Let’s be humble, open and honest about the visions we have when someone mentions Marrakech. A lot of people I know immediately go weird about the idea of visiting as a ‘woman’ because you are at risk of being harassed by the African Arabs. You can’t be serious about visiting Africa? Why would you when you could visit Europe *yawn*. You’ll get ripped off or sold off for a rug. Yeah that sounds about right.
So when the a member of my girl gang and I were looking at places we’d like to visit Morocco (in particular Marrakech) ranked highly on the bucket list. After checking out a few websites we booked a short trip to what I can only describe as the most colourful, warm and welcoming city I’ve visited (so far).
So the first thing to mention is this: forget all the negatives you’ve heard about Marrakech. Forget the fact you are a woman travelling. Forget the ideas of snake charmers and fortune tellers chasing you through the streets. Forget the misconception that you will be harassed for being a woman and this city is not safe. As for being ripped off; well you are likely to end up paying over the odds if you cannot haggle (it’s an art).
The bad press this place gets is ridiculous. I mean seriously. This place has so much to offer I really want to go back for a month.
So let’s dive in.
Marrakech has a long and strong history with the rich and famous. The Rolling stones fell for it’s charm. Yves Saint Laurent fell head over heels in love with this place. Apparently P Diddy owns a Riad in Marrakech. It’s a treasure trove of all things uber cool. It has culture, it has charm, it has history, architecture, souks and more food stalls than a foodies dream. The heady scents of spices and ooud wafer through the air. When you visit the souks expect many fragrances to pound your nose….from new leather bags to cinnamon. Of course if you have the stomach for it you can visit the Tanneries (where the smell of each and every step of the process is strong; yes it’s not for the faint hearted).
Marrakech is a city of the Kingdom of Morocco (a sub-Saharan country). A dessert land you’ll be pleasantly shocked to see the snow capped Atlas mountains as you come into land at Marrakech Airport. Marrakech is the fourth biggest city of Morocco (behind the likes of Casablanca, Fez and Tanglier. It is the capital of the south western region of Marrakech-Safi. Marrakech did fall out of favour to the likes of Fez however things are booming for this mystical city.
So Morocco is in Africa….however it’s in the same time zone as sunny blighty (that’s the UK to my foreign readers). Flight time from the UK is less than 4 hours. That’s right. That’s roughly how long it takes to drive from the West Midlands to Devon.
Before we set out on our adventure we did some research. We made lists of what we really wanted to see (for me it was Jema el-Fna (that huge square we all see images of on pinterest). It’s also the biggest square in Africa. And the Ouzoud Falls (which are located 150 KM from Marrakech which equates to a 3 hour drive each way). As a foodie I just wanted to try everything. So that summed up my list (if we had longer I really wanted to try out the overnight Dessert Safari).
Day one…Africa let’s have you.
So after a 3.5 hour plane ride we landed at Marrakech Manara Aeroport (Marrakech Airport). The first thing that I noticed was the beautiful building. The second was the cleanliness and the third was the languages being spoken (French and Arabic are favoured however everyone I encountered at the Airport spoke English too). The currency for Morocco is Dirhams and we converted some money at the Airport commission free. At the time of writing this (March 2018) exchange rate was 12.5 Moroccan dirhams to 1 British pound.
The staff were really friendly. And my first encounter with officials would basically mark the start of what can only be called a theme of this holiday. What was the theme? The fact literally everyone I came across spoke to me in Arabic. Yes that’s right they thought I was an Arab. Now flattery aside (I mean I’m sure years ago I found out I contained like a few ounces of the good blood) it was like okay…I’m not Arab akhi. Then that opened up the whole ‘but you look Moroccan’ conversation followed by ‘are any of your ancestors arab’ quickly followed by ‘you need to learn Arabic Yallah your accent will make you sound like a native speaker’. And that conversation took place right up until I spoke to the last staff member on the way back home at Morocco airport. I did promise to learn Arabic for my next trip (I clearly didn’t think about this carefully). I should have brushed up on my rusty French (Which is now on my list of things to do).
The Transfer to the Riad we were staying in took less than an hour (we booked a shared Transfer as it works out cheaper). Even the journey into the red walled city was spectacular. The old winding roads and the more newer roads to help sustain the hustle and bustle of the town. Palm trees sway gently in the cool breeze. For me this place felt like home. And yes I know I am not Moroccan. But there was something clearly calling me to this scenic place.
