Impressions of Morocco

27 Sep - 4 Oct, 2017
Applications close on: 1 Sep 2017
Group Size: from 8 to 12 people
Spots left: 10 spots left
Photo leader:
8 days, from 1410 USD
Djemaa el Fna by night
Sleeping in a mountain gite
Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou
• Photographing star trails
Souks of Marrakech
• Relaxed Essaouria
• Photography tuition
Morocco is a fascinating and colourful country, with some tremendous scenery and a number of ancient and evocative sites. We have run the Impressions of Morocco trip a number of times, but in response to a number of people who have indicated that they would favour a shorter trip, we have developed this 8 day itinerary.

We have organised this itinerary to visit some of the most photogenic, and relaxed places in the country. Although this does involve some long journeys, they are through atmospheric scenery and the rewards are well worth it. Ait Benhaddou looks like it could be a film set - and in fact has been used as one many times! Armed, a remote mountain village, gives you an incredible insight into traditional lives of the Berber people. There will be plenty of time for photography though, including night photography in Marrakech and star trails at Ait Benhaddhou.

The trip will include extensive photography tuition from professional travel photographer, Steve Davey, countless photo opportunities and the company of fellow photography enthusiasts.


We start in Marrakech, arguably the most exotic and rewarding city in Morocco. We spend three nights here, giving us plenty of time to explore what this incredible place has to offer, including souks, the atmospheric Djemaa el Fna square and ruined palaces topped by nesting storks.

Driving through the heart of the Moroccan film industry we get to to the evocative kasbah of Ait Benhaddou. This has been used in a number of films, most recently Prince of Persia, starring Ben Kingsley. At night we have a cooking display, and can test our night photography skills photographing the Kasbah by moonlight.

In the morning we can visit the Kasbah, before embarking on the atmospheric drive through stunning mountain scenery to the Toubkal National Park in the High Atlas Mountains.

In Imlil, I have opted for us to stay at a mountain gite, in an atmospheric village and surrounded by the mountains. Accommodation is on the basic side, but the views of sunrise and sunset in the mountains more than make up for this. In the morning we can explore the village.

From the mountains, we drive to the coast at Essaouria, famed for being the inspiration of the Hendrix song; Castles Made of Sand. A pretty and relaxed town, there are striking city walls, and a pretty harbour with dozens of blue fishing boats. It is predictably a fantastic place for seafood!

We end our odyssey back in Marrakech, with a two final night in the atmospheric Djemaa el Fna square. We will explore the souks and the main square and some of the historical sights. This is a good chance to shoot portraits and also to carry out a bit of souvenir shopping before the tour ends.

Day 1: Marrakech
Welcome to Morocco! On arrival at Marrakech Airport, those that are on the recommended group flight will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel. While this is an arrival day and you may arrive at any time, please note that hotel rooms are generally only available after midday, and that there will a Welcome Meeting with your leader tonight at 6pm.

Marrakech is an ancient, exotic city wrapped in European modernity. This evening, why not head to the great square of Jemaa el Fna, one of the largest public spaces in the world and unique to Marrakech. When night falls it transforms into a hive of activity. Snake-charmers, henna-painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar, packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies.

Tonight, enjoy a traditional Moroccan dinner.

Included Activities:
Welcome dinner
Group arrival transfer (BA flight)

Accommodation: Hotel for convenient arrival and departure.

Day 2: Ait Benhaddou
This morning journey along mountain roads and over Morocco's highest pass, Tizi n'Tichka (2,260 meters), to Ait Benhaddou on the edges of the Sahara (approximately 6 hours). Perched on a hilltop and almost unchanged since the 11th century, Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco's most iconic site. It was once an important stop for caravans passing through as they carried salt across the Sahara, returning with gold, ivory and slaves. Today its grand kasbah has been listed as a World Heritage site, with its fortified village being a fine example of clay architecture.

If you think you recognize the place, you probably do, as the town has a long list of film and TV credits, including Lawrence of Arabia, Game of Thrones and Gladiator. Enjoy a walk through the winding streets of old town, making your way to the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy the views across the surrounding plains.

In the late afternoon, enjoy a cooking demonstration to learn the secrets behind Morocco's most famous cuisine: couscous and tagine. This is at an old friend of Intrepid Travel, the famouns 'Action' Hussein! A local character, he has been an extra in many films. After dinner we have the chance to shoot star trails from the roof of Action's guesthouse.

