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As-salamu ʿalaykum!  Plans for our 2015 expeditions to Morocco are now finalized! You have expressed a potential interest in participating with our exciting fossil and mineral collecting trips through this amazing country -- therefore, we invite you now to peruse information for our two upcoming excursions. Within this mailing you will find short summaries of daily itineraries for our original trip -- including visits to some of the best collecting sites throughout Morocco, along with fantastic cultural experiences certain to provide you with true immersion into this magnificent country. You will also receive an additional mailing from us - detailing a second itinerary (involving earlier dates and different collecting locations) specifically created as a repeat adventure for our previous participants - but also an option for first-timers as well. We realize that our groups typically have a fairly diverse interest base, so while our main focus is on fossils, minerals agates and geology, we also keep our minds and final agendas open to everything Moroccan -- horticulture, cuisine, art, photography, history, birds, archeology, etc. -- doing our best to satisfy specific, individual interests. In our scheduling, we try to remain flexible to allow for a choice of touring options for days when there are multiple things to do and travel plans make this feasible. Our group will have access to three vehicles each day to allow for such variation. The goal for each of our adventures to this remarkable part of the world, is to provide you with some of the most memorable experiences of your lifetime!


Throughout the following itinerary you will find several web-links inserted to provide you with easy access to additional details and information. Click on the olive tone Wikipedia links for basic information and the red LookLex links for more page-by-page descriptions of the areas we will visit. Be certain to give us a shout via email or cell phone with any questions you might come up with. After registering to participate with either of our Rockin' in Morocco 2015 Groups, you will continue to receive additional tidbits of information throughout the weeks ahead -- along with suggested details on what to pack, tools to bring, things to anticipate, and much more.

To summarize - dates for our Rockin' in Morocco Original Tour involve departure on April 30th, 2015 - with return flight on May 17th (note possible 1 or 2 day schedule variation depending on flight status.) - resulting in sixteen days on the ground in Morocco!  The package cost of this trip is $6550 (per person double occupancy hotel) and includes your round-trip airfare, all of your ground transportation, hotel accommodations, all of your meals, admission to most museums and cultural sites, translation and guide service throughout the sixteen day tour. Additionally, this package rate includes the shipment of 100 pounds of material back to the U.S., with the opportunity to ship more at nominal fees. The initial payment (deposit) of $3275 (plus $80 per person if paying with a credit card) is due upon registration to reserve your space. The final payment will be due in late January - and will include any additional costs for single occupancy accommodations in Morocco along with any additional fees (i.e., camel trek and Berber tent overnight experience, etc.) and final airline charges. We will inform you of your final payment amount early in 2015.

Please note that we must limit the size of each of our Moroccan expeditions to a total of ten participants. This year we have a large number of people expressing interest in joining us and we will be filling this trip on a first-come basis until the maximum group size is reached. If you wish to participate in this exciting expedition next spring, please download and complete TWO copies of the Rockin' in Morocco 2015 Contract linked below and submit both completed forms along with your down-payment as soon as possible.

Alternatively, if you are interested in our new "Rockin' in Morocco - New Horizons" adventure, remember to watch for our additional mailing which contains the detailed itinerary for this trip. The dates for this unique experience involve a departure on April 12th - with return to the U.S. on April 28th, 2015.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns. We hope the following details will energize your excitement as you peruse the details for our ZRS Rockin' in Morocco Fossil and Mineral Adventures!
Ma'a salama!   Kelly Lund & John McArdle


This tour accommodates a total of ten participants only.
  With only a few spaces available at this time, we suggest
contacting us as soon as possible if you wish to join us!

To secure your space on this fantastic adventure
send two copies of completed contract and deposit to:


KELLY'S CELL  612.210.9711  /  JOHN'S CELL  612.803.5301

for more photos of our previous adventures!


