More Bliss in Morocco
Yoga and Body Rolling Retreat
with Nancy Zampella
Trip at a Glance
September 20 to October 2, 2016
Visit four beautiful, distinct facets of the Moroccan landscape, from sea to city to sand
Daily yoga and body rolling with Nancy Zampella
Accompanied by BJ & Lauren from Insight Travels
Limited to 12 guests
Days 1-3: Asilah
Today begins your 12 day Moroccan adventure: sea, city & sand! You’ll land in Tangier, Morocco and be taken to our first destination, the lovely seaside town of Asilah. Now an artist’s enclave, Asilah dates back to 1500 BC when the Phoenicians used it as a trading base. A quaint town with a tiny medina (old, walled section of town), Asilah is the perfect place to land and get your bearings.
You’ll feel comfortable exploring these tiny, car-free alleyways on your own, discovering new gems behind every curve. Each year, Asilah hosts an art festival that finds its gorgeous medina whitewashed and used as a canvas for colorful murals.
This is a fantastic place to ease into your Moroccan experience, as Asilah is widely known for its laid-back atmosphere and small yet picturesque medina. Grab your camera and wander the tiny alleys, punctuated with brightly painted doorways and windows. For anyone interested, BJ can give informal photography workshops, illuminating composition tips and camera settings for your best snaps ever.
Our accommodation in Asilah is located within the medina but near a very convenient entrance. We’ll be staying in a classic example of a riad, which is a traditional Moroccan house with an inner courtyard or garden. We’ll have yoga space on the roof, as well as several other innovative spots around town.
We’ll spend some time at a beloved local haunt, dubbed “Paradise Beach.” On the coast’s broad shores, we can soak in some Moroccan sun and relax to the sound of the surf. But the beach isn’t the only place to appreciate the ocean here!
Our favorite spot is out on the jetty in the southwest corner of the medina, watching the sun sink into the Atlantic while the last warm rays illuminate the whitewashed town. Sunsets in Asilah are not to be missed!
Asilah is also the perfect place to get acquainted with Moroccan cuisine. Enjoy melt-in-your-mouth tagines, simmered & spiced lamb meatballs (kefta), and delicately fluffed couscous. The endless amounts of expertly cured olives & freshly baked bread are a culinary offer that’s hard to refuse! Even if bread isn’t your thing, the smells wafting out of the community oven will still delight your senses. Harira is a deceptively simple tomato-based soup that is prepared differently by every chef, but is consistently delicious. Moroccans tend to end bigger meals with local, seasonal fruit—a great habit to get into. You’ll get intimately familiar with the national drink of Morocco, mint tea. Affectionately referred to as “Moroccan Whiskey” due to its role as a social lubricant in this largely dry country, it’s a deceptively simple blend of gunpowder green tea, loads of fresh mint leaves and sugar (to taste). It is served piping hot and often. B’saha! (To your health!)
Days 4-6: Chefchaouen
From Asilah, we’ll take a private vehicle eastward to our next destination, Chefchaouen. “Chefchaouen” literally means “look at the horns,” a reference to the twin mountain peaks the picturesque city is nestled against. And although this city is set in the gorgeous terrain of the Rif mountains, that’s not what makes it such a unique destination.
Chefchaouen is also known as “the blue city,” for reasons that are apparent upon first glance. Everything that doesn’t move is painted a brilliant shade of blue, so vivid that it makes even the bluest of skies look dull in comparison (you’ll see!) It is said that Jewish refugees started this tradition, as blue is the color of divinity in Judaism. Divine, inspiring, invigorating, fascinating—however you describe it, it’s a city unlike any other.
Bigger than Asilah but still easily navigable (and also vehicle-free), this medina contains structures from the late 1400’s. This aged city has softer lines and curves than Asilah, and you’ll feel like you’re exploring inside a fairytale, complete with petite blue-washed doors and rounded arches. We encourage you to explore these twisting alleys and streets, as it’s the most delightful maze filled with fantastic shopping and delicious food. One of the local Chefchaouen specialties is a fresh goat cheese, often served at breakfast. Also, don’t be shocked if you see all of the pastry shops and stalls slightly abuzz; a mark of quality for these sweet treats is the number of bees they attract!