Included Activities:
Kasbah Ait Benhaddou visit
Cooking demo & dinner at La Fibule d’or

Accommodation: Riad

Day 3: Armed
Bid farewell to the desert and journey again over the spectacular Tizi n'Tichka Pass (2,260 metres above sea level) to Toubkal National Park (approximately 5 hours), photographing snow-dappled mountains and valleys in full flower along the way. At the end of the road in Imlil, store your main luggage and load a daypack onto a pack mule.

Walk into traditional mountain village life with a one-hour trek up to the peaceful village of Armed, far from the reach of the modern world. If you don't feel comfortable with the walk, you can ride a mule instead. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the remote village of Aroumd offers stunning views across the High Atlas Mountains and a unique opportunity to experience traditional Berber culture.

Spend the night in a family-run mountain home (gite) in Armed. Surrounded by the smell of woodstoves and bread, meet the host family and enjoy Berber hospitality and food. Facilities at the homestay are shared (both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements) but cozy, comfortable and definitely a unique Intrepid experience.

Optional Activities:
Mule ride - Imlil to Armed - MAD50

Included Activities:
Dinner

Accommodation: Local Gite (mountain guesthouse).

Day 4: Essaouira
Take a morning walk through the valleys and trails of the stunning Atlas Mountains. Afterwards, head westwards for five hours towards the Atlantic Coast and the old fishing town of Essaouira, a city where the medina brushes up against the Atlantic Ocean. Sandstone walkways contrast with whitewashed houses, bright blue sky and the sand of the surrounding beaches and dunes.

This artists' town was once home to sizeable British and Jewish populations, and its charm has seduced people like Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix, who (according to local legend) spent much of his time here in the 1960s. It is one of North Africa's most attractive places, and you will soon find yourself slipping into the easy-going rhythm of this Moroccan town with a European seaside twist. Stay in a restored riad, or Moroccan mansion, a traditional nobleman's house unique to Morocco that’s a calming oasis away from the buzz of the medina. Your riad is beautifully designed and decorated in traditional Moroccan style, cozy yet historical. This is likely to be one of the most memorable stays of your journey.

Included Activities:
Morning hike in the Atlas Mountains
Lunch in the gite

Accommodation: Riad

Day 5: Essaouira
Today, join a local guide for a walking tour through the old medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall). Afterwards, use your free time to get under the skin of the town. The narrow streets of Essaouira are ideal for casual exploration. Their size discourages cars, and on a walk through the town it feels as though little has changed since the days of sea pirates. The fishing port is a serious commercial operation and there’s much fun to be had observing the daily catch and its subsequent auction.

A freshly-cooked plate of the day's catch is highly recommended. Browse the plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries that make this little town a particularly pleasant place to unwind for a few days. It has a growing reputation for its unique art and is becoming even more famous for its burled Thuya wood, delicately formed and inlaid in tiny shops that are built into the thick walls of the Portuguese ramparts. The scent from the oils used to polish the richly colored wood permeates the air and makes walking down the streets incredibly pleasant. If you’d prefer to relax, don't miss the opportunity to indulge in a hammam or local-style bath.

Included Activities:
Guided tour of Essaouira old medina

Optional Activities:
Hamam (public baths) - MAD200
Berber massage - MAD350
Horse riding - MAD250
Seafood Market Lunch - Essaouira - MAD80

Accommodation: Riad

Day 6: Marrakech
Morning is at leisure in Essaouira. This wll give you more chance to wander in this entrancing place, and especially to visit the bustling harbour to see the fishing boats being unloaded.

In the afternoon, board your private minivan to travel back to Marrakech.

Time permitting, in the evening we will shoot the sunset over the main square, and tke some night photographs before heading into the square to eat at one of themany local foodstalls.

Accommodation: Riad

Day 7: Marrakech
After breakfast, today, meet your local guide and set off on a morning tour of the old medina, through the bustling souks that are the lifeblood flowing through the city. Explore tranquil courtyards filled with the scent of orange blossom, and the many salons and chambers that make up Bahia Palace. This splendid mansion was built in 1866 for a former slave who rose to power within the government. Continue to the Marrakech Museum, itself a former palace, which houses a fine collection of Moroccan art and sculpture. Stop by the Koutoubia Mosque; its famous minaret is the prototype for others of its kind around the world, including La Giralda in Seville. Then walk back through the streets of the old medina to the Jemaa el Fna to be transferred for visit of the tropical gardens of the French painter Jacques Majorelle.

