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Magical Morocco: A Photography Tour

Updated on July 24, 2020
Patrick Widdess profile image

Patrick Widdess writes poetry, prose, and arts and travel features. He is based in Norwich, UK.

A traditional musician in Chefchaouen
A traditional musician in Chefchaouen | Source

A Photography Holiday in Morocco

Morocco is a dream destination for photographers. The colourful people, architecture and landscapes offer endless photo opportunities. It can be a difficult country for a foreigner to navigate however. It’s easy to get stuck in the tourist hotspots and local annoyances can be a waste of time and money.

The Magical Morocco tour by Photography Holidays offers the chance to explore the country in depth with none of the daily hassles. I joined a small group with a shared love of travel and photography for a 10-day tour which took in cities, the desert and breathtaking scenery of the Atlas Mountains.

We were accompanied by a Moroccan guide and an experienced photographer and tour leader who made sure we made the most of our time and the many varied photo opportunities on the packed itinerary.

Below is just a small selection of the thousands of photos that filled my memory card as we toured from Rabat to Marrakech.

Rabat
Rabat

Rabat

The narrow winding streets and colourful stalls of the local market offered a wealth of photo opportunities on our first day. Stalls displayed colourful wares and the people and architecture was great for street photography. With my trusty 18-300mm Nikon lens I could capture it all.

We had only one night in the city but made a whistle stop tour of the Kasbah and other key sights before moving on.

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Kasbah at RabatA fruit seller on the streets of RabatShoes on a stall in RabatA pile of shirts makes an interesting abstract design
Kasbah at Rabat
Kasbah at Rabat
A fruit seller on the streets of Rabat
A fruit seller on the streets of Rabat
Shoes on a stall in Rabat
Shoes on a stall in Rabat
A pile of shirts makes an interesting abstract design
A pile of shirts makes an interesting abstract design

A Versatile Lens

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18 – 300 mm f/3.5 – 6.3 G ED VR Objective, Black [Nital Card: 4 Years Warranty]
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18 – 300 mm f/3.5 – 6.3 G ED VR Objective, Black [Nital Card: 4 Years Warranty]
I was shooting with a Nikon D7500 and 18-300mm lens. The lens gave a huge advantage on a trip where I was always surrounded by great photo opportunities. Being able to shoot subjects right in front of me and in the distance without changing lens is priceless on a trip like this. It gives you at least two lenses in one with great results.
 

Local Market and Salt Mine

Our destination for the day was Chefchaouen but we made a couple of stops. A lively market was an exciting location off the beaten track. There was a variety of colourful produce on sale. Some of it still alive!

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We stopped at a salt mine for some photos of the unusual landscape and workers who happily posed for us.

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Chefchaouen

Two nights in the famous blue city gave us plenty of time to explore the streets and photograph the distinctive architecture and colourful locals. Our knowledgable instructor also helped achieve some impressive night and sunset images.

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Sunset over ChefchaouenTraditional buildings in the blue cityA fresh coat of blue paintChefchaouen is home to a large population of cats
Sunset over Chefchaouen
Sunset over Chefchaouen
Traditional buildings in the blue city
Traditional buildings in the blue city
A fresh coat of blue paint
A fresh coat of blue paint
Chefchaouen is home to a large population of cats
Chefchaouen is home to a large population of cats

El Wahda Lake and Fez

El Wahda Lake
El Wahda Lake

El Wahda Lake offered a stunning photo opportunity on the way to our next destination, Fez.

Our main stop was at the city’s tannery where we had an exclusive tour of the area where animal hides are processed and dyed before being turned into a range of leather products. They are sold in what seems like an endless series of showrooms when you’re trying to get to the exit.

The air is thick with the smell of ammonia and pigeon shit – which they use to treat the hides. Sprigs of mint handed out at the entrance helped mask the smell enough to photograph this traditional craft.

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Preparing animal hides at the tanneryLovely items, but seeing the production process can put buyers off!
Preparing animal hides at the tannery
Preparing animal hides at the tannery
Lovely items, but seeing the production process can put buyers off!
Lovely items, but seeing the production process can put buyers off!

In the afternoon the labyrinthine souk brought many more photo opportunities.

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Middle Atlas Mountains and Berber Villages

Our travels the next day took us to Erfoud on the edge of the Sahara Desert. On the way we took in the incredible landscape of the Middle Atlas Mountains. We also visited a couple of Berber settlements. The Berbers are an ethnicity indigenous to several north and west African nations with many leading a semi-nomadic life.

We met one family living in a small camp near the road who invited us into their home and were happy to be photographed. Without a Moroccan guide such an opportunity would never have been possible.

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Sahara Desert

We headed on towards the desert stopping at a couple of villages on the way where we attracted the attention of local children.

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Tour leader David Short playing with some local children
Tour leader David Short playing with some local children
Tour leader David Short playing with some local children

After checking into our hotel we took 4x4s over the dunes to photograph the landscape and its large camel population. Most of us spent the night in a desert camp which offered cosy beds, proper toilets and running water. Thanks to my Water-to-Go purification bottle I didn't have to worry about going thirsty.

We had the opportunity to photograph the sunset and sunrise and try some night photography in between, as well as dining under the stars.

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Camping in the desert
Camping in the desert
Camping in the desert

Todra Gorge

Continuing along the southern slopes of the Atlas Mountains we stopped to photograph mud brick buildings in stunning red stone valleys. In the afternoon views of the Todra River flowing between the towering limestone walls of Todra Gorge at Tinghir delivered our final photo opportunity of the day.

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Ouarzazate

Our journey to Ouarzazate in the High Atlas mountains took us through more splendid scenery and we stopped to photograph some mud brick settlements.

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Ait Ben Haddou

Ait Ben Haddou
Ait Ben Haddou

On our way to Marrakech we visited the historic fortified village of Ait Ben Haddou. We stopped nearby and a snake charmer performed with the earthen clay buildings of the Unesco listed site rising up in the background.

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Mint tea – Morocco's national drink at Ait Ben HaddouHigh Atlas Mountains
Mint tea – Morocco's national drink at Ait Ben Haddou
Mint tea – Morocco's national drink at Ait Ben Haddou
High Atlas Mountains
High Atlas Mountains

Marrakech

Djemma-el-Fna Square, Marrakech
Djemma-el-Fna Square, Marrakech

The capital offered a range of photo opportunities during our last couple of days in Morocco: Night photography in Djemma-el-Fna square, a day exploring the streets and souks and, on the last night, a performance from a belly dancer.

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This is a fantastic tour for photographers of all abilities. It is necessary to have an interest in photography as that is what the tour is geared towards with early starts and long travel times to see the rich variety of sights the country has to offer. However, there is still time for shopping, relaxation, good food and socialising with the rest of the group. Our shared interests meant we all bonded quickly and have kept in touch since. It was a memorable holiday and the photography techniques I learned will be useful on future trips.

© 2020 Patrick Widdess

Comments

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    • punacoast profile image

      Viet Doan 

      10 months ago from Big Island, Hawaii

      Some of your photos are worthy of National Geographic! I especially like the photo of the two laughing kids riding a tiny bike in Chefchaouen. Or the photo of a lone camel in the desert sand dunes. Truly magical, thanks for sharing Morocco with us!

    • nikitha p profile image

      nikitha p 

      11 months ago from India

      Simply the photography is amazing

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      11 months ago from UK

      This is an exceptionally well-illustrated article. It looks like you had an excellent trip and got a real taste of Morocco.

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