INTO THE MYSTIC
OF THE MOROCCAN DESERT
The desert has always served as a spiritual container for seekers and masters to deepen into the knowing of their own soul’s quest. If you are open to adventure and willing to step out of your comfort zone into a true life tale straight out of 1001 Arabian Nights, then this journey is for you! This is a plunge into the wisdom traditions of the Berber tribes and the ancient land that they hold sacred. I invite you to walk with me into the mystic of the Morrocan Desert! Let’s go! Cynthia
APRIL 20 – APRIL 29, 2024
9 Nights/10 Days
Our journey begins and ends in Marakesh and our home away from home is a beautiful riad nestled within the ancient core of the historic part of the city known as the medina. Riads are authentic and traditional Moroccan homes that were once the estates of prominent families, merchants and courtiers. Now converted into guesthouses to accomodate travelers, they offer an intimate experience into Morocco’s rich historical and cultural past. Upon arrival you will have all amenities available at your pleasure with their in-house spa services, rooftop jacuzzi and delicious cusine! Welcome to exotic Morocco!
(Included in Day 1: airport pick up and transfer to our riad; group welcome dinner; riad accomodations in Marakesh)
On Day 2 we head into the Mystic of the Moroccan Desert through the dramatic and spectacular route of the Tizi n Tichka pass towards Ourzazate. With astonishing views of the snow-capped peaks of the high Atlas Mountains, we pass through traditional Berber villages to one of the most extraordinary red mud brick kasbahs in the world, AIT BENHADDOU! Dramatically perched high on a cliff, this renown 15th century stronghold and UNESCO world heritage site has served as a location for Hollywood films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Jewel of the Nile and The Gladiator.
We continue our descent through the rocky gorge of Agdz until we reach the natural line of deep green date palms of the Draa Valley, fed by the longest river valley in Morrocco! Renew your spirit in the abundant natural beauty and unparelleled serenity of oasis life! Our two night stay will be in an opulent kasbah sanctuary nestled within this paradise oasis. In the morning we will take a guided walk through the forest of date palms and have a picnic in the farmlands of this fertile biosphere where we will learn about its rich culture and historical heritage. In the afternoon take a plunge in the pool, sip moroccan tea, and receive your gift of a traditional henna tattoo from the many henna plants that grow in the valley!
(Day 2 and 3 includes accomodations in an amazing kasbah nestled within the palm grove oasis of the Draa Valley; henna tatoo; traditional moroccan tea ceremony, scrumptious breakfast, lunch and dinner!)
After breakfast we depart our forest of exotic palms to our luxury camp in the red sand dunes of the Sahara desert. The green landscape gives way to volcanic mountains rich in fossils millions of years old! At the edge of this prehistoric barren land, the red sand of the Erg Chebbi Desert emerges in the distance and we transfer to our 4 x 4 vehicles that will take us to our desert camp that will be our home for two nights!
Deep into the mystic we go, into the silence and awesome beauty of the desert! After settling into camp, we meet with a nomadic Berber family who will tell us stories from their tradition.
As the sun rests its colors on the desert dunes we will enjoy a delicious Moroccan feast expertly prepared by our caring staff who welcome us as family! In the evening, underneath a canopy of a million stars, our Berber guides will entertain us with nomadic music, drums and singing around our campfire!
Our desert camp is intimately private and set apart from the main camp for our group only! Cynthia has designed the ultimate glamping experience with two types of accommodations connected by shimmering lanterns to softly light our path. Each of our luxury tents are furnished with comfy beds and a full en suite bathroom, with glass fronts for a full view of the desert dunes and star drenched skies!!
At dawn we set out onto the dunes drenched in the light of a magnificent sunrise, so tie your turbans on and let’s ride! In a camel caravan with our Berber camelteers, it is a time of deep reflection in the ancient silence and vastness of the desert. These camel caravans have been a mainstay of desert life over the centuries, being used to transport precious cargos from sub-Sahara Africa to the trading ports of the Mediterranean Coast. What lies beneath these sands of time? Legends say that this was once the area of the greatest and most ancient civilizations, knowledge lost to us today. But the nomadic tribes, the guardians of the desert, will tell of tales when traces of these cities become visible for a fleeting moment, during great sand storms!
(Day 4 and 5 is shared accomodations in Erg Chebbi Desert camp; 4 x 4 transportation vehicles; tent or dome shared accomodations; breakfast, lunch and dinner, visit with Nomadic family; camel caravan; and campfire entertainment with traditional nomadic music!)
Day six we leave the desert to continue our journey into the majestic Atlas Mountains to the Todra Gorge, a region marked with deserted kasbahs, palmeries and mud-brick villages. Villagers can often be seen moving their herds through the picturesque gorge, as the 300 meter cliffs loom above. The honey-colored hues of the sheer walls change constantly with the movement of the sun across the sky, making it a true photographer’s paradise!
We continue on a short distance to Boumaine Dades where we will be welcomed in pure Berber tradition with a tea and a smile into our authentic and beautifully restored mud brick kasbah with the finest cuisine in the Dades Valley region!
