A journey to Morocco requires the following characteristics in a traveler:
1. The ability to keep your wits about you as your mind is assaulted with a flurry of sensory experiences. Fragrant odors wafting from every street vendor and spice market, constant commentary from the street tout that will follow you relentlessly throughout town and high pressure sales pitches to buy ‘beautiful carpets’.
2. A willingness to change your itinerary at some point or multiple points during your trip as dictated by your bowels.
3. An appreciation for the stillness that will come, after you’ve watched the sunset over a Saharan dune and are relaxing under the starry sky.
Morocco is a country rich in culture and culinary experiences, not to mention fascinating shopping adventures. We traveled to Morocco in 2007 using the 2 week itinerary below but I will recommend a shorter duration when traveling with children. The experience will be amazing but perhaps a bit intense for long periods of time. If I return with my daughter, I would go to Marrakesh and stay in a hotel in the Ville Nouvelle or Hivernage area that has a swimming pool. It is still close enough to the medina that you could walk or take a quick taxi ride in to see the snake charmers and performers at the Djemaa-el-Fna. At night the stalls sell all types of food, but some fun ones for kids to see would include the goats heads. Marrakesh has lots of culture and educational experiences but it also has waterparks and camel rides to keep the kids happy. After Marrakesh, I would fly to Ouarzazate and arrange a camel trek and overnight in a tented camp in the desert.
For those who are interested in a 2 week itinerary, here it is:
Day 1- International flights from North America, often arrive in Casablanca. If you can get one to Fes directly, I would recommend it.
Rent a Car in Casablanca ( airport ). Drive to Fes. Stay at Dar Roumana in the Qarmosa Suite. Fes is an ancient labyrinth where you can enjoy getting lost as you walk past interesting stalls and shops. There are some good restaurants and you can visit a tannery to see where they dye the leather.
Transfer to Batha Hotel in Fes. (Dar Roumana was beautiful but booked the other 2 nights. Batha Hotel was very basic but had a swimming pool and a better location for walking at night.) Spend your time getting lost in the medina, shopping along the way and sampling some food.
Drive from Fes to Merzouga. Pass through the middle Altas mountains, stop in Ifrane, a town that looks like it should be in Switzerland. Continue on to drive through beautiful palmeries until you reach the desert. Stay at Kasbah Derkaoua for 2 nights and spend one night in bivouac under stars in desert after a camel trek to get there.
Drive through Todra Gorge and do some hiking. Stay overnight outside Ouazarzate at Chez Talout. The dining terrace overlooked a palmerie, riverbed and village which we enjoyed walking through the next day.
Drive from Ouazarzate to Marrakesh
1 night at Riad Nejma Lounge (this riad was a bit far away from the main tourist areas but nice place to stay). Shop, dine and be entertained at Djemaa El-Fna, wander the medina, visit medersas and view mosques.
Transfer to Jnane Mogador in Marrakesh 2 nights
Atlas Mountains – hiking and camping ( this part of our trip had to be cancelled due to gastrointestinal upset)
Drive to the Atlantic coast, visit the town of Essaouira. Continue on to Oualidia and stay at Hotel-Restaurant L’initiale. Relax on the beach and enjoy meals of fresh seafood served by locals on the beach or at nearby restaurants.
Day 14- Drive back to Casablanca for return flight home.