DAY 1 .- 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 2 & 3 .- 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 4.- 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 5.- 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 6 & 7 .- 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 8.- MERZOUGA / RISSANI
After breakfast we’ll head to the beautiful little town of Rissani nearby. 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.
Afterwards we’ll head to Mhamid, or, the ‘End of the Road’. Here is where the Sahara begins, just where this small oasis town sits upon the Draa River. It is one of the two access points (Merzouga being the other one), but few tourists ever make it this far. It is a font of authenticity and worth our time, as we have planned photo sessions with the locals, and a more worthy backdrop against which to take them you could not find.
DAY 9.- / MARRAKECH
We will be heading on our way back to Marrakech . On arrival free time.
DAY 10 .- MARRAKECH / END or RABAT
After breakfast, those not going on the extension to Rabat/Fez/ Chechouaen will be transported to the airport to catch their flights home.