Moroccan Caravan

Our 2017 trip has been postponed to early 2018. Dates to be confirmed. For writers and artists of all modalities.  Our fourteen day creative adventure into the Moroccan desert will take you deep into the heart of Moroccan culture and the essence of your creativity. Start a new project, revitalise an old one or simply capture the journey in your chosen art form.



Our Moroccan Journey

We begin our creative adventure into the heart of Moroccan culture in the world heritage city of Fes, home to the oldest continuously functioning university in the world.

Known as the Mecca of the West and the Athens of Africa,  we spend a day exploring its fascinating markets and medinas before heading out for our desert retreat.  Our destination is a retreat in the Saharan village of Tissardine owned and run by Australian artist Karen Hadfield.

Listen to an interview on ABC Radio with Karen here.

‘Situated in an oasis, this tiny traditional Berber village comprising of 15 houses, is perched on the edge of one of the Sahara’s most extraordinary natural wonders, Erg Chebbi, a large dune stretching 22 kms long and 5 kms wide and peaking up to 150 metres high.

Formed by wind blown sand, Erg Chebbi is celebrated for its unique golden-orange sand formations that start at the most northern tip of the Sahara and undulate across Morocco to Tomboctou.

Located 30km from the more well-trodden towns of Erfoud and Rissani, Tissardmine is a place of tranquility, where the loudest sound you will hear is the birdsong’.

After our eight day writing retreat in this peaceful oasis, we cross the high Atlas Mts and continue on our desert journey to Marrakech to end our caravan feasting on the sights and sounds of this famous Moroccan city.

Our fourteen day creative adventure into the Moroccan desert will take you deep into the heart and essence of your writing or creative idea.  Start a new project, revitalise an old one or simply write the journey. All genres and levels of experience welcome.


In Fes we will stay in a traditional Riad.On our Tissardmine retreat we sleep in traditional Berber tents with ensuite bathrooms. In Marrakech we will stay in a riad guest house near the famous square Jemaa El Fnaa, close to shopping in the labyrinthine souk.

Photo by Joadi

The Workshops
Daily workshops begin in Fes and follow the cosmology of the eight pointed star, which is the base of Moroccan decorative arts, architecture and Islamic symbology. Each day as we travel the desert sands from the ancient city of Fes to our eight day oasis retreat in Tissardine and on to Marrakech, we will explore the mystical significance of the eight cardinal directions and the areas of writing craft they relate to. Meditative writing and creativity techniques combined with image and sense explorations will take your writing or creative explorations to new and unexpected places as the journey reveals the geographic treasures of the shifting Saharan landscape. With the Moroccan star as our map and guiding light, on our last day we will arrive at the ninth point, the centre of the octagon, which in Sufi beliefs represents wholeness and perfection.  As we pack our bags for our return we can be sure the profound knowledge and newfound discoveries of our adventure will be useful in our creative projects for years to come.

Price: $3595 AUD twin share,  early bird $3295 ($600AUD deposit now, pay in full by Aug 30)  $300 single supplement.

or         $2550USD  twin share,  $2800USD with single supplement.


Full board at Tissardmine (breakfast, lunch and dinner plus snacks) 10 nights.
Half board on the road (breakfast and dinner) (2 nights – Fes, 2 nights Marrakech).
All accommodation (twin share).
3 hr guided tour Fes and Marrakech.
Bottled Water (3L per day).
Excursions to Erg Chebbi and Rissani.
Tuition and guidance.

Does not include:
International air fares,  we will meet the Emirates flight from Australia at 12.50 pm on 20 Feb and drive you (3 hours) to Fes.
Travel between city of arrival(if not Fes) and Fes or city of departure (if not Marrakech) and Marrakech.
Lunches and refreshments on journey to and from Tissardmine (or other incidental food supplies you may want to bring).
Personal shopping.

Weather: In Feb/March it is mild to cool weather in Morocco so be prepared for temperate days and cold nights from 11C overnight to 23C or warmer in the day.

Day 1– arrive at our Fes riad (accommodation), welcome dinner.

Day 2 -morning workshop, Introduction to the Moroccan Star and its relevance in Writing the Journey, explore Fes on guided tour, evening readings and dinner.

Day 3 – travel to Tissardmine, Travelling South – Observation Workshop – tasks and discussion en route.

The Retreat
Day 4– Retreat Day 1 – morning desert meditation (east)10am -12.30pm meditative writing workshop on Collecting Creative Material  ; afternoon free writing time, 5pm – 6.30pm early evening readings.

