Home of arresting mountains, rugged oceans, splendid architecture and exotic cuisine.
Morocco is a land of extraordinary contrasts. Form the enigmatic Sahara to lush cedar forests and desert oasis. Home of arresting mountains, rugged oceans, splendid architecture and exotic cuisine. Twisting narrow streets lined with artisans which continue to apply techniques from ancient times to donkey pulled cards who mingled in traffic with modern automobiles. History, culture, visits to private homes, musical encounters and a myriad of other exceptional experiences are and integral part of our Moroccan journeys.
Moroccans are welcoming society and exceedingly aware of their unique place between Africa and Europe. They preserve and celebrate a separate history and exceptional ethnic mix, which distinguishes Morocco from other Arab lands.
Highlights of a Moroccan Journey Can Include:
- Unique meetings and meals with local people in their own homes and villages
- Lectures on Moroccan culture
- Music presentations
- Open air markets
- The Sahara
Arriving in Casablanca, you will be met by your MVE driver and driven to your lovely hotel.
CASABLANCA - FES
Your MVE guide and driver will meet you after breakfast to begin your journey with a visit to the magnificent Hassan II mosque, the only one open to non-Muslims in Morocco. It the third largest in the world, with space for over 80,000 worshippers. Built on a rocky site overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it is a marvel of contemporary design, with the finest craftsmanship in marble, carved and painted cedar wood and exquisite plaster carvings of Koranic verses.
A visit to the charming flower and produce market will be followed by a delicious lunch at Rick’s Cafe, a beautifully-renovated private home reminiscent of the movie “Casablanca”. After lunch, drive 3 ½ hrs. east, through fertile fields and rolling hills, Morocco’s wine country, to Fes, the spiritual and intellectual capital of Morocco, founded in 789. Upon arrival, you’ll have an orientation drive around the city, and see magnificent views of the medina (old town). Dinner is at the hotel.
Your guide will discuss the unique features of Islamic architecture and city planning before you begin a full day exploration of Fes, the oldest intact Islamic city in the world; it is the religious and spiritual capital of Morocco. See the magnificent bronze doors of the King’s palace, visit the mellah, the Jewish quarter with its recently renovated synagogue and the fascinating cemetery nearby. Enter the labyrinthine medina (old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to see calligraphers, woodworkers and other artisans at work in their tiny shops; the tap-tapping you hear indicates a brass worker finishing a plate; the clacking of an ancient wooden loom leads you to men weaving textiles in an ancient caravanserai (former “hotel” for men in caravans, and their animals. There are over 15,000 narrow streets in this labyrinthine medina, with over 250,000 inhabitants. Lunch will be in a typical restaurant in the medina. Donkeys are the only means of transportation in this bustling maze, as the steep streets are too narrow for cars. They serve as transport for goods and materials coming in and out of the medina. Children carry bread to the local bakery and women shop for the next meal, choosing vegetables from the beautiful displays of produce, preserved lemons, olives piled high and dried fruits of every description. You will also visit the architectural masterpiece Bou Inania, part of the Karaouine Uiversity, recognized as the oldest degree-granting university in the world, founded in 859. The walls are covered with handcrafted stuccos; the ceilings are covered in beautifully sculpted and hand painted cedar.
Climbing stairs to the roof of an ancient building, you look over the colorful and unique vats of the tanneries. From this vantage point you’ll see men working in the dye pits as they have for centuries. The surrounding rooftops are spread with drying skins in a myriad of colors. They will be fashioned into babouche (classic Moroccan slippers), handbags, belts and other attractive items. You’ll pass mosques, neighborhood bakeries, shops, nougat and mint sellers and cafes filled with men in classic djellabas (long ,hooded gowns), avidly discussing soccer over mint tea. The day ends with a visit to a local pottery workshop to see how the famous Fes pottery is created. Definitely a shopping opportunity! They pack for your carry-ons, and/or shipping can be arranged should you fall in love with one of their large urns or a complete set of dishes.
Dinner is on your own, with suggestions from the guide.
Continue with your guide this morning for additional sight seeing. This afternoon is free for your personal exploration; your guide is always available. Lunch and dinner on your own.
