anticipation & preparation: morocco

To prepare for my upcoming trip to Morocco, I started by booking a tour with G Adventures.  I usually avoid tours like the plague, but it is a small group (15 or less people), inexpensive, takes care of all logistics, and covers many highlights of the country. I will be going with my friend Susan, who I met hiking last year and who did the Camino several years before I did.


lanterns in markets

The Itinerary for the 15-day Highlights of Morocco tour will begin in Casablanca and end in Marrakech.  The tour begins on Monday, April 8 and ends on April 22.  We will both fly out of the Washington area on April 4, arriving in Casablanca on Friday, April 5, giving us two days in Casablanca before the tour begins.

  1. Thurs, April 4: Fly out from Dulles to Rome.
  2. Fri, April 5: Fly from Rome to Casablanca.
  3. Sat, April 6: Casablanca
    1. Explore Casablanca: Hassan II Mosque. Entrance is only permitted via guided tours, which operate from Saturday to Thursday (closed Fridays) at 09:00, 10:00, 11:00, and 14:00.
  4. Sun, April 7: Casablanca
    1. Explore Casablanca: its medina, beachfront, classic examples of Art Deco architecture
  5. Monday, April 8: Tour begins (Day 1).
    1. Explore more of Casablanca during the day.
    2. Arrival day and welcome meeting in Casablanca.
  6. Tues, April 9: Casablanca / Tangier / Chefchaoeuen (Day 2).
    1. Depart in the morning for Tangier (5 hours). Take a guided tour of city sites, including the medina, kasbah, Grand Socco (a bustling square at the entrance to the medina) and Petit Socco.
    2. In the afternoon, continue on to Chefchaouen (2 hours).
  7. Wed, April 10: Chefchaouen (Day 3)
    1. Free day exploring Chefchaouen, the blue city.
    2. Options:
      1. Hike in Rif Mountains.
      2. Hamam visit.
      3. Hike to the Spanish Mosque.
      4. Visit a local weavers’ cooperative
  8. Thur, April 11: Chefchaouen / Volubilis / Fès (Day 4)
    1. G-Adventures traditional lunch at Meknes (4 hour 30 min drive).
    2. Drive to Volubilis (45 min). Guided tour of ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis.
    3. Continue to Fès (2 hours).
  9. Fri, April 12: Fès. (Day 5)
    1. Follow a local guide through the Fès medina.
    2. Options:
      1. Ville Nouvelle exploration (free)
      2. Shop Fès medina (free)
      3. Hamman (traditional steam bath)
      4. Belghazi Museum (art gallery & panoramic view of the city)
  10. Sat, April 13: Fès / Merzouga (Day 6)
    1. A long but beautiful travel day across the landscape of Morocco to get to the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert: cedar and pine forests, the Middle Atlas Mountains, & sand dunes (10-11 hours!).
    2. Spend the night in a desert auberge (simple hotel) right on the edge of the dunes.
  11. Sun, April 14: Merzouga / Sahara Bedouin Camp (Day 7)
    1. Free day: either explore dunes by foot or relax by pool.
    2. Afternoon, take an overnight bag and take 1-hour camel ride to a desert camp deep in the dunes.
    3. Traditional dinner under the stars. * This part of our tour has now been cancelled.  Apparently, the Moroccan government has passed legislation banning these properties.  Instead, our group will stay in a hotel accommodation located at the edge of the Sahara, and we’ll have the opportunity to ride a camel to see the famous Saharan dunes.
    4. Option:
      1. Explore surrounding communities on a 4×4 excursion.
  12. Mon, April 15: Sahara Bedouin Camp / Todra Gorge (day 8)
    1. Rise early to get on our camels.  Watch the sunrise before heading to Merzouga.
    2. Drive to Todra Gorge (3 hr 30 min) Walk through local village farmlands and a stone desert to explore Todra Gorge.
  13. Tue, April 16: Todra Gorge / Ait Benhaddou (Day 9)
    1. Drive to Ait Benhaddou along the “Route of 1000 Kasbahs” to the town of Ouarzazate for lunch.  Town is home to Atlas Film Studios. (4 hours)
    2. Tour UNESCO World Heritage Site and Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou.
    3. Option:
      1. Tagine cooking class.
  14. Wed, April 17: Ait Benhaddou / High Atlas Mountains
    1. Drive from Ait Benhaddou, crossing the Tizi n’Tichka pass.  Head into Toubkal National Park to Imlil. (5 hours).
    2. With main luggage transported by mule, walk 1 hour to the little village of Aroumd, staying at simple mountain gîte for the night, with traditional homemade dinner with local produce.
  15. Thur, April 18: High Atlas Mountains / Essaouira (Day 11)
    1. Walk 1 hour back from Aroumd to Imlil.
    2. Drive from Imlil to Essaouira – arrive mid-afternoon (Driving time??)
    3. Essoaouira: explore the funky, Portuguese-flavored, hippie coastal village.
  16. Fri, April 19: Essoaouira (Day 12)
    1. Enjoy a free day exploring the coastal town.
    2. Options:
      1. Windsurfing
      2. Shopping
      3. Kite Surfing
      4. Surfing
      5. Hamman
  17. Sat, April 20: Essoaouira / Marrakech (Day 13)
    1. Drive to Marrakech (3 hours)
    2. Marrakech Medina guided walk. Visit the historical Koutoubia Minaret and gardens, Bahia Palace, the Mellah, and the Saadian Tombs.
    3. Options:
      1. Djemaa el Fna Market Square Visit 1-3 hours (free)
      2. Jardins Majorelle
      3. Traditional Moroccan Dinner with Folklore Entertainment
      4. Ali Ben Youssef Medersa – Islamic college/musuem
      5. Musée de Marrakech – ornate Mnebhi Palace
      6. Hammam visit
  18. Sun, April 21: Marrakech (Day 14)
    1. Free day to explore
    2. Options:
      1. Djemaa el Fna Market Square Visit 1-3 hours (free)
      2. Jardins Majorelle
      3. Traditional Moroccan Dinner with Folklore Entertainment
      4. Ali Ben Youssef Medersa – Islamic college/museum
      5. Koubba Ba’adiyn (12th C shrine)
      6. Musée de Marrakech – ornate Mnebhi Palace
      7. El Badi Palace
      8. Hammam visit
  19. Mon, April 22: Tour ends. Depart at any time (Day 15)
    1. Susan and I will stay one more night in Marrakesh.
  20. Tue, April 23: I take a shuttle from Marrakesh to Casablanca;  from there I fly to Rome.

