Thursday, 1 January 2015


Before I go any further with this, our first “Blog” entry for 2015, I would like to extend on behalf of myself and all the Desert Detours team our very best wishes and great times for the forthcoming year………….   
According to some sources 32% of Motorhome owners will be heading overseas for the holidays during 2015, sometimes more than once. What is surprising is that whilst France and Spain predictable take the lion share of the overseas-bookings Morocco is way up there at [depending on source] 4th highest destination for Motorhomes/Caravans.

Desert Detours ran eleven full tours into the region last year and I know we say it every year but 2014 was another one of our best ever……
We are constantly adding new locations and by-routes to our established tours ……. We have increased our already generous meal/snack provision, expanded our “included” listing and introduced more personal introductions. Indeed if you joined us on say the “Classic” more than a few years ago you would hardly recognise it now.

For 2015 we have introduced TWO new tours THE FOOTSTEPS OF MOORS and THE GRAND TRANS-MOROCCO. I posted info earlier, but just a reminder…….
Through Concept, Recognisance and then the trial stages these TWO new 40 + Day tours are now firmly scheduled for 2015 and BEYOND.

Starting early May crossing over to Morocco for the start of the  “Footsteps Of Moors” for a thought provoking and meandering passage across the High Atlas Mountains and beyond, then re-entering Andalusia following a route along little used and stunning Andalusia byways. This tour visits two very different and remarkable destinations ineradicably linked in history……..quite simply incredible!  

During September and October Our “Grand Trans Morocco” tour guides you through the rarely visited, mysterious eastern region known as the “Forgotten Morocco”. We travel via the awesome Mediterranean-Riff Mountain coastline and reach the actual Algerian-Moroccan Border crossings before running south then returning west towards the Atlantic Coast on a route that includes the Sahara, High Atlas, forests and Imperial Cities………A genuine Trans-Morocco journey and adventure……Truly superb!
There are of course duration options available ……. If for any reason you are unable to undertake the full 40 PLUS DAY tours you can for example select just part of the full tour, or indeed you can extend your stay, with on-going assistance, beyond the 40 PLUS day schedules.

Both the Footsteps of Moors and the Grand Trans-Morocco tours are FULL EVENT tours and are NOT “padded-out” with endless Free Days …….. Both tours are of course fully supported. Both the Footsteps of Moors and the Grand Trans Morocco tours already have a number of firm bookings for 2015 and will in any case be offering very limited places on the tour ……. Both tours are packed with our usual exclusive and unusual locations, including some camping in a number of “Wilderness” and “Remote” settings.

There are far too many highlights and features to list here, so for more information and details contact the office via email or phone either 0034 615276532 or 0034 658988841 without delay! And remember, these two all NEW tours are in addition to our scheduled year 2015 dates during which we will be visiting Morocco EVERY MONTH [excluding June, July and August]. 

Anyway I think that is enough about us for now. If you want more information you know where to find us.

Whatever your plans all at DESERT DETOURS and ANDALUSIA DETOURS sincerely wish you a healthy and safe 2015…….most of all enjoy and take care wherever you may journey. 
Very best regards
Debbie and Ray.
We are now well into our 37th year of trading in the specialist touring business ……. 37 years, where has the time gone! ....... Anyway let’s make something VERY clear, DESERT DETOURS is NOT up for sale. It never has been and never will be.
What you may, and I stress may, see happen at some point during the forthcoming year are reports or adverts for the recruitment of a business partner. This is NOT a regular staff position; rather it is a full-time hands-on association with a demonstrated commitment. Motorhome/Caravan owning or background is not a pre-requisite, neither is experience in the “Touring” business necessary, but client consideration in an exciting, well established and continuously growing business is paramount.
Hey, this is starting to sound like an early recruitment advertisement …… it’s not …… but you never know, the right person may just be reading this!  
Chefchaouen is ranked 9th on Buzzfeed’s list of Most Beautiful Travel Destinations, making it the only city from North Africa and the Arab world on the list. It ranked ahead of Utah, USA, Camiguin, the Philippines, and Cape Town, South Africa.
The New York-based website highlighted the blue mountain village of Chefchaouen, describing the blue city as “one of Morocco’s most picturesque towns.”………
It’s nice to see and we have to agree, which is why we visit the town on most of our tours.
Located in northern Morocco, just a couple of hours south of Tangier, Chefchaouen was founded in the 1400s as a fortress to protect the north against a Portuguese invasion.
Multiple cultures and inhabitants marked Chefchaouen’s history, mainly Amazigh tribes, Moroccan Jews, and Andalusian Moroccans. This diversity gave the city its unique charm and made it one of the most beautiful places on earth.

The city’s Jewish inhabitants left the greatest mark on Chefchaouen. The city’s alleyways, houses, floors, and walls are all painted in various shades of blue – a legacy of their faith and a practice that is still in place today. Judaism recognizes the color blue as being symbolic of God and heaven, so the houses were painted as a reminder of this.
From the bright, vibrant spices lining the streets (and the plates!), to the soft blue palette that’s woven throughout Chefchaouen’s buildings and main pathways, without question it’s one of Morocco’s most picturesque towns.
If you have already been on one of our “Classic” tours you would have been here for three stunning and inspiring nights we “Wilderness Camp” at this location. Those clients who were on our December-January tour you will remember a stunning Christmas Day there. If you are joining us in the future this is one of the many experiences you will enjoy……either way sit back and enjoy this short video. Erg Chebbi Dunes…………….