An early start for a full day’s drive south, stopping for lunch in the Berber market town of Midelt. Your drive takes you through lush cedar forests where you may spot the Barbary Apes, foraging on the ground or sitting in trees—a sight unexpected in Morocco! Stop for lunch in Berber town of Midelt before continuing the journey. The landscape continues to change, driving south through the dramatic deep gorge in the Ziz Valley, along a lush oasis, to the former French Foreign Legion town of Erfoud. Here you transfer to a 4 wheel drive vehicle and continue for an hour’s drive into the dunes of the magical Sahara. The next 2 nights will be spent in a charming, small adobe hotel nestled in the dunes of Erg Chebbi, the largest in Morocco. Weather permitting, dinner will be under the stars, with the local “Blue Men” of the Tuareg tribe, so called due to the beautiful blue robes they wear, playing their drums and singing around an open fire. You have the option of a camel ride at sunset today—or tomorrow, with a camel driver; an unforgettable Saharan experience.
A full day’s sightseeing into the dunes and small villages. You may decide if you want to take a box lunch or return to the hotel for lunch. Or you may opt to stay at the hotel and enjoy the serenity of the dunes, sit in the warm sand and watch life in this seemingly-barren ecosystem—discover small, curious tunnels under the sand made by the elusive “poisson du sable” (sandfish), a lizard which burrows beneath the surface, notice patterns of tiny footprints made by scurrying beetles, the blowing grasses and ripples of sand. Many birds live here and you may even spot the elusive small Fennec Fox. The day ends as the sun sets over the dunes. Optional camel ride. Dinner at the hotel.
MERZOUGA – DADES GOURGE – TINERHIR – SKOURA
Drive back through the sand and stony desert to Erfoud, re-board your van and drive along the Route of One Thousand Kasbahs, so named for the many walled towns along the road, some new, some crumbling from age and the harsh climate. You drive into the stunning Dades Gorge for lunch. It is filled with strange red rock formations and tiny villages. Returning to the main road, you’ll stop at a rug shop in Tinerhir to learn about the many styles, colors and designs of the famous Moroccan rugs, and stories of the women who weave them. If you are at all interested in acquiring a rug, we recommend bringing measurements and color samples to help you find a special rug to take home. (There is no obligation to buy; this is a cultural stop to learn how weaving is, and has been, so important to the Moroccan culture). However, the rugs are for sale and can be packed for carry-on, or shipped to the U.S.). You continue the drive to Skoura, where you spend the night at a charming riad. Tonight, pack a small bag to take into the mountains for tomorrow night’s stay; your other bags will remain with the driver and van once you arrive.
SKOURA – TOUBKAL
Your 4 hr. drive takes you through Ouarzazate, the film capital of Morocco, over the stunning Tiz-n-Tichka pass, at 7,500’, and into the tiny Atlas Mtn. village of Imlil. You leave the van and either walk up the rather steep hill to the Kasbah, about 30 minutes, or mount the mules we can arrange to take you up the hill, accompanied by a mule driver. Mules will bring up your small bags; your other luggage stays in the van with the driver. You pass through the gates of this remote place and enter into the lovely courtyard of the Kasbah, completely run by local Berbers. After lunch, you have the rest of the day at leisure to enjoy the surroundings, relax, perhaps have a hammam, a relaxing Turkish bath. Lunch en route. Dinner at the kasbah.
TOUBKAL - MARRAKECH
After a delicious breakfast of Berber specialties, you’ll take a guided walk along mountain paths, visiting tiny villages, and enjoying the magnificent views. This was the setting for a Martin Scorsese film “7 Years in Tibet”. After lunch, you return to the van in Imlil for the 1 ½ hr. drive to Marrakech, often called “the red city”, based on the muted color painted on most buildings. With its backdrop of the High Atlas Mtns, often snow-covered, as a backdrop, it is a lovely city. Your guide will give you an orientation drive around this vibrant city. Dinner at the hotel.
