Morocco: A Guide For First Time Go-ers

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Morocco is an enticing land that has much to offer to a foreigner. From old towns with narrow streets to incredible scenery through the mountains, from the coquette seaside to the never-ending desert sand dunes of Sahara, it’s impossible to not bump into something that will capture your heart forever. Months have passed already, yet my short but plentiful trip through wonderful Morocco is still vividly imprinted in my memory.

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But what to do if you’re there for the first time and have no idea where to start?

Well, from my experience…

One day in Marrakech

Wandering the souks (markets) and the old town’s streets, admiring Koutubia Mosque, but most importantly enjoying the chaotic atmosphere in Jemaa el Fnaa, the main square. Here is the place where anything and everything is within reach, from snake charmers to henna tattooers, from tagine pot sellers to water carriers dressed in colorful costumes, from orange juice stands to open air restaurants that fill the air with fantastic aromas of traditional dishes. Don’t be afraid to enjoy a delicious meal at one of these tables and share a story with the other travelers over a cup of warm mint tea.

A trip to the desert

The 3-day trip was well worth the money (we booked it through the riad in Marrakech). We not only got to see amazing scenery through the Atlas Mountains and on our way to the Sahara Desert, great traditional villages made out of clay and perched on steep hills, far from any of today’s commodities, visited various local workshops, spotted exotic green oasis in the middle of red nothingness, had a friendly and smart guide to tell us stories and made new friends along the way, but we also spent a fabulous night in the desert under the most beautiful sky I had ever seen. It’s not about the camel ride (which is an interesting challenge nonetheless) everyone advertises, but about all the other experiences that make the whole trip.

Pit stop in Ait Benhaddou

This old fortress was part of the desert trip and such a wonderful stop! The old town is made up of a whirlwind of narrow winding streets climbing up the top of the hill, from where you see the whole surrounding valley and the fading Atlas Mountains somewhere far in the distance. Plus, it’s the city of Yunkai in Game of Thrones!

A few days in Fez

An incredibly well-preserved town with so many hidden gems waiting to be discovered and my recommendation if you have to pick just one place to visit in Morocco. Influences from the Western culture and lifestyle are becoming increasingly visible, but I had the feeling that Fez retains most of it’s original culture and tradition. Aimlessly wandering the narrow streets is a joy of discovery, as you pass from bare walls to richly adorned street fountains, colorful passageways or crowded souks filled with the usual hustle and bustle. After getting lost on the streets the first try (a labyrinth of 3,000+ streets and alleyways) we hired a guide through the riad, who took us to all the important places and patiently answered all of our questions.

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When I return to Morocco, I’m up for…

Returning to Marrakech and visiting all these gorgeous places that I missed the first time, like Ben Youssef Madrasa or the Saadian Tombs.

Essaouira and Agadir. I’m curious how the Moroccan life looks in these wonderful cities (and maybe also surf a little).

A walk in Chefchaouen. Ditched it the first time for being too touristy, but I think it’s so cute with the blue streets that it’s worth a pit stop.

Casablanca. Just because of the movie 🙂

Last bits of advice (from me and my friends’ errors):

I highly recommend to avoid visiting Morocco through the most hot summer days if you’re not a friend of high temperatures – you can easily get sick and it would be a pity to not be able to enjoy this lovely country properly.

Also, the juice from the fruit stands is fantastically refreshing, but pay attention to have it served in a clean cup, otherwise you run the risk of getting an upset stomach.

Wear light long clothes that protect you from the harsh sun, but also let your skin breathe.

Tight jeans are a big no-no if it’s very hot outside.

Girls, you can use a light scarf to protect your head from the sun and also avoid (too much) unwanted attention.

Avoid cheap hostels or at least read ALL the comments before booking. Many of them have a bed bugs issue!

Always negotiate, but be respectful!


 


Guest Post & Photography by Kaara Mendes

Make sure to check out her book “7 Days in Morocco” 

FB: https://www.facebook.com/kaaramendes

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaaraMendes

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