MOROCCO : The Magic of Africa

Its taken me months (OK a year and a half) to actually get to writing my blog piece of my trip to Morocco…

A country that is so captivating & magical, yet so raw. Where extreme wealth meets poverty. Africa’s diamond in the rough.

My entire trip I would spend moments just taking in my surroundings and trying to figure out just how you can describe this to people back home. I am generally pretty good with words but for the first time in my life found it hard to describe this magical place. I just felt no words would be good enough nor descriptive enough to explain how it made you feel & what you saw…

Morocco had me speechless and my mind ticking overtime as to just how special this place is.

It honestly felt like we were in Aladdin, the real life Aladdin…

When researching for our trip, of course you going to head straight to Pinterest to see all the picture perfect captures there are to see and find. What these breathtaking images don’t share is the surroundings of these picture perfect moments. It truly is finding the beauty in everything… You would be walking down a road, surrounded by dilapidated buildings and straight out plain poverty to find the most picture perfect doorway, embellished in the most beautiful tile work and framed by the most amazing white bougainvillea. A country that you can explore and find your own gems. Yes there are the main sight seeing attractions but you can honestly go on your own adventure and find the beauty in absolutely everything you see and everywhere you go.

My sister and I did this trip with some of our best school friends, a full on girls trip – which by the way I think its perfect for that – all the shopping, sight seeing, adventure and beauty – lets just say it was right up our alley. It was originally booked for just Marrakesh and when I started researching I realised there is way more to see and places I was desperate to see just from seeing a few pics. So we extended our trip and turned a one week adventure into a 21 day trip. A sistercation to start followed by a girls trip of a lifetime.

The number one question which was asked,  “but is it safe?” Especially for girls traveling alone? The answer is YES, 100%! Don’t get me wrong at times I told my sister to hide her passport on her so if we have to jump out our taxi and run we can – crying with laughter as I type this – but to be fair catching an 8 hour taxi with a person who doesn’t speak any English across the country can be daunting haha… Plus we have watched too many “Taken” movies… But alas, we lived to tell the tale and an amazing tale it was. Majority of the people we met were super helpful, polite and respectable. We did make sure when booking any transport o r had any questions we went through a reliable source such as hotel or airbnb management on site. We were always careful, but maybe that’s just instilled in us growing up in SA, you can never be too safe or too cautious… But to be fair we also didn’t entertain the men in the markets or public areas, we always dressed respectably, pretended we didn’t understand English and ignored cat calling etc. It is quite tough out there with that kind of discrimination but we chose to ignore and walk with purpose. They won’t hassle if you don’t entertain.

As for what to wear and what is appropriate was probably the next most talked about question… It was way more “relaxed” then I imagined it was going to be… Marrakesh itself is new world or modern Marrakesh especially when you are outside the main walls of the old medina, you can get away with wearing more fashion forward revealing clothes but again we always covered our shoulders in the markets and while walking from taxi to restaurant or bar. Respect their beliefs and be respected is how we thought. As for the rest of the places we visited were a lot more old school and way more conservative. We did however pass tourists who didn’t cover up as much and they were still fine, we just felt way more comfortable keeping ourselves covered and to be fair it was way cooler being dressed in light cotton dresses, covered sleeves and body scarfs. Sounds like it should’ve done the complete opposite but it actually keeps you way cooler…


Having a body scarf that you carry with you is key for those more conservative moments and “emergency” cover up times, it also helps with fending the belting down sunshine…
A good hat, sunnies, over the shoulder sling bag and comfortable leather sandals are key as well! You walk a lot, need comfort and protection from the heat. SHOUT OUT : Our go to shoes which almost every single girl bought for the trip were Sweet Peas from our local girl boss crew in Durban Stace & Che’, they were a dream to travel in – no blisters, walked for miles and they only got comfier.

So before I delve into all the details and a millions pics here is the main outline of our trip for those who wanted our itinerary – I guess better late than never and keep in mind this was September 2018 so prices would’ve fluctuated.

Flights
Durban – Dubai – Casablanca – we flew on Emirates and we paid just short of R7000 each for a return flight.

VISA : If you are traveling on your South Africa Passports then sadly you need a visa and its quite a mission to get – we were lucky enough to travel on our European passports but friends of our had to go through the whole visa process – hack.com but completely doable.

HANDY TIP : Prebook a taxi for collection or get your hotel to arrange one – arriving can be very overwhelming with a million options and hustlers, so to see your name on a board on arrival does make it that much more amazing especially after a long journey. Less stress and more holiday mode that kicks in.