Our accommodation in Chefchaouen sits high in the medina, affording a spectacular view of the city and sunsets. A large roof terrace provides plenty of opportunity for sunning and al fresco yoga sessions. Enjoy the stunning indoor swimming pool and private hammam (spa/sauna), along with all of the comfortable and stylish nooks and crannies set up for conversation or curling up with a good book. Perhaps the group will want to have a private henna party and get adorned with these ‘herbal tattoos’!
Another great place to enjoy sunset is the nearby hilltop, dominated by an old structure they call the “Spanish mosque.” It’s a nice walk from the medina, about a 30 minutes walk, past patches of cactus, goat herders, and the occasional grazing donkey, all under the towering “horn” peaks of Chefchaouen. The view from up here allows you a panorama of the entire city and the surrounding mountains. As the sun sets, listen to the melody of the mosques as they begin their sunset call to prayer.
Days 7-8: Fes (Fez)
We’ll say our farewells to the city of blue and head south to Fes. However, we have a stunning stop on the way.
Volubilis was developed in the third century BC as a Phoenician settlement, but thrived as a Roman outpost between the first and third centuries AD. It was inhabited by local tribes until it was eventually abandoned in the eleventh century. It is listed as UNESCO world heritage site for being “an exceptionally well-preserved example of a large Roman colonial town on the fringes of the Empire.” It’s an absolute must-see for history buffs, but an all-around fascinating experience for everyone.
From the site of Volubilis, we’ll head just another hour to Fes, the ancient capital of Morocco and currently the third largest city. Fes contains a very special medina, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, and is believed to be the largest car-free urban area in the world. (Are you noticing a theme here? We hate traffic!)
The medina of Fes is a fascinating maze of smells, sites, and sounds. We’ll take a tour guided by a local professional and you’ll see some of the highlights of Fes, from the oldest continuously operated University in the world to the famed open air leather tanneries. You’ll see how leather has been traditionally processed for centuries, and you’ll have the opportunity to take home shoes, bags, and even custom-made coats (made with your measurements and delivered to our riad!) This is the place to shop, for yourself or loved ones; from leather goods to rugs, pottery to jewelry, Fes’s medina will fill the bill (and your suitcase!)
Our riad in Fes is truly breathtaking, and the intricate Moroccan tilework will amaze you. Comprised of two separate riads that have been joined, our spacious hotel offers plenty of options for yoga space (rooftop or poolside, anyone?) You may never want to leave our home away from home in Fes! Luckily, you’ll get to see this riad again, as we’ll return here for two more days after our Saharan Adventure.
Days 9-10: The Sahara
We didn’t think your Moroccan adventure would be complete without a camel trek to the desert, and we’re sure you’ll agree! We’ll make the 8 hour drive in our own private vehicle, and the scenery from Fes to the desert is not to be missed (although we won’t blame you if you take a nap!)
In the late afternoon, we’ll arrive in the Erg Chebbi dunes, one of two Moroccan ergs (seas of sand dunes). Some of the dunes reach 500 feet, or the height of a 50-story building! We’ll hop on our camel escorts and make our way to our tent camp in the desert, just in time to see the sunset. A semi-permanent tent camp, the accommodations are expectedly modest, but clean and comfortable. As you’re able to see the expanse of the Milky Way from our desert home, we like to say that the tents are better than a Five Star hotel—they’re Billion Star accommodations!
We’ll eat a delicious meal prepared for us and then relax around the campfire, as our hosts entertain with traditional songs and dances (expect to get pulled in to the festivities!) Then we can take time to lay out some mats on a nearby dune and stargaze; if you wish, you can even sleep directly under the stars.
The next morning we’ll return to our camels and head out for the day. We’ll explore a nearby abandoned village, with the occasionally house occupied by a nomad. We’ll cruise around on our ships of the desert, making our way mid-day to an oasis. Here we’ll have lunch, do some stretching, explore—maybe even take a siesta! We’ll slowly make our way home, taking in sunset before another lovely meal and night around the campfire. Get a good night’s sleep, because tomorrow morning is going to knock your socks off!