We stayed at the Riad Nerja. We got dropped off on a main road and told the Riad was ‘that way’. Boy that was a lesson. We were quickly approached by a local young boy who said he would take us to the location. Now a note to anyone visiting Morocco….if someone is offering you ‘help’ there is a HIGH possibility they want to be ‘thanked’ with money. Baring this in mind I recommend you negotiate the price beforehand on EVERYTHING. That’s right everything!
We got to the Riad which is nestled in the old part of Marrakech. The roads in are super clean and you can almost feel the history of the area coming to life. We were greeted by the extremely friendly staff and a lovely pot of fresh mint tea. Now mint tea is Morocco is the real deal. But it’s not just what these guys drink; its a sign of their hospitality. The mint tea was served in a lovely little teapot with glasses (not cups). Just the smell alone says “you’re in Morocco”.
The Riad was beautiful. Old, clean and well beautiful. It cost around £20.00 per night to stay at the Riad Nerja. It’s a lovely Riad if you want something small (it has 5 rooms). However there’s no wifi so if this is a deal breaker for you it’s not going to be suitable.
We were offered a tour guide for half a day for 300 dirhams to show us the major sites. However we decided to fly solo.
We were shown the way to Jemaa el-Fnaa which was approximately a 20 minute walk (if there isn’t many around). Of course at night it can take longer as Marrakech comes to life in the dark.
So the first day we were there was a Friday so things went quiet around Lunch time. However quiet doesn’t mean everything shuts down; no. So as the Square would be really quiet for decided to explore the side streets leading up the Jemaa el-Fnaa. The streets are pretty packed and there’s a lot to take in. It can be sensory overload; but the experience is a must. There’s lots of shops selling locally crafted items such as Tagine (tajine) the clay pot used to cook the most popular in Morocco. There are two main types of dishes available: the first one is the clay one used to cook and the other is the ones used to serve in only (those are often highly decorated). There’s plenty of jewellery, locally produced wooden goods, herbs, spices, tea pots and trays… a lot of goodies to whet your shopping appetite.
The one things that immediately stuck out was the heavy use of the Hands of Fatima (khamsa). Khamsa means five in Arabic.The hand is known for having mystical powers to protect (especially from evil eye) and bring good luck and happiness. It’s history is deeply embedded in both Muslim and Jewish culture.You can find the khamsa in amulet form in many African and Arabian countries. In modern day culture you can find the khamsa being used as a modern sign of solidarity between groups such as the Muslims and Jewish. The khamsa is an open hand and is often decorated in beautiful patterns (and quite often an will be the focal point of the decoration). The hand is also used as a door handle which fits in with the belief that it will protect you. Moroccan culture is heavily influenced by African culture. Don’t be alarmed if you find dead stuffed iguanas, turtle shells and snake skins hanging in shops…as they are believed to protection from harm, loss and evil eye.
A quick look around and we got drawn to a small venue with a terrace called Canvas Bistro. We made our way up the stairs to the terrace to sit in the lovely Moroccan sun. This place has a Caribbean vibe to it. The decor is very much upcycling. Old jeans have been converted into seating cushions. Pallets make great tables. Old empty drums make great plant pots. The view from the terrace are awesome and gave us our first glimpse to the city skyline.
quick glimpse at the menu and I ordered the chicken and lemon tagine and a virgin mojito. As everything is cooked fresh it took a while for the food to be brought out.
In true Moroccan style bread was brought out alongside my Tagine. For those that don’t know the Moroccans love bread. It’s carb heaven. On the flip side I guess it’s the gluten intolerant persons nightmare. Khubz Maghrebi (the bread) is a round in shape and can be found on pretty much all bread carts across the city. And it tastes divine. It’s great for mopping up tagines, salad dressings…it’s just lush.
So after a 25 minute wait (during which we must have acknowledged we were sitting in Africa about 45 times). My tagine cost around £5.50. The Mojito cost approximately £1.50. Now a note to those that avoid ice…my drink contained fresh lemons, mint and buckets of ice. So if you are looking at ice free drinks maybe stick to bottled drinks.
The food was lovely. Money well spent. The atmosphere was electric. If we had time we would have returned for an evening meal.
