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Morocco

This Amazing Destination Will Leave You Wanting More!

Welcome to the land of tagines, bustling souks, and mint tea that can wake the dead – Morocco! If you’ve ever dreamed of getting lost in a maze of colourful alleyways, bargaining for treasures you never knew you needed, or riding a camel into the sunset like a true desert nomad, you’re in for a treat.

Shop in one of the many Moroccan souks

                                                                                                              Shop in one of the many Moroccan souks

 

But before you start envisioning yourself as the next Lawrence of Arabia, let me paint you a picture of what it’s really like to navigate the chaotic yet utterly charming streets of Morocco. From navigating the relentless negotiations of the medina to trying to pronounce “shukran” without sounding like you’re choking on a piece of couscous, this is a guide to experiencing the magic of Morocco while trying to keep your sense of humour intact. So buckle up, grab your fez (or at least Google where to buy one), and let’s embark on an adventure through the land of a thousand and one delights! 

Is it really so amazing?

I’ve been itching to jet off to Morocco since I was knee-high to a camel. There’s just something about it that’s got me hooked. But let’s get real for a sec, how many times have we hyped up a destination in our minds, only to be met with a lukewarm reality check when we finally get there? I mean sure, Morocco! It looks like a total dreamboat in the movies, but does it live up to the hype in real life? Or are we just falling victim to Hollywood’s seductive charm yet again? It’s time to separate fact from fiction folks! Let’s find out if Morocco is the real deal or just another overhyped mirage in the desert of travel destinations.

Morocco?! Let me tell you, it’s not your run-of-the-mill tourist trap! I took the plunge and dived headfirst into this kaleidoscope of a country for the very first time. I went in like a bull in a China shop, trying to soak up every ounce of its magic in the limited time I had.

 

Marrakech – you beaut!

From the moment I set foot in Marrakech, I knew I was in for a wild ride. And I was prepared for it all. Or so I thought. I wasn’t prepared for the perfect collaboration between ancient and contemporary, poverty and wealth, nor the perfect blend between earthy and vibrant colours that meets you everywhere. It’s like stepping into a whole other universe where history and culture collide in the most gloriously chaotic way possible. Seriously, you’ve got everything from ancient ruins to bustling markets to mystical desert landscapes – talk about sensory overload!

Many international airlines fly into Marrakech. You might find the deal of a lifetime on flights right here!

Picture this…I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, peering out the aeroplane window as we descend toward the runway. I’m bracing myself for a desert panorama straight out of a Lawrence of Arabia scene. But hold the camels! As the wheels touch down, I do a double take. Green fields? Snow-capped mountains? Is this the right destination or did I accidentally board a flight to Narnia?

Turns out, Marrakech is not your typical desert outpost. Sure, it’s got its fair share of Sahara sand, but it’s also rocking some seriously lush landscapes. And let’s talk about those Atlas Mountains – they’re like the icing on the couscous cake, providing a stunning backdrop to the whole scene. It’s like Mother Nature decided to throw in a little extra flair, just to keep us on our toes. Well played, Morocco, well played.

I rolled into Marrakech like a traveller on a mission. Was I surprised!? This place is like a cultural melting pot on steroids. You’ve got hustle, bustle and people zipping around on bicycles like they’re in the Tour de Morocco. And don’t even get me started on the transportation – we’re talking horse and carriages rubbing fenders with luxury sports cars, all sharing the same well-maintained roads. It’s like a game of transportation bingo, and Marrakech has got all the numbers covered. I suggest trying some of these out when you do visit!

But wait, there’s more! Just when I thought I had this place pegged as some ancient desert outpost, Marrakech hits me with a curveball. It’s actually kinda hip and happening with interesting coffee shops and famous name-branded retail outlets.

Local on a bicycle in the Souk
Local on a bicycle in the Souk

But hey, getting lost in the souk is half the fun, right? One minute you’re elbow-deep in textiles, the next you’re stumbling into the square like a lost tourist in a maze. And let me tell you, the square is next level of crazy. Buskers, snake charmers, dudes with pet monkeys – it’s like the circus rolled into town and set up shop right in the middle of the market. Crazy, insane, hectic! What an experience!? I loved it!

