morocco photo trips

with Lisl and Landt Dennis
April 9-22 , 2015

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"The places we visited offered great variety with a markedly different experience each day. We thought Morocco would be interesting, but didn’t realize how truly fascinating and exciting it would be. The trip was an incredibly rich visual experience."

                                                    - M and AR East Lindfield, NSW, Australia

 

(B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)


Day 1
Thursday April 9
ENROUTE

Independent air travel from NYC to Casablanca. Most tour participants will opt for the direct flight on Royal Air Maroc (Reservations: 212-750-5115) from JFK/NYC to Casablanca, leaving in the early evening, arriving the next day in the early morning. (Flight time 6 hrs 40 minutes).

 

Day 2
Friday April 10
RABAT

Arrive in Casablanca. Those arriving on the NYC/Casa flight will be met at the airport. Those arriving a day early - to get over jet lag - will undoubtedly opt to stay at the four-star Hotel Hyatt Regency in downtown Casablanca. They will be picked up in front of hotel this morning when the tour bus swings by from the airport to take the group to visit the city's Grand Mosque. Second only in size to the Holy Mosque in Mecca, the mosque commands a sweeping view of the Atlantic Ocean on the waterfront. It is one of the greatest examples of contemporary Islamic architecture in North Africa. Afterwards, drive north along the Atlantic Ocean to Rabat, Morocco's capital. Twenty-five hundred years ago the Phoenicians established a settlement here followed by the Romans. In the l2th century, Rabat achieved ascendancy under the Almohads who used it as a base for their conquest of Spain. Check into Hotel Meridien Le Tour Hassan, an example of Hispanic-Moorish architecture. Buffet lunch on the hotel terrace. Siesta followed by mid-afternoon sightseeing: the Royal Palace of King Mohammed VI; the famed Hassan Tower, the huge minaret of a vast, uncompleted l2th century mosque; and the Mohammed V Mausoleum. The burial site of the current king's grandfather, it is guarded by dramatically uniformed horse-mounted Royal Guards. In the evening, we walk through ancient Andalusian gardens overlooking Sale, home of the infamous Barbary pirates; also the Ouadaya Kasbah. Dinner at Dinarjat, one of the capital city's finest Moroccan restaurants.

HOTEL LE TOUR HASSAN (B,L,D)

Day 3
Saturday April 11
FEZ

India photo tripsDriving east past fields of red poppies and centuries-old olive groves toward the High Atlas mountains, in all likelihood still covered with snow, we arrive in medieval Meknes. It was the l8th century capital of Sultan Moulay Ismail. Here we will photograph the monumental Bab el Mansour Gate, al Hedim Square, and the Royal Stables. After lunch at the Volubilis Inn, we explore the ruins of one of the greatest Roman cities in North Africa. Capital of the Roman province of Mauritania, Volubilis was ruled by Juba II, son of Anthony and Cleopatra. Continue to Fes, Morocco's first Imperial City, where we stay in the famous Hotel Palais Jamai overlooking a vast terraced garden and the city's many minarets. The sound of the city's muezzins calling the faithful to prayer is an experience never to be forgotten. Evening photo discussion led by Lisl. Dinner in the restaurant on terrace of our hotel.

HOTEL PALAIS JAMAI (B,L,D)

Day 4
Sunday April 12
FEZ


In his l7th century diary Rare Adventures and Painful Peregrinations, English traveler John Lithgow wrote, "(Fes) is truly a world of a city." Twentieth century author John Gunther added, "If you like your romance dark, Fes is probably the most romantic city on earth." Today, you will see for yourself as you explore and photograph the city's medieval medina. A World Heritage Site, it is a honeycomb of crowded, narrow streets full of veiled women and fast moving donkey trains, also exotic bazaars of spices, handicrafts and gold jewelry. Following a visit to the Kairouyine University, one of the world's oldest institutes of high learning, lunch will be back at our hotel. Afternoon sights include the Jewish quarter, the royal Gates of the King Mohammed VI's palace, also the Dar Batha Museum, an historic Moorish palace with a collection of Fes crafts and a spectacular garden. Dinner at L'Heure Blue, one of the city's finest restaurants located in an l8th century riad.

