Kids in the Kasbahs Trip Notes
Trip code: FFWE
Trip length: 8 days
- Haggle in the bazaars of vibrant Marrakech
- Ride camels on the beach and play 'pirates' in historical Essaouira
- Visit Berber villages in the Atlas Mountains
Imagine the twisting alleyways of an ancient medina, a crowded souk full of colourful pottery and carpets or the sound of a muezzin calling to prayer drifting across an orange plantation. Morocco offers all this and more - complete with a stunning backdrop of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. This short adventure provides a fabulous introduction to these exciting highlights. You visit the old walled city of Marrakech and more out-of-the way places that few tourists get to see - such as the remote villages of the Berbers, hidden away in the folds of the Atlas Mountains. Move on to the Atlantic coast to ride camels along the beach and explore the old pirate hideout of Essaouira - packed with colour and atmosphere. This trip offers a real insight into an enthralling and beautiful country.
The tour starts at the Marrakech hotel. You will receive full details of exactly where to meet your Group Leader on the Joining Instructions which will be sent to you 2-3 weeks before your trip starts. Even today, the name Marrakech conjures up images of scenes from the Arabian Nights: alleyways, souks, stalls and markets. This remarkable city, dating from the 11th century, never fails to satisfy the curiosity of adventurous travellers. The graceful architecture of the renowned Koutoubia Minaret, dominates the skyline.
Hotel Amine (AAA) - 1 night
The hotel is located just outside the city walls around the old Medina. It is about a 30 minute walk to the main square Djemaa el Fna (or short calesh/taxi ride) but close to local shops and restaurants
Drive to Ifergane; cross Atlas Mountains
You start your adventure with a bus journey (approx 6-7 hours) across the Atlas Mountains - rising to a height of 2092m at the Tizi-n-Test Pass. On the way you can visit the 12th century mosque Tinmal. Your destination is Ifergane, a pleasant village in the foothills of the mountains, and home to the Berber people who inhabited the land centuries before the Arabs arrived 1,200 or so years ago. These proud people still speak a separate language, which consists of three main dialects. Although Arabic is gaining an ever-increasing foothold, most people - especially the young - know a few words of French too. The overall journey time today is approximately six to seven hours - it is the longest travelling day of the trip. With the fading sun dipping below the mountains, you will undoubtedly find yourselves sipping a traditionally prepared glass of sweet mint tea while you wait for your evening meal to be served. The sound of the muezzin can often be heard giving the call to prayer.
Auberge Organier D'Or (AAA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (B)
Ifergane; Atlas village & oasis walks
Today starts with a relaxing morning, giving you the opportunity to walk and to enjoy the fresh air and scenery. You can stroll through the oasis and there are local villages to explore. The oasis is full of palm trees and streams of water giving an exotic feel to the area. You can have a go at riding a donkey around the fields. Afterwards, a short drive takes to Taroudante city (approx. 30 minutes) where you visit the tanneries. The distinctive smell of the tanneries is noticeable from a distance. Moroccan leather goods are very popular and here you can learn how the animal skins are cured to produce the leather. (B)
Agadir & beach time
Today you continue driving through the fertile Souss plain along many vegetable and fruit farms, crossing the Argan tree forest where you might see goats climbing the trees. You continue on towards Taghazoute beach on the Atlantic coast, where you have a picnic lunch (approx. 1 1/2 hours). This is a popular spot for beach lovers, and it is not hard to see why. The rest of the day is free for you to enjoy the wide sandy beach and Atlantic waves at Agadir where you spend the night.
Ibis Hotel (AA) - 1 night (B)
Essaouira; camel ride & picnic on the beach
You travel up the coast to Sidi Kaouki (approx. 2 1/2 hours), where a real highlight awaits you: You mount camels to ride across the expansive sand dunes - enjoying the view from this moving vantage point is a great feeling! Having worked up an appetite, you enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach before you get back in the bus to continue to Essaouira (approx. 30 mins). Arriving in Essaouira you find yourselves in one of Morocco’s most attractive coastal cities. The wild waves of the Atlantic crash remorselessly onto the rocky coastline of this old pirates’ hideout. Portuguese, Berber and French battlements encircle the maze of narrow lanes with tiny cafes looking out onto small squares. Two fortresses look out over the ocean, and on an offshore island stands another, even larger castle. As befits a seaport, the pace of life is more relaxed here, and the whitewashed streets lend a seemingly Mediterranean air to the city.
