Three Things I Learned About Morocco

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Visiting Morocco has definitely left an impression, not only in my head, but also my heart. I had the opportunity to visit places I have only dreamed about, and experience a country that at times felt otherworldly. I learned so much in such a short amount of time, I can’t wait to have the opportunity to go back and explore more of this beautiful country.

This week I am sharing Three Things I Learned About Morocco during my first visit.

 

Atlas Collage

The ever-changing landscape

To be honest, I didn’t know very much about Morocco before I made the decision to go. Upon arrival, we began our epic journey from the Marrakech Airport towards the Sahara desert. Winding our way up into the foothills of the Atlas Mountain range is a drive I will never forget. Talk about a changing landscape – every 30 minutes is like being on a different planet. From blood red soil to black slate mountains, snow, ice, and sand all in the same short drive, the scenery is unlike any other I’ve ever witnessed. These mountains separate the habitable cities like Marrakech from the stormy desert winds of the Sahara. Lush green turns quickly into the dry heat of the desert, where the Draa valley stands out as an impossibly vibrant highway of palm trees in an otherwise desolate environment. A river long ago flowed through here, giving these trees a chance to put down deep roots – decades later now able to access water many feet below the crusty sand. At over 1,000km, It’s truly a sight to behold.

Jemaa el Fna in Marrakesh

Nothing is for free in the streets of Marrakech.

We arrived in Marrakesh on a Saturday, when the hustle and bustle of the Medina was in full swing. People, animals, scooters and cars were everywhere and life in the streets was palpable. We had no idea where our Riad was and were trusting our guide to lead us to the correct destination. As we exited the car a friendly man took our luggage in a trolley and gestured that we should follow him. Our guide reassured that he would lead us in the right direction, and we waved goodbye – assuming he worked for the same company. This was not the case. Once we reached the doors to Riad Adriana, the man looked at us and said, “Now you pay me”. We only had a few Euros left, so in a moment of confusion, I handed him some coins and he disappeared with his trolley in tow. We had been warned, and now shown; nothing is for free in the streets of Marrakesh. Many locals make their living from “helping” tourists, which is just fine with me – but it’s good to know what to expect. You should never have to pay more than 20MAD (2Euros) for a walk back to your hotel, help with bags, etc. My advice: do your best to look confident, research where you’re going before you leave, and always carry small change in case you need a little help.

Riad Dar Chamaa in Ouarzazate

Riad Dar Chamaa in Ouarzazate

Morocco can be one of the best values for your travel dollar.

Entering our third month of travel and more than twenty cities deep, I’ve kept a watchful eye on every dollar spent. Morocco has been by far the best bang for our buck. With cuisine that can rival any European destination, Riads that are just as nice as any western hotel, and the opportunity to negotiate a good bargain on anything that catches your eye – this country offers all of the value at nearly half the price we’ve paid elsewhere. For example:

  • Less than 100 MAD (10 EUR) for a nice meal out for two people.
  • 600 MAD (60 EUR) per night for a Riad that rivals a 4 star hotel.
  • Entrance to a very nice Hammam (Spa) for 100 MAD (10 EUR)
  • A glass of the best orange juice you’ve ever had for 4MAD (.40 EUR).

I could go on, but you get the picture. Living the good life in Marrakech can be very inexpensive, if you avoid the tourist traps and don’t mind haggling a little.

Where have you found the best value for your travel dollar?

 

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