DEPARTURE DAY / Minneapolis to Paris, France & CMN

(PLEASE NOTE: Dates may change slightly depending on final availability of flights.) 
Depart from MSP International Airport - Lindbergh Terminal  (MSP Airport Info)
Arrive to Paris, France - Charles DeGaulle International Airport
Depart from Paris CDG en route to Casablanca, Morocco  (CMN)

Moroccan Flag
Welcome to Morocco!

We will arrive at the Casablanca / Mohammed V International Airport (CMN) ... and develop our land-legs as we gather our luggage. Our dear friends and local guides for this wonderful adventure through Morocco will meet us at the airport upon arrival. Everyone is always ready for this highly anticipated experience as we all buckle our seat belts and jump right into our exciting road-trip with an approximately 65 mile drive southeast to Khouribga. It doesn't take but a few miles for most people to realize just how special this amazing trek is going to be. For many, the views through the windows of our landcruisers driving from Casablanca to Khouribga reveal totally unique sites reflected through the mixed modes of transportation in the traffic, the styles and colorful dress of the people, the strange language apparent in the signage and the obvious flow of an intriguing culture and life within this amazing new world!

After driving out of the city and into the area of sprawling fields - past countless roadside stands, donkeys, shepherds and camels, our first stop will be Khouribga!  While the local agriculture in this area produces cereals and raises sheep and goats, the dominating economic activities of Khouribga are related to the enormous phosphate deposits of the region - one of the world's largest. Our main interests in these deposits, of course, are the magnificent crystalline geodes and fossils (mosasaurs, crocodiles, turtles, sharks, etc.) that appear throughout this area. There also exists some iron-ore mining to the north of the city.
   Khouribga Wiki Info 


-  Arrive to Casablanca / collect our luggage / drive to Khouribga
-  Rest and/or look for fossils and white quartz geodes in the phosphate mines

-  Enjoy a "Welcome to Morocco" dinner in the evening    

Golden Tulip Hotel - Khouribga
Moroccan Tea - Symbol of Hospitality and Grace 


Cooking with tagines at a roadside restaurant where we may perhaps stop for lunch!
White Quartz Geode 
Trackways transporting phosphate material
Mosasaur Tooth
Mosasaur Tooth
from Khouribga

In the area around Khouribga, Morocco phosphate is mined in large open pit mines. This phosphate is used in everything from fertilizer to rechargeable batteries. In these deposits one can find many types of marine fossils (ray teeth, shark teeth, fish remains and Mosasaur teeth). The phosphate deposits are from the Maastrichtian (part of the upper Cretaceous Period) and from the Eocene. The shark teeth from this site have a beautiful light brown color.

Now a commercial and touristic center - among the industries of Marrakech are processing of fruit, vegetables, and palms, tanning, wool, flour, building materials, leather products, carpets, mining of lead, zinc, copper, molybdenum and graphite.    


- Collect and tour phosphate mines / look for vertebrate fossils & quartz geodes
- Visit local miners and collectors
- Drive to Marrakech / approximately 125 miles southwest


Collecting marine fossils in the phosphate mines of Khouribga
Mosasaur Skull
Very rare sail-backed fossil turtle
Beautiful Phosphate Country Poppies
Smiling faces around every corner

DAY 3 / MARRAKECH  (Murrākush)

Magnificent Marrakech - often called the "Ochre City" because of its beautiful old red sandstone walls - holds some of Morocco's favorite treasures. Founded in 1062 by the Almoravids - pious and learned warriors from the desert, the city developed into an early cultural and trading community for the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. We have never seen anything quite like this exciting city of Old World Andalusian influence. Once you walk through the 12th century Bab Agnaou - the famous Almohad Dynasty entrance gate into the royal Kasbah in the Medina (old city) of Marrakech, you will immediately feel transported back in time to another world! Situated at the foothills of the snow-peaked Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh remains Morocco's most visited city due to an enchanting fairy-tale quality that is genuinely a unique experience you are certain to talk about for years to come. We will peruse the number one attraction in the city - Djemaa el-Fna, an amazing UNESCO listed public square evoking a carnival-like atmosphere bustling with acrobats, story-tellers, henna artists, water sellers, dancers, snake charmers and musicians. During the evening the entire square turns into a giant open-air restaurant with countless vendors both cooking and serving an enormous variety of Moroccan dishes - truly an impressive venue. The square is edged along one side by the Marrakech souk -- the traditional North African markets which service both the common daily needs of the people of the city, and the tourist trade. We will also spend time touring the Bahia Palace, Saadian Tombs and the landmark Koutoubia Mosque. 


