23 independent reviews for Morocco vacations, Atlas Panorama

Reviews for Morocco vacations, Atlas Panorama

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review 20 Nov 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Trekking in the Atlas Mountains was the highlight but it was all fantastic.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Don't expect amazing cuisine - it is generally wholesome but you have to go to the more upmarket restaurants for really tasty food.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. We had a local our guide who was a longstanding employee of the tour operator. He was very knowledgeable. I felt like we were benefiting the local people rather than exploiting them.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent from start to finish.

review 17 Aug 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Sitting on a terrace high above the square in Marrakesh listening to the calls for prayer.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

You only need one warm jacket! I took that plus a fleece...cut down on clutter! Take a good torch. A walking pole is a must for the scree on Mt Toubkal.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The tour supported the locals by employing them as guides, cooks and accommodation providers. They were fantastic. The tips they received would benefit them and their families.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was excellent from start to finish! Really well organised. Food fantastic....healthy and fresh. I really don't know how they did it!

review 1 Jan 2012

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

trekking in the mountains, particularly the 10 hour hike to the lake

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Although the trip is graded moderate and the hiking isn't overly strenuous, the days walking can be quite long so be prepared - this IS a hiking vacation.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes - the benefits (economically) were shared out across the community and local villages with different families involved in different ways.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Great - just what I needed.

review 22 Nov 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The longest (third) walk up to a lake in the mountains through freshly fallen snow. As we descended from the lake the sun came out so we had our lunch break in the sun with just our t-shirts on. The first night we had exceptionally clear skies - I've never seen anywhere near as many stars. Beautiful!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

The gite (hostel) is neither heated nor air conditioned. Take plenty of warm layers if you are planning to go in winter. If you feel the cold easily a light down jacket will keep you snug and warm in the gite.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Our tour guide was not from the village we stayed at but other staff (the fantastic! chef) were. Most members of our group used water purification tablets/drops thereby cutting down on plastic bottles. Nothing except for organic waste got left behind at lunch places or on the trek; this did not have to be encouraged or followed up on though as all group members took care to take their rubbish to the village.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Absolutely great - see above - except for the hotel in Marrakech which really didn't cut it. Loud club music was audible well into the small hours, the bathrooms had been sloppily cleaned (cockroach!) and we had to change rooms after the first night because there was so much smell coming up the sewage that it woke us up at night.

review 26 Oct 2011

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Marrakech will live in the memory a long time: the souk, the smell of the spices, La Koutoubia, the palaces, and most of all the central square at night when it's taken over by all the cafes, performers, musicians etc. The peace and tranquility up in the mountains will also stay with me.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Take your waterproofs: we had rain every day in the mountains, and though it was just a quick shower on most days we had prolonged rain on our long trip up to the lake. It was also cold that day, so take plenty of layers too. Take entertainment for the evening: we were lucky in that the group all got on well and we ended up playing long card games every evening, which our guide Hassan even joined in with.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes definitely: just outside the gite is the latest new building to benefit from tourist contributions - the hammam or steam bath. We were reliably informed that the locals make all the decisions when it comes to allocating where the money goes, and I got the sense that they were genuinely grateful that we were visiting their village and making a difference. Some of the group had read previous reviews of this trip and knew to take pens and paper for the schoolchildren, and again they were very pleased to receive these from us.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Very good - a good combination of a 'full-on' city like Marrakech and the much more contemplative environment of the quiet mountains. The contrast between the two is huge.

