Morocco is one of the most captivating places I have ever visited. It was my first and only trip to North Africa, and I was fascinated by how much it differed from the other parts of the Continent. While it is not one of the easiest places to travel through, it will reward the adventurous traveler with an enticing cuisine, unique spa experience, varied yet beautiful landscape, and a rich history. Although I journeyed there in 2017, I can still feel the sand of the Sahara desert escaping my fingertips, taste the lemon chicken tajine, and sense the vibrations of the lively markets. It was a memorable trip, and today I wanted to share 6 reasons why I feel Morocco is worth adding to your list! I’m also going to be real and discuss a few cons below, so keep reading to find out more.
1. Achieve a bucket list dream by experiencing the Sahara Desert
One of the main things I was looking forward to when planning my Moroccan trip was having the opportunity to ride through the Sahara Desert and even spend a night sleeping under the stars. This dream became a reality when I booked a 2 day, 1 night tour from Marrakech to Fes through Your Morocco Tour. We covered a lot of ground and it was definitely a jam packed journey with lots of time sightseeing from our private car, but with only a week to view everything, it was well worth it. In 2017, the price was $349 per person and included a private car with English speaking driver, camel ride once we made it to the Sahara Desert, “glamping” accommodations with a Western style bathroom, dinner by a campfire, and breakfast.
To travel from Marrakech to the Desert, it took about 9-10 hours, but we were captivated by how the scenery changed from lush greenery to snow capped Atlas Mountains to the dry desert. I had never seen so many changes in a landscape in such a short duration of time. It was mesmerizing! Once we reached the Sahara Desert, it was more beautiful than I imagined. The sand dunes were endless, and I felt that I had transported back in time. Although it was slightly eerie to camp out in the pitch black desert only illuminated by our campfire and the glistening stars, I was still enveloped with peace and reminded of just how small I am in the grand scheme of things. The stars were unreal and we were lucky to have a guy interested in astrology in our camp that pointed out multiple configurations. This alone makes the trip to Morocco worthwhile.
2. Visit the blue washed city of Chefchaouen
Another unique aspect of our trip was visiting the Blue City of Chefchaouen. It is small and can be done as a day trip from Fes (hence why I did the Marrakech to Fes tour described above). It’s calming to visit a city that is encompassed by blue everywhere: walls, floors, staircases, alleys, doors; it’s literally like someone took a giant paintbrush and painted the town blue! It’s extremely popular now as people flock there to get an Instagram worthy photo, but I encourage you to actually walk around and take in the serenity of the town. People actually live behind those blue doors and courtyards so don’t go snooping too much. Be respectful and realize that you are indulging in a special experience.
3. Be surrounded by beautiful architecture
One of the main reasons I travel is to soak up architecture that is native to a place. Morocco will definitely fulfill this from extremely ancient ruins to intricate doors and courtyards. I highly recommend staying in a riad, which is a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard. It helps you to understand the culture a lot better than staying in a typical hotel and helps you appreciate the architectural beauty of the city before you even leave your accommodations. I recommend Riad Star in Marrakech, which was the home of Josephine Baker! They also loan you a mobile phone that you can use in case you get lost walking around the medina. We definitely got lost and used this phone to call them and tell them our exact location. They came to meet us and escort us back to the Riad, which really just goes above and beyond in terms of service.
Other places to see beautiful architecture are:
Medersa Ben Youssef
4. Engage in an invigorating spa experience
I love visiting spas all over the world, especially those that provide an experience that I may not receive elsewhere. Morocco is famous for their hammams (public bath), but I do warn you that you have to be comfortable with nudity. The hammams are separated by gender, so you will not be able to do one with your partner (unless its a private one in a hotel). I did it twice; the first time in a more public establishment and the second in a private hotel spa. The public establishment was nice and clean and consisted of a large room with maybe about 30 other women in there. As I did not speak the language, I was very confused as to what I should do, but eventually someone kind of helped me through the process. First, I changed into disposable underwear and flip flops, then sat in a steam room for about 10 minutes. Outside of the steam room was a larger room with about 5 marble slabs. Once it was my turn to lay on one of the slabs, the attendant proceeded to give me a full body scrub followed by dropping buckets of water on me to rinse it all away. This process cleanses and purifies the body and honestly is very relaxing once you get over how awkward it is. Also, I must say as a plus size woman, I did not feel embarrassed as the hammam I visited had women of all shapes and sizes. No one judged or batted an eye.