Tag Archives: Berber Villages

Morocco New Years Luxury Desert Trip

Arabian Nights, Skoura Palmeraie

Arabian Nights, Skoura Palmeraie

Journey beyond Marrakech for a New Years Luxury Desert Trip. Take the entire family on a Sahara Desert Safari to Morocco’s Great South and experience the highlights of Morocco. Visit Ait Benhaddou Ksar, Lawrence of Arabia was Filmed Here. Explore Morocco’s natural wonder, the grand Dades Valley, sunset camel trek across the Erg Chebbi Dunes as an Arabian Nights Dinner and Berber Music at a Luxury Desert Camp awaits you. Go off road to Mount Mgoun and Sip Tea with Nomads. Have Lunch with a Berber Family in the Saghro Mountain Region and participate in a henna party designed just for you. A Morocco Desert Tour is not without adventure unless you discover the Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs in Skoura and stay in boutique, Moroccan riads and guest houses. A Grand Sahara Desert adventure tour to Morocco awaits you.

Travel Exploration’s detailed experiential and family travel itineraries for visiting Morocco are outlined on our website and for desert adventurers who want to take a Sahara Desert Safari to Morocco for New Years our trip is featured here:

Morocco Tea Ceremony, Sahara Desert

Morocco Tea Ceremony, Sahara Desert

Morocco New Years Desert Trip: A Sahara Desert Safari for the entire Family:

Day 1: Journey Beyond Marrakech via the Tizzin’ Tichka Mountain pass to visit Kasbah Telouet – Kasbah of the Pasha Glaoui, and Ait Benhaddou Ksar before driving via the palmeraie to Skoura.
Take the road to Ouarzazate. During your journey to Ouarzazate 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. Along 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.

Go by piste to visit Kasbah Telout, one of Morocco’s hidden jewels and a famous Kasbahs that is the origin of the Pacha Glaoui Family. Kasbah Telout is hidden among a tiny road in a small village that is 20 minutes outside Tichka. Its history stands alone with its original zellij tile, authentic, preserved silks and grand remnants of the Glaoui family. Telouet was once an important stop on the Southern Caravan route for traders carrying spices, slaves and other commodities. Telouet’s Kasbah also known as Dar Glaoui once served as the royal headquarters and residence of the Glaoui tribe. Until Morocco’s independence in 1956, the Glaoui had power in the central Moroccan and French administration. Continue the road to Ouarzazate. Visit Aït Benhaddou Kasbah. Ait Benhaddou Kasbah is located 32 km from Ouarzazate. Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on 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. Continue to Skoura, the Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs. Overnight at a Boutique Riad in Skoura.

Desert oasis with palm trees - Zagora - Draa valley - Morocco

Desert oasis with palm trees – Zagora – Draa valley – Morocco

Day 2: Visit Skoura and the Palmerie of one-thousand Kasbahs before driving through the magnificent Valley of Roses onto the Dades Valley and Dades Gorge.
Visit the Skoura palmeraie and the Valley of 1000 Kasbahs. The “Valley of One Thousand Kasbahs” and Skoura palmeraie is a fertile oasis lined with immense palm groves that provide great views of the Atlas Mountains alongside deserted landscapes. The palm groves were laid out in the 12th century by the Almohad sultan Yacoub el-Mansour and named after its original inhabitants, the Berbers of the Haskourene tribe. The most beautiful kasbahs in southern Morocco can be found here. Many of them are still partially inhabited. Continue towards the perfumed Valley of Roses, just north of El Kelaa Des Mgouna. On the way to the Valley of Roses, your driver will stop for you to view the Capp et Floral distillation factories laid out in the small Kasbah town that manufacture the entire nations products of eau de rose. The rose water and other products such as hand and body soaps, oil, crème perfume and dried flowers are for sale and also popular among Moroccans. The factories produce 3000-4000 petals a year.

Visit Mount Mgougn and Sip Tea with Nomads in their rural cave. The Valley of Nomads is filled with cave dwellers who have lived in the Mgoun region for centuries. Your journey will then take you through the Dadès Valley, which covers 125 km between Ouarzazate and Boumalne du Dadès in the High Atlas Mountains. Overnight at a Boutique Guest House in the Dades Valley.

Khemlia Musicians, Merzouga Sahara Desert

Khemlia Musicians, Merzouga Sahara Desert

Day 3: Dades Valley morning exploration before visiting the the Todra Gorge and it’s large canyon en route to the Erg Chebbi dunes located in the heart of the Merzouga Sahara Desert.

