A passionate geographer, I love a chance to free my inner nerd on a trip – making New Zealand my favourite country to date. With a background in wine too, I love finding a place to appreciate the views from my glass.
The land of historic medinas, winding souks and passionate bartering, Morocco had been on my travel wish list for some time. Having travelled with G Adventures previously and been blown away by how great the local guides are and how relaxed a small group tour could be, I was excited to experience their Moroccan Desert Adventure. A short flight away, it was the perfect escape to end the summer with…
Into the desert
Starting out in the bustling city of Marrakech, I spent an afternoon discovering the hidden beauty of the Jardin Majorelle and getting lost in the maze of back streets within the city walls, before meeting the group that evening. The next day we travelled up and over the mighty Atlas Mountains – where our guide Abdul told us he is from – along the highest pass, to emerge the other side and spend the night in the village of Nkob. Not only did our hotel boast amazing sunrise views from the terrace, but the pool provided a welcome cool dip. In fact, the standard of accommodation throughout the trip impressed me, with traditional and quirky places at every stop. Here we got to see a simpler, quieter side of Morocco as we were shown around the village ‘gardens’ (like allotments but with palm trees) and taken to a local house for mint tea and bread.
But I was most excited for our next stop, the Sahara Desert, where we spent a night in a Berber camp beneath the stars. We got up early to watch the sunrise, then rode camels across the dunes. I couldn’t help but picture myself in the opening credits of Disney’s Aladdin. The prospect of the mighty Cave of Wonders appearing before me distracted me so much that I hardly noticed my camel’s pungent breath.
Mountains, beaches and markets
We also visited the neck-craning Todra Gorge and the old fort at Ait Benhaddou, where, from the top, you could see how powerful flash floods from the Atlas Mountains had dramatically shaped the land (and my inner geographer nerded out).
I personally preferred the laid-back vibes at the coastal town of Essaouira to manic Marrakech. Despite still being a tourist hotspot, we made the most of our free time here exploring the UNESCO World Heritage town’s fishing port and local market street and relaxing on the sandy beach while the locals played football until sunset. Here Adbul took us to a rooftop bar where a more relaxed atmosphere meant the option of alcohol, a DJ and dancing into the night.
Back in Marrakech we spent an evening in the main square getting henna tattoos, giving the snake charmers a wide berth and dining overlooking the hubbub of Friday night activity before saying our goodbyes (swapping Facebook details), and departing.
What to expect from your G Adventures trip
Throughout the trip, whatever activities, walks or local cooperative visits that were planned into the itinerary, you always had the option of doing your own thing, which I admit I opted for instead of the evening cooking class – I just couldn’t face another tagine by that point. Having our own free time to explore was also great as you can go at your own pace, sometimes to places a larger group can’t.
And whilst it’s to be expected that to cover large parts of a country in just a few days you’ll spend quite a bit of time on the road, Abdul utilised this time to tell us about Moroccan history, politics, religion and modern life, answering any questions and even cracking a few very bad jokes. He took most opportunities in the evenings or at meal times to engage our group in conversations, which were really interesting since, as highly likely on a tour, we were such a varied group of individuals with different cultures, religions and languages. Rather than a recipe for awkward silences, on the YOLO style tour we still had plenty in common. One member from Kuwait showed us his preferred dating apps, we were treated to an Icelandic folk song one evening and everyone discussed what they ate at Christmas. This is one of my favourite aspects of a group tour - you learn about the country you’re visiting better than a guide book could tell you, plus so much more.
What you need to know about Morocco
If you’re thinking about taking a trip to Morocco, here are my less obvious take-homes. Bread, couscous and tagine are staples – get used to them, especially away from the big cities. And you can ask for no sugar in your mint tea (it’s delicious but think of the dental bills!). As a Muslim country, be aware and respectful in how you dress and behave. Finally, tipping is a big thing here – expect to tip almost everyone - in restaurants, with hotel porters, camel drivers, toilet attendants and of course your guide and driver. Our guide explained this from the start and arranged helpful group collections for bigger tips.
I’d happily choose G Adventures for a tour again. In fact, I’m now super keen to explore the north of Morocco – search Chefchaouen and you’ll see why!
Chat to a Flight Centre Travel Expert about booking your G Adventures group tour to Morocco.