Patrick De Gabriele

Travel consultant focused on cultural travel in the Middle East & Mediterranean

Forthcoming Groups

Morocco

April 2016

A private tour for a group of friends

After our arrival in Casablanca, our 15-day tour  starts in the attractive capital of Rabat, with its old medina overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, an ancient kasbah, the splendid mausoleum of King Hassan II and the medieval Chellah Necropolis.

From Rabat we drive to Meknes, once the imperial capital associated with the great ruler Moulay Ismail, and now a charming and historic old city. Nearby Volubilis, the country’s major Roman site, well repays a visit.

Fes is the oldest Islamic city in Morocco, and is a living treasure house of history and culture (the old city is listed in its entirety by UNESCO). It’s a major centre of art and craft, and it seems to be the Moroccans’ favourite city –  the bustle of the medina is very appealing.

After a long drive south, covering plains, mountains, rivers and traditional villages, we reach Erfoud, our staging post for a visit to the Sahara Desert -we take in the orange sand dunes, a village of musicians descended from African slaves, an abandoned mining village and a large salt lake. The (optional) balloon flight gives us a wonderful perspective on the desert landscapes.

After driving through the Valley of a Thousand Kasbahs (the name says it all) and the spectacular beauty of the Todra Gorge, our next stop is the charming and laid-back town of Ouarzazate. Nearby is the UNESCO-listed kasbah of Ait Benhaddou – a beautifully preserved small fortified town, where several movies were shot. Ouarzazate is known as the Hollywood of Morocco, so naturally we tour of one of the movie studios.

Marrakech is always a highlight of any trip to Morocco. The city has an ancient medina, with a huge central square famous throughout the world, palaces and bazaars, museums and quiet medieval alleys, and an elegant New Town. From Marrakech we take a day trip to the Berber villages of the High Atlas Mountains, meeting some of the locals and sharing their food.

Next stop is Essaouira on the Atlantic coast, a quiet and beautiful old town favoured by Moroccans as a summer resort. It started life as a fortified port in the 18th century, prospered as a fishing and boat-building centre, and lately flourished as a charming resort and artistic town, attracting such people as Orson Welles, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie. Its well preserved medina is still home to most of the inhabitants, and its craft workshops and restaurants are a delight.

Our last stop is Casablanca where we spend some time at the magnificent Mosque of Hassan II – modern Moroccan architecture at its finest.

One of the great things about travelling in Morocco is the accommodation in riads, little boutique hotels in old restored mansions – very comfortable, beautiful and staffed by welcoming people. Because these are quite small, numbers on these tours are usually limited to about fifteen.

This tour was designed for a group of friends, who were consulted closely as to their preferences – naturally I would be happy to do the same for any group, big or small.

Romania and Bulgaria

September 2016

Romania and Bulgaria have always been attractive to the traveller, and my preliminary research into the cultures, landscapes and peoples tells me that my ‘regulars’ would love to go there, so I have decided to have a good look for myself. I’ll be in these countries in October this year, looking at the major sights (many of which are listed by UNESCO), meeting people and inspecting hotels, all with a view to offering people the chance of a tour there in September next year.

If you would like to be kept up-to-date on the planning for this tour

please email  pdegabriele@shoal.net.au  or phone 02 4464 1289