Note on food budgets: you can set a budget of £15.00 for three meals and eat comfortably in Marrakech. If you want to eat ‘posh’ then increase the budget slightly.
Once we were fuelled up we went about our way and on the way out the shop next door gave us free Khamsas (small wooden ones) to take with us for protection and good luck. This is what Morocco is about; the friendliness. The hospitality. The positive vibes. The shop keeper didn’t push a sale on me. He asked how long we’d been in town and when he heard ‘just landed today’ he handed us the amulets.
The idea that a total stranger would want me to have an amulet to protect me reveals the real kindness of the people here. The openness of the Moroccans was overwhelming. I may not be able to speak Arabic but it didn’t stop me hugging (and yes kissing) the housekeeper at the Riad. But then that’s just me.
We then headed towards the Tanneries as it was on my friends list. The Tanneries are NOT for the faint hearted. And if strong stenches turn your stomach please do not head towards the Tanneries. Now because the Tanneries were on my friends list of things to see she was happy to pay a local person to get us there. Now I have to brutally honest. Firstly you need to negotiate prices beforehand. And you also need to acknowledge there are cowboys that will take you for a ride. My friend was hoping to see the government Tanneries and all the colourful dyes etc she saw in the tour books. However these cowboys were pushing their private businesses. They kept saying ‘take photos’ which kinda gave their game away (e.g. this wasn’t a free trip this was going to cost). The guy kept saying ‘today is the last day of Tanneries tomorrow Berbers come and sell their stuff’. Now the Berbers are the lovely people that live in the rural areas including the Atlas Mountains. Their culture frozen in a bygone era that makes it all that more alluring.
So once the guy tired us out (and trust me it was tiring….especially when you are bored of the same lines being repeated) he THEN took us to an OVERPRICED leather goods place. Now you need to understand these cowboys work together and it’s about commission. So when this guy took us to the shop they went for the sale. I found myself stepping in to protect my friend as they clearly felt she was easy prey because she was the one asking the questions. Luckily she walked away without buying an overpriced bag. Of course they tried their best including the following: this is the last day you can buy as we close for Berbers for TWO weeks. And I do you good price. And we can ship to UK directly. Of course I made it clear that wasn’t happening. £100.00+ for a leather bag bruv. You are having a giraffe! (Note: do a bit of research into prices before you leave the UK and NEVER pay the first price someone quotes you). The shop claimed it was a Government run one. No way is that business approved by the Government. They tried hard sell tactics and the guy even told me to butt out of the conversation between him and my friend (nah Akhi that ain’t happening; not on MY watch). So you need to keep your wits about you. If these cowboys detect you are an easy sell they will try to make a lot out of you.
My personal advice to anyone that gives into pressure/feels they won’t be able to think straight once shopkeepers get going maybe you should consider booking a Tour guide and explaining what you want to see and what you don’t want. Tour guides in Marrakech are friendly. When we turned up in the Square on Sunday morning to get picked up for our day trip all the transport looked the same. We approached one of the guides and he actually asked for the booking number of the company we were using and dialled the number for us to speak to them as our phone would occur roaming charges etc. He didn’t profit from this. It was a gesture that we won’t forget. So be wary. These small group of cowboys will tell white lies and try to sell you stuff you don’t need. Just remember that. These guys are in the minority group and operate around the streets near the Tanneries.
And another thing….the Berbers didn’t come down from the Atlas mountains and have a special selling day at the Tanneries. Understand that there are some scams and you need to know what they are before you visit Morocco so you don’t fall for them.
Be prepared to hear these cowboys repeatedly tell you that you are going in the wrong direction and the Tanneries are ‘that way’. Ignore them. They can’t touch you as it’s a Muslim country. If you made a racket you’d attraction and these guys would have to go and hide.
Once that drama was over (because I refused to pay the guy as I felt it was rushed and the guide was crap) he went all sympathy vote that he needed money to feed his family. Yes he needs to work. However I won’t pay for stuff that is useless or a waste of my time.
