Posts Tagged ‘Travel Exploration Morocco’

Souks Outside Marrakech, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Souk Amzmiz

By  visiting local souks outside Marrakech you can experience local Berber country life and absorb the character of the marketplaces where they meet each week. This is an important social occasion where local producers sell their wares including, fruit, vegetables and livestock. Merchants from Marrakech sell essentials such as: tea, coffee, sugar, packaged foods, cooking items, clothing and electronics. You can also come across carpets, jewelry and pottery generally cheaper than in Marrakech. There are many things available to buy from in Moroccan souks: henna, spices, rugs, Berber slippers and sandals, pottery, Berber djellabahs for men, dresses for women and handmade wooden kitchen utensils.

Amizmiz has the best Berber souk  in the region on a Tuesday as well as sampling the local wares, it is a good starting off point for treks in the surrounding Atlas Mountains and meeting the Berbers in their home environment for mint tea and a meal served in their homes.

Set against the majestic backdrop of the High Atlas, the picturesque village of Tahanaout attracts visitors with its landscape and attractive sturdy Berber red clay buildings.  The village which is 30 km from Marrakech is surrounded by olive groves, orange  and lemon trees. Its souk is also held on a Tuesday. Pottery making and cooking demonstrations are on offer from the inhabitants of Tahanaout,  you  can learn how to make homemade bread, makoda, couscous and other traditional regional dishes.

Terres D'Amanar

There are good opportunities for bird watching whilst strolling along the riverbanks, where you can see  Moroccan wagtail, white stork and cattle egret. You can trek to the Ouirgane, N’Fis and Ourika Valleys and the waterfalls at Setti Fatma. You can also ride donkeys or hire a 4X4 cross country vehicle. If you want to stay in Tahanaout  you can book into the Terres d’Amanar an extensive eco lodge with gardens and stunning mountain views on the outskirts of the village. The Kasbah Angour is also nearby both establishments can arrange local tours including trekking on foot or by donkey and  4×4 overland vehicles for further afield .

Other centers for weekly souks include  Tnine Hem on Monday,Sidi Ghiat on Sunday and Aghmat with its ancient ruins on Friday. Asni   also has a large market on Saturday, Ijoukak on Wednesday and  Khemis Ouirgane on Thursday. Ouirgane itself is a delightful place to spend a few days for trekking and relaxation. It is close to the Tiz N’Test pass, Mount Toubkal, Toubkal National Park and the Tassa Ouirgane National Park. This is trekking and ecotourism country at its best. It is possible to travel around by 4×4 but if you are up to it by foot, donkey or horse is best. The air is clean the mountain scenery and the Takherkhoute forests are enchanting.

One of the of the best places to stay in Ouirgane is the idyllic Domaine de la Rosaraie, set in sixty acres of  parkland with a  large garden filled with roses .

Domaine Malika is new on the scene in Ourigane and for an upscale and chic mountain experience there is none better than the Domaine Malika. .

Chez Momo is a charming auberge, Moroccan country style home overlooking the High Atlas. They are also known for the excellent cuisine and elegant dinner setting. If staying in Ourigane dining at Chez Momo is a must.

Au Sanglier Qui Fume  has been in existence since 1945. It started by catering to Foreign Legion soldiers working on the bridge and acquired its distinctive name because it was used by wild boar hunters. Its restaurant has great character including the heads of wild boar hanging from the walls. The food is a blend of French and Moroccan cuisine. It remains a classical French establishment.

The Tassa Ouirgane National Park and the Toubkal National Park provide great trekking opportunities in amongst the valleys and local Berber villages hamlets and fields with the Atlas mountains towering above them. You can visit the salt mines at Marigha. Here the Berbers have been mining salt by their traditional method unchanged for centuries. They transport the salt by donkeys and sell it locally.

For More Information about the Souks outside of Marrakech

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 Art of Yahya Rouach: Modern Elegance and the Riches of the East

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Moroccan Art, Lighting by Yahya Rouach

Lamps in ornate brass covered with intricate designs thrown into relief as shadows on the wall, huge lamps hanging from the ceiling, framed wooden Arabic calligraphy and the finest metalwork hangs on the walls of Yahya Rouach’s show room in Marrakech’s modern quarter, Guéliz. It feels as if you have entered the splendors of the golden age of Islamic art with the clear precise lines of modern design. It has the western elegance and economy of style as well as the richness and exuberance of the East. There are silver nickel boxes and superb wooden creations using Arabic geometric and floral Moroccan designs and calligraphy. Elegant proportions, subtle imaginative and effective use of light, sobriety and richness of design, nobility of materials and a jeweler’s meticulous precision characterize the work of  Yahya Rouach.

