So Distinctive – So Stimulating – So Morocco
Donna and Rob travelled with us this year. Looking for authentic Morocco and more traveller than tourist, they usually opt for independent travel but decided a private tour with So Morocco was the right choice for them.
Morocco is everything you’ve read about…and more. Exotic, enchanting and vibrant. A sensory delight. From majestic sites to the sounds, smells and tastes, it’s a succulent feast. But what makes travel come alive for us is more than stunning vistas and cultured lodgings. What captivates us are stories.
Tailor-made travel offers many benefits, and this becomes abundantly clear as we are meandering through the medina of Fes with Farida, our guide. She grew up in these narrow, twisted alleyways. This was her neighbourhood. In this walled area in the world’s oldest city, some paths are wide enough for only a single person to pass at a time. It can feel claustrophobic, yet Farida knows every passageway. She assures us that her route, far away from tour groups, will be filled with stories. And it was. A small bakery where local women drop off their khobz dough to be baked in the wood-fired oven, a miniscule cave where a kindergarten class is learning the alphabet, and a bustling courtyard in what can only be described as Wall Street for leather vendors. The cacophony of men is a sight to behold – the brash roar of sellers amid the boisterous bartering of artisans whose goal is to get the best deal on colourful hides to be sewn into slippers and other small crafts.
In this endless maze of lanes, we are taken into what can only be described as a large cave. An older gentleman emerges to greet us. He then stokes the fire inside a huge furnace. This man spends every day in this dark grotto, fueling the fire that brings hot water to the medina’s public hammams, Morocco’s traditional bathhouses. If only we’d had more time, we’d have explored this cleansing and cultural experience too. This is authentic Morocco.
A few days later, we meet Mustapha, who has handcrafted his own charming Berber palace in the shade of trees beside a river in Gorges Dades. As we relax on one of the cozy terraces, Mustapha emerges from the kitchen with freshly brewed tea. Infused with mint and herbs, it is soothing after a long day’s drive. But that was just the start of his culinary wizardry. Dinner was equally as impressive. Tagine baked chicken with almonds and goat cheese, caramelized onions soaked in pomegranate, the gazpacho, the breads, the olives…in a word, mouth-watering. Internationally inspired creations prepared at home by a remarkable host who treated each guest like royalty. We didn’t want to leave.
As our driver navigated the winding roads of the mighty Atlas Mountains, we were in awe of the towns and villages strewn among the passes. The intricate architecture and friendly Moroccans made each stop worthwhile. Shortly after we arrived in Marrakesh, the call to prayers, the market vendors and the musicians reminded us that we were back in a cosmopolitan city. Amid the hustle and bustle and the heat of the day, our elegant riad in the medina remained peaceful and cool. A welcome drink of rosewater milk, and rose petals strewn on the bed and in the soaker tub, were luxury touches that we admired.
Our riad manager, originally from Marseilles, France, regaled us with tales of his new country, and we soaked up every story. Morocco is a kind, welcoming country. A local gentleman guided us through the alleyways toward the market, and when we offered a few dirhams as a token of our appreciation, he refused. He was on his way home, and simply wanted to help. When an artisan whose shop was next door to our riad had run out of the colourful napkin holders we had hoped to buy, he offered to make six for us that afternoon. We paid, and left our names with him. The goods were waiting for us when we returned to our riad that evening.
Morocco is a vast country with so much to see that it would take weeks to truly get a sense of this remarkable place. And it would take chapters to narrate its many fables. An overnight camp in the Sahara, a walk through a refreshing gorge, or a chat with a young camel herder. This is the stuff of novels, movies and songs.
When Graham Nash was travelling by train from Casablanca to Morocco in 1966, the singer/composer began his journey in first class, but found it uninteresting. He left his seat to explore the other train carriages, and what he saw fascinated him. That journey inspired the song ‘Marrakesh Express’, which made its first public appearance at Woodstock in 1969, three years later. It was the first single from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s debut album. Decades later, our experience parallels his. Our Moroccan journey allowed us the opportunity to explore authentic Morocco, albeit not by train, but in a private car. What we saw inspired and fascinated us too.
By Donna Leon
It takes an experienced Tour Operator to help you discover and experience Authentic Morocco, away from the usual tourist trails and hotels. In fact, we believe that you will see the “Real Morocco” only by travelling on a private, customised tour, created by a Tour Operator with strong local knowledge.
For your Authentic Moroccan Tour – CONTACT US NOW.