Take the road to Merzouga. En route visit Erfoud, the capitol of fossils and the town of Rissani. Rissani is a Sahara desert town that is from the ancient Alawi Dynasty and the birthplace of King Mohammed VI, the current King of Morocco. Visit the old Mausoleum of Moulay Ali Sharif, the first King of the Alawi Dynasty. Next visit Maison Taureg House and then the old Ksar of Rissani.
Continue to Khemlia where you will visit Sudanese- Berber Gnaoua Trance musicians, Moroccan village. The Musicians of Khemlia have been living in this remote village for a century and perform 100 year-old Gnaoua Trance music songs. Spend an hour listening to Gnaoua Trance music using old world instruments by these Sudanese Berber Musicians. Tea is served and then there is an option to explore their village.
Arrive in Merzouga’s Erg Chebbi Dunes before sunset, and then go by dromedary at sunset into the Erg Chebbi Dunes to a bivouac camp. Your Tuareg guide will share some of the Sahara Deserts’ secrets. As you glide across humpback on these silent, mystical dunes there will be countless opportunities to photograph the endless rolling dunes. Arabian Nights Dinner and Spend the night in a Luxury Desert Camp.

Day 4: Merzouga Departure for Ait Ouzzine, Nkob Berber Village where you will enjoy lunch with a Berber family, participate in a private henna party and discover how traditional families live in this mountain and desert region.

Aït Ouzzine, just minutes outside Nkob is a Berber village inhabited by over 300 families who live in beautifully painted crenulated Kasbahs, with their own henna fields, water wells, livestock and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani. Meet a local Berber family; partake in a cooking lesson of how to make traditional bread and a tajine. Explore and tour the village by foot. Walk in the green fields and see how the traditional Berbers live with their gardens of herbs, livestock, and henna plants.
Sip tea with the Berbers in the Saghro Mountains and enjoy a traditional Berber lunch. The menu will include a traditional meal of fresh baked bread with spices and a chicken and vegetable tajine or couscous and fresh local fruits for desert.

After lunch, you can have your hands and feet painted with henna or your hair adorned with saffron by a local village artist and relaxes. Experience the tradition of Berber perfume made from musk and amber along with the villages own spices. End the afternoon in Ait Ouzzine with mint tea and almonds. Overnight at a Boutique Riad in Ouarzazate.
Day 5: Drive from Ouarzazate via the Ounilla Valley and Tizzin’ Tichka Pass back to Marrakech.
Visit the Oasis of Fint passing the “Plateau de pierres”. On this road you will find a shining Oasis of palms. Visit the Oasis of Fint that hovers under the Atlas Mountains. Journey on a one-hour walk inside the Oasis where you will have a cup of tea with the headmaster’s family Azziz Ouaziz and tour the surrounding area where date palm oases and dramatic desert scenery are king.
Next journey to the Atlas Film Studios. The studios are flanked by Holly-wood style Egyptian figures and cover 30,000 sq. m of desert. David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia at 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. Return to Marrakech.

A Sahara Desert Safari New Years Trip for the entire family.

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Family Adventure Vacations to Morocco

Morocco Family Adventure Tour, Sahara Desert

Morocco Family Adventure Tour, Sahara Desert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morocco is the perfect family destination as it offers a unique blend of cultural and adventure experiences for families looking for an educational and active holiday. The combination of Morocco’s grand Sahara Desert, old world souks, and mountain regions offer a pure and relaxed setting. On Travel Exploration Morocco’s Family Adventure Tour you will visit luscious food markets and fanciful bazaars, zip line across Morocco’s High Atlas, camel trek in the Sahara Desert, take a hot air balloon ride, learn how to make a Moroccan tajine and meet a Berber family. Moroccans are wonderful hosts and family oriented which makes the country ideal for family travel.

Visitors who take their families to Morocco for an Adventure vacation with Travel Exploration always report back saying it was the best vacation ever! Morocco Family Adventure Vacations are ideal for parents who want to have the responsibility for planning a family holiday out of their hands to be passed along to a Morocco travel planner and agent who will take care of the details. At Travel Exploration you are guaranteed to receive a hand curated itinerary that is fit for the entire family.

Morocco Family Tour, Kasbahs

Morocco Family Tour, Kasbahs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our family vacations to Morocco are private tours geared around each family’s interests. A private, English Speaking driver is provided along with luxury transportation for the entire family in 4×4 land cruisers or other comfortable vehicle suitable for Imperial City and Desert travel. Each Morocco family tour also includes stays at boutique riads and hotels that are well appointed in the old cities, family friendly and ideal for travelers to Morocco in all seasons.

