September is a fabulous time to spend in Morocco!
Magical Moroccan Tours took 7 beautiful ladies all around Morocco in September, who expressed how absolutely fabulous the tour was for them, “life changing” came up more than once. Nothing feels better than that!
We started in Casablanca with a tour of the incredible Hassan II Mosque, the largest mosque in Morocco. You pass through the brass and titanium gates into this mesmerizing place with its elaborate mosaics, marble floors and columns, sculptured cedar wood and plaster moldings, and so many gorgeous chandeliers! I was moved to tears at the beauty and peace I felt here
It was a perfect weather day, as we traveled along the beautiful Atlantic Coast to Rabat, the current Imperial City (Capital). Our incredible guide, Ahmed, took us on a tour showing us the Hassan Tower, the Mausoleum of Mohamed V, and the Unesco World Heritage Site, Oudaya Kasbah as we started feeling our immersion into the history and culture of Morocco.
Our adventure continued as we made our way to what is considered the cultural center of Morocco, Fes. Fes is also considered the holiest city in the Islamic world, after Mecca. It was founded in the 9th century and is the best example of an ancient Moroccan city. Ahmed guided us through Fes-el-Bali (a Unesco World Heritage Site) the longest, indoor, pedestrian only alleyway in the world, where we were in awe over the amazing sights of the brightly colored fabrics, pottery, lamps, leather and the delectable scents surrounding us.
Of course, we included a view of the dye pits where they dye the animal hides and create incredible leather products. One of my favorite Moroccan treasures is a “perfect for every occasion” blue, suede jacket I purchased there.
Our fantastic Fes nights were spent at a beautiful riad, enjoying the delicious local cuisine, as well as authentic Moroccan entertainment, including belly dancing, live musicians, and a magic show! What fun! We’d love to share this all with you too!
We took a day trip from Fes to the ancient Roman ruins at Volubilis and the previous Imperial City of Meknes. Both are Unesco World Heritage Sites and are filled with incredible architecture and history.
After leaving Fes, we went south to Ifrane (Little Switzerland) where we stopped to feed the Barbary macaque monkeys in the Middle Atlas Mountains and took our picture (while modeling our colorful Moroccan dresses) in front of the statue of the national animal of Morocco, the Barbary Lion. Ifrane was established by the French in the 1920’s and is filled with chalet style buildings. There is even a ski resort nearby.
As we continued on our journey to the Sahara Desert, we had a truly awesome experience of stopping at a Berber encampment where we were invited in for tea, bread, and conversation with an 80 year old Berber woman who was just delightful! Thankfully, Ahmed (who translates English and French fluently) was also able to interpret the Berber language so we were able to ask questions and learn so much about the way this incredibly strong woman survives in such a primitive environment.
*We like to include personal experiences like this to our tours and feel like it is what makes them the most magical!
As we left, filled with respect, history, and appreciation for all of the things we take for granted, we started getting excited to be getting closer to our adventure into the Sahara Desert! Along the way we stopped for lunch and were greeted with the most perfect setting, delicious food, and warm, Moroccan service. This was not your typical roadside cafe! Having our amazing guide, Ahmed, makes all the difference in knowing the best places that are hidden treasures.
We stopped in Merzouga for a lovely night relaxing by the pool and after dark we enjoyed laying out on the dunes, mesmerized by the incredible starlit night above with no light pollution!Absolutely magical!
Our adventure continued the next day with a camel ride to our tent village (glam) camp.
We got to experience the most amazing sunset, some rain, thunder, and the incredible changing shadows over the dunes that no words can adequately describe. It was an experience to remember for sure!
The next day as we headed towards Skoura we included a stop at a place where we observed the artisans creating unique and incredible furniture, countertops, and art from the fossils found under the Sahara Desert from millions of years ago when it was covered with water.
We passed through one of the most spectacular canyons in the world, the Todra Gorges with their nearly 2000 feet tall cliffs, on our way to the oasis and city of Skoura, where we spent the night at the lovely Ksar El Kabbaba. Some of us fit in a hammam (highly recommended) and massage before enjoying our delicious dinner. This area has several kasbahs that can be toured as well.
Our next destination was Marrakech, on the other side of the.High Atlas Mountains On our way we stopped to see the Atlas Movie Studio’s (the largest in the world), where many movies (Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra, Passion of Christ, The Mummy, many more) and episodes of Game of Thrones have been filmed. We even created a couple video clips of us! Such fun.
We also saw the ancient Ksar and Unesco World Heritage Site, Ait ben Haddou. This ksar was created in the 11th century along the Trans-Saharan Trade route that went from the south and over the Atlas Mountains. This has been the backdrop for many movies as well.
Our amazing driver, Mohamed, drove us safely over the High Atlas Mountains, on the curviest road in the world. We stopped at the summit for some coffee and an opportunity to see the incredible views! When we arrived in Marrakech we were thankful to see that the city was thriving after the earthquake that had happened a week prior. There was evidence of some damage to the oldest buildings, but most of the city escaped and the amazing vibrancy of Marrakech remained. The people of Morocco are resilient and worked together to pick up and move forward. Jemaa el Fnaa, in the medina (and another Unesco World Heritage Site), was alive with people and entertainment, and vendors, and all of the magic that is Marrakech! We included a food tasting tour, visits to Jardin Majorelle, the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, stayed in welcoming and beautiful riads, and filled our souls with the beauty, food, and souks of the incredible “Red City”.
Next stop was Essaouira, 3 hours west and on the Atlantic Coast. It’s a beautiful drive, passing vineyards, fields filled with melons, and Argan trees filled with goats! We stopped at an Argan processing business run entirely by women, saw how they work churning the nut presses by hand and made some purchases of the variety of products created from the argan nuts. They create beauty products for skin and hair, cooking oil, honey, amlu (made with nuts, oil, and honey), and even medicinal products.
Upon entering the beautiful fishing village of Essaouira, you pass the wind surfers, with their colorful kites/sails, that come from all over the world to surf there. For me, it is simply magical to enter into the chill vibe that is felt in this enchanting port city, where the medina is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. We toured the fishing docks where we saw the iconic blue boats, and watched the fishermen busily transferring some of their catch of the day onto trucks, selling some to local restaurants and some to those who want to eat the fresh fish and shellfish right there. We picked out an assortment, it was prepped and cooked right there, and we had the most delicious fish I think I’ve ever tasted!
We ate some delicious crepes from a street vendor, watched the sunset as we sat in the area created as a Portuguese fortress, enjoyed some local entertainment that was absolutely steller, and we threw a surprise birthday party for our youngest guest and had so much fun!
On our final day we drove along the Atlantic Coastline back to Casablanca. It’s always sad to leave this beautiful, enchanting, exotic, and magical place. B’slama (goodbye) till next time!