On the morning of day seven we set off on the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs that zigzags through towering mauve and red rocks to Dades Gorge. Each hairpin turn exposes another breathtaking rock formation through which a river flows that irrigates the lush, green valley. The gorge pulsates with incredible colors of deep oranges and yellows flowing into purples and reds!
(Included in Day 6 and 7 are hikes in Todra and Dades Gorge; accomodations in a traditional Dade’s Valley family-run kasbah; breakfast and dinner with the freshest “just picked” fruits and vegetables from the fertile valley below.)
On day eight we begin our return to Marakesh through the High Atlas Mountain pass, but not before stopping to smell the roses! Who would know that this unassuming and sleepy village of Kalaat M’Gouna (Vallée des Roses), is famous throughout the world for its rose crop? In the main growing season of April and May, through the dirt trails laden with pomegranate, fig, nut and date trees, you will find wild pink roses growing everywhere! Each day before dawn, women gather the roses by hand to sell them to co-operatives dotted along the valley. The species which grows here, Rosa Demascena, is celebrated for its vivid pink color and its intense perfume. According to legend these rose bushes were brought here centuries ago by a Berber merchant from Damascus, Syria. Some of these roses are bought by local cooperatives to make rose water, soaps, lotions, and pot-pourri, but the majority are bought by large French perfume houses. After saturating our senses in the highest frequency of rose, we happily continue our drive back to our riad in Marakesh!
(Included in Day 8 is breakfast, a visit to the Valley of the Roses, and a return home to our Riad in the heart of Marakesh)
We come back from the silence of the desert into the thriving and unforgettable city of Marakesh! We will celebrate our last full day together with a walking tour to explore the amazing moorish architecture, colorful souks (markets) and palaces of manicured gardens and fountains! We will visit the exquisite Bahia Palace and wind our way through the snaking cobblestoned alleyways of the historic Medina. You will be given a crash course in the art of haggling with the vendors in the largest souks of Morocco, an experience not to be missed! The souks are a winding labyrinth of vendor stalls with all the elements of stepping into Aladdins’s world … hand-hammered copper lamps hanging from the rafters, painted ceramics, tribal jewelry, colorful moroccan rugs and overstuffed tapestry pillows lining the dirt floors! The baskets laden with exotic spices, dried fruits and sweets easily overwhelm the senses!
(A guided walking tour of Marakesh is included in our last full day, with breakfast, and a delicious farewell dinner and overnight accomodations in our riad.)
In the morning after breakfast we transfer to the airport for our international flight home. With full hearts, we take with us a lifetime of memories of our transformative experiences, and valued friendships made with kindred spirits who joined us for this magical soul journey into the mystic of the Moroccan Desert!
WHO SHOULD GO? Ok, here’s the deal. First, we are covering a vast amount of territory, most of it wild and amazingly beautiful, and our lodging will reflect the same! No cookie-cutter chain hotel rooms for us! Accomodations vary with the terrain we cover and so do bed and room sizes, and you may have to wait for the hot water to work. But in exchange your eyes will fill with childlike wonder as you step into a world of lavish beauty and intricate Moorish architecture of the kasbah and riad accomodations that have been hand selected for your pleasure during this journey. And your heart will melt at the hospitality of the Moroccan families that are preparing a warm welcome and delicious meals for us!
Secondly, if there is at least a drop of gypsy soul in you and are able to physically go on moderate hikes through breathtaking canyons; tolerate a few long drives through magnificent and sometimes bumpy terrain with sand in your hair and wind in your face; climb desert dunes to catch the sun as it sets and rises; mount a camel and ride it like you are Sir Lawrence Olivier (well, ok, that may be a bit much, but at least try to stay on it or walk next to it!) … then I can promise you one of the most fun and amazing soul experiences of your life! This is not a manicured “couple” or “single’s” kind of thing. This is more like a gypsy caravan, a travelling “soul family” kind of thing and if we feel like piling into one Berber tent to lie on the floor and gaze at the magnificence of a star drenched desert sky all night, then we will! So I think you have the picture?
And last but not least, if you are called on this incredible journey into the mystic, please make your $500 non-refundable deposit to hold your place and avoid the disappointment of being turned away. This exotic adventure is sure to fill quickly and it is open to only 12 kindred spirits. Contact Cynthia for registration and details about the journey. See you in Morocco!
- Accommodations in authentic Moroccan riads and kasbahs
- Private 17 seat mini-bus with English speaking driver and guide to all designated sites
- Three 4 x 4WD vehicles for desert transportation
- English speaking Moroccan guide throughout our journey
- Private desert glamping in ensuite glass front or luxury dome tents
- Delicious Moroccan cuisine as designated in the itinerary
- airport ground transfers
- professional camelteer and camel caravan ride across the dunes
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:
- International Flights
- Travel Insurance
- Discretionary gratuities and tips
- All personal beverages, snacks and the few meals not designated on itinerary