Spice, Sand & Shimmy:

A Mystical Moroccan Wellness Journey

with Misha & Brian Nell

October 4–16, 2016

Trip at a Glance

  • October 4 to October 16, 2016
  • Visit four beautiful, distinct facets of the Moroccan landscape, from sea to city to sand
  • Starting point: Asilah, Morocco
  • Ending point: Fez, Morocco
  • Daily practice with Misha & Brian Nell
  • Accompanied by BJ & Lauren from RetreaTours
  • Limited to 12 guests
  • $2999 per person (based on double occupancy)

Who is this Trip Perfect for?

  • New Bellydancers
  • Experienced Bellydancers
  • Friends and Family of Dancers
  • Seasoned Adventurers who’d like to visit Morocco
  • First-time travelers who want to learn the in’s and out’s of traveling in the company of great storytellers who will show them the ropes
  • Explorers who’d like to travel with lots of luxury and little fuss
  • Camel lovers, desert nomads, hip shakers, YOU!

 

Just the Facts

Days 1-3: Asilah (seaside artist colony)
Days 4-6: Chefchaouen (the blue city in the mountains!)
Days 7-8: Fes (ancient walled city)
Days 9-10: The Sahara Desert (need we say more?)
Days 11-12: Fes (back to the medina)

How to Register

  • Read this complete webpage for trip details
  • Complete the Registration Questions and Contract
  • Submit deposit by check or credit card (via PayPal)

Asilah

Chefchaouen

Fes

The Sahara

2016 Moroccan RetreaTour™ Itinerary

asilah bike muralDays 1-3: Asilah

Today begins your 12 day Moroccan adventure: sea, city & sand!

You’ll land in Tangier, Morocco and be taken to our first destination, the lovely seaside town of Asilah.  Now an artist’s enclave, Asilah dates back to 1500 BC when the Phoenicians used it as a trading base.  A quaint town with a tiny medina (old, walled section of town), Asilah is the perfect place to land and get your bearings.

You’ll feel comfortable exploring these tiny, car-free alleyways on your own, discovering new gems behind every curve. Each year, Asilah hosts an art festival that finds its gorgeous medina whitewashed and used as a canvas for colorful murals. This is a fantastic place to ease into your Moroccan experience, as Asilah is widely known for its laid-back atmosphere and small yet picturesque medina. Grab your camera and wander the tiny alleys, punctuated with brightly painted doorways and windows. For anyone interested, BJ can give informal photography workshops, illuminating composition tips and camera settings for your best snaps ever.

Our accommodation in Asilah is located within the medina but near a very convenient entrance. We’ll be staying in a classic example of a riad, which is a traditional Moroccan house with an inner courtyard or garden. We’ll have yoga space on the roof, as well as several other innovative spots around town. We’ll spend some time at a beloved local haunt, dubbed “Paradise Beach.” On the coast’s broad shores, we can soak in some Moroccan sun and relax to the sound of the surf. But the beach isn’t the only place to appreciate the ocean here!

Our favorite spot is out on the jetty in the southwest corner of the medina, watching the sun sink into the Atlantic while the last warm rays illuminate the whitewashed town. Sunsets in Asilah are not to be missed!

Asilah is also the perfect place to get acquainted with Moroccan cuisine. Enjoy melt-in-your-mouth tagines, simmered & spiced lamb meatballs (kefta), and delicately fluffed couscous. The endless amounts of expertly cured olives & freshly baked bread are a culinary offer that’s hard to refuse! Even if bread isn’t your thing, the smells wafting out of the community oven will still delight your senses. Harira is a deceptively simple tomato-based soup that is prepared differently by every chef, but is consistently delicious. Moroccans tend to end bigger meals with local, seasonal fruit—a great habit to get into.

