To be honest, Africa in my mind has always been a region populated by wild animals and natural habitat. Of course, I knew there’d be cities and urban living. But the thought of a country like Morocco, with its Middle Eastern infused lifestyle, has never crossed my mind.
Morocco has become one of my favorite destinations. With its magnificent architecture, welcoming people and lavish lifestyle, I often miss the days sipping on overly sweet mint tea and jogging around maze-like medinas.
Chefchaouen is a city north of Morocco. The whole city is in varying shades of blue, a color said to have the magical power of repelling mosquitoes. As the capital city of pot production, it was offered everywhere. People rolled joints in little cafes by the streets and sold them by the bundle.
The city was small. We were able to tour the town within a day and even had time to hike up a mountain for the full view of mismatching blues. While we felt relatively safe in a group of 9, our guide did tell us to be extra cautious at night.
Fez is the oldest of Morocco’s imperial cities, with a medina that extends back to the thirteenth century. From splendid palaces to religious sanctuaries, the city is often called “Mecca of the West.” Its artisans and activities are spread across maze-like bazaars.
We began the day by visiting the Royal Palace of Fez (Dar el Makhzen). While the gardens of the palace have restricted access, the magnificent gates were worth the visit.
After visiting the palace, we were driven across the city towards a view from Fez el-Bali. This ‘old wall’ provides a great view of the whole city. But a tour guide is a highly recommended. The sprawling streets and constant hustle of Fez were really confusing.
Merzouga Desert, Morocco
There are no words to describe the incredible experience of lounging in the middle of the desert overnight!! The starry nights and light drinks, the Moroccan meal and Barbar talks, loved it through and through. Despite how cold the night was, it was while worth the chats in the sand.
Following our two-day stay in Fez, We went through the cedar forest, the port of Midelt, Errachidia Reservoir, and the valley of Ziz towards Erfoud, the city to our desert stay.
We weren’t able to stop at every location on the road, but every spot mentioned is a must see. I really can’t stress how different the landscape and weather between the various Moroccan regions can be. At one point, we had mountains full of snow behind us while heading towards eye-distant desert!
We spent the fourth night in the middle of the desert with some Berbers. They were happy go-lucky people that drummed and danced with us the whole night.
The night was completed by millions of stars, a bottle of wine, and a tribe of camels dozed a few feet away.
Alas, the February night sky was bone-shattering, so we spent the rest of the night crawled up in sleeping bags on mattresses inside pre-prepared tents.
Ouarzazate Ciudade, Morocco
This is where movies like Lawrence of Arabia and The Mummy were filmed. The set is still intact, and there weren’t many tourists around the area. Unfortunately, our itinerary only provided an hour or so here so I didn’t have the chance to go inside.
By mid-afternoon, we were on route to Morocco’s crown jewel–Marrakesh.
Marrakesh is as lively as you’d think a metropolis can be. It buzzes with life day and night, with thousands of henna artists, hustlers, musicians, tourists and vendors strolling through the old city center.
There was an infinite number of cuisines. The city center provided western cafes, traditional Moroccan tea shops, Chinese, curry, steak, you name it. I’ve always thought that Italy was home to the best pizza, but it definitely has some competition in the markets of Marrakesh.
One of my favorite places was Bari’s Pizza. They are located just at the outskirts of Jemaa El Fna (main square). Their margarita pizzas are amazing :’) Morocco also makes a mean avocado milkshake, which is basically heaven’s gift to earth and a must have!
No need to say, a week in Morocco was definitely not enough. For 6 days including ground transportation in and between cities, accommodation at beautiful riads (mini palaces) with half board (breakfast and dinner), excursion in the desert (camel, tents, and entertainment) and transfers to airport, we each paid €200. Considering the amount of traveling, we definitely got a bargain deal!
The rest of the money I spent was in bazaars. I couldn’t resist the temptation of buying supposed cashmere scarves and cotton shirts.
Happy Travels xx
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