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The Captain's Choice part I — Marrakech

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Captain's Choice was founded by Phil Asker 12 years ago. It provides luxury, all-inclusive personalised tours to remote and exotic destinations. Passengers travel on Qantas aircraft to places not on the airline's usual routes.

Tours vary in length, as does time spent in each port. Accommodation is always the best available and all meals, banquets and regional entertainment are included. Some tours include travel on private train, luxury ship and other deluxe modes of transport.

Passengers stay with the same aircraft, crew and The Captain's Choice Tour escorts who give individual attention to everyone. You check-in just once and only aisle and window seats are used. Seats are re-allocated each sector so everyone has the opportunity of having a window seat. A doctor with medical supplies accompanies each tour.

Ground tours are arranged but you don't have to stay with the group. You are free to head off by yourself if you prefer.

The first stop on the tour, which Getaway joined, was the Kingdom of Morocco in Africa's northwest. It is one of the continent's most diverse areas and has high mountains, fertile plateaux and plains, cedar forests and a mix of African, Berber, Jewish, Islamic and European people and cultures.

Morocco's western side has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline reaching past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean. Spain forms the northern border across the narrow Strait of Gibraltar, the Western Sahara forms the southern and Algeria to the east, although that border is closed. Cities such as Rabat, the capital, Casablanca, a port city, and several other cities such as Fès, Tangier and Marrakech have made Morocco a popular tourist destination for two centuries.

Marrakech is at the base of the High Atlas Mountains in the centre of Morocco and was once its capital. It was an oasis for camel caravans, and traders in the day said it was the finest city they had ever seen. It is where Africa meets Europe and attracts countless visitors, lured by its medieval myths and mystery.

The Medina, or city centre, is held within 12km of pounded earth ramparts rising to 10m and with enormous doors. Its construction began in the 12th century, and holds historical monuments of Marrakech's various dynasties. There visitors can retrace its evolution from the 12th century Almohad Koutoubia mosque to the 19th century Alaouite-style El Bahia and Dar Si Said palaces.

The Medina is a maze of small alleys around Djemma el-Fna square, the true centre of the city and Africa's busiest. It is where you will see wonderful riads, traditional houses which focus on an inside patio. It is a busy place of storytellers, snake charmers, jugglers, charlatans, henna artists and other performers. As food stalls set up towards evening, the square attracts thousands of hungry locals and tourists. But beware — it is also a haven for pickpockets.

The New City — Ville Nouvelle — is around the same size as the old city. There is transport between the two cities, or a walk will take around 30 minutes.

Markets, known as souks, are in a labyrinth of narrow streets and sell everything imaginable. Perfumes, jewellery, copperware, pointed slippers, leather goods, ironwork and pieces made from local cedar. Fabrics, rugs, carpets and sheepskins present colourful and tempting purchases. Bargaining is essential and actually encouraged by traders!


Marrakech in Morocco.


The Captain's Choice Tour offers luxury packages to exotic destinations, travelling by plane, train and ship. Its 2006 itineraries include Cape Town to Cairo, South America including The Andes, Amazon and Machu Picchu, The Silk Route, Dalmatia and the Danube and Shangri-La and The Golden Triangle. Tours start at $9575 per person twin share. All airfares, accommodation, meals, sightseeing and transfers are included.

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

More information

The Captain's Choice Tour
34 Main Street
Croydon 3136
Toll free phone: 1800 650 738
Fax: (03) 9723 9560

Read Part II

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