You’ll get intimately familiar with the national drink of Morocco, mint tea. Affectionately referred to as “Moroccan Whiskey” due to its role as a social lubricant in this largely dry country, it’s a deceptively simple blend of gunpowder green tea, loads of fresh mint leaves and sugar (to taste). It is served piping hot and often.  B’saha! (To your health!)

blue catDays 4-6: Chefchaouen

From Asilah, we’ll take a private vehicle eastward to our next destination, Chefchaouen. “Chefchaouen” literally means “look at the horns,” a reference to the twin mountain peaks the picturesque city is nestled against. And although this city is set in the gorgeous terrain of the Rif mountains, that’s not what makes it such a unique destination.

Chefchaouen is also known as “the blue city,” for reasons that are apparent upon first glance. Everything that doesn’t move is painted a brilliant shade of blue, so vivid that it makes even the bluest of skies look dull in comparison (you’ll see!)  It is said that Jewish refugees started this tradition, as blue is the color of divinity in Judaism. Divine, inspiring, invigorating, fascinating—however you describe it, it’s a city unlike any other. Bigger than Asilah but still easily navigable (and also vehicle-free), this medina contains structures from the late 1400’s. This aged city has softer lines and curves than Asilah, and you’ll feel like you’re exploring inside a fairytale, complete with petite blue-washed doors and rounded arches.

We encourage you to explore these twisting alleys and streets, as it’s the most delightful maze filled with fantastic shopping and delicious food. One of the local Chefchaouen specialties is a fresh goat cheese, often served at breakfast. Also, don’t be shocked if you see all of the pastry shops and stalls slightly abuzz; a mark of quality for these sweet treats is the number of bees they attract! Our accommodation in Chefchaouen sits high in the medina, affording a spectacular view of the city and sunsets. A large roof terrace provides plenty of opportunity for sunning and al fresco yoga sessions. Enjoy the stunning indoor swimming pool and private hammam (spa/sauna), along with all of the comfortable and stylish nooks and crannies set up for conversation or curling up with a good book. Perhaps the group will want to have a private henna party and get adorned with these ‘herbal tattoos’!

Another great place to enjoy sunset is the nearby hilltop, dominated by an old structure they call the “Spanish mosque.” It’s a nice walk from the medina, about a 30 minutes walk, past patches of cactus, goat herders, and the occasional grazing donkey, all under the towering “horn” peaks of Chefchaouen. The view from up here allows you a panorama of the entire city and the surrounding mountains. As the sun sets, listen to the melody of the mosques as they begin their sunset call to prayer.

DSC02428Days 7-8: Fes (Fez)

We’ll say our farewells to the city of blue and head south to Fes. However, we have a stunning stop on the way. Volubilis was developed in the third century BC as a Phoenician settlement, but thrived as a Roman outpost between the first and third centuries AD. It was inhabited by local tribes until it was eventually abandoned in the eleventh century. It is listed as UNESCO world heritage site for being “an exceptionally well-preserved example of a large Roman colonial town on the fringes of the Empire.” It’s an absolute must-see for history buffs, but an all-around fascinating experience for everyone.

From the site of Volubilis, we’ll head just another hour to Fes, the ancient capital of Morocco and currently the third largest city. Fes contains a very special medina, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, and is believed to be the largest car-free urban area in the world. (Are you noticing a theme here? We hate traffic!) The medina of Fes is a fascinating maze of smells, sites, and sounds. We’ll take a tour guided by a local professional and you’ll see some of the highlights of Fes, from the oldest continuously operated University in the world to the famed open air leather tanneries. You’ll see how leather has been traditionally processed for centuries, and you’ll have the opportunity to take home shoes, bags, and even custom-made coats (made with your measurements and delivered to our riad!) This is the place to shop, for yourself or loved ones; from leather goods to rugs, pottery to jewelry, Fes’s medina will fill the bill (and your suitcase!)

