Jo Fraser

Describing Morocco is like trying to describe an abstract painting where the artist went even weirder than they usually do, and started to color not just outside of the lines, but outside of any frame. They’ve also thrown their color palette to the wind and, now they’re not even using paint brushes anymore. Perched like a little cap on top of mainland Africa, and only a tip-toe from the Spanish coastline, Morocco has been bewildering its visitors ever since it placed itself firmly on traveler’s maps. And with good reason; it boasts immense natural beauty, friendly locals, and an impressive show reel of appearances in Hollywood movies, including arguably one of the most popular films of all time - Casablanca.

‘Bewildering’ just about covers it. You won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the scenes in Marrakech's Jemaa el-Fnaa, nor will you be able to completely rid yourself of the bewildering amount of Sahara sand that has snuck its way into your suitcase. Bewildered is definitely what you’ll be when you strip down to your birthday suit in the local Hammam - Don’t worry, the ladies scrubbing you down are used to a bit of misplaced prudishness.

Whether you’re spending a couple of days or a month in Morocco, here are six things to know before you go.

markets in morocco

The people are friendly - especially if they are trying to sell you something.

Walk down any street in Morocco and you will be greeted with smiles, calls of ‘where are you from?’ and offers of mint tea. Tourism is an important industry in Morocco, and the Moroccan people will make you feel valued and welcome. That said, because so many people rely on tourist dollars for their income, you will get many, many offers.

From rug salesmen to taxi drivers and even sellers peddling more shady goods like hash or a ‘brand new’ stolen iPhone, you won’t go a day without getting propositioned. If you’re not interested, just smile and keep walking. Remember they’re just trying to do their job and when the competition gets tough, tactics need to get tough too.

Sahara desert

It’s as picturesque as you hope it is going to be.

With every nook and cranny draped in colorful rugs and featuring perfectly positioned cats, you’ll be in a panic deleting things off your phone to make more space for your photos. For the most picturesque places, head to Chefchaouen for its blue part of town, Merzouga for the sweeping desert shots, and Essaouira for its quaint fishing village vibe.

Moroccan town

You can surf, ski, and ride camels through the Sahara. All in one week.

What Morocco lacks in diversity in its food (tagine, anyone?), it makes up for in its landscapes. Green in the North, desert in the South, a wild coastline, and ski-ready snow-capped mountains all the way through. Morocco provides the setting for every adventure activity you want to do.

Sahara desert

It’s a nice step outside of your comfort zone.

You might have to get rid of the Western squeamishness when it comes to a few other things. Be prepared to see the various parts of a goat hung up like decorations outside of a local butcher. The severed head is always nearby with the tongue lolling out the side in a macabre grin. Pots of fresh snail soup, the smell of the tanneries as they thrash animal skins about, and if you stay long enough - your twentieth vegetable tagine (even the most delicious things can turn your stomach when you’ve had it too many times). Travel in Morocco isn’t always comfortable and clean - but that’s the fun of it.

morocco

It’s ridiculously easy to get around.

Anyone that has travelled around Africa has realized that buses won’t leave until they’re full (4 hours later), minibuses drive at speeds that have you planning your funeral, and one seat is for two people and a chicken. While the local buses in Morocco are pretty similar and shared taxis like to emulate a sardine can, there are ‘fancy’ tourist buses that go nearly everywhere.

Choose between CTM or Supratours bus lines - they’re much the same - and you can traverse the country with legroom and absolutely no chickens. There’s even a direct Marrakesh to Merzouga line for those hunting down sand dunes.

morocco stall

It can be as cheap, or as expensive, as you want it to be.

Morocco is a destination for everyone. Travelling on a budget? Bring a tent, camp out under the stars, and splurge for the occasional 60 Dirham dorm room. Eat hot bowls of 10 Dirham Harira soup and rounds of bread with a scrape of amlou (almond butter, argan oil and honey). Wanting to splurge? Book yourself into a boutique riad, visit a private hammam, and go nuts in the souk. No matter how thick or thin your wallet is, Morocco opens its arms wide and doesn’t discriminate.

 

Described as ‘chronically dissatisfied with the mundane’ by all who know her, Jo Fraser is a travel writer and digital nomad. When at home in Brisbane, Australia, you will find her trying to make cats love her or throwing back black coffees in a bid to stay perky. Follow her blog at www.jofraserwrites.com.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.