When it was the time for us to pick a destination for this year travel, we jumped right onto the decision of making Morocco our destination of the year, solely based on these following (shallow) reasons:
1. Neither of us have ever been to Morocco (see, I told you, shallow),
2. The Sahara desert (for the sake of being able to say that we’ve been to the Sahara to other people),
3. Riding camels, you know, the classic,
4. Camel burgers, just because...
5. Aït Ben Haddou (because Russel Crowe was there once, in skirt, and Emilia Clarke; naked)
6. Tagine and couscous. Nico is not fond of couscous and I am not fond of Tagine, so we thought to have a taste of real tagine and couscous in the motherland of both dishes and see if it would change our perception.. (it did not).
7. Morocco is known for its sardines, so we went to Essaouira to check what the fuss is all about,
8. Fez medina, the oldest and the biggest medina in Africa,
9. Volubilis, the roman ruins. If the ancient romans deemed that morocco was worth to travel and settle down in, there’s gotta be something awesome about the land, innit? Trust the ancient romans as they were truly great travelers who roamed the world in loose dresses.
10. The eclectic city of Marrakech
These simple reasons motivated us to develop an interesting "20 days of travel" itinerary, covering most of the classic route, Lostgeckos style (read: with plenty of snacking stops, heaps of time spent for taking the pics, and numerous times of getting lost).
On the road
We took buses to go from one city to another, using Morocco's famous CTM. It’s an official intercity transport funded by the government. The fleets are very comfortable, always on schedule, very affordable, and you can order the ticket in advance through their website. Most intercity highways in Morocco are new or newly repaired so it’s very wide, smooth, clean and with barely any traffic.
Day 1 Casablanca
We went to Morocco with Canada Air from Quebec and had only one short stop in Montreal. It was an 8 hour overnight flight and we landed in Casablanca the next day, early in the morning. Then we took the first train we could, heading towards the Casablanca port. Although used for its beauty in many classic movies, Casablanca is just another big city; busy and not much to see and do for travelers. The most (as being the only one) iconic spot is the grand Hassan Mosque II, which is located right next to the Casablanca port.
We stayed only one night in the Medina and checked out the next day, heading to Rabat.
Main sights :
- Hassan II Mosque
- United Nations Square
- Spanish style Medina
Days 2 to 4 Rabat
It took only an hour of comfortable bus ride from Casablanca to Rabat. Rabat is the capital city of Morocco, which means things are generally cleaner and let say ‘in order’, there's a lot more policemen everywhere. We had our first experience of Moroccan tenacious un-official local guides right in this city, and I also got involuntary henna-ed. Overall, it was a nice city with perfect weather; lots of sunshine but breezy.
Main sights :
- Kasbah of the Udayas
- Mausoleum of Mohammed V and Hassan tower
- Andalusian gardens
- Chellah necropolis
- Small Medina with classic markets
Days 4 to 8 Fes
We found that Fes was the best city to experience the vibe of Morocco. We simply loved it.
- Huge, maze-like medina
- Botanical gardens
- Merdersa Attarine
Days 9 to 13 The desert trip, from Fez to Marrakech
This is the only part in our itinerary where we used a multiple day guided tour. We did try to plan our trip through the desert on our own, but it was too complicated. Luckily, we found this awesome private tour that catered us from Fez to Marrakech through the desert. Seriously, I don’t think we could ever have planned the trip ourselves. The tour took us to the best panoramic spots along the way since they noticed that Nico is a photo enthusiast. They also took us to have tea times with the Nomads and the Berbers. Something we definitely would have missed if we had organized the trip ourselves.
- Barbary macaques
- Ziz valley
- Erg Chebbi dunes
- Desert camel trek
- Todra Gorges
- Boulmane Dades
- Ait Benhaddou
- Various Kasbah
- and lots more !
Day 14, 17 to 19 Marrakech
It was overwhelming, in the worst ways possible! However, there are a lot of interesting spots to visit.
- Large Medina with markets, shops and tourist traps
- Medersa Ben Youssef
- Jemaa El Fna
- Bahia Palace
- Badi Palace
- Saadian Tombs
- Moulay Idriss
- more !
Day 15 to 17 Essaouira
Essaouira (Ess-saw-ee-rah), or also known as Mogador, is a coastal city known for its windy weather and seafood. This laid back city is located 2 hours away from Marrakech and easily reached by bus. This city has become our second most preferred city in Morocco. It’s clean, relaxing, no vendor hassling, no sudden tourist guide pushing you around to accept their unsolicited services. Loved it!
- Skala (Port fortress)
- Fish market
- Old classic Medina
Day 20 Back to Casablanca
We went back to Casablanca to catch our flight back to Quebec from Marrakech. We spent the day looking for a good Moroccan wine although we knew we could found it at the airport too. Did we find any? Well, there are convenient stores that sells liquors and wines if you know where to find it, but unfortunately, they only sell the cheap stuff. Not being fancy-pantsy about wine, but since we never had Moroccan wine before (we didn’t even know they produced some), we wanted to get the best, award-winning, internationally recognized Moroccan wine as an introduction to the Moroccan wine collection.