Overall this was an excellent trip. I downgraded by one star because the agent who started planning our trip with us left the agency in the middle of the process, and a few details apparently were lost in the handoff. (I clearly laid out our physical limitations before the trip, but this information was not transmitted to our guides, and we found ourselves on a 5 hour hike that was beyond our capabilities. After the fact we learned there was an easier excursion we could have taken that day. I was also misled that hiking shoes would "not" be necessary). Also once we were underway, we realized that some of the additional art destinations we requested in Marrakech had been shoe-horned into the itinerary where there was actually no time between two other appointments. In retrospect a conversation about that might have been helpful ahead of time: we might have foregone the second camel-ride-and-dinner-in-the-desert, or perhaps skipped the cooking class, in order to make time to see the Matisse collection, CMOOA, and/or MACMA. Apart from that, the itinerary, experiences, guides, and driver were all wonderful.
An ATV ride to visit Kasbah Ait Benhaddou near Ouarzazate. We would never have considered an ATV excursion if we hadn't been encouraged by the travel company...but it took us through a stunning landscape, empty of people & buildings, a beautiful dramatic scene. The ATV's turned out to be fun, despite the noise.
We rarely shop when we travel, but we enjoyed all the opportunities to watch and hear explanations of the artisanal production of carpets, jewelry, pottery, woodwork, and leather goods...particularly the ancient and still-operational tannery in Fes...and yes, came home with lots of beautiful things.
Art in Marrakech was another high point, especially the MACAAL museum, Majorelle Gardens, YSL museum and Berber museum, the Galerie de la Palmeraie, Musée Mathaf (works of Farid Belkahia), and Hassan Hajjaj's gallery at Riad Yima.
There was quite a lot of driving involved in this trip, but there was adequate compensation in the great variety of gorgeous landscape everywhere.
Our guide and driver were both exceptionally kind and competent, and the guide a knowledgeable and interesting conversationalist. We felt lucky to have such company for the duration.
A couple of years ago we'd been spoiled by our first trip organized by a Zicasso partner. It was seamless, spectacularly tailored to our specific interests & needs, and impressively affordable given the quality of the experiences we were offered. I realize now that this time around I trusted a bit too much to the agency...I should have studied the itinerary more closely and asked more questions.
One question that did come up was why this Morocco trip turned out to be as expensive as our month in Spain had been, though we had fewer specially-arranged and exclusive experiences, and the cost of living in Morocco is far less. This was never adequately explained before we left, but a few days into our trip the real reason dawned on me. By engaging a single driver and guide for the whole trip, we were paying for their room and board the entire time. In Spain, we had drivers and guides local to each city we visited, so we were only paying for their day-work. This is a distinction that may seem obvious, but the travel company and Zicasso ought to make it clear for any customers who happen to be as dense as I am. It would have inspired a more careful discussion about the choice of a "National Guide" and how that impacted the trip cost. Perhaps we would have made the same choice in any case---I don't know if we would have had the same capacity to communicate in English had we used local guides in every town, and as it was we were exceptionally happy with our guide and driver---but it would have been better to understand this issue ahead of time.
Just one of the hotels was a disappointment: near Ouarzazate. The courtyard and pool were pretty, but the dinner and breakfast buffets were second-rate and the dining area dreary. Perhaps that was the best available option in the area?
Travel Company Comments:
Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience, we very much appreciate your constructive feedback and are very delighted that you enjoyed your trip and had a wonderful time with your driver and guide.
We would like to apologize about the mishap regarding your hike in the mountains as well as the lack of time between the art destinations that you added to your plan. We wish we have heard about these issues while you were on the ground and during our several check-in calls with you, so that we can coordinate with your guide to make your itinerary more flexible to include more visits and/or more down time, as this is one of the perks of having a national guide throughout the trip.
As for your comments about the hotel in Ouarzazate, it is indeed one of the best accommodations available in the area of Ouarzazate, however, we will definitely take your feedback into consideration and reevaluate the property.
On behalf of our team, we would like to thank you again for sharing your honest feedback and also for trusting Zicasso with your trip, it was our pleasure to show you a memorable time across our country.
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