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Imperial Cities and Desert MR

Visiting: Morocco
Trip Duration 15 Days
 

Reviews for Imperial Cities and Desert

Travellers were asked to provide a review of the trip, including highlights and tips.

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Imperial Cities and Desert reviews verified by reevooReevoo

60 reviews

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Imperial Cities and DesertScores 8.7 out of 10 based on 60 reviews
(7 out of 10)

Phillip

Dublin
Slow and relaxing pace. Lots to see.
You need good bargaining skills when shopping :)
Confirmed traveller: 04 June 2017
Published on: 13 June 2017
(9 out of 10)

Robert

Tadley, Hampshire, UK
An exceptional trip visiting the 4 imperial cities, the desert and the Atlas mountains. The highlight for me was the visit to the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca right at the start of the tour. The work that has gone into this building is absolutely stunning in its complexity and its imensity. I was also amazed by the roman mosaics and the remains at Volubilis. Of the Imperial Cities my favourite was Fes, probably because it was a little less crowded than Marrakech. I would have liked to spend more time here rather than in Marrakech. The visit to Rabat and Meknes didn't allow enough time to visit the medinas. The accomodation was in general good my only critisism being the location of some well away from the real centres of interest, specifically in Meknes, in Fes and in Marrakech. The itinery was very good with only the overnight stop in Ourigane falling short, again the hotel was in its own grounds but isolated, this hotel was graded superior but the rooms and facilities were of a similar quality to the standard hotels we had been staying in. Its gardens were however outstanding. I would have preferred to have the stop over in Imlil with the interest of the Atlas mountains and maybe a fuller walk/trek in this village.
Essaouira was a really nice fishing village with a working fish market and the hotel in the medina was very welcoming and well located.
Tips for fellow travellers - no tea and coffee in rooms so take a flask or a mini kettle. Also soap and toiletries not good in hotels so worth taking own. Book early to get direct flights or expect a flight change in Paris with 3 to 5 hour wait.
Overall this was an exceptional tour and exceptional value for money and I highly recommend it.
Confirmed traveller: 04 June 2017
Published on: 12 June 2017
(9 out of 10)

Kathryn

Stafford
Lots of highlights due to the varied nature of the trip. The sand dunes were stunning and although there were a lot of long drives, the scenery was wonderful. Volubilis was in a beautiful location and virtually deserted - in fact the low tourist numbers in most of the places visited made the whole experience magical. There was very little hassle considering the part of the world we were in and the Moroccan people were very welcoming. Marrakech was the only place were tourists were everywhere and this was probably the least interesting part of the trip as a whole - be prepared for traffic fumes in this city.
Confirmed traveller: 23 April 2017
Published on: 27 April 2017
(10 out of 10)

Maureen

Chertsey, Surrey. UK.
A very fast paced trip moving mostly each night into a new area with new hotel. Fantastic insight to the inner depths of the country. The mountains & villages with the way of life are well worth seeing. Only a couple of the days were long travelling but with numerous interesting stops. A truely fantastic trip. Each stop had its own merits in its own way. Everyone in our group had a fantastic experience with this trip. Recommend changing your currency when you get to Morocco - many cash exchange offices & plenty ATM everywhere (even in mountain areas). No problems with currency. Moroccan people are gentle and welcoming.
Confirmed traveller: 23 April 2017
Published on: 25 April 2017
(8 out of 10)

John

Maidenhead
Covered much ground enabling appreciation of Moroccan culture. Was rather compressed - could have done with a bit more time in each place.
Confirmed traveller: 23 April 2017
Published on: 25 April 2017
(8 out of 10)

George

Sandwich
Hassan organised almost everything perfectly and was anxious to make this trip work for everyone. The pace is quite fast but with so many exciting places to visit necessary. The hotels were generally fine although the one at Fez was appallingly noisy with a disco every evening and drunken locals outside until 4 am. It was also much too far from the Medina.
The local guides ranged from the brilliant to strong to absolute rubbish. e.g. At Marrakech Hassan was forced to use an independent guide who had no substantial knowledge except about 'vacche qui ri' and then avoid going into the souks in favour of 2 visits to 'friends' warehouses; so I ended up 'guiding' around souks I had previously seen with limited success. The harder walk at Todra was a highlight, less crowded and different. The trip into the desert (by 4x4 for 4 of us) and camels for others was also excellent and the particular camp used had a much more authentic feel than others nearby.
Food was eaten mainly at higher end restaurants and did dominate much of the day at times. I could have managed with less but others clearly thought this an essential part of the process.
Essouria just about remains a stunning place to visit but Marrakech is totally altered by low cost airlines and the 5th of my visits will never be repeated. Fez was more interesting.
Confirmed traveller: 16 April 2017
Published on: 20 April 2017
(9 out of 10)

