We are very happy to announce the creation of new Morocco yoga retreats! Did I say retreats? I meant RetreaTours™! Nowhere is our social style of yoga travel more exciting than in Morocco, where we combine the reflection of a retreat with the excitement of a tour.
Our 2015 Morocco retreats will explore 4 different sides of the Moroccan landscape, from sea to city to sand: we’ll visit Asilah, Chefchaouen, Fes, and the Sahara Desert.
Your Moroccan yoga retreat will feature daily yoga and meditation with your instructor (please see the website for instructor details on specific trips). Keep reading to learn what you’ll be experiencing outside of yoga class! Also, stay tuned for a 2016 Moroccan Bellydance retreat!
Our adventure starts in the seaside art town of Asilah on the northwest Atlantic coast. 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.
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. And 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!)
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), Chefchaouen’s medina contains structures from the late 1400’s. This aged city has soft lines and curves, 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.
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 Phoenecian 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 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 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 Fes and arrive in the early evening. 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.
We know you’ll appreciate this carefully planned itinerary that we are offering in the fall of 2015 and 2016 with various yoga instructors from all over the globe. Please check the RetreaTour™ menu above to see specific dates and teacher bios. Please don’t hesitate to write us at Lauren@InsightTravels.com if you have any questions!