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper and Erich von Stroheim (in town to film Morocco ) through Tony Curtis, Charlton Heston and Omar Sharif to Sylvester Stallone and Kate Winslet, plus sundry royalty and heads of state. Ethnicity and color have long proved a draw for the fashion crowd. First into the souk was Yves Saint Laurent and partner Pierre Berg who bought their first home along with the Majorelle Gardens in 1967.  Jean Paul Gaultier set a collection in Marrakech’s ancient Medina, while Gucci’s Tom Ford has been spotted truffling through the souks for prizes.

Berber Girl, Nomad in Bouthgrar's Valley of Nomads

For those who have ever considered taking a private Morocco Tour or a Morocco vacation here are the Top 10 Reasons to Visit Morocco in hope that those reading this article will feel excited and comfortable enough to to pack their bags and head out for an unforgettable  Morocco adventure.

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Morocco:

1. Wander through 17th Century Palaces in Morocco’s Imperial Cities.

2. Visit sacred spaces, mosques, sites and gardens in Morocco.

3. Go off road, by pise to discover the unique flora and fauna in the Sahara Desert, the Draa Valley’s old African trade routes and Berber Villages.

4. Camel trek at sunset across the Erg Chebbi’s Golden Dunes in Merzouga with a Tuareg guide.

5. Sip mint-tea at midnight under the Moroccan stars and in caves with Nomads in Bouthgrar’s Valley of Nomads.

6. Explore Ancient Kasbahs where American directors of cinema shot our movie industries top films:  Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopartra, Kundun, Body of Lies and Babel.

7. Dine on fresh fish seaside at the Portuguese Port in the coastal artist colony of Essaouira.

8. Savor the taste of Moroccan cuisine – salads, tajines, couscous and pigeon pie – all known for their spices of cumin, saffron and cinnamon.

9. Shop the souks and buy directly from potters, wood workers, metal smiths, painters and traditional craftsmen.

10. Come face to face with snake charmers and acrobats in Marrakech’s Djemaa El Fna Square.

For more information about  New Years Even in the Sahara Desert Morocco Tours

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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New Years Eve in the Sahara Desert, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

Sahara Desert at Sunset

New Years Eve in the Sahara Desert is the one of the best ways to experience Morocco and ring in the New Year. Travel Exploration’s 3 Day, 4 Day and 5 Day New Years Sahara Desert Tours depart from Marrakech, Fes and Ouarzazate daily during the holiday season. There’s nothing more charming then sitting around a campfire with family and friends in the Sahara on New Years Eve after you’ve taken a camel trek across the golden dunes and watched the majestic sunset.

NEW YEARS EVE SAHARA TOUR FROM MARRAKECH
On a New Years Eve Sahara Tour from Marrakech, you will cross the High Atlas and travel along the Draa Valley to Mhamid’s Erg Chegaga Dunes or use the same road and instead take the fork that leads to the direction of  the Erg Chebbi Dunes in Merouga. Once in the Sahara Desert region you will leave the paved road and continue into the Sahara dunes by pise (windy road) to reach your desert camp.

NEW YEARS EVE SAHARA TOUR FROM FES
On a New Years Eve Sahara Tour from Fes you will pass the villages of Midelt (often referred to as the capital of apples), Ifrane, known as “the little Switzerland” for it’s skiing and houses that have pointed roofs peas, later arriving in the Sahara Desert just before dusk.

NEW YEARS EVE SAHARA TOUR FROM OUARZAZATE
On a New Years journey from Ouarzazate to the Sahara Desert you will visit Ait Benhaddou Kasbah then backtrack to pass the the sleepy town of Skoura, El Kellet Des Mgouna , this regions capital of Roses and the vast Draa Valley with its volcanic rock and breathtaking views. You will arrive in the Sahara Desert before the sunsets and camel trek to your camp.

All Sahara Desert tours on New Years Eve include full transport in a 4×4 land cruiser for your Morocco adventure along with an Arabian nights evening dinner and Sahara music fireside. Ending your night sleeping under the Moroccan stars is something not to be missed. Some New Years Eve Sahara tours also include the option to have lunch with a Moroccan family or a visit to the Todra Gorge.

For more information about  New Years Even in the Sahara Desert Morocco Tours

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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