We spent the rest of the afternoon and then evening exploring the side streets and the Square. The Square. What can I say. It seriously didn’t disappoint. Activities start kicking off around 6 PM and it gets busy from 7:15-8 PM. The main attractions at night are the food stalls and the ‘free entertainment’ that you are expected to make a ‘payment’ towards when the hat gets past around. There’s snake charmers, fortune tellers, belly dancers (wearing niqabs-in other words their faces are covered), acrobatics, dancers and more. If you want to watch the entertainment take small dominations with you as you won’t be getting change.
Side notes about the Square: you will notice Armed Police. Don’t be alarmed. They are there as a precaution; to keep tourists and Moroccans safe. I didn’t see a single concerning event during my time there.
There is apparently pickpockets in operation. To keep your belongings safe don’t carry them in back pockets. And ladies are encouraged to use shoulder bags and to keep the bag on the side with their arm/hand covering it. A zipped bag is perfect. And if you have a flap keep that facing your body. I wouldn’t recommend a backpack as it can get busy and well things can happen (again I didn’t see anything but it’s always best to be safe than sorry).
If you need to take out money there are plenty of cash machines around the square. You’ll be charged around £1.80-2.00 for the transaction (I was charged this and I bank with Lloyds). There are also plenty of places to exchange money too. Just be wary of yourself especially when taking money out. There are plenty of beggars around (some may be real, and some are fake) so be careful.
But the big attraction is the food stalls. Like the over 70 stalls that grace the square at night. The food. The scent of BBQ. The freshness. It’s so good. I mean as a foodie I could have lived there. Now a bit of a warning about the food stall culture. For those of you that have never visited Morocco or countries of a similar culture you may find the canvassing on the square by stall holders can be a bit much. They will show you their menus and talk you through why they are good and how they offer free mint tea. And this cycle repeats every time you literally make eye contact with someone or show interest in a stall. The best way to avoid this is to either tell them you know what you are looking for and their menu doesn’t contain it. Or tell them you will be back tomorrow InShaAllah (God willing). Some stalls have quite colourful traditions for example stall number 22 (these guys have three stalls on the square). The guy was talking in a pretty bad London accent (although he did make me laugh) and made the comment of ‘come and eat at your brother from another Mothers place’. And if you try to walk past they start SINGING at you. Yes that’s right. If you’ve never been sang to this is your golden opportunity. And well to stop myself going beetroot red I quickly sat down at stall 22 only to have the whole place give us a round of applause. The experience was actually quite comical and entertaining. For some though it was annoying and we heard at least one woman shouting at them to STOP it. It’s a bit of fun and I don’t think anyone should take it offensively. These stalls rely heavily on tourism and with so many stalls to contend with these guys need to stick out.
If you need wifi there are a few places on the Square that have free wifi and I recommend that you take advantage of this instead of paying over the odds for internet access and roaming.
And if you need to call home I recommend using Whatsapp. I managed to get call home a few times using data from a £10.00 bolt on (I use EE). It worked out at around 90 pence per minute using data and Whatsapp. And if you can use wifi in your hotel/Riad that’s even better. I was expecting to have connection problems in the Riad I was pleasantly surprised with no problems. Voice calls were crystal clear.
As we had Dinner booked at the hotel we headed back to the Riad. Now I know there are some reviews that if you stay at Riad Nerja that you should book Dinner. I’m afraid I cannot recommend the dinner. I found the soup lovely however the main and dessert were lacklustre. I do however recommend their breakfast.
As we’d been up since 3:30 AM we called it a day. The riad had air conditioning which is a blessing especially in the hotter months (we visited in March which was the end of Winter for Marrakech).
Day two: let’s explore some more (woah we’re in AFRICA)
The next day we had Breakfast at the riad which consisted of even more carbs, jam, honey and what I can only describe as dairylea (cream cheese triangles). Accompanied by orange juice and coffee.
We started the day and headed towards the Souks and towards Ben Youssef Madrasa (a former Islamic School that at one stage accommodated 900 students). It’s a stunning building however to our disappointed it was closed for a refurbishment.
So we made our way to the Photography Museum Of Marrakech. Like all of the buildings in Marrakech it’s stunning. It cost 40 dirhams (so less than £4.00) to get in. The Museum accepts card payments however the minimum spend is 200 dirhams.The Museum is home to some really breathtaking photos of Morocco, the life of Moroccans, the culture and the changing times of this beautiful country. There’s some old photos of the square too. The highlight for me was the view from the Terrace across the city. Of course its a great place to grab a coffee/drink/food too however we decided to eat elsewhere. I recommend a trip to the Museum..especially if you are a photography nut.
