Africa,  Travel

Morocco

 

We had the most incredible trip to Morocco. We flew into Casablanca, took a train to Fes, then did a three day excursion through the desert, and spent the last two days in Marrakech before flying back home.

Everyone kept saying there’s not much to see in Casablanca, and they’re right. We included it in our itinerary – but trust me – you can skip it. We walked around a bit, went to lunch, and then hopped on a train to Fes. A bit of insight into Moroccan trains: they’re very old school. There was no air conditioning, the announcements were not in English, and our train broke down. We ended up stuck in the middle of farmland Morocco in 100 degree heat with no wind for over six hours. It was not exactly the best experience, but we eventually made it to Fes. Because of our train delays, we only got to have dinner at a Riad in Fes, and early the next morning our desert adventure began.

We used Morocco Excursions to take us through the desert. I had a friend who had used them, and the prices were reasonable, so we went with them. I would definitely recommend them if you’re looking for a desert trip. Our driver/guide was great – nice, accommodating, knowledgeable. If you’re looking for a fancy company though, there are probably other companies to use. Morocco Excursions was more middle of the road accommodations, which was perfect for us.

From Fes, we passed through the Atlas mountains, and drove to Merzouga. In Merzouga, our guide brought us to a riad of sorts for us to leave our stuff in, and then we took camels out into the Erg Chebbi Sand Dunes. We spent the night in sand dunes at the Mouhou Desert Camp. If you’ve ever done a desert in the Middle East, it’s quite similar, but beautiful nonetheless.

When we got to the camp we hiked up some of the dunes to watch the sunset and do a bit of sandboarding. Sandboarding was awesome, but it is pretty scary and exhausting (you have to run back up the sand dune). After the sunset, we went into camp, had dinner, hung out, and went to bed. The next morning we went back to the riad, took a shower, and were on the road again!

We passed through the Atlas Mountains again and drove to Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO heritage site, but also where Game of Thrones and Gladiator were filmed. We drove to Todgha Gorges, which is a beautiful gorge located along the Tinghir River, near the town of Tinerhir. We got out and walked a bit there, which was a nice break from the car. And then we ended the day at Dades Gorges, a quaint town on the way to Marrakech, and stayed night at the Chez Pierre riad. It was a really nice place to stay for the night. It was a bit removed from the town, but it had wifi, a pool, and nice rooms, so I was very happy.

Todgha Gorges

The next morning we got up early and drove to Marrakech. We had two days in Marrakech and both nights we stayed at the Riad Olema. This was probably my favorite place we stayed the whole time. It was a little hidden riad in the middle of the medina. It was so beautifully decorated, and I definitely recommend it.

The first day in Marrakech we walked around the Medina, which is mayhem. It is completely madness walking around. There are tons of people and everyone wants you to buy something. I had some fun walking around and shopping. There are some beautiful things, and I probably spent most of the day wandering around and enjoying everything the Medina had to offer.

After doing some damage at the Medina, I walked to the Majorelle Garden (the YSL garden) which was really pretty and a nice little garden to walk through. I recommend getting there early because the line starts before the garden even opens. It’s only like $10 to get in, and I thought it was worth it. There are also some nice, semi-high-end shops right around the garden which were nice to peek into.

Later that afternoon I met up with my friends and we walked to the Jewish quarter in Marrakech. I had no idea that would exist in Marrakech, so it was pretty interesting and cool to see. We went into a synagogue, which was really beautiful and added a bit of culture to my shopping.

That first night I met up with two friends that night at the Djemaa el-Fna, which is the big town square, and we had kebabs at one of the stalls. At night there are dozens of entertainers in the Djemaa el-Fna, so definitely make sure you walk through there at night.

Everyone raves about La Mamounia in Marrakech. It was a bit out of budget for me to stay there, but they offer day passes for around $60/person, so the second day my friend and I went there to hang by the pool, workout, and walk around the massive estate. It felt completely out of this world. It was gorgeous, the architecture, the landscaping, the service. It was all incredible. If you can splurge one night, I would definitely stay there – I imagine the rooms are spectacular.

Before we knew it, our Morocco adventure was over and we were headed back home. I would love to go back and go surfing in Essaouira.

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