November 22, 2023

Your Ultimate Guide to Morocco

- By Jules Torti

Continue reading Your Ultimate Guide to Morocco

We heard you when you asked for MORE Morocco! In 2024, Wild Women Expeditions is introducing two Morocco-based experiences that will fill your heart and memory card in an instant. Our shiny new 9-day Morocco Explorer and 15-day Ultimate Morocco is an awesome revamp of our classic Mosaic of Wild Morocco itinerary.

Due to the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Morocco on September 8, 2023, some parts of our itinerary were naturally impacted. For 2024 departures (and until further notice), accommodations for both adventures at Kasbah du Toubkal in Toubkal National Park in the High Atlas Mountains will be suspended. Instead, Wild Women will stay at the Riad Jnane Imlil in the Imlil Valley.

The Morocco Explorer and Ultimate Morocco adventures BOTH combine the perfect balance of traditional accommodations from riads to desert camping. Expect unforgettable Saharan sunsets and sunrises, deeply educational opportunities and tantalizing tagines with either option!  You don’t have to decide between henna tattoos, hammams, camel rides or sharing a meal with a local family because all of these experiences are found on both adventures!

Both journeys offer a Marrakech walking tour through the winding, rabbit warren-like streets of the medina and the grand square of Jemaa el-Fnaa. It’s one of the largest public spaces in the world and as night falls, the square transforms into a hive of activity where henna artists, performers, storytellers and street food vendors converge.

Foodies and photographers will be fully occupied by the artful pyramids of fragrant exotic spices. The Berber carpet displays, sandalwood carvings, leatherware, jewelry, colorful pottery and shops aglow with lantern light are a marvel. Watch artisans in their ateliers or the true art of bargaining (and entertainment) as vendors engage in sales. 

Both agendas also include a guided walking tour through the town of Imlil to the shrine of Sidi Chamharouch. This optional hike is 12km long (7.5 miles) with a 400m (1,312ft) gain and 400m (1,312) loss upon return. 

When it comes to sorting the two trip routes, pilgrimage sites, mosques and medinas and figuring out what’s different between these two trips, we step in, offer you a revitalizing mint tea and say, look no further. Well, look no further than this cheat sheet below that is!

A few buzz words you should know up front:

As-salamu ‘alaikum” or السلام عليكم means “hello” in Arabic

Hammam: It’s an essential Moroccan experience! Hammams are deeply rooted in everyday communal life and involve an intense steam bath and invigorating massage and scrub. 

Hennaya: a Henna tattoo artist (it’s one of the oldest professions of Moroccan women)

Kasbah: ie. “Rock the Kasbah”– the citadel or fortified quarter of a city

Ma’aasalaama”: this means“goodbye” in Arabic

Medina quarter = historic district in a North African city, usually walled

Riads: these traditional inns are typically multiple story estates previously owned by wealthy merchants with central courtyards, gardens and a focal fountain.

Morocco: TAKE TWO!

Now, here’s what’s different and awesome between our two North African trips. Will it be simply seeing the sign to Timbuktu and a genuine date night in Zagora on the Morocco Explorer that sways you? Or the Berber pizza and Barbary monkeys of the Ultimate Morocco itinerary? From walnut groves to dinosaur fossils to desert watermelons and tree-climbing goats, Morocco, either way, is going to surprise, enlighten and captivate you.

Morocco Explorer

Morocco Explorer

Duration: 9 Days

Touchdown: Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK)

Snapshot: This signature WWE trip allows you to travel in a full and totally mind-expanding circle on part of the Route of Caravans. From ancient Marrakech to an 11th-century earthen clay fortified city, you’ll experience the historic trade route in a little more style (and comfort) than the original salt and gold merchants did as you pass through the High Atlas mountain range, tiny Berber villages to the lush oases and date palms of the Sahara and back.

