Morocco: Color and Culture

Tour Intro

Sean Fitzgerald is a professional nature, travel and fine art photographer, whose images have been published in a wide variety of magazines, books, calendars and television shows, including the New York Times, Audubon, Outdoor Photographer, and PDN. His prints are found in personal and corporate art collections across the country, including several hospitals and banks that feature only his images. Chosen as a "Rising Star" by renowned photographer Art Wolfe, he has also been profiled in Professional Photographer and PhotoMedia magazines and has won numerous national and international competitions, including the World in Focus competition and the Coast Bend Wildlife Photo Competition.

Sean loves images that are simple, graphic, evocative and surreal, and that in some way evoke a reaction, provoke an emotion, or tell a story. Sean has been teaching workshops since 2002 on photography, artistry, digital workflow, and digital processing, including Lightroom and Photoshop. He works closely with each participant to meet their individual needs, whether artistic, technical or digital. Sean loves teaching beginning photographers the basics, encouraging advanced photographers to challenge themselves with new techniques, and helping everyone find and express their own personal artistic vision.
This new fourteen day itinerary has been designed to offer our inquisitive travelers the traditional Morocco, along with the enchanting town of Chefchaouen, located in the Rif Mountains in Northern Morocco. Chaouen, as Moroccans refer to the town, nestles in the hollow of two mountains, from which it takes its name. Steep narrow streets with white and indigo lime-washed buildings, small squares, ornate fountains, and houses with elaborately decorated doorways and red tile roofs make this a delightful town. Esteemed as a holy town, with a population of just forty thousand, it has eight mosques and several monasteries. The tour itinerary encompasses Marrakech, Fes, and also spends two evenings in the Sahara, giving participants more opportunity to capture the pink and purple heud sunsets over the dunes.

In Marrakech we will visit the famous Djemaa el-Fna Square, perhaps the greatest open-air spectacle in the world.  Traveling back in time, we'll see snake charmers, musicians, magicians, acrobats, and dancers. Fes is an ancient city, with its spectacular medina - where time seems to have stood still and photographs beckon around every corner.  You will see veiled women and laughing children, donkeys pulling carts, and vendors carrying huge mounds of bread on trays above their heads. 

Combining the history and natural beauty of this rich and fascinating country with first-person encounters, we will visit native villages, ancient medinas, and craftsmen’s workshops, sharing experiences and sipping mint tea: symbolic of the warm, sincere Moroccan generosity. Hotels are comfortable, as is the private, air-conditioned coach for land transportation. An expert local Moroccan guide will add his unique touch to this extraordinary trip, sharing his insights into and his love of this exotic land. 

Tour Highlights

• Jemaa el Fna Square and the ancient city and souk of Marrakech
• The striking Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou
• Two evenings in the Sahara with a traditional camel ride
• Chefchaouen & The Rif, with quaint blue-washed buildings
• The heart of Morocco, medina of Fes el-Bali
• Unique visits with our expert Moroccan guide
• Fourteen nights in colorful Morocco

Tour Itinerary

January 30: Home
Casablanca

Photo By: Sean Fitzgerald

Photo Location: Morocco

Depart home on an overnight flight to Casablanca, Morocco.

January 31-1: Casablanca - Essaouira
Essaouira

Photo By: Sean Fitzgerald

Photo Location: Morocco


Upon early morning arrival (7a.m.) to CMN airport, your local guide will meet you and begin the tour. Driving south, we will travel to El Jadida, where we will photograph the ancient Portuguese fort and castle. Our final destination is Essaouira, 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 (pronounced Esa-weera) 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 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 in tiny workshops carving away at fragrant thuya wood. We will spend the day exploring this delightful place, with time to absorb the unique flavor of the old town, the harbor, and the friendly people. Essaouira is full of the irresistible angles and picturesque sights that are so attractive to photographers. Overnight two evenings RIAD AL MEDINA. (L, D; B, D)
 

February 2: Essaouira - Marrakech
Marrakech

Photo By: Sean Fitzgerald

Photo Location: Morocco


Depart this morning for our drive to Marrakech, a city that follows the beat of an African drum. This imperial city has been almost continually inhabited since Neolithic times, and was once the Berber capital. Traveling back in time 2,000 years, we will have our first introduction to the famous Djemaa el-Fna Square, perhaps the greatest open-air spectacle in the world, where one can see the colors and feel the pulse of Morocco. Drift with the smells and sounds of the snake charmers, magicians, acrobats, and dancers, delighting children and adults alike. Overnight RIAD LES YEUX BLEUS (B, L, D)

February 3: Marrakech
Olives

Photo By: Sean Fitzgerald

Photo Location: Morocco

We will have a relaxing morning, amidst the vibrant city of Marrakech. The afternoon will be spent exploring more of its fabulous souks (markets), home to a maze of Berber rug vendors, dried fruit and spice stalls, leather, and ironworkers’ shops. We’ll glimpse daily life, as we stroll the narrow streets; perhaps we’ll see a young boy taking his family’s bread to the community bakery, veiled women carrying bags of food for the next meal, or children playing in the streets. (B, L)

February 4: Marrakech - Alt Benhaddou - Skoura

Photo By: Sean Fitzgerald

Photo Location: Morocco

 

This morning we will stop to visit the exquisite Majorelle Garden. It is part of the former residence of French artist Louis Majorelle, beautifully renovated by the late couturier Yves St. Laurent. Surrounded by an abundance of plants is Majorelle's deep-blue villa, which is simply breathtaking.

