G Adventures Morocco: Kasbahs and Desert Tour Review
I have never taken a group tour before as I never really believed in doing them, but I’m glad I chose G Adventures Morocco. This article will include why I don’t usually take group tours, my reasons for taking the G Adventures Morocco Kasbahs and Desert Tour, and most importantly, what I thought of this tour and G Adventures.
This tour review was not sponsored, and I paid the full cost of the entire trip.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.
Why I Have Never Taken Group Tours
People have different travel styles: some want to intimately plan their trips and others would rather hire someone to do it for them. There is no right or wrong answer, as it’s all a matter of personal preference.
For me, travel is special. It is one of the things I enjoy doing the most. Though it can be a tremendous amount of work, I enjoy planning trips so they can be completely customized to what I want to see and do. I may be a slight bit of a control freak. Maybe. 🙂
Also, I’m used to a good amount of solo time, and I was a little concerned a group tour would feel like a bunch of forced friendships. What if I didn’t like the people on the tour? You spend a lot of time together in small spaces while traveling between places, so that’s a consideration.
Also, if I spend the time doing the legwork, it usually costs a bit less, and that means more travel throughout the year. When you book a tour, you are paying for someone else to do the legwork.
You can get economies of scale (it costs less per person to take 12 people around than it does one). However, there is still an additional cost for this service.
Group Day Trips
Though I had never taken a group tour until now, I am a fan of group walking tours and day trips. I enjoy learning about the history, culture, architecture, and food of the places I go to visit, and I find taking walking tours is a great way to do that.
And doing a group tour is simply economical: it costs less than a private tour, and when I’m traveling solo, or with one other person, it often makes more sense to join a group.
I also like doing group day trips to visit places, like the trip I took to Palenque from Cartagena or the day trip from Medellín to Guatapé in Colombia. There were very limited transportation options to get there, so it was easier to just jump into a group tour.
On the Guatapé tour, we went to several places, and trying to navigate multiple types of transportation or renting a car would have been a bit of a hassle. So, I joined a day trip group tour and had a wonderful time.
Why I Chose to Take a Group Tour to Morocco
I had been researching Morocco for a while, and it was pretty high on my travel wish list. However, I had read very mixed things about it. I knew I would either travel solo or with a female friend, and I had read that sometimes women were given a hard time there.
Now, I do know that I’m a pretty savvy traveler, so I figured it would be ok. But, I’ll admit — I was a little concerned. I thought a group tour would be a safer way to travel.
Morocco is the first Muslim country that I have visited, and I was not sure what to expect. Sadly, in the United States, most of my indoctrination on the Muslim culture is either from acts of terrorism or Hollywood (which always gets it right, of course).
So, I was determined to visit Morocco but decided that it might be best to go on a group tour. Additionally, I knew I wanted to go skipping around to see a number of places and thought it would just be easier to do it that way instead of renting a car or trying to navigate public transportation.
Why I Chose G Adventures
I knew I was seeking a tour operator that offered small-group tours that were 15 people or fewer. I started checking travel forums and Facebook groups and found a few tour companies were listed frequently. The most commonly named companies were G Adventures and Intrepid.
Both offer small-group tours and are at a similar price point. Both offer a large number of tour options and tour styles and go to many destinations around the world.
I read the reviews and did my homework, and even so, they seemed pretty evenly matched. Both are reputable and ethical tour operators who give back to the communities they travel to.
I think either would have been a good choice. Our selection ended up coming down to the specifics of the tour we took. My friend wanted to take a tour that would allow her to be away for less than 12 days.
When I looked at the shorter-duration tours, the G Adventures tour hit more of the places I wanted to visit.
The Tour I Chose: G Adventures Morocco Kasbahs and Desert Tour
I chose the G Adventures Morocco Kasbahs and Desert Tour. It lasted for 8 days, and started in Casablanca and ending in Marrakech. G Adventures offered a transportation option to get travelers back to Casablanca to enable a round-trip flight if desired.
The tour hit almost all of the places I wanted to go, with the exception of Chefchaouen, the “blue city,” and Essaouira, “the windy city.” I was able to do a day trip to see Essaouira, so I didn’t miss that after all.
The introduction on the website opens with, “Perfect for travelers looking for a fast-paced trip, this short but sweet adventure offers up a great combination of Morocco’s must-see highlights and a little free time to explore on your own.” I think this is a really good description and, in part, a warning.
There were some long travel days to get to see so many different parts of Morocco. It was exhausting on one day in particular, where we had 10 hours of driving from Fes to Merzouga to the Sahara Desert, but I thought it was worth it.
Experiences and Things of Note
The full itinerary for this tour is available online, so I’m not going to rehash that. What I would like to do is share my experiences and what most stands out in my mind a couple of weeks after I returned home.
The travel guide responsible for the group is called a CEO or Chief Experience Officer. I think we were very lucky to get Abdul. (Abderrahmane El Ghali). He did a great job educating us and patiently answering our questions. He accepted group input and feedback on things we wanted to do and on restaurants for lunch.