We made out way back through the souk to find some bargains. If you are a foodie it maybe hard for you to leave Marrakech without purchasing spices. I bought some Tagine spice mix (around £1.50 for a bag) as well as a posher version which can also be added to coffee to make a spicier coffee. And what trip to Morocco would be complete without picking up some dried mint tea (approximately £4.00 for a large bag). We also picked up some home fragrances (no synthetic stuff just the real deal stuff).
We then moved onto purchasing a teapot and tray (these items were on my list for a long time).
I then picked up some Hare lipsticks (if you’ve seen the Barry M colour changing lipsticks you’ll be happy to know these lipsticks are the extremely cheap version available in a wide variety of colours). I also got a bottle of Kohl.
And what item could you buy as a lasting memento of your time in Morocco? A leather handbag. I managed to pick up a nice shoulder bag for around £23.00. I also got presents for the family too (leather pencil cases for like £1.80 in a range of bright colours are a bargain).
The final item on my shopping list was sweets. As Morocco is a Muslim country i went to town with buying sweets. I bought around 20 dirhams worth of sweets only to have the shop keeper return 10 dirhams to me and say he couldn’t charge me full price as the sweets were for my children. It’s the moments like that that really showcase the family friendly vibes of this beautiful country.
We had lunch at Taj’in Darna on the square. I had the Kefta Tagine (meat) with eggs and the vegetarian couscous. The Tagine cost 60 dirhams and the cous cous was 40 dirhams (which we both split). As with all Moroccan meals bread was served and a bonus we had a olive salad.
The tagine was lovely however it was dry and the meat was catching on the Tagine pan (so a bit burnt-ish). However the service here was fantastic and the views were pretty awesome of the square .
On the the Square we got some orange juice (5 dirhams as we got disposable cups…so that’s like 50 pence).
We spent the remainder of the day looking around the souks, the side streets and walking over to Koutoubia Masjid (which in my opinion is breathtakingly beautiful and a must see).
We finished the night by having a meal at one of the stalls on the Square. I had some mixed skewers (so lamb/chicken/sausages/vegetables) which cost 70 dirhams and a side of chips for 5 dirhams. We ate at stall 22 and can recommend the food. As with most Moroccan meals we got served mint tea (a few glasses went down nicely).
Deciding where to eat on the Square takes a while. I did want to try the roasted goats head however didn’t get round to doing it on this trip. Maybe next time.
Foodie note: if you fancy snail soup it’s served all over the city for around 5 dirhams per bowl. There are plenty of ‘exotic’ options open to you in Marrakech in terms of food. Or you can go for street food options that are cheaper in the side streets (we have a quarter of a chicken with rice and chips for 25 dirhams at a side street cafe). To eat on the Square you are basically paying a premium price compared to the smaller less known venders on the side streets.
And the best piece of advice I can give you is eat where the locals are eating. The food is more likely to be authentic and fresh too.
Marrakech isn’t a sea port however seafood can be found pretty much on every stall. I avoided fish as I didn’t feel it would the best quality.
There’s so much to see on the Square at night. If you want to see the best views of the square at night go to any of the eateries and purchase an ice cream (which cost around 15 dirham per scoop). There’s a huge range of flavours to pick from on the Square. From traditional vanilla to a more Arabian flavour of orange and cinnamon you really will be spoilt for choice. If you fancy something a bit more warm Nutella crepes are also on sale on the Square (price from 15 dirhams).
Day three: our last day: Ouzoud Falls.
Morocco is a real treasure trove of beauty. There’s so much to see that I truly believe that a month wouldn’t even be enough time to see everything. However we decided to book at least one day trip which we decided would be to Ouzoud Falls.
The Ouzoud Falls are 110 metre high located Moyen Atlas village Tanaghmeilt which is in the province of Azilal approximately 95 miles from Marrakech (150 KM). It’s in the heart of the Berber communities. The fall is made of three drops the longest being 75 metres.
My fascination with waterfalls comes from my obsession with The Goonies. I find them magical. So my friend agreed we would visit Ouzoud Falls. We booked via Igomorocco.com. A deposit was paid in Euros to secure our places on the trip at the time of booking. The remainder was paid in Euros at the time of departing on the trip.
