As i’m writing this I am currently soaking up the sun in Sri Lanka. Sorry this has taken such a long time to get out we have been struggling to find the balance between trying to capture all our travelling in writing and photos and also enjoy the life we are living while full time travelling.
We are taking a trip to Morocco! Unfortunately thought we can’t take Baloo! Morocco was one of the main reasons we bought a 4×4. With our first car getting stolen back in July we are not prepared to risk driving through the country with no insurance on the car. Unfortunately our new insurance company would not cover us for this trip and buying insurance at the border would basically cover us for nothing apart from third party.
We pick up £16 flights from London so decide to fly down and travel the country for a month. After all we have just spent about three months travelling in the car with just the two of us, it will be good to back pack and meet other young travellers.
We fly into Fez, a bustling city and home to the largest Medina in the world! We decide to stay in a small riad (traditional Moroccan home), inside the Medina walls. The Medina is an absolute maze and extremely difficult to figure out where to go. Once you get lost phone data has no chance of working.
Fez is a beautiful place to make a first stop, crafts, rugs and leather goods are plentiful within the Medina walls. We manage to come back to Fez three times within our time in Morocco and out of all the places we visit it is by far the best to get quality gifts at a reasonable price. Marrakesh also has great rugs etc but the prices can be much steeper due to more tourists in the area.
Moroccan food is something neither of us have experienced much in our lives. We jump straight into trying all the local dishes. Being a vegetarian is no problem there are plenty of vegetables. Tagine, cous cous and pastelia are all delicious with a touch of Moroccan spices and flavours.
We decide to make a trip to Chefchouen, the blue town you have probably seen all over instagram. This quiet city is located just three hours north of Fez in the mountains. It literally looks just like all the photos, every building is painted in a calming blue and again everything Is located within Medina walls so can be a it of a maze to get around. If you find yourself travelling to Chefchouen make sure to check out cafe Bar Ssour a little tricky to find but we came back three times in the few days we were here. Sam highly enjoyed the ox tail tagine, said its one of the best meals he has ever had.
We catch a bus back down to Fez for a one day stop over before we jump on an overnight bus down to Merzouga, a small town in the Sahararah desert. We chose not to do a tour that drives you from Fez to Marrakesh through the desert as they can be highly overpriced and they feel very touristy to us. We prefer to make the journey ourselves, we have the time and would like to experience as much of the local culture as we can. In the town of Merzouga there are limited eating options but nice cheap accomodation overlooking the desert. We did however take a one night excursion to sleep in the berber tents in the dunes. Visiting Morocco during off season we did not have a crowded experience like many others talk about and we had great temperatures during the days to explore.
A Bus trip to Marrakesh breaking it up half way with a quick visit to Ait Ben Haddou, A famous Game of Throne site where they made a village look like a full sized sand castle. Good for an overnight stop but no more time is needed. We find ourselves in Marrakesh the next day, one of the main hubs for tourism in Morocoo.
Now Marrakesh is a little controversial for us as we personally did not have a good experience in this city. A mixture of it being over touristy resulting in prices being a lot higher and the locals being a lot more aggressive, we sadly did not feel safe nor welcome in this city. Marrakesh has some beautiful accomodation where I’m sure you would have a very different experience but us living on a backpackers budget did not. There is a main square which gets very busy at night time with many food stalls and entertainment. Beware that you will get sworn at for not eating at peoples stalls, they may even corner you and push you, this is what happened to us. Also please don’t take your camera there day or night, men with monkeys and snakes will come and put their animals straight on you without permission and make you pay to take them off.
Moving on from that city we travelled to a small surf town named Tagazhout, we have heard so much about this place from other travellers and were really excited to check it out. Once arriving we discover it is a very small town indeed, filled with a lot of yoga and surf retreats. There is quite a touristy vibe to the town you can tell through returns clearly aimed at tourists. Tagazhout is a fun place to hang out as a back packer but please be careful of swimming or eating the seafood as they are known for being very un clean and all the waste from the town washes straight to the ocean resulting in 12/17 in our hostel sick with vomiting bugs, poor Sam was bed ridden for 7 days with this.
Once Sam finally recovers one of our final stops is Essouria a vibrant seaside town. Well priced crafts and good food can all be found here. Similar to many other seaside towns it has a very slow paced life feeling to it which makes it a relaxing place to wind down for a few days especially if you have just come from Marrakesh. It can be a popular town to see if you do not have a lot of time in the country.
Up to Rabat for a night this one could be left off the Moroccan list as a backpacker we found there was not a whole lot to see and accomodation was very limited on a budget. We were reaching the end of our month in Morocco and we did feel quite drained from all the travelling around. Living out of the car normally we can go at a very slow pace, Backpacking and changing accomodation every day can be very tiring but you are able to experience a lot of different places in short periods of time.
Overall we had a great trip to Morocco, we spent a month but felt that three weeks would have been perfect. Our highlight was definitely the Sahara desert it is just such a magnificent sight and a must do when going to the country. Try avoid all the touristy tours and venture out yourself you will save money and have a lot more of an adventure.
A few tips we have for any one looking to travel to Morocco especially on a backpackers budget.
We chose to catch public buses and trains every where they are not as cheap as asian countries we have travelled to but a three hour bus ride can be picked up for around 7 euros. Supratouras are the main bus company we used and you can purchase tickets just a day in advance they are coaches so very comfortable with assigned seating. Trains can also be purchased in advance they can get crowded and for a euro or so extra you can upgrade to first class which is a lot more comfortable and less people per cabin.
Fez – Medina social club hostel is a beautiful hostel with the comfiest beds they include breakfast and it is located in the centre of the Medina
Chefchouen – Hostel Baraka Run by an English expat there is a great social atmosphere here and it is well located we had a great stay here.
Morocco has been one of the harder countries when bartering, we have spent a lot of time in Asian countries and perfected our skills but they can be tough here in Morocco. Make sure to do a bit of research if you want something higher priced like a rug or blanket and figure out where is the best place to buy and what a rough price should be. This should help you figure out a starting price point to make sure you don’t get ripped off. Remember if you start to barter and agree on a price you need to buy this item, it is highly rude to the locals for you just to barter for fun and not actually purchase if you can reach an agreed price. Generally we found you should be paying about a third of first price that they give you.