September 19 - 27, 2014
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. 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 eight 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 customers 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 17 years. You can phone her at (480) 755-1388 or send an email to email@example.com Internal flights are included in trip prices when they fall inside a tour like on our Costa Rican, Peruvian Andes, Australian and Hawaiian Islands trips.
Meet up with your Canyon Calling guide and your traveling companions at JFK at the gate an hour before our 7.15pm departure on Air Maroc 201. You’ll recognize each other by your Canyon Calling hats.
Arrive in Casablanca at 6.40am where we’ll be met by our fabulous guide Hamid. Transfer into the city and 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. Lunch at a local restaurant then kick back in our comfortable van for a two-hour ride to Marrakech. Our riad (hotel) is in the old medina (city) close to the square and after dinner you’ll want an early night to recover from jet lag.
We’ll breakfast at our riad before our day exploring Marrakech. Our guide will lead us on an orientation through the labyrinth of souks (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. Stop by the Koran School to see 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 a fascinating place. You’ll have a couple of hours free to shop for bargains. 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 leaving you feeling smooth and relaxed. We’ll dine at one of the outdoor cafes in the square.
This morning we drive towards the mountains that have been beckoning us from Marrakech. We breakfast outside, enjoying the peaceful countryside of olive farms viewed from our café’s deck. Hamid will load donkeys with the children’s clothing, school supplies and toys we’ve bought from the US. Our trek in the High Atlas is a leisurely four-mile journey up 2000’ to a beautiful red-earth village. We’ll lunch along the way. Children along the trail abandon their wooly charges to run and receive 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 so that we can freshen up after our hike. It’s wonderful to sip mint tea while looking across at the towering peaks.
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 of pens 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. 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 which reminds us of Zion National Park as we stroll beneath the 1000’ cliffs. Lodging is 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 enjoy Moroccan pizza 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.
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. Our drive north transitions from the desert to the Atlas Mountains and passing through the Ziz Valley is particularly dramatic. We pass through the city of Ifrane built in the 1930’s by the French. It seems like suddenly we’ve arrived in Europe! Another hour and we’re in the imperial city of Fez. Like Marrakech, Fez is an amazing medieval city and another World Heritage site. Dinner is at a local restaurant close to our riad.
This morning we’ll visit Fez’s renown pottery cooperative. You’ll see artisans use ancient techniques to make pottery and tile by hand. You’ll have free time to explore the souks for some last minute bargain hunting before gathering for lunch. Our drive to Casablanca is an easy two hours with time for relaxing at the hotel before our farewell dinner. Tour ends.
Taxi to the international airport for Royal Air Maroc AT200 1pm to JFK, NY arrive 5.15pm.