Morocco Photo Tour
DATES: February 8-21, 2017
TOUR SIZE: minimum 8, maximum 10
REGISTRATION: This tour is run through Strabo Tours. Visit the Strabo website for complete tour details and registration information.
This photo tour itinerary encompasses Marrakech, Fes, Northern Morocco in the blue washed town of Chefchaouen, and also spends two evenings in the Sahara, giving participants more opportunity to capture the pink and purple hued sunsets over the dunes. In Marrakech we will visit the famous Djemaa el-Fna Square, perhaps the greatest open-air spectacle in the world. Traveling back in time, we'll see snake charmers, musicians, magicians, acrobats, and dancers. Fes is an ancient city, with its spectacular medina - where time seems to have stood still and photographs beckon around every corner. You will see veiled women and laughing children, donkeys pulling carts, and vendors carrying huge mounds of bread on trays above their heads.
Combining the history and natural beauty of this rich and fascinating country with first-person encounters, we will visit native villages, ancient medinas, and craftsmen’s workshops, sharing experiences and sipping mint tea: symbolic of the warm, sincere Moroccan generosity. Hotels are comfortable, as is the private, air-conditioned coach for land transportation. An expert local Moroccan guide will add his unique touch to this extraordinary trip, sharing his insights into and his love of this exotic land. This is an amazing journey.
February 8: Home
You can depart on an overnight flight from the U.S. to Casablanca, Morocco. We recommend your arrival to be by late afternoon (February 9), in order to take part in your introductory meeting and welcome dinner tomorrow evening.
February 9: Arrive Casablanca
Arrive anytime this morning or afternoon in Casablanca (CMN) Morocco, where you will be transferred from the airport to the hotel. We will have an introductory meeting early this evening followed by a welcome dinner. Given time we may have a photo session outside the King Hassan II Mosque. North of the medina and rising up on a point above the Atlantic Ocean, the mosque is the largest religious monument in the world after Mecca. It was completed in 1993, after 6000 Moroccan craftsmen worked on it day and night for five years. The 200m high minaret of this vast new mosque floats above the skyline of Casablanca. Overnight HYATT REGENCY (D)
February 10: Marrakech
After breakfast drive south to Marrakech, the city of drama. In the late afternoon we’ll have our first introduction to the famous Djemaa el-Fna Square, perhaps the greatest open-air spectacle in the world, where one can see the colors and feel the pulse of Morocco. Drift with the smells and sounds of the souks, haggle passionately for carpets, or dine in some of the best restaurants in the country.
Marrakech follows the beat of an African drum. This imperial city has been almost continually occupied since Neolithic times, and was once the Berber capital. Traveling back in time 2,000 years, we’ll see snake charmers, magicians, acrobats, and dancers, delighting children and adults alike. Capture a glimpse of daily life, as we stroll the narrow streets. Overnight RIAD LES YEUX BLEUS. (B, L)
February 11: Telouet - Skoura
This morning we will stop to visit the exquisite Majorelle Garden. It is part of the former residence of French artist Louis Majorelle, beautifully renovated by the late couturier Yves St. Laurent. Surrounded by an abundance of plants is Majorelle's deep-blue villa, which is simply breathtaking.
Driving south from Marrakech, we will cross the High Atlas Mountains at 7,400 feet, with panoramic views of arid mountains and lush oases shadowing the rivers far below. A drive along the “Valley of the Thousand Kasbahs” will take us through stony desert landscapes with many villages and Kasbahs (fortified homes). Land rovers will meet us in Telouet, where we continue in to the countryside. The Telouet Kasbah is not old, yet it is one of the most important sights of yesterday's Morocco. The story began during the hard winter of 1893, when Sultan Moulay Hassan was stranded here. He and his army of 3,000 were well taken care of by the two brothers Glaoui, Madani and T'Hami. In return of their services, they were given political power of Morocco south of the High Atlas Mountains. The reception room and main halls are the only interiors to be entered, due to the building’s deterioration, yet you can sense the luxury in which its predecessors lived.
