Sunday, September 25, 2011

Morocco. Itinerary.

Generally speaking, I adjust my travel style according to what makes the most sense given where I'm going. In some places, independent travel is the best whereas in other places, a conducted tour is the wiser option. In most cases, a mix of travel styles works best. For Morocco, the majority of the trip will be independent travel.

To make it a bit easier on us, I will arrange for tour to take us from Fes to Marrakesh as we'll be traveling through the Sahara Desert and the High Atlas Mountains and I want to have someone sweat over the transportation and accommodation details in these remote areas. Planning the itinerary has been pretty easy overall because we're not going to be going to that many places. Instead, we'll be spending more in Fes and Marrakesh - taking a more relaxed approach to the trip than I have done on previous travels.


"The route "
The plan is to fly into Casablanca.  There are enough flight options and I'm hoping that because we're going during low season, we'll be able to get relatively good ticket prices.  Flying has become so expensive!

We'll spend a day in Casablanca to get ourselves oriented.  My Moroccan friends have told me there's not much historical stuff to see there and I think that unless you're a local or know a local, you won't enjoy the modern city.

From Casablanca, we take the train to Fes for a four day stay, skipping Rabat which lies along the route between the two cities. On two or three of those days, we'll take side trips to Meknes, Volubilis and Chefchaouen. We can easily reach all three via either bus or train.

From Fes, we head southwest towards Marrakesh via the desert and the mountains. Along the way, we would stop at Merzouga which is the gateway Erg Chebbi - the famous sand dunes of the Moroccan Sahara. From the desert, we head into the High Atlas Mountains and somewhere along the way pass through either the Dades Gorge or the Todra gorge. In the mountains, we would stop at Ouarzazate for a visit to Aït Benhaddou which is a ksar, a 'fortified city' that lies along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakesh in present-day Morocco. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site and so a "must-see".  I haven't settled on any tour - so many different options!
 
We'll have another 4 day stay in Marrakesh. There's lots to see and I don't want to rush it.  I think we could spend a full day just wandering in the souq :-)

Boarding a train, we'll head to Essaouira which is a beach town on the coast. It's a long enough train ride that you need to spend the night and so we'll be there for two nights.

Then it's back to Casablanca and from there, home.

I still have to map out the transportation details and accommodations.  Not much time to plan but with Morocco, travel is easy so I'm not worried - we'll figure it out!