So we turned up in the Square at 8:15 AM for our 8:30 AM departure (the meeting point wasn’t confirmed until the night before via Whatsapp-my advice is to contact the company before you leave the UK/home and get a confirmation incase you have internet access problems). The meeting point was outside the Paris Cafe…where it looked like everyone meets for day trips.
We set out on a scenic drive of nearly 3 hours (with a 15 minutes stop at just past half way point). It’s long drive but it’s a beautiful journey. If you get travel sick (I do!) let the driver know and he’ll let you travel in the front with him (which gives you more opportunities to take photos).
Note: I just want to add that the Moroccan Government works really hard to keep their roads safe so the insanity of the roads shouldn’t put you off a day trip. There are various check points where drivers need to produce copies of their insurance paperwork. There are also strict laws that control how long drivers can actually drive before needing a compulsory breaks. We were stopped on both sides of the journey.
So what can be said about Ouzoud Falls? Well before you set out on this trip I suggest you wear walking shoes…forget flats ladies were talking walking shoes or shoes with suitable support. You may wish to take a thin sweatshirt as it gets cold when you reach the restaurant. I’d also recommend a folding hiking stick if you are not a seasoned adventurer.
Okay so let’s get one thing clear. This day trip is NOT suitable for small children, elderly, anyone who struggles with heights or walking. You need a general level of fitness for this. You will be walking along paths that maybe slippery (after rain) and down rockery to get to the bottom of the falls. Of course there are two routes to the falls however the day trip takes you through the beautiful woodlands. You get to see the Berbers farmlands. The families in this area have two main harvests. Almonds (in July) and Olives in November. During the remaining summer months they often hire out their homes to make enough money to be able to survive the winter months when tourists are few and fair between.
There are a few points at which we stopped for our guide to talk to us (who just so happened to be from the area and the Berber community).
He gave us so much information and was very knowledgeable and spoke more than four languages fluently.
So the hike (because that’s basically what it is!) takes over 2 hours with the stops. You get to take in the scenery. You walk down to the fall where you then catch a boat to the other side to go up some steps to the restaurant (cost of the boat: 20 dirhams). The tour guide charges 3 euro or 30 dirhams. If you enjoy the trip of course you can tip more.
We made our way down trying not to slip and break a bone or three. As it had been raining the paths were somewhat slippery. We stopped at a few places to learn about the area and take photos. We also met the wild monkeys (which you will meet again at the top of the hike). These monkeys will take anything visible out of your bags; you have been warned!
And when you get to the bottom of the fall the view is breathtaking-even as chocolate water. It’s quite noisy but then what would you expect from water gushing 100 plus metres right? Looking up at the triple drop waterfall is a surreal moment. Here is the giant waterfall; and you can feel it’s presence.
Because of the recent rain the water was a chocolate colour. So basically the water looked like a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The short boat ride takes you fairly close to the waterfall….and if you are of the nervous variety put your phones away before you lose them in the water. You get close enough to be sprayed with water. And you are close enough to feel cold (like I said you may wish to take a thin sweatshirt with you). The few minute boat ride takes you across the river to the restaurant (you’ll need to climb some steps).
Once in the restaurant you get a fantastic view of the falls. And it’s quite chilly. The hike is worth the views believe me. Photos cannot do it justice. You need to feel the atmosphere and feel that spray to take it all in.
At the restaurant we were given two menu options: lamb tagine or chicken skewers and chips. Now I’d had a few tagines so decided to go for the grilled chicken skewers. Like all Moroccan meals we were served khubz bread with a lovely tomato salad. I could have potentially called it quits after that but nope had to stuff my face. The skewers were delicious and the Moroccans do awesome chips (seriously you need to try chips in Morocco). The skewers were served with sauces to dip in.
The meal was completed with local oranges and mint tea.
The price was 105 dirhams for the meal which I felt was very reasonable considering the setting (remember you can pay around 60-80 dirhams for a tagine on the square).
The price also includes a large bottle of water.
After we finished the meal the restaurant offered us the bill (I guess time is money so they needed the space in the restaurant for the other tourists reaching the falls).
We then continued the climb up to another area where we had the opportunity to take photos of the waterfall with a rainbow.