Imagine a Morocco Private Tour where your entire family can have an authentic experience in their own private four wheel drive vehicle. Venture through the alleys of Morocco’s ancient medinas (cities) surrounded by exotic smells of the spices, olives, food markets, fresh baked bread and the sound of the muezzin call each day at prayer time. Discover a Souk Tasting Tour in Fez where you will visit a bread oven, try honeys, juices, dried fruits, soups, meats and other exotic flavors found on the streets of Fes. Visit palaces and gardens set inside the walls of UNESCO Fes.

Morocco Family Tour, Quad Biking

Morocco Family Tour, Quad Biking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quad bike across the Sahara Desert Camel Trek across the magnificent Erg Chebb Dunes in the heart of Merzouga, then overnight in a charming Berber Desert Camp with a 1001 Arabian Nights dinner fireside with drumming and desert music. Visit the Skoura Palmeraie and the Valley of 1000 Kasbahs. Explore Morocco’s Oasis of Fint and have Tea at the Head Master’s house just foot steps outside Ouarzazate, the Hollwood of Morocco. Take an adventure ride by piste to the Atlas Film Studios where Kundun, Kingdom of Heaven, Body of Lies, Cleopatra and the Game of Thrones were filmed. Dine on couscous and bread bake with a Berber family in the heart of the Draa Valley, known for over 45 qualities of date. Continue on to more popular regions through snow capped mountain passes. Walk in the footsteps of Morocco’s ancestors to discover Ait Benhadd Ksar.

Morocco Family Tour, Valley of Roses and Skoura

Morocco Family Tour, Valley of Roses and Skoura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drift through the majestic Atlas Mountains and the Tizzin’ Tichka Mountain Pass where Moroccan families Berber and Jewish have lived nestled in Kasbah fortresses and old Ksars for centuries. Then continue onto Marrakech for the a popular city experience and memorable part of a Family Adventure tour where you will witness an evening of acrobats and fire throwers at the medieval carnival in Djemaa El Fna Square under the Moroccan stars. Embark on Tasting all of Marrakech as you enjoy a five course traditional tasting menu guided by locals. End your visit on the Essaouira Coast which is full of blue washed color and seaside views. Horseback ride with views on the Atlantic and Portugese Ramparts.

A Morocco Family Adventure Vacation is the idea tour for families of all ages and sizes. Take an Unforgettable Family Tour to Morocco with Travel Exploration this season.

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Discover the Diverse Region of Ouarzazate, Through Kasbahs, Berber Villages & Road Trips

Ouarzazate Region, Kasbah

Ouarzazate Region, Kasbah

Ouarzazate became famous when it’s nearby Kasbah; Aït Benhaddou appeared in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. This spellbinding quiet town is the perfect home base for exploring the southern region of Morocco which is comprised of ancient Kasbahs, the Dadès Valley, the Gorge of Todra, the Atlas Films Studios, the Skoura Palmeraie along with the Sahara Desert regions of Merzouga, Zagora and M’hamid / Erg Chigaga. On a private tour from Ouarzazate there are many site seeing opportunities ranging from visiting the historic Ait Benhaddou Ksar, Kasbah Taourirt, open air forts Atlas landscapes to the the Valley of Roses and Erg Chebbi Sand dunes.

Ouarzazate is often referred to as a city “without noise” and is a direct translation of its name. This dusty Sahara town has immense desert charm and is the Hollywood of Morocco. Ouarzazate’s unique combination arid and dry North African landscapes boast stunning views of the Atlas Mountains. Ouarzazate was once the leading administrative city in the region and was purely developed for this purpose by the French during colonization. As the region of the South expanded, Tinghir and Errachidia, became a provinces with Ouarzazate losing its name as a hub for administrative purposes.

“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 Marrakesh, Ouarzazate is the main Berber city in the south. It is also 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.

As a diverse region Ouarzazate offers various site seeing opportunities ranging from the Atlas Film Studios, the CLA Film Studios, the Oasis of Fint, Ancient Ksars and Kasbahs along with Berber Villages.

 

Kundun, Atlas Film Studios, Ouarzazate

Kundun, Atlas Film Studios, Ouarzazate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to Visit in the Region of Ouarzazate:

Atlas Film Studios/ The Oscar Film Studios are flanked by Holly-wood style Egyptian figures and cover 30,000 square meters of desert. David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia at 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 along with the series Game of Thrones. 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.