review 14 May 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

I went on the special volunteer departure of the usual walking vacation, which meant three days of volunteering in Tijhza instead of hiking. This was my first trip as a solo traveler and it really took me out of my comfort zone but I had nothing to worry about as Andy (Tour Leader) was great and all the other travelers were lovely and looked after me. The most memorable part of the week was the hamman in Marrakech, mostly because it involved being thoroughly scrubbed by a rather large woman whilst lying naked on a tiled floor in a dark steamy room down one of the back alleys of Marrakech Ė it was so far removed from my normal life! On the volunteering side of things, the best part is knowing how much we achieved in three days Ė we painted three classrooms in the local school, the tour operator paid for windows to be fitted to two of the school classrooms (which we painted), we planted 220 trees with the forestry commission, painted a house in the village, one of the other travelers helped advise the villagers on bee keeping, four of the group ran a health clinic (apparently saw over 100 patients) at the school and gave out toothbrushes showing the children how to clean their teeth, Matt (the tour operatorís building expert) fixed loads of water pipes leading to the water tank the tour operator had funded and I bought a carpet which was part of the village community enterprise scheme! Oh and thatís not to mention the mountain of clothes, toys and lightbulbs we took over there too!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Do it! I never expected it to be so much fun or so rewarding. As this was the volunteer departure everyone was there to make a difference. Itís inspiring to see so many people who really care. Pack lots of old clothes and leave as much as you can behind for the villagers Ė they really appreciate it. Donít worry about the food, its amazing! I keep dreaming about lamb tagine! It was hot and sunny when I went so take a hat and drink lots of water if youíre prone to heat stroke like me! Take clothes that cover your shoulders and knees Ė it is a Muslim country so you donít want to offend. Donít be afraid of Marrakech Ė it is mental and busy, full of scooters, bikes, donkeys, noise, smells and people trying to sell you stuff but just take a deep breath and dive in! Finally, take a bikini as riad Bledna has a pool in the beautiful garden!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Definitely! The accommodation was locally owned, the food was all local, the mint tea came straight from the fields (whole mint leaves in the tea pot, not packaged stuff), we had local drivers and a local guide (in addition to the English tour leader) and the plastic water bottles were given to the villagers to reuse. We visited local restaurants, a womanís cooperate selling organic creams from argan oil, the spice shop in Marrakech and the souks. This trip was all about the people. Itís sad to see litter in these beautiful mountains; we were planning to do a litter pick but we ran out of time but I know its next on the operatorís agenda to address. For me, the community benefits were highlighted by one woman Andy took me to see. Fatima had a tooth infection which spread into a large abscess on the side of her face. Her husband left her because of the growth, leaving her to bring up her daughter on her own. The tour operator paid for Fatima to have the surgery to remove the abscess. One of the previous volunteer groups painted and tiled Fatimaís kitchen and she now has a loom and is starting to make carpets and jewellery to sell to tourists. This isnít about token efforts to be Ďgreení or Ďsustainableí, this is about real, life changing benefits.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Amazing, brilliant, inspiringÖ I can really see why itís so hard not to go back! In a time when so many of us have charity donations whizzing out of our bank accounts by direct debit to some far off land where we never know who benefits, itís so good to actually be able to say Ďthis is what we achievedí. This trip goes beyond good intentions, you can see real, tangible benefits and it leaves you feeling proud that you were apart of it. Fantastic!

review 20 Oct 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Walking in the Atlas Mountains, our group bonded well and the support from our guide was brilliant! The scenery is amazing and I would love to go again!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

You need to be reasonably fit, as the longer walks can be tiring, but the pace is well managed and judged by the guide. Do not be put off by the time suggested for the walks, there are plenty of stops for resting and to have a drink or a snack! Enjoy

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, as we stayed in the Gite which helps with providing jobs for the villagers and enables them to integrate with tourists. We also bought all our water and drinks in the village and ate locally sourced vegetables etc. We walked on tracks that already existed which ensured minimal impact on the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Brilliant! One of the most enjoyable trips Iíve been on, mainly due to the group of people I shared the experience with, good organisation and this being an excellent tour company!