A full day tour of this legendary city begins with a visit to the gorgeous Majorelle Gardens, and it’s Berber Museum, filled with costumes and treasures of Berber tribes from all over the country. The garden was originally owned and designed by French painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1920’s, when Morocco was a French protectorate. It was later purchased by the late French couturier, Yves St. Laurent, who transformed it into a collection of cacti from all over the world. The original buildings are still painted in the bold cobalt blue, fittingly named bleu Majorelle, and the water lilly-covered pond reflects the surrounding colors. Going into the medina, so different than Fes, you’ll stroll past workshops and stores are filled with classic crafts (long a tradition of the country)—jewelry, carpets, leather and ceramics—as well as market stalls filled with intricately displayed dried fruits, spices and colorful vegetables. You enter the ancient square of J’ma el Fna, filled with acrobats, storytellers, snake charmers, musicians, soothsayers, trance dancers and water sellers in traditional costume—a photographer’s dream! Be sure to fill your pockets with 5 dirham coins to pay the people you’ll want to photograph, as they have learned to charge! Enticing aromas from the many food stalls add to the rich texture—the colors and pulse of Morocco.
We have arranged a visit to a unique private collection of Moroccan and Saharan artifacts—tools, pottery, rugs, jewelry, clothing, etc., amassed by the Dutch art historian Bert Flint. Returning to the narrow streets, you’ll see children playing, cats asleep in doorways, women, laden with bags of food, chatting before returning home, and savor the delicious scents from the neighborhood bakeries. A visit to a Berber pharmacy is not to be missed to learn about traditional lotions and potions and spices for health as well as cooking. A great place to purchase gifts to take home. Lunch in the medina. Dinner on your own.
Continue sightseeing this morning with your guide, and enjoy the rest of the day on your own.
As a fitting farewell to this magnificent and vibrant city, we dine at the famed restaurant Yacout, designed by American ex-pat and long time Marrakech resident, Bill Willis, who, by joining several ancient dwellings deep in the medina, created an architectural jewel. The food is delicious, and the view of Marrakech from the rooftop is superb.
MARRAKECH – ESSAOUIRA
Bidding farewell to this fascinating city, drive 3 ½ hrs. east to the Atlantic coast, stopping en route to visit an argan coop. The argan tree is indigenous to this area and produces nuts which are pressed for the oil and made into quality skin and culinary products. You can watch and photograph the women grinding the nuts and sample the many products. They are now being imported into the U.S. at very high prices, so this is an excellent opportunity to make some purchases. Continue to the picturesque fishing village of Essaouira, where lunch awaits at a restaurant on the sea. Check into the beautiful riad (renovated former small palace, followed by a guided walking tour of this blue and white town made popular by navigators in classical antiquity. Carthaginians were present in 630 BC, and the area was renowned throughout the Roman Empire for the manufacture of purple dye, taken from shellfish. It became a mecca for artists and musicians in the 1960's and continues today to attract them. Essaouira is filled with cafes, art galleries, a tiny medina and wood working ateliers using the indigenous "thuja" wood, a beautiful burl. Dinner at the hotel.
The day is yours to explore, to relax at a charming café, shop, have a hamam and massage, etc., with your guide available. Lunch and dinner on your own.
ESSAOUIRA – CASABLANCA
Depart from this delightful town around 10 a.m. for the 6 ½ hr. drive along the coast, back to Casablanca. You’ll stop for lunch en route, and enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel tonight.
CASABLANCA – USA
Transfer to the airport for flight home.
No fixed departure dates. You choose when you want to go. There can be just two of you or a group of friend. You can also plan it as a family vacation. Private guide and services throughout the program. We are flexible and able to make adjustments to the program in order for us to meet all your needs and expectations.
Morocco today is rapidly changing and modernizing, improving life for it’s people and attracting more tourists every year to this complex and beautiful country. It is one of the most interesting Arab states with a degree of openness and debate rare in the Maghreb (North Africa) and the Middle East. Your guide will be happy to discuss his/her country and answer any of your questions.
VISA: None required for U.S. citizens
PASSPORT: Must have at least 6 months validity left after your return
CALLING CODE: from U.S. 011-212
BORDERS: Algeria, Mauritania, Spanish Ceuta and Melilla
POPULATION: 33,757,175 million (approximate)
TOTAL AREA; 446,550 sq. km / 172,413 sq. miles
CAPITAL CITY: Rabat
GOVERNMENT: Constitutional monarchy; King Mohammed VI
ECONOMY: Agriculture, sardine fishing, phosphate mining & processing and tourism
LANGUAGES: Arabic & Berber are official languages
French widely spoken, English mainly in cities
RELIGION: Muslim, with Jewish and Christian minorities
CURRENCY: Dirham (DH or MAD)
EXCHANGE: To get current exchange rate, go to www.oanda.com
ELECTRICITY: 220; Check online for the types of plugs
No visa required for Americans. A valid US passport is required. You must have at least 6 months validity.