Cleopatra, Atlas Studios, Ouarzazate

Cleopatra, Atlas Studios, Ouarzazate

CLA Film Studios was established in 2004 in partnership with Dino de Laurentis, Cinectittà and Sanam Holding. CLA Studios is open daily to travelers visiting Ouarzazate and the ideal place to see a combination of costumes, props, film sets other movie items used in major independent films and television productions. CLA studios is surrounded by varied landscapes, from desert to oasis. Renowned directors like David Lean, Bernardo Bertolucci, Martin Scorsese, Ridlye or Oiliver Scott Stone, chose to film at CLA Studios for its location. Films and television series shot at CLA Studios range from Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky, Black Hawk Down, Kundum, Gladiator, The Mummy 1 and 2, Alexander the Great, The Kingdom of Heaven, Sahara, Troy, Exorcist 1 and 2, Hidalgo and Babel.

Ancient Moroccan Ksars & Kasbahs

Ait Benhaddou Ksar is located 32 km from Ouarzazate lies the picturesque village. Aït Benhaddou of Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss Massa Draa on 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.

Kasbah Taouirt was was built by the Pasha Glaoui. Kasbah Taouirt’s 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.

Kasbah Tifoultoute is an ancient Kasbah (fortress) in Ouarzazate located 8 kilometers West of the city. Kasbah Tifoultoute once belonged to the family of Thami El Glaoui, the Pasha of Marrakech. The kasbah of Tifoultoute served as decor for films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Jesus of Nazareth. There is a stunning view from the terrace of the Atlas Mountains.

Berber Villages:

The Berbers are the original inhabitants of Morocco. The Berbers once occupied much of North Africa before they were persecuted and driven out or into the mountain ranges by the Arabs who came from Yemen in the 7th Century. One-third of Moroccans are Berber and live in the mountains, in villages within the Middle-Atlas and within remote areas of Morocco. Today, most Berbers understand and speak Arabic but their primary language is Berber. During a private tour to Morocco you can visit Berber villages in the High Atlas, the Middle Atlas or Anti-Atlas Mountain regions of Morocco. Within the Berber Villages you can visit old ksars, have lunch with a Berber family, and also learn about their village life. Ait Ouzine is a small village of 1200 inhabitants nestled within the Middle Atlas Mountains. Aït Ouzzine-Nkob is a Berber village inhabited by over 300 families who live in beautifully painted crenulated kasbahs, with their own henna fields, water wells, livestock, and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani. On a private tour, travelers can meet a local Berber family, sip tea in the Saghro Mountains, and dine on couscous.

Merzouga Erg Chebbi Dunes

Merzouga Erg Chebbi Dunes

Sahara Desert Regions:

Merzouga is a small village in Southern Morocco which is home to the highest and most gold dunes called Erg Chebbi. Merzouga is located in the Moroccan Sahara Desert and has the largest underground natural body of water. It’s Erg Chebbi dunes are the most visited by Moroccan tourists who want a majestic and authentic Sahara experience for camel trekking and desert camping.

M’Hamid El Ghizlane is the last Oasis in the Great Sahara Desert and historically where caravans gathered before setting off on journeys to Timbuktu. M’Hamid is also referred to as Bounou which historically was a village of various Southern tribes such as the Ait Atta Berbers, Drawa and the Hassani.

Zagora is referred to as the “direct door to the Sahara” since it is the last town before one reaches the heart of the Dunes of Tinfo, M’hamid and Erg Chegaga also known as Erg Chigaga.

Erg Chegaga (Erg Chigaga) is one of the two major regions of dunes in the Sahara Desert, the other being Erg Chebbi of Merzouga. These dunes are located in the region  referred to as the Sous-Mass- Draa and approximately 50 kilometers west of M’Hamid El Ghizlane and 98 kilometers south of Zaogra. Erg Chegaga remains virgin and an untouched region of Morocco and can be reached only by 4×4 land cruiser or camel trekking on a private tour to Morocco.

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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The Draa Valley & Berber Villages, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Kasbah Tamnougalt, Draa Valley

The Draâ Valley is Morocco’s longest river. It’s formation is that of the Dades River and Imini River and flows from the High Atlas Mountains southeastward to Tagounit and from Tagounit mostly westwards to the Atlantic Ocean somewhat north of Tan-Tan. The water from the Draâ is used to irrigate Palmeraies and small horticulture along the river. The inhabitants of the Draâ are called Drawi, used to refer to the dark skinned people of Draâ that make up the largest portion of its inhabitants.  The Draa Valley originally was known as the Valley of Olives but when the 19th Century caravans passed through the date palms arose within the trails they traveled.  The palms proved to be a better choice to continue as a grown commodity because they bare dates, are used to make baskets, leafy carpets and over shade for the inhabitants.