Beau Rivage Hotel (AA) - 2 nights (B)
Essaouira; explore port
This morning you can stroll around the lively old port, which is full of colour and interest. The early morning is the best time - when fishermen can be seen bringing in their catch or mending their nets. The harbour was once the lair of pirates who sailed out to plunder richly laden ships that passed along the coast - after all, this was the main trade route round the Cape of Good Hope to Western Europe. It later became a free port, when it had a small international community of merchants. The cosmopolitan mixture of different influences makes it a wonderful place to explore - and it is full of visual surprises. The whole day is free to relax and wander as you please. Take a leisurely stroll along the ramparts, visit the little workshops which specialise in ornate inlaid work using thuya wood (a local conifer), spend time on the glorious beach or enjoy a meal of freshly-cooked sardines down on the quayside. (B)
Drive to Marrakech; city tour
Leaving Essaouira behind, you journey inland by private charter bus to Marrakech; this will take approximately three hours. This afternoon head off on a walking tour of the centre - which takes in the main sights - and make your way into the sprawling souk. As is usual in a souk, individual trades and crafts are concentrated in one street or area, so the shoemakers are all next to each other, as are the jewellers, the potters, weavers etc, making it easy to find what you are after. This is the best place in Morocco to sharpen your bargaining skills, and you’re almost certain to be tempted by some of the extraordinary variety of merchandise on display - perhaps a pair of traditional Moroccan slippers, or some exotic spices.
The Djemaa el-Fna provides the throbbing atmosphere of a medieval fair; it always seems full of life and continues late into the night. In this great open square at the heart of the medina, snake charmers and jugglers are among those who vie to entertain you. In the evening wonderful smells waft by as food stalls cook up their local delicacies. Each time of day seems to carry a distinct character, so do keep popping back for more!
Hotel Amine (AAA) – 1 night (B)
The trip ends after breakfast. (B)
About The Imaginative Traveller
Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that adventure travel should be stimulating, and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of countries and cultures the world has to offer. Our focus is on innovation, not imitation.
Obsessed with quality
One of our strengths has been our obsession with quality. We've always believed that our commitment to you doesn't end as soon as you've paid for your holiday. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Whilst most operators simply get a local company to handle the day to day operation of their tours, we do it all ourselves. We have managers for each of our key destinations around the world and all our small groups are escorted by our own leaders. Our local teams include guides, drivers, administration staff and contacts in the local community who help us ensure that our adventures are active and involving.
For comparability, all prices in this dossier are quoted in one currency. We use the US Dollar since that is familiar to most. However, once on tour you will need to pay for all goods and services in the local currency. See your Country Dossier for details of exchange rates.
Trip gradesBeach / coastal
Souks / Markets
There are no challenging physical activities on this trip. The walks and camel riding are quite easy and you can opt out if you don't want to take part. Any healthy child or adult should be able to take part. It's more a case of preparing mentally for Moroccan life. Seasoned travellers are unlikely to have any problem with this. There are some longer drives through marvellous scenery. Minimum age: 5 years.
Transport - Minibus, on foot, camel.
Accommodation - Hotels and guesthouses (7nts).
Meals - 7 breakfasts
Single room supplementA single supplement is available for this trip priced from 105 GBP. This does not guarantee a single room for all accommodation. please contact us to discuss this.
For your comfort we recommend you travel as light as possible; many airlines impose a maximum weight limit of 20kg – we advise you to take 10kg as you will be on the move a good deal! For domestic flights using light aircraft the usual weight limit is 15 kg.
One main piece (a soft bag or rucksack, not a hard suitcase).
A daypack (25-30 litres), large enough to carry what you need for the day including camera, water, etc.
Don’t try to change money in the street in Morocco - it is illegal.
Mineral water in Morocco is usually referred to by brand name, Sidi Harazem, Sidi Ali or the naturally sparkling Oulmes. They're really cheap and you can get them anywhere.
