- Why you should take a Collette guided tour in Morocco
- What are Collette’s Small Group Explorations tours?
- People with like interests
- Well-designed itineraries
- Planning decisions made easy by Collette
- Perfectly paced tours
- Time on your own
- Dedicated tour manager and local experts
- Special and immersive experiences
- Language and cultural tips
- Destination-specific accommodations
- Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride
- Related posts:
Why you should take a Collette guided tour in Morocco
Following our trip to the Balkans in 2022, we posted about the reasons we felt a Collette tour (our first guided land tour) was a great way to see these countries of the former Yugoslavia. Now we can apply those same reasons to the Colors of Morocco tour we took in October, 2023. This was our first time in Morocco and also our first time in Africa. If you’re considering if a Collette guided tour in Morocco or other destinations makes sense for you, we hope our experience will be helpful. This post also includes links to our other articles about broadening our horizons in Morocco.
What are Collette’s Small Group Explorations tours?
Collette’s organized tour offerings included a range of styles — classic, small group, solo, private, cruises, and custom. Within each category, they are also identified by activity levels (1-5) to help travelers select the right tour to match their expectations and physical abilities.
Colors of Morocco is one of Collette’s Small Group Exploration tours (generally about 14 – 25 guests per tour) with an activity level of 3 (on-the-go active traveler). Our tour had 19 physically active and culture-curious guests. There are a lot of busy days with a good amount of walking on these tours, which is perfect for us.
People with like interests
On both of our Collette tours, we found that our fellow tour members were like-minded travel enthusiasts who chose the particular small group tour because they have similar interests to ours. So it’s very easy to feel comfortable with the people around you.
The members of our group that we got to know were well-traveled (with experiences doing independent travel as well as guided tours) of various ages, but mostly 55+. There were two younger women friends traveling together that blended well with the whole group. One couple had taken over 20 tours with Collette while another couple was taking their first guided tour. There were also three people traveling solo. An example of finding like-mined travelers on the tour, a couple with whom we spent quite a lot of time also had taken the Taste of the Balkans tour and loved it.
The Colors of Morocco itinerary was created by Collette’s expert team of tour designers who really understand the destination and have the resources to arrange the best activities and experiences for each day with included and optional tours. Mr. TWS and I feel that Collette captured the essence of Morocco and exceeded our expectations including features both expected and unexpected. Like our previous tour with Collette, the Colors of Morocco provided activities we would not likely have been able to plan on our own. These really helped us to better understand the people and culture. Some examples were the traditional dinner we had with a Moroccan family in Fes and meeting a Berber nomad family in the desert where we were able to ask many questions via translation by our guide.
Planning decisions made easy by Collette
As much as I’m very experienced at planning independent travel, particularly in North America and Europe, I have to admit that were I trying to plan a first trip to Morocco myself, I would have felt rather confused as to where to even begin. It was so nice to let Collette’s experts and local resources handle the decision-making and logistics planning.
Perfectly paced tours
For this tour we felt the timing was just right for each location — two nights in Rabat, three nights in Fes, one night in Erfoud (gateway to the Sahara experience), two nights in the Sahara camp, one night in Boumalne du Dades (stopover between the Sahara and Marrakech), three nights in Marrakech, and one night in Casablanca. The nights spent in Erfoud and Boumalne du Dades were short because they were mid-way stops between destinations, but they were quite nice accommodations and we really enjoyed them.
Time on your own
On the Morocco tour, there was unscheduled time most evenings and we were free to go on our own (shopping for crafts and souvenirs, out to dinner, etc.), take advantage of options provided by our tour manager to join him at a local’s home for traditional dinner, or dine at the hotel. We welcomed the opportunities to immerse in the culture by engaging with locals in Fes arranged by Nabil. We enjoyed dining at the riad in Fes which was very atmospheric. In Marrakech, I enjoyed a glass of wine with two other couples at the luxurious La Mamounia hotel before an included dinner at another restaurant with the rest of our group. Some members of the group spent more time exploring on their own, having spa treatments, attending an art class, and even hot air ballooning.
One of our travelers was an avid shopper who had plenty of time to buy more souvenirs than we could have imagined, and there were many places on the tour that offered crafts and goods for which Morocco is known, such as hand-woven carpets and leather goods.
Dedicated tour manager and local experts
Mr. TWS and I feel that our tour manager and local guides were very good in providing us with not only the highlights of destinations but contributing to a deeper understanding of the people, culture, landscape, and landmarks.
Our guide Nabil made sure that we were informed, comfortable, safe, and satisfied. Nabil and the local guides, such as those in Rabat, Fes, Volubilis, Casablanca, and Marrakech were very knowledgeable and also had engaging personalities.
Also, without a guide it would have been easy to get lost in some places such as the maze of narrow passageways in the Fes medina and the Marrakech souks.
Special and immersive experiences
Collette tours include immersive experiences that may have been difficult to schedule on our own or that we would not even have known about.
A few of those experiences were a cooking class at a non-profit women’s training center in Marrakech, a winery tour in Meknes with tasting and lunch, a visit with a nomad family in the Sahara, and learning about the Gnawa people and their music. We trust Collette to put meaningful activities on the itinerary that make for a memorable trip and they certainly did in Morocco.
Spending two nights in the Sahara Desert in a luxury camp was a very special experience (and a highlight of the trip). The desert was beautiful with sunsets over the dunes and romantic nights with a sky brightened with millions of stars. From our tent, we only walked a short distance to begin the camel ride over the dunes.
Language and cultural tips
One of the things I love about foreign travel is being immersed in the local language — hearing the people speak, seeing it on signs and in print, and trying to learn a few phrases.
We found it to be very helpful to have someone who could translate and communicate with locals for us when language would have been a barrier. This was especially important in Morocco where the official language is Arabic. Many well-educated Moroccans in the cities also speak French, but that is not as prevalent in the rural areas. Besides our guides, English was spoken by some people we encountered, mainly in the areas where they are accustomed to engaging with English-speaking tourists. Nabil taught us some common phrases which we tried our best to use, mostly the Arabic equivalents of hello (salam), thank you (shorkran), please (afak), and so on.
Since Morocco is primarily a Muslim country, it was also a benefit for us to be with our tour manager Nabil who could give us cultural information and explain traditions. He also provided guidance regarding shopping and haggling tips.
Collette arranged accommodations that are chosen for convenience, comfort, and relevance to the destination.
Our itinerary included stays at Palais Sheherazade & Spa, a riad (a traditional Moroccan house with inner courtyard) in Fes, a luxury camp in the Sahara, charming Moroccan style hotels in Erfoud and Boumalne du Dades, and contemporary hotels in the bustling modern cities of Rabat, Casablanca, and Marrakech. In each case, we enjoyed the accommodations, dining options, and service.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride
Collette’s professional coach drivers are experts at navigating the roadways (from winding mountain roads to chaotic city traffic), providing safe and comfortable transportation. They know their way around, so you don’t have to. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy the scenery around us.
We were driven in a caravan of 4x4s on the Sahara Desert that took us from Erfoud to our camp on the dunes. We also traveled by 4x4s on desert excursions to an abandoned mining town with a Muslim cemetery, a date palm farm, and a visit with a nomad family.
I’m used to big city driving, but I much preferred having a Moroccan coach driver behind the wheel in places like Marrakech (shown below).
Finally, Collette offers private sedan service to and from your home airport (complimentary on international air-inclusive bookings). It’s a great, stress-free way to begin and end a trip!
We look forward to more travels with Collette, confident that the high quality of their tours will further broaden our horizons.
Thank you, Collette, for sponsoring our memorable Morocco exploration.