This tour offers a comprehensive introduction to the extremely varied terrain and fascinating culture of Morocco, including the ancient, walled historic quarters (medinas) of Fes and Marrakech, the Roman Ruins of Chellah and Volubilis, and the coastal cities of Rabat and the old Portuguese Colonial outpost of Essaouira. Other highlights include a full north-to-south traverse of the Atlas mountains, a camel ride and overnight stay in a deluxe desert tent camp in the Erg Chebbi dunes of the Sahara and 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The entire itinerary has been designed with a travel and street photographer’s objectives in mind.
We begin our adventure in Casablanca, with a morning tour the enormous Hassan II mosque, one of the largest in the world, with its 60-storey high, laser-topped minaret and capacity for 25,000 worshippers. Next we’ll drive to Rabat, Morocco’s capital city, where we visit the intricately decorated Mausoleum of Mohammed V, watched over by the statuesque Moroccan Royal Guard in their crisp red uniforms, reminiscent of London’s Buckingham Palace. Our next stop in Rabat are the serene Roman gardens and ruins of Chellah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Before departing Rabat, we’ll roam the backstreets and photograph the brightly colored houses within the walled fortress sections of the old Medina, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Next, we tour the extensive Roman Ruins of Volubilis (another UNESCO site) before continuing onward to Fes, one of Morocco’s 4 “Imperial Cities”. In Fes we’ll explore the vast, medieval-era maze of narrow alleyways within the old Medina quarter, where there are seemingly endless, densley clustered shops of all kinds, offering everything from fresh produce and exotic spices to North Africa’s finest traditional carpets, jewelry and tribal masks.
Beyond the Medina, we will visit traditional artisan workshops for ceramics, metalworkers and woodcarvers specializing in intricate geometric inlay work.
Leaving Fes, we travel south through the stunning scenery of the Atlas Mountains and then emerge into the Sahara. In Rissani we’ll visit the bustling Thursday local market, an authentic Moroccan market rarely visited by foreigners. From Rissani we drive onward to the Merzouga area and transfer to jeeps for the ride to our deluxe tent camp, set among high dunes. Here we mount our camels for a ride further into the desert to experience a classic Sahara sunset, then return to our very comfortable tent camp for showers, dinner, and cold drinks.
After departing our desert camp, we drive into the Skoura Valley to explore a number of kasbahs (earthen fortified villages), and then tour the Atlas Film Studios, a vast outdoor movie set lot, where the prop remnants of bygone epic films are scattered in the desert. Here we can wander among replicas of ancient Egyptian temples, Roman chariots and catapults and mock Tibetan Temples, all fantastic backdrops for our own photography.
Leaving Atlas, we drive to the desert town of Ouarzazate, with a brief stop en route for a late afternoon shoot at the spectacular ruins of Ait Benhaddou, Morocco’s most famous kasbah or Ksar, a walled, fortified city, once a major trading center along a caravan route through the Sahara.
We journey onward to Marrakech, where we explore the countless markets and shops of the old medina, as well as the bustling Jemaa el-Fnaa square, which comes to life at dusk and continues well into the evening with a profusion of food stalls, African street musicians, palm readers, henna artists and snake charmers.
Leaving behind the urban bustle of Marrakech, we travel to the laid-back town of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast. Here we wander the charming backstreets of this old fortress community as well as the very photogenic commercial fishing sections along the waterfront.
Finally, we return to Marrakech for one last day of exploration, street photography (and shopping!) in the historic districts of Marrakech.