He was born in London in 1972 and his father came originally from Meknes, his mother is Anglo German. He came over to Marrakech in 2005 with his wife and six children from London after an earlier visit in 2004. He was fascinated by the brass work and silver designs he saw in the souk. He began by exporting artifacts to London and started drawing and experimenting with his own designs, he was having fun and then he began to take it seriously.

Up Close Design, By Yahya Rouach

Yahya’s creations are a mixture of East and West. He was selling his work to Harrods and other outlets and night clubs in London and Nieman Marcus a US company which gave him his first substantial order that really set him up. In six weeks he ran out of stock and realised the importance of taking time to create artistic excellence, so clients were encouraged to come to him rather than the other way round. He works strictly to order due to demand.  He is entirely self taught and had no formal training. He does what he likes and each creation is entirely original. Each piece he creates from the smallest to the largest specially commissioned works of art becomes a collector’s item transcending time and fashion. He is driven by his passion for design and creative imagination.

Yahya Rouach selects young craftsmen and trains them.To produce such treasures he needs highly qualified and creative staff. The process is different from the craftsmen in the souk because their work is essentially repetitive whereas Yaha Rouach  is  drawing out the abilities of our people so that they create original work. He does not believe in pushing people beyond their limits but he encourages his  workers to extend their abilities and this works. Yahya has his workshop in Sidi Youssef with two hundred craftsmen.

The work is intricate and takes weeks and months of dedicated work to complete, hammering and chiselling the brass or nickel silver or wood with the delicate patterns that start their life on paper. Often more than one craftsman works on the design and it becomes a team effort. It is not something that can be rushed and his clients know this, so they are prepared to wait because perfection such as this cannot be mass produced to order. Yahya is well known for his metal work.  His team design and create collections that are diverse in terms of materials and style using glass, wood, stone and fabrics. From lighting and furniture through to decorative accessories and  objet d’art. He is always exploring new materials and forms of artistic expression in order to develop his style and vision.

Many royal families and important personalities in the Middle East  particularly like Yahya’s  work and he has many clients in the United States and Europe and of course Morocco, so he has an international clientele for whom we we work on private commissions. He won the contract to provide leading pieces and decoration for the Royal Mansour Hotel in Marrakech which is owned by His Majesty King Mohammed VI. Yahya does not normally work for hotels but this was special and a great honour. They gave him a completely free hand on what his team did for the project and it was a fantastic project to work on. Yahya Rouach’s  clients know his work and come to him when they want something special, of the highest quality and totally original. Each project  Yahya’s team  works on is unique and has its own special ambience.

Artistic creativity is flourishing in Morocco and Yahya Rouach does everything he can to support it. He has acted as a judge at Riad Art Expo in Marrakech and he  creates the prize called “Les Palmes de Marrakech “ for the Biennale for Contemporary   Arts in Marrakech. He encourages participants to strive for excellence, creativity, originality and quality. He reflects that Moroccan artistic creativity is endless and has an infinite variety and the craftsmen’s role is alive and well and rooted in history. It needs nurturing in turbulent times. Turkey , Iran and  conflict  torn Syria have superb craftsmen in brass, nickel silver and wood but Yahya Rouach has said that Morocco is definitely the best and Moroccan craftsmen are sort after all over the world

For More Information the Art of Yahya Rouach or Moroccan Art 

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.

Azemmour, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Azemmour, El Jadida

Azemmour  is a charming former Portugese  fortified town  on the  great  Oum Er-Rabia river 75 km from Casblanca and close to the  fortified  city of El Jadida  which the Portugese moved to after abandoning Azemmour in 1541. The Duke of Braganza took the town in 1513 with a force of some 500 ships and 15,000 troops. It was used as a destination for shipping goods along the river. Azemmour  is  unspoiled and a very restful destination of character in Morocco.

The views from its ramparts and walls which rise up from the river are striking. Its white Medina  and  ochre walls seen  from the three bridges that cross the river are very picturesque. The town is refreshingly calm and gives first time visitors to Morocco a good idea about the tranquil Moroccan way of life in a small town.  The old Kasbah is mostly a ruin with striking views cross the river and gardens from the rampart walls. The prominent Dar El Baroud tower is all that remains of a gunpowder store that was destroyed.