This was our route we traveled over the duration of our trip – I worked it out so we had the least travel time between stops and made sense in the direction we traveled…

Casablanca


Casablanca Le Lido Thalasso & spa (ex Riad Salam)  costs : R1269 per night for 2 people sharing

https://www.booking.com/hotel/ma/riadsalam.en-gb.html?aid=304142

To be honest I wouldn’t go back here – compared to what I saw afterwards it was the most underwhelming of the stops – so I would skip this stop and replace it with something else like Essaouira – which I am devos that I didn’t manage to get to.

Journey duration from airport to accommodation : 1 hour 30 min (Private air conditioned taxi booked online)

Tangier

Mimi Calpe R1729 per night for 2 people sharing

https://www.booking.com/hotel/ma/mimi-calpe.en-gb.html?aid=304142
I would definitely recommend – there is something very invigorating knowing you are at the tip of Africa looking out to Europe. I also think I would come back purely because of our accommodation – it was probably one of my favourite stops purely on that haha…. We never wanted to leave – everything was perfection.

Journey Duration : 4 hours Casablanca to Tangier by private taxi (make sure it has air conditioning it is brutal out there in the heat)

Tarifa, Spain

Apartamentos Caravane R2947 for 2 nights and 2 people it was a small apartment with awesome rooftop terrace found on a beautiful cobble stone road. Booked through airbnb.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/es/apartamentos-caravane.en-gb.html?aid=311984;label=apartamentos-caravane-N_0sfbMxI8RV4sFNqHRlLAS162173862903%3Apl%3Ata%3Ap1%3Ap2%3Aac%3Aap1t1%3Aneg%3Afi%3Atikwd-35693674311%3Alp9073733%3Ali%3Adec%3Adm%3Appccp%3DUmFuZG9tSVYkc2RlIyh9YTQUGSsRwx9_3qo3uPTHyoo;sid=0da4db237fe4904fdfdf85f1bce58637;dest_id=-403890;dest_type=city;dist=0;from_beach_key_ufi_sr=1;group_adults=2;group_children=0;hapos=1;hpos=1;no_rooms=1;room1=A%2CA;sb_price_type=total;sr_order=popularity;srepoch=1582112767;srpvid=5aa652bfa1830133;type=total;ucfs=1&#hotelTmp

If you have the opportunity and the passport flexibility to catch the ferry to the southern most tip of Spain DO IT! The fact that we could hop on a ferry from Africa to Europe in less than 1 hour was amazing and if we had more time would’ve definitely explored way more of Southern Spain.  I fell in love with this town, it was honestly perfection with its cobble stone streets and beautiful beaches.

Journey Duration : About 1 hour. Purchase ferry tickets at the port and make sure you get the fast ferry across.

Chefchaoun
Dar Elrio R4594 for 4 people for 2 nights

https://www.booking.com/hotel/ma/dar-elrios.en-gb.html?aid=304142

A definite must – the blue pearl of Morocco and my favourite place to shop.

Journey Duration : It says about 2 hours on google maps but due to the roads and intense driving and traffic it probably takes closer to 4/5 hours. Privately booked a shuttle with aircon who was waiting for us on arrival at  the port in Tangier. He also had wifi on board which is a huge bonus on these long trips and spoke English.

 

 

Fes
La Maison Maure R3242 for 2 rooms for 2 people per room

https://www.booking.com/hotel/ma/la-maison-maure.en-gb.html?aid=304142

A definite must – the medina is something out of a fairytale maze and no words can actually describe how remarkable it is and how the city used to work. Minus the extreme smells from the tanneries etc. Fresh mint will be your best friend.

Journey Duration : Google maps says 3 hours and 40 minutes however again due to traffic and single lane roads it takes closer to 5/6 hours depending. Our accommodation prebooked a shuttle for us at the best rate.

Marrakech

Riad Shiraz for 4 nights R3600 per person sharing – This place was EVERYTHING you wished for and more. My favourite accommodation spot of the entire trip.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/ma/riad-shiraz.en-gb.html?aid=318615;label=New_English_EN_ZA_20053122865-4Ek7jAnpzkUhL1FA1gW84wS217290270445%3Apl%3Ata%3Ap1%3Ap2%3Aac%3Aap%3Aneg;sid=0da4db237fe4904fdfdf85f1bce58637;dest_id=-38833;dest_type=city;dist=0;group_adults=2;group_children=0;hapos=1;hpos=1;no_rooms=1;room1=A%2CA;sb_price_type=total;sr_order=popularity;srepoch=1582113405;srpvid=b42f53fefa890029;type=total;ucfs=1&#hotelTmpl

Journey Duration : Our driver from Fes spent the night and drove us to Marrakesh which was a huge bonus as we organised a solid rate with him. Again wifi and aircon for the long trip. Approximately 7 hours.