Agdz, Draa Valley View of Palmeraie

The Draa Valley is surrounded by and made up of volcanic rock and breathtaking landscapes that lend to traces of the old routes of the caravans. Agdz, referred to as the Door to the Draa Valley and famous for its market of dates and palmeraie is a charming, town with a palmeraie view worth visiting on a Draa Valley one-day tour. From Agdz Moroccan travelers can journey on a seven-kilometer pise in the Draa Valley to discover old Ksars where the Berbers have been living for centuries. This area is known for the Haritine people who are black descendants from the region of Mali.

Located in the heart of the Draa Valley is  Kasbah Tamnougalt. Kasbah Tamnougalt is an incredible example of a traditional Moroccan Kasbah with its soaring spaces built of red pise (mud), tunnels and interior spaces. Kasbah Tamnougalt also has a large Jewish quarter (mellah)

Ait Ouzzine, Berber Village

A visit to the Draa Valley is not complete without experiencing an afternoon or a Moroccan lunch with a Berber family.  Just 5 kilometers after Nkob, another Sahara and Draa Valley town, one can find a famous village called Ait Ouzzine (the nice village). Ait Ouzzine is nestled within the Middle Atlas Mountains. Aït Ouzzine is a Berber village inhabited by over 300 families who live in beautifully painted crenulated Kasbahs, with their own henna fields, water wells, livestock and gardens. This peaceful village is tucked away along an impressive desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani. On a Draa Valley tour travelers can meet a Berber family, partake in a cooking lesson of how to make traditional bread and a tajine. This unique experience includes waalking in the green fields and see how the traditional Berbers live with their gardens of herbs, livestock, and henna plants.

For an in-depth experience, Moroccan travelers can have lunch in Ait Ouzzine. An example menu would include a traditional meal of fresh baked bread with spices and a chicken and vegetable tajine and fresh local fruits for desert. Compliments of the Berbers guests who travel the Draa Valley region can end their visit with a Henna party or if visiting during the month of October, they can participate in date selection and date picking in the Draa Valley.

For more information about a Draa Valley  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 Exploration
Travel 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 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Visit Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Sahara Desert & Seaside Resorts, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Djemaa El Fna Sunset, Marrakech

Visit Morocco where the sun shines 300 days a year. Morocco is one of the ancient intersections of civilization. Boldly situated on the far northwestern corner of Africa, its expansive shoreline stretches from the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar to the Mediterranean. The cultural diversity of contemporary Morocco reflects its historic vantage point  as a gateway to Europe and the world. Morocco’s heritage offers visitors an encounter with an exotic society and its customs, an incomparable cuisine, and a shopper’s paradise of magnificent markets. Visit Morocco and explore it’s Imperial Cities, Sahara Desert and Seaside resorts. Visit Morocco and hike, trek, cook, sunbathe. Visit Morocco and indulge in all things Moroccan. Visit Morocco to explore Berber villages and off the beat places. Morocco should be on everyone’s bucket list. Make Morocco your next holiday destination!

For more information about a Visit to Morocco

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial Cities,Seaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of Morocco,Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best ofMarrakechFes, 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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How Does the Ramadan Fast Affect Tourists in Morocco? Your Morocco Travel Guide

Men At Prayer During Ramadan

How does the Ramadan fast affect tourists traveling to the Imperial Cities, the Sahara Desert and other regions of Morocco during this high holy holiday? Can tourists eat or drink in public during Ramadan?  This article should clear up the confusion on this issue for tourists, to explain the most polite solutions for tourist behavior at this time, and to assure tourists that there is no problem with them visiting Morocco during Ramadan.

Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, holidays such as Ramadan advance by approximately ten days with each subsequent year.  This means that Ramadan makes a cycle through the entire calendar of twelve months each twenty-some years.  This year, Ramadan started on August 12th, 2010 in Morocco.  The fast presently starts in Morocco at approximately 4:30 AM, and ends in the evening at approximately 7:30 PM.

Islamic Lunar Calendar

Tourists in Morocco during Ramadan often hear that some people are not required to fast because of sickness, or health conditions such as diabetes, as well as women having their menstration.  But non-Muslim tourists are often confused about the polite way to behave with Muslims during Ramadan; what tourists are permitted to do, or not do; and tourists wonder which stories they hear are true, or not true.

