Monthly Archives: June 2011

24 Hours in Fes, Travel Tips On What To See & Where to Eat, Morocco Travel Guide

Fes El Bali, Old Medina

If you’re traveling in Morocco and only have 24 Hours in Fes then it’s important to know what to see and where to eat. Morocco Travel guide books such as Lonely Planet, Frommers and Rough Guides can be the perfect travel companion for those who desire to see and do the status quo in Fes however first hand experience from a foreigner living in Morocco can offer more off the beat experiences. When starting a 24 hour spin around the old medina, Fes El Bali, you can brave it alone or higher a local, expert Fes historical guide. Either way a Fes tour can be fulfilling in this ancient city which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you brave it alone to discover what’s behind the ancient medina walls of Fes, these travel tips of what to see and where to eat will make it worthwhile.

Bab Boujloud Gate-Blue Gate, Fes

Enter here, the Bab Boujloud Gate- The Blue Gate of Fes which will take you on an unforgettable journey of historical and spiritual sites along with great eats.

Kairouine Mosque, Fes

24 Hours in Fes, Travel Tips On What To See & Where to Eat:

Sites to Visit in Fes:

1. The Medersa Bou Inania: An (Islamic school) founded by Abu Inan Faris that is highly decorated from floor to ceiling. The medersa is one of the few religious places in Morocco that is accessible to non-Islamic tourists.

2. Kairaouine Mosque: Morocco’s second largest mosque was built by Fatima in 857. The Kairaouine Mosque became the home of the West’s first university and the world’s foremost center of learning at the beginning of the second millennium

3. University of Al-Karaouine: Founded in 859, this university is one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world and is considered the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning in the world.

4. Zaouia Moulay Idriss II: A zaouia (shrine) dedicated to and the tomb of Moulay Idriss II, who ruled Morocco from 807 to 828 and founded the city of Fès for the second time in 810. This is one of the most spiritual sites in Fes and in fact in all of Morocco. A walk just outside the mosque, zaouia entrance evokes feelings of ancient times and watching men and women pile in for prayer is magical.

5. Dar Batha: A Hispano-Moorish palace dating from the end of the 19th century that houses admirable collections of traditional art from Fès. Dar Batha boasts a wonderful Andalusian garden with hanging fruit trees and the Fes Festival even uses this wonderful place as a music venue each June.

6. Weavers Cooperative: The Weavers Cooperative is located in a residential neighborhood off a main shopping street. Theworkshop specializes in weaving the finest jellaba fabric, made of silk and wool threads imported from Italy. The shop also makes a quality jellaba fabric from locally spun, textured wool thread called hubba –sometimes referred to as couscous, because it’s nubby texture resembles Morocco’s national semolina dish of the same name.

7. Tanneries: The Chourara or the Tanner’s Quarters is the most lively and picturesque souks in Fès. The Tanneries are often located near watercourses like the Wadi Fès and at a distance from residential areas due to the strongly unpleasant smells they produce. Make sure to ask for mint when you enter to mask the smell.

8. Carpet Demonstration: Antique and Modern Carpets is one of the places in Fès el Bali where you can see a Berber carpet demonstration. You will be offered mint tea and follow your guide up a coil of stairs to a small area to watch carpets being made by young girls who come from the mountains to show tourists how Berber carpets are made. Make sure to negotiate before you buy.

Fes Pottery Cooperative, Workshop

9. Potter’s Cooperative: A visit to the Potter’s Cooperative is a must. Also known as Place el-Seffarine, this kisseria is the most important center for the production Fasiss style ceramics, brass-ware and silverware in Morocco. If you have more then 24 hours in Fes then consider taking a zellij or pottery making workshop.

10. Outdoor Spice Markets: Visit an outdoor spice market where loads of fabulous spices can be purchased from spice merchants. From Cumin to Saffron to Ras El Hanout for great prices. The Fes spice market is fun to shop at and spices also make for great gifts.

10. Jewish Mellah: Explore its ancient history and small streets that garner it’s charm alongside an old synagogue and the burial site of a famous Jewish woman who was executed because she refused to bow to Islam. Visit the Mellah’s white washed cemetery which is one of the most beautiful in the world.  The first official mellah was established in the city of Fes in 1438. In the first half of the 14th century, the Merinides founded, alongside Fes, the town of Hims, which was initially allocated to the archers and the Christian militia. In 1438 the Jews were driven from the old part of Fes to Hims, which had been built on a site known as al-Mallah, “the saline area”. Ultimately, the term came to designate Jewish quarters in other Moroccan cities.

Baboosh Slippers Kisseria, Fes

Shopping in Fes:
From tile work to pottery to the Kisseria’s filed with wonderful colored Baboosh slippers, Fes is the place to get your shopping on. Don’t miss out on the high quality leather goods, Moroccan baboosh and other hand made pieces unique to Fes.

