Discovering the Culture of Morocco

Morocco

On a recent luxury journey through Morocco, A&K staff writer Bennett Neuhauser found a culture in the midst of transition buoyed by a tradition of inner beauty.

From the crenellated ramparts of its iconic kasbahs to the pastel colors of its desert landscapes, Morocco outwardly plays to certain expectations – a Muslim country with Moorish architecture, an arid land where herds of sheep roam painted hills, Berber men sipping coffee in cafés, women walking on roadsides in scarves and djellabas – all overlaid with the enduring influences of mid-20th-century French rule.

Yet, Morocco is far more than it first appears. Presided over by a progressive king who has opened the door to major reforms, Morocco is a Western-friendly nation with one foot anchored comfortably in the past and the other striding confidently into the future.

One of the souks selling copper cook pots and utensils

The Medieval Medina of Fez

After a first morning spent touring Casablanca and its massive Hassan II mosque, we boarded our spacious, air-conditioned motor coach for the drive to Fez. The next day, our small group of 18 ventured into the souks of its famed medina, to experience a cornucopia of sights, sounds and smells. We walked along narrow, uneven alleyways, with daylight filtering down from above high gray walls, enjoying up-close looks at tables heaped with spices, dried fruits, fresh fish or silk and leather garments. They’ve been selling goods and working metal by hand in the medina since medieval times, and today’s generation works in the same stalls their ancestors once did. And everywhere, there are cats, scrounging, prowling and sleeping – the mascots of the medina.

Part of a university dating to medieval times.

Centers of Faith and Learning

Led by our Resident Tour Director Mohamed Zahidi and his team, we were allowed to enter the Karaouine, the oldest continually operating university in the world. Founded in 859, virtually every surface of its quiet inner courtyard is decorated with highly detailed, delicately carved geometric patterns. Prohibited by their faith to use representational art such as icons, statues and paintings, Muslims employ geometric patterns to evoke spiritual meaning. Entering this graceful place that seemed hidden in the medina was like lifting the veil on an ancient culture that once kept outsiders at arm’s length.
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Luxury Redefined: Botswana’s Sanctuary Chief’s Camp

Luxury Redefined: Sanctuary Chief's Camp

Spectacular, renovated Chief’s Camp sets a new bar with huge suites, expanded public areas – and its own solar farm

When you’re already solidly on top it’s hard to raise the bar – but that’s just what Chief’s Camp in Botswana has done. A top-to-bottom renovation has made this top-tier camp even more luxurious, with 10 beautiful, stylish pavilions that are triple the size of the previous suites, more privacy, additional public areas, a greatly reduced carbon footprint and a stunning, one-of-a-kind Geoffrey Kent Suite.

“The new Chief’s Camp provides guests with every luxury and then some,” says Charl Badenhorst, Operations Director for Sanctuary Retreats in Botswana. “And we’ve taken full advantage of our location in the best game-viewing area in Botswana by adding more outdoor spaces, including private plunge pools, expansive decks and private outdoor dining options so our guests can fully enjoy their surroundings.”

Chief's Camp Outdoor Dining

Morning coffee delivery and heated mattress pads are just some of the special touches at the camp. Each en suite bathroom has floor-to-ceiling windows and folding glass doors, a spacious outdoor shower, a large, indulgent soaking tub and top-of-the-line amenities.
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Africa As You’ve Never Imagined It

Africa Revealed: A Journey by Private Jet

On Africa Revealed: A Journey by Private Jet, set out on an epic journey that begins in Spain and explores seven nations spanning the breadth of Africa. Travel in style, jetting from one spectacular destination to the next on A&K’s chartered Boeing 757, complete with fully lie-flat, first-class seats. Relax in luxurious, one-of-a-kind accommodations and enjoy the unmatched insider access made possible by A&K’s 11 local offices and five decades of experience in Africa.

