The number of tour operators offering escorted excursions of Morocco -- both international and Moroccan -- seems to increase each year. This is undoubtedly a good thing for Morocco, but it can be a bit overwhelming when trying to decide who to trust with your travel plans. Below is a list of recommended tour operators that may help narrow down the options. For more information on escorted general-interest tours, including questions to ask before booking your trip, see www.frommers.com/planning.
U.S. & U.K. Companies
- Abercrombie & Kent (tel. 800/323-7308; www.abercrombiekent.com) is one of the world's leading luxury tour operators, and has been organizing quality travel itineraries and group tours since 1962. Their Morocco tours include a 12-day "Highlights of Morocco," which takes in the major sights from Casablanca to Marrakech. There's also a 9-day private tour taking in Morocco's four imperial cities.
- Adventures Abroad (tel. 800/665-3998 in the U.S. and Canada, or 0114/247-3400 in the U.K.; www.adventures-abroad.com) prides itself on operating quality, small-group holidays worldwide in three categories: active, cultural, and family. They offer 8-day and 15-day tours of Morocco, as well a visit to the country within tours of Spain, Portugal, and Tunisia.
- Audley Travel (tel. 01993/838400; www.audleytravel.com) arranges personalized tours for the discerning traveler based on each client's particular interests. Their North Africa and Arabia department can tailor-make itineraries to specific regions of Morocco such as Fes and the north, Marrakech and the mountains, central Morocco, or a combination of all three.
- Authentic Morocco (tel. 0117/3739145; www.authentic-morocco.com) is Liz Williams' U.K.-based company specializing in personalized custom itineraries to Morocco with well-respected English-speaking guides. Liz specializes in working with Western travelers -- especially females. There are numerous sample itineraries, including New Year's Eve in the desert and specialist photographic tours, but it's the custom-made tours that make this company stand out.
- The Best of Morocco (tel. 08450/264585; www.morocco-travel.com) is a Moroccan specialist based in the U.K. with an office in Marrakech. They've been organizing tailor-made holidays to Morocco for more than 40 years, and now offer an extensive selection of accommodations, itineraries (both general and specialist), and general information.
- Epic Morocco (tel. 020/8150-6131; www.epicmorocco.co.uk) is a small U.K.-owned, Marrakech-based tour operator. Owned and managed by Anglo-French couple Charlie Shepherd and Melodie Selvon, they specialize in high-quality, small-group mountain biking, walking, and horse-riding tours in Morocco. They offer a fascinating "Walking with Nomads" experience, which accompanies a family from the Aït Atta tribe as they make their annual migration with their flocks to greener pastures in either the High Atlas or Jebel Sarhro mountain regions. Other tours offer hiking and biking combinations, or they can tailor-make tours to suit.
- GAP Adventures (tel. 800/708-7761 in the U.S., 0870/999-0144 in the U.K., or 1300/796618 in Australia; www.gapadventures.com) operates group tours for independent-minded travelers and currently offers three itineraries in Morocco: an 8-day "Morocco Sojourn" from Marrakech to Essaouira via the Western High Atlas; an 8-day "Morocco Hike & Bike" through parts of the Western High Atlas and central Morocco; and a 14-day "Highlights of Morocco" tour from Casablanca to Marrakech, visiting most of the country's major sights.
- Gateway2Morocco (tel. 800/997-6612 toll-free, or 949/724-0911; www.gateway2morocco.com) is a young company offering personalized tours of Morocco. Based in the U.S. with Moroccan connections, their itineraries are many and varied, catering to general interest along with specialist tours such as arts and culture, golfing, Jewish heritage, outdoor adventures, and honeymooners.
- Martin Randall Travel (tel. 020/8742-3355; www.martinrandall.com) is considered the U.K.'s leading cultural travel specialist, with more than 180 art, music, archaeology, history, and architecture tours to Europe, the Middle East, and beyond. Groups are around 17 people and are accompanied by expert lecturers. Their itineraries change each year; their 2010 Moroccan tour traces the Saharan gold trade that opened Morocco to the world.
