Morocco: Gnaoua Music Festival and Camel Trek

A Cultural and Musical Journey with Mark Gordon
with Mark Gordon

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $3795  
Length: 8 days
Arrive: Agadir, Morocco
Depart: Marrakesh, Morocco
Lodging: 6 nights first-class hotels, 1 night camping
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Special Interest
Trip Level: cultural touring, 2-day camel trek with 3 hours hiking on two days, vehicle support


  • Festive world music celebration in a charming seaside town
  • Private performance of Gnaoua music
  • Camel trekking along the white-sand beaches of Morocco
  • Magical Marrakesh, with its souks and sultan's palaces

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Join our veteran and beloved Trip Leader Mark Gordon to experience Morocco’s joyous Gnaoua Music Festival in Essaouira, an atmospheric walled town by the sea. Essaouira’s annual festival brings the most renowned masters of Gnaoua music together with musicians from all over the world to create unique blends of sound as well as a celebration of this traditional and pure art form. We enjoy several days of witnessing the festival, with its costumes and dances. Beforehand, we set out for a picturesque two-day camel trek along a beautiful stretch of the Atlantic Coast, a chance to ride or hike (your choice) through a varied Moroccan landscape of argan trees and remote sandy beaches. Post-festival, we head to storied Marrakesh, the mysterious “red city.” Says Trip Leader Mark Gordon, “Over the years I've lived in Morocco, I've come to enjoy a number of different styles of Moroccan music, but none as much as Gnaoua. It has an intriguing, hypnotic quality that world music buffs have loved for years. The festival is a great celebration in a beautiful small town with the best Gnaoua groups—along with artists from Africa, Europe, and America. For anyone who loves international jazz and world music, it’s not to be missed!” Come along for a once-in-a-lifetime “bucket list” journey!

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Agadir / Camel Trek

From Agadir, Morocco’s premier beach resort, we head out for a two-day camel trek.  We can ride a camel the entire way or walk if preferred (or even ride to camp in the support vehicle.) Our evening campsite is set up on a dune overlooking a small, stunningly remote cove on the Atlantic Coast, with a pristine private beach.

Days 3-5
Essaouira / Gnaoua Music Festival

We finish the camel trek in the morning of Day 3 and head to charming Essaouira, a 16th century walled city by the sea. Essaouira’s whitewashed houses, with their blue shutters and ornate doors under the bright Moroccan sun, give it an enchanting Mediterranean look.  We attend festive musical events in the afternoon and evening, enjoy a private concert with Gnaoua  musicians, and explore the bustling fish market, the old fort, and the great little artisan shops that line the narrow lanes of town.

Days 6-8

On foot and by horse-drawn carriage, we discover more of the secrets of Marrakesh, walking through its ancient souks and visiting cultural landmarks including  the Saadian Tombs, a hauntingly beautiful royal necropolis dating to the 16th to 18th century and only rediscovered in the 20th century, as well as the ornate Bahia Palace, built in 1894 by the grand vizier Si Ahmed Ben Moussa. Depart on Day 8.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is rated Level 2+, Moderate, according to our trip grading system. It combines overland travel and cultural exploration with a moderate two-day camel trek, with one overnight in our own camp. It is expected that each participant be in excellent health and physical condition. Road transportation is by minibus and 4WD vehicle. Bottled water is carried on board our vehicles at all times for your use. We recommend that you make a special effort to get in shape for the trip. Daily walking or hiking, jogging, or stair-climbing are excellent for preparing for the trip. In addition, you should be prepared for two days of hardy outdoor living.

2-Day Camel Trek
On the camel trek, the footing is not difficult but it covers a variety of overland terrain with no trails. We travel mostly on trails, on cart paths, and along the beach. Most people alternately ride and walk, as camel riding can be uncomfortable for long periods. You are always free to hike instead of ride a camel, or skip a day’s hike and ride in the 4WD vehicles with our crew.

Please note: Camels can be unpredictable animals. It is possible for the camel to stumble on rough terrain or make a sudden erratic movement. Since camels cannot be saddled as securely as horses, the possibility of a fall from any sudden or erratic movement is increased. It’s important to follow the instruction and guidance of the Trip Leader, and to stay alert while riding. Anyone participating in this optional activity must acknowledge the inherent risks in riding and perhaps falling from the saddle, and agree to accept responsibility. Alternative activities, such as hiking or riding in the support vehicles, are always available for those who want a break from riding or prefer not to ride at all.

For lodging, we enjoy excellent first-class hotels: the Sofitel Agadir in Agadir, Le Median Essaouira in Essaouira, and the Hotel Es Saadi in Marrakesh.

For our one camping night, we have we use three-person mountain-style dome tents (not walk-in safari-style tents), used for just two people. We also have a toilet tent and a bathing tent (bucket-type bath) at camp. We offer freshly laundered sleeping bags for rent, or you can bring your own.
There is a picnic lunch en route on Day 2 as well as dinner in camp and breakfast at camp the next morning. Dinner and breakfast will be in a dining tent set with table and chairs. Dinner may include soup, salad, a meat dish, vegetables, tea, coffee, and dessert. Our picnic lunch on Day 2 will include a selection of cheeses, cold cuts, and a variety of vegetable salads plus cookies and tea or coffee. Bottled water is provided at lunch and dinner.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

Jun 11-18, 2014  Mark Gordon

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$3795 (12-15 members)
$4095 (8-11 members)
$4395 (5-7 members)
Single supplement: $690
Forced single supplement: $400
Gnaoua Festival Tickets: $300
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader
  • Accommodations as noted
  • All meals included except 1 dinner
  • Entrance fees for museums and sites as part of the itinerary
  • Land transportation and airport transfers

