Marrakech Hues to Desert Blues 2018-10-01T15:43:24+00:00

Ultimate Desert Retreat-Join us as we travel from Marrakech to the Sahara on this photography, art, and music retreat adventure

Marrakech Hues to Desert Blues is an exclusive creative and cultural retreat filled with photography and art workshops and moving musical encounters…

Join an intimate group of creative artisans in the Spring of 2020 to experience the ultimate Art of Travel adventure.

Throughout our two week journey together we’ll weave the creative learning experiences of our photography and art workshops into uniquely personal artworks-while we seek additional inspiration in the colors, culture, and connections we find on our journey from the Marrakech Medina through the Valley of 1,000 Kasbahs, to Ait Ifsoul at the edge of the Sahara desert in Morocco. The soulful soundtrack for our time together will be the beat of native African music- Sahara Blues and Gnaoua.

We’ve taken special care in planning an itinerary that will both serve and inspire you. Find out more about your creative photography and art workshops, the instructors who will guide you, and our special music events. Then join us here for the ultimate journey of discovery…

“Away from the smog in cities, our hearts are drawn to the Sahara, where the only dust is sand, and the only barrier is the sky. Come to the desert for the silence that roars from your wild heart.” ~Michelle Fletcher

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Our Itinerary

Day 1-Monday March 16

Marhaban! Welcome to Marrakech…

Plan your arrival to Marrakech for late morning/midday with Airport Transfer to Maison 28. We’ll welcome you with Atay (Moroccan Mint Tea) and you own personal pair of Maison 28 house slippers. Following lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll take a walk through the nearby souk markets for an introduction and orientation to our neighborhood in the medina. Evening brings a beautiful sunset and a “welcome” cocktail party & Moroccan dinner at Maison 28.

Day 2-Tuesday March 17

Viewing life through a different lens…

Marrakech Medina Photography Workshop: “Learn to Look Differently” with Veronique and Marc.  A fascinating and beautiful escape into the ancient world of Marrakech’s alleyways as seen through the lens of your camera. You’ll be guided to follow the rhythm of your eyes to explore the Medina and create a series of photographs that you will use later for our “Encaustic Captures” sessions in the desert with Michelle Fletcher. Late afternoon visit to the architectural and artisanal beauty of historic Dar el Bacha. End the day with a group dinner on the terrace of restaurant Le Foundouk

Day 3-Wednesday March 18

Make your on mark on artistic, hand printed papers…

Hand printed Collage Papers workshop:  Spend a day in the Maison 28 studio with Melanie Royals learning how to create custom stamps and printing plates that you can use along with stencils to create uniquely personal collage papers for artwork and decoupage. We will utilize some of these papers the following week in our “Desert Collage” session with Lori Gordon. Dinner together at La Ferme Medina

Day 4-Thursday March 19

Journey through the Valley of 1,ooo Kasbahs…

Morning travel from Marrakech over the Tizi N’Tichka pass towards Ouarzazate. On the way, we’ll stop at the lesser known Kasbah Telouet: the former home of one of the most powerful Pashas of 20th Century Morocco,Thami El Glaoui, the “Lord of the Atlas.” Then we will continue on to explore the famous Kasbah of Aїt Benhaddou, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Dinner together and overnight stay in Ouarzazate…

Day 5-Friday March 20

Arriving to the “Sandcastle in the Desert”, Ait Isfoul…

Our journey through the land of a thousand Kasbah’s will commence after our tradition breakfast, we will make our way through the Draa Valley, filled with fortified Kasbahs, Ksours and thousands of palmtrees.

Stopping for Lunch in Zagora, then on to Tamggroute, which in Berber means “last place before the desert”. One of the oldest towns in Morocco, 6th century and was one of the last stops for the trade caravans travelling across the desert. This artisan village, 7 ovens, belonging to 7 families, who’s art is carried down between generations, we observe the clay melting in the hands of the masters, as they slowly form the mud from the local Draa riverbed, into it’s organic, practical and decorative vessels. The process is rich and unique to the the area, it is only place on earth to experience these special, shades of green pieces. They are pleasure to behold and each one is art unto itself.

Our final resting place today is in the desert, Aitisfoul . We settle into our Kasbah where we will experience the local and simple desert way of life.

Day 6-Saturday March 21

Hear th beat of the desert, Sahara Blues…

Begin the day by breathing into the opportunity for “slow life in the desert”. Feel free to explore local life in the desert around Ait Isfoul. Wander the Palm Oasis and Kasbah or visit the local weekly market in Tagounite. Draw inspiration from the landscape and let your senses guide you to photograph, draw, or write, as you study the textural language of the area. We grow as storytellers, artists, and humans when we heighten our awareness, staying present, to observe and feel the emotions of a foreign and unfamiliar place.