Our riad in Fes is truly breathtaking, and the intricate Moroccan tilework will amaze you. Comprised of two separate riads that have been joined, our spacious hotel offers plenty of options for yoga space (rooftop or poolside, anyone?)  You may never want to leave our home away from home in Fes! Luckily, you’ll get to see this riad again, as we’ll return here for two more days after our Saharan Adventure.

sahara starsDays 9-10:  The Sahara

We didn’t think your Moroccan adventure would be complete without a camel trek to the desert, and we’re sure you’ll agree! We’ll make the 8 hour drive in our own private vehicle, and the scenery from Fes to the desert is not to be missed (although we won’t blame you if you take a nap!)  In the late afternoon, we’ll arrive in the Erg Chebbi dunes, one of two Moroccan ergs (seas of sand dunes). Some of the dunes reach 500 feet, or the height of a 50-story building!

We’ll hop on our camel escorts and make our way to our tent camp in the desert, just in time to see the sunset. A semi-permanent tent camp, the accommodations are expectedly modest, but clean and comfortable. As you’re able to see the expanse of the Milky Way from our desert home, we like to say that the tents are better than a Five Star hotel—they’re Billion Star accommodations! We’ll eat a delicious meal prepared for us and then relax around the campfire, as our hosts entertain with traditional songs and dances (expect to get pulled in to the festivities!) Then we can take time to lay out some mats on a nearby dune and stargaze; if you wish, you can even sleep directly under the stars.

The next morning we’ll return to our camels and head out for the day. We’ll explore a nearby abandoned village, with the occasionally house occupied by a nomad. We’ll cruise around on our ships of the desert, making our way mid-day to an oasis. Here we’ll have lunch, do some stretching, explore—maybe even take a siesta! We’ll slowly make our way home, taking in sunset before another lovely meal and night around the campfire. Get a good night’s sleep, because tomorrow morning is going to knock your socks off!

We’ll depart by 6 AM on camel to head back into town; the sun will be rising behind us, illuminating the giant dunes before us with crisp, golden light in the quiet hours of the morning. We can stop for photos and some meditation or asanas; count yourself among the few who are fortunate enough to experience sunrise among the Saharan dunes. We’ll head back to our home base for breakfast and showers. (You weren’t expecting a shower in the middle of the dunes, were you?) From the desert we’ll return to Fes, stopping at a few lovely sites on the way. Feel free to snooze or take in more of the natural beauty outside your window.

smile you are in fezDays 11-12: Fes (Encore Performance)

We’ll arrive in Fes in the early evening and make our way back to your favorite riad. We’ll have a relaxed evening after a long day, and you can create your plan for the next day. We’ll have a free day in Fes, but we are more than happy to help you plan your day (or even accompany you!)  Now’s the time to shop for all of those pieces you were eyeing in the market a few days ago. Maybe you’d like to revisit some of the sites inside the medina, or even take a trip to the new part of town.

The RetreaTour™ formally ends the morning of October 2nd, but we will help you figure out the next stage of your adventure. Whether you want to take an early morning car ride back to Casablanca for a flight home, or fly from Fez to Barcelona or Paris to explore or catch a connecting flight, we’ll help sort out the details. We can even arrange further private exploration of Morocco if you’re not ready to leave this fabulous land!

About Misha

Misha Pushkar 2Misha Nell’s love affair with bellydance began when she saw her first instructor in 2000 in a mysterious advertisement in the local weekly newspaper. At first shy and hesitant in class, this beautiful dance form opened her heart and her soul. Her dance journey has been a wild ride with regular appearances in southwest Florida and around the world, bringing her own unique style and love of the form to audiences near and far. But most importantly, Misha notes, finding this dance allowed her to regain a sense of self, challenging her body and improving it physically while falling into the music and experiencing the joy of getting lost in the dance.

For over 15 years Misha has been teaching and studying the dance, hungrily exploring its rich array of styles. Misha believes that it is important to challenge oneself in learning, and has earned the Elite Graduate in Ansuya’s Bellydance Certification of American Cabaret as well as intensive education in Egyptian style via Sahra Saaeda’s Journey Through Egypt by completing Level 1 and Level 2. She is Sarasota’s only Tribal Bellydance Instructor, certified in Teacher Training Level 1 and 2 of Gypsy Caravan Tribal Bellydance® with extensive past studies in ATS® as well. Misha also recently completed her Initiate Training in Rachel Brice’s 8 Elements Certification for tribal fusion bellydance.