Driving south from Marrakech, we will cross the High Atlas Mountains at 7,400 feet, with panoramic views of arid mountains and lush oases shadowing the rivers far below. We will 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. Our destination for tonight, a renovated Kasbah hotel provides and ideal location for private photography in the early morning and late afternoon. We’ll spend the next day in and around the hotel, having free time in the afternoon. Overnight KASBAH  KEBBABA. (B, L, D )
 

February 5: Tinerhir
Kasbah

Photo By: Sean Fitzgerald

Photo Location: Morocco

Turning off the main road this morning, we will enter the stunning Dades Gorge, filled with unusual red rock formations and fascinating villages and Kasbahs. On the way we may see Berbers tending their camels or sheep, women swathed in dark haik, embroidered with vivid colors, or children playing soccer in a stony desert field. In Tinerhir we will have an opportunity to shop for rich Moroccan rugs, or simply photograph the surroundings. Overnight HOTEL KASBAH LAMRANI. (B, picnic L, D) 

February 6-7: Erfoud - Merzouga
Sahara

Photo By: Sean Fitzgerald

Photo Location: Morocco

Today our destination is the Sahara where we will have two days to capture the sunset and sunrise over the dunes.  After enjoying a picnic lunch en-route, we will continue to Erfoud, an oasis region at the edge of the Sahara. We will travel by Land Rovers to our Berber tents in the desert. We are invited to enjoy Sudanese music and dance at Khmlia, where we learn about life in the Sahara (participants can take donations of school supplies to the Sudanese school). If we have time this afternoon, we will enjoy our camel ride for sunset photography, or perhaps we will rise early for sunrise. Camels will 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. Don’t forget to pack your bathing suit in your overnight bag. Overnight AUBERGE DU SUD (Accommodations are in typical Berber tents with mattress and blankets, rooms may be available in the lodge, but these are not guaranteed). (B, picnic L, D; B, L, D) 

February 8-10: Fes
Fez

Photo By: Sean Fitzgerald

Photo Location: Morocco


After sunrise photography in the Sahara we will have breakfast and return to Erfoud. Your escorts will take into account the interests of the group and stop for photographic opportunities they feel appropriate and timely. Examples of such locations are the spectacular Ziz Valley, often called the “Grand Canyon of Morocco,” which offers sweeping vistas and fascinating rock formations.

Fes, 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 with 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, tannery vats, 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. Our accommodations in Fes are just within the medina walls, providing us with an excellent location for photography. We will also have an option during our stay for a traditional Moroccan Hammam (steam baths). Overnight KSAR RAYAN (B,L,D; B,L;B)
 

February 11-12: ChefchaouChefchaouen
Chefchaouen

Photo By: Sean Fitzgerald

Photo Location: Morocco

This morning we depart early for the Rif region of Northern Morocco and the town of Chefchaouen (shef-shau-en), 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. Hash has been grown since the fifteenth century, and is called Kif, the short version of the Arabic word for pleasure. 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. Chaouen 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 lead 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 thousands of feet over the centuries.  The homes are painted white, azure blue, indigo, and purple and have blue shutters and elaborately decorated doorways. Notice the small squares, ornate fountains and ochre tile. Overnight DAR CHEFCHAOUEN. (B, D; B)

February 13: Rabat - Casablanca
Chefchaouen

Photo By: Sean Fitzgerald

Photo Location: Morocco

 

This morning we depart early for the Capital City of Rabat, taking time for lunch and photography stops along the way. Visit the Oudaia Kasbah, a delightful whitewashed Andalusian village built by refugees, combining winding city streets, public gardens, and iridescent blue and white houses.
Re-board the coach this afternoon, arriving in Casablanca in the late afternoon. Next we will visit the exterior of the King Hassan II Mosque. 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 6000 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. There will be time to freshen up before enjoying a farewell dinner. Overnight GOLDEN TULIP FARAH. (B, L, D)

February 14: Casablanca - Home
Olives

Photo By: Sean Fitzgerald

Photo Location: Morocco

After an early breakfast we will leave for the airport for late-morning flight home. (B)

Note: This itinerary has been carefully constructed to assure participants the best Morocco has to offer. However, should events arise that are beyond our control, itinerary, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.
 

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 9 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $300 if 5-8 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Testimonials

Sean was outstanding. He is an excellent photographer, knows a huge amount about lightroom and photoshop and is an excellent teacher. Best of all was his high energy, commitment, and enthusiasm to make us all better photographers. Delightful person to work with.

D. Rich

Sean is a wonderful person – a natural leader, intelligent and articulate. He is a superb photographer and a giving educator and I was amazed at how much time he spent helping people, sometimes into the early hours of the morning. He never turned down any requests to teach us techniques and spent several hours going through teaching presentations. Similarly in the field, I saw him helping participants.

D. Driman

Sean is very educated in tech knowledge and extremely helpful to all participants. He is an excellent teacher and shows a giving and generous attitude with all levels of student knowledge. And he has a great sense of humor and can get along with any personality.

G. Mitchell

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

Exceptions:

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

Accommodations

Hotels are comfortable, as is the private, air-conditioned coach for land transportation. An expert local Moroccan guide will add his unique touch to this extraordinary trip, sharing his insights into and his love of this exotic land.

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