Over the half term break, four of our teachers donned their backpacks, strapped on their sandals (and moonboot) and explored the picturesque Morocco! We asked Molly and Tessa to share their experience.
What was the most memorable part of your trip?
Molly: The Sahara desert. I had to pinch myself when we finally got there. Absolutely incredible 2 days at the end of the trip.
Tessa: The most memorable part of the trip for me was definitely our two night experience in the Sahara desert, in particular, our first day/ night. I remember having a moment on this first leg of the journey where I just sat there on my camel ‘Carlos’ and shut my eyes to take it all in. It was pretty amazing.
What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Molly: Goats in trees. I’ve never thought of a goat as a particularly agile creature! They climb the trees for the Argon nuts!
Tessa: As we were in Morocco during Ramadan we were very fortunate to have an experience that many others wouldn’t have had simple because of the time of year that we visited. Our tour guide had explained all aspects of the Ramadan festivities to us but it was quite amazing to witness and be part of whilst in Morocco.
Did you pick up any of the language or local sayings?
Molly: Our tour guide Abdul made it his mission for us to learn some basic Arabic, so we learnt some on the bus. Just the basics like thank you and no thank you and his favourite hurry up, “Yala!”. In Morocco they also speak French, so I was lucky a friend I was travelling with was fluent in French and was able to get her to translate for me.
Tessa: Once you understood the basics you soon found yourself being able to communicate simply with the locals.
Were there any hair raising moments?
Molly: The moment I felt the most intimidated was in the main market in Marrakech at night. It was a bit hard to work out where you were and I’m not good at bartering price when shopping and for taxis.
Tessa: I never felt scared in Morocco. As a female traveller, as long as you make sure you are dressed appropriately, you have your wits about you and you are prepared for what you could come across when mingling in touristy and local areas, then you will be fine.
Did you meet any locals?
Molly: Yes! They were so lovely! Especially in Chefchaouan, they were really helpful particularly as I had a fractured leg while travelling so this made a world of difference to me.
Tessa: Almost all of the locals we met and interacted with were extremely lovely, helpful and had good banter. The three Travel Talk staff that were on our tour were incredibly funny, friendly and helpful. Each local guide we had when visiting new towns were lovely, spoke quite good English and were able to share lots of information with us about the heritage site we were visiting with them. The locals we interacted with when shopping or eating out were generally very patient with us, helpful and friendly as well.
What was something insightful you took away from the trip?
Molly: I was in Morocco during Ramadan. It was really interesting seeing how quiet the cities were during this time and how restaurants weren’t open until after sunset in some places. We watched a restaurant full of families breaking fast one night in Casablanca and they had their tables full ready to break fast and when the time ticked over they didn’t rush to eat they slowly started eating their meals. If that was me and I hadn’t eaten since 3am I would be so hangry! Very interesting to watch.
Tessa: Their university education is free and available to everyone, something I wish happened more often in other parts of the world too!!
What about sights or activities off the beaten track? Beyond the tourist traps?
Molly: Driving through the high atlas mountain. Absolutely beautiful. Very windy track for about 3 hours in total, however sights I will never forget. We also got to stop for many ‘Panoramic views’ as Abdul would say.
Tessa: Whilst having free time in Chefchaouan, my friends and I were on a mission to get as many beautiful photos as possible of the ‘Blue City of Happiness’ and in this process we came across many locals who wanted to practise their English with us and show us their family’s shops. They were very friendly, did not push or force us to purchase anything and were very trustworthy. On each of the journeys to their shops we went down different streets and pathways that we may not have discovered on our own. We ended up getting some of the most beautiful photos in these places which were off the beaten track and being used by locals rather then tourists which I loved.
What was a memorable meal from your trip?
Molly: I had an incredible meal in Fes! 3 course for 11 pounds.. AMAZING! My other favourite meal you could get everywhere was a kefta Tagine with egg!
Tessa: My favourite meal was definitely the cous cous. I eat a lot of cous cous at home so to have it many different ways in Morocco, both vegetarian and with different meats, was very exciting for me! The local vegetarian and meat tagines (similar to a casserole) were also incredibly delicious!
Are there any places you would revisit?
Molly: Casablanca, Rabat, Chefchaouan and the desert. There was a few hikes I couldn’t do because of my leg being fractured at the time that I would love to do, in Chefchaouan and obviously to hike the dunes in the desert! So I’ll definitely go back again!
Tessa: As I love surf beaches I would certainly like to explore the surf beaches of Essaouira as we didn’t get to go there. In Chefchaouan I would like to do some of the hikes I read about which are just out of town and apparently boast stunning scenery. I would go back to the big market in Marrakech during the day so I could do more shopping in a less hectic and busy environment and of course I would absolutely go back to the Sahara desert.
What advice would you give to travellers thinking of heading here?
Molly: Don’t just stay in Marrakech there is so much to do outside or Morocco! See as much as you can. If you have the opportunity to go through a tour I’d highly recommend it. I felt really lucky I was able to learn so much about Morocco and its history from my guide. He was also very helpful about what to eat and what not to eat. The tour I went on was ‘The Exotic’ tour with Travel Talk. Highly recommend it – it’s 10 days and you see so much of such a beautiful country.
Tessa: I would highly recommend visiting Morocco as part of a tour group, especially with Travel Talk tours. Not only do they offer a range of tours to suit your time frame and personal needs but they also do a fantastic job at organising great accommodation, local cultural experiences, are honest and give great advice and information related to all aspects of the tour and all destinations along the way. Having a local guide also allows you to have an authentic experience whilst in a safe and supportive environment. As English is not a common language spoken, I would imagine that travelling solo throughout Morocco would be quite difficult at times and I would especially encourage female travellers to travel with others just to be safer.
Thinking of heading to Morocco? TravelTalk create unique and authentic experiences without breaking the bank. www.traveltalktours.com