Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

We traveled with my sister and brother-in-law to Morocco. It was their choice and we were invited to join them. Are we ever glad we did. It was our suggestion to use Wendy Perrin, as we had used her recommendations on other trips and we were not disappointed here. Our driver and guide, Majid and Ali, respectively, were both amazing and did an excellent job. We always felt safe, taken care of and really shown the country from a native’s perspective.

Traveler Rich Rediker and friends on a sunset camel ride in the Sahara, Morocco.

Rich Rediker and friends on a sunset camel ride in the Sahara

10 of us (5 couples in our 60’s and 70’s) just returned from an amazing 2 weeks spent in Morocco. While I normally plan these group trips myself, I decided to save time and try using Wendy’s WOW List Moroccan supplier. We were not disappointed. In fact, everything promised turned out to be nicer and better than expected.

I started working with Radia last September on a Zoom call. I told her the kinds of activities we liked and then worked tweaking her suggestions.

Around the first of the year, Radia said she was leaving for a while and turned us over to her colleagues Nassim and Amal. While we never heard from Radia again, her colleagues didn’t miss a beat.

The key to a successful trip is a great guide and bus driver and we had the best in guide Mohamed and driver Khalid. We were promised a 12-seat bus plus 2 seats in the front for the driver and guide. Instead, we received a very comfortable 16-seat (plus 2) bus allowing us to spread out.

Our entire trip was during Ramadan, which we thought was a benefit. There were fewer tourists, people didn’t smoke in the crowded medinas, and we participated in delicious Iftar dinners. It was also interesting walking through the markets in the late afternoon as everyone was scurrying to buy food for their Iftar meal.

All 5 couples arrived in Casablanca at different times and everyone’s pickup went smoothly. In fact, for the 2 weeks, every event took place right on time without a hitch.

On many days, our itinerary said, “picnic lunch included.” This was an amazing understatement as these lunches were often feasts in unique and incredible locations.

We are active travelers and our trip used excellent local guides for our activities including hikes, e-bike biking, a cooking class, wine tasting and a gorgeous sunset camel ride in the Sahara.

We chose our lodging together and each place was unique and comfortable without being too expensive. At many riads, the 10 of us occupied almost every room and we had the place to ourselves.

Our favorite riad was Dar Rihana in Dades. It is owned by 3 brothers who are amazing gourmet cooks. After dinner, they led us in local music and dances.

After our 2-week tour from Casablanca to Fes, the Sahara, Dades, Marrakech, and the Atlas Mountains, we were dropped off in Essaouira where we spent another 4 days making our own arrangements. We stayed at the excellent Riad Chbanate, who booked us a great local guide and a ride back to Marrakech.

Travelers Craig and Stephanie Smith with their driver and guide having dinner on the rooftop terrace of Essaouira's Salut Maroc, Morocco.

Craig and Stephanie Smith had a farewell dinner on the rooftop terrace of Essaouira’s Salut Maroc with new friends: private guide Jamal and driver Majid.

We just returned from an amazing two weeks in Morocco, organized by Hicham’s team. We have nothing but positive things to say about the entire experience. It was our first time on a WOW List trip, though we had traveled several times in the past with someone who also happened to be one of Wendy Perrin’s experts, the late Toni Neubauer.

We spoke with Radia on the phone, and told her the general route that we wanted to take: Casablanca, Volubilis, Fes, the Sahara Desert, Marrakech, and Essaouira. We told her that what was most important to us was to have a stellar guide. We also told her that we have a strong interest in music, and would like to incorporate learning about Gnawa music in some way. We told her that our hotel preference was to stay in riads instead of international chain hotels. She put together a great starting itinerary, which we just tweaked a bit to add some additional activities. Planning the trip went quite smoothly.

From the moment we were met at the Casablanca airport by our private guide Jamal and private driver Majid, we knew that we were in for an incredible trip. They were both so hospitable! Jamal was incredibly knowledgeable about the culture and history of his country. He had lots of interesting information to share. He was very attentive to all of our needs, and he made us laugh a lot. He made sure that we saw everything on the itinerary and then some.