 The Moroccan built Medina is reached via Place de Souk and a 16 century gate with a European  semi circular style arch.  Azemmour had a substantial Jewish population which left in the 1960’s and the old Mellah or Jewish quarter lies in the northern part of the Medina after the Kasbah. The old synagogue is well maintained and looked after by a local family and it is possible to see inside where lies the tomb of Rabbi Abrahim Moul Nis, which is an important shrine for Jewish pilgrims and is the focus of a Mouassem each year.

The patron saint of Azemmour is Abu Shuayb Ayub Ibn Said Erredad al-Sanhaji Assariya  , who died about  1177. His mausoleum was built on the order of  Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah. Each year a moussem is celebrated to honour him. The Azemmour festival is held each year in July.

Riads in Azemmour include  the Oum Errabia, 25 Derb Chtouka  a modern and traditional high class riad with excellent cuisine. The Dar Wabi ,Derb Daira and Riad 7, at 2, Derb Chtouka

Riad Azma  17 Derb Ben Tahar is a grand 19th-century house complete with original carved woodwork and charming rooms surrounding a lovely courtyard. The carved, painted ceilings here are some of the finest and the rooftop terrace has great views of the medina

 There is the Restaurant Panorama  with a delightful garden serving  Moroccan cuisine  and La Perle restaurant on Hauzia beach across the river from Azemmour .

Hauzia beach  has kite surfing, although the river has strong currents and care should be taken. The wetlands by the beach have a variety of bird life for bird watchers.

A visit to Azemmour  can be combined with a trip to the Portugese fortified medina of El Jadida giving the visitor a good idea of the Portugese architectural heritage and naval prowess in the sixteenth century. The Portugese presence in Morocco declined after their defeat at the battle of the three Kings  at Kasr el Kebir in the north of Morocco in 1578.

For More Information about Azzemour, El Jadida and Morocco’s Seaside Towns 

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.

North African Jewelry, Your Morocco Tour

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

Jewish Woman, Berber Silver Jewelry Fes

In the nineteenth century Morocco began to receive European and American visitors who were also visiting neighboring Algeria,Tunisia and Libya. Early photographers like the Scotsman George Washington Wilson and others began to take photographs of the countryside, towns and people including posed photographs of Berber women adorned in their fine Moroccan jewelry. These photos became the first travel postcards and help to encourage early tourism and an appreciation of North African jewelry.

Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans  and Jews mingled culturally with the Amazigh people . When the Arab  Islamic conquest came in the 7th Century the Berber people were assimilated along with the Jewish population under Islamic rule. The exit from Andalusia of the Moorish and Jewish populations in 1492 added another rich creative seam to Morocco’s already talented craftsmen.

Berber Silver Necklace

The Amazigh Berbers and the Jewish craftsmen permitted to work with precious metals such as gold and silver preserved a unique identity in which jewelry expressed their  social and tribal  customs particularly the use of intricate jewelry as a marriage dowry, central to their way of life and Berber traditions as were carpet weaving, woodwork , and ceramics. North African jewelry preserves the enduring creative diversity and beauty of this living artistic tradition preserved by skilled craftsmen in places such as Tiznit and Taroudant.

The jewelry includes pendants, earrings , bracelets, amber necklaces and the distinctive Berber cross and the Hand of Fatima to ward off the evil eye. The geometric patterns also reflect  tribal identity and in rural areas the jewelry is usually silver, whilst urban jewelry is sometimes made from gold with floral and arabesque designs with filigree and enameling also reflecting  ancient inherited Egyptian, Greek, Byzantine and Roman traditions. Indeed many techniques and materials from diverse locations were used by craftsmen over thousands of years. Beads and coins and amber are common in North African jewelry.

Jewish Hand of Fatima, Filagree

Some materials are believed to have protective and healing qualities and symbolic meaning. Silver is linked with honesty and purity, and when combined with certain stones it is said to heal select ailments. Red Mediterranean coral, associated with life-sustaining blood, is prized for its healing properties. It is worn to promote fertility and to prevent harm to children. Yellow amber attracts sunlight and deflects darkness.

Berber Moroccan Jewelry, Pendant

The two brothers, Patrick and Yves Guerrand Hermes have both been remarkable collectors of North African Jewelry. Patrick Guerrand Hermes, the youngest son of the founder Emile Hermes was the  owner of Villa Ain Kassimou in Marrakech . He sold the contents of this villa including an extensive North African jewelry and a large art collection, on 9 October 2009, at Sotheby’s in Paris before moving to Tangier.

