Morocco: Land of Contrasts

Tour Intro

This photo tour itinerary encompasses Marrakech, Fes, Northern Morocco in the blue washed town of Chefchaouen, 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. This is an amazing journey.
 

Tour Highlights

• Jemaa el Fna Square and the ancient city and souk of Marrakech.
• The striking Kasbah of Telouet.
• Two evenings in the Sahara with a traditional camel ride
• The heart of Morocco, medina of Fes el-Bali.
• Rif Mountains and the blue washed town of Chefchaouen.
• Unique visits with our expert Moroccan guide.

Tour Itinerary

February 8: Home
Reflections

Photo By: Corey Hilz

Photo Location: Morocco

You can depart on an overnight flight from the U.S. to Casablanca, Morocco. We recommend your arrival to be by late afternoon (February 9), in order to take part in your introductory meeting and welcome dinner tomorrow evening. 

February 9: Arrive Casablanca
Women Weaving

Photo By: Corey Hilz

Photo Location: Morocco

Arrive anytime this morning or afternoon in Casablanca (CMN) Morocco, where you will be transferred from the airport to the hotel. We will have an introductory meeting early this evening followed by a welcome dinner. Given time we may have a photo session outside 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. It was completed in 1993, after 6000 Moroccan craftsmen worked on it day and night for five years. The 200m high minaret of this vast new mosque floats above the skyline of Casablanca. Overnight HYATT REGENCY (D)

February 10: Marrakech
Marrakech

Photo By: Corey Hilz

Photo Location: Morocco

February 10  Marrakech
After breakfast drive south to Marrakech, the city of drama. In the late afternoon we’ll 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 souks, haggle passionately for carpets, or dine in some of the best restaurants in the country. 

Marrakech 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. Capture a glimpse of daily life, as we stroll the narrow streets. Overnight RIAD LES YEUX BLEUS. (B, L)
 

February 11: Telouet - Skoura
Telout Kasbah

Photo By: Corey Hilz

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. A drive along the “Valley of the Thousand Kasbahs” will take us through stony desert landscapes with many villages and Kasbahs (fortified homes). Land rovers will meet us in Telouet, where we continue in to the countryside. The Telouet Kasbah is not old, yet it is one of the most important sights of yesterday's Morocco. The story began during the hard winter of 1893, when Sultan Moulay Hassan was stranded here. He and his army of 3,000 were well taken care of by the two brothers Glaoui, Madani and T'Hami. In return of their services, they were given political power of Morocco south of the High Atlas Mountains. The reception room and main halls are the only interiors to be entered, due to the building’s deterioration, yet you can sense the luxury in which its predecessors lived.

Our destination for tonight, a renovated kasbah hotel provides and ideal location for private photography in the early morning and late afternoon. Overnight Hotel KSAR KEBBABA. (B, L, D)

February 12: Tinerhir
Kasbah

Photo By: Corey Hilz

Photo Location: Morocco

Depart mid-morning and head directly to Tinerhir. We'll have a light lunch in Tinerhir, and Corey will moderate a
photo review. In the mid-afternoon, head to Dades Gorge
with unusual red rock formations and fascinating villages and
Kasbahs, to photograph in the warm afternoon light. On the
way we may see Berbers tending their camels or sheep,
women swathed in dark haik, embroidered with vivid colors,
or children playing 

February 13-14: Erfoud - Merzouga
Sahara

Photo By: Corey Hilz

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 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. 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. The next day 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). Overnight AUBURGE DU SUD. (Accommodations are in typical Berber tents with mattress and blankets, next to the lodge with bathroom. Comfortable rooms may be available in the lodge, though these cannot be guaranteed - nor can a single room). (B, L, D both days) 

February 15-17: Fes
Women Painting - Fez

Photo By: Corey Hilz

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.

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 near the medina walls, providing us with an excellent location for photography. Overnight KSAR RAYAN. (B, L, D; B, L; B)
 

February 18-19: Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen

Photo By: Corey Hilz

Photo Location: Morocco

From Fes we arrive late this afternoon in 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 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. Notice the small squares, ornate fountains and ochre tile. Overnight DAR CHEFCHAOUEN. (B, D; B)

February 20: Casablanca
Casablanca - King Hassan II Mosque

Photo By: Corey Hilz

Photo Location: Morocco

This morning we depart early for the Capital City of Rabat, taking time for lunch and photography stops along the way. Re-board the coach this afternoon, arriving in Casablanca in the late afternoon. There will be time to freshen up before enjoying a farewell dinner. Overnight HYATT REGENCY. (B, L, D) 

February 21: Casablanca - Home
Casablanca Market

Photo By: Corey Hilz

Photo Location: Morocco

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

Photo Leader

Corey Hilz
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Corey Hilz

Corey Hilz is passionate about photographing the natural world. He specializes in architecture, nature and travel photography. Corey also has a passion for teaching photography. He particularly enjoys working with students in the field, so they may learn to improve their images as they create them. His instruction enables photographers to improve their photographs technically and artistically. Corey teaches workshops and provides one-on-one instruction for those looking to focus their learning. Corey is a member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) and the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA).

Corey made this a trip of a lifetime for me. He knows his craft and taught me a lot about my camera and how to see the scene to make the best photo, he is a patient instructor. As we arrived to a site, Corey spoke about what we would be seeing and how to approach it. He encouraged us to look everywhere. He allowed us to stick close to him if we wanted more in depth instruction or we could find our own shots if we so chose. The evening sessions after dinner were the best, demo's, critique, and it was great to see other group member photo's!!!

Strabo is commended for its comprehensive care of its travelers, I will travel with you again!

M. Shaffer

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 8 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $300 if 4-7 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.

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.

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