African countries do not appear really often on my travel list. And each time I do not know what to expect from it. In Europe, Asia or even Latin America you are getting used to some common things as you travel. Africa brings something for me new each time.
Morocco wasn’t an exception. It was a great experience — all the way from Fes to Sahara and Marrakesh was amazing. Old medinas, narrow streets of bustling markets, cosy and beautiful riads, unique architecture of madrasas, smell of tanneries, bright sun of the desert, unforgettable landscapes of Atlas mountains — all of it remain in memory long after the trip.
At the bottom of the post you can find final itinerary. It differs from out original one, but seems to be very effective if you want to see most of Morocco in nearly 10 days.
Basically we started our trip from Fes. Technically we flew into Casablanca, but right from there took a train to Fes. There are many low-cost airlines flighting directly to Fes from Europe. So it seems to be good point to start or finish the route.
As I know now — medina is the most interesting part of any city in Morocco. So we decided to stay in one of many-many riads there. What I had to get used to is that most of the buildings there look pretty simple from outside and might be amazing inside. We’ve stayed in two different riads in Fes, both were different but very beautiful.
Medina is a kind of labyrinth. It is a permanent mix of houses, markets, schools, mosques and people ;) And each part of it is different experience. Many people live in medina, at the same time many people live in the newer part of the city. Nevertheless most of the tourist tend to stay in medina it does not fill “a touristic place”. It has its own life and you can became part of it for some time…
We spent two days in Fes and I think we could spend there more time, it is nice just to wonder around getting lost in the deeps of this labyrinth. Many locals try to help you to get around, but I think it is more interesting to find your own way. Just don’t be afraid to get lost and you’ll definitely find something interesting ;)
There is a hill near to medina that gives you a nice view of all surroundings… Just try to find your way to this hill first ;) Among many buildings in medina separate place take fountains, mosques and madrasas, which show their unique view and feel…
Another interesting experience in Fes is visit of the multiple tanneries. Well… you don’t need to especially visit all of them as they are pretty similar. It might be a little bit difficult to find them yourself, but your nose will most likely guide you. If you gave up to find them on your own — there are many people around that will be more than happy to help you… For some tips ;)
Another amazing part of the trip was simply the road. We rented a car in Fes and it helped us on all the way up to Marrakesh. It allowed us to see snow and desert in one day. Just driving south from Fes first gets you pretty high where some snow is still seen. Then you can continue your way to the sands of Sahara.
There are multiple points were you can experience the desert in Morocco. Our choice was small and cosy village Hassi Labied. We arrived pretty late in the night due to multiple stops on the way. The place to stay — Ksar Merzouga was booked in advance, so we knew where exactly we were going. Ksar in general is a kind of castle, fortified building.
First half of the next day we spent just wondering around the village and desert. For the second half we booked overnight safari. Yes, these safaris are touristic part, but still it was pretty interesting. For around an hour or hour and a half we rode camels to the camp. It looks like almost each of the hotels have their own camp there. If you go up to some high point, you’ll see many the camps around ;) After arrival to the camp we went to experience sandboarding, then enjoyed bedouin dinner and music. Sleeping in the desert was pretty comfy, however it might get pretty cold.
On the next day we continued our way to Ouarzazate. On the way we stopped near to Todra Gorge — a nice canyon for trekking. However due to high sun there were almost no photos from that place.
Next point from Ouarzazate was Ait Benhaddou — one of the biggest Ksars or fortified cities on the old route between Sahara and Marrakesh. This is a great example of the early moroccan architecture. The place itself has been used in many movies like Prince of Persia, Gladiator, The Mummy and others.
From Ait Benhaddou we headed to Imlil. Imlil is a small village in the High Atlas Mountains. It is a good starting point for a trekking around or climbing of Mt Toubkal. We had just one day so decided to go on a day hike. There are variety of the routes that you can choose from depending on how many days you have.
And the last of the important points of our trip was Marrakesh. As soon as we reached it we drop off the car. It does not make sense to get around Marrakesh with a car as you are getting to the narrows of medina again.
The medina of Marrakesh differs from the one in Fes. It is much bigger with wider streets and motobikers driving here and there. Still it is interesting and shouldn’t be missed!
Plus my micro collection of the doors of Marrakesh… There are much more of them there and each of them is unique…
Camel riding, starwatching ;)
Fortified city along former caravan route