DAY 1 & 2.- MARRAKECH
Marrakech is a delight to the senses and an endless font of photographic opportunities. These two days will be spent getting to know the city on its level. We will have plenty of time to wander the labyrinthine streets and photograph the incredible architecture but also a few major highlights such as Bahia Palace and the Koutoubia Mosque – both holdovers from the last time the sultans ruled over the country. However, our most important stop is of course the Medina.
This ‘old quarter’ as it is called is a rushing, overwhelming fountain of color and life, and as we want to know the true Marrakech, much of our photographic study will be spent in this old town district weaving among the kiosks in the souks and the merchants hawking wares, the locals out shopping, and the daily routines we can find unfolding all around us. We will make our way to the heart: Djemaa el-Fna where the legendary snake charmers ply their trade, the acrobats whirl, and the story tellers conjure the past of Arabian Nights.
DAYS 3 & 4 .- ESSAOUIRA.
We will be heading towards the great town of Essaouira.
Essaoiura, a small, coastal town, is just one more in a string of photographic paradises Morocco has to offer. We will arrive f in time to head to the wharfs, where at sunset the fishermen will begin to return from their long days at sea with their catch – and countless seagulls in tow.
The next day after a well-deserved rest we will go about our thorough and exciting exploration of the town. It has its own small but gorgeous medina (old town) with signature blue doors and windows, tiled walls, with a mix of southern European and Moorish styles. There was significant Portuguese influence in the city for several decades of its history, and we will spend time exploring the tall seawalls left over from that epoch. In terms of photography today will be dedicated to low light; as the region is very bright, but the architecture of the city casts long shadows, we’ll be working in interesting conditions as we find places around the town with interesting opportunities, sometimes in strange or unexpected places.
Other highlights include the images of locals in the surf enjoying their downtime while others riding horseback or camels along the sand, time expent in the harbor, and the main markets of the central district.
DAY 5.- ESSAOUIRA/OUARZAZATE
Also known as the Gateway to the Desert, this city stands as one of the last settlements and trading posts before the Sahara. Not to mention that due to its historical feel and incredible upkeep, several films from Gladiator to Lawrence of Arabia were shot (at least in part) here. The history of the place is still palpable, as the architecture and the feel of it being one last stronghold before the golden endlessness of the desert beyond has been keenly preserved. We will be spending plenty of time here amongst the Berber speaking locals and photographing the city before settling in for the night.
DAY 6.- OUARZAZATE/AIT BENADOU/MERZOUGA
An incredible excursion from Ouarzazte to the Kasr of Ait Benadou. This Kasr, also known as a fortified palace and village, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s easy to see why. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside the exquisite tile work and carved wooden framework has been near perfectly preserved for centuries. Its interior preservation and the ancient village of Ait Ben Haddou made it the perfect candidate as a film location for movies such as The Mummy and The Jewel of the Nile. We’ll have plenty of time bfore sunset to explore this living piece of the country’s history, with a few sessions and surprises thrown in.
Then we will be on our way to Merzouga for our accommodation.
DAY 7 & 8 .- MERZOUGA/DESERT/CAMP IN JAIMA
When we talk about Merzouga and Jaima, we’re talking about the real desert now! We’ll be switching from our normal transport to a four wheel drive land cruiser than can help us navigate the sands of the Sahara, while we head into its heart to our hotel and the day after to our tent camp. Normally, the nomadic people that skirt this area have little in the way of amenities, but we will have hot and cold running water, luxury beds, showers, and toilets!
Here we’ll have a chance to photograph the camel caravans that come through the area, and we’ll position ourselves high on the dunes for an eagle’s eye view, then stay for the magic thirty minutes that is the sunset as well as sunrise, where the desert sheds her day dress and climbs into her dusky nightdress. Over dinner we’ll get treated to a Berber drum circle.
And no visit to this area would be complete without waking up just before daybreak to see the world wake up from high atop a dune, and capture it on film. Early risers will have the opportunity of going up the dunes on camel back to catch the sunset before breakfast!
DAY 9.- MERZOUGA / IFRANE
After breakfast we’ll head on our way to to the Imperial citiesto the beautiful little town of Ifrane. We will stop in Er-Rachidia another desert jewel, this town has a colorful Sunday market we intend to visit for some off the cuff shooting. Aside from it being the central hub of local life for the area, it also boasts a famous parking lot – that is exclusively for donkeys.
We will stop on the way to visit the underground Kasbah and Koranic library of Tamegroute: This place was once considered a hub of Islamic learning and served a very important function over several centuries of the country’s illustrious existence. Now, it is a set of well-preserved ruins which include a fantastic opportunity for low light photography in the subterranean portions.
DAY 10 & 11.- IFRANE / FEZ
After breakfast we will live for Fez.
Fez, the Imperial City which is otherwise known as the Athens of Africa. For centuries it has stood as a waypoint for travellers coming around the tip of Africa, and has seen the passing of countless cultures, all of which stopped in the city and enriched the local culture. It is famous for monuments and a cornucopia of heritage.
Inside the city which we will visit first is Fez Al Bali, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site – this is a fabled, labyrinthine medina (old quarter) with narrow allies and medieval architecture and city planning. Here we’ll have a photo session at a local mosque as well as free time for shooting in the medersas and shop lined streets.
We will also have sessions at the Borj Sued and the Borj Nord (towers built in the 1500’s by a sultan who wanted to monitor his potentially rebellious populace), a few craft shops such as a local tanner’s, and the gates and façade of the royal palace.
DAY 12.- FEZ / MEKNES.-
After breakfast at the hotel, we will live for Meknes.
Meknes is another UNESCO World Heritage site – and rightly it should be, as it was the capital of the country in the 1600’s. Here we will also find the sacred village of Mulay Idris, which is a site of great importance to religious pilgrims even in the modern day. We will have lunch and a short photo session here.
Meknes the town and Meknes the ruins stand side by side, so we’ll have plenty of time to explore the exquisitely preserved history of Old Menkes, the turquoise and white tile work, the sandstone buildings standing as silent sentinels over the history of the land, and the ruins of old mosques unyielding to the elements in the old city. Then we will find our accommodation in new Menkes and have some less structured photography time there.
DAY 13.- FEZ / RABAT .-
Early departure for Rabat where we will be expending the morning after visiting the old city with it's incredible mysterious alleys. After lunch we will leave for Casablanca.
DAY 14.- RABAT / CASABLANCA.-
Early morning departure for Casablanca. Free time and international departures .