Arrived late to Marrakesh, Morocco and whilst waiting to be driven to the Hotel I met some other Aussie and Kiwi’s also living in London. I’m starting to see a theme here when I travel! It’s great meeting people along the way who I can then met up with back in London OR back on the other side of the world too. Checked in to the Hotel, met my room mate for the trip and went to bed.
After a restless sleep, we enjoyed brekky before grabbing our luggage to start the Exotic Morocco 10 day TravelTalk tour. Waiting for the bus, we tried to connect to the wifi. Not much was happening with it so I resigned to the fact that I would have limited connection for the next week and a half. This could possibly be a good thing!
Exploring Morocco started with a morning of exploring tombs, a palace, the Medina (old City) and the markets of Marrakech, before making our way towards Essaouira on the coast. A stop for lunch at a roadside cafe. A stop in Argan to learn about the process of producing pure Moroccan Argan Oil (and to look out for goats in the Argan trees, which there were none). Of course I bought myself a bottle, my hair has been feeling so lifeless since moving to London. Before driving down to the city of Essaouira, we stopped for panoramic views of the city and the coast. Another hotel check-in, the wifi semi worked, a change in to swim wear and we practically could step on to the beach from where we stayed (well we crossed a road first). An attempt to sunbake was made but it was just so windy (Essaouira isn’t call the Windy City for nothing). Our tour guide took us for a walk through the Medina before stopping at a seaside restaurant for dinner. I was so hungry as it was getting late at this point that I ate bread, and lots of it. Definitely regretted it in the morning!
Leaving Essaouira behind us in the morning, we made our way along the coast to Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city. Toilet and ice cream stops along the way, we arrived in to Casablanca, the white city, in time for lunch. Enjoyed some veg, sitting in the sun, with beach views in front of us and free Macca’s wifi, to catch up with the rest of the world. It was definitely interesting having limited connection to our phones. I feel people spoke to each other more on the long bus drives and actually looked out the window and saw the country.
We got the opportunity to go into the mosque, to check out the beautiful, symmetrical interior design and learn about the religion. Shoulders and knee’s covered and shoes off. A quick stop to see Rick’s Cafe from the 1942 black and white film ‘Casablanca’, before being shown a shop where we could stock up on cheap drinks. Moroccan Beer and a bottle of Moroccan red wine for me. Pre-drinks at the hotel before a walk through the Medina and city square before dinner. Another vegetable tagine and too much bread. Lots of chats, comparing Aussie and Kiwi words and thoroughly confusing the Canadian. My room mate introduced me to Pizza Hut’s pan cooked pizza. New fave drunk food. Late to bed with an early wake up call ahead of us.
Brekky at 6am so that we could leave Casablanca early before the peak hour rush. We had a stop in Rabat for a few hours. Rabat was beautiful and we had 4 main stops around Morocco’s capital city to take in. We wandered among blue and white painted buildings to a coastal view and then into a Riad (enclosed garden) full of orange trees and cats. Then there was the king’s royal palace, which within the grounds is almost like a town of it’s own. Next was the Necropolis with more beautiful gardens and views, roman ruins and a lady feeding around 20 cats. I’ll admit the latter held my interest the most. Lastly was the unfinished mausoleum with the royal guards on horseback.
On to Chefchaouen, better known as (thanks to Instagram) the Blue City. The first major highlight of the tour for me. Our guide took us on a walking tour through the Medina, showing us the central square with all the resturants, the famous blue street, which has been posed in by many a travel blogger. Then to a waterfall and to views of the Spanish mosque sitting high on a hill overlooking the city. The blue city has a mix of Spanish, Moroccan, Mexican and greek vibes I noticed. The blues and whites and vivid colour.
We were set free to wander the city and have dinner. We found a small place with colourful seats and cushions that we were able to sit outside and people watch while enjoying moroccan food and making use of the free wifi. We were joined, firstly, by a tiny, curious kitten then it’s mumma and some other cats as we sat and ate and relaxed enjoying the warm evening air. A long windy drive in the dark to Tituan for the hotel we were to stay in for the night. The drive included sing alongs to help pass the time.
Woke before my alarm, so excited to get back to the Blue City to photograph it. But first hair, make up and breakfast. Breakfast included a view of the mountains and one can never complain about that no matter how early it is.
To begin with, we hit up the 2 Insta-famous spots of Chefchaouen, the blue street and a blue terrace room to take as many photos as possible before everyone else got in. We wandered the streets of the Blue City, seeking out the best blue stairs, doors and walls to take photos and get that perfect shot to upload. It was a lot of fun being both behind and infront of the camera. Had me missing portrait sessions and I’m now eager to get back in to people photography. We went back to last night’s restaurant in the main square to have lunch before finding a few more locations to shoot in.
A long bus ride to Fes, looking through the many, many photos taken. At the hotel in Fes, there was enough time to recharge phones, freshen up and chill drinks, drinks which we took to the dinner and show in the Medina. Moroccan food, moroccan dancing and Moroccan music. Moroccan beer and a whole bottle of moroccan red wine later, my back pack was full of bananas and oranges. Back late to the hotel and passed out right away without even changing.
Woke hungover but still managed to get myself down to breakfast. A full day of being shown around the City of Fes. First stop was the kings palace and a walk through the streets of the Jewish City. We were driven up a hill with panoramic views of the entire Medina before being taken around a Pottery and Mosaic Co-Operative. There were so many pretty designs and it was great to witness each stage of the process in producing the ceramics.