This house in Marrakech is known as prestigious occupants. It was originally built for Olga Tolstoy, daughter of the great writer Leo Tolstoy, before being sold to Barbara Hutton, the wealthy American heiress, who was married five times, including Cary Grant and Prince Igor Troubetzkoy. The collection was reported to have embodied the spirit of North Africa and Morocco.

Patrick Guerrand Hermes introduced his brother Xavier Guerrand Hermes to Morocco and he bought a riad in the Medina in 2011. His extensive collection of over thirty years of North African jewelry and photographs “Desert Jewels”  were displayed at the Museum for African Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum.

For More Information about  North African Jewelry Travel Exploration Morocco’s Guided Professional Jewelry 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.

Travel Exploration Morocco, Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2013

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Trip Advisor Award of Excellence 2013

Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours is a winner of the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence aware for 2013. The Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award is a testament to Travel Exploration’s High Standards and Service provided for Morocco Private Tours and Morocco Day Tours. Travel Exploration Morocco earned exceptional traveller ratings over the past year. The Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence honors businesses that consistently earn top ratings from Trip Advisor travelers.

The Trip Advisor award which is given to the most exceptional performers in Trip Advisor’s global business community, is a significant achievement deserving recognition of both travelers and staff.  Travel Exploration Morocco is a full service travel agency with offices in New York, Marrakech and Ouarzazate. The owner of Travel Exploration is a former magazine publisher, music business executive who established Travel Exploration Morocco Private Tours to show travelers the best of Morocco.

Discover Morocco with Travel Exploration on a tailor made private tour. We offer mid-range and luxury options. You will travel to Morocco and visit Arabo Andalous architectural sites in the Imperial Cities, majestic palaces, glorious houses of worship, opulent gardens and a breathtaking Sahara desert. You will taste Moroccan hospitality in Berber Villages and enjoy exquisite cuisine and elegant accommodations. Our team of expert, licensed Multi-lingual guides and drivers will set in motion a memorable journey. As a member of the American Association of Travel Agents we take pride in our impeccable service and reputation. We donate 5% of all proceeds to Berber Villages.

For More Information about Travel Exploration Morocco’s Private Tours 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.

Almond Briouats are made by folding almond paste flavored with orange flower water and cinnamon within warqa dough. The pastries are fried and then soaked briefly in honey.  Cheese briouats are foiled with cream cheese filling. Herbs or hot peppers can be added for more flavor.

Cooking Up Morocco, Best Cooking Classes, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

La Maison Arabe Cooking Class

Learning some of the basics of Moroccan cooking can be an enjoyable experience and adds to your own culinary skills back home. Many riads offer cookery classes for their clients during their stay. These usually begin with a trip to the souk accompanied by one of the staff to buy produce and spices. In contrast to shopping at home everything is bought fresh, for home-cooking. The market stalls include  piles of spices, and fresh fruits, nuts and fine local vegetables all beautifully laid out with the fragrance of mint and cilantro . Shopping in the souks of Morocco is a keen sensory experience, as well as a chance to experience local daily life as buyers and sellers haggle over prices.

Learning how to use spices is a key element in Moroccan cuisine. Salt, pepper, ginger and turmeric are essential to many tagines and stews. Make sure you pick up plenty of ras el hanout(the best spices in the store) so that you can cook up authentic Moroccan dishes back home, and consider stocking up on saffron too. Charmoula is a popular Moroccan sauce that can be used on everything from fish to vegetables. Coriander and cumin are the leaders of the spice mix. The spices are ground with garlic, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Spices and pepper can be added for taste to suit individual preference.

Riad Monceau Cooking Class

When you return from the souk you can begin the cooking class under the instruction of an expert chef. Each person in the group is allotted specific tasks in the cooking process and a after a lesson or two you should know how to dress a salad, create a main course and a desert. Longer intensive courses are available and your travel agent should be able to advise you on this. Learning to cook in a Moroccan kitchen gives you a unique insight in to family daily life. Finally you get to sample and enjoy your joint efforts over lunch or dinner.

Some examples of Moroccan dishes include tangines,  slowly cooked  meat and vegetable dishes in a  pot with a cone shaped lid that gently cooks fish, beef, dried fruits and olives. Vegetarians can enjoy vegetable tagines. Other recipes include lamb with prunes and almonds, chicken with lemon and fruits are blended with meat dishes such as lamb with pears.

You can learn how to make couscous, which is small grains of semolina which is steamed and eaten with a spicy broth and vegetables and meat. Moroccan families gather after Friday prayers to get together over a couscous.