A bit further up (and trust me if you are not used to walking you will FEEL this trip!) and you will make it to the top where you get to see panoramic views of the surrounding areas. I would have liked to be able to spend more time at the top however as with organised trips time is limited to get everything in for everyone. The views from the top are out of this world. I don’t think it looks anything like how you expect dessert land to look. Memorizing. You also get to meet the monkeys again (this is the official point of the trip where you get to mingle with them and take photos). You may wish to take a banana with you to get the monkeys to come to you. They also accept cakes and biscuits.
From this point the trip is complete; you’ve reached the top from where you started the descend. A quick walk and you are back at the mini bus.
The trip cost 23 euros, 3 euros for the Tour Guide and 2 for the boat trip. Then there’s the 105 dirhams for the meal.
I believe the trip is worth the price and we enjoyed it. The scenery is out of this world. We enjoyed every single second.
Last night in Marrakech:
We found a small cafe style eatery in the side streets off the Square (we were dropped off my the driver and walked across the main road to enter the side streets). We paid 25 dirhams for a quarter of a char-grilled chicken, rice and chips (plus this special chicken sauce that was a cross between a curry and gravy). It was a bargain and we enjoyed it. If you are on a strict food budget the side street vendors really are your best friend.
We rounded up the trip with a bit of relaxing on one of the terraces with some salted caramel ice cream. As we needed to be up for 3:30 AM to get ready for the transfer pick up we had an early night.
I was quite sad to call time on our trip; I could have easily have stayed longer. And like I mean longer.
So here is my round up:
Top five recommendations:
1) Don’t pay the first price someone quotes you for goods-slash the price by half and only pay what you feel is the best price (and you can afford). Try a bit of haggling…even if you fail at it.
2) Leather goods are reasonably priced in this part of the world. If you want a bargain try the souls.
3) The food vendors on the side streets are less pricey and well worth trying (especially if you are on a strict budget). We found a vendor offering fruit juices for 2 drams a glass. Don’t forget to indulge in mint tea; seriously us Brit’s are missing a trick here!
4) For the best views of the square try the various terraces (whilst enjoying maybe a mint tea or ice cream as you must purchase something to basically gain access to them).
5) If you enjoy the mint tea grab some to take home with you (I paid around a fiver for a huge bag). If you are a fan of Tagine then purchase some spices too.
Trip tip: If you have time and have no mobility problems then do try and book on the Ouzo falls trip.
Most Moroccans (the ones working in the food sector/working in the souks etc) of the younger generations can speak pretty good english so if you cannot speak Arabic or French this shouldn’t put you off visiting Morocco.
Morocco is a Muslim country. Public displays of affection don’t happen. Save it until you are behind closed doors. You don’t have to wear a head scarf however it’s recommended that you dress modestly (although some don’t do this and no one seems to register it).
You will hear the glorious Athaan (call to prayer) 5 times a day. If you are a light sleeper check how far the nearest Masjid (Mosque) is from your chosen accommodation.
Before accepting help or guidance from someone negotiate the price FIRST.
Riad prices vary a lot depending on location and size too. The ones that a bit of a walk into the square are very affordable. Ours was beautiful and clean with a roof top terrace too. The only downside was no wifi. If you plan to check emails, app’s or plan your trip day by day I’d say wifi access is a must.
Be prepared for the cowboys. But he confident in saying Lara Ukraine (no thank you). They will try all their Huber cool sales patter but you need to stay focused.
I travelled with another female and did not take my children. Marrakech is a very busy place and unless your children and you are confident is the hustle and bustle and have enough adults to watch other them I wouldn’t travel alone with my children until the oldest is 6 and knows what to do if she got separated from me.
What to avoid:
1) The Tanneries. I felt they were hyped too much. Not worth the walk or the cowboys you encounter around that area of the Medina. However if leather fascinates you this maybe your big ticket item…however for me it was a major let down.
2) If you are travelling to Morocco during 2018 there’s a huge chance Ben Yourself Madras will still be shut for restoration. Check before you leave.
3) Avoid wearing a backpack in the Square. Best safe than sorry.
All in all I loved Marrakech and cannot wait to go back. All I need to do is find a travel buddy. Whose in?
Disclaimer: all images used were taken by myself. This article is by no way sponsored by any third party. All opinions are my own. You may not use the images or text without prior consent.