The rest of the day was spent being guided around the Medina of Fes. Compared to Casablanca, this Medina was so much more interesting and nicer in its own way. Narrow lanes leading all over the place. Through a food market where we were traumatised by hanging goat’s and camel heads. Lunch was on a roof top terrace with views over the Medina roofs. Our guides took us to a place where silk scarves were made and we got to pick out he’d scarfs for our Sahara camping trip. We visited a leather tannery, which smelt….well…not great! On the way back to the hotel we stopped off at a supermarket to stock up on water, snacks and booze (priorities) for our 2 days of camping in the Sahara Desert. I skipped dinner as I wasn’t feeling great still and went to bed early knowing that breakfast the next morning was going to be an early one again.
Left very early to make our way south to the Sahara Desert. My second big highlight of this trip! I did not sleep well and a windy, bumpy bus ride through the Mid Atlas Mountains didn’t make for easy napping. Stopped in a city that looked like a town right out of Switzerland. Shortly after we stopped in a forest to feed and photograph monkeys. They were cute as but we were told not to touch them otherwise we weren’t allowed back on the bus! After a lot more driving and a few more toilet stops, we made it to lunch and was countryside around us was starting to look more desert-like. From lunch it wasn’t too far to the Sahara Desert. To reach the hotel the bus had to go off road onto a sandy track. Despite only 3km left to drive to reach our destination, the bus had to go so, so slowly that it took a painful amount of time to get there. Finally we did. Half an hour to charge phones, attempt to connect to wifi (who’d have thought there’d be wifi in the desert) and get our headscarfs wrapped and then we were up on our camels and off to ride through the desert to our campsite for the night. The Sahara was magical! We climbed a very high/steep sand dune to take photos and attempt to see sunset. Unfortunately it was too cloudy. Ran down the other side of the dune and into the campsite. The run down was exhilarating and added to all the excitement!
We sat around on cushions, ate dinner, drank and chatted. A fire was lit, we drank, danced and listened to traditional drumming. Around midnight some of us wandered out onto the dunes in the dark to look up and witness the amazing view of millions of stars, uninhibited by light pollution, glittering down at us. I event attempted to take some star photos…but being slightly drunk, I at first couldn’t understand why my shots all kept turning out black….to eventually discover I’d left the lens cap on still!
Woken before sunrise to once again climb the dunes to sunrise. Yet again we were disappointed as there was too many clouds. Back on to the camels to ride back to the hotel. This second ride wasn’t quite so comfortable and it probably didn’t help I was struggling to stay awake.
Breakfast at the hotel and a chance to freshen up before being loaded into 4×4’s to be taken back out into the desert for more exploring. Sitting, at first, right up the back, it was a very rough ride as the driver took us over the dunes, up & down, bouncing around, smacking my head on the roof twice. Had to hold on tight to the seat in front of me. First stop was to listen and watch a local African band dance and play drums and traditional instruments. Back into the Jeep, racing the other 4×4’s, we were taken to a panoramic view point where we could see all the way to the Algerian Mountains. From there we were driven towards the Algerian border to visit and see and learn how a nomad family lives. Such a vastly different life to ours. The last stop was at the top of a sand dune with more Sahara Desert views. I quite literally toppled out of the Jeep it was at such a steep angle where it stopped on the dune. Then we were taken sand duning in the 4×4’s. I won’t lie, I found it terrifying as we flew over these dunes. Fun at the same time.
Back to the Hotel for lunch and free time for the rest of the day. Of course we took advantage of the sun, warmth and pool. Spent a few hours lazing around the pool before dinner. Our last proper together as a whole group. Lots of delicious food, I was so happy to see so much veg. I piled my plate high and even went back for more. The zucchini chips were on point.
Thank goodness I got to bed early on our last night in the Sahara as we had a very, very early start to leave the desert. Breakfast at 5am!! Said goodbye to the desert as the sky was slowly starting to lighten and we made our way towards Marrakech. One very long day of driving was ahead of us. More then 12 hours actually. Started off driving for 2.5hrs, with the whole bus sleeping (not the bus driver of course) before we got to our first toilet stop. There were many more toilet, snack and sight seeing stops along the way. Always an opportunity to stretch the legs. We stopped on the side of the road for panoramic views, in little towns, for a walk along a river deep in a gorge. Lunch stop was at a road side cafe in the High Atlas Mountains. The last mountain range we had to cross in our Morocco trip. We stopped at a view point in the mountains, just after passing the highest peak in Morocco (2060mts) to take in views of all the beautiful mountain landscape and also to look down over the road we still had left to travel, down through the mountains. Considered to be the 6th most dangerous road in the world, we took the twists and turns by bus. There were quite a few heart stopping moments as we wove around tight corners and over bumps. We only came across one car accident the entire trip (unfortunately it looked like quite a bad one). 14 hours after leaving the Sahara Desert, we made it to our hotel in New city of Marrakech. A quick moment to check wifi and freshen up and then we were back on the bus for one last trip together as a group. Into the Medina, to the main square, for free time and one last Moroccan dinner. Tagging along with a group of girls, we pushed our way through the massive crowd in the square to find a Moroccan restaurant in a quieter square in the market. Enjoying delicious Moroccan food, company and mild temperatures, we sat on a roof top terrace over looking the market. One last dinner. It was great to chat and share our experiences of the past 9 days of the Exotic Morocco tour.
Back at the hotel, I said goodbye to my new Canadian friend. Hopefully we will see each other again, soon. Me to Canada or her to Australia.
Once again I was so fortunate to have an awesome group of people on my tour to explore the delights of Morocco with!