Harira is a renowned traditional soup made with tomato paste lentils, chick peas and spices and sometimes pieces of lamb. It is served with dates when Moroccans break their fast during Ramadan.

Madada Mogador Cooking Class

Moroccan salads can be served as a starter or as a side dish and orange blossom water is sometimes used in salads. Moroccan cuisine has strong aromatic qualities.  The Al Fassia restaurant  in Marrakech serves several dishes of salads as a starter and to appreciate the art of salad making and superb tangines it’s a wonderful place to experience the very best in Moroccan cuisine before you start  your own efforts.

Other dishes include Bastilla which is pastry dusted with cinnamon and stuffed with sweet and savoury ingredients including pigeon. It can be served as a starter of a main course. Birouettes  are small triangles of pastry with savoury and spicey fillings such as minced lamb or fettah cheese with spinach. It can also be a dessert with groundnuts and honey. Moroccan  pastries are served with honey . Learn to bake Moroccan bread which often has added spices and how to make Moroccan mint tea to accompany the meal.

Cafe Clock Cooking Class

Travel Exploration Morocco’s Recommendations for 4 of Morocco’s Top Cooking Classes are: 

La Maison Arabe – A long standing name in Marrakech for it’s restaurant and boutique, luxury Riad, La Maison Arabe boasts one of the most professional and detailed cooking classes in Morocco. Headed by a Dada Chef guests experience a stroll through the souks, learn how to purchase spices, then cook up a three-course meal. Options of wine pairings to match and everyone departs with a complimentary tajine. This is the cooking workshop for professionals and also for those who love the art of cooking.

Riad Monceau – Haute Cuisine at this French owned Riad and cooking class is what can be prized most. An elegant and charming setting within old Marrakech’s Red Hamra city Riad Monceau’s owner Ludovic Antoine offers guests a top notch class. With their widely esteemed cook book, local chef and hands on approach this is a great way to discover the art of Moroccan cooking in Marrakech.

Cafe Clock – Set within the old Fes Medina just down the street from Maimonides is the ever so hip and charming Cafe Clock. Cafe Clock allows participants to select their own menu, then takes them on an authentic shopping expedition in the Fes souk where you choose your own ingredients, learn about bread baking and other details of Moroccan cuisine. Cafe Clock offers a Moroccan bread baking workshop or a one-day patisserie class. Complimented by their cafe which is an active place for locals and foreigners Cafe Clock serves one of the most exciting cooking workshops in Morocco.

L’Atlier Madada Mogador  – In Seaside Essaouira this fabulous cookery workshops is perfect for small groups who collaborate together in a charming Riad near Morocco’s seacoast. They prepare a full meal before sitting down together to dine in a traditional setting. A walking tour option in the souks after is a nice add on to this day.

For More Information on Moroccan Cooking and Moroccan Cooking Classes 

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 48th Marrakech National Festival of Popular Art July 2013

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Marrakech National Festival of Popular Arts Badi Palace

Held under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, the National Festival of Popular Arts  is the French acronym in Marrakech is the oldest festival in Morocco. Held annually in Marrakech, Morocco it showcases folk arts of the kingdom through its music, art and local handicrafts.
It is famous as a joyful celebration of the ancient traditions of tribal dancing and music and poetry of the Berber tribes. The center piece is the thrilling spectacle of the evening performance in the huge floodlit grounds of the ancient Badii Palace in the Medina of Marrakech. Tickets are sold at the Theatre Royal on Avenue Mohammed VI for each evening’s performance. As this year’s Festival is being held for the first time in Ramadan, the evening performances which evade the heat of the day are especially welcoming. The brilliantly choreographed performances succeed each other as each team of male and female dancers, drummers and musicians dressed in beautiful tribal costumes, each led by a Maalem or troupe leader, appear from different parts of the stage to give their performances. The language used to introduce the performances is Amazigh, the Berber language, which adds to the thrill of this unique event. If you are in Marrakech, it is a must see annual occasion.

