In November 2017 I needed a break. I had some annual leave to take up, but my other half didn’t have any left. The friends I’d been wanting to visit were busy or away themselves. And I wanted to go somewhere warm-ish, ideally. The year had been pretty full-on (hah, if only I knew what 2018 would be like!) and I knew that I would have neither the time nor the energy to really plan a trip in full detail myself.
So I started looking into organised group travel, different price categories, audiences, destinations, time scales, etc. At the end of the day I wanted:
- soak up a bit of Vitamin D (gimme sunshine!)
- 2 weeks max
- not spend too much money.
So I started some extensive research, browsing around websites, comparing prices, going through opinions and reviews on travel fora, checking weather forecasts and plane tickets.
In the end I chose for the ‘Morocco Uncovered’ trip organised by Intrepid. It’s a 13 day trip, group size of max 12 people and it takes you round circle-wise from Casablanca to Marrakech. It was a great trip and I truly recommend it! Morocco was this vague place in my mind, but honestly, its beauty surprised me every day. I don’t want to go through every little detail of the trip – you can find plenty of information on the Intrepid website – but I will give you my best tip or thing I liked most all the places we went to. So here we go!
When you visit the Hassan II mosque, you need to take off your shoes, put them in a green fabric bag and walk around looking like a touristy shopper, or shopping tourist, but probably both – in a mosque. Not only does it look quite funny (well, all the other people, just ignore how you think you look), I also found it a very humbling experience to enter and explore this beautiful Mosque with its marble and carpets and (casually) retractable roof.
We only spent a day in Rabat and crammed a whole lot in. But if I have to pick a favourite it would be visiting the Kasbah of the Udayas: the views over the sea, the cute blue and white streets and hidden gardens.
We visited the granary and stables in Meknes. The stables are a great photo op for the photographers among you – but it was even better with all the cats happily posing for us.
What an absolute beauty! My six years of Latin studies at secondary school were delved out from the dark depths in my memory – well, I tried. Our local guide there was absolutely hilarious which made the visit even better. The jokes just kept on coming and he was happy to even imitate the ancient Romans for our photos.
Our hotel served some amazing pancakes with goat’s cheese and honey, but what I’d really recommend you do (I mean, you need to eat, clearly, but after that) is to get lost in the little streets, admire the 50 shades of blue and just let your eyes and feet wander…
In Fes I fell in love…with lamps. I’ve had a similar lamp-crush before in Istanbul – but as I was travelling to two more destinations before heading back home I didn’t estimate the chances of the lamp arriving in one piece very high. We went to the (work)shop of the guy who engraved the doors of the royal palace and admired all the lamps. It pained me so to leave without a lamp, but as I was moving countries a month later buying an expensive lamp wasn’t exactly a priority.
After crowded Fes with its very narrow streets it was a relief to get out to the countryside and go for a walk. We admired the rough landscapes and quaint settlements, and were happy to be able to roam around.
Spending a night in the desert! Amazing experience, and to my standards quite luxurious: we each had a large mattress and electric lights in our tents, even a proper toilet and sink (in a separate tent, mind you). But the best bit was seeing the sun rise from the top of a dune (specifically the view, I’m not including the hike up or down here in my ‘best bit’ selection).
Todra Gorge & Dades Valley
Difficult to capture on photo, but impressive to walk through. It’s very touristy though, which spoils it a bit in my opinion, but see of you can spot the mountaneering sheep!
Back to basics in the mountains, but also back to the core of Moroccan hospitality, tasty soups, sitting by the fireplace and mostly: barely any wifi. What I liked most here was the hike we did up the central plateau which had stunning views.
Famous film location, but a bit frustrating I recall as the photographer in me struggled to capture it in its entirety. The combo of wifi and some decent black tea at the café though made up for it.
One of my favourite places, especially because we saw it at sunset! No matter which direction you looked it was a feast for the eyes – I could enjoy staring at this landscape for the rest of my life and still not get bored of it.
We arrived on a sunny Saturday afternoon and the place was bustling! People everywhere, so quite overwhelming after the peaceful countryside. It took me two full days to really acclimatise, so this feeling probably explains my personal favourite for Marrakech: the rooftops! It’s like another world. Most hotels have their own cute rooftop to relax on, from where you can admire the other ones, away from the craze on the streets. Bring on the sunsets!
On this trip every day was a new surprise, with something different waiting around the corner, yet another unexpected treat. I really loved it and it made me curious to explore the region more. Plus, I need to go back to buy myself a lamp.
Have you been to Morocco? What were your highlights?
If you would like to read about some of my other trips, check out my blog posts about Malta, Cracow or Georgia (Part I and Part II).
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