by Maleeha Sambur
Each year, my family members and I carve out one week of our lives for a family vacation, and in 2014, Morocco was our chosen destination. Morocco is a country of remarkably diverse landscapes, and with so many fascinating regions to explore, it was tough to choose which places to visit. Since only one member of our party had been there before, we were seeking a general introduction to the country, and with six of us traveling, we decided that the easiest way to accomplish that would be to travel by car, with a tour company guiding us in our explorations. With the help of the excellent folks at Rough Tours, we settled on an itinerary that took us from Marrakech to Fes to Chefchaouen, along with a night in the Sahara and plenty of interesting stops in between.
Since we usually prefer self-guided exploration over organized tours, we were a bit concerned that taking the well-trodden tourist route would feel inauthentic, but our guides made it seem unique, catering their talking points to our individual interests (architecture, history, crafts, sociology), showing us key sites while steering clear of tourist traps, and weighing in on where to eat and shop without leading us to a friend or relative's business (a common practice among tour companies, as they can earn a commission for bringing in business). It was a lot of driving, but the ever-shifting landscape provided plenty of distractions, as we watched the scenery change from lush, palm-lined oases to surreal, mind-bending desertscapes; barren stretches of otherworldly rock formations to terracotta kasbahs camouflaged among undulating ochre-colored hills; verdant valleys with crystalline lakes to pine-forested, snow-blanketed ski towns. Read More