Marrakech National Festival of Popular Arts Parade

On the first evening prior to the performance the troupes parade in their finery from the edge of the Guéliz, the modern part of town, starting at the fountain close to the Hotel Marrakech on Avenue Mohammed V to the Badii Palace in the medina. It is a spectacle not to be missed.
The teams train and compete each year to take part in the festival and the Maalems or troupe leaders , play a significant role as guardians of the traditions of dance and music. The troupes are selected by different regional competitions. This Festival plays a vital role in preserving the berber tribal heritage by keeping these traditions alive. You can see the 16mm films transferred to video of the Berber tribal dances taken in the Atlas Mountains in 1957 by Daniel Chicault the French explorer. They are on permanent display at La Maison de la Photographie.
(http://www.maisondelaphotographie.ma) which is close to the Medersa Ben Youssef in the Medina. (46, Rue souk Ahal Fès ,200 m behind Ben Youssef Medersa). You can also visit the Berber Ecomuseum at Ourika which has historic still photos of the Berber tribes along with original carpets and Berber jewelry. The museum is part of the Maison de la Photographie which has been run since 2009 by Patrick Mana’ch and Hamid Mergani.
The festival foundation team have also introduced the concept of a festival village incorporating different musical performances, music workshops, exhibitions of handicrafts, regional products, conferences and films devoted to Moroccan heritage. FNAP has recently joined the European Forum of music festivals in the world. Founded in 1991, this network is the largest dedicated to world music. It has festivals in twenty countries and attracts more than three million visitors.

For More Information on the 48th National Festival of Popular Arts in Marrakech 

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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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

Morocco for Vegetarians, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Moroccan Vegetable Tajine

Morocco offers plenty of fulfilling options for vegetarian travelers . It has wonderful  and abundant fresh vegetables and spices like cumin, saffron cinnamon and paprika and seasonal fruits which you will see piled high in local souks.

For breakfast  you will be offered bread with honey and jam and  omelettes . You can also try Moroccan pancakes and crepes called malouai with honey which are often served in local cafes.

Lunch is the main meal of the day and everything stops from noon to 3:00 p.m. Restaurants usually begin by serving a salad, which includes an array of vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, radishes, green peppers, beetroot  and eggplant, with spices and herbs.

Moroccan Vegetable Dish

The main course often consists of a tagine or couscous.  A tagine is a slow-cooked stew  served in an earthen ware pot and funnel shaped cover.  Restaurants in the main cities are now more aware of  vegetarians and vegetable tangines are usually on the menu, but you need to make sure that they are not using a meat stock. Moroccan traditions do change to accommodate tourists but sometimes you have to make sure your requirements have been fully understood. Carry a phrase book in French and Moroccan Arabic. The same is also true for Morocco’s other favourite dish the couscous. Couscous is semolina grains which are steamed above a pot of boiling vegetables. Pieces of meat are also included so vegetarians have to ensure that there is no meat in the couscous and no meat based stock.

During Ramadan and other special occasions, harira with dates is served to break the fast. This  nutritious and delicious soup has a tomato base and is thick with lentils, chickpeas and herbs. Harira is often made with vegetables but you will need to check beforehand with the restaurant to ensure that it is made without meat or meat  based broth.

Street food and restaurant appetizers also offer an array of meatless delights including olives and hummus, dried fruits, roasted nuts and b’sarra (white bean soup with olive oil and garlic).

In Marrakech  Earth Café is well known as an organic vegetarian and vegan restaurant  and it is in the heart of the medina, just off the Jemaa el Fna square. They have six entrees, three of which are vegan at 60 dirhams [about 5 or 6 euros] for huge delicious portions. They also have good fresh juices.  Chez Chegrouni  also offers good vegetarian fare.

Café des Epices  and Terasse des Epices also offer excellent vegetarian meals as does the stylish Le Foundouk restaurant, not far from the Medersa Ben Youssef in the Medina.

Riad 58 Blu is a charming riad which serves excellent vegetarian food to order and  is open to non residents . Food needs to be ordered the night before.

Pepe Nero is a high class riad restaurant with an impressive menu of Moroccan and Italian vegetarian  dishes which need to  be ordered the night before.

Cuisine de Mona‘s  serves superb Lebanese  food  and vegetarian dishes which can be enjoyed  in  the restaurant or as a take away. The restaurant  is on an early  turning off the route de Targa just  before the three pizza  restaurants on the right hand side.

 In Essaouira two recommended restaurants are:

Lalla Mira is an organic and ‘eco’ restaurant, hotel and spa.

La Petite Perle,   a popular  restaurant which serves good vegitarian dishes.

In Fes

Riad Dar Dmana is inside the medina and serves excellent vegetarian meals to its guests which need to be ordered  the night before.

Café Clock  has several vegetarian and vegan dishes on its extensive menu and is a great meeting place in Fes for tourists, expats and locals.

For More Information on Morocco for Vegetarians or a Morocco Tour  
Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate
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.