Week 5: Morocco Trip - Feb 15th to Feb 18th
This past week I travelled to Morocco for the first time ever! For my first trip on my study abroad I decided to fly out to another continent...haha. I remember pinning photos of Morocco on my phone and telling myself that I will travel there on exchange but I never thought it would actually happen. Experiencing Morocco with my friends was definitely a trip of a lifetime.
We arrived on Wednesday after the sunset, and it was such a shocker how the scenery and atmosphere around me changed so drastically. For our trip, we stayed in Marrakech for the first night, and for the next two, we went on a tour to Merzouga (Sahara Desert). On our trip towards the Sahara Desert, we stopped by a number of historic kasbahs.
Before starting our tour, we visited Jemaa el-Fna and deep into the Medina afterwards. There we passed through an abundance of merchants selling goods varying from lanterns to textiles and handbags to scarves. The Medina was a crazy and fun experience. Passing through it felt like a huge maze filled with many small alleyways. Afterwards, we visited Jardin Majorelle, a botanical garden built and designed by French painter Jacques Majorelle. Experiencing this garden was the most serene moment of my trip in the city of Marrakech. It was away from the markets and from the constant "heys" from the merchants. The most interesting part about this garden was that it was compiled with a variety of rare trees and plants from all around the world.
Afterwards, we set off on our three day trip to the high dunes of Merzouga with the most amazing tour guides, Omar and Adi from Sahara Tours 4x4. On the first day, we drove through the High Atlas Mountains and down south to a famous Kasbah, Ait Ben Haddou. Driving through the mountains was definitely an experience...the roads were so windy, we were constantly pulled left and right. Driving up the mountain, we were eventually 2260m high and boy was it a nice view.
We got the opportunity to walk through Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, a famous Kasbah that has been used for many films such as the Gladiator, The Mummy, Game of Thrones, etc. Then, we continued on to the city of Ouarzazate also known as "The Gate of the Desert" and stayed for the night there.
The next day, we visited a number of places including the Rose Valley, Boumaln Dades, Todra Gorges and Tinjdad before finally heading to Merzouga and the Sahara Desert.
We had the most fun in the desert. We went on a camel ride into our camp and stayed there for the night. We were able to catch the sunset on top of a sand dune and it was hands down the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. Even though I took a lot of pictures, none of them does any justice. This also goes to all the other scenic spots we were able to visit, including the view of the High Atlas Mountains, and the Sahara Desert. It actually felt like I was living in an augmented world where the mountains and desert were pasted into my vision...This also applies to the abundance of stars we were able to see up in the sky. Never have I've seen a night sky so clearly before...It was truly amazing to just sit in the sand and absorb everything in. "Camping" in the Sahara desert was the most amazing experience ever.
Waking up at 6:00 am the next day, however, is not as amazing. But, we did do it for a worthwhile reason. We were able to catch the sunrise at the top of a dune. It's not every day that you get to watch a sunrise in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Then, we returned to Merzouga on our camels. I was reunited with my camel, Kumar. We had a fun time together. Returning to our riad, a delicious breakfast was waiting for us. Throughout this whole trip, we had the most amazing meals. Each meal included a three-courses filled with lots tagine, Moroccan tea, and other tasty Morrocan food. In Morocco, people do not drink alcohol, so their tea is considered as "whisky". Returning to Marrakech, we visited Draa Valley, drove through Anti-Atlas Mountains, and had lunch by Taourirt Kasbah. We arrived back in Marrakech in the evening and visited the markets again at night. It was a whole different experience visiting the markets. It was definitely a lot more crowded and there were many more merchants and things happening around us.
Visiting Morocco was truly amazing and for those who are considering of coming, you should definitely go! Many people say that it can be "dangerous" to visit but I personally felt pretty safe during my trip. A very useful thing to do before visiting any place is to download the city offline on Google maps so you know where you're going. The hostel we stayed at for the first night was Dream Kasbah, and it was a very nice place. Overall, the hospitality my friends and I had on this trip through our tour hosted by Sahara Tours 4x4 was phenomenal. If you have any questions or are considering of visiting feel free to message me! :)
My trip to Morocco was definitely not long enough. There is so much more to see and explore in that beautiful country. I will definitely be travelling back to visit other gems such as Essaouira, Chefchaouen, and Fes.
Till next time Morocco.