Magic of Morocco Blog, February 27-March 8, 2022

My wife and I just completed the Magic of Morocco tour and I blogged the trip. It was during the time of Covid and we only had 14 guest on the tour - which was nice. The trip, itself, was wonderful and much better than we anticipated, although we didn't know what to expect before we left. The people of Morocco are friendly and welcoming to tourist. I never felt the least bit of insecurity. As usual, Tauck did an excellent job. The hotels were great and got better as the tour progressed (which is what Tauck usually does - the best hotel is usually the last one).

I want to give special recognition to Chris Morrison, our tour director who did amazing work to help us recover our luggage which was lost by American Airlines.

If you'd like to see what the trip is all about, go to https://www.mikeandjudytravel.com/2022-1Morocco-01.htm. I tried to describe the activities each day. I hope it can be of value to those of you who are planning to take the trip.

We would both highly recommend the Magic of Morocco tour.

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Comments

  • milmil
    edited March 2022

    Mike Hi.
    Saw your incredible report & pictures.... they brought back all memories... of a fantastic trip. I went in Feb.2018 and I want to go back.
    I'm glad you mention how friendly, welcoming and helpful locals are and also how "SAFE" you felt. - It is always nice to let people know that not everything we hear about countries abroad it's always true.
    Glad you had a good experience. Have a great weekend.
    Thanks

  • Mike - Thank you for the wonderful recap. Looking forward to the next chapter hopefully titled “We are finally united with our luggage “.

  • Mike - thank you for your detailed summary. I have enjoyed and found helpful your past postings. I feel your pain with the luggage situation, as we had a similar experience on a cruise trip that departed from Italy.

    I have the impression from your summary that there is quite a lot of shopping on this trip - not my favorite activity. Is my impression correct? Is there, for example, an alternative activity offered in lieu of the carpet store? Or is that something that you did on your own?

  • @Lotusgirl There wasn't that much shopping but there was some. The Tauck guide justified it by saying that they choose a few places that they know are reputable. Perhaps a better approach would be to have a "shopping excursion" where people who want to shop at those particular stores would choose to go. I found the carpet store stop to be interesting, even though I wasn't interested in purchasing a carpet.
    There were stores that I wanted to shop at but it was difficult. The tour group was moving along in the souk so I had to run in, grab something and try to get a price. They always want to negotiate so they start very high in price. Makes it difficult to make a purchase if you don't have time.

  • milmil
    edited March 2022

    Lotusgirl Hi.
    I did this tour last Feb.2018- Fantastic tour. Not much time for shopping, but! at Marrakech we did ask the TD to stay at the Medina and he arrange with the local guide to take us around anywhere we wanted, he waited till we were done and then got us into a Taxi bounded to the hotel. It was hilarious 7 ladies full of bags is a SUV. but we did it! everyone was laughing to see us crazy women. It was the best.

  • I appreciate all your information and photos. When you mentioned having to pay to take photos, do they take US dollars or local currency?

  • MikeHenderson- I really enjoyed reading your day to travels in Morocco and loved the pictures as well. We have also been without our luggage for 5 days on our last Tauck trip. Thanks to the amazing tour directors that recovered our luggage. Morocco is definitely on our list of future Tauck trips. Thanks to your great review, it has moved up to the top of our list.

  • Mike and MIL - thank you for the responses.

  • Thanks, Mike. I really enjoyed your review. There were six of us that were supposed to travel on the Feb. 6 tour. Tauck cancelled it in January because Morocco was still closed and Tauck wasn't sure if the country would be open. I'm happy your tour went. We haven't rescheduled yet.

  • Mike - love your blog of this tour - you are so thorough and have so many wonderful photos. One small correction - Morocco wasn't closed in November because we were on the Nov. 10th tour!

  • @SGF Morocco stopped flights into the country on November 29, 2021, and resumed them on February 7, 2022. You can see a story about it at https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/morocco-travel-borders-open-february-b2002948.html

    I guess using the general date of November was not as precise as I should have been.