Marrakech LookLex Info                    Marrakech Wiki Info
Djemma El Fna
Djemaa el-Fna - Main Square & Marketplace in Marrakech Medina

For a more tranquil experience, we will also visit the Jardin Majorelle & Museum of Islamic Art, owned by the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint-Laurent Foundation. This exotic sub-tropical garden provides a haven away from the hectic pace outside. This magnificently colorful and exquisitely designed garden was created by the French painter Jacques Majorelle, who lived here from 1922 to 1962. In among the cooling water features, the cacti, majestic palm trees and cascades of bougainvillea, is a small, but wonderful museum. Highlighting the rich diversity and creativity of the Berber culture, this museum contains an impressive collection of displays, examples and relevant information focusing on Berber and Tuareg jewelery, textiles, carpets, wedding curtains and cobalt blue pottery -- and serves as an invitation for the beholder to appreciate the beauty of Berber art across rural Morocco. Jardin Majorelle Museum Web Link  After getting started with a rooftop breakfast, this interesting day in Marrakech will be entirely devoted to shopping and sightseeing!  

Beautiful Jardin Marjorelle 
Ornate Design in Bahia Palace 


Fascinating Storks can be seen throughout Morocco! 
Dried Fruit Stall at Djemaa el-Fna
Brass and Copper Wares
Copper & Brass Handcrafts
DAY 4 / MARRAKECH       
After spending a day touring the sites of Marrakesh, we will venture out for some more collecting -- meeting warm and gracious new friends and feeding our appetite for crystals, geodes and agates!

- Visit Sidi Rahal Mines / great sites to collect agates, quartz crystals, amethyst, chalcedony geodes
- Perhaps visit & enjoy a traditional tagine meal with Berber family in this beautiful, scenic area


Sidi Rahal Roadsign

Traditional Home-Cooked Tagine

Iron-Rich Crystal Geode

Amethyst Stalactitic Geodes

Mohamad - special friend & mine owner


This day we will travel southeast for
Kouba - tomb of holy person
approximately 100 miles through interesting Berber villages on this fantastically scenic drive filled with stunning switchbacks through the High Atlas Mountains and across the breath-taking Tizi N Tichka' Pass - then on to magical Ouarzazate - a sub-Saharan city set on the fringe of the desert. This captivating city, founded by the French in the 1920's, is nick-named the door of the desert and now reigns as the film capital of Morocco where Gladiator, Jewel of the Nile, Star Wars, Lawrence of Arabia, the Mummy, Babel, Ben Hur, Prince of Persia and countless other movies were filmed.

is the main Berber city in the south known for spectacular sunsets and dramatic mountain and desert scenery. Surrounded by breathtaking valleys, Ouarzazate was once crossing point for African traders seeking to reach northern cities in Morocco and Europe. During the French period, Ouarzazate expanded considerably as a garrison town and later became the administrative center of the Zagora region.

Ali Baba's Fossil and Mineral Shop -- always great specimens to see here!