 Shopping in the souk
Shopping in the Souk

And here’s the kicker…amidst all this ancient chaos, you’ve got a hint of the contemporary sneaking in. It’s like history and modernity are doing the tango right in front of your eyes. So many exciting activities and interesting places to explore. So yeah, Marrakesh, you may be ancient, but you’ve definitely got some swag.

No sooking allowed in this amazing spot! It sure lifts one spirit and leaves one amazed!

Marrakech – where the riads are as cozy as your grandma’s hugs and the tours are as wild as a camel race! Let’s dive into the wacky world of accommodations and adventures awaiting you in this magical city.

Relax at a stunning riad in Marrakech
Relax at a stunning Riad 

First up, accommodations. Forget about your run-of-the-mill hotels; Marrakech is all about the riads. Picture this… you step into a riad, and it’s like stepping into a scene from Aladdin, minus the flying carpet (though that would be cool). These traditional Moroccan homes are like mini palaces, with colourful tiles, lush courtyards, and rooftop terraces perfect for sipping mint tea and watching the sunset. And don’t worry, there’s no genie in a lamp – just friendly staff ready to make your stay unforgettable.

 

Stay in a beautiful riad in Marrakech
Another beautiful riad

Now, onto the tours. Marrakech isn’t your average sightseeing destination. You’ve got your historical landmarks and bustling souks. From the iconic Koutoubia Mosque to the bustling Jemaa el-Fna square, where snake charmers and storytellers will make you question reality. Marrakech is a feast for the senses! Many guided group tours include Marrakech and many are very affordable!

But let’s not forget about the food. Marrakech is a foodie’s paradise, with mouth-watering tagines, savoury couscous, and sweet pastries that will make your taste buds dance. Whether you’re dining in a fancy restaurant or grabbing street food on the go, you’re in for a culinary adventure you won’t soon forget!

So there you have it – accommodations fit for a sultan and tours that will make you feel like Indiana Jones. Marrakech may be a world away from home, but once you experience its charm, you’ll never want to leave.

But after a few days of living it up in Marrakesh, it was time to hit the road. Next stop: Essaouira

Essaouira – a stunner!

Travel east on a near-perfect stretch of road for approximately 2.5 hours and you’ll reach Essaouira. You can easily hire a vehicle and drive this route yourself. Or arrange a transfer whereby you can sit back and relax while taking in the stunning landscape. The town’s unique blend of Moroccan, European, and African influences, along with its well-preserved medina and ancient fortress, make it a popular destination for travellers seeking culture, relaxation, and adventure.

Explore more of Essaouira town
Essaouira – a unique destination 

A coastal gem and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. I felt like I stepped into a quirky fusion of Greece’s Mykonos and a vibrant Moroccan marketplace. The white buildings adorned with blue accents gave off those breezy Mediterranean vibes, making me want to kick back and relax. Essaouira is after all where many do spend a few days to relax. It has a stunning beach, the best seafood and brilliant accommodation options.

Amazing views from the Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa
Amazing views from the Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa

But hold on tight, because once you dive into the old medina, it’s a whole different world. Locals bustling about, shopping for their daily needs in the old traditional market – it’s like stepping into a lively painting. This market is insane! Fresh fish, poultry, fruits, spices, and veggies galore. It’s like grocery shopping on steroids, and the cleanliness? Shockingly impressive! Who knew a market could be so tidy and vibrant at the same time?

Fish market in Essaouira
Fish market in Essaouira

A must-visit destination for culinary enthusiasts! Essaouira is a seafood paradise, where the fish is fresher than a mint after a Moroccan feast, and the portion sizes are bigger than a camel’s appetite! Seriously, you’ll need a forklift to finish some of these plates.

Relax at a cafe in Essaouira
Relax at a cafe in Essaouira

But it’s not just about the food – Essaouira has a vibe all its own. Picture yourself lounging on the beach, the ocean breeze gently tousling your hair….ah, pure bliss.