Hicham’s company provided personalized welcome gifts, as well as power adapters, a map, and some local money to start us off before we had a chance to go to an ATM.

Majid drove us many miles in a huge loop, from Casablanca to Volubilis, to Fes, to Ifrane, to Merzouga, to Todra Valley, to Dades Gorge, to Skoura, to Marrakech, to Imlil, to Essaouira, and back to Marrakech. We always felt very safe with him behind the wheel and he had a great sense of humor.

We stayed in beautiful riads with a very personal touch, and enjoyed all kinds of delicious food. All of the riads were wonderful, but the Riad Almaha in the Medina of Marrakech, where we spent four nights, was thoroughly enjoyable, and we felt quite at home. The riad was an oasis of calm in the midst of the bustling Medina.

In addition to seeing many historic sites (mosques, synagogues, palaces, medinas, souks, tanneries), we also had adventures. We went for a camel ride and rode ATVs in the desert. We went for a hot-air balloon ride outside of Marrakech. We went for a hike in the High Atlas Mountains from Imlil to Armed. One of our favorite activities was the sunset motorcycle sidecar tour of Marrakech, suggested by Radia. We felt like we were in a movie, riding through the Palmerie and the Medina in comfortable, roomy, sidecars. A definite must-do!

Another highlight was an impromptu visit to the Todra Valley for lunch at Jamal’s family’s home. We were so honored and humbled to be invited into their home for lively conversation and a delicious lunch. This excursion added even more driving for Majid on a day that already had a lot of driving, but he happily obliged, and joined us for lunch. It also afforded us the opportunity to see the beautiful Todra Gorge.

To satisfy our musical interest, Radia organized a thoroughly enjoyable private Gnawa music workshop with master musician Najib Soudani in Essaouira.

We had one day when we weren’t feeling our best, and Jamal adjusted the itinerary so that we were able to do what we could that day, get some rest, and do the remainder of the activities the following day. He was able to find some electrolyte drinks for us to keep us from becoming dehydrated when our stomachs weren’t at their best. Luckily, that only lasted a day, and then we were back to our normal selves again. We were very grateful for the flexibility.

It’s hard to believe that we packed so many amazing experiences into two weeks! By design, we didn’t have much down time on the trip; we like to maximize our time. But we did have an unbelievably relaxing hammam treatment in Fes. Although we chose a whirlwind trip, we feel like it gave us a good overview of the country, and now we know which places we might like to return to in the future.

With Jamal and Majid at our sides, it felt like we were traveling with friends we had known for a lifetime. The itinerary was wonderful, but they made the trip into an experience that we will cherish forever.

Monica Geocaris | November 14, 2023

My three friends and I went on the most magical trip to Morocco in October 2023. The itinerary was planned beautifully and our guide, Anouar, was a walking encyclopedia! We learned so much, some that we even retained! We were honored to be invited to his house for a wonderful meal prepared by his mother. War had just broken out in Gaza and we had some concerns about traveling even though I was reassured by Hicham and Radia’s team that we’d be safe. They were right. We were welcomed everywhere we went by warm and friendly hotel staff; and we felt completely safe with Anouar. We thoroughly enjoyed traveling with him. We loved our driver, Magid, who was fabulous too, with excellent driving skills! He was so attentive and caring. I wonder how many miles we put on that Mercedes! With Magid’s ever-present smile he made us feel like we were really important to him. Fes Cooking School was a hoot and we had a blast making a delicious tagine meal we heartily consumed. The Dunes and the camp accommodations were spectacular. I kept pinching myself that we were really there atop camels traveling to our camp, and the next night we sat on a dune watching other guests come to the desert on their camels in front of a setting sun backdrop. Unbelievable beauty in the starkness of the dunes. Every hotel was as nice as the next and we wished we had more time at each one. Another highlight was the hike in the High Atlas Mountains with tea and a fabulous lunch on a rooftop surrounded by the mountains. The sidecar ride in Marrakech was icing on the cake. We’re going to the medina in this??? The itinerary going from Casablanca/Fes/Desert/Marrakech/Casablanca was perfect. It was completely magical and the weather was perfect. A trip of a lifetime! Go!

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