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca Morocco

Morocco’s Ramadan Law:

It IS actually true that Morocco’s laws prohibit “a person commonly known to be Muslim” from “violating the fast in a public place during Ramadan.”  It is called the Ramadan Law, and is under Article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code.  (This law also applies to Muslim tourists coming from known Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, if they were to flaunt the fast in public.)   The penalties are from one to six months in prison and a fine of up to approximately 100 Euros.  The law states that the only Muslims who are exempt from this requirement are children, the elderly, the sick;  and pregnant, lactating or menstruating women.

Sometimes one can read about small protests that take place in Morocco against this law.  The truth is, while this law is on the books, people are rarely prosecuted.  Usually, if there is a token protest, the police do their best to try to prevent the protesters from arriving at the protest location, instead of arresting them.

Remember, it is NOT forbidden by law  to EAT during Ramadan (even though it IS socially unacceptable for Muslims who should be fasting), which means that Muslims who decide not to fast in their own homes will incur no penalties (other than sin against God).  The law is very specific saying that Muslims “shall not violate the fast in a PUBLIC place.”  Keeping the fast is difficult, and becomes much more difficult if people actively break it in front of others who are fasting.  Therefore, the reason for this law is two-fold:  to make it easier for those who are fasting, as well as to both teach the young, and communicate the idea to all Muslims that breaking the fast is most definitely not socially acceptable.  This goes right along with several other laws in Morocco which prohibit certain behavior IN PUBLIC PLACES by Muslims (discussed below).

The whole key here is PUBLIC PLACE.  Let’s explore what this means.

Women Shopping During Ramadan

Those Excused from Fasting:

Children are not required to fast at all, although older children (8-12) might be encouraged to try it on a couple of special days during the month.  But no child is FORCED to fast those days.  Those who do usually try hard to get through the day because it gives them the feeling of being “grown up.”  They see the adults doing it, and they want to be part of that adult world, to feel respected and admired for doing so.

Younger children would never be encouraged to fast, even on those one or two special days.  They are still growing and Islam clearly recognizes that fasting is not good for their growing bodies.  If you go to a semi-private location, such as a swimming pool at a private club, you will find all the Muslim mothers feeding their children during the day, and no one objects to this.  But they are not eating out on the public street.  Muslim mothers certainly feed their children at home during the day, as well.

The elderly DO fast.  Elderly people fast unless they are in extremely poor health.  In many cases, doctors even advise them not to fast, but many of them do it anyway.  They do it because they feel there is moral value in fasting, and in many cases, it is a case of self-respect.  Some very elderly or infirm people give up fasting, but very rarely.

Sick (or injured) people are not to fast.  The question becomes how sick or injured one must be.  If blood comes out of one’sbody, such as if someone cuts themself in the kitchen with a knife accidentally, that would invalidate their fast for that day.  But the question is how much.  Suppose a man gets a tiny knick from his razor, is that enough to invalidate the fast?  Supposedly not.  But since that becomes questionable depending upon the size of the knick, many Muslim men shave in the evening during Ramadan, just in case.

People with serious health conditions such as diabetes can fast and are encouraged to do so if their illness is not severe and they have it properly under control.  Those with more advanced or severe diabetes are often told by doctors that they should not fast, yet some of them do anyway.  It seems to be a question of pride (or even showing off to others that they “can” do it) and maintaining respect both in their own eyes and from others, particularly if they are not old.  Some diabetics insist on fasting and even fall into comas because of it, yet continue to fast anyway.  Most Muslims, if questioned about these people insist that they most definitely should not be fasting.

People who are just a little bit sick (a light cold, headache, even sore throat, or ear infection) still have to fast.  If someone had a fever, they would be excused from fasting.  Malingering, when someone is just very slightly ill or not feeling their best is definitely not an acceptable excuse.

Pregnant women are not supposed to fast, but in fact, many do.  This is because pregnant women are supposed to make up the fasting days later in the year on their own.  The explanation given by some Moroccan women for fasting while pregnant is that, “I would not be able to make up all those days on my own.”  However, this behavior is most definitley not condoned by Islam.

Lactating women are not supposed to fast either, and are also required to make up the days on their own.

Menstruating women are not required to fast.  Most women find these days a welcome break during the middle of fasting.  However, if they are working in a company with mixed Moroccan and foreign workers, they will not join others in the lunchroom who are not fasting, even if they themselves are eating during those days; instead they wait, and eat at home.  The reason is interesting.  They say that if a man at their workplace sees them eating, he will know it is their time of the month.  They say they don’t like their male co-workers knowing this personal information!  Therefore, they don’t eat at work.  They must also make up those fasting days later in the year.