Misha is well known for her ability to impart information in a variety of ways. Her students describe her classes as fun and enjoy her energy that mixes her love of the dance with a commitment to achieving excellent technique. While Misha is a consummate professional dancer, her true passion is teaching and she believes that bellydance truly has the power to change lives and works to inspire other dancers to share their art on a greater scale. Bellydance is a sacred dance, but it’s also a celebration of life and Misha strives to bring this aspect into her performances and classes.

About Brian

Brian Nell is a fourth degree blackbelt in Pangai-noon Kung Fu. He began his martial arts journey in 1999 and has studied a variety of forms, including Capoiera, Aikido, Tai Chi, and Kung Fu. He is a certified Tai Chi instructor in multiple styles and teaches regular classes in Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida.

brian nell martial arts tripHis martial arts studies have taken him all over the world. An adventurer at heart, Brian has journeyed to Okinawa, China, and all throughout Florida to learn his art. He is a highly regarded instructor, and has taught in China, India, Japan, and New York sharing both Pangai-noon Kung Fu and Tai Chi with students of all ages and levels.

For the retreat, Brian will be available to teach movement-based classes. Kung fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong will be available. Brian is also a skilled musician and will lend his drumming  talents to the dance classes.

Brian brings not only his martial arts background but also a deep understanding of traditional Oriental healing to the tour. A practitioner of acupuncture and massage, Brian connects these healing modalities to his the martial studies in order to create healthy practices that improve mind, body and soul.

About BJ & Lauren and RetreaTours

Not only are you going to be under Misha and Brian’s expert care, but you’ll have two more seasoned travel professionals accompanying you on your trip!  BJ & Lauren created RetreaTours in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make world travel accessible, authentic, and astounding.  In order to focus fully on this passion, they moved out of the U.S. in early 2013 to reside full-DSC03412time in overseas.  Each day is spent exploring new destinations, strengthening local ties & relationships, and creating memorable, transformative, engaging retreats and tours (aka, RetreaTours™!)

BJ & Lauren take great pride in the trips they offer, as they can personally vouch for every hotel, every restaurant, and every activity that you will experience. They craft each element of the trip with intention, and they understand that it is this careful attention to detail that sets them apart.  Fueled by their passion, armed with know-how, and supported by knowledgeable local contacts in all of their destinations, BJ & Lauren set the scene for the vacation of a lifetime. They provide not only on-the-ground support and guidance during the trip, but they are available to answer any and all questions before the trip begins.  From giving advice on the best flights and travel insurance to providing a packing list, FAQ, information about local food, and even a tiny “phrasebook,” BJ & Lauren pride themselves on these ‘nuts & bolts’ of personalized service.

In addition, as a guest, you receive free travel consulting services (normally a $200 value) should you choose to extend your travels. As one of their most ‘frequent fliers’ put it recently, BJ & Lauren make everything easy for you. Once you arrive in your destination country, your trip is all-inclusive—your meals, transportation, lodging, site fees, donations, and tips are all taken care of.  The research has been done, the itinerary carefully laid out, the reservations made, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. All you have to do is show up and take in all your destination has to show you! So….let’s get going!

(Pictured above: BJ, Lauren, and a new friend in the Sahara, Fall 2014). 

Contact BJ & Lauren (click plus sign to expand)

Your Daily Practice

About Misha’s Bellydance Classes

The dance classes provided throughout the trip will include a variety of styles – a sampling of both Oriental and Tribal formats. Before the tour, Misha will check in with adventurers to find out their current level and background, and will then work to design each offering around participants. Material presented will draw from Misha’s extensive background and will include movements, stylistic variations, combinations, props, and zils (finger cymbals).

Dancers should expect to leave with lots of information (Misha’s a huge dance geek and always provides notes!) as well as challenges to keep them growing beyond the trip. Misha believes in daily drills, and has developed a comprehensive program to target specific areas of the body for improvement in flexibility, strength, and technique and will share this with participants.

 

Do I have to Dance?

