Our travel agency did a great job planning our trip to Morocco. I had one conversation with our consultant from the agency to tell her what we had in mind, and within about 48 hours I had an itinerary in hand that needed virtually no changes. She listened to what we wanted, talked through different itinerary options (e.g., going a greater distance to a more remote part of the Sahara, or driving less into a more touristy section of the desert), and made excellent recommendations.
The trip was great. We really enjoyed all the places we stayed, and our agency's recommendation of having dinners at our Riads was a good one. (There are not a lot of options in some of the small towns we passed through, we were tired by the end of the day, and the guest houses/Riads that we stayed in all had excellent food served in beautiful settings.) We did a LOT of driving during our trip. The drawback was the amount of time in the car, but we got to see a vast variety of topography in Morocco (coast, mountains, desert, plains, palm oasis', etc.) By spending a lot of time in the car we also got to go into the Sahara at Erg Chegaga, which was one of the high-points of the trip. It is incredibly hot in the desert, and at 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon, I thought I had had enough. But once the sun starts to go down, the desert is an absolutely magical place, and my favorite 5 hours of the two weeks was between 5:30-10:30 p.m. on our second night in the Sahara. We went on a camel ride far into the dunes with a local nomad named Ishmael (who spoke NO English or French), got to experience the silence and shadows, watched a breathtaking sunset, and then lay on a blanket under the stars in our camp while our host and two children from France played bongo drums around a fire.
Our host, was FANTASTIC. I would highly recommend him for other travelers who speak English or French. He was punctual, helpful, polite, pleasant . . . everything we could have wanted. The only “hitch” that we had with any of our plans was with the bird guide that the hotel in Agadir arranged for us. He showed up intending to pick up 6-8 other people from other hotels in town, and his primary intention was to drive us to where we would be able to see birds. Our host figured this out before we got involved, and told him that that wasn’t what we wanted or needed (we already had transportation through him). So he personally arranged for another guide who was a local character from Sous Massa, but who was colorful and who actually knew quite a bit about local birds and where to find them. I have no idea of how our host found him (they had never met before), but he was good and we appreciated his resourcefulness.
I would highly recommend this travel agency.
The time in the Sahara at Erg Chicaga. We visited an elementary school for nomad children held in a tent; had tea with a nomad family in their home; got to experience the intense heat of the day; rode camels into the dunes as the shadows of evening approached; experienced a gorgeous sunset in the silence of the sand dunes; and lay for hours on a Berber blanket looking up at the stars. It is hard to imagine living in the desert (which is probably why so few people do), but it was absolutely magical once the sun started to go down. Well worth experiencing, at least once in life.
I might see if there is a way to get into the desert with less days of driving. If I went back, I would also go further north in Morocco, but honestly, that's only because I've already seen the portions of the country that I saw on this trip.
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