On this 14-day photographic journey through Morocco, we’ll cover most of the highlights of this beautiful country including vibrant Casablanca and dramatic Marrakesh, the gorgeous coastal town of Essaouira, and the colorful mountainside town of Chefchaouen. You’ll also take a camel ride into the desert and stay the night at a Berber camp. The trip is planned for late Autumn, when temperatures are still relatively low allowing you relaxed exploration of the country.
Guests arrive throughout the day and are met at the hotel by our trip leader that evening for dinner and introductions. Overnight in Casablanca.
After breakfast, we will have our first photography session at the Central Market, with its busy commerce (fish, meats, flowers, crafts) and bright colors. Next we will visit the King Hassan II Mosque, having an interior tour. North of the medina and rising up on a point above the Atlantic Ocean, the mosque is the largest religious monument in the world, after Mecca, and was entirely funded by citizen donations. It was completed in 1993, after 6,000 Moroccan craftsmen worked on it day and night for five years. The minaret is offset from the enormous rectangular twenty-two acre prayer hall; three times the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Rome. After lunch at a lovely restaurant, our group will have the option to photograph in Casablanca’s Medina, a bustling array of shops, vendors, and restaurants. In North Africa, only Cairo can compete with Casablanca in growth, verve and vibrancy, but it is this city facing out to the Atlantic that seems the more oriented to the international pattern of trade and sympathetic to Western influences. Overnight in Casablanca.
Leaving Casablanca, we’ll drive south along the breathtaking coast. We will travel to El Jadida, where we will photograph the ancient Portuguese fort and cistern. Lunch will be at a lovely oceanfront restaurant with incredible gardens. Our final destination is Essaouira, (pronounced Esa-weera), a charming place of white shops and houses, set against a clear blue sky. Over the centuries it has been home to Phoenicians, Romans, Portuguese, and a large Jewish population. We may have time in the evening for a leisurely stroll through the town or along the colorful harbor. Essaouira is the most popular of the coastal towns, with magnificent beaches and relaxed atmosphere. The fortifications of the old city are a mixture of Portuguese, French, and Berber military architecture, and their massiveness lends a powerful mystique. You’ll find narrow lanes, whitewashed houses with blue painted doors, tranquil squares, pleasant cafes, and artisans. Essaouira is full of the irresistible angles and picturesque sights that are so attractive to photographers. Overnight in Essaouira.
We’ll have a second day to explore all that Essaouira has to offer. We’ll take part in activities that we weren’t able to, yesterday. Overnight in Essaouira.
After breakfast, we’ll drive east to Marrakesh, the city of drama. In the late afternoon we’ll have our introduction to the famous Djemaa el-Fna Square. Perhaps the greatest open-air spectacle in the world, here one can see the colors and feel the pulse of Morocco. Drift with the smells and sounds of the souks, haggle passionately for carpets, or dine in some of the best restaurants in the country.
Marrakesh follows the beat of an African drum. This imperial city has been almost continually occupied since Neolithic times, and was once the Berber capital. Traveling back in time 2,000 years, we’ll see snake charmers, magicians, acrobats, and dancers, delighting children and adults alike.
Time and facilities permitting, your photo leader will organize an image review and feedback session for participants so that he can gauge each person’s progress and help them to improve, if necessary, for the rest of the trip. Overnight in Marrakesh.
We’ll rise early to photograph the beautiful Majorelle Gardens, filled with brightly colored buildings and abundant plant life. We leave Marrakesh behind as we continue on to one of the most exotic and best-preserved Kasbahs in the whole Atlas region; it has been used for scenes in films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Jesus of Nazareth. We’ll eat lunch with the Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou in view; UNESCO has designated this as a World Heritage Site. Time permitting your photo leader will moderate a group photography critique this evening. Overnight in Ait Benhaddou.