We’ll depart by 6 AM on camel to head back into town; the sun will be rising behind us, illuminating the giant dunes before us with crisp, golden light in the quiet hours of the morning. We can stop for photos and some meditation or asanas; count yourself among the few who are fortunate enough to experience sunrise among the Saharan dunes. We’ll head back to our home base for breakfast and showers. (You weren’t expecting a shower in the middle of the dunes, were you?)
From the desert we’ll return to Fes, stopping at a few lovely sites on the way. Feel free to snooze or take in more of the natural beauty outside your window.
Days 11-12: Fes (Encore Performance)
We’ll arrive in Fes in the early evening and make our way back to your favorite riad. We’ll have a relaxed evening after a long day, and you can create your plan for the next day. We’ll have a free day in Fes, but we are more than happy to help you plan your day (or even accompany you!)
Now’s the time to shop for all of those pieces you were eyeing in the market a few days ago. Maybe you’d like to revisit some of the sites inside the medina, or even take a trip to the new part of town.
The RetreaTour™ formally ends the morning of October 2nd, but we will help you figure out the next stage of your adventure. Whether you want to take an early morning car ride back to Casablanca for a flight home, or fly from Fez to Barcelona or Paris to explore or catch a connecting flight, we’ll help sort out the details. We can even arrange further private exploration of Morocco if you’re not ready to leave this fabulous land!
Bliss in Bali: Yoga and Bodyrolling Retreat with Nancy Zampella
April 19 - May 1, 2015
Join us on this 12 day & 12 night journey around Bali and Lombok. Fall deeper and deeper in love with your serene surroundings as you go deeper and deeper into your body with help from Nancy Zampella and her expert instruction. Take an optional yoga/body rolling class before breakfast & then head out for the day’s adventure, or else simply enjoy the stillness and exotic beauty at our locales. Travel with the group and guides or not, as you are also free to explore on your own. We can reconvene at day’s end for more stretching or rolling – or not! This is the perfect trip for you as a couple if you do yoga but your spouse doesn’t. You’ll both be entertained, relaxed, and rejuvenated!
Trip at a Glance:
• 12 days, 12 nights
• Limited to 12 guests
• Guests are met at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali
• We travel to Ubud, Gili Trawangan & Mangsit Beach, Lombok.
• Daily yoga & body rolling with Nancy Zampella, MS, E-RYT
• $3195 (double occupancy rate)
This is our intended itinerary, but we always remain open and flexible to the desires and needs of our guests. Plenty of time will be built into your experience to explore on your own, shop, and discover with friends old and new!
April 19th, Sunday ~ [Ubud] We’ll pick you up at the airport in Denpasar (Ngurah Rai International Airport) when you arrive in the afternoon or evening on the 19th. We’ll head straight to our rice paddy retreat in Ubud, the cultural and spiritual center of Bali, where you can settle in & rest after your flight.
April 20th, Monday ~ [Ubud] Unwind in classic Balinese style rooms and rinse off your travels in one of the 3 exotic swimming pools on the grounds. Our yoga studio space is hidden in the forest, adjoining one of the many rice paddies on the grounds. Nancy will offer suggestions for post-travel stretches and restorative poses that will help you reduce the stiffness and fatigue of jet lag!
April 21st, Tuesday ~ [Ubud] The food at this resort is divine; how many exotic fruits can you possibly consume at one sitting? Mangosteen, dragon fruit, rambutan, papaya, mango… And we’ll take a short hike to a special lunch at an organic cafe that sources local food and transforms them into healthy culinary delights, set far back in the verdant rice fields. Your feet will feel great as we roll away aches & pains, enhance the flow of energy throughout the entire body, and tone up all the organs by rolling out the feet in our daily practice!
April 22nd, Wednesday ~ [Ubud, Bali to Gili Trawangan, Lombok] Today we’ll drive over to the east coast and take a fast boat to Bali’s neighboring island, Lombok. Specifically we’re headed to one of the very small islands, or gilis, off Lombok’s NW coast, Gili Trawangan. We’ll stay at the quiet south end of Trawangan, with gorgeous views across the water to the mountains of Lombok.
