Travelling to Morocco is a goal of mine since it’s been in my memory. I’ve always had a desire to ride on a camel, explore the desert, wander through maze-like medinasand sip coffee with Berbers.
While I was standing in the middle of the Sahara one day, looking at the pulsing, undulating dunes of the desert my dream was realized. I rode an camel to where I would look at millions of stars in the night, giggling at the realization that I was now somewhere I had always dreamed of under the same skies thousands of miles far away.
In the span of two weeks I travelled throughout the United States in Intrepid Travel’s Best of Morocco tour and consumed a lot of couscous as well as drank my entire body amount of mint tea went hiking, and took in music and the beauty of Morocco.
Morocco was an unforgettable and rewarding trip. It is a shivering experience that shook your senses and has a lot of unexpected experiences. For those looking for compelling reasons to visit take a look at these highlights from my trip
1. Camel trekking through the Sahara
Although I would love to still take a ride on the camel caravans that traveled from Morocco to Egypt I decided to stay one night of stargazing under the stars. It turns out that taking a ride with a camel in one hour isn’t exactly comfortable however, seeing the stunning hue of the desert from a close-up as well as camping with Bedouins and gazing at the stars in a million different ways in the dark without lighting pollution made it worth it. There’s a calming silence in the desert once the wind ceases to blow and you experience a wonderful sense of tranquility, just being there and taking in the natural.
A fun fact is that it rained when my trip to the desert. It was a wild lightning storm that was crazy – one of the most intense that I have ever witnessed. The thunder’s roar seemed like a million explosions being fired and the lightning transformed the night to day. The weather was not as wet, but at night, the sky was clear for a moment to release all the anger. Surreal.
2. Hiking in the Atlas Mountains
It’s a beautiful area. Atlas Mountains cover most of Morocco and we were able to spend a lot of time in the middle, low and upper regions of the mountain range (it’s difficult to avoid). My most memorable experience was when we climbed our way through the High Atlas range, climbing for about an hour before reaching an unassuming farmhouse, where we stayed for the night with a family from the area (who made us the best tagine meal as well as the most delicious Berber Omelets of our trip).
Early departure and late departure the following day We were able to explore and hike the area around. I’m a fan of hiking, so I was delighted to truly get out in the natural world, stroll through the riverbeds and even see Mt. Toubkal (North Africa’s most awe-inspiring point) far away. In addition to the camel trek I found this to be my top adventure.
3. Food at Cafe Clock
I was recommended to it by a lot of people, and with restaurants located in Marrakesh and Fez This Western-inspired cafe has earned its fame for their huge tasty camel burger (which tastes like spicy Shawarma). The food is delicious including the hamburger, green smoothies and the delicious, melt-in-your mouth chicken couscous were so delicious that I went back there two times.
In the chaotic and chaotic medinas in each city, cafes offer an oasis of peace, in which you are able to recharge your batteries, access Wi-Fi and cool off by cooling down with air cooling. They also offer cooking classes , and organize regular events at every area!
4. Losing Your Way in the Medinas
The medinas form the historic cities’ hearths. Morocco Part residential zone, part shopping center as well as a food market. You’ll find twisted and turning streets, where restaurants, shops, markets and even homes have a presence in the streets, in structures seeming to be too close, and too old to keep in place for long.
For someone who likes to wander around medinas are heaven. I spent hours exploring them, turning right while doubling back through streets and plazas which looked familiar, before trying to find my way but then getting lost again. It was a maze I enjoyed trying to figure it out as I sipped tea drinking delicious and delicious food, and taking in the sights.
Beware: Fez is a bit dangerous and shady therefore, do not venture away from the main route. Stay on streets that are full of people. There were a few close calls with pickpockets as well as possible robbers.
5. Exploring Volubilis
A major center of trade and the most southern settlement during Roman periods, Volubilis is one of the most well-preserved (and the least visited) sites of its kind around the globe. It is a place that was not crowded with tourists, not crowded and open in a way that lets you close to the structures without having to go hidden behind 10 feet of barriers and squealed by crowds. The majority of the city remains unexplored, so it has a very natural feel to it. I’ve been to lots of Roman ruin sites during my travels, but I like this one the most.
