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Africa Hotels Insider Tips

The Top 7 Hotels In Marrakesh + Insider Tips

Morocco is a place full of amazing sights, sounds & tastes…around every corner is something spectacular and wonderful to see & discover -In other words, a travel lovers dream! Here are the top seven hotels in Marrakesh and my insider tips!

The Medina
Of course we spent hours in the Souk where there was everything you could imagine…spices, leather goods, textiles, lamps, it was amazing! We stopped for lunch at The Nomad which is a must visit if even just for a coffee, because the interior is beautiful and they have an amazing rooftop patio that again, gives a wonderful view of the city. Plus it is delicious!

For our first few nights in the city, we stayed in the Old Town called The Medina. This area is absolutely breathtaking – car free small winding corridors that lead to different shops and homes and fruit and vegetable stands and wonderful doors and passageways…It is a bit tricky, though, because there really aren’t any exact addresses, and Google Maps definitely gets confused in The Medina, so it is a place where you want a real map (even with a real map we ran into walls where there was once a passageway that was closed up) or have a guide take you right to your hotel or riad – Otherwise you will be in there for hours!


Hotels

1. Riad Zam Zam
A special riad located in a peaceful, less touristy area of the city but still central, Riad Zam Zam, is a gem with its comfy beds and gorgeous interiors.


2. Riad Dar Seven
The Riad Dar Seven offers one of the most beautiful views of the city and its ancient rooftops from the terrace. It is centrally located in the media and since it only has four rooms, it’s quite private.


3. La Mamounia
Now you probably immediately recognized this one due to its Instafame and the hotel La Mamounia truly does live up to its expectations. It is a real life palace and one of the world’s most luxurious hotels.


4. Royal Mansour
The Spa at the Royal Mansour is one of the highlights of this gorgeous riad. It’s worth booking a treatment, even if you aren’t staying there. Their restaurant is outstanding too, they have a beautiful patio and heavenly desserts.

5. Jnane Tamsna
Jnane Tamsna is set on nine landscaped acres, giving guests a lovely oasis in the bustling city. This little nook was right outside our room, and I was super ready to move in!

I love the outdoor/indoor living in Morocco – Intricate outdoor rooms with artwork and rugs and furniture that offer a perfect spot to read or relax while still being surrounded by flowers & trees – Heaven!


6. Le Riad Yasmine
Staying at the hotel Le Riad Yasmine will give you access to one of the most iconic pools in Morocco. More than just looks, this place makes you feel right at home.

Outside of the city into the Sahara Desert

7. Mergouza Luxury Desert Camps
The Mergouza Luxury Desert Camps is an incredible experience in which guests can stay in a different camp each night. Upon arrival, camels await, ready to take you into the dunes to your first camp.

It was unlike anything I have ever seen…waking up in surrounded by only sand is such an unreal feeling, and the star gazing at night – The trip is worth it for just that alone!

The team at Mergouza camps took such fantastic care of us -The guides were so kind and the food (traditional Moroccan Chicken Tajine and Harira Soup and vegetable couscous, all served with mint tea, so good!)

To escape the city and experience this camp, it is not a journey for the lighthearted, be warned that it is a 10 hour car ride there and back – but it is worth it!
Morocco is a place I could travel to again and again and have a new, different experience – There is so much to see! We only scratched the surface, and I am sure we will be heading back to the spectacular wonder of Morocco soon.

Dame Traveler Cara: Cara founded A Fashion Love Affair in 2011 as a creative outlet to share her thoughts, inspirations & personal style. She continues to share bits and pieces of her favourite things in life, from travel to fashion to lifestyle under Cara Jourdan. She is passionate about style and adventure and hopes to inspire her readers through chronicling all of the things she loves! Follow more of her adventures on Instagram and blog.

~

Photography by Allison Kuhl: Allison is a portrait, lifestyle, and travel photographer based in Vancouver BC. She was born and raised in mid-western Canada, and the prairie landscape inspires the clean and simple style that informs her work. She has shot for various magazines, including Vogue, Wallpaper, & Flare and has worked with local & international brands such as Guess, Ford, Etsy, and the Four Seasons. Follow more of her adventures: on Instagram.

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Africa Photography

Chasing Beauty In Ethiopia

About a year ago I embarked on a quest. After working as a fashion photographer for 3 years I realized that with the work I was creating I was contributing to set very unrealistic standards of beauty that made many women suffer(men are affected too but I focus on women). I decided to leave that world behind and put my skills to use for something good, something that could make women feel good about themselves. I started traveling the world photographing and interviewing women in order to find out what the real meaning of the word Beauty is, in hope to redefine those narrow standards. I called the project Quest for Beauty.

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Advice Africa Giving Back Journal

How To Create Change For A Positive Impact

At 18 years old I traveled through 6 different countries in Africa, during which I stumbled upon the Mosi-Oa-Tunya Secondary School in Zimbabwe. The Head Master showed me around the school and through classrooms where I was able to have genuine conversations with students and teachers about their goals in life and how education played a very important role in their future success.

It left me speechless how devoted each student was to their education and how each student understood that education was something they wanted more than anything.