Morocco is basically a safe country. One should use the same sensible precautions followed during a trip anywhere—do not wear important jewelry, do not carry all your credit cards and money in the same place (money belt or neck pouch recommended). Do not walk dark streets alone at night. Do not pull out wads of bills in the street to pay for something—keep some bills in an easy to reach pocket or purse.
IMPORTANT: keep a card or brochure of the hotel on your person, in case you get lost and need to return on your own. Just show it to a taxi driver.
You are strongly recommended to purchase travel insurance for medical, trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency evacuation, etc. Check with your personal insurance company to see what, if anything, is covered. Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC does not offer insurance. Our past clients have informed us that they were satisfied with services by Travel Insured International, which is comprehensive and competitively priced. If desired, contact them at www.travelinsured.com or (800) 243-3174. Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC accepts no responsibility for any expenses incurred, problems or discrepancies, as stated in the Conditions and Responsibilities you received. Other reputable insurance companies are AccessAmerica and TravelGuard.
Generally, shops are open from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Museums are open from 9 a.m.-noon and 3 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Times vary and can change with no notice.
Banks 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Local currency is called “dirham”, pronounced “deer’ham”. DH is the way it is indicated on a price. Check your local bank or online at www.oanda.com for current exchange rate. The paper bills are in the following denominations: 10 DH, 20 DH, 50 DH, 100 DH and 200 DH. Coins are 1 DH, 2 DH, 5 DH and 10 DH. The smaller denominations are called “centimes”; you won’t find those commonly used.
Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere except in small markets; Visa and Mastercard widely acceptable, American Express less. It’s always best to have about $50 in local money on hand. ATMs do exist in Morocco, but check with your bank to be sure you have the correct codes for use outside the U.S. Look for Plus or Cirrus on the back of your ATM card; they are common in Morocco. Traveler’s checks are difficult to cash due to counterfeiting, and are not recommended. Credit cards and cash from ATMs are best options.
We recommend changing money at the hotel as the exchange rate is usually the same as at a bank, and it can be done much faster. Please change money in the evening, as waiting till morning might find a long line at the change window and could hold up our departure time.
FOOD & DRINK
The cuisine of Morocco is flavorful but not hot. There is a condiment called “harissa”, which may be ordered on the side, and added to any dish to make it spicy—be careful, as it is indeed hot! Beef, chicken, lamb and fish are often on the menu, along with a multitude of vegetables and egg dishes. Couscous is a national dish and may be one course of your meal. “Tajine” is a generic word, like “stew”, and there are several delicious varieties, such as chicken with olives and lemons or lamb with prunes, honey and almonds; the word also refers to the classic conical cooking vessel (which you can also buy at the local market!). Cooked salads are delicious, as are the fresh breads and olives brought to the table. Vegetarians will be happy with the choices available.
You will be taken to restaurants and hotels which serve foods prepared safely and cleanly. But, if you have any doubts, do not eat it. It isn’t worth the risk of an upset stomach. Know your own limitations.
Always drink bottled water. We strongly recommend you use bottled water to brush your teeth. Except in your hotel bar or restaurant, do not order ice in your drinks, as it may be made with unfiltered water. Mint tea is the national drink and served as a welcome gesture in some hotels, as well as during carpet or other shopping expeditions; this is safe to drink, as the water has been boiled. You can have it with or without sugar, though sugared is the custom.
Although Muslims do not as a rule drink alcohol, Moroccans are fairly relaxed about serving alcoholic drinks. They are available in the larger cities but may be expensive. They are not available in desert towns. Bring your own bottle if you like, which you can purchase at the Duty Free shops before departure. Red and white wine is produced in country; it is quite good, improves every year and is not expensive. Good local and imported beer is also available, but not in the desert areas.
Check the weather at www.weather.com or type in “weather in morocco” and several sites will come up. Weather is so unpredictable all over the world now; we recommend layering your clothing & bring a travel umbrella.