Riad Olem et Spa R1700 per person sharing for 3 nights.

https://www.booking.com/hotel/ma/riad-olemaspa.en-gb.html?aid=311984;label=riad-olemaspa-z5LaSZNM476rHZtQg4qj1AS162169089348%3Apl%3Ata%3Ap1%3Ap2%3Aac%3Aap1t2%3Aneg%3Afi%3Atikwd-26741982991%3Alp9073733%3Ali%3Adec%3Adm%3Appccp%3DUmFuZG9tSVYkc2RlIyh9YTQUGSsRwx9_3qo3uPTHyoo;sid=0da4db237fe4904fdfdf85f1bce58637;dest_id=-38833;dest_type=city;dist=0;group_adults=2;group_children=0;hapos=1;hpos=1;no_rooms=1;room1=A%2CA;sb_price_type=total;sr_order=popularity;srepoch=1582113456;srpvid=ff6f5418a6d0016d;type=total;ucfs=1&#hotelTmpl
Marrakesh is a definite must and if you could only have one stop for your trip I would suggest this stop as there is so much to see and do. Its where the old town meets the new town. Your accessibility to absolutely everything is with ease from medinas, to local restaurants to some of the best restaurants and shows I’ve been to in the world. It truly is where history meets the modern world and you can pick where you want to be.

Journey Duration : Marrakesh to Casablanca airport is about 2 hours and 30 minutes – book a shuttle through a reliable source to prevent any delays.

Stone Desert Experience
Scarabeo Camp R2879 pp for one night but included transfers to and from Marrakesh, the most incredible desert camping setup & accommodation, half board basis for breakfast & dinner, additional lunch, camel ride & yoga.

It was INCREDIBLE!!! Felt like you were picked up and put on set of The Mummy or taken back in time. As we didn’t have enough time to travel to the Merzouga Desert we were fortunate enough to be able to experience something like this just outside of Marrakesh.

In all…

Our only downfall I would say is thinking it would be a much cheaper trip when in fact it was really expensive. Like full on top European prices kind of expensive. Flights and accommodation were a win and super reasonable and being naive in this situation thought the rest of our trip would kind of follow suite price wise but actual spending when you there tallies up very quickly especially if you like to have a few drinks and move from street food to modern western world food. (Which to be fair after a few days of local cuisine you just want normality – and I still to this day don’t want to see or eat another tagine or Moroccan based or spiced dish haha) But in all we were just caught off guard – so if you are aware you will be hundreds in terms of spending – so now you are aware 🙂
It was honestly the most magical trip but I am not going to lie though when we were traveling and experiencing it all hands on, it was very overwhelming at times, times where I just wanted to feel back in my comfort. It was a trip that definitely pushed our boundaries in terms of our comfort zone , being surrounded by people who don’t speak your language, google translate is your best friend, you being female is already a downfall as its predominately a male run country. Constantly worried about if you are covered up correctly and who you can trust for information. I honestly don’t know why it pushes your boundaries so much but it did and when you return its honestly the best feeling to have experienced that! Ive traveled solo a lot in Europe and its always just felt easy but for some reason this just felt very different. Having to hustle for every taxi, scooter or shuttle, bargaining for rates and shopping items. Asking for directions was complete luck or they would charge you or try hustle you into a shop. You just never knew what was going to happen. You just went with it and hoped for the best. It all just gets exhausting BUT arriving home you only then start to digest what actually went down and the magic takes over. While talking to friends and family it was like I was realising just how remarkable that trip was and how amazing the country and its people are. I couldn’t wait to get back and to explore it even more. It opened my eyes into a whole new world and lifestyle and educated me about a part of our continent that I actually had no idea about at all.

When talking about your trip and now writing about it after all this time, you fall in love with it all over again and in a completely different light. Its honestly just pure magic getting to relive it through pictures and notes…

Detailed blog posts to follow which delve deeper into each stop and lets us take you on a Moroccan journey through pictures x

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