HOTEL PALAIS JAMAI (B,L,D)

Day 5
Monday April 13
TINERHIR


Driving through giant cedar forests, we head south up and over the magnificent Middle and High Atlas Mountains, which reach l3, 964 feet. We'll stop for croissants and coffee at Ifrane, a ski resort where His Majesty loves to slalom the slopes and has yet another magnificent palace! This morning, we'll be on the lookout for Berber nomads who live in hand-woven tents and tend their sheep in pastures on the towering snow-covered mountains. Lunch at Kasbah Asmaa in Midelt, and then descend the southern slope of the High Atlas. This afternoon we drive along the edge of the Sahara. (Look for abandoned French Foreign Legion outposts!) Along the fabled Route Des Kasbahs. Time permitting, we will walk through the Gorges de Todra, Morocco's Grand Canyon replete with thousands of date palms, before arriving in Tinerhir. Evening photo discussion.

HOTEL SARGHO (B,L,D)

Day 6
Tuesday April 14
OUARZAZATE

India photo tripsUp early this morning to photograph the Gorges de Dades where scores of ancient kasbahs and ksars hug the lush riverbed. Continue along the Route des Kasbahs, stopping to explore the amazing kasbah of Amerhidl. Today we are guests for a very special lunch at Dar Ahlam, a stunning ancient kasbah converted into a hotel in the desert. Afterwards, we drive to the four-star Hotel Berbere Palace, a frequent oasis for international film crews shooting in the area. Quarzazate is the Hollywood of North Africa! Time to sit by the pool and relax. Evening photo discussion led by Lisl. Dinner in the hotel.

HOTEL BERBERE PALACE (B,L,D)

Day 7
Wednesday April 15
OURZAZATE

Fasten your seat belts this morning: this is the most exciting day of the trip. Climbing into four-wheel drive vehicles, you begin your adventure at the famous Kasbah Ait-Benhaddou, filmed both in Jesus of Nazareth and Lawrence of Arabia. We then recross the High Atlas Mountains - perhaps across snow fields - to the ruins of Telouet Kasbah, the l8th and l9th century stronghold of the Glaoua, once one of Morocco's most feared Berber tribes. Don't fail to read Lords of the High Atlas by Gavin Maxwell about this remarkable tribe. After a picnic lunch, we return to Quarzazate in time for a swim in the pool…maybe a steam bath and massage in the hotel hamman.

HOTEL BERBERE PALACE (B,L,D)

Day 8
Thursday April16
TAROUDANT

India photo tripsContinue along La Route des Kasbahs through the Anti-Atlas Mountains for lunch in Taliouine, another Glaoui stronghold guarding the ancient trade route to Timbuktu. Stopping to buy saffron along the road, we drive through the fertile Sousse valley, center of Morocco's enormous citrus industry, to the walled city of Taroudant. It is known as the walled mini-Marrakesh. And is being "discovered" by international expatriates. Our Hotel Dar Zitoune is a recently restored - and much praised - kasbah outside town in an oasis of lemon, grapefruit, and orange trees. Time to sit by the pool or walk in the countryside. Evening photo discussion led by Lisl.

HOTEL DAR ZITOUNE (B,L,D)

Day 9
Friday April 17
TAROUDANT

This morning we in the shadows of the city's crenellated walls, and then head for the souk, one of the most colorful in Southern Morocco. Fruits, vegetables, handicrafts, jewelry, chickens, goats, and mounds of freshly picked mint for tea - they are all there. Arriving by horse drawn carriages, we lunch today at the world-famous Hotel Gazelle d'Or. Built as a hunting lodge in the l930s by a Moroccan prince, it is one of the most beautiful, secluded hideaways in the world…a haven for the rich and famous. Who famous is hiding's under that straw hat and behind those dark glasses? After what will be a truly memorable- and very leisurely - lunch served by white robbed "attendants" in the palm shaded garden, we return in the mid-afternoon to the hotel to sit by the pool or stroll into the countryside. Evening photo discussion. Dinner in hotel.

