From the bustling city of Marrakesh, through the snow-capped Atlas mountains, to the blazing deserts and sand dunes of Merzouga, and back down all the way to the coast, I covered more than 800 miles of Morocco in a week… Here’s a little travel guide based on my experience!
WHAT TO WEAR:
When traveling, I believe that it is important to respect a culture’s customs, especially when it’s different from yours. I was a bit worried about what to wear in Morocco because my personal style typically involves shorts and bikinis. Since it is a Muslim country, dressing conservatively is crucial, especially when walking around in busy cities like Marrakesh or in the more rural areas with less tourism. If in doubt of what to wear, it’s good to just keep your knees and shoulders covered. It’s best to wear long, loose pieces of clothing such as harem pants and button up blouses. When I went to the Sahara desert on a camping trip, I covered my neck and hair with a headscarf, but I figured that since the only people around in the desert were other tourists, that it was okay to show my shoulders.
The temperature was about 75-80 degrees in Marrakesh and in the desert, but up in the Atlas Mountains and at night it got a little chilly, so bringing a cardigan and a jacket came in handy.
In the surf city of Taghazout and in the other coastal regions, I noticed that tourists could get away with dressing however they wanted. I saw people walking around in summer dresses and shorts, and I myself wore a one piece around at the beach. The water in early spring is still a little chilly (around 65 degrees), so a 3/2 full wetsuit was perfect.
Spend a day (or two) in Marrakesh. Explore the old town vibes of the Medina. Get lost in all of the alleyways and practice your bartering skills in the market place. It’s chaos- your senses will be overwhelmed, and enjoy every bit of it.
3. Road trip from Marrakesh through the Atlas Mountains. I highly recommend getting yourself a personal tour guide. I did this.
Spots to see:
- ait Ben Haddou (a Moroccan UNESCO world heritage site where many movies and tv shows are filmed such as Game of Thrones, Gladiator, and Lawrence of Arabia. )
- The numerous Berbere villages scattered throughout the High Atlas Mountains
- Tamlalt, about nine kilometres after Boulmane. Interesting rock formations that are called “monkey fingers”.
- défilé d’Imdiazen”. This is a great place for fishing or a picnic by the water.
- Gorges of Sidi Boubkar
- Dades Gorge- You can go on a five hour long trek with a local guide. Plan provisions and good equipment for this tour. The starting point is at kilometre 25 on the gorge route.
3. Ride a camel and camp in the Sahara Desert. This was the highlight of my trip. We were welcomed with mint tea in the town of Merzouga where I packed up an overnight bag to spend the night in the desert. It was an hour and 30 minute camel ride through the Erg chebbi dunes to the campsite. We met up with other travelers, ate dinner together under the stars, and danced to Moroccan drums around a bonfire. Around 5am, first light started to peak through the dunes, and we got back on the camels to trek back to Merzouga with the sunrise. It was an unbelievable, surreal experience.
My personal favorite locals were the camels. I learned that they make noises like elephant seals, use the water stored in their hump to last up to a week in the desert without water, and that the Moroccan camels have one hump while camels in Australia have two. This was my first time ever seeing a camels in real life, and I loved every interaction with them.
The people of Morocco: The main languages are Arabic and French, although many people can speak English. There are also many different dialects within the nomadic and Berbere villages.
Currency: Moroccan dirham or Euros.
As we drove through the countryside, we noticed that there was a soccer field in every village. Some were on the sand, some with palms in the background, and others with a magnificent backdrop of snowy mountains and miles of empty desert. Each soccer field was unique and embodied the village that we were passing through.
Morocco is known for its amazing right-breaking point breaks. The best waves are located in South Morocco, in between Essaouria and Agadir. Some popular point breaks are Anchor Point, Boilers, Killer Point, La Source, Mysteries, and Hash Point. However, there are plenty of lesser known spots up the coast to ensure surfing uncrowded waves. There are empty waves around every corner, and you can discover new surf spots that people have never surfed before with the help of a 4WD vehicle.
The best time to surf Morocco is during the winter season; from late autumn until March. This is when the weather is at its best, too. The water is anywhere from 62-70 degrees in the winter, so a spring suit is recommended.
Since I only covered east of Marrakesh and the south, next time I visit Morocco, I’d like to explore the north; Fez, Rabat, and Chefchouen.
Photography by Chris Delorenzo