Morocco is as exotic as it gets. From the medieval market in Fez that is more than a thousand years old to golden dunes in the Sahara desert, and from camels and veiled women to ancient Kasbahs, this North African country is a paradise for photographers. Even having a 'simple' lunch can produce amazing shots as in the picture of a restaurant, above. The nomadic Berber people of the Atlas Mountains are friendly and willing to be photographed, and remarkable Chefchaouen, a city painted in cobalt blue, offers wonderful backdrops for local models. Join Jim on this exciting photo tour, and you'll come home with some of the best images ever.
Day 1, Monday, May 15. You depart from North America (or elsewhere) for the overnight trans-Atlantic journey.
Day 2, Tuesday, May 16 . Upon arrival in Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco, you will be met and transferred by van to your hotel, where you will check in and relax for the afternoon. Depending on the time, our group can visit the impressive Hassan II mosque situated beautifully on the Atlantic Coast. Overnight Novotel (4 star).
Day 3, Wednesday, May 17. After breakfast, we leave toward Chefchaouen, the famous blue city of Morocco in the Rif Mountains. On route, we will stop in Rabat, the capital of the country, and visit the King's Palace to photograph the classic Moorish arches, the stunning mosaics, as well as the uniformed guards. After lunch, we continue on to Chefchaouen for the night. Dinner will be served in the beautiful and photogenic hotel, Dar Meziana Hotel (4 star).
Day 4, Thursday, May 18. Chefchaouen is one of the photographic highlights of the tour. The cobalt blue color of many of its doors, windows, alleys, and ancient walls make for wonderful graphic images. Flower pots, people, bicycles, and other subjects stand out beautifully in this kind of environment. Many of your favorite pictures will be taken here. We have an entire day to photograph this wonderful city, and Jim will arrange a model (or two) to pose for us. Overnight Dar Meziana Hotel.
Day 5, Friday, May 19. Before breakfast, we can climb to the edge of the mountain for a beautiful shot of this small Berber town. After breakfast, we head for the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis. We spend time photographing the well-preserved ruins, and you will be amazed at the beautiful mosaics from 2000 years ago. We have lunch in Meknes, one of Morocco's imperial cities. We will visit the remarkable stable of Moulay Ismael, the Bab Mansour, and the Medina. The medieval architecture in this city is dramatic and photogenic. Late in the day we drive to Fes, the cultural and spiritual capital of Morocco. Dinner will be served in the hotel. Riad Jaouhara Hotel (4 1/2 star).
Day 6, Saturday, May 20. At sunrise, we will take advantage of an elevated overlook of the city to take great shots in the low angled sunlight. After breakfast, we begin our guided tour of the ancient medina, one of the world's largest walled cities. It is a labyrinth of narrow streets lined with fresh fruit, mounds of colorful spices, intricately woven Berber carpets and many other art objects of Morocco. We will have lunch in a traditional restaurant in the heart of the medina. We continue to photograph after lunch, and then we have dinner in our hotel. Overnight Riad Jaouhara Hotel.
Day 7, Sunday, May 21. This is a free day to explore Fes. You can visit the potters making stunning ceramics the King's Palace, the medina, or just wander around for candid shots of street activity, Fes is worth the extra day. In the early evening, Jim will conduct a critique session and give you feedback on the pictures you've already taken. Overnight Riad Jaouhara.
Day 8, Monday, May 22. After an early breakfast we will begin our ascent across the Middle Atlas Mountains. Most of the day will be spent winding our way through the beautiful forests, jagged rock faces, and Berber villages as we cross the Atlas Mountains and begin to descend towards the Sahara Desert. Half way, we will stop for lunch in the town of Midelt, famous for its fossils and rocks. In the afternoon, we make our way down through the Ziz River Valley. Upon arrival in Erfoud, we jump into the 4x4s and head out to the dunes. Sunset on the dunes is spectacular. Overnight Auberge Dune Dor (3 star).
Day 9, Tuesday, May 23. This morning we photograph Berber men leading camels on the dunes at sunrise for a classic desert silhouette. Then, after breakfast, we drive in 4 x 4 vehicles on the dunes and visit a nomadic Berber village. Listen to some of their music while you take great travel portraits. This is a wonderful cultural exchange as well as a great photo opportunity. Overnight Auberge Dune Dor (3 star).
Day 10, Wednesday, May 24. We head back to Erfoud enroute to the Dades Gorge, a dramatic geological desert region with spectacular views, sheer cliffs, and earth-toned rock formations. We do landscape photography of the rugged terrain and the river valleys, and we will walk in the Todra Gorge and marvel at the towering formations. Dinner will be served in the Kasbah. Xaluca Dades Hotel (4 star).
Day 11, Thursday, May 25. After an early breakfast we set off towards Quarzazate along the route of the 1000 Kasbahs. The city of Quarzazate is famous as a movie set for many Western films, and nearby is Kasbah Ait Benhaddou which was used in Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth, and The Gladiator. It's stunning to photograph in low angled sunlight. You will have opportunities to seek out hidden treasures, i.e. beautiful compositions, in this remarkable place. Dinner will be served at the Kasbah Ait Benhaddou Hotel (3 star).
Day 12, Friday, May 26. After breakfast, we drive towards Marrakech over the High Atlas Mountains. Once we check into our hotel, we head to the Djemaa el-Fna, the center square of the medina. It is alive with people in the day, and at night it is filled with storytellers, entertainers, snake charmers, and barbeque pits. Great people photography everywhere. Dinner will be served at the Riad Moucharabieh Hotel (4 star).
Day 13, Saturday, May 27. Today we explore Marrakech in more depth. We visit the Palace of the Bahi, the exquisite architecture of the Saadian Tombs, and the beautiful Koutoubia Mosque. We also explore the souk, or market, with many colorful Moroccan products to photograph. The city is stunning at twilight, too, and we will use our tripods to capture the cobalt blue sky against the warm color tones of the artificial lights in this medieval atmosphere. Overnight Riad Moucharabieh.
Day 14, Sunday, May 28. We drive to Essaouira this morning, a picturesque fishing town on the southwest coast of Morocco. Many of the country's wood carvers and artists make Essaouira their home, and you will see exquisite examples of their artistry in many of the fine shops. Photographs of the colorful fishing boats make great subjects, as do views of the harbor, the dramatic mosque on the beach, and the people. After lunch, we head up the coast to Casablanca. Dinner will be served in the hotel. Overnight Novotel (4 star).
Day 14, Monday, May 29 This morning we are transferred to the airport for our journey home, knowing we've taken amazing pictures of the people, culture, architecture, and landscapes of Morocco.
Tour cost: $5675.
Single supplement: $1080.
Included: 13 nights hotel accommodations, 13 breakfasts and 13 dinners, air-conditioned transportation, English speaking guide, excursions to Volubilis, Meknes and the Berber village in the desert, entrance fees to historical sites (including Hassan II Mosque), portage tips for luggage, airport transfers.
Not included: International airfare, tips for local guides, lunches, drinks, and items of a personal nature.