Last I wrote to you guys, I let you know there was more to the story than just Casablanca and my fears the day I arrived in Morocco. A lot more.
It has been a very hectic and exciting last month. And while I didn't mean to take forever to catch you up on the whole trip through Morocco and what I loved most, the exciting news that took over all of December was well worth it (you'll find out more soon, and soon as in less than a month-I promise not to slack off this time).
Morocco was more than I could ever have imagined. But what I realized is that there are few words that will truly explain the beauty that is North Africa. And what better way to fill in that lack of words than to put together a quick highlight video for you of my road trip from Casablanca to Marrakech and everywhere in between. Check it out!
And read about some of my favorite spots and tips below, not if, but when you decide to visit Morocco for yourself.
You won't need more than a day here unless you want to spend an extra day at the beach. While Casablanca has some beautiful views of the ocean, there really wasn't much here to explore. However, if you do make it to Casablanca, do NOT miss out on the Hassan II Mosque. It is what architecture dreams are made of.
Tip: If you are a solo female, don't be afraid to walk alone here. While you do have to be VERY prepared to be hollered at and catcalled, ignore it, keep your chin up and forward, and be brave. I never felt unsafe here, even at night. If you do choose to take a taxi, be aware that many taxi drivers only spoke Arabic so know where you are going before getting in the taxi.
These stops were some of my favorite of the trip. One of the best views you'll see is at Volubilis, the ancient Roman ruins. Make it a quick stop, but not before exploring the ruins, taking in the sites, and standing over what was once thought to be Hercules' bedroom.
In Meknes, be sure to explore Heri es-Souani, Moulay Ismail's granaries and stables. Another incredible architecture site, these stables were home to over 12,000 horses.
As for Fès, this is a city you absolutely cannot miss. From mosaic shops to the tannery, there is no shortage of color and life here.
Tip: While in the Fès medina, be aware that you will get very easily lost, so if you can find a reputable guide, do it! As well, hold on tightly to your purse or personal belongings. While the people of Morocco are incredibly nice and caring, the tight quarters and large crowds in the medina are a recipe for pickpocketers.
Merzouga/The Sahara Desert
The Sahara Desert is where my life changed forever. I know, I know, a bit dramatic. But it's really no exaggeration. You will NEVER experience something like camping in the middle of the Sahara Desert with a few new friends (along with a few new furry camel friends, too).
I went at the beginning of November and the weather could not have been more perfect for camping here. Just be sure to bring a jacket and thick socks for when the sun sets. With the cold sand between your toes, you'll have the chance to take a break from technology, and take in the insane beauty of the rolling golden dunes lit up by the full moon.
Tip: I am beyond thankful to have partnered with G Adventures to take a caravan out into the desert to camp beneath the stars. You'll have an incredible adventure this way, as they organize the camel ride and campsite for you, supply an amazing authentic Berber meal, and even provide a little entertainment in the form of hookah and drums ???? Could not recommend them more if you're looking to have the time of your life!
Todra Gorge/Ait Ben Haddou
Be ready to walk! For both these locations (which are both ones you really shouldn't miss), you'll be hiking quite a bit, so wear your most comfortable shoes. If you love rock climbing, Todra Gorge is your little slice of heaven in Morocco. If you're not a rock climber, don't be afraid. There is a well-paved road to walk along and still take in the sites.
Ait Ben Haddou is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's a must-see, but you won't need more than a day here. Explore the kasbahs and see where movies such as Gladiator were filmed. Along the drive from here to Marrakech, you'll travel through the Route of 1000 Kasbahs and through the Hollywood of Morocco, passing by quite a few movie studios and sets.
Tip: I would definitely recommend staying at Hotel Amazir near Todra Gorge. Not only did they have some of the best tangine that I had the entire trip, but come on... look at this view!
If you're going to stay at any of these places (besides the Desert), stay in Marrakech the longest. I was a little let down that I didn't save enough time on my trip to truly explore Marrakech for all it's worth, as I only had two days there. The medina alone could take an entire day to explore!
Tip: Save all your shopping for Marrakech. You'll find the best bargaining and best prices in the medina here. Just be aware that the shop owners will be quick to charge you far above local pricing. For example, one bracelet I bought, the owner was trying to charge me the equivalent of $55 USD. I left with it at the equivalent of $6 USD, and probably could have gotten it lower. So be ready to haggle! A LOT!
Morocco was one of the most exciting and interesting countries I have ever been to! Planning to go? Feel free to ask any questions, and I'll be happy to provide any information that I can (hotels to stay at, restaurants in the area, etc). And if you've been to Morocco or any of the cities mentioned, I would love to hear what you enjoyed most!