The evening will find us immersed in the primal fusion sounds of the music of Daraa Tribes while we gather under the star-filled Saharan night sky.

Day 7-Sunday March 22

The art of slow living…

Share a peaceful day in Michelle’s desert studio as we translate our visions, encapsulating and altering our images from our photography workshop session in the Marrakech Medina with wax. We will spend most of our time in the studio today, as we pull from the essence of Moroccan life, its people, designs and culture, fusing our captures with wax.

Day 8-Monday March 23

Experience the magic and mystic of the Sahara Desert…

Today our adventure begins in 4 x 4’s, as our route passes different features of the desert: erg (sand dunes), reg (rocky desert), hammada (stony desert). We will have time to stop along the way to photograph these landscapes. Chegaga dunes are away from civilization,it is mesmerizing, you can really feel the overwhelming tranquillity and expanse of the desert. Chase the light and color of the sand as you climb up the dune after our a camel trek to view a Sahara sunset.

The evening we will have us enjoying local desert drums under the sheltering desert sky as we fall sleep in our luxury Bivouac tents.

Day 9-Tuesday March 24

Traverse the the trade route back to Marrakech…

After a beautiful sunrise and breakfast, our track covers the desert with varying scenery – sand dunes, stony plains, and the dry lake Iriqui – as we make our way to the village of Foum Zguid, where lunch will be served . We will continue on to Marrakech via a route through the High Atlas Mountains enjoying astonishing views all the way back to Marrakech. A buffet style dinner awaits us at Maison 28 a we return to life in the Medina.

Day 10-Wednesday March 25

Craft a visual memory of our journey…

Today you will begin weaving together your art techniques and travel experiences to create a mixed media collage reflective of your journey to and through Morocco. Lori Gordon will help to lead you through the process of layering photographic images with your handmade papers, creating new layers of pattern and color, and possibly even incorporating some small mementos from your travels here. You will have the late afternoon and evening free to explore dinner on your own, or perhaps spend more time with your art in the studio.

Day 11-Thursday March 26

continuing to create memories…

Another day to work on your personal collage art in the studio, continuing to develop your art piece to reflect your personal visual interpretation of your time in Morocco. Again, taking the late afternoon and evening free to explore dinner on your own, or perhaps spend more time with your art in the studio with a delivered meal.

Day 12-Friday March 27

A natural day to relax, reflect, and rejuvenate…

Rustic refinement in a peaceful oasis. We’ll take a short drive out of Marrakech to another world of relaxation and indulgence! Enjoy a morning spa experience (hamman, gommage, massage) followed by lunch and an afternoon at the pool of the beautifully landscaped Beldi Country Club. You’ll have plenty of time to “chill”, stroll and enjoy the natural beauty of the grounds, and shop at a variety of unique boutiques. In the evening we’ll share a final restaurant dining experience together.

Day 13-Saturday March 28

Take time for individual exploration…

You have the whole day free to plan your own adventure in Marrakech. You can visit some gardens or museums, include in some last minute shopping, of spend more time working in the studio on your art pieces. Just be sure to return by evening for your Maison 28 Farewell Celebration! Enjoy Gnaoua Music, dancing and a delicious buffet dinners we party on our last night together.

Day 14-Sunday March 29

Bislama…goodbye, until we meet again…

Enjoy your last Maison 28 Breakfast before your private transport to the airport leaving mid-morning. It’s our wish that you depart with the knowledge that the journey itself is the ultimate destination…

Tamagroute pottery workshop
Color of the Marrakech Medina
Stay at Kasbah Ait Isfoul on our Sahara desert art retreat
Berber Nomad women in the Sahara Desert Erg Chigaga
Encaustic Art Retreat in Morocco
Sahara desert nomad camps in Morocco. Love the goats!
Berber tangines in Morocco
Kasbah in Morocco
Berber doors in Morocco
Photography art workshop with Veronique Schotte
Travel through date palm groves on our Morocco retreat
Sahara desert inspired collage. Learn how to create this on our Morocco art retreat
Zagora Kasbah visit on Marrakech to Sahara art retreat
Moroccan art collage, learn how in our Marrakech Retreat
Morocco collage art workshop
Luxury desert camp in the Sahara Morocco Retreat
Stamp and stencil collage papers in our Morocco art retreat
The colors of the Sahara. Berber Kasbah in Zagora
Marrakech to Sahara Art Photography and Music Retreat
Learn how to stamp, block print and stencil collage papers art retreat in Marrakech
Daraa Tribes. Tribal Fusion Berber Blues band from Morocco Sahara

Payment and Terms

$4495 private queen room
$3895 shared twin room
(all rooms have ensuite private baths)

A non-refundable deposit* is required to reserve your space.
The remaining balance will be due over 2 additional equal payments on October 15, 2019 and January 15 2020. You will be emailed an invoice for each payment 2 weeks prior to the due date.