Africa by Private Jet, Camp Erg Shebbbi dunes, Lalibela’s rock churches, Victoria Falls helicopter ride
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Explained: Africa’s Inspiring “Little Five”

African Tree

Finding all of the “Big Five” — leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo, lion and rhinoceros — on an African safari can be challenging enough, but locating the continent’s “Little Five” takes a keener eye. John Niva, safari guide and Tour Manager for A&K’s Africa Private Jet journeys, weighs in on these smaller creatures and where to spot them.

Ant Lion1. Ant Lion

Not an ant and definitely not a lion, this insect is actually the larval stage of a flying insect. “It is one of the most ferocious larvae,” John says. “Woe to any ant that slides down into its funnel-shaped sand trap, where the ant lion lies with its pincers ready.” Once its prey falls in, the ant lion literally sucks its prey dry and discards the empty husk outside the hole. Continue Reading ›

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Step Aboard a Dahabieh for a Relaxing Egypt Cruise along the Nile River

Step Aboard a Dahabieh for a Relaxing Egypt Cruise

Cruising the Nile River on A&K’s new Marco Polo Journey is a timeless Egypt travel experience, especially aboard a dahabieh  — a traditional Egyptian sailing boat rigged with lateen (triangular) sails.

In 2016, A&K invites you to step aboard Sanctuary ‘Zein Nile Chateau,’ a modern take on the dahabieh, built to international luxury standards, with four spacious cabins and two suites, and decorated with motifs inspired by Egyptian history. As one of only 12 guests per sailing, you’ll have room to roam the boat’s extensive open spaces, including its beautiful upper deck, Arabian themed sun deck and opulent dining area. Continue Reading ›

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Wonders of the World by Private Jet: September 2015

Wonders of the World by Private Jet

September 17 – October 10, 2015

Let the Private Jet journey begin! A&K guests begin their adventure to visit the world’s greatest wonders – such as Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat and the Hagia Sophia. For the next 24 days, we’ll sharing photos from each destination. Be sure to check back for updates.
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Track Wildlife Like the Pros on Your African Safari

Track Wildlife Like the Pros on Your African Safari

A&K’s expert safari guides spend years honing their wildlife-tracking skills. The good news is you can get a leg up with our handy diagram featuring some of the most common tracks you’ll encounter — whether of the massive white rhino, lightning-fast cheetah or lanky giraffe — during a luxury African safari.

Keep this guide at the ready and train your eyes — because fascinating encounters await at every turn. Continue Reading ›

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Coffee Around the World

Coffee Around the World

Coffee Around the WorldCoffee’s reputation as a pick-me-up, coupled with its important role in our social and culinary lives, has ensured its coveted status across continents and cultures through the ages. Today, coffee cultivation, production and enjoyment are a deeply engrained in many cultures.

Each region has its own distinct coffee type or traditions, and you can experience many firsthand in Turkey, Italy or throughout Europe, not to mention Africa and South America. Delve further to learn about these cups of joe in store.

In Turkey, It’s About Style

“Turkish coffee” is less about origin and more about the style of preparation, which involves grinding beans into a very fine powder and boiling them over moderate heat in a small brass pot called a cezve — usually with sugar and sometimes with cardamom. The coffee is ready when it rises, bubbles, all-but-overflows and the grounds settle. Sipping the result is an experience no A&K guest should miss. Continue Reading ›

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CNN’s Brooke Baldwin: “10 Things I Learned on Kilimanjaro”

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin: 10 Things I Learned on Kilimanjaro

CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin experienced the gamut of emotions — from laughter and exhilaration to tears and despair — during her climb up Africa’s fabled Mount Kilimanjaro with Abercrombie & Kent. It was “the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she said of summiting the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, a “life-changing experience” that helped her realize, “What’s most memorable to me won’t be tromping through the snows of Kilimanjaro and reaching the peak. No, when I close my eyes and think of my seven days on Kili: It’s singing. It’s Dismass [my A&K guide]. It’s the breathtaking views of stars overhead. As tough as it is for this goal-driven CNN anchor to admit, it really is about the journey.” Brook wrote about the ten key lessons she took away from that journey in a story published on CNN.com. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone contemplating the momentous climb up Kilimanjaro.

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