Our destination for tonight, a renovated kasbah hotel provides and ideal location for private photography in the early morning and late afternoon. Overnight Hotel KSAR KEBBABA. (B, L, D)
February 12: Tinerhir
Depart mid-morning and head directly to Tinerhir. We'll have a light lunch in Tinerhir, and Corey will moderate aphoto review. In the mid-afternoon, head to Dades Gorgewith unusual red rock formations and fascinating villages andKasbahs, to photograph in the warm afternoon light. On theway we may see Berbers tending their camels or sheep,women swathed in dark haik, embroidered with vivid colors,or children playing
February 13-14: Erfoud - Merzouga
Today our destination is the Sahara where we will have two days to capture the sunset and sunrise over the dunes. After enjoying lunch en-route, we will continue to Erfoud, an oasis region at the edge of the Sahara. We will travel by Land Rovers to our Berber tents in the desert. If we have time this afternoon, we will enjoy our camel ride for sunset photography, or perhaps we will rise early for sunrise. Camels will carry us to the Erg Chebbi, Morocco’s only genuine Saharan Erg – a huge, drifting expanse of sand dunes that typify much of the Algerian Sahara. The dunes themselves are fascinating, especially as the sun reaches the horizon and the colors change from pink to gold to red. This will be your most extraordinary and unforgettable desert experience. Don’t forget to pack your bathing suit in your overnight bag. The next day we are invited to enjoy Sudanese music and dance at Khmlia, where we learn about life in the Sahara (participants can take donations of school supplies to the Sudanese school). Overnight AUBURGE DU SUD. (Accommodations are in typical Berber tents with mattress and blankets, next to the lodge with bathroom. Comfortable rooms may be available in the lodge, though these cannot be guaranteed - nor can a single room). (B, L, D both days)
February 15-17: Fes
After sunrise photography in the Sahara we will have breakfast and return to Erfoud. Your escorts will take into account the interests of the group and stop for photographic opportunities they feel appropriate and timely.
Fes, arguably the symbolic heart of Morocco, as all the great dynasties have left their mark on the city; it has, however, retained its Arab identity. The medina, Fes el-Bali, is one of the largest living medieval cities in the world. Its narrow, winding alleys and covered bazaars are intricate in their design and are awash with brilliant colors – a veritable assault on the senses as you squeeze past recalcitrant donkeys and submit to the sounds and smells of this jostling city. The dye makers, hills of spices, tannery vats, and palaces of merchants will beckon us. During a visit to a tannery we can watch the tanners as they work in the varied colors of this land. Our accommodations in Fes are near the medina walls, providing us with an excellent location for photography. Overnight KSAR RAYAN. (B, L, D; B, L; B)
February 18-19: Chefchaouen
From Fes we arrive late this afternoon in the Rif region of Northern Morocco and the town of Chefchaouen (shef-shau-en), built into the mountainside. The town was founded in 1492 by Moorish exiles from Spain, often called Chaouen by Moroccans. Chefchaouen was known as the hashish capital of Morocco and has been a favorite haunt of backpackers for years. Hash has been grown since the fifteenth century, and is called Kif, the short version of the Arabic word for pleasure. Our accommodations are set in the hillside just above the town, away from the hustle and bustle of the medina, yet walking distance to the areas we will be photographing.
In the medina, people sell all sorts of vegetables and fruits amid the narrow cobbled alleyways of whitewashed walls and blue doors. Chaouen offers many native handicrafts that are not available elsewhere in Morocco, such as wool garments and woven blankets. The local goat cheese is also popular. Pack mules are still led throughout the streets carrying many of the handcrafted goods and supplies as they have for centuries. The eager merchants are more than willing to discuss their merchandise and engage in the time honored art of negotiation.
The open-air market is one of the oldest and most charming, with steep narrow streets, paved with stones that have been polished by countless feet over the centuries. The homes are painted white, azure blue, indigo, and purple and have blue shutters and elaborately decorated doorways. Notice the small squares, ornate fountains and ochre tile. Overnight DAR CHEFCHAOUEN. (B, D; B)
February 20: Casablanca
This morning we depart early for the Capital City of Rabat, taking time for lunch and photography stops along the way. Re-board the coach this afternoon, arriving in Casablanca in the late afternoon. There will be time to freshen up before enjoying a farewell dinner. Overnight HYATT REGENCY. (B, L, D)
February 21: Casablanca - Home
After an early breakfast we will leave for the airport for late-morning flight home. (B)