Where To Eat in Fes:

Cafe Clock, Famous Camel Burger, Fes

CAFE CLOCK
Café Clock ticks to the rhythms to multiplying metronomes. Mike Richardson, the man behind Clock’s mechanics restored a 250 year old courtyard house and brought to Fes a cultural zone that many are desperate to set their watches to. This eclectic café-cum-restaurant offers delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. Stop for tea and scrumptious homemade cakes (especially the lemon tart) on the roof terrace with its stunning view of the Bou Inania minaret, browse in the book exchange and view the art-filled walls. Try the crunchy salads, camel burgers or fresh fish. Cafe Clock also boasts a wonderful cooking school. If time allows consider taking a cooking class. Either way don’t forget to have a latte there if you’re visiting in winter and if you’re a vegetarian, try their chickpea burger.

Address: 7 Derb el-Margana The Medina
Phone: 061-183-264

RESTAURANT NEJARINE
Restaurant Nejarine: Opened in 2006, Jalil Laghmri’s restaurant is the perfect spot for an authentic Moroccan feast in the medina for lunch or for dinner. As the name suggests, this 100-year-old building is located just steps from the Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts & Crafts. Guests can dine in either a covered courtyard of Fassi zellij and intricately carved and painted cedar, or in any of the three large salons surrounding the courtyard, furnished with Moroccan-style lounges and silk cushions. The four-course meals include a delicious meze of Moroccan salads, tagines, or chicken or pigeon pastilla, accompanied with couscous and followed by fresh fruits and mint tea. For a breath of fresh air, head up to the rooftop terrace for a fantastic medina view. Classy ambience and great food!

Address: Nejarine, Medina
Phone: 06-25-90-52

FES EST GESTES- SALON DE TEA

This tea house, restaurant and art gallery offers a charming place to relax for lunch, brunch or dinner in their garden, salon or library. Set in a colonial house and garden, Fes Est Gestes hosts cultural events, exhibitions of painters and events concerts throughout the years. The staff is attentive and the service good. There is a range of several course dinners offered along with a la carte. This is also the perfect place for tea and biscuits / cookies while exploring the medina, Fes El Bali with a historical guide or on your own.

Address: 39 Arsat El Hamoumi – Zita
Phone: 0535-638-532

For more information about a Fes Tour

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

24 Hours in Fes, Fes Travel Tips, What to See in Fes, Where to Eat in Fes, Kairouine Mosque Fes, Tanneries Fes, Carpet shop Fes, Pottery workshop Fes, Cafe Clock, Cafe Clock Fes Cooking Class, Fes UNESCO World Heritage site, Fes el Bali, Zaouia Moulay Idriss Fes, Jewish Mellah Fes, Fes, Morocco Holidays, Morocco Travel, Travel Exploration, Travel to Morocco

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Timitar Festival Agadir 8th Edition 2011, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Timitar Festival Sign June 2011

The Timitar Festival is held annually in Agadir, Morocco typically during the month of June or July. The 8th Edition of the Timitar Festival held this June 22nd – 25th, 2011 was the perfect morocco travel opportunity for those wanting to escape seaside as Timitar featured some of Morocco’smost admired artists, Hamid Inerzaf, Rayssa Naima, Rayssa Kabira, Bderrahim Souiri, Funk Atlas, Imazzalen, Ahwach Foum Lacen and Daoudia. Timitar also showcased International artists alongside its wide range of Moroccan musicians such as Lebanese superstar Najwa Karam, Malian greats Amadou & Mariam, Goran Bregovic from Serbia and Registan from Uzbekistan. Each stage at the Timitar Festival was filled to the rim with people and filed in as having excellent weather.

Hamid Inerzaf Live, Timitar Festival June 2011

Local Moroccans who live in the Agadirregion attended the festival both wooed and welcomed their favorites such as Hamid Inerzaf and Lebanese songstress Najwa Karam. Many came out to just see the Amazaigh singers and the Gnaoua troupe while others preferred the international appearances of artists.

Najwa Karam, Lebanese Singer, Timitar Festival June 2011

Timitar features over 40 artists annually each year and there is an estimate of 300,000+ in attendance that includes mostly Moroccans with some foreigners. Timitar is unique for the fact it typically showcases traditional and modern Amazaigh “Berbermusic” alongside international artists from around the world. Considered today as one of the biggest festivals in the country, Timitar provides its audience with an event well rooted in and actively working towards promoting Souss Massa Drâa culture.

Group Musician Hamid Inerzaf, Timitar Festival June 2011

The district council of Agadir Under Massa Draâ initiated the Timitar Festival with the goal to set up a cultural project for the meeting between Amazigh artists and world musicians. The President of the festival is the agricultural tycoon Aziz Akhenouch. What defines Timitar from other music festivals in Morocco is its special focus on Amazigh culture. Its permanent theme is “signs and cultures” and Timitar lives up to this tag by including performances by traditional and modern Moroccan musicians alongside those of contemporary international artists. Each year the Festival Timitar honors artists coming from all over the world including Africa, South America, Europe and the Middle East in order to offer the Agadir audience the best of numerous works in Amazigh traditional music, modern music from the Maghreb and elsewhere, rap, jazz and hip hop.

