Morocco for me was the thrill of a hidden alley, the richness of the desert, the salty breeze on my face and the everlasting smiles etched in to my memory!
10 days in Morocco – Itinerary began in Chefchaouen, also known as The City of The Blue Pearl! The striking blue washed houses and buildings is said to symbolise the sky and heaven, serving as a reminder for one to lead a spiritual life! I personally felt as though I was on cloud 9 and enjoyed getting lost in the maze of twisting alleyways lined with flower pots, native handicrafts, wool garments and colourful woven blankets!
HOW TO GET TO CHEFCHAOUEN MOROCCO + WHERE TO STAY
To get to Chefchaouen I shared a grande taxi with some fellow backpackers from Tangier Airport which cost 200 dirham each for an easy 2hr journey. I stayed at Riad Baraka Hostel for 100 dirham per night (10 euros).
Yes, Morocco is very cheap and affordable for all sorts of travellers. The hostel has a rooftop terrace with comfortable lounges and panoramic views of The Blue Pearl.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN CHEFCHAOUEN
The surrounding countryside has a reputation for being a prolific source of kief. One of the lovely staff members from the hostel organised a local guide to take me on a private tour to the plantations. It was a scorcher day and I was in a pool of sweat after an hour long hike to the Rif mountains.
I can see why the Chefchaouen region is the main producer of cannabis in Morocco, I was standing in a field of Mary Jane taller than my head! My guide took me to his friends farm where he had a rug laid out under a shady tree and a teapot of hot mint tea. The farm owner dragged a hessian sack of weed out from behind the bushes and demonstrated how he makes hashish, using fabric cloth as a filter, wrapped over a bowl and bamboo sticks to bash the weed down through the fabric like a set of drums. He then took the fabric off the bowl and ‘voila’ there was a small amount of powdery hashish! For some reason I forget what happens next… 😉
The local citizens of Chefchaouen are super friendly and took the time to have a conversation with me even though they were secretly trying to drag me into their stores. There are thousands of nic nacs and colourful rugs I wanted to buy, but as a full-time backpacker I don’t have the space for any extra belongings.
BEST PLACE TO EAT IN CHEFCHAOUEN
I highly recommend Cafe Aladin in the medina for a traditional Moroccan Tajine, home made couscous and a side of olives. Proper mouth watering and only costs 30 dirham!
My favourite part of the day is the golden hour, so I went up to the beautiful Bouzaafar Mosque, just on the outskirts of the city. It is quite a popular spot to wait for the sun to go and the sky to soften over the blue rinsed mountain city! The loud sounds of prayer echoed through the air bellowing from the speakers mounted on the tall minarets. Ahh I am in love with this place and I will be sure to come back again one day…
GETTING AROUND MOROCCO
I discovered the CTM bus company is the cheapest and most efficient means of transport around Morocco. I took the bus to the city of Fes, which is around 4 hours from Chefchaouen costing only 75 dirham.
ARRIVING TO FES
I am still blown away by how cheap everything is here! It was a shock stepping off the bus to see the mad rush of the 2nd largest city in Morocco, having just come from the peaceful mountain side. Fes is very enthralling and in my one night stop over I grabbed some street food in the medina that is dark, dense and dilapidated. I felt like I had taken a step back in time, watching the donkeys cart goods down the warren of alleyways as they would have done hundreds of years ago!
The owner of the hostel I stayed at in Fes persuaded me to go on a 2 nights and 3 days safari tour to the Sahara Desert. I paid 150 euros which was more than I had expected but it is one of those once in a lifetime moments and I just couldn’t miss out. The trip included transport to Merzouga, camel rides, all meals, accomodation and transport to Marrakech!
SAHARA DESERT TOUR
The 8 hour long journey to Merzouga started off great for about the first 15 mins until my private taxi driver started picking up locals to share the ride any chance he got. I was suddenly crammed in to the side door of the taxi constantly stopping and starting, picking up and dropping off passengers.
He definitely made some good money that day! It was quite funny actually, I couldn’t help but laugh 🙂 Their english was limited and I communicated with one guy through his google translator app on his phone. He told me it was the Islamic New Year on this day and even invited me in to his home, though I had already booked and paid for the desert tour and couldn’t accept his offer. I love meeting strangers on my travels, from all different cultures and it warms my heart that their arms are always wide open.
ARRIVING TO THE SAHARA DESERT
Finally I arrived to the Sahara and I was hoisted straight up on to a camels back! I was the leader of a camel train as we made tracks through the red dunes towards the desert camp.
The sun was setting over my shoulder and the stars began to dance. I dropped my bag off in a rug hut and noticed a sand board in the corner. I threw it under my arm and ran up the biggest dune I could find and bombed the hill from the top!
Everyone gathered around the fire as we gobbled down a 3 course traditional meal and the local guides began to play their djembe drums! It was a very magical night spent under the stars surrounded by the desert dunes!
