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Nomad Marriage and Markets Immersion Photography Tour

Imilchil Photographer
landscape
Imilchil Village
Isli Lake
Camel Market 2
Camel Market
Imilchil Dancing

13 Days/12 Nights of Morocco's Landscapes & Portraiture

Once a year, high in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco's nomadic Berbers gather to get married en masse.  The origin of this tradition is tied to a Berber legend of two star crossed lovers whose families refused to let them wed.  After parting for the last time, the young couple cried so much that they each drowned in their tears, forming the lake named after them: Tilsit (which means "bride" in Berber) and Isli (which means "groom").  Like Romeo & Juliet and Tristan & Isolde, the tragic deaths brought the families together and from that point forward the tribes declared that on one weekend of the year any two people could marry and have their family's blessing.  This year, you could attend this amazing festival that until recently was closed to outsiders. This tour is geared towards photographers of all levels, as the pace will be slow enough to wait for that perfect shot in the perfect light.  The vistas will create breathtaking landscapes and the festival and day markets will provide plenty of opportunity to create perfect portraiture, both infused with the vibrant colors of Morocco!


 

Trip Summary

 

September 20 – October 2, 2018

$2650 USD Per Person*

*based on double occupancy

$400 USD Single Supplement

Daily Itinerary
  • Day 1: Welcome to Marrakech!
  • Day 2: Marrakech to Imilchil
  • Day 3: Imilchil Nomad Marriage Festival
  • Day 4: Imilchil Nomad Marriage Festival
  • Day 5: Imilchil to Merzouga via Tinghir
  • Day 6: Merzouga Camel Trek
  • Day 7: Merzouga to Valley of Roses
  • Day 8: Valley of Roses Local Immersion
  • Day 9: Valley of Roses to Marrakech via Ait Ben Haddou
  • Day 10: Marrakech Immersion
  • Day 11: Marrakech to Essaouira
  • Day 12: Essaouira Immersion
  • Day 13: Au revoir! (Transfer to Marrakech Airport)

Note: If the Imilchil Marriage Festival falls on the last weekend of September, the itinerary will be reversed.

Includes
  • Ground Transfers to/from Airport (Marrakech)
  • Private Transportation
  • English Speaking Driver/Guide
  • Access to the Imilchil Nomad Marriage Festival
  • Guided Walk in Tinghir Palmaeraie
  • Camel Trek and Overnight Stay in Desert Camp
  • Lunch with Local Family
  • Hiking in Valley of 1000 Kasbahs
  • Guided Tour of Marrakech
  • Wine Tasting
  • All Entrance Fees
  • 12 Nights of Accommodations
  • 12 Breakfasts
  • 7 Dinners
  • 3 Lunches
Excludes
  • Airfare to/from Morocco
  • Meals other than specified
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Personal Expenses
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Marrakech
Welcome to Morocco! Tour will start in your riad in Marrakech (details provided upon booking). You can arrive any time, as today will be a day of leisure to recover from your travels and prepare for the journey ahead. In the evening, there will be a tour meeting and an opportunity for you to meet your fellow adventurers.

Airport transfers can be arranged by request and are complementary from Marrakech. Transfers from airport in Casablanca can be arranged for an additional fee.

Day 2: Marrakech to Imilchil
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today, after breakfast, you will depart from your Marrakech riad and head over the northern part of the High Atlas Mountain to Imilchil. This road less traveled will take you through lots of Berber villages and there will be plenty of stops for tea and photographs along the way.

Day 3: Imilchil Nomad Marriage Festival
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today, after breakfast, you will visit Isli Lake, one of the two lake central to the Imilchil legend.  After this, you’ll head to the festival and attend the mass wedding celebration and other festival activities.  In the evening, you’ll enjoy the evening concerts and then head back to your accommodations for the night.

Day 4: Imilchil Nomad Marriage Festival
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today, after breakfast, you’ll have another day at the festival. Today’s highlight is the presentation of the married couples.  We will also visit the large Nomad souk (open day market), followed again by music concerts in the evening.

Day 5: Imilchil to Merzouga via Tinghir
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast, you’ll make your way towards the giant sand sea of the desert, stopping first at Todgha Gorge where you will have an opportunity to walk through the most impressive part of the canyon. Next, you will continue on to the city of Tinghir, where you will have a guided walk of the palmeraie and old Mellah (Jewish neighborhood). After your visit of Tinghir, you will continue on to the giant dunes of the Sahara and to your accommodations tonight, a kasbah on the edge of the dunes.  Upon your arrival, you can relax by the pool or on the terrace overlooking the dunes. Or grab your camera and head up one of the nearby dunes to take spectacular photos of the glowing sand as the sun sets.  Dinner will be served at the hotel.