I came home from that trip completely changed about what I wanted to do in life. The best outlet I found was working with nonprofit organizations in my area and learning about the issues and solutions for global education and poverty alleviation.

In 2013 I founded Humans of Change as a nonprofit organization which builds schools in rural villages to alleviate poverty and create sustainability through education.

Change is a key element in our goals for global poverty alleviation as well as a strong positive influence in the developing world. Through change we can measure our level of impact from our efforts, as well as cultivate inspiration for further ideas.

Here are five tips to create change for a positive impact:

1. Start Small – Change doesn’t happen overnight or all at once, but in small, noticeable, and measurable steps. I didn’t come back from my trip to Africa and suddenly start an organization. I spent months researching nonprofit organizations, then contacting them, then volunteering all of my free time to learning what they had to offer, and eventually I founded my own organization. If you’re beginning, search for organizations that align with what you feel needs to change in the world. Whether you’re passionate about education, women’s rights, nature conservation, or whatever social issue you feel gravitated to, there’s most likely an organization out there doing what you’d love to do, and most likely they’d love to have on board supporting them. So go out there, find an organization, contact them about volunteer opportunities or ways you can help, and then devote your time to learning about the social issues and solutions.

2. Find Your Passion – Mine is very clearly travel and education. If I had never understood my love for education, I never would have pursued a path that taught me more about the fundamentals of the education system. If I had never pursued my love for travel, I never would have gone to Zimbabwe and stumbled upon the school which changed my life. Because I understood what I was passionate about and I pursued those passions, I created opportunities for myself which taught me more about what I wanted to do with my life,

3. Say YES – Life is an incredibly scary and intimidating thing, but it’s created by a medley of small choices we make everyday. When people ask what’s my best travel advice, I tell them to just do it. To say YES rather than NO. Yes to what you want in life, yes to what makes you happy, yes to what you want to achieve, and yes to what you want to do just for fun. I feel that growing up we say a lot more No’s than Yes’s because we’re afraid to try something new or we feel bound to our current responsibilities that hold us back. But truthfully, nothing is holding you back other than yourself. Those fears and scary thoughts in your head will always be there, it’s what you do with them that says what kind of person you are. Those responsibilities you feel so tied to are always going to be there whether you stay or you leave. It’s all about prioritizing your life. It’s understanding what’s important to you and putting those things in front of all the other noises in your life.

4. Your Happiness Matters – Try to understand at an early age what makes you truly happy. Generally your passions and happiness will play hand-in-hand, but somewhere along the line we learned that our happiness doesn’t matter. That financial stability and other people’s expectations matter more. So the happier you are as a person, the more positive you’ll be about life and the choices you make. If you’re constantly making choices out of happiness, then you’re bound to create change that positively affects others and the world around you.

5. Educate Yourself – It’s important to gain experiences and act on your goals, but you need to have the proper skill-sets and background to be sure that you’re making more positive changes than negative effects. If I had come back from my trip to Africa and started a non-profit organization immediately, I probably wouldn’t have been making the sort of positive change that I thought I was creating by influencing people with the little knowledge that I had and perhaps creating actions that were either inappropriate or outdated. Being involved with other organizations and taking the time to educate myself on the issues before acting on them is why Humans of Change has continued to be successful. Take the time to learn as much as possible about something before taking steps toward actionable change. Knowledge is such a powerful tool that will play a strong role when creating positive change.

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Africa Airlines Middle East Reviews

Airlines We Love: Qatar Airways Inaugural Flight from Doha to Durban

When I received an invite from Qatar Airways to join them in launching their inaugural flight from Doha to Durban, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. This would be my first time flying with Qatar Airways and I was curious if it would live up to the hype of being named 2015’s World’s Best Airline by Skytrax. It exceeded my expectations and the experience was everything I imagined it would be and more.

I flew business class from ORD to the airline’s hub city of Doha and then took the inaugural flight from Doha to Durban. In between flights, I was able to spend a few hours of solid rest at The Airport Hotel in the Doha Hamad International Airport. Located conveniently inside of the airport, the hotel is a convenient place to rest during long layovers and a stay here is well worth it. I felt refreshed and ready to go!

An airport that cost nearly $16 BILLION to build is surely not an airport you will be bored in.  Hamad International Airport features over 70 shops, 30 restaurants, an upscale spa, hotels, many lavish lounges and more. But the biggest perks: WiFi is free and fast.

 

Since the airport is essentially a hub, the airport offers a complimentary 2 hour city tour of Doha. Note: the tours are on a first come, first serve basis so once you deplane, be sure to go straight to the kiosk to snag a spot.

 

My long layover flew by and before I knew it, I was ready to board the inaugural flight to Durban, South Africa. Much to my surprise, we got to share the same flight with Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ CEO. Once we arrived to the city of Durban, we were greeted by an army of press and even a red carpet.

 

The flights
The service on Qatar Airways exceeded my expectations. Every member of the flight crew that I personally encountered made me feel welcomed, taken care of and even took the time to sit down and chat with me about my trip. I felt like I made friends with some of the flight crew after I departed the plane! The food was excellent with tons of tasty options. What I loved most about the menu was that it is À la carte which means you can choose what anything on the menu at anytime you’d like it served. Many of the items are also crafted by world class chefs such as the famous Chef Nobu Matsuhisa.