  • No worries, Mike! I really enjoyed your blog - helped me recreate the experience until my next trip. I didn't even realize that Morocco had shut down - our local guide told how well the country was doing with Covid cases. Of course, that was prior to Omicron. So glad we were able to go, and you, as well!

  • Well a little information on the March 16th trip. We were 20 so easy on off bus , check in etc.chief complaint and you can’t make everyone happy was no free time. Lots of walks through the medinas but no time to look or buy. Yes they take you to upscale stores but not everyone wants to buy $300.00 caftans.. the last day trip to the coast city was the best location to buy. No hawking, very artsy items, nice environment but Tauck gave you no time to shop
    Very long drive and as our TD said they should include an overnight there.so you can enjoy the city.
    Also a word of caution. Masks were not required and somewhere along the way 3 people contracted Covid.
    Reminding us we are in a third world country not cleared by CDC. Many many poor mixed in the medinas most likely not vaccinated. You do not want to be stuck in a 4Seasons 5 star hotel at $450 a night. Then try to get a flight out. LOL.

  • bella c...thanks for your post and the realism it contains. Morocco is on my list. I traveled domestically this past week and continued to wear my mask. Thankfully masks are still required in airports and even in the airline lounges.

  • bellac, Hi.
    I hope you had a good time... you don't really say much about your enjoyable time in Morocco and as I also took this tour, I know there are many...
    just a friendly note :) Tauck tours are not shopping tours, you are in for the culture, the history, the sights, the people... if shopping it's a most for you, you can always stay in town after the day's activities are over to shop and then go back to the hotel in a taxi-Uber or whatever it's avail. also, if you tell your TD ahead of time, they will set up some shopping time after activities are done and as long as there isn't any dinner event, the TD will accommodate something for you, but don't expect to drag along the group just because you want to shop. (w/all my respect)
    Now, THE MASK! well even though it's not mandatory or necessary, it is your choice to wear it or not... and it is your choice to be in a
    third world country... how you call it. :))
    Just a friendly reminder... in the U.S there is for a fact a big % of people NOT vaccinated and as I deal with the public... tons don't want to wear mask and are very verbal of their discomfort (non-sense-annoying) to say the least.
    Hope your next trip goes better for you.
    Have a lovely day. :)

  • Ok just to clear things up. This is our 10th Tauck trip.and we book Tauck because they are the best. Their tours are generally well planned and yes they do give you time on your own. But do to the logistics of this trip and other factors there was very little time on your own. Yes you can stay back from day trips and hire a guide but it would be great if you could do a little walk through the souks and talk with the locals. I visited Fez many years ago and one of my fondest memories was when we walked through the medina and met up with an English speaking boy who took us around to shop and then took us to his home to meet his family. And I was not blaming anyone for the Covid issue
    It is an individual choice and Covid is here to stay. My suggestion is that when walking through the crowded souks it would be a good idea to mask up. Our local guide was great and our tour director Mark took good care of us.
    Another comment is that Fez, Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech are now bustling cites. The old towns are surrounded by bikes, cars and busses. Etc. oEssaouira was more like what you might expect of Moroccan culture.
    And all the guests felt they would have liked free time there which was not an option. This was our first trip since Covid started and it will not be our last.

  • Yes, you definitely can’t please everybody. Tauck has always made it clear it is not for shopping. If you like to have more free time, you can just tell the TD you are skipping that day’s tours and do your own thing. I can’t say I hear many people saying they want more free time, I think the point of touring is not to have free time or you can go on an independent tour. At one time, Tauck tended to stay in places for three nights more often, but people didn’t like that, so now it’s mostly two nights everywhere, so it is harder to do your own thing.

  • If it's some place where the hotel or ship is in easy walking distance to sites I'm all for a bit of free time. But if your lodging is away from the action then it's kind of a waste. I like a bit of shopping, but no interest in the very high end luxury stores. Much prefer local crafts. I am glad that if we're somewhere and the TD gives a recommendation you know it's not because they get a kickback.

  • edited March 2022

    I'm with Claudia. Tauck took us to a rug merchant, and I'll bet very few of us had even thought of buying a rug while we were in Morocco. I wanted to purchase some small items in the souk but there was no time. The group was being led to one of the expensive shops and I had to duck into a small store, grab what I wanted and negotiate payment. Not a pleasant shopping experience.