Timitar Festival Stage, Live Music

Since its creation, Timitar has become a key meeting point, both on artistic and cultural levels. As part of Timitar, the Timitar OFF program, which consists of a colloquium and workshops on Deejaying and Veejaying practices for young people, emphasizes Amazigh culture and world music. The majority of Berbers, also referred to as Amazigh, went unrecognized in North Africa until the mid-‘90’s when they pressed the King publicly for their cultural traditions to be respected and honored. Today not only is the Amazaigh culture recognized but as of June 2011 the language of Tamazight (also referred to as Berber) has been voted in and approved by King Mohammed VI as Morocco’s second language along side Arabic. June 2011 marks the 8th Edition of the Timitar Festival Festival. Staged in three open-air venues throughout Agadir, music can be enjoyed at the central Place al Amar, Place Bijaouane and the Théâtre de Verdure. For more information about the Timitar Festival or Agadir Tours For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Moroccan Door Knockers &The Hand of Fatima, Your Morocco Travel Guide


Chamsa door knocker, Essaouira

Moroccan door knockers can be found throughout Morocco and are palm-shaped. Door knockers in Morocco are  a symbol of protection for the home as they are typically designed in the shape of the “hand of fatima” (Khamsa, Chamsa or Hamsa) and made of solid brass, cast iron or wood by a skilled artisan. Each door knocker that I’ve seen during my travels in the Magreb’s old cities of Marrakech, Essaouira or Fes have either been oxidized by the artist or they have developed a fabulous, aged green patina. The patinas are typically in various shades of green and are similar to those found on the statue of liberty in the New York harbor and on on ancient buildings in Europe. The green patina that forms on the chamsa Moroccan door knockers is natural and they resist corrosion which accounts for why they have remained on some of Morocco’s most extraordinary doors for centuries.

The Islamic alternate name of the hand of fatima commemorating Fatima Zahra who was the Prophet Muhammed’s daughter.  The Jews renamed the Hamsa “Miriam’s hand,” referring to Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Moses so as not to name it after the daughter of the prophet of Islam. It is a sort of “protection of the hand” or “The hand of God“.

Brass door knocker, Essaouira

The five fingers that appear on a Moroccan door knocker or a Khamsa refer to the  five books of the Torah to Jews, the Five Pillars of Islam for Sunni Muslims, five or any person who, by the mantle for the Shiites. five fingers on the five books of the Torah to Jews, the Five Pillars of Islam for Sunni Muslims, five or any person who, by the mantle for the Shiites. The symbolism of May, (fifth month in the year) at a later stage, bearing in mind that the results of archaeological excavations recalls the Khamsa there are two religions. The fingers of a Khamsa may point up or down. Many Jews believe that the five fingers of the hamsa hand remind its wearer to use their five senses to praise God. In Islamic tradition the Hand of Fatima while used for represents God, divine power, providence and generosity.

Hamsa Brass Door Knocker Marrakech, Morocco

For more information about Moroccan Door Knockers or a Marrakech Tour

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Moroccan Doors of Essaouira, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Canary yellow and Majorelle Blue Door, Essaouira

The magic of Morocco is found in many places and one of them is in the hand painted doors of Essaouira. To travel inside Morocco is to visit this vast country one door at a time. Moroccan doors in Essaouira are ordained with Moorish style motifs, chamsa door knockers and painted in a variety of hues such as in Majorelle blue and canary yellow. Doors in Morocco are a gateway to another world and bare emblem of history along with the secret lives in a Moroccan home. Made of wood, metal and plaster Moroccan doors are a photographers dream as they make for the perfect subject matter.

Spanish-Mororish Door in Essaouira

Many of the designs on Moroccan doors’ geometrical Moorish and Jewish motifs evoke centuries of history. Moroccans of both Muslim and Jewish decent have lived peacefully together for decades therefore cities like Essaouira, Fes and Marrakech have hallmarks on their doors that range from unique patterns to Jewish stars and are often dated. The doors of Morocco bare both the Moorish and Jewish influence and this can be found especially in Morocco’s Jewish mellahs.

Door with Jewish Star, Essaouira

Essaouira has a long and rich history which dates back to the 16th century when it was discovered by the Portuguese who named it “Mogador.” The Berber name “Mogador” means wall, a reference to the fortress walls that originally enclosed the city. Essaouira was built during the 18th century. Mohammed III decided to oriented the Kingdom of Morocco for change and trade with Europe andchose Mogador as the key location. One of his objectives was to establish a harbour at the closest possible point from the Imperial city of Marrakech. The other was to cut off trade from Agadir in the south. This resulted in the inahabitants of Agadir being forced to relocate to Essaouira.

For 12 years, Mohammed III oversaw a French engineer, Theodore Cornut and several other European architects who built the fortress and city along modern lines. Originally called “Souira,” the small fortress, then became “Es-Saouira”, the beautifully designed.”  Part of those designs remain today in the architecture of the doors found in the old medina.