- Drive from Marrakech to Ouarzazate / Ait Benhaddou
- Fabulous day filled with jaw-dropping, gorgeous views through the unique geological deposits of the High Atlas Mountains / plenty of photo opportunities, so make sure to have extra batteries
- Along this day's route, we will stop to collect agates and crystals / visit rock shops along the way
- Arrive at the fortified village (ksar) of Ait Benhaddou (photo at top of this mailing) in the evening

One of Morocco's best preserved kasbah villages and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Aït Benhaddou was once a significant stop for traders carrying gold, salt and slaves along the famous Southern Caravan route moving through the Sahara. Only ten families still live within the ksar, while most of the town's present-day inhabitants now reside in a more modern village across the river - where we will also stay for the night.
This incredible stretch of road is filled with countless dramatic mountain views.
         Ait Benhaddou Site Info             Ouarzazate Wiki Info          Ouarzazate LookLex Info    
Dades Gorge
Dades Gorge Drive

We will spend the earlier part of this day exploring the exquisite village Ksar (Arabic castle) of Ait Benhaddou - a striking example of southern Moroccan architecture created mainly from ornamented clay bricks to construct a collective group of interior dwellings surrounded by defensive walls with corner towers and gates. During our stroll we will meet local artists and vendors offering local Berber handcrafts and unique antiques for sale. We may also have opportunity to visit with some of the ksar's current residents.

The group will then be on the road for an incredible drive northeast approximately 70 miles along a sensational route past almond and fig groves, with stunning landscape views within the Dades Valley - populated with gorgeous palm oases on the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs! This route is sprinkled with intriguing fortresses and citadels also constructed from rammed (unbaked) earth, which are both simple and ornately decorated with geometrical designs representative of the Berber culture. Along this day's journey we will also experience the colorful panoramas of the dramatic Dades Gorge, whose craggy landscape and snaking hairpin turns has a very unique and haunting beauty. Incredible and surreal red rock formations line either side of the steep gorge that is divided by the Dades River. This drive is so impressive that Cadillac Corporation filmed a TV promotion on these awesome twists and turns (Cadillac promo link). This phenomenal gorge is located near the town of Boumalne du Dades, where we will spend the night.

Situated in the heart of the Dades Valley, Boumalne du Dades is surrounded by the majestic mountains in the very spine of the High Atlas range with impressive ravines sketched out by the whims of erosion.

Boumalne LookLex Info
   Dades Gorge LookLex Info

- Tour Ait Benhaddou in the morning
- Dramatically scenic drive throughout the day with plenty of wonderful photo opportunities
- Stop at Ali's rock and pottery shop to find high quality examples of both from local sources
- Visit El Kelaa Des M'Gouna, the Rose Capitol of Morocco where you will find miles of small, pink and 
  very fragrant Damascus roses-cultivated as hedgerows dividing the plots of land
- Visit an artist's cooperative that is reviving the ancient art of making ornate knives and swords
- Check into a wonderful hotel at the end of our drive and enjoy fantastic local cuisine

Silver Specimen
Stunning Orange Bougainvillea
Berber Musician at Ait Ben Haddou
Handcrafted Knives
Handcrafted Knives - Artist's Cooperative
Bring your
Sweet children with their heartfelt smiles!
Cambrian Trilobite Site
Working the Cambrian Trilobite Site
alongside Moroccan trilobite collectors

BELOW - One of the day's finds!

Travel east to the small village of Tarhia - the site of the Cambrian fossil quarries and starting point for an exciting  back-road crossing of the Middle Atlas Mountains. Our destination for the evening is Alnif - a small Berber town inside a palm grove oasis and surrounded by the Anti-Atlas mountains. Alnif is well known for its rocks, fossils and minerals offered for sale in shops and by dealers waiting to make sales along the roadside. Alnif is also considered to be the fossil capital of Morocco with its impressive quantity and quality of fossil beds -- and more specifically renown as the Moroccan center for collecting trilobites.

