Your office staff was very reassuring regarding the political situation in Morocco as we managed to book flights just as things were heating up in North Africa and their assessments were very accurate. While the rest of North Africa was blowing up, Morocco was extremely stable and we were impressed with the amount of building going on and the infrastructure, schools and organization we saw in our travels.
Our driver, Youssef, was extremely informative, a considerate driver and his recommendations for lunch were always spot on. He was a wonderful ambassador for his country and we genuinely enjoyed our time with him. We really appreciated the information about the two gates at airport as we were able to locate him quite quickly on arrival and may have had greater trouble without the instructions.
I was amazed at the range of weather we encountered- snow in the Atlas mountains, quite a bit of rain and even some bright and sunny days. The full moon illuminating the Sahara was quite spectacular and one couldn’t complain that it was so bright it was hard to see the stars. Every day held a different experience- from mosques to souks, to spectacular vistas, Roman ruins, beaches, fossils, flora and fauna. We really enjoyed FES, Hakim Mohammed was the best tour guide we had and another knowledgeable and wonderful ambassador for the city. We did run into him the next day and it was like meeting an old friend. The souk was an impressive labyrinth of high quality craftsmanship, food, medieval guilds and modern technology all wrapped in the color and scent of Morocco. The riad was stunning. I felt like a character in A Thousand and One Nights and the staff were very considerate. We apparently were there a bit ahead of the regular season opening and it was very clean. I would recommend a space heater in the room and possibly in the dining area which was open and almost frosty, but being hardy Canadians we toughed it out. The meals, both breakfast and the suppers we had there were really first rate.
The Roman ruins were lovely and it was quite serendipitous to see the storks nesting, the chicks having just hatched and it added an element to the ruins that we dont see in Italy.
The Highway from Fes through the desert to Erfoud has to be one of the most spectacular in Africa. We enjoyed the ski towns, Maqac apes, highway dogs, trucker grills and oasis towns we traveled through.
The accommodations were all first rate, innovative yet traditional, incorporating the local materials and architecture with 5 star luxury. (the Xaluca hotels were especially notable)
Camping in the Sahara was a treat from the camel ride, tobogganing down the sand dunes to the rising of the full moon and sharing the campfire with our Berber companions. I hadn’t imagined a tent could be so luxurious.
Marrakech was lively, it was hard to cope with so many tour buses and tourists and we enjoyed spending some time in Essaouira. The Riad Moucharabieh was stunning and we shared with only one couple. It was quite amazing to walk down the vicos and find these hidden jewels that were our hotels.
It certainly was one of our most memorable holidays and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
A few recommendations: The tour was extremely flexible and I loved that aspect of it but had we been more aware of that we would have flown into another center other than Casablanca- which we found to be a busy modern hectic city- although did enjoy going for drinks at Ricks and the place was full of Americans. We would have skipped it all together. Although we loved the Riad in Marrakech, it would have been nice to have a night in Essouauira and gone to the airport from there. When I visit again, I will probably skip Rabat and Casablanca and maybe even Marrakech and spend more time in the countryside. I can’t praise Youssef enough for his patience and professionalism. I have fond memories of singing rock and roll with him for much of the trip.
Joe and Nancy, March 2011