Travels With a Favourite Pooch in Morocco – Olivia’s Story
Olivia travelled to Morocco and wanted to explore a bit before starting her position as a British diplomat in Rabat. It was November and a trip taken during the pandemic, which actually seemed to have many upsides.
Before leaving for Morocco, Olivia had read Alice Hunter Morrison’s book ‘Adventures in Morocco’ where Charlie is mentioned quite a few times as a friend and supporting guide to the country, and as a result, she felt confident to choose Epic as her travel planning partner.
Olivia was travelling with her dog Otto, partner and mother who has Alzheimer’s, she wanted advice on which routes to take out of a few options she had been researching. Juggling all this with a busy job meant that having epic on board saved time and stress as well as giving reassurance through expertise and personal experience on the ground especially at this time.
What was important to you when planning your trip?
I didn’t want to do a lot of driving but I also wanted to see as much of the country as possible taking in the mountains and desert. Also it was really important that Otto would be a welcome addition and of course we needed to take good care of my mum on the way. I also had no idea which places would be best to stay in so having the stress taken out of making bookings and not knowing if they would turn out well or not and ensuring they’d be ok with a dog was key.
Where did you go?
Atlas Mountain Journey to Skoura.
We started in Demnate staying at a lovely dog-friendly eco-lodge at the foot of the High Atlas, before taking the long journey through the mountains which we absolutely loved, where we stopped to see dinosaur footprints and little villages on the way before driving on to the desert town of Ouarzazate and on to Skoura.
Skoura is a calm and pleasant place to stop in with date palms and old adobe houses, we loved all our overnight stays and Dara Faracha was no exception with its stylish but low key mid-century Moroccan feel set in a quiet rural landscape. The family that looked after us there were so friendly cooking for us and making us cosy with fires, just the thing after an exciting but tiring Winter journey.
On to the desert
From Skoura our driver-guide, Abdelhamed took us through to the desert, he was fantastic and really went the extra mile making sure we were fuelled with snacks in the car, making sure Otto had all the water he needed, talking kindly to my mum with admirable patience, and taking us to some incredible places off-road to look at fossils in dried river beds.
The desert camp Charlie recommended was amazing, the situation of course surrounded by rolling dunes can’t fail to be awe-inspiring, but the staff too were really lovely – and Otto, well he had a fab time and slept very well after running up and down the dunes all day. It really was a special time for us as we had the place to ourselves, a magical experience and one my mum still talks about.
The route back to the coast
We so enjoyed the desert and visiting Ait Ben Haddou (a Unesco site and typical old town where Laurence of Arabia was filmed) was particularly special because again we were the only visitors and had a unique experience in that sense. Our stay again was superb with very welcoming people.
We took the route to Essaouira and enjoyed one night there but after the desert, we craved open natural spaces again so decided to go early to Oulidia where we stayed on the wild beach at Azelai Beach Cottages. We could have a bungalow there so we were pretty self-contained. Otto of course loved the beach too!
What stood out for you?
The scenery and places it’s all so incredibly beautiful, interesting and different. And the welcoming people.
How was it travelling during a pandemic?
Morocco is pretty well equipped and the country has managed the pandemic well with numbers low relative to other countries. We felt the upside of having time with no other tourists around to enjoy our favourite places and the hygiene measures were fine, everyone adheres, we weren’t concerned at all really, plus Morocco is an outdoorsy country which helps too really.
What made it an epic experience?
Their expertise in knowing how everything works and advice and suggestions all looked great. We bothered Charlie a lot with requests but his input was so valuable to shape the whole journey, including how it fitted together and optimum lengths of stay – then when it was agreed they booked it all which took a great weight off my mind.
Where do you want to go next?
I really want to go up to the north of Morocco to the Rif mountains, to Chefchaouen, Volubilis, Tangier and Asilah, we’d also like to do some walking and camping in the mountains. I’d love to go south town to deep Western Sahara too on another adventure. We’d definitely recommend taking a guide with you especially if you are exploring the Rif and for camping guidance. I’ve recommended epic and the places we stayed to friends and they are already booking ahead!