- Collect quartz crystals & garnets
- Visit Cambrian fossil quarries and barite mines
- Spend time with diggers from local villagers
- Visit petroglyph site
- While in the field collecting, we will always enjoy fresh and fabulous picnic lunches in scenic oases

   Alnif LookLex Info       Trilobite Wiki Info    
Captivating contrasts of rusts & greens

Cambrian Trilo Pos-Neg
Neolithic Rock Art
Neolithic Rock Art - Ait Ouaazik
Trilobite Acadoparadoxides


 - Visit spectacular Neolithic rock art site
Trilobite Collector
Berber Trilobite Collecting Friend

 - Ordovician fossil and prehistoric artifact
Acheulean Scraper - Homo erectus >100,000 Yrs
Desert Lizard - Uromastyx

Mt Issimour Bride
Collecting Devonian Trilobites at famous Mt. Issimour sites
  - Visit Devonian and Silurian fossil quarries                   
  - Visit Atchana site / others quarries in the area
Crinoid Plate
Air Prepped Spiny Trilobite

Air Prepped Trilobite - Drotops

Camel ride into the desert for overnight stay
in a traditional Berber tent

Drive further east to Merzouga - approximately 80 miles / Here we will discover amazing landscapes of the peach sand dunes of Erg Chebbi - Morocco's largest genuine Saharan erg - an impressive, drifting chain of sand dunes. Featured in Lawrence of Arabia, these dunes are a scene of constant change and fascination as sunlight transforms them from pink to gold to red. At night, you only have to walk a little way into the sand, away from the light, to appreciate the immense clarity of the desert sky and the brilliance of its stars.

 Merzouga is a small village, but does have téléboutiques, general stores, a mechanic and, of course, a couple of carpet shops.
    Merzouga LookLex Info      Merzouga Wiki Info         

   - Visit fossil and mineral dealers and collectors
   - Optional desert overnight in a Nomadic Berber tent with
     live Berber music and a bonfire
   - Ride to your desert tent site on the back of a camel
   - OR spend a relaxing eve at desert hotel taking a dip in the   
     pool or watching the brilliant display of stars

           Desert Girl with Handcrafted Camels                                  Beautiful Desert Geology

Vanadinite Specimen
Erfound Ammonite Print
Erfoud Fossil Exposition 
It is a fairly short drive (hour or so) to this day's destinations, which are going to be fantastic for fossils and minerals with lots of great specimens of all kinds coming from these areas. There will be many local collectors and artisans offering these items for sale as well.
Spinosaur Teeth
Spinosaurus Teeth

- We will visit the famous Kemkem site to collect fish,  
  crocodiles, spinosaur bones and teeth
- Possibly collect echinoderms, dinosaur material,
  and sand stromatolites
- Check out mines famous for vanadinite, barite, galena,
  quartz, goethite and more
 Erfoud Wiki Info         Erfoud LookLex Info     

- Visit the Silurian Crinoid quarries
- Bird watch at Dayet Srji - salty flamingo lake
- Visit Erfoud white & black Devonian limestone quarries
- Drive to our exquisite hotel in Erfoud to spend the night

Famous Key-Hole Gate into Rissani


In Erfoud, we will take the morning to relax at one of the finest hotels on our tour, visit fossil preparation laboratories, Devonian orthoceras / goniatite limestone workshops and local mineral and fossil dealers.

We will then drive approximately 130 miles north to the highland town of Midelt -- which is described as a "frontier" town between the High and Middle Atlas Mountains in the beautiful Ziz Valley. Midelt is an important center for local rugs and carpets - and also offers some great mineral, agate and fossil collecting sites.        Xaluca Hotel Link

Courtyard at the beautiful Xaluca Hotel

Berber Musicians
Berber Musician Hotel Greeters at the Xaluca Erfoud

Erfoud Artisan creates Devonian Fossil Sculpture
Air Prepping a Trilobite at the Lab

DAY 13 & 14 / MIDELT  
Kasbah Asmaa - Midelt

One of the highest larger towns in Morocco, the market town of Midelt is located in the high plains between the Middle Atlas and High Atlas mountain ranges. The backdrop of Midelt is stunning with the Ayachi Mountain rising up over two miles high. The interesting nature surrounding the largely Berber town of Midelt could be described as a soft lunar landscape. With an estimated population of 44,780, Midelt serves as the commercial center of a large agricultural hinterland. This region is best known for apples; other produce includes walnuts, apricots, plums, pomegranates, wheat, corn, and a wide variety of garden vegetables. In the early twentieth century the French established a post to facilitate the mining of lead, gypsum, and other minerals in the nearby Aouli and Mibladen mines. Midelt remains one of Morocco's principal mining areas. The beautiful white and peach fibrous selenite comes from this area.

