Are you going to Marrakech? Cool! Oh wait… Alone? Why? Are you sure? What are you doing to do there? Aren’t you afraid something might happen?
These reacties might seem familiar to some solo (female) travellers. I can’t really say my friends and family were happy with my decision of going on a holiday to Marrakech by myself. However, this is your life and you should do whatever it is that you want. Of course you have to do some research and talk to people about the destination you would like to go to. So, my message is: seas the day, go for it. And so I went. And I didn’t regret it at all.
I only spent four days in Morocco. I wanted to see not only Marrakech city itself, but also other attractions nearby. I arranged everything through the Riad I was staying at. There were so nice to give me a cheap price for the tours all three days (in total €110). The first one was the tour in Marrakech. This tour was completely private, I was accompanied by an old, local tour guide who explained me everything about the palaces, tombs and traditions of Marrakech and who led me through the whole city for some 4-5 hours. It was amazing and exactly what I needed for the first day in Marrakech.
If I should describe Morocco, and more specifically Marrakech, in a one word, it would be: authentic. I was surprised by how the locals called this city “touristic”, however there wasn’t a single shop there where the products weren’t handcrafted. I don’t think any traveler in modern history has successfully went to Marrakesh without buying anything in one of these original shops. You just can resist them! Handmade jewellery, bags, shoes, lamps, carpets,… In the beginning, you don’t think you need these stuff. You are wrong.
One of the things that was definitely on my to-do list when in Morocco was experiencing a camel ride. My dream would be to ride on a camel trough the Sahara desert, but unfortunately, due to my short citytrip, there wasn’t enough time to do a Sahara tour. But I did got the chance to ride a camel through the palmtree “forest” in Marrakech. And of course, you go all-in or you don’t go at all.
If you feel like escaping the touristic Marrakech and get a glimpse of the real and rough Morocco, you can take a day trip to Essaouira, a cozy little town at the west coast of Morocco.
During the three-hour car ride to Essaouira, it’s common that you have two stops on the way: the first stop is at a argan oil factory, where lovely ladies are handcrafting argan oil and you can buy lots of argan oil based products.
Fun fact: these ladies can explain you everything in English, French, Italian, Arabic, … The Moroccan people are very multilingual and, for some reason, this is unknown to the rest of the world; I never heard anything about it and people are intrigued by the fact that I for example speak three languages fluently, and that I’m in the process of learning other languages as well. In Morocco, you can learn up to 8 languages during your school carreer.
The second stop on your way to Essaouira is at argan berry trees. This was the most funniest thing I’ve ever seen. The tradition is all about goats. Goats are literally standing in the trees, on the tranches, and chewing on the berries of the trees. Then, they spit out the berries, and the people collect them and process them in the argan oil. This is what makes argan oil the GOAT of all oil products. – Get it, the goat?
When arrived in Esssaouira, you will be offered a city tour by one of the local guides awaiting you at the bus stop. My personal experience is to not take a local guide, as Essaouira is pretty small and you can figure out and wander through the city center yourself. Since I was traveling alone, I met some great people in the groups I was taking the tour with. In Essaouira, I hung out with two fun guys from New Zealand the whole day.
When we arrived there, we were starving. As I said earlier, Essaouira is not touristic and keep in mind it was Ramadan then. So that means: no food of drink shops or restaurants opened during the day. Our quest to food was … interesting. Long story short: we overestimated our geographical skills and, half an hour later, we got offered a ride in the car of a local guy who was bringing us to the part of the city where we could eat something. He and his friends helped us out a lot. Don’t be scared to ask people for information or favours. I noticed that the other travellers were too shy of afraid to talk to the local people; they are so friendly and won’t bite you.
Essaouira basically consists out of a cozy centre with small, crowded, beautiful ornamented streets full of decorated shops. Don’t expect any factory made products: everything is hand crafted; clothing, shoes, cosmetic products, medicines, musical instruments, etc.
When traveling alone, it’s important to be open to meet new people and hang out with them. It makes your journey so special and fun! Don’t get me wrong, you need your time alone as well. But it’s fun to travel in groups now and then and experience new things. Thats what traveling is all about. New places, new feelings, new people, new experiences.
The most memorable thing of my trip to Morocco was definitely visiting the Ouzoud waterfalls. Be prepared for a three to four hour hike through the Atlas mountains, starting from the top of the waterfalls, going to the bottom and ending back at the top. Don’t stress out: you will have some time to rest in between and have a local, freshly prepared tangine with some delicious, sweet moroccan tea.
You’ll also bump into some monkeys on the way. Fear not, they are harmless and won’t do you any harm. Be sure to hide your food, as they are not ashamed to take your morning croissant right out of your hand.
The views of the waterfalls are absolutely amazing. I had the privilege to witness a rainbow covering these waterfalls. It was stunning.
Tip: Book your tours and trips through your hostel, hotel or riad. They can arrange everything for you and often make a good deal when you buy everything from them. Pick-up at your room, a (private) guide, transport, sometimes even meals are included. That way, you are sure of your booked tour.
I can definitely recommend visiting Morocco or certainly Marrakech. If you want to experience another culture than Europe, but don’t want to take your trip too far way, this North Africa is your perfect destination.