No inoculations required, although you may want to check with the CDC. It is always wise to be up to date on polio, tetanus and typhoid protection, as well as hepatitis B. There are French and English speaking doctors in major cities who are experienced in dealing with locally-occurring diseases. The Embassy and/or hotel can furnish their names. We strongly suggest you take out medical insurance before leaving home to cover all eventualities, especially evacuation to the U.S. by a medically-equipped plane, if necessary. Have a dental check-up before you leave, bring a spare eye glasses prescription, enough medication to last you for whatever ailment you may have (high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.); pack in their original containers and put in your carry-on, NOT your checked luggage. Bring any “over the counter” meds you may need—aspirin, cold remedies, Pepto Bismol, etc. HAVE ALL THESE THINGS IN YOUR CARRY-ON LUGGAGE. What is available in Morocco may not be compatible with your prescription meds. We do not want you to risk your health, or to take the time away from the trip to resolve this.
Current is usually 220 and two-round-pronged European style plugs are used here. Do not count on the hotels to have adapters so please bring your own. Check online to see types of round-pronged plugs used.
Always ask permission if you want to photograph a person, family, etc. If you are waved away, please desist. There will be plenty of opportunities. You can also ask our guide to ask permission, as he often can phrase the request to be more acceptable to the person. Sometimes people in public places - colorfully-dressed water carriers, musicians, etc.- ask for money, like 5 DH, a small sum for a wonderful photo; be sure to have some change in your pocket. Since we will be meeting many people personally, you will have many opportunities to take their photos (after asking, to be polite). People love to receive photos of themselves, and if you would like, you could have a small “photo notebook” or page in your travel diary where you could note date, place and the person’s name and address, to later send them a photo. Even in very rural places, there will usually be a way that people can get mail. Bring a Polaroid if you have one; people love to see the instant photo and it is a great way to make a new friend! They also love to see themselves on your digital camera.
Morocco is less formal than many Muslim countries, but it is highly recommended to be discreet: for women, no shorts, low-cut blouse or t-shirts, no tight clothing. For men, we suggest no shorts in urban areas. We are guests in their country and want to always appear respectful. Always err on the side of conservative. For the ladies, slacks are acceptable, but on village visits where there are likely to be “Turkish toilets”, skirts are easier to manage. Keeping toilet paper or Kleenex in pockets in skirts and slacks is a good idea, should the facility not have any (mainly in rural areas).
And speaking of toilets….in many rural areas, there will be a waste basket next to the toilet—put your toilet paper in that, as they do not have plumbing sophisticated enough to deal with the used paper.
LAUNDRY: Laundry service available as an overnight service is larger hotels, at an additional cost (not included).
Very much a part of the culture! It is a ritual and the longer you are there the more skilled you become! Your guide is available to help and negotiate for you. Many items will be brought out for display and do not be afraid to say you don’t like them, if that is the case. But DO NOT enter into any bargaining if you have no intention of buying, just to see how low you can get the price. That is not acceptable. It is the custom to bargain, and it is always done POLITELY, with patience and good humor. If indeed you cannot get to a price, which you want to pay, you can end the negotiation with a “thank you but no”, and a smile. But keep the price in perspective—it’s easy to get caught up in what you think it should cost, without realizing you are in a very low wage country and this is part of their livelihood. Your bottom line should be “how much is it worth to me?” And will you regret not buying it?!
The craft tradition is so much a part of the Moroccan culture and history that we look upon exploring these as part of the cultural experience in understanding their heritage. And yes, it can turn into shopping opportunities for those interested. We will only take you to places which are reliable and where we have had good experiences. Many places can ship to the U.S. and are reliable. Our experience has been that if you think you really want to buy something, you should – or you may well regret it later! Again, your guide is there to help bargain for the best price for you.
You will see craftspeople producing items of wood, brass, leather, ceramic, basketry, jewelry, carpets, wrought iron, etc., using methods often centuries old. Caftans and djallabas, the local traditional robes, are available for purchase. The markets we visit are great places for holiday gifts. In Marrakech, there is also a very high quality, high end leather shop selling contemporary, fashionable jackets, pants, luggage, handbags, wallets, etc., however at fixed prices.