    What they should have done was divide us into two groups: one group who wanted to go to a rug merchant (for example) and one to shop in the souk. We spent a lot of time in the "Tauck" stores doing nothing but waiting if we weren't interested in the product.

    [Let me see if I can remember the "Tauck" shopping stops: 1) Rug merchant, 2) leather goods, 3) Pottery, 4) Herbalist, and 5) Clothing. To be fair, the leather goods and Pottery gave us a tour, but it was obvious the important thing to them was the shopping. I didn't include the Women's Argan Co-op because they spent most of the time showing how the argan was processed and just a short time in the store. The Herbalist, rug merchant and clothing were nothing but a sales pitch.]

  • The rug place was a waste of time for me. I would have stay maybe 10 min. to see a few and appreciate the craft work, but again my solo interest was to see as much of the country as possible, the tea and the cookies were delicious, and it was a nice break from the walking.
    The other thing I'm noticing is the lectures... they are a new trend on these tours, and I have mixed feelings about them.
    One common subject is about "women " how they do in a (particular religion society) their role in the workplace, expectations etc. which in my opinion although interesting, it is a heavy topic of conversation and not all to appropriate when you want to relax and enjoy your vac. of course it is optional... I did the one in Fez (Fes) Morocco. and everything was moving along. boring to say the least till the PHD lady touch the Sexuality subject! Lololol!! everyone got up! and let's go... it was hilarious it was at lunch time.. so we where trap in the lecture, but we run away quick. :)

    Essaouira, I have to agree with bella c it's a great sea town and Yes!, I would have loved to stay a little bit longer. The sea breeze was so refreshing and lots of art work stalls. Next time.



  • edited March 2022

    The other thing I found interesting was that the only non-Muslim places they took us to were Jewish places. I did some research and there are Christian places in Morocco but none were included on the tour. I wonder why.

    @Mil - the woman speaker you posted a picture of, Fatima, I think her name was, just talked forever, way beyond everyone's interest.

  • MikeHenderson - Was that a problem?

  • edited March 2022

    @BSP51 If you're asking if it was a problem that all the non-Muslim sites we visited were Jewish, of course that's not a "problem". But it did raise questions in my mind as to why that was. There was a big Christian community in Morocco in the past and there are churches from that time still in existence. The Christian and Jewish communities both declined after independence and both left sites (churches, synagogues, cemeteries, etc.). I found it interesting that at least one Christian site was not visited. I expect that the itinerary for a tour has to be approved by the government and perhaps they would not approve a visit to a Christian site, for some reason.

    [If all the non-Muslim sites we visited were Christian, I'd have the exact same question in reverse. There was a significant Jewish population in Morocco for many years, why don't we see any sign of them on the tour?]

  • edited March 2022

    I would be surprised if the Moroccan government has any interest in where Tauck takes it’s customers. It is not a communist country. It is Tauck that engineers where their customers visit, often with customer feedback. They tweek tours when they receive feedback if enough people don’t care for a site, hotel or food etc. Logistics and timing play.into their choices too.
    I haven’t taken this tour, but it is relatively short. I’ve already looked at another company where the tour is much longer. I have to admit that apart from reading the enthusiasm for this tour that has suddenly become one of the ‘in’ pacers for Taucktourians on the forum to visit during the pandemic, that I haven’t done much thorough research on it.
    Mike, did you relay your comments to Tauck? If not, send them to Tauck in an email and see if they respond.
    I’d also like to hear from those who tested positive and how it was being in quarantine, whether Tauck reprgsnised flights for those who had booked their own flights and things like that..
    BellaC, did the tour group wear masks on the bus, is that still a Tauck requirement? It was when we took a Tauck tour in February. If there is no testing to get into Morocco from the US, then it is more likely the positive tests were because people got it from their fellow travelers than the locals. When we were on a tour in January, we barely went near enough the local people, but their were people on our bus who didn’t wear masks and their was no social distance when we ate together, so full on 20 % plus of our group tested positive after two weeks together and likely more had it when the tour started and were clear by the end of the trip. Please don’t forget everyone that when it comes to Covid vaccination, our country is way down on the world list now and it is not just poor people who get Covid.