Abdul was also a great communicator. He shared what we would do every day at the beginning of the day with reminders as needed. He let us know when we had free time on our own and when we should gather again as a group.
Abdul also clearly spent a lot of time researching the places we went to in order to provide a good overview. We had local guides at each place that we toured, though Adul shared a good amount of information before we got there as well.
I thought this ruin was pretty amazing. We had a local guide walk us around the Roman ruins of Volubilis to tell us more about the ruins of the buildings we were seeing. It was a highlight of the trip for me and a surprise when I first started researching Morocco. I had no idea the Roman Empire extended so far into Africa!
It was so interesting to see this place and to enjoy traveling through time. With a little imagination, it’s not hard to see what a large and vibrant city it was.
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Visiting the Sahara desert in Merzouga—this part of the trip was also one of the highlights for me. First, just seeing the Saraha was pretty amazing.
When we approached Merzouga, the sand dunes of the Sahara rose above the hotel we were staying at, and it was pretty impressive. As the sun set, the colors changes to deeper browns and glorious reds.
Riding a camel was also an amazing experience. I’ll admit I was a bit terrified to get up on one as they are very tall and extremely clunky to get up and even walk. Much more so than horses. I just held on tight, yelped a little bit at the rise, and then leaned in and enjoyed it.
Abdul also had some fun on the sand dunes as we were waiting for the sun to set, and it was great to see that side of him. We danced to a song, and two of the guys on the tour even somersaulted down the dunes.
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We stopped in a town called Azrou to see the Barbary Macaque monkeys. It seemed like a random spot in the woods, so we stopped and walked a short way away from the road.
Then, shortly after we arrive, the monkeys started to join us. I assume they are used to people stopping to bring them food. This is something I would never have seen had I been traveling on my own, and it was pretty amazing.
Fes and the Fes Medina
We made a number of stops in Fes, and all of them were really interesting. First, we stopped at a pottery coop where they made all of their products by hand. They also hand-cut their mosaic tile, not an easy thing to do. We got to watch them cutting the tile, making the tagines, and painting them. All pretty amazing.
It was great to have a local guide in the medina, as I’m not sure we would have gotten out without one! It is a huge maze with no discernible exits. Our guide grew up in the media, or the walled city of Fes, so he knew every inch of it.
We also got to visit a leather tannery. Armed with a mint leaf to help with the smell, we got to see the pits where they dye the leather and got to see the final product.
We also went to a place where they weave scarves and tapestries by hand using a large loom. It was interesting to watch, and the items they made were so nicely done.
Another interesting place we went to, located in the Fes medina, is the University of Al-Karaouine. It is the oldest continuously operating university in the world. We got to tour the place and admire the architecture.
The center of the building is designed like a riad with a central fountain and very high ceilings. Upstairs there are small dorm rooms for the students.
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Ait Ben Haddou
If you read my blog with any regularity, you know I’m a great lover of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Volubilis, mentioned above, is one, and Ait Ben Haddou is another. It’s a ksar, or fortified village, on the top of a hill.
You can walk through and climb up to the top, where there are some pretty nice views. Many of the structures were rebuilt or reinforced in the old methods, so it was really interesting to see.
Some other UNESCO World Heritage Sites that I loved in Colombia are the coffee triangle which includes Salento and Cocora Valley, Cartagena, and Guatapé, a great day trip from Medellín and Palenque, and a day trip from Cartagena.
In Portugal, there are some amazing UNESCO sites, including Sintra, Guimarães, Belém, and Bom Jesus Sanctuary in Braga. They are all so different, but each of these places holds some magic worth seeing.
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You just shouldn’t visit Morocco without traveling to Marrakech, the flagship city of the country. The red city has a lot of great places to visit, and we saw Bahia Palace, the Saadian Tombs, and Jemaa El-Fnaa, a large square in the city and also a UNESCO site.
Marrakech was at the end of the tour, so we had the opportunity to stay an extra day to explore further. What we saw on the tour were definitely some of the highlights of Marrakech and must-see places when you visit.
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My G Adventures Morocco Trip Summary
There were so many other interesting things we did and saw, but these were the highlights for me. I also enjoyed our stop at the herbalist and thought it was interesting that many Morocco use of herbs for medicinal use.
This tour was very fast-paced with limited downtime, but I felt like we would never have had the opportunity to see as much in the time as we did with the tour. There were a number of things that we got to see, like the coops in the Fes medina, the herbalist, and the monkeys, that I probably never would have found booking my own trip.
I will still do trips on my own, but I won’t hesitate to take the opportunity to take a group tour, especially in certain areas of the world. And I would absolutely take another trip with G Adventures.
As a nice incentive to complete the survey at the end of the tour, they provide a 5% discount on your next tour.
This tour review was not sponsored, and I paid the full cost of the entire trip.
Book the G Adventures Kasbahs and Desert Tour
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