Collecting Azurite and Malachite at Kerrouchen Site
Beautiful Banded Aouli Agate

  - Mibladen mineral mines        
  - Aouli mineral mines and collect agates
  - Mineral, agate and fossil collecting
  - Check out the dinosaur tracks at Mibladen
  - Visit local mineral and fossil museums and shops
  - Visit local weaving and embroidery school


       Midelt Wiki Info           Midelt LookLex Info      


                Mibladen / Aouli Info  




Traversing the bridge en route to Aouli
Kasbah Myriem - Franciscan Sisters School of Weaving and Embroidery 
DAY 15 / MIDELT TO RABAT   (ar-Rabāṭ)
Barbary Apes
Barbary Ape Family
On this day we will drive about 200 miles northwest to the city of Rabat. Along our route we will do a number of photo stops at scenic points, collect fossil shark teeth and visit a very unique site where you will be able to view Barbary Apes (monkeys) up close in their natural habitat.

Collecting Fossil Shark Teeth at Bakrit
Situated on the Atlantic Ocean, Rabat has much to offer, including ample opportunities to experience Moroccan art, archaeology, history, horticulture and Moroccan culture. Being the capital city of Morocco, it is home to the actual royal palace and the Kings' mausoleum. Rabat's main attraction is the Hassan tower, while Kasbah de Oudaïas is on the shortlist of having Morocco's most picturesque streets.

Mausoleum of Mohammed V

There are many sights to visit in Rabat / links to which can be found via the Wiki Info link below. Our group may want to visit the Bab-el-Kasbah, ("gate to the Kasbah") the entrance to the oldest quarter of this historic city; and the Tour Hassan, Rabat's most famous landmark. We may also want to take in the Museum of Moroccan Arts, located in the Andalucian Gardens. Rabat has one of the more international cuisines of Morocco, and Chinese or European food is far from uncommon.

Chellah Ruins

Both mystical and very beautiful is the Necropolis of Chellah - a complex of ancient and medieval ruins of a walled and towered city abandoned in the 11th century. Built on the site of the ancient Roman city of Sale, Chellah has been turned into a garden and is now inhabited by a population of storks -- which in Moroccan culture is a sign of good fortune.

This day's activities include:
- Visit Bakrit site to collect Cretaceous black shark
  teeth and mosasaur teeth
- Visit Barbary Apes in natural habitat
- Walk along the Atlantic Ocean beach from hotel

Comments about special sights to visit in Rabat can be viewed via this Lonely Planet Link.

                Rabat Wiki Info            Rabat LookLex Info            Additional Info - Rabat

Rugged Atlantic Shoreline
Atlantic Fisherman outside of Rabat


and Touring sites in Rabat as group desires during our last day in Morocco ... for this trip!
Possible tour of fossil preparation lab.  Enjoy farewell dinner at a special restaurant in Rabat.

Shopping opportunities galore in Rabat's Medina 
Beautiful Jewelry Bargains -- Old & New 
Fossil Turtle Shell in Progress 
Visit to Fossil Prep Lab 



You can find more interesting history
and cultural information via this
Rabat Tourism Website Link

Rabat Image

Catch a flight from the airport in either Rabat or Casablanca to return back home in the United States with a lot of incredible fossils, crystals, agates and, of course - stories to share throughout the rest of your life!
Feel free to contact us with any questions!
With warm regards -   Kelly Lund & John McArdle  /  ZRS Fossils and Gifts
Moroccan mineral border