Sylvia

Didsbury
In Fez, the Hotel Nouzha was VERY noisy. If you keep this hotel, you need to supply ear plugs. It was beautiful though. Ali, the local guide in Rissani, was a exceptional man and a wealth of knowledge. Loved, loved the leisurely walk up the Torrance Gorge. The local guide in Marakesh was intimidating ie. by asking women tour members for tips; offensive ie. he took us down medina alleys that had absolutely no interest and for the sole purpose of taking us to a souk that he had contacts with resulting in high pressure sales; disrespectful ie. he was on the phone a number of times- ~7-9 and avoided Hassan's phone calls to ask our whereabouts; and greedy ie. he did not accept Hassan's payment, demanded more from Hassan. Hassan was verbally accoussted which he did not deserve.

Hassan was the best tour leader we have had. He takes his job seriously with professionalism, a wonderful personality, and punctuality. He knew his stuff and we valued his advice.
Confirmed traveller: 16 April 2017
Published on: 19 April 2017
(10 out of 10)

Christine

Leeds
Hzssan was an excellent tour guide, and made my birthday very special on the13th April.
Confirmed traveller: 16 April 2017
Published on: 19 April 2017
(9 out of 10)

Laura

Somerset
This was my first Explore holiday and an amazing experience with a lovely group and an outstanding tour guide, Lahcen! He made the tour a lot of fun and passed on his passion for his country and his extensive knowledge. He even had the patience to teach us some basic vocabulary!

Some of my favourite memories include seeing the blanket of stars at the camp in the desert, listening to the local music as we went through the Middle and High Atlas (and Lahcen's singing!), the walk in Todra Gorge and how good the fresh orange juice tasted at the end, seeing the sea at Essaouira, sunset at Ait Benhaddou and walking through the palmeries and market at Tinerhir. I will also never forget seeing Lahcen overtake our camels as he ran through the desert both to the camp and the hotel!

The fresh orange juice, mint tea (do a thumbs down in a cafe and they will bring you mint tea), panache (avocado is currently my favourite) are all highly recommended plus if you like coffee, do order a nous nous. Be prepared to eat a lot of bread and olives as it is served with each meal. There are enough different tagines, couscous, brochettes, soups, salads and omelettes to have something different at each meal. Mid-way Lahcen took us to a cafe serving pizza in case people wanted a break from tagines and couscous!

A few things to note:
-There are two exits from Casablanca airport so if you don't see your guide don't panic! Lahcen came to find us.
-If you don't get a chance to change your money at the airport, then we made several stops at banks throughout the trip to change/take out money.
-Food prices varied but do allow more money for food if eating out for lunch and dinner than the Explore recommendation.
-Take some earplugs, as one of the hotels had a nightclub and others some noisy guests. This is more than made up for at the other hotels though!
-The Majorelle Garden in Marrakech is beautiful but do get there for opening if possible as it gets very busy, very quickly!
-Royal Air Maroc cancelled our connecting flight to Casablanca but they transferred us by coach and held our onward flight. The staff at Marrakech hurried us through so it worked out ok.

If you book this trip, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Thank you Lahcen and Explore! In our group, a lot of photos were taken, rocks purchased and happy memories made :)
Confirmed traveller: 02 April 2017
Published on: 17 April 2017
(9 out of 10)

Arthur & Anne

Cranleigh
Salaam alaykum…, la bes…...,was the way Lahcen, our excellent tour leader, started each day and helped to get us immersed in the culture to support all the different visual experiences on life and the landscape that we encountered on this very well run holiday. From the large cities with populations of several million, dwarfing anything apart from London in the UK, to the villages and landscape south of the spectacular High Atlas, including of course Tinerhir his home town, there was something different to see all the way. Lahcen’s knowledge of the history of the dynasties and the associated buildings was excellent. He got the balance just right on the amount of information to give, intermixed with humour, on the drives which had plenty of short stops. The food was good, albeit a couple of mix ups in some larger restaurants, and the mint tea and nous nous went down well. Our highlights were the souks at Fez, our local guide Ali and the Kasbah at Risssani, Ait Benhaddou and surprisingly Essaouira. Some begging and local fossil selling but not intrusive. Worth managing your small change. Another week to spend more time stopping off to explore more ourselves would have been nice.
Confirmed traveller: 02 April 2017
Published on: 08 April 2017