What about Skala du Port?! This place is straight out of a medieval fantasy. With its ancient fortress walls and sweeping views of the bustling port below, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of Game of Thrones (minus the dragons, unfortunately). No wonder they chose this spot for a few scenes!

A great selfie spot - Skala du Port
A great selfie spot – Skala du Port
Explore Skala du Port
Explore Skala du Port

But don’t worry, Essaouira isn’t all about history and seafood – there’s plenty of quirky charm to go around and plenty of activities to choose from. This destination offers something for everyone, from adventure to nature. And then there’s the remarkable history. From the colourful boats bobbing in the harbour to the cobblestone streets lined with artisan shops, every corner of this village has a story to tell. It’s also known for its laid-back atmosphere, rich history, and vibrant arts scene.

Hang with your mates at a cafe in Essaouira
Hang with your mates at a cafe in Essaouira

One thing that stands out is the kite surfing in Essaouira. It is a thrilling experience that draws adventure seekers from around the globe. With its consistent winds and wide, sandy beaches, Essaouira offers ideal conditions for kite surfing enthusiasts of all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to catch some waves, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to soar over the Atlantic waves and feel the rush of adrenaline that comes with this exhilarating sport. Plus, with stunning ocean views and the historic cityscape as your backdrop, kite surfing in Essaouira is as visually breathtaking as it is action-packed.

But where do you rest your weary head after a day of exploring his seaside gem? Fear not, for Essaouira has accommodations to suit every taste and budget. Whether you’re craving a cosy riad tucked away in the old medina or a swanky beachfront hotel with views for days, you’ll find it here.

The picturesque seaside town of Essaouira
The picturesque seaside town of Essaouira

So if you’re craving a taste of adventure with a side of seafood, pack your bags and head to Essaouira. Just make sure to bring your appetite – you’re gonna need it! Next stop: Atlas Mountains

Atlas Mountains – next level!

This time we are heading east. After 3.5 hours of what felt like a road trip through a painting, complete with epic valleys and mountains straight out of a fantasy novel, we arrived at the heart of the Atlas Mountains. It was like driving through the set of a blockbuster adventure movie, minus the popcorn breaks.

The beautiful Atlas Mountains
The beautiful Atlas Mountains

As we approached the Atlas Mountains, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. But let me tell you, nothing prepared me for the sheer grandeur of those snow-capped peaks! It was like stumbling upon a majestic ice cream cake in the middle of the desert—unexpected, exhilarating, and oddly soothing. Driving through those winding mountain roads was an adventure in itself. I swear at some points, the road was so narrow that I could high-five a mountain goat from the car window! And the scenery? Oh boy, don’t even get me started! From rusty-red valleys to terracotta villages nestled snugly in the mountains, it was like Mother Nature couldn’t decide on just one colour palette.

Who knew you could find a ski resort in North Africa? If you’re more into adrenaline than après-ski, there are plenty of adventure sports to keep you entertained like hiking, trekking, mountain biking, and even skiing during the winter months. Or, if you’re like me and prefer your thrills with a side of fresh mountain air, you’ve come to the right place!

The Atlas Mountains are a mere hour’s drive from Marrakech. It stretches over 2,500 kilometres across the northwest African region. These mountains boast some of the highest peaks in Africa, with Jebel Toubkal rising to 4,167 meters, making it the highest peak in North Africa. These mountains hold cultural significance for the Berber people, who have inhabited the region for centuries. Berber villages dot the mountainsides, offering visitors a glimpse into traditional mountain life and hospitality.

While the Atlas Mountains in Morocco are renowned for their rugged beauty and outdoor adventures, they also offer plenty of opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation with spa and wellness options. Here are some of the spa and wellness experiences you can enjoy in the Atlas Mountains:

