Welcome return

I’ve just returned from nearly a month in Morocco, and two wonderful trips with some great people. It was lovely to be back after three and a half years – four, for the desert – and I realised how much I’d been missing the warmth, the food and those colours! Early March usually brings my favourite combination of snow on the High Atlas against a clear blue sky, a layer of spring-green palm trees and below, the sienna adobe buildings. The whole scene screams ‘exotic Morocco’ and when a painting includes all these elements you would immediately guess the location.

The first trip was the ‘Painted Desert’ itinerary, a round trip from Fes. When we left the city we were wearing jackets and boots but by the time we reached the dunes it was shorts and t-shirts all the way. Joan brought along her husband who doesn’t paint, but he managed to entertain himself with binoculars and bird book, pointing out to us the little black bird with a white ‘cap’ which turned out to be a rare Magreb wheatear, a species endemic to this area only. One of us had painted him when he landed on a dead branch; the sketch has all the more significance, now!

After a couple of days recuperating in Marrakech we – our driver and I – were off again for our second trip, ‘Discover Morocco’, which was at capacity, and needing a second vehicle. Hamid’s cousin Mohamed did the honours and took it all in his stride, helping to find the perfect spots for a picnic lunch, hoicking our luggage around and doubling as group photographer. Despite the latter half of the trip falling in Ramadan, both drivers kept their patience even when we wanted to spend hours in the middle of nowhere in the shade of a solitary acacia tree. We’re a weird lot, us painters.


Of course, there have been one or two changes in Morocco since my last visit. Costs have increased hugely which was not unexpected, but it does mean I have to increase the price of the trips by quite a lot. Hopefully there won’t be such a big jump in future though, as I will be able to monitor the situation more carefully. In addition, there have been a couple of itinerary tweaks, in conjunction with unanimous feedback. One or two places where we stayed just one night are so fabulous that we simply had to add on extra time, even if that meant reducing the time spent elsewhere.

I have also added an extension to the ‘Painted Desert’ itinerary, with Bhalil now available before the trip begins. Afterwards there’s the chance to spend three nights in the pretty mountain town of Chefchaouen, with an onward transfer to various cities for your departure home. Fes airport does not always have the most convenient flights – some don’t run every day – so this might be an option if you are struggling with schedules, or just want more of this beautiful and fascinating country!