  • MikeHenderson, hi!
    The post I upload did get lost in transit. I'm surprise the picture made it, even though I cannot see it. Yes, that's her PHD Fatima.
    She is probably very good, but boring.

    As I was saying... it's that lately I have noticed the introduction of lectures on tours... and mostly all about women in a Muslin society as it applies to these countries).

    To be honest, I attended to the one in Fez(FES) because it was during lunch.. it was ANOYING! everyone wanted to relax and enjoy the meal & this PHD crazy women could not stop talking plus she would raise her voice and look at you directly to make you pay attention, everyone was very uncomfortable and not interested at all, BUT! the grand moment was when she started to talk about women sexuality in a Muslim country. OH MY GOD!! everyone got up and left, 1 after the other.. enough!!

    I personally don't like to spend my vacation time hearing lectures and it really bothers me to see how one religion gets single out and it is always a target. If your are going to talk about religion then do a general all inclusive lecture about them, don't focus on just one.. I have friends that practice the Muslin religion and they are not only incredible people , but also very caring and respectful. Also, in both lecture (1 also in Jordan) the subject is always about "women" , their role in society, how they are treated, what it's expected from them a member of the religious group etc... I think these are heavy subjects and it can touch many nerves, leave them out! focus on the history of the country and that's already enough..

    About the visits to specific religious sights, my group was offered if they wanted to go as a separate mini group to visit the Jewish Quater Fez- and a group of 6 did, then they met us back at a coffee shop to continue the Medina. We also saw the quarter but it was a general view of it.

    In general, Tauck doesn't focus on the religious aspect of any country, but there are places that its inevitable.

    About Essaouira, I do agree with bella c, the place is beautiful and refreshing, Yes... I would have liked to stay few more hours.. and the art stalls had wonderful stuff.


    Have a great weekend .

  • I've enjoyed lectures on river cruises where you can opt to attend or skip if you want, but have felt held hostage all too many times by local tour guides or experts. They all too often feel the need to fill up your entire time while visiting a site when actually I'd like to roam a bit on my own. Aside from boredom I find the "stand and shuffle" progress hard. Would much rather keep strolling along. Some TDs are good at reining them in and others give vague guidance on how long they have you for.

    The worst was the D-day expert on our Normandy tour. He was a very interesting guide and I learned a lot from him. However, on our drive to lunch that day he proceeded to describe the number of dead bodies floating along the shore for days after the invasion. A sad and tragic bit of information that I really didn't want to hear just before eating. I quickly got out my ear buds and cranked up the music on my smartphone. There were a couple of other occasions that day I broke from the group.

  • When we were in Haifa on the Israel & Jordan tour, we had a panel discussion by representatives of the four major religions there: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Baha'i. The panel discussion was held early evening at the hotel, before dinner. No one had to attend. I found it very interesting.

  • MCD Hi
    Thats sounds very interesting and given the place it is nice to have a perspective of the main religions, see I would have attended to that one, just because is general information, history and also it explains how each one views the essential facts of all religions, but to focus only on the role and expectation of women in these countries is not appropriate for vac. time, unless you're on a religious-all women peregrination type of symposium..
    By the way all of these lectures are optional. I skipped the one in Jordan.

  • The last day in Marrakech. Tour ends in AM. Flights leave in PM. To get back to U.S., you have to spend a night somewhere? Please explain you last day.

  • Everyone on our tour in November left Marrakesh on the final morning. Some were transported to the airport in Casablanca, which was several hours by car. We went to the airport in Marrakesh, a mere 20 minutes away. From there, we flew to Paris. We could have endured a long layover in CDG, so we opted to stay over in Paris. It was a fun 24 hours...we shopped, ate, and saw a cool art installation (Dali/Gaudi illumination). Then flew home to NY.

    I guess it depends on who is booking your flights, and where your final destination is. I know at least one couple who flew to Madrid and planned on spending some time there before returning to the US.

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