If you wish to have an insight in to this wonderful country, this is an excellent starting point. You get to see all that Morocco has to offer - cities, coast, mountains and desert - with a view to being able to decide if there are parts of Morocco you would wish to return to and see in more detail. I would definitely go back. Morocco truly surprised me.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Spending time in the Atlas Moutains was wonderful. Kasbah Oliver is a lovely place to stay - you are are cut off from the madness of the outside world and at night time you get to experience true peace and quiet. There is no light pollution and so the stars are a sight to see. I have never seen stars so bright whilst in the northern hemisphere.
I am not sure if inspirational is the right word but I did feel like I had landed on another planet when we visisted the medina in Fes. Sometimes you got the full force of being in the Twenty First Century and then you would turn a corner and see something truly medieval - artisans and workers showing off their skills, donkeys in the streets, bizarre products and recycled goods. Sometimes you got a bit of modern and medieval mixed in to one - standing and experiencing the sights (and smells) of the tanneries whilst looking over hundreds of rooftops all laden with satellite dishes. Just wonderful.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Mustapha is a true legend - intelligent, patient, funny, caring and totally in love with his country. My bag broke between London and Casablanca (the zip died) and within 24 hours (at no stress to myself) he had been to the souk in Meknes and got it fixed for me.
We were all poorly (well 13 out of the 16 of us) and he was very helpful in terms of sorting medicines, asking after us and tweaking the itinerary for loo breaks when necessary.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Definitely take anti-septic handwash with you. As stated above, we nearly all had a poorly tummy by the end of the 2 weeks and so be very careful about only drinking bottled water and not eating salads and not eating fruit unless you are peeling it (oranges and bananas). It goes without saying to give the street food in Marrakech a wide berth and also the fresh orange stalls in the main square a wide berth (they water it down with tap water).
A lot of children we saw asked if we had pens/biros and so may be take a few extra to hand out.
If possible try and experience a hammam - you might get the opportunity in the mountains in Kasbah Oliver where Exodus have helped set up a community hammam. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced before and you will certainly get to know your fellow travellers well/intimately! My skin felt amazing afterwards.
If you want to take a carriage ride in Marrakech, ask the driver what is the colour of the current tag for the horses. If a horse has been to the vet for a health check in the past 4 months (and passed the check up) it will have on one of its front legs a coloured tag confirming that. Don't get on a carriage where the horse has not got an up to date tag becuase that means the owner is not taking care of its horse.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Starting with a small negative, there are several long days in the minibus, so be prepared for that. There are lots of stops but a couple of the days were quite long. The minibus was also quite small and so there was not a lot of room to move about and spread out.
This is a wonderful trip. It was tiring but there were also opportunites to relax, sit back and enjoy. What surprised me (especially after visiting Egypt) was that I was not hassled in the souks. The authorities have taken great pains to make tourists feel comfortable and there are always tourist police about, including plain clothes police (not that I or anyone in the group needed them). I felt very safe and I did wander out on my own.
Make sure you leave room in your bag for argan oil products, silver products, leather goods, wood products and carpets. Make sure you ask your guide where is best to buy the different products.