Blue & Stone Door in Essaouira, 1336

Moroccan architecture is an eclectic, even cosmopolitan cultural blend that reflects its long and rich history. Morocco’s indigenous people are the Berbers, who farmed the land from at least 2000 BC. Subsequent rulers and invaders included Arabians, the Spanish, the Portuguese and in recent, colonial times, French occupiers. Morocco was declared a French protectorate in 1912, the same year as the painted Henry Matisse came to the Maghreb.

Door knocker with Chamsa, Essaouira

The Hispano-Moorish architectural style of Morocco’s doors originated in Spain (in Andalusia), and was taken across the Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco at the behest of the ruling Berber Almoravid dynasty. The Almoravids sent Spanish artisans to Morocco, where they introduced the graceful arches and lofty domes that, along with white walls and green stucco roofs, have become hallmarks of the Hispano-Moorish style. As a result of people being smaller centuries ago doors were smaller and alleyways narrower. Many of the homes in the medinas (old cities) are over 1,000 years old, and a world of history can be found behind each door.

For more information about the doors of Essaouira in Morocco and Essaouira tours

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Moroccan Jewelry & Trade Bead Treasure Hunting Tour, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Moroccan Bowl of Jewelry

Morocco’s Treasure Hunting Tour of North African Silver Jewelry & Trade Beads is on the calendar for Spring 2011. Come Travel to Morocco and enjoy fourteen days of sheer jewelry bliss. Save your Morocco tour dates: September 16th – 29th, 2011. Bead your Way Through Morocco is a Moroccan Jewelry & Trade Bead Treasure Hunting Tour created by Travel Exploration Morocco and hosted by Sarah Corbett, a Tribal Jewelry Expert. Travel Exploration Morocco is a New York and Ouarzazate based Travel Agency and the first to offer this customized Moroccan Jewelry & Trade Bead Tour to Morocco with a Tribal Jewelry Expert.

Bead Your Way Through Morocco will take Moroccan antique, trade bead enthusiasts and Moroccan jewelry collectors through a variety on a unique adventure. All jewelry and bead enthusiasts will about the origins of Moroccan Berber, Arab, Sarahwei and Tuareg jewelry, treasure hunt for antique Moroccan silver and trade beads plus newly made pieces. On the Moroccan Treasure Hunting tour your journey includes special opportunities such as taking a Bead making workshop in the city of Tarodaunt, learning the ancient trade routes of beads, a historical overview of Moroccan jewelry and having a first hand expert on hand to help you understand the jewelry you purchase.

Chevron Bead

Morocco’s Trade Bead and Treasure Hunting tour offers accommodations at Moroccan Riads and the opportunity to experience their fine cuisine. During the Moroccan Treasure Hunting tour enthusiasts will stay at a restored Palace Riad in Marrakech, a peaceful spiraling Riad with views of the sea in Essaouira, a tranquil property in Tarodaunt with bungalows that is surrounded by lush gardens and a modern, Moroccan Kasbah in Ouarzazate with views of the Atlas Mountains.

Other options on this once in a life time Moroccan jewelry tour include a visit to Jacque Majorelle’s magnificent gardens in Marrakech, the old medina in Essaouira and it’s Portuguese ramparts. A visit to the the Valley of Nomads nestled under the Mgoun mountains and the Dades Gorge are also part of this unique program.

Book Today! Call 1800-787-8806  or info@travel-exploration.com

Don’t miss a bead!

Berber Moroccan Headress

MOROCCAN TREASURE HUNTING TOUR PROGRAM – SEPTEMBER 16th – 29th, 2011

SEPTEMBER 16th: MARRAKECH ARRIVALS – AIRPORT TRANSFER

Airport arrivals in Marrakech. Transfer to Riad Palais Sebban.

►All to meet up at Riad Palais Sebban by 3:00pm.

►Visit the Tiskiwin Museum, a private museum dedicated to popular arts & crafts, styled as a beautiful Spanish-Moroccan house, next door to Dar Si Said palace, a smaller version of the Bahia.

Tiskiwin Museum Lecture: You will have a first hand viewing of the Tiskiwin and listen to a one-hour lecture and exploration of its history, be shown its private bead and jewelry collection.

►Afternoon treasure hunting.

Welcome Evening – Appetizers & Drinks at Riad Palais Sebban. A chance to meet your fellow travelers and an overview of the route and the jewels we may find. A display of Tuareg pieces of jewelry with a Tuareg trader on hand to explain the styles and symbolism of the jewelry.

Spend the night at Riad Palais Sebban.

Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech

SEPTEMBER 17th: MARRAKECH (9:00am – 2:30pm  OPTIONAL – GUIDED HALF- DAY HISTORICAL TOUR & TREASURE HUNTING)

►Breakfast at your Riad. Begin your one-day Historical Tour of Marrakech.

►Your introduction to Marrakech will begin in the new city, we will navigate our way to French, Gueliz and head to the Majorelle Gardens, a magical and lush small garden estate designed by Jacque Majorelle and maintained by Yves Saint Laurent. The Majorelle Garden is filled with colorful walkways, ponds, cactus and plants as well as a beautiful shop with hand-made goods. On our return to your hotel, we will pass by the La Mammounia Hotel Garden (where Alfred Hitchcock wrote the famous film The Birds).