April 23rd, Thursday ~ [Gili Trawangan] Gili Trawangan might just be one of the best places on the planet for snorkeling and diving. (We’re including a snorkeling trip to all the gili islands for you). Just off shore on Trawangan you’ll find sea turtles contentedly drifting, schools of brilliant fish swirling, dynamic coral formations, and some of the most brilliant turquoise water you’ve ever been immersed in. Yoga for the eyes will help you take in the astounding beauty without any strain. Plus, using a smaller ball can relieve the stress patterns that cause wrinkles, hydrate your tissues, and reduce congestion and inflammation with light pressure. Learn which yoga poses bring a blush to your cheeks, unclog your sinuses, and release the jaw. It’s a veritable yogic spa day!
April 24th, Friday ~ [Gili Trawangan] Did you know there are NO vehicles on the gili islands? The island is totally walkable, but there are also traditional horse carts. Can you imagine going several days without seeing or hearing any cars or motorcycles?
April 25th, Saturday ~ [Gili Trawangan] You don’t know the meaning of fresh seafood until you’ve eaten on Gili Trawangan. Dozens of beach cafes serve the freshest fish possible, grilled to order; but there’s also some stellar Italian food, continental fare, vegetarian delights. Did you know that both yoga & body rolling can enhance digestion and assist the body in detoxification? The day’s yoga session will show you how helpful both modalities can be in this regard.
April 26th, Sunday ~ [Gili Trawangan to Mangsit Beach, Lombok] Today we’ll take a quick boat ride to the mainland of Lombok and head a bit south to the Mangsit Beach area (just north of the tourist center of Senggigi). On the way to Mangsit, we’ll head to a pristine pair of waterfalls in the north part of the island. On the drive, we will stop to meditate at the famous Mount Rinjani. The rugged beauty of this mountain will transport you to ancient times.
April 27th, Monday ~ [Mangsit Beach] Our resort on Mangsit sits on a delightful beach which offers surfing, swimming, and even fishing options. The pools look out onto the water and, more impressively, over the Lombok Strait onto Bali’s Mount Agung. This volcano on Bali provides a stunning sunset silhouette as the sun sinks behind the island of Bali each evening. With this topographical reminder to inspire us to tap our inner fire, we’ll delve deeper into the questions of what brings us bliss and how we can make sure to seek it in our daily routines.
April 28th, Tuesday ~ [Mangsit Beach] This beach resort has an impressive hillside spa where we can indulge our bodies in deep massage and treatments, enjoy the refreshing pools, gorgeous beachside yoga class. Here we may also explore the rescued animal farm with exotic birds and even deer. When we’re not practicing yoga “upstairs” at the hillside location, there’s also a beautiful yoga and meditation garden for some breezy morning or evening yoga outside.
April 29th, Wednesday ~ [Mangsit Beach, Lombok to Ubud, Bali] From the beach we’ll drive inland and fly out from Lombok’s new international airport, heading back to Bali. This time we’ll stay in an Ubud retreat center that is secluded and private, but mere steps away from the central shopping district with local batik fabrics, artisan handicrafts, jewelry, scarves, wood carvings, coffee, spices, and one of a kind decor pieces.
April 30th, Thursday ~ [Ubud] Our yoga space sits on top of the retreat center, which will belong entirely to us. You won’t believe we’re in the center of buzzing Ubud as you listen to the birds sing while you’re lounging in the pool; sure enough, though, we’re in the beating heart of Bali’s cultural center, with dance performances, shows, museums, and world-class dining. You also have the opportunity for some add-on activities, such as downhill biking on Bali’s volcanoes, hiking, or taking a cooking class.
May 1st, Friday ~ [Ubud to home] We’ll enjoy a final breakfast together before heading back to the airport in Denpasar. You’ll return refreshed, rejuvenated, strong in body, mind, and spirit.
Visit the official webpage at Insight Travels for all the details!