review 8 Feb 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Seeing the Atlas Mountains - the geology and environment are so different to what we've seen before.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Trip notes are outdated - this is what we found (Nov 09): The gite provides a pillow, blanket, thin quilt and sheet. You need a Northern Europe 2-pin plug adaptor. You need cash to take up to the mountains with you - apart from the lunch and tea stops on the way there and back, you need cash for tips for village staff and for bottled water plus Kit-Kats, biscuits, toilet paper etc. The tracks and paths in the mountains are very dusty. This swirls around when disturbed by walkers/mules or the wind, and it's nearly always windy. So a scarf is useful to cover your face. The gite provided a range of veggie alternatives.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, the vacation provided a cash boost to a largely cashless, self-sufficient society, so villagers can pay for water, children's education and other expenses without having to sell livestock (which are their equivalent of cash in the bank). The operatorís projects have also provided an impetus for locals to initiate their own improvements. But there was the inevitable impact of our visit. The village has no good way of collecting/disposing of their own rubbish, let alone the visitors. The rubbish is eventually burned (including plastic that produces toxic smoke) but much blows away first. We were uneasy about buying the bottled water offered (because of the impact of the waste, and the carbon footprint of its production and transport to the village) and would have preferred to pay for and treat refills of our own bottles from the spring water supply (villagers also have to pay for this water). Also uneasy about the use of this precious spring water to provide showers and flushing toilets. The waste went into the ground, so a way of using shower water to flush loos, and some sort of cess pit would be better - or compost toilets? Loo paper goes in a basket to be burned later - not pleasant for the person with this job - perhaps we should be encouraged/taught to adopt the alternative to paper?

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent - even though we do not like cities very much, Marrakech was OK for a few days and provided a good contrast to the mountains and villages.

review 8 Jan 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The landscapes were exceptional.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

It gets very cold at night! Make sure your sleeping bag and sleep wear are really warm!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was absolutely wonderful.

review 13 May 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Visiting a local Berber home with an old Kasbah & having tea with some members of the family. Hike to Lake Tamba. Visiting the old Glaoui kasbah in Teleouet.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for rocky terrain, including gravelly slopes. Weather in May is changeable: it was hot the first two days, then very windy the next day. Take pens, pencils or similar gifts to give to the children during the visit to the local school

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

In general, yes. However, maybe the company should consider: 1. incorporating more contact with the local community - e.g. an English or French class at the local school; suggesting a visit to the local grocery store (Hassan's Shop) 2. spending less time in the pharmacy during the guided tour of Marrakech and being encouraged to spend more at the stalls (they seem to need the business more) I was very impressed by the gide - very clean, small rooms, great food, very friendly staff!

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Quite good, but Hotel du Pacha, Marrakech - Facilities are generally clean, but not well maintained, so not good value for money. It must be possible to get a better hotel at a similar rate. Also, the area doesn't feel very safe with all of the building sites surrounding the hotel, so something more central with better lit streets would be good. Marrakech guided tour - Would be good if the walk around the souks is shorter (than 2.5 hours) and instead the guided tour includes visits to Bahia Palace and the Saadian Tombs, which are quite interesting and close enough.

review 8 Apr 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Local home visits to experience local customs and appreciate all elements of the culture. Stunning environment and scenery. Complete silence at night and wonderful star-scape.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Make sure you take enough local currency into the mountains as you have to provide your own water.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent vacation - would not hesitate to book another one in a different part of the world.

review 16 Oct 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Sleeping under the stars in the desert, the stars were brilliant and the moon rose during the night. The Berbers cooked a lovely simple meal which we ate sitting on the sand under the stars. The colours of the desert and the mountains are unforgettable.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

You should only go on this vacation if you do not mind sleeping in a mountain hut. The hut (gite) used is very comfortable in comparison to some basic mountain huts but it does not suit everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I feel that the desert and mountain elements in particular benefit local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

A very good and busy vacation which allows you to see all the different facets of Moroccan life, from the busy souks of the cities to the calm and quiet desert and mountain life.

review 11 Jul 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The heat---but this was excessive and exhausting. The gite was very hot and we akk had difficulty sleeping. The guide was very friendly and helpful and allowed us time to walk slowly in the 38 degree Celsius heat.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Do NOT book this vacation in the summer. avoid RAM airlines for travel, our flight from Barcelona did not materialise and we still have no explanation or replacement/compensation offered, We had to book and pay for a flight the next night which was 3 hours late arriving in Marrakech at 3am in the morning, the night after we were due to meet up with the other participants.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Possibly. Morocco seems to be encouraging tourism and there is new development every where we went, but I am not sure that this is environmentally sound.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Too hot and exhausting, the High Atlas Mountains are very barren and dry, excepting in the valleys which are green.

review 10 Dec 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Either the 32km walk to the lake in the mountains or the hammam experience when we had some free time on the last day - every traveler should seriously consider visiting the hammam!!!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Take thermals if traveling in November (not in trip notes) and some bed socks as it really is cold at night in the gite!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Definitely. Local people were working in the gite and were obviously involved with driving, touring and supplying the food. It seemed to be a fairly eco-friendly vacation from what I experienced.