►Visit the 19th Century Bahia Palace, originally built for Si Moussa, a former slave who became King Moulay Hassan’s chamberlain. The palace holds a courtyard and riads decorated with and the most beautiful carved stucco, Arabic architecture. Next visit the 16th Century Saadian Tombs and El Mansour mosque. Marrakech is a city of underground channels built by the architects from Cordoba, Spain to provide water for the town and Palmery.

►Next visit the old, Medina, the old quarter of the Marrakech. From here we will explore this historically charming area by foot. In Djemma el Fna, you will visit the famous 12th century Koutouba Mosque and its influential minaret.

►Afternoon treasure hunting in the Souks of Marrakech.

Spend the night at Riad Palais Sebban.

SEPTEMBER 18th: MARRAKECH – ESSAOUIRA  (12:30pm -2:30pm OPTIONAL – Half-Day Guided Historical Tour)

(Driving Time: 2 1/2 Hours)

►Breakfast at your Riad in Marrakech.

►Departure for Essaouira in the morning.  Take the road to visit the seaside port of Essaouira. The journey to this former Portuguese fishing village offers up only a few roadside towns and the occasional Berber village. In the ’60s and ’70s, Essaouira was a pitstop on the hippie trek from Marrakesh. Jimi Hendrix made the pilgrimage, as did Bob Marley  and Cat Stevens. Essaouira was the inspiration for Hendrix’s song “Castles Made of Sand.”

►Witness the Argan goats in trees nestling in to eat away at the Argan nuts which are typically used in making Argan Oil, Butter and Cosmetics.

►Arrive in Essaouira. Check into your Hotel. Take a half-day Historical Tour.

► Have lunch at the fish-grill cafes, with wooden tables and benches laid out overlooking the sea.

► The journey to this former Portuguese fishing village offers up only a few roadside towns and the occasional Berber village. In the ’60s and ’70s, Essaouira was a pitstop on the hippie trek from Marrakesh. Jimi Hendrix made the pilgrimage, as did  Bob Marley and Cat Stevens. Essaouira was the inspiration for Hendrix’s song “Castles Made of Sand”.  Visit this sea-side medieval town that boasts lovely white-washed and blue-shuttered houses, colonnades, thuya wood workshops, art galleries and mouthwatering seafood. Once called Mogador by European sailors and traders, Essaouria is known for its annual Gnaoua Music Festival that attracts 300,000+ people in June. It also has an expansive beach for surfing called Plage de Safi. Take a stroll along the town’s sunlit pedestrian main square, Place Prince Moulay el Hassan and the Skala du Port, the fishing harbor, offers breathtaking views of the Portuguese ramparts. Explore the ramparts and the spice and jewelry souks of the medina. The medina of Essaouira (formerly “Mogador”) is a UNESCO World Heritage listed city, as an example of a late-18th century fortified town.

► After your historical tour, continue treasure hunting in Essaouira.

Dinner Recommendations: Taros or El Mer, Essaouira’s top eats with sea views and fresh fish.

Spend the night at Palais Des Ramparts in Essaouira.

Essaouira Portuguese Ramparts & Boats

SEPTEMBER 19th: ESSAOUIRA

▶Rise, breakfast at your Hotel.

Bead & Jewelry Hunting in Essaouira:

Take time out in Essaouira’s old medina to visit the jewelry shops that specialize in antique Venetian beads, Berber Silver, Amber and Copal.

Dinner Recommendations: Taros or El Mer, Essaouira’s top eats with sea views and fresh fish.

Spend the night at Palais Des Ramparts in Essaouira.

SEPTEMBER 20th:  ESSAOUIRA – TAROUDANT

(Driving Time: 6 Hours)

►Rise, have breakfast at your Riad in Essaouira, then take the road to Tarodaunt.

►Dinner and Spend the night at Riad Zitoune Taroudant.

SEPTEMBER 21st:  TAROUDANT

►Rise, have breakfast at your Riad in Tarodaunt.

►Shop the Souks of Tarodaunt.

Taroudant is a Moroccan city located in the Souss Valley in the southern part of the country. It is situated east from Agadir on the road to Ouarzazate and south from Marrakech. It has the feel of a small fortified market town on some caravan route. It is also known for its local crafts like jewelry and carpets Taroudant is often referred to as the “Grandmother of Marrakech” because it is a scaled down, slowed down town that resembles Marrakech with its surrounding ramparts. Unlike Marrakech, Taroudant contains almost the whole city within its walls.

►Visit the old medinas’ ramparts with a guided two-hour tour then spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the souk of Taradount and treasure hunting in its shops that are filled with antique silver,  beads and shaded alleys occupied by gentle craftsman and shop owners.

►Dinner and Spend the night at Riad Zitoune Taroudant.

El Haj Bead Making in Taradount

SEPTEMBER 22nd TAROUDANT

►Rise, have breakfast at your Riad in Taradount then take the road to spend an entire day watching the Bead-making Process, rare demonstrations of Bead-making traditions. Lunch during your Bead-Making workshop.