Day 6: Merzouga, Risanni Market, and Camel Trek
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch,Dinner

After breakfast, you’ll head to the largest city in the region: Rissani.  Once an important crossroads of the old salt caravans, this dusty town was one of the most important cities in Morocco and on the market days, you get an sense of what it must’ve been like.  You’ll visit the market here and for lunch you’ll sample the local specialty of Medfouna (aka Berber pizza).  After lunch, you’ll visit the Mausoleum of Moulay Ali Cherif, the founder of the current ruling dynasty of Morocco. After this, you’ll head back to your kasbah on the edge of the dunes where you will have a little time to relax and prepare before you transfer to a more traditional mode of travel and make your way via camelback into the heart of the dunes to your oasis desert camp for the night. Upon your arrival, you can climb the nearest dune to watch the sunset and the stars come out. Dinner will be served at camp followed by traditional music and more stargazing. Whether you sleep in the warmth of your Berber tent or under the gazillion stars of the Sahara, this is likely to be a night that you will remember for a lifetime.

Day 7: Merzouga to Dades Valley
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

This morning you will be awoken by your camel guide before dawn so that you can witness the breathtaking beauty of the Saharan sunrise. Afterwards, you will take your camels back to the kasbah on the edge of the dunes where breakfast will be served. You will also be given a room where you can shower and prepare for your day. After breakfast and showers, you will start the journey towards Marrakech. On the way, you’ll stop to visit the ancient irrigation system that once brought water all the way from the Saghro Mountains to the desert. Next, you will head to the town of Tinghir. where you will have a guided walk of the oasis palmeraie before heading to nearby Todgha Gorge. You’ll have another opportunity to stretch your legs once again as you walk through the most impressive part of the gorge. From here you will make the short drive to the Dades Valley to your auberge for the night.  This auberge is one of our favorites for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is the food.  Made with locally sourced organic ingredients, this is Moroccan food the way mom makes it.  Delicious and plentiful, you may want them to save the leftovers for breakfast!

Day 8: Local Immersion in the Valley of Roses!
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today, you will have a choice of a leisurely morning and breakfast, or go for a light hike in the valley.  After your morning hike (or morning of leisure), you will spend the rest of the day living like the locals.  First, you will visit a local open day market where there will be extra opportunities for shooting and shopping like the locals. After the market, you’ll go the home of a local family where you can participate in the lunch preparations or just relax and visit with the family before enjoying a traditional lunch of couscous.  After lunch and a little rest, you will go for a hike in the Valley of a 1000 Kasbahs before returning to your accommodation for another delicious dinner.

Day 9: Dades Valley to Marrakech via Ait Ben Haddou
Meals Included: Breakfast

After breakfast, you will take the road of 1000 Kasbahs on your way to the city of Ouarzazate (pronounced: Wor-za-zet, also known as the Hollywood of Morocco). After passing through Ouarzazate you will make the short drive to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ait Ben Haddou. You’ll have a chance to explore this impressive ksar, before traveling over the High Atlas Mountains via the Tizi n’Tichka path, reaching an altitude of nearly 7500 feet above sea level. There will be plenty of stops for tea and photographs as you take in the breathtaking vistas before arriving in the evening to Marrakech.  Upon your arrival in Marrakech,  you’ll be free to explore on your own or head to nearby Jemaa El F’na for dinner.

Day 10: Marrakech Immersion!
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

After breakfast, you will meet your local city guide who will show you all around Marrakech. Your tour will include visits to the old Ben Youssef Madrasa, El Badi Palace, the Saadian Tombs, and the beautiful Koutoubia Mosque. After you’ve visited these monuments, your guide will escort you to the souks of Marrakech to see how artisans still use traditional methods for their handicrafts today. After your tour, you will be free to explore on your own. In the late afternoon, be sure to take your camera to one of the many terrace cafes overlooking Jemaa El F’na so that you can capture the sun setting over Marrakech and the square coming to life.

