The Pros :
Marrakesh was everything I had hoped for - a sensory explosion that delighted the eyes, ears and nose. While there we enjoyed a brilliant cooking class, wandering the medina, markets, searching for handmade treasures and deep exotic spices. Each night we fell asleep in our gorgeous Riad and spoiled every morning by its attentive staff with delicious rooftop breakfasts. We were not disappointed.
Dades Gorge was stunning to walk through, and small enough to have it all to ourselves - perhaps we were lucky, but it felt like a fantasy of nature, red rock, blue sky and vivid colors on intimate display for just the two of us. Our accommodation there was home to one of the most impressive culinary experiences of the trip...and we had many great meals. It was such a surprise to find a meal in such a remote location that would compete well against some of my favorite restaurants in capital cities around the world.
The Sahara desert offers some magical moments at sunrise, sunset and if you're lucky...when the sky darkens to reveal a million sparkling jewels above. I will not soon forget staring at the stars from the top of a dune, with a belly full of lamb tajine, while listening to the sounds of tribal musicians and camels in the distance.
We didn't click with our guide in the Atlas mountains. Nawfal made it very clear that he would arrange another one if we had any problems - but we decided to give our guide another chance. We felt comfortable and safe, but his English language skills and personality were not a good fit for us.
We began our trip with a few days in Marrakesh, followed by some trekking through the Atlas Mountains. We were driven to the Sahara desert, stopping to see Ait Ben Haddou, Dades and Todra Gourges...an...We began our trip with a few days in Marrakesh, followed by some trekking through the Atlas Mountains. We were driven to the Sahara desert, stopping to see Ait Ben Haddou, Dades and Todra Gourges...and many more delightful stops along the way. After two nights in the desert, we retraced our steps to Marrakesh before returning home.
Morocco was a land that had been calling me to it - without explanation - for years. Despite the amazing natural landscapes and tremendous food experiences, my lasting impression of Morocco was how warm and kind the people were. Perhaps the best examples of which we found in our local travel agent, Nawfal and our local driver, Mohammed.
Nawfal had deep knowledge of Morocco, but more importantly, a mastery of human connection and relationships. We had only a rough idea of what we hoped for on this trip, but no idea if our hopes were achievable. Nawfal treated us with utmost respect as we went back and forth together over weeks identifying options. Along the way, Nawfal discovered the way that we liked to travel, what was most important to us...even the style of accommodations that fit us personally. We went through an embarrassing number of iterations to design our dream trip. Throughout the planning process, Nawfal met every change with grace and understanding - there seemed to be no end to his patience! Our trip to Morocco validated how well Nawfal had listened to us throughout every conversation. Taking careful note of our every concern and preference. The accommodations and experiences seemed hand-tailored to fit us perfectly. My only regret is that Nawfal isn't available to plan and arrange our trips to other countries as well. I can't imagine a better ambassador than him to welcome us on our first trip to Morocco and our first trip with Evaneos.
Mohammed - our driver - was brilliant at tending to our every need along the way. He always found the balance between giving us space when we needed it and engagement when we needed that. He offered us choices along the way that were too small to make a guide book, but surprised and delighted us every time! He quickly got to know us and our preferences for how we liked to travel...stopping for any reason: coffee, food, carpet shopping, taking pictures of goats along the side of the road. He had our playlists streaming from the van speakers and made sure that we ate at the best places we would have never found by ourselves. He kept a close eye on our safety and comfort, stepping in delicately before language or currency could become a problem. He provided us tips and cultural explanations that helped us navigate and understand every day. At the end of our trip, he felt like a distant friend or relative that we hope to see again one day.