• By: Edward Piegza

    1/28/2011

  • Last week, a prospective guest contacted our office and asked several questions about our Morocco family vacation. She has two teenage children and is considering the year end departure. After speaking with my colleague Amanda, who is the Morocco travel specialist on our Guest Services team, Kathy closed by asking for the names of a couple of guests who have traveled with us there previously.

    This weekend, I received an email from two of those guests, Mike and Dawn Lopach, who passed along Kathy’s questions to them and their answers to her. I found the questions so well considered, and the answers so helpful, that I decided to share them with you. If you are considering our Morocco walking tour or our Morocco family vacation, I think you’ll find that they put a real, candid view on what it is like to travel in Morocco with Classic Journeys. Below you’ll find Kathy’s questions and Dawn’s replies.

    Dear Mike and Dawn:

    I was provided your name by Classic Journeys as a reference for their Morocco trip. Our family is considering the trip for next December. I’d love to get your perspective on the expedition. Specific questions we have:

    1. Could you comment on the trip leader?
    2. A competing itinerary we are evaluating has a longer segment by camel in the desert. Did you feel that you would have liked more time in the desert? More/less time in Fes and Marrakech?
    3. Best and worst parts of the trip?
    4. Would you do it again? Would you recommend it to others?


    I’d appreciate any information you would be willing to provide.

    Thanks,
    Kathy R.

    Dear Kathy,

    We have traveled with Classic Journeys many times and always find the itinerary, lodging, dining experiences and most definitely the guides to be wonderful.

    Mike and Dawn

    ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————

    Editor’s note: If you’re wondering, Mike and Dawn have traveled with us as a couple and with their kids on our Morocco family vacationCosta Rica family vacationNormandy and Brittany walking tourTuscany and the Cinque Terre walking tourPeru and Machu Picchu tourLoire and Burgundy tourIreland walking tour, and Umbria walking tour in Italy. Their first trip with Classic Journeys was in July 1999 and their most recent was June 2010. Next up for them? Zambia on our African walking safari.

    As for Saida, she is one of our two remarkable senior guides in Morocco, and part of a discreet entourage of 29 exceptional local Classic Journeys colleagues (from camel guides to Berber tribesmen who are also PhD’s in cultural anthropology to Land Rover drivers) who make your time with us memorable and carefree. If you’d like to read how our other fantastic guide, Jalil, saved another guest’s trip before it even began, check out “How to handle a toothache in Morocco“.

    If you’d like to share your own experiences as a traveling Boomer or if you’d like more information on our Cultural Walking ToursCulinary ToursFamily Vacations or Private Tours, drop us a line at blog@classicjourneys.com or download an itinerary at www.classicjourneys.com/itineraries.

    Morocco was an amazing experience from start to finish and we absolutely fell in love with our guide Saida. We decided to arrive in Fez a couple of days before the tour started to adjust to the time change. We had Classic Journeys arrange for a car and driver to meet us at the airport in Casablanca for transport to Fez. Our luggage decided to stay an extra day at the airport in Paris and we weren’t sure what we should do. I called Saida and she said to just meet the car and she would take care of the luggage. When we arrived in Fez several hours later, she was waiting for us and assisted with hotel check in and offered to spend the following day with us, even though the group tour did not start until the day after that. The next morning she called the airlines, found the luggage, made arrangements for its delivery, and then spent the day with us; and refused payment for her extra day of service. She was so kind, organized and beautiful both inside and out.

    Saida

    Saida is wonderful with the kids (she has 2 daughters), as well. I loved that she was the one of the 1st woman guides ever in Morocco (still a field and country largely dominated by men). She has served as guide and liaison to several US ambassadors to Morocco. In fact, one morning as we had breakfast in Fez, the current US ambassador, Samuel Kaplan, who was staying at the same hotel, came over to our table and introduced himself. Then he proceeded to tell us we had the very best guide in all of Morocco. And I’m pretty sure he was right.We absolutely loved our night in the desert and the camel ride into camp at sunset. That said, one night was definitely enough. Riding camels was quite an experience and made for great pictures, but we did not feel like we wanted more of either. We rode part way to camp then dismounted and climbed up a huge sand dune that the kids skied and snow boarded down. Then we climbed back on the camels for the ride into camp right at sunset. It was spectacular. Next morning we got up before sunrise and rode back out into the desert and up a dune to watch the sun rise across the desert. The lighting and colors where otherworldly. By the time we got back to camp, had breakfast and packed our gear we really were ready to head back to civilization.

    We had sufficient time in Fez but could have easily stayed and enjoyed one more day in Marrakesh, just wandering through the Medina and souks.

    Best part of the trip? It was all truly amazing from start to finish: from private dinners in beautiful riads, to being so close to the Barbary apes that you could capture their facial expressions on film, to camel rides and sleeping in the desert, to snake charmers in Marrakesh. Each experience was heightened and enriched by being with Saida.

    Barbary ape

    Worst part was the long bus ride from Fez to the Sahara. Though we made many stops along the way it was a long windy road, and some of the kids experienced motion sickness along the way. (Fortunately ours was not one of them.) Having a supply of Dramamine or sea bands along was helpful.

    Do it again? We started talking about returning before we even left and will undoubtedly return again. We have traveled to many parts of the world, sometimes with Classic Journeys often on our own. Morocco definitely rates as a favorite adventure.

    I can honestly say it would be hard to find a company that does a better job than Classic Journeys. Their staff in the US is great, too. I spoke to them several times when planning the trip and Edward, the company president, called me personally to share his experiences with his family in Morocco and to share travel tips and suggestions.

    Good luck with your travel plans,

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