Day 11: Marrakech to Essaouira with Some Wine in Between!
Meals Included: Breakfast, Light snack with wine tasting

Today after breakfast, you will depart “crazy” Marrakech for the tranquility of Essaouira.  This laid-back beach city is the perfect place to end your trip and to help you get in the relaxation mood, you’ll stop on the way at a local winery for a wine tasting.  The wine will be accompanied by small plates of French cuisine to hold you over until lunch.  After the wine tasting, you travel through the groves of Argan trees where you just might see some goats snacking on one of their favorite foods and then you will visit a local Argan oil cooperative to see how Morocco’s “liquid gold” is produced.  Not only is Argan oil used cosmetically, it is also used for cooking and you will sample this nutty oil before continuing to Essaouira. Upon your early afternoon arrival, you will make your way to the shore to pick out your lunch from the fresh catch of the day.  If  you aren’t a seafood fan, no worries!  Essaouira has tons of great restaurants with a variety of cuisine.  After lunch, you’ll  have some free time to explore the medina and the gorgeous beach where you can get some action shots of kite surfers.  And don’t miss the sun setting behind the ramparts of the city!

Day 12: More Essaouira!
Meals Included: Breakfast

Today, you will have the whole day free to discover this beautiful little city and see why it has become an artists’ haven.

Day 13: Bon Voyage!
Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning, after breakfast, you'll transfer to Marrakech Menara Airport.  The estimated time of arrival is 11 AM. When booking your flight, be sure to allow enough time for check in and security - we suggest a departing flight time of after 1:30 (13:30) PM.

Transfers to Casablanca can be arranged upon request for an additional fee.


Accommodations

Whenever possible, we prefer to use locally owned and operated accommodations that are hand picked by us.  The following list represents our preferred accommodations for this tour, but these may change depending on the group size and availability.  Substitute accommodations will be at least the same level of comfort as the ones listed below. 

Marrakech: Riad Mabrouk

This fabulous riad will be your meeting point for this tour.  Located in the medina and a 1 minute walk from Jemaa El F'na, this traditional guest house boasts amazing views of Marrakech from its rooftop terrace.  The rooftop terrace is also where you'll find a dipping pool -- perfect for cooling off after a long day of discovering Morocco.  No need to save leg power to climb steps -- the newly installed elevator will make getting to the terrace and your room a breeze.   Speaking of your room, the guest rooms all have air conditioning, a safe, a minibar, and a television.  The en suite bathrooms are furnished with toiletries and hair dryers.  And since there is free wifi, you'll be able to post all of your photos of magical Marrakech.

There We love staying here.  The rooms are spacious and comfortable and the service for our adventurers is impeccable.  It is the perfect place to start your Morocco Immersion!

 

 

Erg Chebbi: Hotel Yasmina Merzouga

Another of our favorites, this hotel is situated right on the edge of the giant dunes of Merzouga.  The comfortable rooms are equipped with en suite bathrooms and air conditioning.  There is a large terrace in the common area which is the perfect place for tea upon your arrival or prior to your camel trek.  Or, if you prefer, you can have your tea by their beautiful pool.  

Yasmina's standard desert camps are located in the heart of the big dunes.  The tents have electricity and comfortable mattresses with plenty of warm blankets.  Of course, if the weather is nice, you may prefer to bring your mattress outside and sleep under the stars.  The standard tents are not en suite, but there is a tent that houses multiple flushing toilets and sinks with running water.  In the morning, you'll camel trek back to the hotel where you will have time to shower and prepare for your day.

Dades: Auberge la Vallée des Figues

Another one of our favorite places in Morocco, this warm guest house has clean and comfortable rooms decorated with a traditional Berber aesthetic.  All of the rooms have en suite bathrooms and air conditioning, and some have private terraces.  The Dades Valley is a breathtakingly beautiful area and the main terrace offers spectacular views of the valley and the opposite mountain into which time, wind, and rain has carved a face.  But the best part of this guest house is the family that owns and operates it who make you feel welcome and take care of all of your needs.  Should you want to go for a hike in the nearby Monkey Fingers, one of the guys will be happy to guide the way.  And the food here is delicious, plentiful, and served with an extra helping of the hospitality for which Moroccans are famous!

Essaouira: Riad Ben Atar

Located in the heart of the medina, this traditional Moroccan riad is just a short walk away from both the beach and the shops of the medina.  The rooftop terrace furnishes a place to relax and enjoy the breeze with spectacular views of the medina and the sea.  The comfortable rooms are a great place to unwind after a day of exploring.  Rooms are equipped with en suite bathrooms and televisions and there is free wifi that is accessible throughout the riad.

 


Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find the answers to some frequently asked questions about this tour and visiting Morocco. If you don't see the answer to your question, feel free to give us a call or contact us using the form below.

 

What make this tour so special?

This is a unique opportunity to attend the Nomad Marriage Festival and really get an in depth look and understanding of the Berber culture.  We are gearing this tour towards photographers of all levels, so the pass will be slow enough to allow you to capture the perfect shot.