The rest of the day is free to explore further or shop in the bazaar. Otherwise, perhaps head back into the medina, where every step brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. Watch skilled artisans perfect their craft, practice your haggling skills or take a break from the hustle to sip on tea or share a tajine, filled with the pure scent of Morocco. For your final evening, why not feast in one of the many great restaurants lining the square.

Included Activities:
Guided tour of Marrakech old medina including entrance to Bahia Palace, Marrakech Museum
Visit to the Majorelle Gardens

Optional Activities:
Marrakech - Palais Bahia - MAD10
Palais Badi - MAD10
Saadian Tombs - MAD10
Medersa Ben Youssef - MAD40
Urban Adventures - Tajine cooking class - MAD546
Hammam & Massage in a luxury spa - MAD750
Palmery cycling tour - MAD350
Hot Air Ballooning - MAD1990
Urban Adventures - A Taste Of Marrakech - MAD509

Accommodation: Riad

Day 8: Tour ends
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Your transfer to Marrakech airport on the group flight is arranged.

If you are on the British Airways flight, then you will have most of the day today to explore further in Marrakech. For these people, I suggest that we move the visit to the Majorelle Gardens to this morning, as the gardens are much less crowded in the morning. We should have an hour or so before the hordes arrive, which makes photography far easier and more relaxing.

Included Activities:
Group departure transfer (BA flight)

Will be staying at a mix of comfortable hotels, traditional riads and also in a more basic mountain gite!

• 2 nights hotel accommodation
• 4 nights riad accommodation
• 1 night in mountain gite

Tour costs is from £1095, per person based on a twinshare; excluding international flights. All payments are to be made in Sterling.

Prices for our this trip is based on a twin share basis: that is on two people sharing a room. If you are travelling with a partner, or a friend, then this doesn't affect you, but if you are travelling on your own, you will be paired up with another same-sex member of the group to share with. Sharing a room, or paying the single supplement is compulsory on this trip. To keep the price as low as possible for everyone, we simply can't let anyone have a single room without paying for it. This means that we will have to manage the rooming lists carefully, so that this situation doesn't crop up. Unfortunately this means that the availability of places or the availability of the optional single supplement cannot be guaranteed. When making a booking, the more flexible that you can be over rooming and dates, the more likely you will be to get a place! 

If you would like to guarantee a room on your own, then you can pay the OPTIONAL single supplement of £250. Please speak to Steve for more details. The availability of Single Supplements is limited.

 

Included in the trip price
2 nights hotel accommodation
4 nights riad accommodation
• 1 night in mountain gite
• 7 breakfasts
• 1 lunch
• 4 dinners
All transport as per itinerary
Walking tour of Marrakech
Taxi to main square & dinner
Transport to Majorelle Gardens
Majorelle Gardens entrance
Cooking demonstration, Ait Benhaddou
• Essaouria walking tour
• Pre-trip Facebook group
• Experienced Intrepid leader
Expert photographic tuition

Steve will accompany the group all day, and will hold daily illustrated talks, review sessions or practical demonstrations.


Not i
ncluded in the trip price
International flights
Visas
• Tips
Non-listed meals
• Alcoholic drinks
• Personal spending
• Optional Single Supplement
• Transfers - other than on group specified flight

All land arrangements to these tours are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel, who are one of the biggest names in the adventure travel industry. This means that you are fully protected by their industry bonding. Full booking conditions are available on thios link:

http://www.bettertravelphotography.com/phototours/morocco/bookingconditions.html

My trip to Morocco with Steve Davey was truly inspirational and one of the best trips I have ever been one. During the trip, Steve gave me a great insight into what it takes to be a great travel photographer. He willing shared his expertise with all the group throughout the day whilst we took photographs and gave talks most evenings.  Personally, Steve has help me improve my photography both technically and artistically – I particularly remember him pointing out a great photo opportunity in Casablanca which he taught me to anticipate and take the photo I want rather than missing the opportunity. On top of all of this, Steve is a very charismatic and funny guy who is great fun to travel with - I would definitely travel with Steve again!

NC - Impressions of Morocco


... Steve Davey was the best. I can't believe everything that I've learnt about photography in those 2 weeks or the places that we saw but I have the photos to prove it!

JT - Impressions of Morocco


The range of places visited made it a fantastic introduction to a fascinating country. While Steve Davey's excellent tuition and encouragement made it a brilliant intro to the art of travel photography. I'm now hooked on both.

FB - Impressions of Morocco

 


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