Nope! There will be plenty of time to relax and explore too! Misha is an adventurer at heart, so this trip will be packed with time to dance as well as time to become immersed in the local culture. We will have at least one halfa, or big awesome dance party, though, so be sure to bring a costume (or two) to get your groove on!

 

misha and brian pushkarWhat’s the Beyond?

Misha is bringing her adventure partner, Renshi Brian Nell, along for the ride. This means that in addition to bellydance opportunities participants will also have access to his brain – two for the price of one! Brian brings a budding oriental medicine and massage practice to the tour and will be available to share his background in Middle Eastern Music and Martial Arts. Want to get a taste of Kung Fu? Or try out some meditative Tai Chi? Brian will be on hand to share these arts throughout the tour.

Brian has even developed special forms for bellydance, having taught Tai Chi and Qigong at dance conferences in Japan and New York, and teaches throughout Sarasota. This is an awesome opportunity to expand your dance, or your wellness, practice even further!

 

Tour guides Lauren and BJ are fantastic photographers and Misha and Brian also promise there will be some absolutely fantastic chances to look beautiful in exotic locations…and have it captured on film as part of the trip!

Payments (click plus sign to expand)

Please refer to the Price tab for specific information about price. & what is included on your journey.

We accept payments via check (which we prefer!) and credit card (via PayPal). For our international guests, we can accept wires, which we find is the most economical solution for everyone; please contact us for wire details.

 

  • Paying by Check: Checks can be made out to Insight Travels, LLC; please contact us for a mailing address.
  • Paying by Credit Card or PayPal balance: You can pay with credit card or PayPal balance through PayPal through the following links.  Please click the appropriate amount to be taken to PayPal’s homepage to complete your transaction. All PayPal transactions must be in USD.

$800 deposit: www.paypal.me/retreat/800

$1000 (2nd installment): www.paypal.me/retreat/1000

$1199 (3rd installment @ double occupancy rate): www.paypal.me/retreat/1199

$1794 (3rd installment @ single supplement rate):  www.paypal.me/retreat/1794

FAQ (click plus sign to expand)

PASSPORT/VISA

  • What do I need to know about the visa?   Citizens of the US, Canada, Australia and UK will receive a visa for free upon arrival in Morocco (please click here to check your country’s requirements).  Your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip, and you’ll need two empty pages in the Visas section of your passport. 

 

FOOD

  • I have special diet needs, can I be accommodated?      We will always strive to help you find food that you can eat, but we can never make any guarantees.
    • Vegetarian / Vegan:  Most, if not all, soups and tagines are made with beef, lamb, chicken, or fish-based broths. Because these are slow-cooked over many hours, it would be unlikely that a restaurant could substitute a vegetable broth.  Beyond the potential of a meat-based broth, it is easy to avoid eating all meat, as vegetable tagines and vegetable couscous are on almost every menu. There is very little is any dairy used in dishes, so vegans should not have a problem with milk/cheese/cream.
    • Gluten-free / Paleo: Morocco is a very bread-based country, but you can certainly choose to abstain. There isn’t much in the way of “hidden” gluten (like soy sauce, bread crumbs, etc), so any gluten will be apparent. Couscous is a wheat-based staple, of course, but is also something you can easily avoid.  There are plenty of vegetables, fruits, and meats to choose from wherever we travel.  Please click here for a printable card written in Arabic that you can give waitstaff and cooks, explaining what “gluten free” emails. (Click here to see the English version.)  Please do print this out and bring along with you if gluten is a concern. 
    • Raw food: This will not be something available in restaurants, although you can always supplement with fruits and veggies from the market that you wash in bottled water.
    • Please let us know when answering the Registration Questions what special dietary needs you may have or email us with any questions before you register.
  • Can I drink the water?  Although many cities around the world are getting more advanced public water systems, we don’t recommend it.  Not only from a pathogen standpoint, but it’s a different set of bacteria than your body is used to. Why risk an upset stomach if you don’t have to? We recommend drinking only bottled water, and you may even want to rinse your toothbrush off in bottled water.