Moroccan meals can consist of up to five courses! If you eat a little of each, you may just have enough appetite left to find some room for desert which is well worth saving some space for!
SOME INTERESTING READING:
Your Child’s Health Abroad - Matthew Ellis and Jane Wilson-Howarth, (Bradt publications)
Travel with Children – Maureen Wheeler (Lonely Planet)
Lords of the Atlas – Gavin Maxwell
The Sheltering Sky – Paul Bowles
A year in Marrakech – Peter Mayne
By bus to the Sahara – Gordon West
FOR YOUNGER READERS:
The Bachelor and the Bean – Shelley Fowles
Duel in the Desert – Walter Dean Myers
Tales from Morocco – Denya Johnson-Davies
Travelling Solo to Morocco – Bettina Guthridge
French is widely spoken throughout Morocco, but if you’d like to try some Arabic, here are a few phrases to get you started:
God willing - Insh ‘Allah
Thank you - Shukran
Aiwa – yes
La – no
Do you have vegetarian food available here?
Hal Ladaika taam nabaty?
Thank you; I would like to have tea with you
Shukran, ana owad an ashrab al shai maak
Which Arabic sweet or cake would you advise is the best?
Ma how tabak al hilo il mofadal ladaika?
I’m looking for the souk
Ana badawwar ‘ala as-sooq
Local Costs - Morocco
Average costs are given for guidance only, and may vary widely according to location and type of establishment.
Coffee/tea 8-15 MAD
Soft drink 10-20 MAD
Medium beer 20-40 MAD
Bottle of wine 80-220 MAD
Bottle of water 8-20 MAD
Local snack lunch 60-100 MAD
3-course dinner* 80-220 MAD
*reasonable mid-range tourist class restaurant.
Sleeping bag hire 60MAD/night
Please note that there will often be a certain amount of repetition in the types of food available. Tagine and cous-cous are both examples of very common dishes that you will encounter, and you should be prepared that meal times may become a bit monotonous.
Visas & Permits - Morocco
Holders of UK & IRL passports do not require a visa. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the end date of the trip. Nationals of all other countries should contact their local embassy or consulate. Information can also be found on www.travcour.com. This information is given in good faith, but may be subject to change without warning. Please note that, where appropriate, obtaining a valid visa is ultimately your responsibility. Please consult a visa agency or the consular authorities 4-6 weeks before departure for the most up-to-date information.
Please note the British Honorary Consulate in Marrakech is closed until further notice. Should you require assistance you should contact the Consular Section at the British Embassy in Rabat. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. British Nationals with a genuine emergency outside normal office hours may call the Embassy switchboard on +212 (0) 537 63 33 33 where the Global Response Centre can assist you. Please note that only emergency calls can be handled out of office hours. Visa enquiries can only be dealt with during office hours.
Vaccinations - Morocco
The following are recommended:
- Hepatitis A
For detailed information and advice concerning vaccinations go to:www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk. Vaccination requirements change periodically so we advise that you check with your nearest specialist travel clinic 4-6 weeks before departure to get up-to-date information. A specialist travel clinic should also be able to advise regarding any special vaccination requirements for your children.
Please note - Henna tattoos are commonplace in Morocco. You should be aware that some henna tattoos contain the chemical para-phenylenediamine (PPD), which can cause a painful allergic reaction, including swelling and an itchy rash in some people.
International rules for carrying medicines vary. Some countries do not allow certain medicines to be imported, or require official documents, such as a doctor’s letter, to prove drugs have been prescribed by a doctor and obtained legally. It is sensible to contact the relevant embassy or high commission of your destination to check what their drug transportation rules are before you travel.
The itinerary and supplementary information has been compiled with care and provided in good faith. However it may be subject to change, and does not form part of a contract between the client and The Imaginative Traveller.
Responsible Travel - Travellers' Guidelines
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
- It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
- We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
- Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavor to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at email@example.comThe Imaginative Traveller & The Adventure Company. This trip is operated by our partner company, The Adventure Company. They have more than 10 years experience in adventure travel and they share our ethos for offering unique holiday adventures. As this is a codeshared departure you can expect there to be both Imaginative Traveller and Adventure Company travellers on your trip.