Rugs---special mention here about one of the most attractive purchases in the country. You will be exposed to a myriad of styles and sizes. If you are considering buying one, be sure to bring measurements, some color ideas and perhaps color swatches of the room where you want it to go. Saves lots of agonizing. The styles and designs are so attractive and carry stories of particular regions and life stories. You will learn about this tradition through experiences during the trip.
A good source of transportation around town during free time, and inexpensive. Always arrange the price before you get in—someone at the hotel can help you, and you will then have an idea what the return cost should be. In some cities there are also horse and buggies which can be hired to transport you, quite a lovely way to enjoy the city.
All tips are included in the cost of our trip for meals included, and in hotels. If you wish to give something more, it will be appreciated; their salaries are quite low. Five DH per bag for the hotel porters is always welcome.
In addition, it is appropriate to tip your guide and driver, if you are pleased with the services. Recommended amounts are: $6 per person per day for the guide; $4 per person per day for the driver, $1 per day per person for the bus assistant (who keeps your baggage and purchases safe and the bus always clean). If they have performed a personal service for you that merits a special tip, that can certainly be given privately. We suggest putting aside the tip money at the beginning of the trip, to be sure you have it by the end of the trip.
Sunni Islam is the religion of Morocco. There is a sizeable Jewish population, which has been welcome there for centuries. There are also several Christian religions practicing freely in the country. Our guide is always happy to discuss Islam and answer any questions.
Mosques, except for the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca are off-limits to non Muslims.
STAYING IN CONTACT
You will be sent a list of hotels and their phone/fax/email numbers to leave with your friends and families, as well as to keep with you on the trip.
You may want to rent or purchase a phone to use in Morocco if your own cell phone isn’t already programmed to work out of the US (check with your provider). It is expensive to call out of the country from the hotel. If you must call, it is better to go to a “teleboutique”, a little shop full of pay phones, prevalent all over Morocco. They will know the approximate rate for overseas [which is the same in all the teleboutiques] and place the call for you. Some hotels may have computers you can access for a fee, or there may be a cybercafe nearby. Cybercafes are quite inexpensive, usually about 10 DH [a little over a dollar] an hour, and usually easily found. If you do not have a webmail account [like yahoo], you may want to set one up before leaving for Morocco.
- Narcotics; you do not want to be involved in a “Midnight Express” film experience. NO DRUGS. PERIOD. As a tourist, you do not want to be caught in possession of drugs. Expect NO sympathy and NO assistance from anyone.
- No wild animal skins or products of wild animals can be imported into the US. It is too late to save the creatures you may see in a market, but purchasing such products may put a death sentence on others.
- Take a photocopy of your passport and credit card/s and keep them in a separate place from originals
- Neck pillow for sleeping on plane
- Wet wipes or Purell dry hand wash
- Sun hat
- Sun glasses
- Sun screen
- Extra pair of reading glasses
- Pocket packs of Kleenex
- Sun block
- Copies of prescriptions for medications
- Diarrhea medication and Pepto Bismol tabs for mild cases (just in case)
- Antiseptic/antibiotic cream
- A few Band-aids
- A “disposable” paperback or two for plane or bedtime reading, to be left behind or traded. Actually, MRS. POLLIFAX AND THE WHIRLING DERVISH is set in southern Morocco and she’s great on the local color
- Granola bars and dried apricots make good easy to carry snacks; one can also buy dried fruits and nuts in the market there, as well as crackers and cookies,
SUGGESTED PACKING LIST
It will be fairly hot in the cities, and hot in the desert, though with current erratic weather patterns, one never knows. There may be a strong wind along the ocean. A sweater or jacket is often welcome in the desert at night. Dress throughout the trip is casual. Layering is the way to go.
- Easily washable, quick-dry slacks, skirts and shirts/blouses
- At least one long-sleeve shirt (sun protection)
- Skirts (not above the knee)
- Sturdy walking shoes
- Wind-breaker jacket
- Cardigan sweater and/or shawl
- Sun hat
- Bathing suit & cover-up for relaxing around hotel pools during free time
- Money belt or neck pouch
- Hair dryer; hotels in countryside may not have them
- Camera and plenty of film (slide film difficult to find there) or digital camera and extra memory card and battery
- Polaroid is fun to bring to give instant pics to kids along the way
- Plug converter
- Light-weight foldable tote to carry during the day for snacks, water bottle, purchases, etc.
