In April I got to explore the magical country of Morocco with my mom on an amazing two-week tour with Intrepid.
Intrepid focuses on small group travel and places that are off the beaten track while keeping in mind carbon offset, so while we got to see the main cities and touristy areas, we also had the incredible opportunity of visiting a small Berber village where a family invited us up to their house for traditional tea and bread.
We had some disappointing flight issues and missed the first day-and-a-half of activities but that didn’t dampen the rest of the tour. Exhausted, jet lagged and worried we would miss them (again), my mom and I hopped on a train in Casablanca to Rabat where we joined up with the group just as they were finishing up in the country’s capital.
We then took a several hour long bus ride to Meknes where we spent the night. After a tour of this 17th century imperial city, we continued on to the Roman ruins in Volubilis in the midst of lush green fields.
After the ruins, we drove to Chefchaouen. Ahh, Chefchaouen – what a beauty. Known as the “Blue City”, this charming Moroccan gem is nestled between two peaks of the Rif Mountains. We stayed the night in a beautiful hotel and had dinner at a great restaurant with a very friendly host. Chefchaouen reminded me of Cordoba, Spain but was blue instead of white.
After the magical Blue City, we drove to Fes, which for me was one of the highlights. Busy, rumbling, and a little crazy, I kept imagining what it must be like to live in a city that felt like a maze, with its alleys and steep staircases, dead-ends, and confused tourists trying to figure out their way. We had a local guide, Hakima, who led us through narrow alleyways reminding us that whenever we heard “Balak!” to get out of the way or you just might get run over by a donkey or a cart laden with goods. The downside of Fes was when I ate a salad and got sick. From then on, my stomach was just not happy.
For the next few days, the tour took us to quieter, rural areas. In was in Midelt where we had tea with a Berber family and got to walk around a Berber village.
We stayed the night in Midelt and the next day was the Sahara! This was a great experience – we took a camel ride to and from our desert camp where we stayed the night. We climbed a sand dune, were serenaded by live music under a full moon, and the late night chats I had with my new friends was a definite highlight.
Leaving the Sahara was not enjoyable for me, I think we were on the bus for 7 hours and I was just not having it at that point but then we finally arrived in the M’goun Valley where we stayed at a beautiful Berber house. We spent two nights in the Rose Valley and then headed off on the road of 1000 Kasbahs. We visited Ait Benhaddou, an 11th century Kasbah which you may recognize from the numerous Hollywood movies shot there and Game of Thrones.
The last stop on our tour was Marrakesh, the most heavily tourist-visited city of the tour. We were taken on a walking tour, visited a palace, and ate dinner at the famous Jemaa el Fna square. We had a free day in Marrakesh and visited the Majorelle Garden. After that my mom and I did a copious amount of shopping in the winding, jam-packed alleys filled with vendors selling everything from dessert to shoes.
Morocco’s geographic diversity really surprised me. We saw lush green fields, rugged terrain, snowcapped mountains and desert, sometimes all in one day. There were many goats, donkeys and cats everywhere we went.
If you go to Morocco, I do recommend bringing tummy medication! In some areas access to a pharmacy was not possible so save yourself the grief and be prepared. Also, a lot of the drives were through winding paths which gave a number of us some car sickness. I packed non-drowsy Gravol which really helped me out.
All photography on this blog was taken by me and cannot be republished or used without my permission.