So to continue the story from my last post… Thanks to airline mileage, we had free tickets in hand for the first portion of our trip – London. From there we were to go on to Jordan, but we canceled a week before departure due to a terrorist attack in a location we were to visit.
Needing to replacing the second leg of our trip, we were overwhelmed by choice: Europe, Africa, Middle East? Northern lights, winter skiing, jungle or desert? A good dilemma to have, but daunting nonetheless.
We knew we’d encounter limited accommodations, and time was a-ticking despite the holiday fray surrounding us. On the upside, we could take advantage of last-minute deals.
I have a little secret – my husband does all of our vacation planning (I say in a whisper). He has an incredible knack for finding the perfect hotel within our budget in adventurous locations.
So he says to me, “It’s too bad you were just in Morocco, as that would be a good place to go.” “But I only visited the area around Agadir – there’s so much more to see,” I replied. (Plus, I was overdue for a warm glass of Moroccan mint tea.) So off he went, a man on a mission. In my opinion, he knitted together the perfect itinerary:
Many people who visit only Marrakesh say they don’t really care for Morocco. But that’s like saying you don’t like the U.S. when you only visited New York City.
In Marrakesh, locals are famous for not wanting to be photographed. So many tourists visit, they are not curious about travelers or overwhelmingly welcoming. The key is to visit other locations outside this former imperial city.
Here’s what you need to know about Marrakesh, the ‘Red City’. Yes, it’s frenetic and touristy inside those old city walls (medina). But of course, you must visit the most famous street market in the world.
Getting lost within the narrow, winding market alleyways is part of the fun. The souk is a visual smorgasbord overflowing with colorful rugs, pottery, clothing, jewelry, and spices. Although some stall owners called us over to take a look at what they were selling, no one was aggressive.
Craving a little respite from the busy souk, we popped into the nearby Henna Art Cafe for a drink and henna tattoos. We selected our temporary tattoos from a thick binder of beautiful examples. We were thrilled with the result, and equally delighted to have ducked into a quiet oasis.
Words cannot express my sensorial delight with our final meal in Marrakesh at Les Trois Saveurs Restaurant. The cozy candlelit decor was simply magical, and the traditional Moroccan food was absolutely divine.
Desert Tent Camp
About 45-minutes southwest of Marrakesh lies the impressive Stone Desert Camp. Hard packed sand and grit, not powdery sand, covered the area. Distant snow-capped Atlas Mountains created an interesting juxtaposition to the dry, barren landscape.
A heater in our comfy tent kept us warm at night. We even had our own attached bathroom with a marine toilet and running water.
My kids’ favorite portion of the vacation was the activities at camp. My son loved driving the dune buggy while my daughter was enchanted with the camels we rode.
The camp is without electricity, so candlelight illuminated pathways and tent interiors. We spent a portion of the night hanging out at one of the numerous bonfires. The stargazing was incredible.
We rang in the New Year by hiking through local Berber villages on a circular route. We decided to follow a map on our own, rather than hire a guide. Although this indigenous population retains its unique language, we successfully requested directions in our limited French.
This particular area contained countless groves of olive trees, and it appeared to be harvest time. On our trek, we often stepped aside to let donkeys pass with their heavy loads. Villagers greeted us with waves and nods along the way to our picturesque lunch destination, Chez Momo.
Although we still pine to visit Jordan soon, we all agreed our Moroccan trip definitely exceeded expectations.
Over time we have developed a travel formula that works for us. We spend no more than two full days in one location wherever we travel. We only bring carry-on luggage, so repacking and transporting our bags to multiple locations is relatively easy. Our vacations are action-packed, and no one gets bored. We catch the highlights, and my camera is happily busy.
When you travel, are you on the go or do you prefer to stay in one place?