Cancellation Policy:

Your deposit and subsequent payments are a commitment and each payment becomes non-refundable at the time it is received.

*By registering for this trip with your deposit, you agree to the above Cancellation Policy and to purchase your own trip insurance.

Included:

  • • Airport transfers
    • Private transportation throughout Marrakech and to Ait Isfoul
    • 13 nights accomodations in Marrakech, Ouarzazate, and Shahara including 1 night in a luxury desert Bivouac tent
    • Guided visits to Kasbah Ait Benhaddou, Kasbah Telouet, Tamagroute Potters, Islamic Museum
    • Full day Medina photography workshop
    • 3 guided creative studio sessions with expert instruction (supplies included)
    • Entrance to the Taragalte Desert Music Festival OR private concert with Daraa Tribes
    • Entrance to musems, gardens, and historical sites
    • Spa day at Beldi Country Club with hammam/massage
    • Cocktail/henna party
    • Breakfast and lunch daily
    • 10 dinner experiences
    • Maison 28 babouches (house slippers) to keep
    • Closing celebration with Gnaoua music
    • Planning assistance for your free time
    • New friendships & cultural experiences
    • SO many amazing memories

    Not included:

    • Airfare (flight suggestions provided upon registration-Royal Air Maroc offers round trip flights to Marrakech from JFK and Washington Dulles on dates you’ll be flying)
    • Travel Insurance (highly suggested)
    • Lunches, dinners, tours taken during your “free” time
    • All shopping and cost of shipping if applicable
    • Alcohol outside of planned dinners
    • Staff gratuities

Good To Know

Travelers from the US only are required to have a valid US Passport – but it must NOT be due to expire within 6 months of your return flight.

Your flight destination will be Marrakech Menara International Airport (RAK). Royal Air Maroc is the only airline that has direct flights from the US to Morocco, from both JFK and Washington Dulles.

You can also book flights traveling through major European airports, as there are many connecting flights to Marrakech through economy airlines such as Ryan Air, Easyjet, Iberia, etc. We’ve found that it is easier to find good connecting flights on the way to Marrakech than on the return, but you can take the opportunity to end your trip with a day or two stop in Spain, France, Portugal, England….

Immunizations are not required or necessary but check here for CDC recommendations.

Weather is predictably unpredictable so be sure to check on the estimated conditions the week before you travel. Even though Marrakech can be quite warm by day, it is usually quite cooler at night so pack light clothes that you can layer. We recommend cotton pants, long skirts, wraps or large scarves over tank and tee shirts, and a sweater or light jacket for chilly nights.

Your most important fashion asset: comfortable shoes for traversing the Medina on sightseeing and shopping adventures!

Morocco is a Muslim country and women generally dress more modestly than in the US or Europe. Maison 28 is located in a more conservative, residential area in the old Medina. Like elsewhere, dress codes are gradually becoming more lax and there is a lot of tolerance for tourists, but wearing clothing that covers your best “assets”, and that your grandmother would approve of, shows cultural respect, good taste, and common sense.

The currency here is the Moroccan Dirham, and the exchange rate usually hovers these days around 10 Dirhams/1 Dollar. You CANNOT exchange for Dirhams outside of Morocco, but there are several currency exchange booths in the airport when you exit Passport Control and also located all around the Medina. Larger stores and restaurants may take Euros, but it’s really best to have dirhams.

If you bring large bills ($100) to exchange be sure that they are newer bills with holograms. Otherwise they will slide them back to you with a shake of their head.

Another good option for padding your wallet with dirhams is to use the ATM machines which are located around the medina. The exchange rate is a little better, especially if your bank or credit card doesn’t add foreign transaction fees (some homework for you). Be sure to notify your bank of your foreign travel destination so they don’t flag you for fraud. I also recommend that you bring 2 or 3 cards-just in case you still get flagged (happens!) and find too many things you just can’t live without.

Maison 28 offers:

  • Free Wifi access in all rooms and common areas
  • Bedside Mineral Water
  • Hair Dryers
  • One-time complimentary laundry service for retreat weeks

Extra items you should pack:

  • European Plug adapters
  • Electricity Converter for hair appliances (cellphones and computers generally have built-in converters)
  • Ear Plugs – especially if you’re a light sleeper. Maison 28 is in a quiet neighborhood but there is local “wildlife”, i.e. Medina cats and a neighborhood rooster who sometimes like to make themselves heard. Also, the first call to prayer from the surrounding Mosques occurs about an hour before dawn.
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