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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

little honeymoon adventures: Morocco

By Kira Wind

I've invited my best friend Kira, a.k.a, little miss globe trotter, to guest blog on little honeymoon adventures today. A couple of posts back, she was kind enough to share insider tips on how to have an ultimate Nantucket honeymoon. To read about it go here. And today she will transport us over to exotic Morocco.

There are few places as romantic and mysterious and Morocco. It’s hot, cold, dry, spicy, sultry, sweet and mystical. If you’re looking for a honeymoon that will take you completely out of your element and drop you thousands of years in ago in a land rich with history, culture, tradition and personality, Morocco is a trip of a lifetime. There are many ways to see and experience Morocco – too much in fact. In your planning process you’re going to have to make some difficult decisions about what you desperately can’t miss and what you’ll skip. If you’re going in the summer (namely July and August), you may want to take into account the extreme heat. If any of your itinerary includes more than an evening ride into the Sahara and a sunrise ride out, consider traveling in the Spring or Winter. The sun is blistering hot and there’s nothing less romantic than heat stroke. There are many fantastic ways to see the country, but the safest, easiest and most interesting is to hire a driver/tour guide. Your driver is your key into this beautiful and unusual culture and country.
Some of the most interesting adventures in Morocco include camels, sand dunes, waterfalls and long, beautiful hikes. There are also sites for the more leisurely travelers, but there’s just so much to see and do that you’ll want to bring a great pair of sneakers and some sunscreen and do everything Morocco has to offer. As far as lodging, Morocco stands apart. In most cities and even in some villages, Riads are generally a fantastic choice. These are old palaces that have been converted for the modern traveler, maintaining all of the architectural integrity and incorporating all of the modern conveniences of 3, 4 and 5 star hotels. There’s a Riad for all tastes and budgets – so be adventurous. This isn’t where you want to be looking for a Marriott.

Karim, one of the managers of Kasbah Omar will take you on the best hike of your life. Exploring high mountain villages, natural water falls and swimming holes –you’ll forget the heat of the city and lose yourself in a beautiful mountain wilderness.

Kasbah Omar Ourika, High Atlas Mountains

Dades Valley

Dades Valley, Gorges

Driving out to the Saraha

Setting up camp in the Merzouga Dunes

After a delicious meal cooked for you under starlight, the local Berber evening entertainment begins.
The only way in and out of the Dunes is by camel or dromedary. Your guides will lead you.

You may feel a little sandy upon returning from the desert. No better way to wash off than with a traditional Moroccan hammam. This exfoliating treatment will leave you soft and radiant. Most hotels and Riads offer this spa option.

Marrakech has plenty of best in class hotels to choose from. La Sultana offers five star luxury accommodations, dining and spa options. Other luxury resort options in Marrakech include:

La Mamounia
La Villa des Orangers
Palmeraie Golf Palace & Resort

It’s hard to go wrong dining in Morocco. Local tajines, juices and breads are delicious options no matter which part of the country you find yourself. Orance juices are particularly good, as is the local olive oil. If you’re invited into someone home for a meal, don’t decline. This will be your most memorable evening in Morocco!

Moroccan crafts are stunning. Whether you’re shopping for lighting fixtures, antique jewelry boxes, carpets, perfume bottles or pottery, you’ll be sure to find unique objects all over the country. The medinas (or old walled cities) are the best places to find the most authentic goods, so be sure to bring a certified tour guide and start exploring!

How to get there…
Royal Air Maroc
Daily flights from JFK to Casablanca (and domestic connections to Fes, Marrakech, etc…)
When planning your itinerary, consider skipping Casablanca altogether and connecting to one of the main cities. A connection from Casablanca to Fes is just about an hour of flying time and will cut hours off of your drive. A sample week long itinerary includes Fes, Merzouga Dunes in the Sahara, Ouarzazate, Ourika/High Atlas Mountains and Marrakech.

{Photography by Kira Wind}