  1. Mountain Retreats: Several luxury resorts and boutique hotels nestled in the Atlas Mountains offer spa facilities with serene mountain views.
  2. Traditional Hammams: Experience the ancient tradition of hammams, or Moroccan steam baths, which have been practised for centuries for cleansing and relaxation. Many accommodations in the Atlas Mountains feature hammam facilities where you can enjoy a traditional scrub and steam bath.
  3. Natural Hot Springs: Discover natural hot springs tucked away in the valleys and foothills of the Atlas Mountains.
  4. Yoga and Meditation Retreats: Many yoga and meditation retreats are set against the tranquil backdrop of the Atlas Mountains.
  5. Mountain Hikes and Wellness: Combine outdoor activities with wellness experiences by embarking on guided hikes through the scenic trails of the Atlas Mountains.
  6. Berber Wellness Practices: From herbal remedies to holistic healing rituals, immerse yourself in Berber culture and traditions that promote overall well-being.
  7. Cultural Immersion: Combine your spa and wellness experiences with the rich heritage of the Berber cultural immersion activities such as cooking classes, traditional music performances, and visits to local villages.

Whether you’re seeking luxury and relaxation or authenticity and adventure, the Atlas Mountains of Morocco offer diverse accommodation options to suit every traveller’s preference.

Richard Branson's Kasbah Tamadot
Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot
Enjoy lunch whilst taking in these stunning views
Enjoy lunch whilst taking in these stunning views

Here are some popular choices for staying amidst the stunning landscapes of the Atlas Mountains:

  1. Luxury Mountain Retreats: These exclusive resorts offer spacious villas or suites with panoramic views, gourmet dining, spa facilities, and personalized services.
  2. Berber Guesthouses: Immerse yourself in the local culture by staying at traditional Berber guesthouses scattered throughout the Atlas Mountains. These authentic accommodations provide a glimpse into Berber hospitality and lifestyle, with cosy rooms, home-cooked meals, and opportunities to engage with local communities.
  3. Eco-Lodges and Retreat Centres: Embrace sustainable tourism practices by choosing rustic, charming eco-lodges and retreat centres that prioritize environmental conservation and community engagement.
  4. Mountain Riads: Discover hidden gems in the Atlas Mountains with charming mountain riads, and traditional Moroccan guesthouses characterized by their central courtyards and ornate architecture.
  5. Glamping Sites: For a unique outdoor experience, sleep under the stars in luxury tents equipped with comfortable amenities, private bathrooms, and outdoor seating areas.
  6. Mountain Refuges: If you’re an avid hiker or mountaineer, you may opt to stay at mountain refuges or shelters along popular trekking routes in the Atlas Mountains.
  7. Ski Resorts: During the winter months, ski resorts in the High Atlas Mountains offer accommodation options for snow sports enthusiasts.
  8. Remote Mountain Villages: Stay with local families or in traditional mud-brick houses, known as kasbahs, and immerse yourself in Berber culture, cuisine, and customs.

After spending a couple of nights in this picturesque setting, it was time to head back to reality – unfortunately. We made our way back to Marrakech, where the airport buzzed with activity, welcoming travellers from around the globe.

Morocco – Where the Charm Never Takes a ‘Siesta’

If you’re looking for different! Morocco is like the superhero of destinations, ready to rescue you from the clutches of boredom! There are many ways of exploring this majestic destination. If guided tours are your preference, there are amazing tours on offer. Or if you prefer to be transferred around, hire a vehicle or you want to hire a motorcycle to explore at your own pace. The options are plenty and affordable.

One observation that might be of importance. If you’re thinking of bringing the tiny tots along for the Moroccan adventure, let’s just say it might not be a walk in the park – especially if that park is bustling with snake charmers and market mayhem!

Moroccan seaside village
Moroccan seaside village

Entrance to a Riad
Entrance to a Riad

 

 

Morocco isn’t just a jack-of-all-trades; it’s more like a master-of-all-trades! From history buffs to shopaholics, foodies to thrill-seekers, and even spa aficionados – Morocco has something for almost everyone. It’s like the ultimate multitasker of travel destinations!

In conclusion, this guided tour explored just a few of the many highlights of Morocco in less than a week. However, there is so much more to do, see and experience in Morocco. But this shows you that you can cram more adventure into a week in Morocco than you can crumbs into a biscuit tin!

 

Morocco did not only exceed all my expectations, but it also completely overwhelmed my senses.

I’m going back for more…

 

Note: This post about Morocco contains affiliate links to trusted partners. Images belong to the owner of the blog.

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