Morocco Travel


To all of our MIT GSW attendees, Experience Morocco (www.experiencemorocco.com), a premier travel agency started by two US-educated Moroccans, is offering GSW attendees a 4-day, 3-night excursion to the Sahara desert, Ouarzazate, and Essaouira after the conference from Thursday, March 27, 2014 to Sunday, March 30, 2014.


Please note that this excursion is 100% optional and is in no way, shape, or form affiliated with the MIT Global Startup Workshop. It is being organized privately by Experience Morocco. The excursion has not been commissioned by the MIT GSW organizers and/or any of their partners. As such, neither the MIT GSW organizers nor their partners are responsible or liable for your participation in this excursion.


image002 image004 image006




Thursday 3/27

We’ll have an early start from Marrakech to begin our adventure, setting out towards the Sahara in private luxury SUVs. On our way to the desert, we’ll stop at the Tichka collar for a panoramic view of the Atlas mountains, we’ll visit a women’s cooperative that makesArgan oil, and we’ll have lunch at a historic desert fortress.   Mint tea and pastries will await when we arrive at our private bedouin camp on time for a beautiful sunset on the dunes, with a common area decked out in colourful carpets, comfortable pillows, and a hookah lounge.   We’ll experience a magical night under the stars, sampling Bivouac cuisine (the traditional food of the nomads) and a performance by Gnaoua singers and dancers.



Friday 3/28


Camels will be on standby to take you to the surrounding dunes to catch the sunrise of a lifetime before returning to camp for a hearty breakfast. After our meal we’ll head to the breathtaking Dades Valley and Todra Gorges, visit the Roses Valley, and stop for the night in Ouarzazate in a 5* hotel.




Saturday 3/29


On our way out of Ouarzazate, we’ll stop for lunch at the castle of Aït-Ben-Haddou, a striking example of southern Moroccan architecture and a World Heritage Site dating back several centuries. We’ll get in to Essaouira on Morocco’s Atlantic coast by mid-afternoon, with enough time to enjoy the city’s brilliant Moorish architecture, windswept beaches, and bustling souks.   We’ll end our adventure with a farewell dinner featuring a Gnawa music show and a night at a Luxury Riad (boutique hotel with traditional Moroccan architecture) in the old Medina of Essaouira.



Sunday 3/30


We’ll have breakfast at the hotel and transfers to the international airports in Marrakech and Casablanca.



Registrations and FAQs  


The trip will cost $690 in double occupancy (or $300 supplement for single occupancy). If you don’t have a travel partner and don’t mind sharing a room, we will pair you up with someone else on the trip.   To sign up, we ask that you please fill out the short form at http://goo.gl/ce0n7K and pay a non-refundable deposit of $200 sent via paypal to halaoui@gmail.com. The balance payment will be due in cash when you arrive in Morocco for the GSW.   Please note: The deadline to sign up is March 1, 2014.   If you have any questions about the trek, please contact us at gsw2014@experiencemorocco.com.

About Marrakech


Marrakech, also spelled as Marrakesh, is one of the most important cities of Morocco and one of the busiest cities in Africa. Full and rich of history and culture, it is also a major global economic center and tourist destination. Known as the “Red City”, Marrakech is brimming with markets, gardens, palaces, and mosques. It provides a unique mixture of the ancient and modern: it is a fortified city, packed with vendors and stalls while bordered by modern neighborhoods.

How to get to Marrakech, Morocco?




Marrakech-Menara Airport (RAK) has direct flights to and from London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Paris, and Madrid. If you are flying from the US, Canada, Asia, or elsewhere, you will have to change planes in one of the mentioned cities or Casablanca, which is a short 45-minute flight away from Marrakech.

Attractions in Marrakech


Marrakech offers a wide variety of attractions, ranging from the historic Medina and palaces to the intimate courtyards and alleyways to numerous mosques, gardens, museums, and more. Some highlights include:   The Medina of Marrakech Enclosed by 16 km of ramparts and gates, the Medina is one of the major landmarks of the city and has been named a World Heritage Site. It boasts impressive historical architecture and art: the wall and gates, the Koutobia mosque, the Saadian tombs, and much more. It is also full of stalls and vendors, so make sure you warm up your haggling skills!

Médina de Marrakech

Jemaa el Fna


Located by the city center, the Jemaa el Fna serves as the entrance to Marrakech’s outdoor market and food court. Even if you are not looking to shop, be sure to set time aside to look around this portion of Morocco – a throwback to ancient maket stalls and fairs.



Marrakech Ramparts


The ramparts refer to the 19 km of walls that surround Marrakech, a historical architectural marvel from the year 1132. You can tour them on foot or rent a bike to do so.



Ali Ben Youssef Madrasa


The Ben Youssef Madrasa used to be an Islamic college that has since been reopened to the public as an historical site. It is an impressive display and record of hand-crafted Arabic architecture, full of the most stunning calligraphy, carvings, and structures. It is also a wonderful place for photo opportunities, so be sure to have your camera (and best smile!) ready when visiting this site.

ali ben


Maison de la Photographie


Located near the Ben Youssef Madrasa, this museum offers a fascinating record of Moroccan history. A must-visit place for history buffs, aspiring photographers, and anyone interested in the history and evolution of Marakech, this museum provides not only an overview of Moroccan culture but also some of the best panoramic views of the city.





Marrakech has numerous mosques, including the Kasbah Mosque, Koutoubia Mosque, and many more. Note of caution: please ensure you follow the rules for each mosque if you decide to visit one!




Some helpful sites for more information and ideas on traveling to Marrakech are:

1. Visit Morocco

2. Trip Advisor