I was traveling in Morocco on 9/11 and I'll always remember the love, sympathy, and security I felt as an American unable to return home. It is a country of such fantastic experiences, so intriguing and so close to my heart, I decided to take a closer look and share why Morocco is one of my favorite Wildland destinations.
To return the compassion I was shown, Wildland Adventures is donating $100 pp to the Morocco Library Project high school writing competition for every new trip to Morocco booked before March 31, 2020. This competition is designed to support rural high school students to tell their stories and bring a new generation of voices to the attention of the world. Even if travel to Morocco isn't in your plans this year, we invite you to check it out and donate to the non-profit OliveSeed Foundation.
I've also interviewed the guy who wrote the book on Morocco: Lucas Peters. Our in-country insider, trip curator extraordinaire, and Moon Guidebook author, Lucas shares his latest insights and travel tips about this ancient land that is readily adapting to 21st C modernity.
Meet Kamal, Your Cultural Attaché
Drivers in Morocco accompany you throughout your journey as your host, friend, and concierge. Our lead driver, Kamal, and others like him, create the magic and make every trip different. They are skilled at immersing guests into local culture and tradition including craft, music, cuisine, religion, and architecture—whatever interests you most. While they introduce you to local guides who are the experts in their respective communities, drivers like Kamal make you feel instantly comfortable as any new friend would. And like a good friend you'll engage in many conversations on the road as he opens doors to understand culture, religion and daily life you encounter.
A Host of Cultures & Local Guides
In a country of such incredible geographic diversity where Orient meets Occident and Africa meets Europe, one of the highlights of Morocco that fascinates me most is the experience among so many diverse cultures and communities. And the best way to experience them is through local hosts like Tata, who is our desert guide in the Sahara and entre to the Tuareg culture. Tata invites us into his home for lunch to meet his family and then take a stroll to walk among the date palm plantations to meet farmers in his community. Later that day he will invite you to ride dromedaries into the desert, sandboard down the dunes, and dance around the fire under the starry skies to the tribal rhythms of Gnawa drumming. He's just one of many local guides who walk you through local life in Morocco.
Riads, Kasbahs & Desert Camps
One of the highlights of every adventure in Morocco is the comfy and colorful riads, kasbahs, boutique hotels, and luxury desert camps. Handpicked to reflect the history, architecture, and terroir of the landscape, they provide travelers a true lifestyle experience of traditional Moroccan hospitality, interior design, and décor. We don't reveal them by name in advance because they are so small. We keep them as a secret until booking because they fill up quickly, so plan to book your trip to Morocco at least 6-12 months in advance during peak seasons of Spring and Fall.
It goes without saying, Morocco is one of the most exotic and exciting destinations for families who seek adventure and exposure to culture and religion so vastly different than our own. Looking back on their experience, the Seltzer-Blaue family concluded, "With the anti-Muslim sentiment that exists in the US, it would be great if more Americans could experience the culture and kindness we experienced that opened my kid's minds." (full guest review) I would also add that older travelers are warmly received and will feel right at home where there remains such profound respect for elders in Moroccan culture.
One good reason to travel to Morocco is the food. Most travelers expect to enjoy the mint tea, couscous, and a good tagine. But dining on Moroccan cuisine, and the opportunities to learn how to prepare it, have taken travel there to new heights. The fusion of Italian, Spanish and French cuisine has been a staple of local dishes in this crossroads country, but Mexican-Moroccan? Yep, that's a new thing as Moon Guide author, Lucas Peters points out, along with the burgeoning new trend of farm-and-fish to table local terroir restaurants. But there's no better way to engage in this foodie culture than the experience of hospitality dining with a family in their home, or joining a cooking class to take home a souvenir your family and friends will appreciate.
I love hiking on ancient trading routes and nomadic pathways through the Atlas Mountains amongst the snow-capped peaks that feed rivers, waterfalls and cedar forests where you encounter troops of Barbary macaque monkeys. Here in the valleys and mountain pastures is where you find the timeless life of farmers, herders, and nomads where Berber communities are steeped in distinctive traditions, each sharing their warm hospitality so characteristic of Islamic cultures.
The last time I was in Fez I got lost (on purpose) deep in the Medina, one of the largest pedestrian-only urban zones in the world. I knew I would eventually make my way out, but until I did, I found myself walking aimlessly savoring the adventure not knowing where I was or what I was going to discover around the next corner. The markets, medinas, and souks of Morocco have been the lifeblood of its culture over the ages, so when you go with a guide behind the scenes to meet shoppers and shopkeepers, artisans and craftsmen (and women), you find yourself immersed in the rich history of life in the Maghreb.