 

HEALTH

  • What vaccines do I need?   None are required to enter Morocco, but we suggest you work with your physician or your area’s travel health expert to decide what options are best for you.  You can read the CDC’s recommendations here and the Scottish NHS recommendations here.
  • What about malaria?  Malaria is not a risk in the areas we will be traveling, but again—we request that you work with your physician or travel doctor when making these choices.
  • Do I need travel insurance?  We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense.  It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind!  When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We also recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances. We like World Nomads, but ultimately you have to choose the one that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll have to use a different company; we like Travel Guard. We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance 60 days before your departure. Please click here to get a quote. We love the services of these companies so much that we became affiliates, so we would ask that if you do choose to purchase these policies, you do it through our links.
  • What if I get ill or injured on the trip and am unable to continue?   If you must leave the trip early due to illness, we will help you find appropriate medical care and ensure someone at home is aware of the situation.  Your travel insurance, which is required on all our trips, should cover any costs incurred if illness occurs.

 

MONEY

  • How much money should I bring?  That is entirely up to you and how much shopping you want to do, as well as your love for extra massages, henna, alcoholic beverages, etc.  All of your meals and transportation is covered, so you just have to gauge how much you want to spend on extras!
  • How do I get the local currency?  You can either exchange cash in Morocco (although not at the airport, the rate is terrible!) or use a local ATM (which we prefer). Better yet, a combination of both!  Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling in Morocco, so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used in a strange place.

 

ACTIVITIES

  • Can I opt out of activities?  Absolutely! Nothing on these trips in mandatory. In fact, we build in a bit of downtime most days for self-exploration or rest, depending on how you’re feeling that day. We can help you build in extra activities, too, if that is your style.
  • How fit must I be for this trip?  We recommend contacting the yoga instructor for specific questions about the fitness level required for the classes. For the rest of the trip, we recommend you be comfortable walking & standing for 30-60 minute stretches (like we’ll be doing during our tours of Fez) and riding a camel for 30-60 minute stretches.

 

HOTELS

  • What kind of hotels will we be staying at?   We will be staying at a very nice 3 star riad in Asilah, and 5 star riads in Chehchaouen and Fes. In the Sahara we will be staying in a simple tent camp, which technically would be “no stars.” except you have the entire Milky Way above your head, so we call it a Billion Star accommodation!   All hotels (besides the desert tent camp) will have wifi, hot and cold showers, and A/C (although you most likely won’t need it).
  • Will I be able to charge my electronics (phone, iPad, etc)?   Yes, except in the desert (sorry!) Just be sure to bring along a 2-pin European style converter. Better yet, grab a Universal Travel Adaptor that can go with you anywhere in the world! For a few dollars more, this model even has USB ports to charge your electronics!

 

COMMUNICATION

  • Should I bring my mobile phone?   We don’t recommend bringing your phone and using it with an international plan, as that can get expensive fast. If you do bring your phone, put it in airplane mode and use it for wifi at our hotels and restaurants.  If you wish to have cellular service, you can buy a SIM card at the Tangier airport for your UNLOCKED smartphone. While phone reception is great (and calls to the U.S. remarkable inexpensive), the “3G” internet is painfully slow.
  • How can my family get ahold of me in an emergency?   Before the trip we will give you a list of our hotels and their phone numbers; in addition, we will give you our Moroccan phone numbers ahead of time, as well as an American number good for text messages and voicemails.

MORE TO COME!

Price (click plus sign to expand)

 

This 12 day/12 night all-inclusive journey is $2999 per person, double occupancy. If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $595. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you will be responsible for the single supplement.

 

Price Includes:

  • All meals, and all the water, tea, and coffee your heart desires
  • All accommodation (including two 5-star riads)
  • All transportation within Morocco during the tour
  • Daily classes with Misha
  • Site entrance fees
  • One henna design or one hammam (or spa) treatment, if so desired

Price does not include:

  • Airfare to Morocco (although we can and WILL be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
  • Alcohol, specialty beverages, and desserts
  • Transportation back to exit airport (although we will help arrange!)
  • Dance accessories are not included in this journey.  Please see the “About your Practice” section of this page for details.
  • Travel insurance (required)

 

The payment schedule is as follows; please see the “Payment” tab for transaction details:

$800 deposit holds your space. This deposit is non-refundable*

$1000 by June 6, 2016.

