I am fortunate enough to live within ten minutes of my two closest friends from college, but even still, there is nothing quite like the intimacy, silliness, and wonder one feels while traveling and discovering a new country together. In February 2020, my friends and I recently returned from an amazing adventure on WT’s Morocco Private Journey.
Our first full day of our Private Journey began in Casablanca with a visit to the Hassan II Mosque, which belonged to the former King of Morocco. The scale of this modern splendor was the perfect introduction to the current royal family.
At the Casbah of the Oudaia in Rabat, we wandered along tiny streets near the Bou Regreg river. I loved walking past the painted blue doors, the designs that included the evil eye, and the Hand of Fatima door knockers that protect the houses from misfortune.
The Roman mosaics at Volubilis were incredibly intact and colorful. I had no idea that Morocco had such impressive Roman ruins! A testament to the many cultures that shape Morocco.
The city of Fes was a real highlight for me, including the fine mosaics at the royal palace and at the Medersa Al-Attarine, where Islamic scholars studied beginning in the early 14th century. My friends and I had so much fun wandering the labyrinthine souk within the 12th century medina!
We also helped our guide, Lhoucine, choose a new child-size prayer rug for his daughter!
We stayed two nights at Riad Fes, an impeccably renovated riad, with beautiful interiors and stairways that wind their way through the many annexes that make up the complex. We enjoyed the views of the medina and listened to the mesmerizing call to prayer from the outdoor rooftop.
We also spent two nights at our exclusive Sahara Desert Camp—my favorite part of our journey. The dunes undulating off into the distance, the vast quiet, the amazing meals, our gentle camels, and the stars and the sunrises and sunsets—all absolutely unforgettable!
We were sad to leave the Sahara, but the gorges along the Atlas mountains made for beautiful walks and scenery. We had time to explore the Casbah of Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We finished our journey in Marrakech, a contemporary city full of stunning architecture, mosaics, and artisans. On our free day, we spent a couple of hours at the Maison de la Photographie looking at vintage photos of Morocco, and purchased hand-made crafts and wares from the many friendly shopkeepers and craftsmen.
Our driver, Moustapha, and guide, Lhoucine, were with us every step of our journey. Their humor, knowledge, and generous spirits added immensely to our experience. We learned so much about the Berbers: their history, culture, and traditions because of Lhoucine’s love of teaching and willingness to share his personal stories. In fact, Morocco might be the friendliest and most welcoming country I have ever experienced!
It was an unforgettable adventure. We are so grateful to have experienced this warm, open, and generous country together.
—Text by WT staff Shawn Oda; photos by Shawn Oda, WT guide Lhoucine, and Catherine Collen, Morocco Private Journey.