northern Morocco


southern Morocco

To supplement the tour and find things to do in the places during free times, I looked through one rather old guidebook, a newer one Susan gave me that she got for free, and a book about Moroccan culture:

  1. Lonely Planet Morocco (10th edition: August 2011)
  2. Morocco: Moon Handbooks by Lucas Peters
  3. Culture Smart: Morocco: the essential guide to customs & culture by Jillian York

camels in the desert (actually from Salalah, Oman)

I found some novels set in Morocco:

  1. The Time in Between by Maria Duenas (also known as The Seamstress) *****
  2. The Tattooed Map by Barbara Hodgson ****
  3. Tangerine by Christine Mangan ****
  4. The Forgiven by Lawrence Osborne
  5. Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir, Michèle Fitoussi
  6. Travels with a Tangerine: From Morocco to Turkey in the Footsteps of Islam’s Greatest Traveler by Tim Mackintosh-Smith
  7. The Sand Child by Tahar Ben Jelloun
  8. A Palace in the Old Village by Tahar Ben Jelloun
  9. This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun
  10. Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatema Mernissi
  11. Beyond the Veil by Fatima Mernissi
  12. Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami
  13. Secret Son: A Novel by Laila Lalami
  14. The Blue Hour by Douglas Kennedy
  15. The Saffron Gate by Linda Holeman
  16. The Saffron Trail by Rosanna Ley
  17. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
  18. The Spider’s House by Paul Bowles
  19. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
  20. For Bread Alone by Mohamed Choukri
  21. In Morocco by Edith Wharton (1920)
  22. Fez
    1. A House in Fez: Building a Life in the Ancient Heart of Morocco by Suzanna Clarke
  23. Marrakesh
    1. The Voices of Marrakesh: A Record of a Visit by Elias Canetti
  24. Casablanca
    1. The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah
    2. In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams by Tahir Shah – currently reading
  25. Tangier
    1. Leaving Tangier by Tahar Ben Jelloun ***
    2. The Tangier Diaries by John Hopkins
    3. Tangier: A Literary Guide for Travelers by Josh Shoemake (2013)
    4. Tangier by Steven Holgate
  26. DESIGN
    1. new Moroccan Style: The Art of Sensual Living by Susan Sully
    2. Moroccan Style by Alexandra Bonfante-Warren
    3. Moorish Style by Miles Danby
    4. Moroccan Interiors by Lisa Lovatt-Smith

To see books set internationally, please visit books | international a-z |


Novels I own set in Morocco

I also found the following movies / t.v. series set in Morocco:

  1. Morocco (1930)
  2. Casablanca (1942) *****
  3. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) *****
  4. The Wind and the Lion (1975)
  5. Marrakech Express (1989)
  6. The Sheltering Sky (1990)
  7. Hideous Kinky (1998)
  8. Legionnaire (1998)
  9. Hidalgo (2004) ***
  10. Changing Times (2004)
  11. Alexander (2004)
  12. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
  13. Sahara (2005)
  14. Syriana (2005) ****
  15. Babel (2006) ****
  16. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
  17. Of Gods and Men (2010)
  18. Hanna (2011)
  19. The Source (La Source des Femmes) (2011)
  20. Horses of God (2012)
  21. My Makhzen and Me (2012) (Feb 20 movement – documentary)
  22. Exit Marrakech (2013)
  23. The Time In Between – TV Series (2013-2014) (Spanish) *****
  24. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)
  25. Queen of the Desert (2015)
  26. Much Loved (2015)
  27. Our Kind of Traitor (2016)

lanterns in the markets


Here are my intentions for this trip (I’ve added taking photos of interior decor to my photo intentions):


Morocco Intentions


Morocco Intentions

I also made up a Spotify playlist of Arabic music: moroccan dreams.


Morocco trip 2019


“ANTICIPATION & PREPARATION” INVITATION: I invite you to write a post on your own blog about anticipation & preparation for a particular destination (not journeys in general). If you don’t have a blog, I invite you to write in the comments. Include the link in the comments below by Thursday, April 25 at 1:00 p.m. EST.  When I write my post in response to this challenge on Friday, April 26, I’ll include your links in that post.

This will be an ongoing invitation, on the 4th Friday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂  If you’d like to read more about the topic, see: journeys: anticipation & preparation.

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!

the ~ wander.essence ~ community

I invite you all to settle in and read posts from our wandering community. I promise, you’ll be inspired!

Thanks to all of you who wrote posts about anticipation and preparation. 🙂