“Interesting and unique!”

All four of our party enjoyed the trip immensely. The Royal Mansour in Casablanca was a great start, an elegant hotel. Our special birding trip to the Merdja Zerga was great for birders like me and a pleasant outing for the others who are non-birding nature lovers. Our guide, Hassan Dalil was excellent and had all the necessary equipment: binoculars, telescope, and bird books. I got quite a few new birds for my Life List. Chefchaouen was very pleasing. It is very pretty and much less crowded than the larger cities and so provides a gentle introduction to the exotic sights and sounds of Morocco, especially for the younger travellers who hadn’t strayed from North America very much.

Volubilis and Meknes were impressive and Fes really interesting. It was like stepping back 500 years and I shot some great movie clips of pots thrown on a kick-wheel, metalworkers hammering copper and silver articles, wool being dyed, cloth being manufactured on ancient looms, rugs being hand knotted, and so on. The ladies brought back a good sampling of these hand-made articles too. Although the Medina was very different than anything we had previously experienced, we felt quite safe and comfortable. We were most impressed by the traditional decoration of the Medersas; the tilework, calligraphy, stucco and carved cedar is wonderful.

In Erfoud, our visit to the Kasbah and Palmery were a highlight as was the visit to the home of Bashir the “movie star”. Riding the camels, watching the sunset and camping in our luxury tents was fun too, if a bit cold. Betty and I have lived in the mountains on a couple of occasions, so the Todra and Dades Gorges were not particularly impressive but we enjoyed the outings. I went walking in Ouarzazate and found myself in some back alleys, but still I felt quite safe and all the locals I met were extremely polite and friendly. The most uncomfortable part of the trip was the over-stuffed feeling after dinner at the Berber Palace; I have never been presented with so much food at a restaurant and it was so good that didn’t want to waste a tiny bit.

Marrakech and Essaouira were a fine finish to a great trip, even if the argan oil is cheaper at the airport than at the ladies’ co-op. The Djemaa el-Fna was particularly interesting. The Majorelle Gardens were a bit crowded, in fact that was the only place we encountered tourists in any numbers.

Youssef Maamri is an excellent guide and an excellent driver. He presents his country and his culture very well and his explanations of Morocco’s history gave us a really good understanding of the sights that we saw (as much as one can expect of a two week trip). Youssef took us places in the medinas of Fes and Marrakech that we would not have found by ourselves in months and provided some very interesting and unique opportunities for shopping. We came away with carpets, ceramics, fossils, leather goods, hand-made cloth, clothing, argan products, and thousands of pictures!

Phil & Betty, February 2012

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