View The Bead-Making Process:

View the bead-making process detail at the workshop where you can create your own jewelry from the beads that you have seen produced that day –  which will be yours to keep as a souvenir of your visit. There will be access to a wide selection of beads available.

Bead Demonstration Of Rare Bead-making Traditions:

During your workshop you will have the opportunity to witness a demo of three different styles of bead making.  Bead making enthusiasts will enjoy this demonstration as it will enable them to view how old traditions are still be practiced, produced and carried on in Morocco. Some of these traditions include utilizing couscous and other original Moroccan traditions to create beads. Travel Exploration Morocco was the first agency to record this “rare” bead-making process and your group will be second to experience it first hand.

►There will be an opportunity to also purchase beads and special silver and other Moroccan Jewelry during your Bead Making Workshop in Taroudant.

►Lunch in Taroudant at La Valla, a local restaurant in Taradount or at the Bead-Making workshop.  After lunch continue Moroccan Bead and Jewelry Treasure Hunting or return to your Riad to relax for the evening.

►Dinner and Spend the night at Riad Zitoune Taroudant.

SEPTEMBER 23rd:  TAROUDAUNT – TAZNAGHT- OUARZAZATE

Breakfast at your Riad. Then take the road to Ouarzazate.

En route to Ouarazate, you will stop at the Taliouine Saffron Cooperative. Taliouine is the traditional area of cultivation of saffron in Morocco and has been for hundreds of years.  The Taliouine Souktana cooperative is on the road to Taroudant, in the village of Taliouine, in the heart of Sirwa Mountains. The Taliouine Cooperative sells only a truly biological saffron, cultivated according the traditional ways, with natural fertilizers . The mountains dry climate is ideal for such a culture.

After visiting the Taliouine Saffron Cooperative , continue the road to Ouarzazate.

Dinner and Spend the night at Riad Dar Chamaa in Ouarzazate.

Ait Atta Headdress Pendant

SEPTEMBER 24th: OUARZAZATE (MORNING JEWELRY SHOPPING & VISIT OF THE ATLAS FILM STUDIO OR OPTIONAL AFTERNOON VISIT OF OUARZAZATE)

►Rise early, breakfast at your Riad and then spend the morning jewelry shopping in Ouarzazate. Lunch near Kasbah Taourirt.

►Discover treasure hunting in this calm, oasis of Southern Morocco that was originally an administrative center during the French Protectuate. Discover jewelry just outside Kasbah Taouirt and in the old market alongside the smells of Berber Amber and Musk.

►Have a walk across from the antique jewelry shops and option to visit Kasbah Taourirt. Kasbah Taorirt was built by the Glaoui. Its location was strategic for trading routes and in the 1930’s when the Glaoui ruled the South it was then one of Morocco’s largest Kasbahs. Explore its nooks and crannies and discover some local female painters who sell their art inside as well as the many quality silver shops just steps outside the Kasbah.

►In the afternoon, visit the Atlas Film Studios. The Atlas Film Studios studios are flanked by Holly-wood style Egyptian figures and cover 30,000 sq m of desert. David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabiaat The Atlas Film Studios in the early 1960’s. Since then many famous directors have followed in his footsteps to exploit the magnificent scenery. International blockbusters shot here in recent years include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara. Most of the filming takes place in the desert in the south however you can view the Tibetan monastery featured in Scorese’s Kundan and an Egyptian temple from Cleopatra. This ends your Morocco Travel experience.

Dinner & Spend the night at Riad Dar Chamaa.

SEPTEMBER 25th: OUARZAZATE (JEWELRY SHOPPING)

►Rise early, breakfast at your Riad and then take the road to visit the Ouarzazate region and its famous Kasbahs. Jewelry Shopping and Explore Ouarzazate.

Dinner at La Kasbah Des Sables in Ouarzazate. Le Kasbah Des Sables is a gastronomic experience with a menu that combines the cuisine of Fes, Meknes, Tangier, Arab and Berber with first class fare.  This restaurant offers a museum- quality atmosphere as its’ decor has been hand stitched together and is filled with Berber, Morocco traditional furniture and art that was hand crafted by local artisans in the Ouarzazate region. Each section of the restaurant offers an intimate environment and the opportunity to eat on tables that are hand painted and adorned with silver fibulas, Amber and other regional jewels.

Spend the night at Riad Dar Chamaa.

Berber Girl, Nomad in Bouthgrar's Valley of Nomads

SEPTEMBER 26th: OPTION EXCURSION TO THE VALLEY OF ROSES – VALLEY OF NOMADS – DADES VALLEY OR RELAX AT THE RIAD OR CONTINUE JEWELRY SHOPPING

(Driving Time: 2 1/2 Hours)

►Breakfast at your Riad. Take the road to visit Bouthgrar, the Valley of Nomads and the Dades Valley. En route visit Kasbah Amerdihl in Skoura and it’s one thousand Kasbahs and palmary.