Day 5 – Retreat Day 2 – morning desert meditation (on south east), 10am -12.30pm meditative writing workshop on Setting The Scene, afternoon free writing time, 5pm – 6.30pm early evening readings.

Day 6 –  Retreat Day 3 –  morning desert meditation(on north), 10am -12.30pm meditative writing workshop on Finding Your Voice , afternoon free writing time, 5pm – 6.30pm early evening readings.

Day 7 – Retreat Day 4 – morning desert meditation (on north east), 10am -12.30pm meditative writing workshop on Driving the Characters, afternoon free writing time, sunset excursion to the dunes by 4WD and camel.Dinner in Erg Chebbi camp and sleep over.

Day 8 – Retreat day 5 –   morning desert meditation(on north west), 10am -12.30pm meditative writing workshop on Plotting the Action, afternoon free writing time, 5pm – 6.30pm early evening readings plus trip to Rissani Markets.

NB –Days 6, 7 and 8 may be trekking by camel and foot, camping and workshopping along the way through the dunes and desert. This will dependent on the weather and fitness levels of the individuals. It is a unique opportunity to feel the soul of the desert and discover so much more about your self and your writing.

Day 9 – Retreat Day 6 – morning desert meditation(south west), 10am -12.30pm meditative writing workshop on Resolution/Impact, afternoon free writing time, 5pm – 6.30pm early evening readings

Day 10 – Retreat Day 7 – morning workshop on  Arriving at the Centre of the Moroccan Star,  final Salon with dinner and soiree.

Day 11 — Free day.

Day 12 — Bus to Marrakech over the High Atlas Mountains. Check into our Marrakech riad.

Day 13 — In Marrakech you will spend the day being guided through the crowded souks, where you can shop until you drop. Final readings at our Marrakesch riad and dinner in the square at Jemaa el Fnaa.

Day 14 — Time to depart or continue on your own itinerary – Australian participants will be driven 3 hours to Cassblanca Airport for flights home to Oz via Dubai.

NOTE: This itinerary may change to accommodate local events and conditions


Comments from past Moroccan Caravan adventurers.

Biff Ward says:

“I had very few expectations – just very glad that this was being organised for me, trusting Jan to organise something really good.The reality was fabulous! I thought Fez was extraordinary but as we drove from Erfoud to Tissardmine, I was utterly overwhelmed with excitement, with seeing how Wild and Far-out (literally) it was. I kept saying to Jan – I had no idea! You’ve really done it!I trusted Jan to take me somewhere new and different, so did not research, just went with the flow. Lo & behold, the wonders of Riad Rcif (Fes accom), the hammam (Moroccan baths) experience, then the desert, Berber people with their wisdom & laughter & generosity. Dozens of ‘aha’ moments every day. Plus a great writing workshop.

So ever since we’ve arrived, I have simply been taken up by the experience – T, the dunes, the camp, the food, the trip away, the camels! Karen, & the staff. And also our writing – like a double-whammy of in-the-present-moment pleasure/bliss.

Financially – good value re travel & writing.

Creatively – Yes! I really moved along with my next book. (Biff signed with Allen & Unwin not long after our return).

Culturally – fabulous learning and experiencing. Conversation as I walked with Kersch beside the camels was the best!”

Meme Thorne says:

Thewriting exercises pushed me into terrain I was unfamiliar with, therefore taught me valuable lessons in crafting and organising my material. Group mentoring also worked well for me with feedback and support. Absolutely financially worthwhile! This has been a major investment for me in term of my personal life and writing a new performance work. The atmosphere and the people all made huge contributions. Expected exotic people, food, décor, cultural and social activities outside the norm. I was not disappointed.The most luxurious camping trip I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience. The 2 nights in the dunes of Erg Chebbi are indelibly etched in my mind & my heart Salaam Aleykum!”

 Verity Laughton says:

“The structured activities were (a) wonderful in themselves; (b) excellent in terms of shifting one into a new creative zone. Writing activities were great for me. I loved all of the workshop activities. They all help and Jan is an excellent and innovative tutor. It has been extremely helpful for me in terms of getting the hang of this strange beast I’m working on. What worked best? Hard to say. I loved the diagrams & the meditations/visualisations. I would recommend Café Tissardmine to friends as a holiday destination but especially as a writing retreat. When the emphasis is on work then the occasional discomforts become pluses rather than minuses.A place to dream in, be in, learn about and to evolve your new dreams. Erg Chebbi at sunset is a gift to the mind and spirit.”