Why Travel To Morocco?
Morocco is amazing! No it’s Incredible….. Well to be honest I cannot think of the correct word to use for Morocco’s grandeur. From the peaceful serene bliss of the Sahara to the chaotic/colorful in your face bazaars Morocco has it all for adventure travelers and other travelers alike, also the luxurious Riads (Traditional Hotel), and the amazing beach resorts if you’re more of the Vacationer type.
Religion – Islam
Language – Moroccan Arabic, Berber, French
Visa – On arrival for most nationalities
Currency – Dirham DH
1 USD = 9 DH
Typical Costs and Getting Around Morocco
Accommodation – Accommodation in Morocco has many different ranges. Basic Dorms in Marrakesh go as low as 50 Dirham. Most people opt to staying in Guest houses and local Riads which can go anywhere from 100 Dirham to 400 Dirham, This range is much more comfortable and usually means you will stay with a local family. And of course if you have the money there are plenty of Luxurious resorts who would love to empty your wallet of your Dirhams, I’ve seen these go as high as 400 US Dollar.
Food – Eating in Morocco is an affordable and enjoyable experience, a simple tagine with couscous will cost as low as 25 Dirham. Eating in a upper class restaurant will of course cost more but a meal at a decent restaurant with a view of Marrakesh’s Djemma el-Fna will run around 80-100 Dirham. If you are on a tight budget Morocco’s Bazaars are home to some of the best Street food there is, Morocco’s Djemma el-Fna is famed as the world’s largest outdoor food market. You can try exotic meals from lamb’s brains to boiled snails and tea made from ingredients you will surely have to research.
Transportation – The days of traveling from oasis to oasis are over but Morocco has an extensive bus and mini bus network. Buses are cheap and frequent and there are several classes (I have even seen WIFI on some). From the larger centres buses can be booked at bus stations and they are very frequent and comfortable, but while traveling in the country side or Sahara you may have to put up with some slight discomfort… don’t be surprised if the passenger next to you is of the goat variety and the minivan has a “no passenger limit” policy, some tourists opt to renting a car and driver or joining a tour for this reason while visiting far destinations which can come in very handy.
My Favourite Places in Morocco
Marrakesh – Morocco’s most known city houses the Djemma el-Fna, a market in the Medina that has everything from snake charmers to witch doctors, but by night it turns into one of the most miraculous food markets in the world…. Get ready for some exotic flavours! Marrakesh is also known for its traditional architecture and the chance to stay in a Riad in the old city is a true Moroccan experience.
Essaouira – Essaouira the white plastered port city makes you feel like you really have found yourself on a true exotic adventure. Its winding alleyways, fish markets, and colorful boats have an almost romantic feeling. Be sure to purchase antiques and spices as Essaouira has great shopping.
Draa Valley and the Sahara – Before entering the sublime quietness of the Sahara you must pass through the lush Draa Valley. Its large fortified mud forts remind you of this valleys importance among the Saharan trade routes must have been. Exiting the Draa you see it, this is the reason why you came to Morocco, the Sahara. The long everlasting golden dunes, the eerie but amazing feeling of not hearing a single sound. Hop aboard one of the ships of the desert (Camel) and head off deep into its heart.
Fez Medina – For all those who dream of going back in time, well here’s your chance. Fez is a medieval city which kept its medieval charm. The streets are too narrow for cars so you will only be greeted by donkeys carrying leather to the tanneries, oh and yes there are leather tanneries here that are dated back to the first century. After getting lost in these medieval alleyways, buying a complete leather outfit, Fez is a great place to unwind in a traditional Hammam to clean the sand out from the Sahara.
Atlas Mountains – After you’ve seen the desert and Morocco’s medieval city’s you’ll be shocked to know that Morocco houses the largest mountains in Africa. Hike deep into the Atlas Mountains and share your experience with shepherds and their goats, Drink tea mint tea to keep warm and stay in one of the small villages to learn more about traditional Moroccan culture.
Tangier – for most it’s either the final stop or the entry point to Morocco, but dig deeper and you will find a complex culture that feels almost European. Stay long enough and be rewarded with great food and one of Morocco’s best Medina’s to souvenir shop in.
Traditional Moroccan cooking course – Fez and Marrakesh both have some great places to learn to cook traditional fare. Bring these recipes home and impress your friends.
Sleeping under the Saharan night sky – The Moroccans call this the million star hotel and for good reason, I have never seen so many stars before. The journey here aboard a camel also leaves you feeling gitty.
Leaving the map in the hotel – That’s right, leave the map behind and just get lost in one of Morocco’s great Medina’s, you never know what you might find hiding deep in its heart.
Soaking it up in a Hammam – They are hot, sweaty and usually involve a large hairy man peeling a layer of your skin off but it’s really the only way to get the golden sands of the Sahara off of you.
Top Morocco Travel Tips
- Learn basic Arabic greetings, they earn you respect especially in the country side.
- Travel lite…. You’re going to buy a carpet or two
- Drinking Alcohol is against Islam. Drink respectively or even better don’t drink at all.
- Don’t trust the water, drink bottled.
- Eat where the locals do… they know what’s best, avoid western food.
- Sand can destroy a camera very quick, make sure they don’t come in contact.
- Wear a turban in the Sahara, it’s functional and you feel like T. E. Lawrence
- Don’t travel at night, Morocco’s country side is starkly beautiful.
- Dress respectfully, Moroccans are very open minded but still have traditional Islamic beliefs. Wearing non revealing clothing (cover elbows and knees) will gain you much respect.
- Camels bite……
- Hiring non licensed guides is a risk but sometimes can really work out, do your research.