$1199 by August 5, 2016 (or $1794 if including Single Supplement)

*If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 3 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money, including the deposit. Otherwise, please check with your travel insurance provider to see if your deposit can be covered under your policy’s terms. Please see our contract for more refund details.)

 

IMPORTANT NOTES: 

  • There is a minimum of 7 guests that must sign up in order for this trip to take place. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up.  Please do not purchase any airfare until you get the go-ahead from us that we’ve reached our minimum number of participants.  
  • If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 3 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money.
Travel Insurance (click plus sign to expand)

We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense.  It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind! When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We also recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances. We like World Nomads, but ultimately you have to choose the one that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll have to use a different company; we like Travel Guard. We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance before your departure. We love the services of these companies so much that we became affiliates, so we would ask that if you do choose to purchase these policies, you do it through our links.

Travel Insurance. Simple & Flexible.

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    Suggested Packing List & Weather (click plus sign to expand)

    It’s important to understand the weather to really pack wisely! Here are the average (Fahrenheit) lows and highs for our destinations on this trip. Keep in mind these are the averages—we won’t know until the trip gets very close if there are any funky weather patterns going on that would cause fluctuations in temperature.

    Asilah:  60° to 80°F

    Chefchaouen:   55° to 80°F

    Fez:   55° to 80°F

    The Desert:  60° to 90+°F

    As you see, it has the potential to run the gamut from 55° to above 90°—layers are going to be your best friend on this trip!

    Here is a suggested packing list, clothing first and ‘accessories’ second. Whenever we have specific recommendations, we’ve included a link so you can see what we are talking about. Don’t forget, Misha has included a dance “packing list” at the bottom!

    We adore packing cubes like these from Eagle Creek. You roll your clothes and then put them into different mini bags within your suitcase: one for tops, one for bottoms, one for undergarments, etc. It makes your luggage very organized and easy to manage! (Rolling doesn’t *necessarily* save a ton of space, but it does make it easier to see what you have in your suitcase, with less overlap.)

     

    Clothing

    Although more and more Moroccans are adopting Western wear, traditional clothing is very prevalent and modesty is the name of the game. In a nutshell, it is best to keep your shoulders and knees covered.

    Also in that spirit, please do not wear clothes that are tight, transparent or show too much skin, such tank tops or halter tops. We also discourage wearing form-fitting “skinny” jeans and shorts/skirts above the knee. Instead, we recommend wear loose fitting clothing such as long skirts, dresses, tunics, and pants. Men will probably want to steer clear of shorts, as well (they’re not scandalous, per se, but it’s just a very uncommon sight!)

    We recommend:

    • 8+ pairs undergarments; you can always have them washed or wash them in your bathroom
    • 3-5 pair light cotton pants or long skirts.  You may want to bring leggings (2 or 3 pair) to wear under your tunics, skirts or pants on chilly mornings or evenings (again—it’s all about the layers!) BJ is a fan of nylon pants, as they are lightweight and easy to clean.  Fleece pants might be nice, and good to sleep in.
    • 4-5 cotton t-shirts, blouses, or long sleeve shirts.
    • Maxi-dresses for the ladies are a nice option (as long as they are not spaghetti-strap, or you cover up with a light cardigan or scarf).
    • A light sweater/cardigan for chilly morning or evenings, or a heavier sweater or medium-weight jacket if you know you run cold and want that extra protection (is nice on your international flight, too!)
    • Bring a few pairs of socks. Light wool (like SmartWool) or tech socks work very well and tend to remain “odor free” a lot longer.
    • Comfortable walking shoes. Sneakers or comfortable slip-ons will suffice. You can also bring sandals or flip-flops, if you wish. Walking sandals are a lovely marriage of the two (Lauren is currently obsessed with her Keen shoes, but she also knows she’s probably pretty late that party!)
    • A hat with a brim is a great idea for our daytime adventures.
    • Bathing suit. We will have a gorgeous pool at our Fez and Chefchaouen locations!
    • Scarf or buff. This will prove helpful in the desert should the wind kick up.

