Casablanca, Fez, Marrakech, and the Sahara Desert elicit dreams of a magical kingdom based on books we had read and movies we have watched. The reality is Morocco is more fascinating than our dreams could imagine. It is an incredibly photogenic country of dizzying cultural diversity, ancient cities, and jaw-dropping nature in the mountains, valleys, and deserts. Join master color photographer Arthur Meyerson on a memorable journey that brings you face to face with the culture and people of this exotic land.
We meet in Morocco’s economic capital, Casablanca, to begin our 12-day Moroccan adventure. We explore this melting pot of a city on foot our first day to get our photographic legs and cameras in order, and then travel in our 15-passenger Mercedes van to the imperial city of Fez. Here life is still rooted in medieval times and its never-ending maze of streets and lanes are waiting to be discovered and photographed. Our home for two nights is a traditional riad in the center of the old walled city. We explore Fez in small guided groups in order to move at a slower pace and make deeper personal connections with the people we meet.
On our fourth day we are off on a scenic journey across the magnificent Middle and High Atlas Mountains. We stop for nourishment and to create new images in the Swiss-like town of Ifrane and along the beautiful Ziz Valley. We arrive at the edge of the great Sahara Desert and the remote town of Merzouga. Again, staying this evening in a traditional riad, we end our day photographing the sunset over the desert. In the early light of morning we spend time in local Berber and Gnawa communities that so few visitors experience.
The vast Sahara is out ahead of us. Individually choosing to trek on camelback or ride by jeep, we cross the brilliant Erg Chebbi sand dunes to reach our desert campsite of luxury yurts. A delicious dinner, traditional music around a campfire, stargazing, and night-sky photography end a full and exhilarating day.
Not to be outdone, Day Six begins with sunrise over the sweeping Sahara creating a multi-colored start and ends with last light in the palm groves of the lush Dades Valley. In between and on our journey over the Jebl Sahro Mountains, we explore the souks and kasbahs of Tinerhir. The next morning, we head out from Dades Gorge in 4x4 vehicles and drive across the high desert valleys to the remote town of Bou Tharar. Stopping along the way, we visit nomadic Bedouin cave dwellers to learn about their traditions and photograph their daily lives. Once in Bou Tharar, we take a guided walk to explore and photograph this beautiful village with its 300-year-old kasbahs and endless fields of flowers.
Our eighth day promises to be a portrait photographer’s delight as we focus our attention and cameras on the families that live in the small villages in the Dades Valley. We are invited into private homes in the Berber and Bedouin communities as well as make portraits among the spectacular rock formations with locals as our subjects. A relaxing picnic lunch alongside a nearby stream and an afternoon of hiking the Monkey Fingers Gorge or a cooking class inside a local home rounds out this special day.
The magic and mystery of Marrakech looms large ahead of us today. We depart the Dades Valley and again cross the Atlas Mountains, stopping in the UNESCO village of Ait-Benhaddou, known for its traditional mud-brick homes and the site of many movies, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator. As the light fades, we enter the most beloved city in all of Morocco –Marrakech. We spend our finals days exploring this enchanted city of bustling markets, incredible architecture, centuries old crafts, intense colors and aromas, constant celebrations and a positive, contagious energy. Marrakech dazzles all the senses, and our goal is to capture the city in our own unique way through our images.
As strangers in a strange land and considered wealthy tourists in a country with visible poverty, there is occasional hassle from unofficial guides, but Morocco is a safe and politically stable place to visit and enjoy the country’s warm hospitality. Our well-planned daily itineraries and the expertise of our local guides assure a pleasant and wonder-filled experience.
As our adventure unfolds day by day, Arthur leads us photographically to new heights and understandings of the medium through hands-on lessons, individual as well as group image review sessions, and daily briefings on how to approach the day’s photographic opportunities. Color is the underlying photographic theme, but portraiture, landscapes, street photography, reportage, abstract design and architectural studies are part of our daily experiences. First and foremost, this is a photographic journey with Morocco as our dazzling playground and intimate studio.