There is one guide book about Morocco which says something which is completely wrong. It says that in the days before Ramadan, you start to see some of the women and older people fasting a few days before Ramadan, in order to “practice” and be habituated  when Ramadan starts.  This reasoning is wrong.  What IS correct is that they are making up missed days from the year before, as those days need to be completely made up before the new Ramadan fast begins (or they are answerable to God for each day not made up).  Some elderly people could be making up days they missed.  A few, extremely devout people do fast a few extra days, as they feel they will earn “extra points” with God for doing a few extra days of fasting.

Ladies in Djemaa El Fna Square, Ramadan

About Public Spaces in Morocco:

The Ramadan Law is not the only law relating to public space in Morocco.

A similar law (and similarly confusing to many tourists) is about alcohol.   In places like Agadir on the boardwalk next to the beach, or in bars located in other cities, there is sometimes an outdoor section where clients can sit and order drinks.  In some locations, tourists can order a beer or glass of wine and drink it while seated in the outdoor section.  While Muslims can also order a beer or glass of wine (except during Ramadan or other Muslim holdiays when it is strictly prohibited), they must sit inside to drink it.  Those Muslims who are sitting outside are only drinking coffee or other non-alcoholic drinks.

Is this hypocrisy?  Most tourists think so.  However, Moroccans feel it is proper because being a Muslim country it is more offensive to Muslims in the street to see other Muslims consuming alcohol than it is for them to see non-Muslims consuming it.  It is a bit like vulgar words being bleeped out on broadcast American TV.  Everyone knows they are saying vulgar words, but at least Americans don’t have to hear those words.  It’s a similar situation.  Muslims in the street know that others are inside consuming alcohol, but at least they don’t have to see other Muslims doing it.

The Ramadan Law has a similar reasoning.  People can eat if they want to, but if you’re Muslim, you are just forbidden from doing so in PUBLIC.

Chebekia Moroccan Pastry Eaten At Ramadan

A Guide for Tourist Behavior During Ramadan:

Understanding these factors, what should non-Muslim tourists do?  Out of respect, they should follow similar behavior as Muslims who would be diabetic, or ill, or pregnant.

These Muslims would eat at home.  If they were sick while out somewhere, yet needed to eat or drink, they would go in a private place where no one would see them (a few people might go into a restroom if there were no other place, but only as a last resort).  Very few restaurants would be open during the day, but tourists would find a few, primarily in hotels.  Both Muslims and tourists could buy water at a shop, but should not just open it and drink it in front of everyone.  Instead, they should find a place to drink privately, not in public.  (One Moroccan Muslim man was attacked in Fes two years ago by civilian vigilantes for drinking water in the medina street, arrested, and subsequently released when his family proved he was diabetic.  But it’s clear he was pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior, and would have known it.  He could easily have explained in advance he was diabetic, and asked anyone if there was a private place where he could sip his water.)  So this is no reason for tourists to be alarmed.

If a tourist and were openly eating and drinking during Ramadan, people would most likely just give him dirty looks, understanding that he was a tourist.  But the polite and respectful thing to do would be for him to eat and drink well before going out.  It is advisable for tourists to take water in their bag, by all means, but just find a private place to drink it.  If a tourist needs to eat, he / she shouldn’t do it in public.  It’s perfectly acceptable for tourists to eat in any restaurant you find that is open, and these are most likely to be found in hotels or known tourist locations.

Harira & Dates, Breafkast (L'Ftour) Ramadan

Ramadan can actually be a very interesting time to visit a Muslim country.  After dark, families go out late, and plenty of interesting things go on until quite late in the evening.  Just be considerate of people during this month.  The Ramadan Law is actually just asking (and ensuring) that Muslims also continue to treat each other respectfully.

For more information about traveling to Morocco’s Imperial Cities or Sahara Desert During Ramadan

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 Exploration

Travel 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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Exploring Moroccan Kasbahs In Ouarzazate, Kasbah Taourirt & Ait Benhaddou, Former Residences of Pasha Glaoui, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Kasbah Taourirt, Ouarzazate City Center

For anyone interested in touring Morocco’s kasbahs or ksars, I highly recommend starting with Kasbah Taourirt, the Pasha Glaoui’s former palace in Ouarzazate. Its location was strategic for trading routes and in the 1930’s when the Glaoui ruled the South was then considered one of Morocco’s largest Kasbahs. As a Moroccan traveler you can explore its nooks and crannies to discover its history and often local female painters who sell their art inside as well as the many quality silver shops just steps outside the Kasbah.