After an early breakfast, we will continue our explorations with a photography stop along the way. We travel to Erfoud, an oasis region at the edge of the Sahara. We will then travel a short distance by Land Rovers To Auberge de Sud in where camels will be waiting to carry us to the Erg Chebbi, Morocco’s only genuine Saharan Erg – a huge, drifting expanse of sand dunes that typify much of the Algerian Sahara. The dunes themselves are fascinating, especially as the sun reaches the horizon and the colors change from pink to gold to red. This will be your most extraordinary and unforgettable desert experience. Imagine yourself spending a night in the Sahara desert, being awakened in the dark of the morning by a Berber tribesman, mounting a camel, and, overlooking the ancient dunes, welcoming in a breathtaking Saharan morning at first light. This is just one of the remarkable adventures awaiting you. Don’t forget to pack your bathing suit in your overnight bag. Overnight at a Berber camp in the dunes near Merzouga.
Day 8 :
After breakfast we begin our drive to Fes. This will be the longest day of driving and your guides will take in to account the interests of the group, stopping for photographic locations along the way. After lunch, we climb into the Middle Atlas, the moorlands, and granite outcroppings; brooding skies and sheep pastures that are reminiscent of the British Isles. Overnight in Fes.
Day 9 :
Today we will enjoy a full day guided tour of Fes, Morocco’s oldest imperial city and the center of culture and religious learning. Fes is arguably the symbolic heart of Morocco, as all the great dynasties have left their mark on the city; it has, however, retained its Arab identity.
The medina, Fes el-Bali, is one of the largest living medieval cities in the world. Its narrow winding alleys and covered bazaars are intricate in their design and are awash of brilliant colors – a veritable assault on the senses as you squeeze past recalcitrant donkeys and submit to the sounds and smells of this jostling city. The dye makers, hills of spices, vats of tanners, and palaces of merchants will beckon us. During a visit to a tannery we can watch the tanners as they work in the varied colors of this land. There is another day to return to the medina for your favorite photo locations, relax, shop or work on your images at the hotel. You can also have an optional hammam break (bath house). Time permitting, Jeremy will moderate another image review and discussion at the hotel.
Day 10 :
This will be a free day to explore and capture Fes with your camera. Whether you visit the potters, King’s palace, or just wander for candid photos, Fes is worth the extra day. In the afternoon, we will arrange a photo shoot with some traditionally dressed men and women. Overnight in Fes.
Day 11 :
Today we’ll travel from Fes to the Rif region of Northern Morocco and arrive late in the afternoon in the town of Chefchaouen (shef-shau-en), which is built into the mountainside. The town was founded in 1492 by Moorish exiles from Spain, often called Chaouen by Moroccans. Chefchaouen was known as the hashish capital of Morocco and has been a favorite haunt of backpackers for years.
Our accommodations are set in the hillside just above the town, away from the hustle and bustle of the medina, yet walking distance to the areas we will be photographing. In the medina, people sell all sorts of vegetables and fruits amid the narrow cobbled alleyways of whitewashed walls and blue doors. Chefchaouen offers many native handicrafts that are not available elsewhere in Morocco, such as wool garments and woven blankets. The local goat cheese is also popular. Pack mules are still led throughout the streets carrying many of the handcrafted goods and supplies as they have for centuries. The eager merchants are more than willing to discuss their merchandise and engage in the time- honored art of negotiation.
The open-air market is one of the oldest and most charming, with steep narrow streets, paved with stones that have been polished by countless feet over the centuries. The homes are painted white, azure blue, indigo, and purple and have blue shutters and elaborately decorated doorways. Overnight in Chefchaouen.
Day 12 :
We’ll have a second day to explore all that Chefchaouen has to offer. We’ll take part in activities that we weren’t able to, yesterday. Overnight in Chefchaouen.
Day 13 :
This morning we’ll venture south returning to Casablanca. There will be photographic stops and lunch along the way. You will have time to relax at the hotel before meeting for the group farewell dinner. Overnight in Casablanca.
Day 14 :
After breakfast, guests will be transported to the airport to catch their flights home.