6. Seeing Ait Benhaddou
While I didn’t spend much time there but the area that is packed with Kasbahs (fortified dwellings) was quite awe-inspiring. It’s an iconic location in the Hollywood in Morocco and was included as a backdrop in Game of Thrones, Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia, and many other films. It was the most stunning village (fortified village) I’ve ever seen and that’s probably the reason the reason it’s featured in every movie!
It is a reflection of what we think an old ksar ought to appear like. I loved walking around the city and climbing up the hill for a panorama.
7. Savouring the Seafood and Beach of Essaouira
My most favorite town located in Morocco, Essaouira is located just a few hours away of Marrakesh in the Atlantic coast. It’s the most popular beach resort for tourists, specifically Brits. I enjoyed the laid-back urban vibe with no aggressive touts, the fresh sea air, and the fresh seafood.
Make sure you visit the amazing market for fish in town, where the fishermen of all sizes offer their catch of the day. After that, visit the fish stalls that are small on the main square. There you can have fresh seafood that is grilled for a very low price.
My companions along with me “splurged” for a dinner at this restaurant: for 75 USD The four of us shared the lobster and eight tiger prawns. two fish that weighed over a kilo and half an ounce of squid. It was all served with bread, drinks and salad, as well as tea. (We had lunch there daily and the meals afterwards were around 15 USD.) Visit stalls 5 and 11 for the finest fish!
8. Visitor to Marrakech
Marrakech has everything I imagined it could be: a modern mixture with Moroccan and international cultures with the greatest variety of international cuisine (check for PepeNero to find Italian or Latitude for a mix of Mediterranean and Moroccan) and stunning buildings in Marrakech’s medina.
While Marrakech did not have the grit or edge of the other cities however, it was by far the most diverse city on the journey.
The chaotic pace revealed the city’s inhabitants who are always moving. The well-known Jemaa el-Fnaa square is truly the scene everyone is talking about with tens of thousands people eating at night shopping, eating and getting tattoos with henna, listening to stories and bands as well as admiring magicians (and snake charmers in the daytime). It’s among the most chaotic but interesting spots to watch people in the country. It’s still awe-inspiring to me the size and how full it was! (Contrast it with the mediocre Saadian Tombs that is an attraction that I prefer to avoid because they’re boring The grounds are tiny and, overall, it was plain.)
Did you know? The best Morocco tours can be booked online.
9. Consuming a lot of Couscous and Tagine
At the end of my two weeks in Morocco I was “couscoused to death.” But I did not hesitate to dive into taking in as much as I could. I was enthralled by the taste and observing the variety of regional cuisine and learning to be amazed at how long the preparation time of each dish was. Tagine (cooked with dates, meat as well as turmeric, cumin cinnamon and saffron cooked in a clay pan) was my absolute most loved Moroccan dish.
It is also worth trying The Berber Omelet, made from egg tomatoes, onions, and herbs, made in a clay pan.
10. Drinking Mint Tea
I’ve never had more tea than I did when I was in Morocco. In a place in which “having drinking a drink” is not the norm locals use pots of mint tea. There’s even a method of pouring it out: the bigger the teapot is, the more delicious. I could not get enough of this sweet, minty drink and was sat in tea shops and watching football with my fellow locals. I probably drank at least a cup or two per day. It’s addictive!
11. Receiving The Call to Prayer
While I’ve visited mostly Muslim countries in the past and within Southeast Asia, I’ve never been to the culture of an Arab Muslim country or heard the prayer call. There was something magical about the sound of the prayer, and it was a wonderful alarm clock to wake up at 5 a.m. The sight of people thronging the mosque in white prayer attire was an unforgettable cultural experience that I could not help but take note of.
Morocco is a fantastic destination. It was at times difficult, stressful, and chaotic and arouse my senses however, for all the travel stress this was a country where I felt completely out of my element , and I felt as if I was somewhere completely that was completely different and new. I was enthralled by that feeling, as well as all the other aspects of Morocco.