- Morocco Custom Travel (tel. 866/966-7622 or 209/466-3105 in the U.S., or 0670/543353 in Morocco; www.moroccocustomtravel.com) is a professional and dependable firm run by Peggy Ward Engh, who divides her time between the U.S. and Marrakech, and business partner Rachid Izemreten, one of Morocco's top guides. A wide range of services is provided, with custom-made tours for individuals, conventions, and university groups. Their suggested itineraries include "Spiritual Morocco," which looks at the country's long Jewish history and can be kosher catered if required, "The Ancient Route of the Moors," which showcases the history and gold age of Andalusia, and their newest offering, "Marrakech in Bloom," visiting some of that city's premier public and private gardens.
- Overseas Adventure Travel (tel. 800/493-6824; www.oattravel.com) is a specialist in natural history and "soft-adventure" tours, with optional add-on excursions. The group size is never more than 16, and tours are led by naturalists. Their 15-day "Morocco Sahara Odyssey" travels from New York to Casablanca through central Morocco, Meknes, Fes, and Marrakech, and includes 3 nights in private desert tented camps.
- Trafalgar Tours (tel. 020/7574-7444 in the U.K., or 866/544-4434 in the U.S.; www.trafalgartours.com) has been operating since 1947 and offers holiday packages worldwide, including quality escorted coach tours to Morocco. The coaches are luxury 49-seaters, with air-conditioning and an onboard washroom. Their 11-day "Best of Morocco" is a return tour from Casablanca and includes the imperial cities and some of central Morocco. Some of their tours of Spain and Portugal also travel across the Straits of Gibraltar to visit parts of Morocco.
- Tribes Travel (tel. 01728/685971; www.tribes.co.uk) is a U.K.-based fair-trade travel company operating tailor-made holidays to destinations in Africa, Asia, and South America. They offer itineraries throughout the majority of Morocco, ranging from 5- to 14-day tours, as well as shorter holidays in Essaouira and Marrakech.
- Blue Men of Morocco (tel./fax 952/467562 in Spain; www.bluemenofmorocco.com) is owned and operated by American Elena Hall, who divides her time between her two bases in Spain and Merzouga, on the edge of the Erg Chebbi desert dunes. She offers a range of itineraries, including combinations of Morocco with southern Moorish Spain, and is renowned for going that extra mile for her clients.
- Compass Odyssey (tel. 0661/250746; www.compassodyssey.net) is my own safari company, specializing in low-impact, small-group escorted tours of Morocco and Southern Africa. I lead two trips around Morocco every spring, with an emphasis on cultural experiences that benefit both locals and travelers.
- Fes Art et Culture Travel (tel. 0535/932119 or 0661/250249; www.fes-city.com/festravel.ma) utilizes the services of one of Morocco's best guides, Hassan el Janah, and operates tours of Fes and the rest of Morocco. While the company's emphasis is on the country's renowned art and culture, they also offer general-interest itineraries and special-interest themes such as festivals and history. Although their website is in French, all e-mail/phone contact is conducted in English.
- Global International Tours (tel. 0524/306158 or 0524/306809; fax 0524/306736; email@example.com) is based in Marrakech, with partners in Japan and the U.S. Their very friendly English-speaking staff offer customized itineraries, as well as tours Morocco-wide, including 4WD tours to Morocco's Saharan dunes, and an 11-day "Grand Morocco Tour" from Casablanca.
- Menara Tours (tel. 0524/446654; firstname.lastname@example.org) is one of the country's leading inbound tour operators, with offices in Marrakech, Agadir, Casablanca, and the U.S. They offer the full range of travel services, including tailor-made, fully escorted tours for individuals and groups, as well as internal flights and airport meet and greets.
- Mountain Voyage Morocco (tel. 0524/421996; www.mountain-voyage.com) is the Moroccan branch of U.K.-owned Discover Ltd., owner of the renowned Kasbah du Toubkal in Imlil. They offer a range of services, including tailor-made escorted itineraries by land or air, private villa rentals, and corporate or private event coordination.
- Naturally Morocco (tel. 0528/551628 or 01239/654466 U.K.; www.naturallymorocco.co.uk) is a very professional U.K.-based responsible and sustainable tourism operator offering personalized tours, activities, and accommodations within Morocco. Their Moroccan office, based in Taroudannt, is a combined guesthouse-cum-cultural and environmental center. From here they operate a fantastic and diverse selection of cultural and environmental experiences.