April 15 - 26, 2013
The Moroccan King describes his country as a tree having its roots in Africa and it’s branches in Europe. To the well traveled, Morocco feels like a Middle Eastern country with labyrinths of souqs selling fine handicrafts and spices, and people wearing the long hooded jellaba. It’s a land of contrasts in so many ways – from the snow dusted High Atlas to the hot sands of the hauntingly beautiful Sahara; from the call of the Imam to young women wearing western clothes. Morocco is a cultural crossroads with a strong and ancient tradition of caring for travelers – seldom have we felt so safe in the world, nor drunk as much mint tea! We’ll hike in the Atlas and bring school supplies and clothing to the Berber village hosting us. We’ll raft in the interior and enjoy the scenery so few experience. Nothing will prepare you for the impact that the Sahara has on your soul and sleeping under the stars at a Bedouin camp is unforgettable. Best of all, we’ll connect with the women of Morocco by learning to cook a traditional meal in a home and experiencing hammams (spas). Travel is seldom as enchanting or as spiritually uplifting as our ten day trip to Morocco.
Linda, TX "Thanks for all the exceptional opportunities to meet the Moroccan people. A new world view opened up for me and gives me the inspiration to reach across the seas. Morocco is a beautiful, warm and welcoming country and I'm grateful to be here."
Lou, Vancouver "On each trip I've shared with you I've watched as the women you gather together become a community and learn to love, share and become more tolerant and accepting of the differences in the world."
Jan, MN "So many unforgettable moments - dinner with Moroccan women in their beautiful home in Marrakech to dinner with women in a Berber mountain hut. Morocco will be an experience I will treasure always because you take us to the heart of the country - the women."
Sejal, MA "This trip has left an indelible mark on me and will leave me searching for more adventures in the years ahead. These last 10 days were full of color and life which will enrich my spirit even as I sit in the dark rooms of my work."
|Airfares are NOT INCLUDED in Canyon Calling trips. It is your responsibility to get yourself to the assembly point of a trip and home afterwards. There are many reasons for this policy including ladies wanting to use their air miles, people wanting to go early or stay on after the trip, some wanting to drive etc. Jane at Jane’s Travel in Phoenix has helped our customers with booking their flights for the last 15 years. You can contact her at 480.941.5311 or email her at email@example.com Internal flights are included in trip prices when they fall inside a tour like in our Costa Rican, Peru, and Hawaii Islands trips.
Sunday April 14
Meet your guide and travel companions at JFK at 5:45pm at the gate for the Royal Air Maroc flight departing 6:45pm. You’ll recognize each other by the Canyon Calling hats attached to your daypacks.
Arrive Casablanca 7:50am. Local guide will meet us and transfer to the domestic terminal for our connecting flight to Marrakech where the tour begins. Our Moroccan guide Hamid will meet us and transport us to our riad (hotel) in the old medina (city) for dinner and an early night to catch up on jet lag.
Our day is devoted to exploring Marrakesh! Our guide will lead you on an orientation through the labyrinth of souqs (bazzars), full of quality crafts and exotic food and spices. He’ll teach you useful words, how to bargain with the locals, and how to find your way around using the tall Koutoubia Minaret as a landmark. Visit the Saadian Tombs, a lavishly decorated and well-preserved necropolis. Visit the Koran School with more intricate craftsmanship, then onto the infamous tanneries. A bandana to cover your nose works well here! We won’t linger but will have time for an appreciation of the process and some amazing photos. After lunch we'll walk around the famous Jemaa el-Fna Square (UNESCO World Heritage Site) where you can buy fresh squeezed orange juice, get a temporary henna tattoo and watch the snake charmers and jugglers. Tradesmen in NW Africa have met in this square for centuries and it’s one of the most fascinating places in the world. We'll have two hours free to wander the square and watch the storytellers, musicians, dancers, tooth-pullers, herb sellers and show-men. You’ll have time to explore and shop on your own. After a busy day it's a perfect time for a hammam! We’ll soak in the steam room and then get scrubbed to within an inch of our lives by the female attendants – an amazing experience as rolls of dead skin peel away leaving you feeling smooth and relaxed. As it’s getting dark our group will head back to Jemaa el-Fna and dine at one of the outdoor restaurants.
9am departure for our two-night rafting expedition. Today’s highlight is our visit to the Cascades D'Ouzoud, one of the hidden beauties of Morocco. After lunch we pass Bin El Ouidane, a beautiful blue lake framed with majestic red hills, and through the Middle Atlas Mountains to our base camp on the banks of the Ahansal River. Late afternoon is leisure time at our campsite to journal or go for a walk and explore the spectacular views in this area. Enjoy a riverside meal and perhaps a chardonnay, Moroccan Red or an ice-cold beer from the cash bar with your meal.
