Q My fiance and I are looking for a tour package to Morocco. Any recommendations?
A Morocco, in North Africa, conjures images of enchanting royal cities, towering mountain ranges, spice-scented markets and surreal desert scapes. Indeed, Bogart sacrificed love for Casablanca.
"Morocco is a cultural destination and an adventure destination," says Inan Elmerini, director of the Morocco National Tourism Office (407-264-0133, www.visitmorocco.com) in Orlando, adding that visitors "will find an in-depth travel experience."
When shopping for a tour operator, Elmerini recommends looking for itineraries that include the Imperial Cities of Fez, Marrakesh and Rabat; outdoor ventures, such as camping in the southern Sahara Desert; and beach time in the resort town of Agadir. He also suggests meeting the locals in remote villages that dot the Atlas mountain trails and visiting the fortress city of Essaouira, which also hosts the Essaouira Gnawa and World Music Festival (www.festival-gnaoua.co.ma), an international event held June 23-26 that draws jazz, pop, rock and contemporary world musicians from Spain to Senegal.
Morocco's tourism office can help you plan an independent tour or can forward you a list of established operators with group tours to Morocco, such as iExplore and Abercrombie & Kent. The U.S. Tour Operators Association (212-599-6599, www.ustoa.com) also lists members who organize Morocco tours.
Isram World's "Splendors of Morocco," for example, includes round-trip air from New York; lodging for nine, 11 or 13 nights in Rabat, Fez, Erfoud, Ouarzazate, Marrakesh, Essaouira and Casablanca; sightseeing; breakfast and other meals; and more. Prices per person double for May 28 start at $2,284, $2,449 and $2,573, respectively. For a notch up in style, add about $600. Info: 800-223-7460, www.isram.com.
Heritage Tours (800-378-4555, www.heritagetoursonline.com) incorporates another of Morocco's top events, the World Sacred Music Festival in Fez, on its private "Rhythm of the Souks" tour June 1-11, which includes 10 nights' lodging in Fez, Marrakesh, Essauoira and Rabat; sightseeing; and concert tickets, including opening night. Prices are $1,690 to $2,190 per person double (depending on number of passengers); airfare is $915 extra for domestic routes and international flights from Washington.
Do you have any tips on where to find reasonably priced jazz in the Big Apple?