     

    Accessories

    • Your most important “accessory”: your passport!
    • A print-out of your RETURN airline ticket itinerary; you’ll often need this to enter the airport to get home. You can also have it readily accessible on your phone (you may want to save it as a photo).
    • Bring a photocopy of your passport, as well (in case of emergency or loss of original, this will make getting a replacement a thousand times easier).
    • Ear plugs and eye shades to help you sleep better and recover from jet lag more quickly. BJ swears by this! Click here for more of our tips on preventing and dealing with jet lag.
    • Good sunscreen.  Lauren prefers mineral-based ones like Devita: good for you, good for the environment. How do you know if it’s mineral based? If the active ingredient is either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide—that’s it. They might be a little pricier initially, but a little goes a long way. Devite is especially nice because it doesn’t leave a tell-tale white film that many other mineral sunscreens can.
    • Daypack or camera bag (or purse for ladies). (If you need a recommendation on a camera, BJ would be happy to help, just email him. We can discuss what type of photography you like, how much you want to spend, and how much you want to lug around.) Lauren currently uses the REI Tranquility shoulder bag and loves it (purse and camera bag, all in one!)  PacSafe has a number of stylish, travel-friendly options, too.
    • If you do bring your camera (and please do!!), don’t forget extra batteries and/or your charging cord! You may want to think about an extra memory card, too.
    • Your favorite toiletries (especially hair conditioner, if you use it). Bring your favorite contact lens solution, if necessary, as store selections can be tiny.
    • A couple packs of travel tissues for off-the-beaten track restroom stops.
    • Wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer. Nothing replaces good ol’ hand-washing, but this will work in a pinch.
    • Ladies will want to bring any necessary feminine hygiene products with them.
    • Plug adaptor for electronics: you’ll need a 2 pin adaptor common across Europe. Here’s a nice example of a great universal adapter and here’s one with USB ports, as well (for easy charging of phones, external batteries, etc).
    • An external battery charger, such as this one, may be useful for USB-powered objects. This can be good for recharging your phone while we’re in the desert (for photo purposes).
    • A small travel umbrella, if you wish; can work for rain OR as a parasol.
    • Small notebook and pen for journaling purposes, if you desire!
    • Mosquito repellent.  While we are visiting these areas in dry season and malaria is not endemic to any of these cities, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.  Consider repellants based in natural essential oils, such as citronella.  Click here to read a blog post by BJ about malaria (and dengue).
    • Enough of any prescription drugs you need, as well as over-the-counter needs.  We recommend Imodium (anti-diarrheal), a probiotic (Lauren is a BIG fan of Jarrodophilus EPS), as well as melatonin and Benadryl for jet lag purposes.
    • We will have wifi at all of our hotels (except the Sahara Desert, of course!), if you want to stay in touch via your smart phone or tablet. Don’t forget your chargers! We recommend setting up Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, or another wifi-based calling service before leaving home, and familiarizing your loved ones with it before you leave.

    If you plan on dancing…

    • finger cymbals (if you have them)
    • veil – 3 yd rectangular
    • dance shoes, if you use them (Misha generally dances barefoot)
    • preferred dance clothes (as we will be moving from place to place, Misha advises *not* bringing a ton of extra hip scarves, etc. to wear during practice; 1-2 scarves would be just fine) Be sure to bring something you can move in comfortably – this could be yoga pants and a top, leggings, skirt, etc.
    • 1 nice costume if you’d like to do a photo shoot and/or perform at hafla. We do not have a gala show planned, but we will be dancing and partying some evenings. So if you’d like to get glitzed up go for it! And all styles of costuming are welcome.
    • Makeup for performance or photoshoot
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