 

Durban
Upon arrival to Durban, we checked into the beautiful and  tranquil Fairmont Zimbali Resort, The resort is situated inside the gated Zimbali Coastal Estate area on its own private beach.

We began our Durban City Tour with our wonderful and knowledgeable guide, Khetha Mkhize of Durban Tourism and explored Moses Mabhida stadium with its 360 degree views from the top, experienced a ricksha ride and a segway tour and ended the day greeted by a sandcastle built especially for Qatar Airways and watched the sun go down at Durban’s beach promenade. To view more of the photos from the talented individuals I met on the trip, browse through the #durbantogether hashtag on Instagram!

 

 

Tala Private Game Reserve
The next day, we spent time at the Tala Private Game Reserve to experience a mini safari. We got to see rhinos, hippos, zebras, giraffes, and many kinds of antelope! 

 

 

I was invited by Qatar Airways to join in on this inaugural flight. All opinions are my own and I did not receive financial compensation to write this post.

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Advice Africa Guides

Top 10 Experiences to Get the Most Out of Marrakech

Marrakech is a city like no other: hot, colourful, noisy, dusty, busy, confusing… and wonderful. Some find it overwhelming but I think the “Red City” is definitely worth a visit.

Here’s how to get the most out of Marrakech.

1. Skip the hotel and stay in a Riad instead:
Riads are small traditional Moroccan houses that typically have an open courtyard in the middle. Many have been converted into beautiful guesthouses and provide a much more authentic atmosphere than staying in a hotel. I recommend Riad L’Orangeraie, a lovely riad inside the media walls with a delicious menu that changes daily with fresh market options, a small but refreshing pool and personalized service.

2. Catch a rooftop view of the medina:
In case it hasn’t registered that you’re not in Kansas anymore, catching a wide sweeping view of the Medina rooftops should do the trick; you’ll quickly see why it’s known as the “Red City”. Many riads offer rooftop access, which can be a great place to catch some sun or enjoy an evening drink. If not, there are plenty of rooftop bars around Djemaa el-Fna.

3. Plan to get lost in the souks:
It’s a fact. No matter how strong your sense of direction, no matter how much you plan your route in advance, you will get lost. So allow some extra time for backtracking and walking in circles. But don’t worry, it’s often only on the second or third pass that you’ll notice small alleyways, tiny shops and other hidden treasures. And if you really want to get lost? Ask for directions! It sounds counterintuitive but locals are much more likely to lead you to their cousin’s/brother’s/neighbour’s shop rather than your desired destination (and will probably even demand payment for “helping” you).

4. Head to a Hammam:
After dodging a few donkeys and wandering the dusty alleyways, you’ll be ready for a deep clean. A Hammam may provide a more intense spa experience than what you’re used to but is definitely worth checking out. Leave your modesty at the door and prepare to be scrubbed within an inch of your life. You’ll leave with glowing skin and will swear you’ve never felt so clean.

5. Go back in time: To escape the late afternoon heat inside the souks seek refuge in the Maison de la Photographie. This small museum houses some stunning historic photography of Morocco. It’s also a great find for unique postcards and photography souvenirs; I purchased a gorgeous black and white print of the souk in the 1930s that is currently sitting on my mantle.

6. Take a tea break: Fresh Moroccan Mint tea is refreshing at any time of day but the real treat is watching your server pour it from a foot above your cup without spilling a delicious drop. The tea sets themselves are also quite striking, usually featuring some brightly coloured tea glasses and an ornate silver teapot and tray. In fact, they make a great souvenir to take home, which gives you a chance to…

7. Practice your negotiation skills: Initially intimidating, bartering for your goods can actually be quite fun once you get the hang of things and will help you find some great deals. Most vendors will start by quoting you an inflated price and expect you to bargain hard. Remain polite but indifferent, then counter at about a 1/3 of their offer. After a bit of back and forth you’ll probably settle somewhere in the middle. Need another reason to strike a bargain? Moroccan dirham is a closed currency, meaning you can’t exchange it once you leave the country. So you might as well spend it on a vibrant carpet or some leather goods before you go.

8. Find an oasis… in the middle of the city: Serene Jardine Majorelle is easy to reach in the heart of the city but the lush greenery, electric blue buildings and quiet atmosphere will make you feel like you’re miles outside of the city.

9. Tuck into a tasty tagine: the original slow-cooker, tagine dishes usually consist of incredibly tender meat and vegetables served with couscous. My personal favourite tagines were a Spicy lamb with sultanas and almonds and a Chicken with preserved lemon and green olives. Bonus: your food is usually served in the tagine, a beautiful piece of pottery.

10. Do dusk at Djemaa el-Fna: You’ll feel like you’ve walked onto the set of “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark”, complete with snake charmers, fire-eaters and amateur dentists. But the Old Town Main Square really comes to life when the sun goes down. The food stalls turn up the heat to fill the air with a delicious haze, musicians start playing and the noise level goes up a few decibels. It’s street theatre at its best.

Happy Travels!

 

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