4. Any other comments?

4.5 out of 5! I feel reborn but would not necessarily say that it's the best vacation I've ever been on as every vacation is so different. Keep up the good work!

review 24 Dec 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The mountain setting was superb, very beautiful and felt completely cut off from the rest of the world. It was so refreshing to re-connect with the simple life - honest food, clean air, virgin snow, silly after dinner games and mule transportation. In Marrakech we experienced a hamman (Moorish communal steam bath). We only found this after a local directed us first to his wife and then to the place which was hidden away down a few back alleys. His very large wife stripped us down and gave us a very vigorous scrub/massage! I was amazed at the warmth and sociability of the women at the hamman and how comfortable they feel about their naked bodies (all ages, shapes and sizes).

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Read and follow the excellent pre-trip notes. Our trip was in December and the notes stated it could be fairly cold. Just before we arrived there was a moderate snow fall. However, there was still a lot of sunshine and if you were directly in the sun or walking it was quite warm. So the advice provided in the notes about warm trousers, layers and a decent 3/4 season sleeping bag were essential. I would take more socks next time, as my feet got completely wet in the snow!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Tourism is clearly an important part of economic growth in Morocco. In Marrakech you see some negatives such as hassling of tourists in the Medina. On the positive side, unemployment is quite high in Morocco - even 1for graduates it's about 20%, so one assumes tourism has opened up opportunities for someone like our tour leader tour who is educated and speaks 5 languages. The mountain villages grow most of their own food, however, presumably the tourist revenue helps them get extras from outside e.g sugar, and hopefully encourages people to stay in the mountains. We were encouraged to give gifts to the school via the leader rather than children directly.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

It was a well organised vacation with a knowledgeable local leader (Radoaune) who had a great sense of humour. Morocco has a poor road safety record but our drivers were careful and stuck to good road rules. The gite was very clean (including the bathroom) and the food was tasty. Overall, it was a very enjoyable and refreshing break which I'd recommend to anyone who wants some winter sun, a bit of adventure and doesn't want to fly to another time zone.

review 24 Dec 2006

We really enjoyed our vacation. Redouan, the local guide was excellent and we were very well looked after in the guesthouse (although it was very cold, as we had been warned). We came home feeling fairly virtuous having eaten simply; had lots of fresh air; early nights and no alcohol! Not everyone's idea of a good vacation, but it suited me and I would throughly recommend it.

review 24 Sep 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Berber girl on Morocco vacationThe most memorable part of the vacation was the flash flood which came down the mountains the day we arrived. We were invited to wait in a local Berber house for over an hour while the water level went down. Then we had to remove walking boots and socks to cross the river to get to our gite.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

If you've forgotten your French make sure you brush up on it before leaving home, a little bit goes a long way in getting to know the local people. Don't go with preconceived ideas about Morocco. Respect their dress codes, you won't get hassled. If you aren't fit and don't cope well in the sun don't go on this vacation. Expect the odd day where you have a bad stomach.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I loved the village so much I want to return and assist on projects there. The vacation definitely benefited the local people in terms of money and cultural exchanges but I think we learnt more from them than they did from us! I would have liked to see some way of disposing or recycling of the plastic water bottles which was sustainable but the village is very remote and such things aren't always practical. There was some rubbish mostly plastic, batteries and shoes in the streets but it seemed to be generated by the villagers and the shepherds not the tourists.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

How would I rate my vacation? How do you rate a vacation where you honestly didn't want to come home? I wasn't keen on Marrakech but fell in love with the Atlas mountains, the Berber people and their way of life. I really didn't want to come home. I've learnt a lot about myself and how material things really don't matter. I can't wait to go back. Marrakesh 5/10. Atlas Mountains 100/10.