- A sturdy bag, like a duffel, to bring back purchases; or, inexpensive ones can be bought there if necessary
- A small reading light—either a headlight or one which clips onto a book; some hotels do not have bedside lights to read by
- Washcloth—not commonly found in Moroccan hotels
- Inflatable camping pillow, as some travelers have found hotel pillows too firm
Morocco is most famous for rugs, jewelry (tribal and filagree), leather goods, pottery, woven scarves, caftans and djellabahs, as well as fossils, spices and argan oil products.
Bargaining is the expected practice, except where noted.
FES Best known for its blue and white pottery; you will be able to buy both classic and contemporary, also in antique colors, at the pottery workshops outside the city. Your guide should take you there; the morning is when they do the firing, an interesting process.
Your visit to the tanneries will be in a place that also sells leather products—belts, slippers, jackets, handbags, etc. The morning is when the vats are filled with color.
You will visit a workshop deep in the medina weaving scarves and lengths of fabrics; great prices and excellent for gifts. Brass shop outside the wall just to the right of the gate called Bab Boujeloud; trays, good jewelry, camel bone boxes and misc. interesting objects.
*Les Mysteres de Fes: 53 Derb bin Lemssari, also near the above mentioned Bab Boujeloud, everything from jewelry to furniture; FABULOUS!!!
Coin Berbere. 67 Talaa Kebira in Haddadine quarter of medina; good antiques, doors, caftans, embroideries, carpets, etc.
Galerie Birkenmeyer, 165-167 rue Mohamedd El Gegal Excellent contemporary leather goods shop, with copies of Vuitton, Prada, etc. Fixed price. There are other interesting shops on this street in the New Town (called Gueliz)
Amazonite, 94 Blvd. El Mansour Eddahbi, in the New Town near Birkenmeyer. The very best of classic Moroccan jewelry, artifacts and rugs. BEST OF THE BEST. Fixed price.
Cuivrerier Moulay Youssef, 46 Foundouk Loulay Mamoune in the Mellah; metal shop selling trays, candlesticks, etc., made all metal decorations for famed Hotel Amanjena
Bazar du Sud, 117 Souk des Tapis carpets, in medina
La Porte d’Or, 115 Souk Semmarine for carpets, in the medina
Univers Caftan, Residence Arraha, 19 Rue Mauritanie, custom caftans in cashmere, silk
Zimroder, 128 Dar El Bacha in medina; great traditional jewelry; on same street is great antique shop Khalid
Atelier Moro, 114 Place de Mouassine; interesting collection of caftans, jackets, gifts, contemporary style
Aya, street level under the second floor restasurant La Tangia; beautiful ready to wear and custome caftans, tunics, etc. in silks and cottons
TINJDAD on the main road from Erfoud to Tinerhir
Galerie Said, in middle of town, good toilet and shopping stop. Ex guide has excellent collection of Moroccan artifacts, jewelry, embroideries, etc. Lovely courtyard for a coffee or Coke.
ESSOUIRA Nice little shops everywhere; see thuya (unique wood) large workshop in main square
Galerie d’Art Damgard; good gallery for unusual local painting style; outside town walls
Poupa Litza: interesting little boutique run by Parisienne/Moroccan designer selling reasonably-priced fun beaded bracelets and necklaces, unique purses made of upholstery fabric, strange hand-made animal creatures made by an elderly guy, of upholstery fabric, shearling, plastic bits on a rustic wood frame—quite charming! Located at 135 bis Rue Mohamed El Kory, same street as Hotel L’Heure Bleue, same side of street.
Suggested Readings List
(in no particular order)
Leila Abouzeid is a a renowned Moroccan author. She has several books, including a memoir of her childhood, and one called The Last Chapter that has lots of information on the problems of contemporary gender relations in Morocco. That book is available at
Abouzeid, Leila Year Of The Elephant
This historical and novel describes a Moroccan woman’s courageous actions in the Moroccan Resistance in the 1950s, contrasting them with her relationship with her husband.
