What a wonderful trip we had with Hassan Bouaouina!
What a simply amazing time we had in Morocco with Bouaouina Tours. We were with Hassan as our private guide for nine days. It was our first time ever using a private guide or tour service, a choice we made since we do not speak Arabic or French. Hassan handled all the Riad reservations, travel and details for us - even booking our Hamman and restaurants, making it our most amazing stress-free adventure ever. Hassan was completely flexible and this allowed us to to be spontaneous when we learned about something else we wanted to explore or spend more time at.
After a tour of Casablanca on our arrival, we made an impromptu stop at the Chellah Necropolis south of Rabat to see the Merenid Ruins and remains of the Roman City Sala Colonia when he learned we were interested in seeing it. We then spent more time in the Rabat Medina which even included a delicious dinner at the home of a local family one evening!
On the roadtrip to Fez we visited Meknes and the Royal Stables and Graneries, the town of Moulay Idriss I and the Roman Ruins of Volubilis, where Hassan hired us a special guide to tour the ruins since they don't allow outside guides. (Something apparently another reviewer in a past post was completely unaware of when posting her poor review of that tour).
Fez, wow! We stayed inside the ancient Medina, which made it easy to explore everything we wanted to see. We had the most amazing whirlwind tour of the souks and sights of the Medina with Kamal (fabulous history lessons included!). Our day with Kamal is now one of our fondest memories of the entire trip! We never would have seen so much of the Medina in one day without him, we would have spent our entire day getting lost We also met so many people - it seems everyone knew Kamal!.
When most of the Fez medina was shut down for the Eid al-Adha holiday, (another incredibly educational experience) Hassan took us to visit his hometown in Bhalil where we were invited to dine with his lovely family for the holiday feast, as well as witness the holiday traditions as the town residents prepared. It was a nice relaxing change from the bustling medina, to visit a small mountainside village. We even had tea in a cave home of a friend of his.
After Fez, we left for the long ride through the Middle Atlas Mountains to Marrakech in his brand new, extremely comfortable touring van, stopping on the Atlas Cedar Forest and the village of Azrou. Hassan knew we were interested in a small carpet, and we were able to visit the cooperative to view many even though it was a holiday - as well as learn about all the different carpet types. On a day where most restaurants were closed for the holiday, he even found us a delicious rotisserie chicken lunch in a small town along the way!
Marrakech, what a beautiful place! The tours Hassan gave us of the Saadian tombs, the El Badi Palace Ruins and the phenomenal artistry of the Bahai Palace with its handcrafted ceilings and decoration were incredible. He accommodated our wishes to visit Jemaa el-Fna in the evening rather than daytime so we could view all the action and the food stalls in the square from a rooftop cafe during sunset. While we enjoyed the square, Hassan took care of booking our night train tickets back to Tangier for our continuation to Spain, so we did not even have to deal with that!
He taught us the history of the different dynasties and Berber tribes of Morocco as well as detailed explanations of what we were seeing. It was not at all like your typical tour, it was customized just for us and was like traveling with a good friend you had know for years!
Hassan and Fez specialist Kamal were the most wonderful people we have met anywhere we've traveled, EVER. This was an adventure we will never forget. And now we dream of returning to see even more of the beautiful country of Morocco.
You cannot go wrong by hiring Bouaouina Tours for your visit to Morocco - whether it's a day or a week or more. In fact, you'd be crazy to use anyone else.