The highlight reel:

  • Share Zaalouk (a classic eggplant and tomato dish) and just-baked bread with a Marrakchi family in their home.
  • Cruise along the Tizi n`Tichka (the highest paved mountain pass in Morocco) at a dizzying 2,205 m (7,234 ft). This is the gateway and former caravan route to the Sahara desert! (*Look for the landmark sign indicating the way to Timbuktu–only 52 days by camel from Zagora!)
  • Zagora is renowned for having the best dates in the country–date night anyone? Be sure to check out the street art by local youth who were encouraged to paint street corners and residential neighbourhoods in this area.
  • Ride the swaying “ships of the desert” to the closest dunes in Erg Chegaga to take in a very memorable Saharan sunset together.
  • See the gnarly, thorny, 200-year-old argan trees of Argaeraie Biosphere Reserve. The 2,560,000 hectare reserve provides fruit, fuel, cosmetics, medicine and the popular antioxidant and moisturizer, argan oil. If we’re lucky, we may come across the curious sight of goats climbing the argan trees in search of the coveted fruit. 
  • Enjoy a farewell dinner at Nomad, a modern Moroccan restaurant in the medina that offers a hyper local traditional and international menu.

The sweetest sleep: Azalai Camp! Sleep in true caravan route style (*with a few more amenities and luxuries) in a bivouac canvas tent! Each tent is equipped with an environmentally-friendly toilet too. The desert sunrise is silent, serene and  dramatic–and if you’re a member of Team Yoga, sun salutations here will stretch your mind as far as the expanse of sand.

Ultimate Morocco

Duration: 15 days

Touchdown: Casablanca (CMN) *depart from Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK)

Snapshot: From Casablanca to Marrakech, this 15-day adventure is a snappier version of our classic Mosaic of Wild Morocco itinerary. We shuffled some days and added the dazzly Chefchaouen (the Blue City) into the mix (it used to be a trip extension). In the Blue City, the terracotta-tiled houses are annually washed with yet another coat of paint. The stories surrounding the favoured blue paint chip vary depending on who you ask!

If you’ve memorized lines from Casablanca, this is your opportunity to impress your fellow Wild Women as the trip begins here! 

The highlight reel:

  • You’ll visit Hassan II Mosque, the largest in Morocco and fifth largest in the world!
  • Go on a guided walking tour of the local casbahs, mosques and weaving workshops of the Blue City.
  • See the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Volubilis (the Roman ruins are one of the best preserved sites in Morocco).
  • Spend the day exploring the old city and Fes’s famous tanneries and ceramic arts studio. 
  • Walk under the canopy of the renowned cedar forests of Ifrane in the company of curious Barbary macaques–they are the only macaque species found outside of Asia and the only primate species found north of the Sahara.
  • Experience a true “date night” in Errachidia, the capital of the Ziz Valley and one of Morocco’s largest date production areas
  • Visit a local Berber family and share stories over a traditional cup of tea and lunch
  • Try Berber pizza!
  • Catch an Saharan Uber and travel by camel to a secluded desert camp in the dunes!
  • See the wonder of Todra Gorges–the series of carved limestone canyons (or “wadi”) on the east side of the High Atlas Mountains are stunning.
  • Spin a tale and your bike wheels on a cycling tour of the palm groves of Skoura. 
  • Visit the Jewish quarter of the medina of Marrakech and share an authentic Moroccan dinner with a local family. 
  • Join a lively cooking class at Amal Women’s Training Center and Moroccan Restaurant. 

The sweetest sleep: Sawadi Ecolodge is a traditional kasbah located on a verdant palm grove sandwiched between the desert and Atlas Mountains. The hotel’s tempting menu can be traced directly to the on-site organic farm and surrounding orchards–the jams and juices are squeezed just steps away! Meet the goats, donkeys, cows, lambs and rabbits that live on the farm too. The ancient architecture, outdoor swimming pool (heated April to November!) and elegant garden of palm, apple, olive and pomegranate trees make for a gorgeous embrace at day’s end. 

Upon arrival in High Atlas, your luggage will be transported by mule and we’ll have the opportunity to stretch your legs on a short, uphill walk through the peaceful village to Sawadi which is only accessible only by foot or mule hooves. 

Our Morocco trips were designed with our Wild at Heart community members in mind and we can’t wait to wow you.

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