SUNRISE IN THE SAHARA DESRT
I set my alarm early to watch the sunrise from the peak of one of the nearby dunes! Everyone else had the same idea and I could make out silhouetted bodies on the tops of several peaks in the distance. The sun was golden and more fierce than I had ever seen. It was wonderful way to start the new day. I led the camel train back to a luxury hotel on the edge of the Sahara. I cooled off in the crystal blue swimming pool and put my feet up all day soaking in the magnificent desert surroundings!
GETTING TO MARRAKECH
The journey away from the Sahara towards Marrakech is a long and windy one and the landscape is very diverse. Passing through fields of cherry blossoms, densely wooded forests, apple plantations, scarce rocky desert and mud brick villages amongst an oasis of palm trees are just some of the things I saw in parts of the Middle Atlas Mountains.
The thrilling Tichka Pass had me on the edge of my seat as the bus made its way over the dizzying High Atlas Mountain Range and eventually safely into Marrakech.
ARRIVING TO MARRAKECH
Known as The Red City the old medina is packed with vendors and their market stalls, a must see both day and night. The food markets are exceptional and the street performers and incredible. The locals here are much more full on by a means of haggling and being in your face type situations and will most likely charge you an arm and a leg for whatever is they are trying to sell you. I didn’t enjoy this whatsoever but I do admire the city for its peachy coloured sandstone buildings, dusty streets, carved archways and ornate mosques! 2 days was more than enough for me to explore Marrakech as I am not much of a city person and the hustle n’ bustle can wear thin very quickly.
GETTING TO TAGHAZOUT
I could already smell the salty sea breeze as I was sitting on a bus en route to Taghazout! I was so happy to be by the ocean again and in my true element!
The Surf Hostel in Taghazout is a family run business of 3 brothers, all of whom are down to earth and born surfers! The town may be small and dusty but it has a very laid back surf culture and many lovely locals in the area.
First thing’s first, I rented a surfboard and a wetsuit and headed for the famous Anchor Point hopefully to score some swell. The brothers said that I missed the morning pulse of waves that came through on the right-hand point break but might score some sunset sliders.
It takes about 20 mins to walk there from the centre of town and by the time I got there the wind was onshore and the waves were choppy. Regardless of the poor conditions I threw myself in the water and paddled out.
I haven’t surfed in 3 months and I was way to keen to get wet! My surf was short lived as the wind got worse so I paddled in at sunset and went back to the hostel to rinse off.
I love to stay at hostels for the fact that they are cheap and it’s also a great place to connect and meet with other travellers to share stories and travel tips! There was a lot of good banter in the air as we all hung out on the rooftop terrace.
PARADISE VALLEY MOROCCO
Unfortunately the swell the next day was non existent so I tagged along with some new friends to explore the blue pools and waterfalls of Paradise Valley. We hiked up the dry river bed towards the depth of the gorge only to find stagnant green pools and no running waterfalls haha! My guess is that there has been no rain in the region for quite some time.
We found a river side make shift restaurant to eat and of course I ordered another Tajine. I waited an hour for my food to come and I was wondering if he had gone off to harvest the vegetables for the dish haha… I also wondered where they sourced their water for the meals all the way out here… I later found out that they use the creek water and my stomach started bubbling. I was struck with a case of diarrhoea ugh!
Thankfully there was a pulse of swell the next day so we loaded up the troopy with boards and wetties and took a short drive to Killer Point. The name comes from the common sightings of the Orca whales in the winter. It’s funny when I asked a local if Morocco had any sharks in the water, and he replied “No, but we have killer whales.” I burst out in laughter!
It was a beautiful sunny day spent sharing waves and getting sunburnt surrounded by magnificent mountainous countryside. We surfed for a solid 3 hours and drove back to town for a well earned bowl of Tajine, hopefully not cooked with creek water 😉 It was my last night in Morocco and I was stoked to be surrounded by some great people having a jam on the rooftop terrace!
LAST DAY IN TAGHAZOUT MOROCCO
I was up early the next day to take a taxi to Agadir Airport and I could smell a strong scent of fresh bread wafting up the street. I walked down in to the street and discovered a bakery beneath the hostel. 2 local lads were preparing loads of bread in a huge wood-fired oven. One was kneading the dough and the other was using a long paddle to place the dough in the clay oven and scoop out the ones that were ready!
They had a really good 2 man operation going and I’m pretty sure they provide the entire town with bread every single day. Very impressive! I payed 1 dirham for some of the freshest bread I had ever tasted and I bought an avocado from a local fruit stall to go with!
‘Shukraan’ Taghazout for a fantastic experience spending my last days here in Morocco. I’ll be back in winter for the pumping swell!
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and that it finds you well when planning your trip to Morocco!
Happy Adventuring 🙂