►Begin your visit at the breakthtaking Valley of Nomads Located in Bouthgrar is the Valley of Nomads, a beautiful 10 kilometer valley where Nomads live in caves that are surrounded by Mount Mgoun. Mount Mgoun is the second highest mountain in Morocco and boasts extraordinery views. Have tea with a Nomad family.  See first hand where they make their own carpets and co exist in Bouthgrar with other Nomad families.

►Your journey will then take you through the Dades Valley which covers 125 km between Ouarzazate and Boumalne du Dadès in the High Atlas Mountains.

►Once you reach Boumalne at first sight you notice the limestone cliffs with uniquely shaped erosions and superb scenery and the valley’s pise (windy roads). Driving along you will pass flower filled fields, fertile fields, riverbanks and several fortified ksours. At the bottom of Gorge of Boumalne Dadès there are ruined hilltop Kasbahs and valley floor gardens.

►Lunch will be served at a nearby guesthouse that offers local Moroccan fare and a panoramic view. Relax and sip mint tea while gazing at the impressive valley view.

►Dinner & Spend the night at Riad Dar Chamaa.

SEPTEMBER 27th:  OUARZAZATE – MARRAKECH

►Rise, have breakfast at your Riad and then take the road to Marrakech.

►“See Ouarzazate and die” are feelings often expressed by Moroccans with regards to this magical city that is the door to the Sahara Desert. Located just four hours from Marrakech, Ouarzazate is the main Berber city in the south known for its spectacular sunsets and dramatic mountain and desert scenery. Surrounded by breathtaking valleys, Ouarzazate was once crossing point for African traders seeking to reach northern cities in Morocco and Europe. During the French period, Ouarzazate expanded considerably as a garrison town and became the administrative centre of the Zagora region. Ouarzazate became famous when it’s nearby Kasbah; Ait Benhaddou appeared in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

► Then take the road to Ait Benhaddou. Located 32 km from Ouarzazate lies the picturesque village. Aït Benhaddou of Aït Benhaddou is situated in Sous-massa Draon a hill along the Ouarzazate River. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Aït Benhaddou is one of many locations in this region used for shooting Hollywood films. Aït Benhaddou which once served as the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech in present-day Morocco. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river; ten families however still live within the ksar.  Your guide will lead you on a private tour through this Berber village of towered and crenulated Kasbahs that once guarded the lucrative caravan route through the Atlas Mountains. Explore the Kasbahs by foot with the option to ride a donkey across a river. Aït Benhaddou which once served as the former caravan route between the Sahara andMarrakech in present-day Morocco. Most of the town’s inhabitants now live in a more modern village at the other side of the river; ten families however still live within the ksar.  Enjoy lunch at a Kasbah that overlooks Ait Benhaddou. Next, visit Kasbah Taouirirt. Kasbah Taorirt was built by the Glaoui. Its location was strategic for trading routes and in the 1930’s when the Glaoui ruled the South it was then one of Morocco’s largest Kasbahs. Explore Kasbah Taouirirt’s nooks and crannies and discover some local female painters who sell their art inside as well as the many quality silver shops just steps outside the Kasbah.

►During your journey to Marrakech you will also pass the olive groves of the Oued Zat, as you ascend onto the Tizi-N-Tichka Pass Road. Built by the French in the 1920’s, the Tizi-N-Tichka Pass can be described as having mountainous barriers, Mediterranean and oceanic influences and desert borders. long the route you will see panoramic views of the High Atlas Mountains as well as sights of fertile valleys, blue and red colored pise villages and other striking mineral environments.

►En route stop for lunch and visit the Argan Cooperative where Argan Oil, Butter and Cosmetics are made with the Argan nut by hand as Berber women crack the nuts and the grind them one by one. Have a complimentary tasting.  This cooperative is run entirely by women. Lunch in the village of Tadart.

►Arrive in Marrakech. Evening Free.

►Spend the night at Riad Palais Sebban in Marrakech.

SEPTEMBER 28th: MARRAKECH (JEWELRY SHOPPING & EXPLORATION)

►Rise early, breakfast at your Riad. Free Day to Shop the Souks of Marrakech for the special Moroccan Beads and Jewelry you missed out on the first time around.

►Sarah Corbett is available by arrangement for morning shopping guidance.

Jewelry & Treasures of Marrakech Viewing:

Evening viewing at a celebrated Jewelry store in the Spice markets of Marrakech.  Enjoy a two- hour viewing of fabulous beads, jewels and local silver pieces available for purchase and historical discussion about the origin and meaning of these pieces.

►Spend the night at Riad Palais Sebban in Marrakech.

SEPTEMBER 29th: MARRAKECH MENARA AIRPORT DEPARTURES:

▶Breakfast at your Riad. Departure from Marrakech’s Menara Airport.