Not so long after we in the west celebrate the birth of Christ, at Christmas, Muslims have their own festival when they observe the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed.  
In Morocco, Eid Al Mawlid Annabawi, the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad which takes place on the 12th day of Rabi’ al-awwal, the third month in Islamic calendar, will be celebrated on January 4th.
Known by different names in the Islamic world, this celebration in Morocco is called “Eid Al Mouloud,” or simply “Al Mouloud.” It is an occasion when Moroccans show their devotion to their faith, a spiritual day to recall the ideals of Islam and recite poems dedicated to the Prophet. Of course Al Mouloud is a predominant Islamic celebration but interestingly a number non-Islamic tradition that has also come to be associated with the holiday.
In most of the regions in the south east of Morocco, men walk together in early morning to the graveyard singing “Al Burdah” and women warble “you-you” when the men pass by. In the evening, the sound of the Attalba, religious people who memorize the Quran and master the Islamic legislature, reading the Quran and reciting hymns glorifying God can be heard coming from houses, along with the fragrant odour of incense and sandal wood.
Traditionally tea, nuts and cookies are served while the Attalba read and recite the Quran and religious poems before a meal of couscous.

The city of Salé, on the Bou Regreg estuary, holds a lantern procession on Al Mouloud called Dor Eshamaa. In Meknes, in the square of Saint Sheikh Al Kamel, the celebration on this day takes a barbaric turn. Men and women engage in wild dances using knives to strike their foreheads and eat hot embers and drink boiling water a practice that of course has nothing to do with Islam.

The dancers, who usually wear white, see themselves in an ecstatic state of joy. Visitors are required to avoid wearing red clothes, a colour that is known to provoke the wild dancers. Wearing black or red is considered an offense and those who do may have their clothes torn. Perhaps the strangest aspect of this ceremony is the custom of the infirm laying at the gate of the shrine in order for the “Aisawa,” followers of the Saint, to heal them by walking on their backs.

In Tazarine, a small village about 160 kilometers from Ouarzazate, Al Mouloud is considered an important and dignified day. In the early morning, readings of the holy Quran can be heard from a distance. Men dress in white, and exchange smiles and expressions of courtesy.
The day of “Tazlaft,” [a Berber word meaning an earthenware plate where couscous is served], is the busiest day with loud music from tambourines. It is believed that, thanks to Saint Sidi Amrou, a dish of couscous twice as wide as the width of the door can be passed magically through the opening. Tradition says that anyone who looks while the miracle takes place will be struck blind.
On Al Mouloud, the sacred co-exists with the profane. In Meknes, for example, at the same time as some are engaged in the pagan ritual of ecstatic dancing others are inside mosques reading the Quran or studying the Prophet’s biography. Though these “decadent and barbarous” practices give the ceremony a vibrant and lively atmosphere, they should not be associated with Islam.


From time to time some of our clients express an interest in diving off the Moroccan coast, even to the point of bringing along their equipment on tour. Desert Detours will not be organizing a visit anytime soon……but you never know!
A team of divers and a researcher specializing in underwater archeology discovered, Sunday, the remains of a British steamship which had been wrecked off in 1918 near Sidi Toual beach, 15 km south of Agadir in the commune of Sidi Bidi (Shtouka Ait Baha province).
Preliminary data shows that pieces of wreckage are scattered over 700 square meters, Azeddine Karra, underwater research specialist at the Culture Ministry, told MAP.
The vestiges, found at the depth of 6-10 meters, include rusty doors, parts of the engine and large iron bars, he said.
In a similar statement to MAP, Ait Baaziz, professional diver, said that the steamship “SS Baynyassa” was on a trade mission from Brazil to Gibraltar and changed its route towards the Agadir coast because of a mechanical failure.
MMmm………We have in the past been able to accommodate most clients “Hobby/Interest” requirements i.e. Golf, Skiing, Climbing etc., but like I say we have no plans to include visits to this particular feature!!! 
A Moroccan man from Arazan, a small village located at few kilometers from Taroudant in southern Morocco, has kept a promise for over 70 years to cleaning the grave of his friend’s Jewish ancestors.
The man’s name is Lahcen. One winter day in the early 1950s, his friend Moshe, a Moroccan Jew, and his family were forced to leave Morocco for Israel. Moshe asked his friend, Lahcen, to take care of the graves of his ancestors.
According to Mr. Omar Louzi, President of the Rabat Business Club, Lahcen promised to honor the request, loyal to the friendship he had with his Jewish friends. For more than 60 years, at the beginning of each year, Lahcen has been cleaning the graves of the ancestors of his Jewish friend.
Despite his meager resources, Mr. Louzi said that at the beginning of each year, Lahcen brought a small box with black paint and re-writes the names originally written on the graves in Hebrew. What is amazing about Lahcen’s loyalty is that he honored the request, whilst he never had been to school.
Now, despite his old age, Lahcen is adamant about keeping his promise. According to Mr. Louzi, “when someone dares to say that “it is now old, and he has already done enough to honor his promise”, he gets angry, and answers, “A promise is a promise.” He added that he “will continue to do what I have to do … until the return of my friend Moshe … or until I die”.
Lahcen’s noble gesture embodies the atmosphere of tolerance and co-existence that prevailed between the Jewish and Muslim Moroccans in the past before their emigration to Israel and other countries
Just a few of the many thousands of photos taken during 2014…………