Fatima Mernissi is the leading sociologist, feminist and Muslim writing on Morocco today. Her prolific work fits into several categories, including women and Islam. You may want to visit her web site at www.mernissi.net
Mernissi, Fatima Dreams Of Trespass: Tales of A Harem Girlhood
Beautifully-written semi-autobiographical description of growing up as a young woman in Fes in the 1940s. Includes many examples of strong traditional women and of the limitations they face. One reviewer says it is "...part fairy tale, part feminist manifesto...both magical and political."
Doing Daily Battle: Interviews With Moroccan Women
Interviews with eight women, from different regions and social classes, give a real flavor of ordinary women's lives.
Islam and Democracy
An interesting and readable discussion of how early Islam was democratic and how and when it changed. Introduction focuses on the 1991 Gulf War.
The Veil And The Male Elite
Don’t be put off by the title. This book gives a lucid and interesting description of the Prophet Mohammed’s relations with women during his lifetime. These are used as the basis to argue he respected women and that many restrictions on women grew out of later male-oriented interpretations of the Prophet’s teachings.
Davis, Susan S. Patience & Power: Women's Lives In a Moroccan Village
This readable overview of traditional village life describes how these Muslim women do not fit the submissive stereotype but play important roles in their families and communities. The best place to get it is probably the publisher, at http://www.schenkmanbooks.com/Joes/history.html . though you can also try half.com ]
Munson, Henry The House Of Si Abd Allah: The Oral History Of A Moroccan Family
A wonderful picture of contemporary Moroccan society presented through quotes of an older illiterate man and his young educated niece as they each describe their lives and relatives. The author really captures the earthiness of Moroccan Arabic.
Maxwell, Gavin Lords Of The Atlas
Lively account of the colorful leader, the Glaoui, who held parts of the High Atlas Mountains against the Sultan earlier in the last century. Visitors will probably see ruins of one of his many palaces; the Krupp cannon that made it all possible is on display in the center of Ouarzazate.
Howe, Marvine Morocco: The Islamist Awakening and Other Challenges(2005) "Morocco is an intriguing, culturally complex country…. Marvine Howe has a longstanding, intimate knowledge of the country. Here, she shares her insights into the lives and thoughts of a broad sampling of its 30 million people--women's rights activists, veteran politicians, Amazigh (Berber) educators, hard-pressed slum-dwellers, Muslim association leaders, and more. Howe's illuminating tour reveals the continued ossification of the country's political system--but also, surprises such as the relative liveliness of its NGO sector."--Helena Cobban, Columnist, The Christian Science Monitor
Porch, Douglas The Conquest Of Morocco
A lively description of the French takeover in the early 1900s, described by the author as "...a story of people, of chaos, villainy, glory, misery, violence, greed, avarice and maladministration."
Courtney-Clark, Margaret, and Brooks, Geraldine Imazighen: The Vanishing Traditions of Berber Women (Thames and Hudson, Ltd., London 1996)
Covering Berbers in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, this book has chapters on landscape and architecture, weaving and rural pottery in which we learn about their relation to women’s lives. The 250 color illustrations are gorgeous: my favorites are the photos of the women. Although out of print, sometimes the bibliofind site, powells.com or half.com may have some.
Morocco: An Inspired Anthology & Travel Resource, collected by Barrie Kerper. Three Rivers Press, 2001.
This book has interesting selections from several people, some famous, writing about Morocco.
Shah, Tahir In Arabian Nights, A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams
Easy to read narrative of a man and his family’s life in Casablanca, filled with observations on ancient and current Moroccan life; story telling is a large part of Morrocan culture.
Suggested in-depth guidebook Footprint Morocco (Footprint Morocco Handbook by Justin McGuinness, from Knopf.
MOROCCO Knopf Guides Short descriptions, good illustrations
Lonely Planet Moroccan Arabic Phrasebook by Dan Bacon and Bichr Andjar (Paperback Feb 1999)
Lonely Planet Fez Encounter by Virginia Maxwell and Helen Ranger (Paperback Mar 2008)
Dennis, Landt and Lisl Morocco: Design From Casablanca To Marrakesh
350 stunning color photos that capture various aspects of the visual feast that is Morocco, and architecture buffs will enjoy the different Moroccan homes and adaptations portrayed.
AHedonist’s Guide to Marrakech by Paul Sullivan Filmer, Ltd.