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, any meals not specified after each itinerary day, optional gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Minimum fee: None per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is an American who fell in love with Morocco after serving in the country as a Peace Corps volunteer. He has lived in Marrakesh since 1982 and has led numerous expeditions and journeys for us throughout West and North Africa. He loves the “mythic dry sea” of the Sahara and also has a particular affection for the High Atlas mountains and the Berber people who live there. Mark speaks fluent French and is conversant in Berber and North African Arabic, and is intimately familiar with the local customs and culture. And, he is known by so many Moroccans on the street, you would think he had run for mayor in every town we visit! With his wide knowledge and passion for the nature, culture, and history of this mysterious corner of the world, Mark will share with you his enthusiastic insider’s view of Morocco. In between guiding stints in Morocco, Mark enjoys traveling to Spain and has walked the El Camino de Santiago.

Upcoming Trips:

Pilgrim's Way, May 27-June 3, 2014
Morocco: Gnaoua Music Festival and Camel Trek, June 11-18, 2014
Morocco: The High Atlas Trek, July 5-19, 2014
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs, October 11-25, 2014
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs, March 21-April 4, 2015
Morocco: The High Atlas Trek, May 27-June 10, 2015

Recent Photo Blog Posts

Client Testimonials:

Mark is an excellent guide. He freely shared his extensive knowledge of the history, geography, culture, food, language, and so forth. It showed that he loved the country and had learned an incredible amount about it in his 30 years there. Diana P., Arlington VA Mark was an absolute pleasure! He has the attributes of a perfect leader, interested in everyone, knowledgeable, straightforward, fabulous sense of humor, indefatigable. We loved him. G. Grossman I’ve done 20 or more trips with WT and other companies and Mark Gordon is right at the top of the list of Trip Leaders. Affable, knowledgeable, entertaining, a great combo. John H., Evergreen CO The experience was everything I had hoped for. I had complete confidence in Mark Gordon’s ability and judgement. The camping portion was excellent and the crew was top-notch. Larry M., Anchorage AK
Camels to Casbahs
Morocco would be fascinating under any circumstances, but Mark made the trip very special. Andy and Billie W., Oakland CA
Camels to Casbahs
Because Mark has lived in Morocco for 23 years, he has a deep understanding of the cultures. The trip ran extremely smoothly. My 3rd WT trip and it was great. Diane G., Glencoe IL
Camels to Casbahs
Mark Gordon was wonderful. I thought he really made the trip. I can’t imagine doing this trip with another leader. Lauren A., Venice, CA Can’t say enough good things about Mark Gordon. Flexible and inventive, charming, funny, and a great story teller with a deep appreciation of the Moroccan culture. A fantastic Trip Leader and a great trip! Cindy B., MD I can’t imagine a trip to Morocco without Mark Gordon. His knowledge of the country and sensitivity to its culture is extraordinary. He must know everyone in Morocco and they were all happy to see him. Virginia W., Danville, CA Mark Gordon is a great leader. He managed to make it all seem easy, and obviously enjoyed the trip, which made it all the more relaxing and fun for us. Also, as a former teacher, he has an excellent ability to pass on information without it seeming like a lecture. Laura B., Seattle WA
Morocco: Camels to Casbah
Mark is a very special person and he made the trip. His ability to explain all aspects of the culture brought Morocco to life. Everywhere we went, from hamlets to cities, Mark was greeted as family by the locals. Furthermore, he was always in a good mood. Don’t let him get away! Marcel F., Santa Barbara, CA
Camels to Casbahs
Mark's knowledge, listening skills, and care for guests were remarkable. He was attentive, helpful, and patient. Elaine A., Carlsbad, CA
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark is knowledgeable, personable, a good leader, and fun! There is no better introduction to Morocco than with Mark as your host! Leah S., Albany, CA
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark has a remarkable grasp of the country, its culture, its economy, and its language. He made everything easy, interesting, and enjoyable. Gene M., Bedford, NY
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark's love and knowledge of his adopted home is obvious and contagious. He is engaging, a wonderful storyteller, and a lot of fun. Ellen J., New Orleans, LA
Morocco: The High Atlas Trek
Mark is a fabulous trip leader, guide, and host of his adopted, beloved Morocco. He is knowledgable, friendly, helpful, repectful to all, has a great sense of humor, and he really made it the adventure that it was. Jan J., Gilford, NH
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
One of the best trip leaders I have ever had! So knowledgeable and funny. An excellent storyteller that really made the history and facts come to life. Steve H., Atlanta, GA
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark is a terrific ambassador for Morocco. He has so much knowledge, enthusiasm, and willingness to share. Kristi H., Orinda, CA
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark is the jedi master...a lot of fun to be with and clearly very experienced. Rob R., Savannah, GA
Pilgrim's Way
Mark's rapport with the locals added an extra dimension to this trip. His love for, and knowledge of Morocco added much to our experience. Lee N., Surrey, BC
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark has an incredible knowledge of the country, its peoples and politics, economics and social issues of today (as well as Morocco's complex history). His thoroughness and calm rapport with everyone he dealt with provided our group with a feeling of security at the same time as we experienced many new and different adventures each day. Susan L., Cameron Park, CA
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs
Mark was the best trip leader I have seen in over 20 years of organized travel. Rich C., Alamo, CA
Morocco: Camels to Casbahs