HOTEL DAR ZITOUNE (B,L,D)

Day 10
Saturday April 18
ESSAOUIRA

India photo tripsDriving north, we lunch on a terrace overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Agadir, Morocco's leading beach resort. Afterwards we continue to Essaouira, one of the most magical towns in Morocco. Surrounded by beaches with enormous sand dunes, the l6th century Portuguese harbor fortress became the homeport of Sultan Mohammed Ibm Abd'ullah's corsairs in the l8th century. After checking into the magnificently restored Hotel Dar-L'Oussia, an l8th century riad, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, we begin an afternoon walking tour, which includes the ancient citadel, a fascinating blend of Portuguese and Berber military architecture used as a backdrop for Orson Well's film Othello. Later, photograph Essaouira's crowded market place where women in traditional white haiks and men in hooded burnouses provide an l00l Nights atmosphere to an already enchanting seaport. Dinner at La Licourne, a popular French/Moroccan restaurant built into the city walls.
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HOTEL DAR-L'OUSSIA (B,L,D)

Day 11
Sunday April 19
ESSAOURIA

Today you catch your breath. Relax. Explore. It is a free day to enjoy Essaouira on your own. Sit by the hotel pool. Or join Lisl in the morning as she photographs the town's fish market and narrow streets, lined with craft shops. Also the many whitewashed houses with bright blue shutters and interior courtyards dating back to the l8th. Shop. Wander. Sit at a café for lunch on your own. Evening photo discussion led by Lisl. Seafood dinner at Chalet de la Plage overlooking the Atlantic.

HOTEL DAR-L'OUSSIA (B,D)

 

Day 12
Monday April 20
MARRAKESH

India photo tripsAfter breakfast, drive inland to the rose-colored, walled city of Marrakesh, one of the most fabled, romantic cities in the world. Check into the centrally located, Art-Deco Hotel Es-Saadi surrounded by acres of lush gardens and a swimming pool. Privately owned by the Bauchet-Bouhlal family, the hotel is a North African "home away from home" for jet setters and celebrities. Over the years, guests have included Josephine Baker, Maurice Chevalier, Cecil Beaton, Mick Jagger, Princess Margaret, and Pierre Balmain. It was recently featured in Architectural Digest. After lunch by the pool, we drive around the city walls, and then visit one of the world's great three-ring circuses, the Djemaa-el-Fna, or the city's main square. According to one wide-eyed spectator, "Here without warning each day, the curtain goes up on one of the world's most fascinating and bizarre spectacles. Rows upon rows of open-air food stalls are set up and mouth-watering aromas quickly fill the square. Jugglers, storytellers, snake charmers, magicians, and acrobats (appear)…the medieval pageant presents its nightly cornucopia of delights. Breughel would have had a field day here!" Tonight we have late dinner in the suburbs at Bo & Zin, One of the trendiest, most beautiful restaurants in Marrakesh; it is a perfect example of modern Moroccan lifestyle.

HOTEL ES-SAADI (B,L,D)

Day 13
Tuesday April 21
MARRAKESH

Morning excursion to the world famous Jardins Majorelle, the private, lush, exotic garden and 1920'S villa restored by Paris designer Yves Saint Laurent in the 50's. Together with his partner Pierre Berge, YSL lived in Marrakesh 6-months a year. Wander on your own along the dark , mysterious paths lined with towering palms and enormous urns of brilliant trailing nasturtiums. Visit the outstanding Berber Museum, full of YSL's collection of Moroccan jewelry, fashion, ceramics and rugs. We continue to the city souk, a maze of reed-covered alleyways full of antique shops, fruit and vegetable stalls, and coppersmiths. On to the Palais de la Bahia Palace noted for its Moorish-Andalusian architecture - today a royal guest house - and the Dar Si Said Museum of Islamic art. Return to hotel. Lunch on your own, perhaps at the famed Hotel La Mamounia, an Art Deco masterpiece where Churchill frequently stayed and painted in the garden. Afternoon free to shop, sit by the pool, Pack. Tonight is our final dinner with farewell cocktails and dinner in the hotel's dining room.

HOTEL ES-SAADI (B,L)

Day 14
Wednesday April 22
DEPARTURE

Early this morning, you leave. NB: You must make your own arrangements on Royal Air Maroc from Marrakesh to Casablanca for your return home. There will be a bus transfer for those on the early morning Royal Air Maroc flight from Marrakesh to Casablanca, connecting to the mid-morning direct Royal Air Maroc flight from Casablanca to JFK/New York City. Arrive in NYC in mid-afternoon.

HOTEL ES-SAADI (B,D)

Download the MOROCCO: Casablanca to Marrakesh
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Address: 122 Camino Santiago - Santa Fe, NM 87501 Phone: (505) 986-1106
email: landt@cybermesa.com or lisl@cybermesa.com
Address: 122 Camino Santiago - Santa Fe, NM 87501 Phone: (505) 986-1106
email: landt@cybermesa.com or lisl@cybermesa.com
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