My tour was Insight Vacation’s Best of Morocco. I booked it last May 2016 – the date was the only guaranteed departure – March 24, 2017. This was an “11-Day Tour” but these are always counted including the day you leave home and the day you arrive home, so really it is only a 9-day tour.
And I arrived in Casablanca late afternoon Saturday, March 25th and left Casablanca on the morning of April 3rd… so, taking off March 25th too… that leaves an 8-Day tour, really. As the rest of those 11 days were in transit.
The visits to Fes and Marrakech were two-nights each which gave us time for nice tours, time to relax and enjoy local activities. The one-night stay in Essaouira was good as we arrived early in the day so had time for a tour, roaming on our own, dinner out, etc.
But the nights in Erfoud and Ouarzazate were in and out. We did the optional excursion to the Sahara (and camel ride!) to watch the sunset in Erfoud but that was right after we got there after 5 p.m. and we didn’t get back to the hotel and dinner until late – around 10 p.m. and had to leave early the next morning.
And Ouarzazate was pure in and out without any additional activity or tour. It looked like a nice place too. Quite modern and clean – being the movie capital of Morocco.
It would have been great if we had been able to stay two-nights in every spot – to give us time to see the area. Seeing as we spent all that time getting there.
Also the bus trip from Fes to Erfoud was all-day, 8-hours and that was a bit much to handle. We had several stops, and lunch on the way, but it was still a very long time to be on a bus with your legs unable to stretch! That day I was in the front seat and there was NO spot for your feet.
Also the bus had no toilet – it wasn’t an issue for me personally, but several of the other passengers who were prone to motion sickness really could have used somewhere to, um… well, we had to do one unscheduled stop for someone. Not sure why there was no toilet – it is actually mentioned in the brochure that there are no toilets on the buses in Morocco.
The hotels we stayed at were, with one exception, modern, comfortable, even luxurious. But the only one to have in-room coffee/tea/kettle was the Moevenpick in Casablanca. I found that annoying as I couldn’t make myself a good cup of tea in my room on the rest of the trip. They only had “hot” water in the dining rooms, not boiling. I asked at the one in Fes if I could get a kettle to make tea and they told me to call housekeeping and they would bring me hot water – um, that wouldn’t be boiling water by the time it got to my room.
As a single booking all but one of my rooms had king or queen sized beds! That was fun! The one in Marrakech had two doubles, which was fine – one was my lounging on top of the blankets to watch TV bed, the other was the sleeping bed.
In Marrakech I had a balcony on the top floor and in Essaouira I had a patio open onto the courtyard.
The one in Erfoud I found way too contrived for the tourist market – my room smelled like a camel barn, the floors were uneven slabs of stone and I tripped repeatedly in my room on the floor and the rough thick rugs scattered about. It was built of “traditional building materials” which obviously included mud mixed with manure. I grew up on a farm – I know manure when I smell it.
And trying to find my room was a nightmare, I swear it was about a kilometre walk to the room across the pool, courtyard, through alleys… I actually got lost after dinner and had to find my way back to reception to get one of the staff to lead me to it.
I was so annoyed with the whole place I didn’t take any photos of the room – I really should have… the bed was almost a hammock as the mattress was so dipped in the middle, the “rustic” decor was beyond believable. But I was too bloody tired. I did sleep really well in that bed though.
The only plus was the shower room – yes, ROOM. With a wooden door. When you are covered with all the sand of the Sahara and camel snot, you need a very long shower. I was a little iffy about standing on the tile so I put a towel down on the floor. But lord, what a mess – the door was just a wooden door made out of planks – not water tight. The vanity counter was a slab of fossil embedded stone – nothing would stand up as it was so uneven.
If I hadn’t been so tired I might, maybe, have enjoyed the rustic-ness of it, but… It was a suite – living room, dining area (there was a bowl of wrapped fruit on the table which I didn’t touch,) separate bedroom, bathroom the size of my living room at home that was three rooms in itself – the shower, the toilet and bidet, and the sink area that you could enter from both the living room and bedroom. Ground level windows that were open onto common areas where there were people late into the evening that I heard every word they said – couldn’t understand them, but I heard them.
It was also the only hotel with an old-fashioned key – all the others were mag locks. This one was really old style and the door was scary – I could NOT get the damn thing open. Took me about 7 minutes to finally get it open (and frankly, a good kick would have opened it) and then another 10 to get the freakin’ key out of the lock! Then, no deadbolt or security lock inside the door. I did not feel secure there at all.
The hotels we stayed in on the tour were:
Casablanca – Moevenpick Hotel
Fes – Palais Medina & Spa
Erfoud – Xaluca Kasbah Hotel
Ouarzazate – Le Berber Palace
Marrakech – Atlas Medina & Spa
Essaouira – Atlas Essaouira & Spa Hotel
Except as noted above, they all had high points – the kettle, complimentary bottled water and luxurious fittings in the Moevenpick, the Berber Palace was gorgeous (and had pork at dinner and breakfast,) the Atlas Marrakech was stunning and I was awed at how fast and well my laundry was done, and the courtyard patio attached to my room at the Atlas Essaouira was wonderful.
On my way home I had to stay overnight in Amsterdam – at the Holiday Inn Express -Schiphol. It wins best shower of the trip… was lovely, shiny, walk-in with safety rails. I think my shower lasted about half an hour…
I’ll cover more tour related things, and the food, in the next part as this one is getting a little long.