You have a choice of cereal and fresh fruit or a cooked breakfast before pulling on rafting equipment. Our international Guide will then give a safety and paddle talk and we’re off! The rapids are grades 2 and 3 with grade 5 scenery. You will stare in awe up at the canyon walls, the silence only interrupted by the next rapid or the calls of a monkey. We pass the village of Tiloguite through a narrow gorge, with plenty of waving children amazed at our multi-colored equipment. Then we enter a large gorge with so many rapids it’s a thrill a minute rollercoaster ride. We camp comfortably at the site of a working watermill deep in the heart of the Middle Atlas. Dine on the traditional Tajine.
As the sun hits camp, awaken to smell of freshly brewed coffee. Breakfast is served and we launch above a great rapid called "Morning Surprise". We paddle into the lower reaches of the river, surrounded by huge mountains. You will be amazed and astounded by it's beauty. We paddle onto the crystal clear waters of Bin El Ouidane and are met by our motorboat. As we’re towed across the lake, sample a "floating lunch" taking in the views and reflect on our adventure. Our van returns us to Marrakech and our same cozy riad. Tonight we are treated to dinner with English-speaking Moroccan women in one of their homes. What a treat to be able to learn about their lives and to share our cultures.
We say farewell to Marrakech and drive towards the mountains that have been beckoning us all week. We breakfast outside, enjoying the peaceful countryside of olive farms viewed from our café’s deck. Our English-speaking mountain guide loads donkeys with some of our bags full of children’s clothing and school supplies. Our trek in the High Atlas is a leisurely four-mile journey up 2000’ to a beautiful red-earth village. Our Guide prepares lunch for us along the way and children along the trail abandon their wooly charges to run and get candy from us. We sleep comfortably in rooms of a poor Berber family who welcome us and cook a traditional dinner. There is even a simple steam hammam waiting for us so that we can freshen up after our hike. It’s wonderful to sip mint tea while looking across at peaks still dusted with spring snow.
Our host family prepares breakfast for us and afterwards we distribute the gifts to the children of the village. “Stilo” (French for pen) is a cry you’ll hear the children shout and it’s good to have plenty handy to give away. Our trekking poles ensure an easy trip back down to our starting point where our van waits. Drive over the scenic 7400’ Tizi N’Tichka Pass. Our destination is Ait Ben Haddou, another cultural treasure given World Heritage status by UNESCO. Check into an adjacent hotel then walk through this ancient mud kasbah (village) up to the hill behind it and marvel at the view. Relax in the hotel swimming pool before dinner.
Sleep in and enjoy a lazy breakfast and maybe even another swim before departure. Today we travel through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbah’s to Todra Gorge. This scenery is a mixture of desert, oases, palm trees, orchards and gardens. Travel through Ouarzazate and Skoura to the city of El Kelaa des Mgouna where Yves Saint Laurent sources their roses. We’ll stop to sample rose body milk and perfume. It’s a wonderful drive through the lush oasis up to Todra Gorge where we are reminded of Zion National Park as we stroll beneath the 1000’ cliffs. Lodging in town adjacent to a lush valley of palms.
Today we’ll see the Sahara for the first time – an enchanting and unforgettable experience. Our morning drive delivers us to Rissani where we’ll have Moroccan pizza and mint tea for lunch. A local rug trader will host us and explain the origins of the different carpets. This would be the perfect place to buy a carpet if you choose. He’ll also outfit us in the traditional desert dress of djaballah and turban. Another short drive and we’ll arrive at our hotel base on the edge of the Sahara in the late afternoon. Riding camels across the sweeping sands as the sun sets is one of the most magical memories in travel. A comfortable 90-minute ride will bring us to our Bedouin camp for the evening where delicious chicken couscous is served. Sleeping under the stars here is heavenly.
Wednesday April 24
You may choose to climb a dune to enjoy the sunrise. You'll want to buy trinkets from the local children and leave school supplies with them before riding our camels back to the hotel for breakfast and showers. Drive through the dramatic Ziz Valley and over the Atlas Mountains to the imperial city of Fez. We pass through the European looking city of Ifrane built in the 1930's by the French. You'll have free time to explore the souks – a short walk from our riad. Fez, like Marrakech, is an amazing medieval city and also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Thursday April 25
After breakfast transfer to Errachidia Airport for 9:05am flight. Arrive Casablanca 10:35am. This flight is included in the tour. Our local guide will meet us at the airport and we'll transfer to our hotel near the airport, check in and eat lunch. This afternoon we'll drive into Casablanca to tour the Hassan II Mosque. Opened in 1993, this is one of the few Islamic religious buildings open to non-Muslims. Two thirds of the mosque is built over the sea ensuring a stunning location. On our guided tour you'll be amazed at the craftsmanship in every corner of this colossal architectural masterpiece. The minaret is the highest in the world. Farewell dinner at our hotel. Tour ends.
Taxi to the international airport for Royal Air Maroc AT200 12:30pm to JFK, NY arriving 4:45pm.