Where should I meet the tour group on arrival day?

The tour meeting point is Riad Mabrouk in Marrakech.They will be expecting your arrival. We will meet on the rooftop terrace at 7 PM on your arrival day to answer any questions and give you a chance to meet your fellow adventurers. Just look for the Morocco Immersion Sign.

Note: The meeting time may change depending on the arrival time of the majority of the participants. You will receive more details prior to your tour start date.

What time should I arrive on the first day?

You can arrive any time on Day 1, as there are no set activities until the tour meeting at 7 PM (19:00) on the rooftop terrace at Riad Mabrouk in Marrakech. If you will be arriving later than 7 PM, just let us know.

Remember when you are booking your flights that most flights depart in the evening and arrive the following morning. Double check your flight to be sure that the arrival date is the same as the Tour Start Date.
Where and what time does this tour end?

This tour will end at Marrakech Menara Airport at approximately 11 AM.

When selecting your departing flight, be sure to allow time for check-in and security.  Departing flight times should be after 1:30 PM (13:30).
Which airport should I fly in and out of?

This tour will start and end in Marrakech which makes the Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK) the ideal place to fly in an out of. We will also provide complementary ground transfers to/from this airport.

If you prefer to fly into Casablanca, we can arrange ground transfers for an additional fee (per transfer).

What if I want to stay in Marrakech an extra night before or after my tour?

No problem. Just select the appropriate option when booking. If you would like a single room, be sure to add the single supplement.

Will ground transfers to and from the airport be provided?

We are pleased to provide complementary ground transfers to/from the Marrakech Menara Airport (RAK). We will ask for your flight information during the pre-Adventure registration process (after booking).

Ground transfers to/from the airport in Casablanca are available upon request for an additional fee. Contact us for more information.

What is the minimum number of Adventurers for this tour?

We will operate the tour as long as we have a minimum of 2 participants.

What is the maximum number of Adventurers for this tour?

Maximum: 16 PAX. We are not a “big bus” tour operator and prefer to keep our group tours small so that you can truly experience Morocco’s rich culture and way of life.

What if I have a large group that would like to do this tour?

Contact us! Groups of 10 or more qualify for special discounts and groups of 17 or more can be accommodated as a private tour (again, for special pricing).

I'm ready to go! How do I book this adventure?

Simply follow this book now link. We request a 30% deposit at the time of booking. The balance is due prior to the Tour Start Date.

After you book, you will be contacted by the Morocco Immersion Adventure Organizer who will guide you through the pre-Adventure registration process, keep you updated on any tour changes, and answer any questions you might have.

What if I book and then the tour does not get the minimum number of Adventurers?

If we must cancel the tour due to a lack of participants, we will give you the following options:

Switch to a different tour.

Convert your tour to a private tour for an additional fee.

Refund 100% of your deposit and any other additional payments made to us.

We will not refund any loss not paid to us such as airfare change or cancellation costs. For that reason, we STRONGLY recommend the purchase of travel insurance.
What if I need to cancel after I have booked?

If you cancel up to 36 days prior to your Tour Start Date, we will refund 80% of your tour deposit and 100% of any additional monies paid to us.  Cancelling 35 or fewer days prior to your Tour Start Date will result in 100% loss of your deposit, but any additional monies paid to us will be refunded.  No monies will be refunded by us for no shows or trip interruptions.  Our complete cancellation policy can be found in our terms and conditions.

If you must cancel for any reason, please contact us as soon as possible.

Is travel insurance required?

No, it is not required, but we strongly recommend it to cover any losses due to trip cancellation or interruption.  Travel insurance that includes medical evacuation is also advised as some areas of Morocco are remote and may lack proper medical facilities.  Please be sure to thoroughly review our terms and conditions.

I am a solo traveler, but would like to share a room. Can you help me find a roommate?

Yes!  We will help you with that during the pre-Adventure registration process.

Will I need any vaccinations to travel to Morocco?

No vaccinations are required for travel to Morocco; however, it is generally advised that you be up to date on your normal vaccinations and consider vaccinations for Hep A and Typhoid to prevent food borne pathogens. For more information, you should contact a travel clinic or review the CDC guidelines for travel to the area.

Do I need a Visa to travel to Morocco?

US Passport holders currently do not need a visa to travel to Morocco for a duration of less than 3 months for tourism purposes.  If you do require a visa, you are responsible for acquiring it.

It is your responsibility to acquire and bring required travel documents such as passport and visa (if applicable).  Be sure to put that on your packing list!  
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