Ait Benhaddou Kasbah, Ouarzazate, A UNESCO World Heritage Site

The word kasbah has two meanings. The first meaning of a kasbah is a fortified village, such as the mountain village of Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  In some cases, the word is used to describe the old medina quarter of ancient cities throughout the Middle East and North Africa, such as in Algiers.  Kasbahs are essentially attached earthen houses that were built and coexist in a sprawling pattern, which also contain structures for other uses such as bath houses or granaries.  Built out of adobe (mud and straw), they were usually situated on a mountain hillside to make defense easier.

A Kasbah Taourirt window, as viewed from the inside: wide inside, and very narrow to the outside, to keep arrows out.

The second meaning of a kasbah, which refers to that  of Kasbah Taourirt in Ouarzazate, was a place for the local caid (leader) to live which demonstrated a sign of wealth, and also as a place for defense when the city was under attack.  In this case,Kasbah Taourirt once served the dual purpose of being both an administrative center, as well as a fort.

For this reason, kasbahs were generally built with high walls and either no windows, or very narrow windows to keep out arrow attacks.

Kasbahs in southern Morocco are generally built on a rock base.  Rammed earth is used for the load-bearing walls, which are usually about two feet (60 cm) thick.

Construction of rammed earth walls by traditional methods

Lighter-weight adobe is used on the top story for ornamental work.

Kasbashs are generally started on a rectangular pattern, three stories high, with a tower rising from each corner.  Off of that, with time, the kasbah expands with additional rooms and passageways being built in a twisting, turning pattern, without any organized plan.  This is the beauty of exploring a kasbah, that one never knows whether around the next corner it will turn, or twist, or go up or down.

Kasbah Taourirt at Night

Kasbah Taourirt, located in the center of Ouarzazate, a Southern Sahara city and often referred to as “the door to the desrt” is one of the first kasbahs worth visiting on a Sahara Tour.  Kasbah Taouirt’s impeccable exterior architechture offers a good understanding of how kasbahs were constructed centuries ago and will enable you to have a better appreciation when you visit other kasbahs in Morocco such as Ait Benhaddou Kasbah and Kasbah Telout.

A passageway in Kasbah Taourirt

When visiting Kasbah Taourirt, make sure to have your Morocco Travel Agency provide a historical guide so that you are able to ask questions about the history of the era, construction and be guided throughout it’s maze like interior walls.

Pasha Glaoui–was once known as one of the richest men in the world.  Today some of his former residences are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Much of the Kasbahs in the Southern region of Morocco have been restored and while not to their original grandor can lay claim to being simply magnificent.  Most of the rooms Kasbah Taourirt are very plain however its interior architecture and exterior are majestic.  The fun in exploring any ancient Kasbah comes from wandering through the maze of passageways.  Kasbah Taourirt, like Glaoui’s other kasbahs, consists of approximately 300 rooms, and was built to house up to 1,000 slave sand family members.  According to a historical guide who mans the front entrance, Glaoui had four official wives and 20 legitimate children.  He also had 14 concubines and a total of 60 children all together.  Included in the kasbah rooms were  stables and garrisons, public reception and ceremonial rooms, domestic living quarters, as well as school rooms for the children.

Kasbah Taourirt Ceiling in an Official Reception Room

Many interesting architectural features can be found inside the Kasbah Taourirt.  Traditional dyes were used to color in the ceilings tiles that include saffron for the yellow, henna for the red, mint for the green, indigo for the blue, and kohl made from crushed galena (lead ore) for the black.  Other ceilings are made out of decorative thatched palm fronds and bamboo, which in some cases are painted, in others, plastered over.

Candle ledges, each about one meter high, in Kasbah Taourirt

In the photo above, it appears that windows might have been closed up, but this is not the case.  Found throughout the kasbah, these were ledges made for candles.

Kasbah Taourirt - one of the few decorated rooms

Many famous films include scenes that were filmed in Kasbah Taourirt.  Some are: Lawrence of Arabia; The Harem; Diamond of the Nile with Michael Douglas; Rules of Engagement; Prince of Persia; Terres du Lumieres; The Mummy; Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité; and Tés au Sahara (Italian).

When visiting the Ouarzazate, region, make sure to begin your tour at Kasbah Taourirt before exploring Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO world heritage site as this will give you a head start and background of appreciation that you can bring along during your Kasbah tour.

For more information about a Kasbahs, Waterfalls & Ruins in Morocco

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 Exploration

Travel 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 toda

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