review 23 Apr 2006

We had a wonderful vacation in Morocco with this operator. The most memorable bits were the souk in Marrakesh, a meal with with our guide in a Moroccan restaurant serving a buffet of traditional Moroccan food, our guide's skills and friendliness, and the wonderful walks he took us on in the Atlas mountains. My sons had never had a trip like that before and they were profoundly grateful and impressed with my choice of vacation-not inconsiderable praise from a 17 and 19 yr old!! I do think the vacation minimised the impact on the environment and benefited local people. The walking was quite taxing, but very rewarding-we had a beautifully prepared meal in the middle of no-where in difficult terrain reclining on rugs and cushioned mats-all carried there by a mule! The vacation was three star for me and 4 star for my sons.

review 4 Jan 2006

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Being away from the tourist crowd, and interacting with the Berber people.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Bring warm clothes and games or books for long evenings. Try the hammams in Marrakesh!!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

More or less: they should be taught not to litter their beautiful landscape with empty cans of sardines served for our lunch...

4. Any other comments?

The size of the group was perfect. As a French citizen I enjoyed very much traveling with Brits.

review 11 Dec 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The Gite in the Mountains was 1 hour walk from the road and in the middle of local villages. I really enjoyed that we were authentically off the tourist trail and we experienced day to day village life & sounds. The guide Mohammod was very approachable and professional.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Embrace the local cuisine as much as possible.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes I hope so.

4. Any other comments?

I hope to go with this operator in the future again

review 25 Sep 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The walking in the Atlas mountains - the walks themselves, the hostel and its staff, the wonderful welcome and food they gave us...

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Read the trip notes carefully, most things are in fact noted on them! And don't pack as much as I did!!!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I think so, I would hope so...

review 10 Apr 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The contrast between the city (Marrakech- was exotic and fascinating) and the rural area- the High Atlas mountains were miraculous, and we were constantly amazed by the irrigation systems, bringing lush growth and life to the valleys compared with the aridity of the mountains. The gite was very good- simple but had everything we needed. I felt very privileged that we were able to visit a local family and have mint tea with them.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

It was suggested by our local guide that we take small presents for the children of the family- eg pencils or biros appear to be very much in demand. I was sorry I didn't know about this and would have liked to have something like that to give- instead most of us gave money.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes- the gite is owned by our guide and his brother and employs some of the local people, and is open all year round. In addition I learnt that this operator has won an award for sustainable tourism and money from this has gone towards making improvements in the local school.

4. Any other comments?

We had a wonderful and much needed vacation. It was most relaxing, especially since all the hard work in planning and arranging everything had been done excellently by the operator and especially the local guides. Fantastic! I think my 17 year old son would rate it as life changing (5 star) because it was his first experience of Africa- he made friends with one of the local guides (talking in French about football and Formula 1!)and now plans to go back in his gap year. For myself I would say 4star poss 5. I may also decide to have a gap year!!

review 10 Apr 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Marrakech Ė particularly the main square, the Jardins Majorelle and the Bahia Palace also the La Mamounian(?) Hotel for its gilded and exclusive opulence if you like that sort of thing (I donít). The High Atlas and the Berber villages, Kasbahs and the semi ruined Telouet palace.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Make sure you get fit before you go and read the excellent travel notes from the tour company in good time. If you have not travelled in Arabia before be prepared for something of a culture shock. Although the local people make allowances for non-Muslims be sensitive to their customs particularly with regard to dress and alcohol.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

This was definitely a low impact vacation so far as I could see but I would be interested to hear the local's view. The tour company is to be highly commended on their project for helping the local primary school.

4. Any other comments?

It was an excellent vacation. Morocco is a fascinating and beautiful country with delightful people who are alternatively living in the 18th and 21st century (the wonderful simplicity of the Berber villages is such a contrast to the sophistication of the towns but the villages now have satellite tv so all that will change soon). It was also what I call "character forming". I managed to get dehydrated on one walk because I was unfit, hadn't had enough salt and didn't carry enough water. Not recommended. But I was fine after a rest and something to eat and drink and a rest-up at the gite afterwards.

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