Just wanted drop you a quick note to tell you what a wonderful time we had on the trip. There is so much to tell that it would take me too long to write about it all but I’ll give you a few highlights and comments.
Youssef was a great guide. We felt very comfortable with him and it was great that he was a guide as well as a driver so we didn’t need to be with someone else in Fes, Volobils, and Marrakech. I know we got lucky with that but I thought it was a real plus. He took very good care of us. It was great to have dinner with his family. His wife, Selma, prepared a great meal and gave Mary a gift of a beautiful bracelet that she will cherish forever.
Although it was very windy when we were in the desert, I feel we made the correct choice by staying at Riad Madu and using their tented camp. We drove by both Xaluca and Desert Inn and I really cannot see why anyone would prefer to stay there as opposed to being the extra night in the desert. We had a guide who was with us pretty much the whole time we were there and he was very personable and friendly. His English was not great but he was fluent in French and my French was better than his English so we had no problems. It was fun for me to practice French. I did however see other guides there who were fluent in English. The Riad was very nice with very friendly service, fluency in English, good food and beautiful rooms. The guide did a little touring with us on the way from Erfoud to Merzuga and spent the whole day with us before going out to the tented camp by camel. In fact, he spent the night at the camp and drove us straight from there in the morning to Erfoud to meet Youssef. During the tour we got to visit a nomad tent, a shepherd , the Gnaoua playing their music, did some fossil hunting, among other things. In case you are interested , the price for his tour was 1000 MAD plus a 400 MAD tip. I believe there were only 7 luxury tents at the camp. They were beautiful. I will put a few pictures in. I know that the need for a 4 wheel vehicle to get out to the desert is a bit of a problem but I think it is worth the effort as opposed to staying the night at places that tour buses go to.
The last day Youssef took us into the high Atlas mountains and we took a two hour mule ride with local guides to a few Berber villages and it was great. They knocked on a door and we got to visit with a lovely women and later her husband joined us. She served us tea and even gave Mary a little bracelet as a gift. Really special. She was initially hesitant to have a picture taken but she really liked Mary and allowed it.
Youssef really did a great job. Mary was initially a little nervous about the trip but he really placed her at ease and she had a wonderful time. He had most of his meals with us which we liked very much.
The other mild variation we did was by staying at Kasbah Ait Ben Damiette. I highly recommend this place. It was beautiful. The owner was not there but the staff was great. The room was large and beautiful and air conditioned (which I believe is the reason we didn’t stay at the other you recommended). The food was not the best there but I think that is because they tried to make a more western style meal for us. They also provided a room for Youssef and his meal which I thought was nice. We were the only guests there that day.
Jordan & Mary, USA (May 2016)