ALL AIRPORT DEPARTURES from Riad Palais Sebban

Bijoux du Maroc Book

________________________________________________________

COST PER PERSON:

$4,325 USA /2,675 GBP / 3,030 EUROS

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:

$950 USA /652GBP /579 EUROS

Sarah Corbett, North African Jewelry Expert & Bead Tour Host Treasure Hunting in Agdz

Sarah Corbett- North African Jewelry Expert

For more information about Morocco’s Treasure Hunting Tour of North African Silver Jewelry & Trade Beads

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Argan Oil & Goats in Trees, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Argan goats climbing trees

The first time I visited Morocco, I saw postcards that featured goats perched in Argan trees. Sure, I thought, this is a gag. Surely they must have either tied stuffed goats to branches or retouched photos. So the first time I visited Argan Country, near Essaouira and Agadir, boy, was I surprised. There were real goats in the trees! Munching away! I soon found out that was going on. The goats were exclusively found in argan trees.

Woman making Argan oil at Argan cooperative Tizzin' Tichka Pass

Argan is a relative of the olive, and the goats were eating the argan fruit. Argan is grown exclusively in the southwest region of Morocco. It is difficult to cultivate and as a result, wild trees are treasured. Argan oil is prized in Morocco and recently has been discovered by the West. It has been used for centuries for cooking and cosmetics. The oil is extracted from the kernel of the pits.

There are many women’s cooperatives in the region that help poor women with employment and educate their children as well. It is fascinating to see how experienced “crackers” take the small pit (imagine an olive pit), set it against a large stone and with another small stone, cracks the pit open in one try. I’ve tried it and got a bloody thumb as my reward! Then the kernels are ground into a past with the oil running out. You can see this is a very tedious and time-consuming procedure that accounts for the high price of argan products.

Argan oil for cosmetics and cooking

The gustatory oil is delicious with a nutty, smoky flavor (due to roasting). It is used as a finishing oil for salads or fish or as a bread dip. According to Wikipedia, Argan oil is exceptionally rich in natural tocopherols (vitamin E), rich in phenols and phenolic acid, rich in carotenes, rich in squalene, rich in essential fatty acids, 80% unsaturated fatty acids  and depending on extraction method more resistant to oxidation than olive oil.

I love argan oil and always have a jar or two in my refrigerator where it keeps indefinitely.

The cosmetic industry uses argan oil in hair products all sorts of skin care products and lotions. It is often scented with rose, jasmin, or almond extracts. Unroasted oil is used traditionally as a treatment for skin ailments such as excema.

Now that I have visited the region many times, I am still delighted when we come across goats in trees and always stop to take pictures. You would too!

By Freya Ellinwood, Morocco Travel Writer

For more information about Argan Oil and visiting an Argan Cooperative on a Morocco Tour

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Moroccan Food & A Menu for Moroccan Appetite, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Moroccan couscous with raisins

Moroccan food is considered some of the best in the world. The easiest way to discover the true flavors of Moroccan cuisine are to take a Moroccan cooking class or explore various restaurants in Morocco’s Imperial Cities such as Marrakech, Fes, Rabat or Essaouira on a Morocco tour. Another way to discover authentic Moroccan cuisine is to dine with a local family in a Berber Village. Berber villages are known for their unique fare as result that their main staples in making Moroccan traditional cuisine such as couscous are grown locally in their fields alongside special herbs which allows for amazingly tasteful food. Moroccan recipes such as baking bread by fire and a tajine on starlit night can be learning on a Sahara desert tour to the Erg Chebbi Dunes of Merzouga whereby your camel trekking guide takes you off on a journey into the vast dunes to a Sahara camp at sunset to learn the secrets of the Sahara. To fully enjoy a Moroccan meal one must arrive with an empty stomach and then fully prepare themselves for a three or four-course Moroccan feast. As the French proverb says, “Appetite comes with eating; the more one has, the more one would have” so make sure to visit Morocco with an open palate and a big appetite!

Moroccan carrot salad

This menu and choice will give you a real taste of Moroccan food. Many variations are available.

  • Lamb Chops/Lamb burgers/Steak, Pork Chops/ Chicken Thighs
  • Carrot Salad
  • Couscous with raisins
  • Macerated Oranges

Lamb Chops/Lamb burgers/Steak, Pork Chops/ Chicken Thighs

Season the meat with salt, pepper, cumin and a touch of cinnamon (or salt pepper and ras al hanout, if you have it). If you can let is sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so, do so. Bring the meat to room temp (20 min) before cooking as desired.

Carrot Salad

Cook cleaned and sliced carrots as usual (in small amount of cold water, bring to the boil, simmer until tender, appr. 6-8 minutes). Drain. In bowl add carrots, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, lemon juice or vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil and chopped parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve warm or at room temp.

Couscous with Raisins

Cook couscous with small handful raisins according to package. Fluff with fork. Add lemon juice, cooked chickpeas (from the can), chopped herbs such as cilantro, parsley or mint, salt & pepper to taste. Serve hot or room temp.

Macerated Oranges

Peel oranges. Either slice or segment (supreme) oranges in a bowl. Add cinnamon, sugar or honey and ½ teaspoon rose or orange flower water. Let stand in refrigerator one hour. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Happy Cooking!

By Freya Ellinwood, Morocco Travel Writer

For more information about Moroccan Food and Recipes or a Morocco Tour

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel ExplorationTravel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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