This October PLANET have a unique and fascinating option for your Half Term family holiday - Grab your camera and discover twisting alleyways and bustling medinas, zoom in on tiny Berber Villages and take the perfect shot of an old pirates’ lair – then take to the water, windsurfing or Kitesurfing in one of the world’s top watersports destinations.
Join friendly, professional photographer Sam Oakes on an incredible photographic journey through the colourful souks of Marrakech to the Atlas Mountains and crashing Atlantic Coast You’ll learn all the basics under his expert guidance and find a way to develop your technique through a series of fun photo challenges. You can even ride a camel!
Tour Starts: 21st October 2012
Day 1 - Fly to Marrakech
After your flight, you transfer to your accommodation in Marrakech and check in. Even today, the name Marrakech conjures up images of scenes from the Arabian Nights: alleyways, souks, stalls and markets. This remarkable city, dating from the 11th century, never fails to satisfy the curiosity of adventurous travellers. The graceful architecture of the renowned Koutoubia Minaret, dominates the skyline.
Hotel - 1 night. The hotel is located just outside the city walls around the old Medina. It is about a 30 minute walk to the main square Djemaa el Fna (or short calesh/taxi ride) but close to local shops and restaurants
Introduction to the photography guidance on tour. A talk about photography, the places we will visit and the many photographic opportunities throughout the week. Check everyone's camera and settings
Day 2: Drive to Ifergane; cross Atlas Mountains
You start your adventure with a bus journey (approx 6-7 hours) across the Atlas Mountains - rising to a height of 2092m at the Tizi-n-Test Pass. On the way you can visit the 12th century mosque Tinmal. Your destination is Ifergane, a pleasant village in the foothills of the mountains, and home to the Berber people who inhabited the land centuries before the Arabs arrived a mere 1,200 or so years ago. These proud people still speak a separate language, which consists of three main dialects.
Although Arabic is gaining an ever-increasing foothold, most people - especially the young - know a few words of French too. The overall journey time today is approximately six to seven hours - it is the longest travelling day of the trip. With the fading sun dipping below the mountains, you will undoubtedly find yourselves sipping a traditionally prepared glass of sweet mint tea while you wait for your evening meal to be served. The sound of the muezzin can often be heard giving the call to prayer. Auberge with swimming pool - 2 nights (B)
Introduce Photo Challenge 1. Your first photo challenge will be unveiled today! Don’t worry, you will receive one-to-one assistance and guidance whilst travelling. Advice for photographing on movement from the bus and on foot in preparation for walk tomorrow
Day 3 - Ifergane; Atlas village & oasis walks
Today is a free day giving you the opportunity to walk and to enjoy the fresh air and scenery. You can stroll through the oasis and there are local villages to explore. The oasis is full of palm trees and streams of water giving an exotic feel to the area. You can have a go at riding a donkey around the fields. Afterwards, a short drive takes to Taroudante city (approx. 30 minutes) where you visit the tanneries. Moroccan leather goods are very popular and here you can learn how the animal skins are cured to produce the leather. (B)
Photo Challenge 2
Today you learn about F-stops, shutter speeds, ISO settings, metering modes, and depth of field, light & shadow, composition. We aim for close observation of animal movements (donkeys) to encourage more intimate shots and learn to do portraiture in the local villagee. Review, discuss and evaluate your work – with a more in depth assessment of images. Review progress and ideas for photo books and journals. Preparation for tomorrow: Advice for photographing on the water, the birds and animals you see. Insight into colour, shape, space, texture, reflections, light and shade.
Day 4 - Agadir & beach time
Today you continue driving through the fertile Souss plain along many vegetable and fruit farms, crossing the Argan tree forest where you might see goats climbing the trees. You continue on towards Taghazoute beach on the Atlantic coast, where you have a picnic lunch (approx. 1 1/2 hours). This is a popular spot for beach lovers, and it is not hard to see why. The rest of the day is free for you to enjoy the wide sandy beach and Atlantic waves at Agadir where you spend the night.
Hotel - 1 night (B)
Photo Challenge 3
As you take to the water, today you experiment with reflections, contrast, light and shadow. Brush up on depth of field, composition, shutter speed.
Review photos. Professional tips: Introduction to Photoshop and basic digital adjustments and digital artistry. Printing, presentation and copyright.
Day 5- Essaouira; camel ride & picnic on the beach
You travel up the coast to Sidi Kaouki (approx. 2 1/2 hours), where a real highlight awaits you: You mount camels to ride across the expansive sand dunes - enjoying the view from this moving vantage point is a great feeling! Having worked up an appetite, you enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach before you get back in the bus to continue to Essaouira (approx. 30 mins). Arriving in Essaouira you find yourselves in one of Morocco’s most attractive coastal cities. The wild waves of the Atlantic crash remorselessly onto the rocky coastline of this old pirates’ hideout. Portuguese, Berber and French battlements encircle the maze of narrow lanes with tiny cafes looking out onto small squares. Two fortresses look out over the ocean, and on an offshore island stands another, even larger castle. As befits a seaport, the pace of life is more relaxed here, and the whitewashed streets lend a seemingly Mediterranean air to the city. Hotel - 2 nights (B)
Photo Challenge 4
Today as we travel through the desert we learn to play with distance and target dimension with optical illusion, practicing with shutter speed aperture, light exposition, use of filters.
Day 6 - Essaouira; explore port
This morning you can stroll around the lively old port, which is full of colour and interest. The early morning is the best time - when fishermen can be seen bringing in their catch or mending their nets. The harbour was once the lair of pirates who sailed out to plunder richly laden ships that passed along the coast - after all, this was the main trade route round the Cape of Good Hope to Western Europe. It later became a free port, when it had a small international community of merchants. The cosmopolitan mixture of different influences makes it a wonderful place to explore - and it is full of visual surprises. The whole day is free to relax and wander as you please. Take a leisurely stroll along the ramparts, visit the little workshops which specialise in ornate inlaid work using thuya wood (a local conifer), spend time on the glorious beach or enjoy a meal of freshly-cooked sardines down on the quayside. (B)
Photo Challenge 5
Meet and photograph the sunset from Essaouira port (for those who would like to).
Day’s 7 -9 – Essaouira extension – Time to get on the Water
At this point you will say goodbye to the photography group as PLANET have extended the tour to give you a few more nights in Essaouira, one of the best Windsurfing & Kitesurfing spots in the world. Here you will stay 3 more nights, with plenty of free time to get out on the water. Our centre also offers board rental & tuition for children, so all the family can get involved.
Hotel – 3 nights (B)
Day 10 – Drive to Marrakech
Leaving Essaouira behind, you journey inland by private charter bus to Marrakech; this will take approximately three hours. This afternoon you head off on a walking tour of the centre - which takes in the main sights - and make your way into the sprawling souk. As is usual in a souk, individual trades and crafts are concentrated in one street or area, so the shoemakers are all next to each other, as are the jewellers, the potters, weavers etc. This is the best place in Morocco to sharpen your bargaining skills, and you’re almost certain to be tempted by some of the extraordinary variety of merchandise on display - perhaps a pair of traditional Moroccan slippers, or some exotic spices.
Hotel – 1 night (B)
Day 11 – Fly back to the UK