Sahara desert dreams, towns that are mazes of blue, palaces filled from floor to ceiling with majestic mosaics, enchanting music filling the air and wafts of spices thrilling your senses…welcome to Morocco!
In October of 2021, I spent two exhilarating weeks in Morocco with friends and other travel advisors. I always knew that Morocco looked magical, but little did I know just how much the country would absolutely enthrall and captivate me. As they say “Morocco is a feeling.” Between the architecture, the food, the history and most importantly the people, Morocco truly is a country that I believe everybody should travel to experience the very best of what “travel” has to offer. You can’t help but fall in love with every aspect of this beautiful land and its many faces. Morocco, which is slightly smaller than the size of Spain or France, has so many different landscapes. You can visit the ocean, the mountains, the oasis and the desert all in one day!
We started our journey in Marrakech, where I have never seen such grandeur in hotels in my life. I have never known anything like the true luxury I experienced at several of Marrakech’s 5-star properties. I felt like a queen in my private two-bedroom ryad, with a private courtyard and fountains and a staff that uses secret alleyways to clean so as not to disturb the guests. Yes, I am talking about the famous Royal Mansour, which absolutely lived up to the hype. This spectacular masterpiece of a “hotel” reflects the true essence of Moroccan tradition while exceeding all expectations of today’s luxury traveler. The craftsmanship in the tile on the walls and artwork in the cedarwood in the ceilings right down to the smallest minute detail literally took my breath away.
In our full week in Marrakech, we toured the medina and became friends with local craftsmen, shopped, took fashion tours and met designers, took a cooking class, rode camels in the Agafay Desert, visited the palaces and learned history, shopped some more, toured Majorelle Garden, took a day trip to Essaouira and played with goats in trees. Yes, goats in trees! We also went into the Atlas Mountains for a night and stayed at Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot, which is pure beauty to behold. From here, we hiked into a local Berber village and were invited into a family’s home to drink tea with them. (Our guides translated.) All the schoolchildren were so excited to see us, as we were the first visitors since COVID. Apparently, not one Berber ever got sick from COVID, and we took all precautions to make sure it stayed that way.
At the time we went to Morocco, it was one of the only countries never to have shut its borders to American tourists. While we were there, we ran into many Americans who were so happy to have made the decision to visit, as they may not have in “normal” times. I had a colleague who visited Morocco back in March of 2020, and she took pictures of a virtually empty medina. However, in October, it was packed and full of action! At the time of writing this though, Morocco closed its borders in December and won’t open until Jan 31.
After Marrakech, we left the city and made our way back into the Atlas Mountains to see the most dramatic landscapes and learn about Arab and Berber culture. We stopped at Ksar Ait Ben Haddou, which is the backdrop for many movies and TV shows such as Game of Thrones. The next day we made it to the Sahara Desert, my personal crown jewel of the trip. We rode ATVs, rode camels again and watched the sun set and then rise over the sand dunes. It was a sight unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I always feel lucky to be a travel advisor, but here I was overwhelmed with just how grateful I am to be able to experience the world like this. I actually cried with tears of joy at the beauty I was able to experience firsthand.
After we left the Sahara, we drove north to Fez. We fed monkeys on the side of the road, explored the tanneries and medina in Fez, bought ceramics and wore the famous silly red hats, discovered ancient Roman ruins in Meknes, took a million pictures in the blue city of Chefchaouen and ate at Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca. Many times along the way, we saw large clusters of locals along the road and wondered if they were waiting in line to be tested for COVID. It turns out they were actually all waiting to get vaccinated.
No amount of articles or pictures can do this country justice. If you love to travel, Morocco absolutely has to be on your bucket list for the near future. Morocco has the perfect amount of culture shock, with its cuisine, art and culture, yet also has the familiarities of home that make it a safe and clean destination. The people are so warm and welcoming and are very open to talking honestly about the best and worst parts of their current political and cultural climate. To see more pictures from my trip, follow me on Instagram @cali.hersh.travel and feel free to reach out for more specifics. I urge all travel advisors to have their clients use a DMC, and I’d be happy to share information about the wonderful suppliers that helped us on our journey.
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