Food for Thought – Planning your Morocco Itinerary…
When planning a trip to Morocco, often the prospective travellers’ desire to see as much of the country as possible becomes the overriding aim. Whilst this is natural and logical, having made the long-haul trip and / or don’t plan to return for a while, it’s important to recognise that cramming activities can sometimes reduce the enjoyment of the trip for some party members.
We have been helping a wide range of parties to plan great itineraries around Morocco for over 20 years, what we’ve learnt is that for the majority of travellers, less is more.
Of course, your tourist options depend greatly on the number of nights you have in Morocco and of course your budget.
Some key considerations:
- Age of travellers (older / younger) – consider that multiple long drives may not be suitable or fun!
- What are you looking for from your trip? Are you culture vultures or relaxation sun bathers? Most commonly, a bit of both always works well.
- What is your budget? The more travelling you do, the more cost you add to the trip.
- Consider the dates and time of year you’re travelling. European and Domestic holidays (School Holidays / Ramadan) may impact your ability to do certain activities or travel easily.
- Do you have any ‘absolute musts’ for your itinerary? Perhaps the main reason for your trip is shopping, birdwatching, yoga or surfing the tube near Safi?
A touch of sightseeing
Most people want a touch of sightseeing, this doesn’t necessarily have to be only historic buildings or monuments. We feel that the best city experiences are rarely gained by blindly following a guide from one building / monument to another but instead, simply setting off from a point within the city on foot, carrying nothing but a guide book (or now google maps) to explore. Get lost, you will always be able to regain your bearings when you need to. Aim to submerge yourself in the day to day happenings of that place, that’s when you discover the culture and buzz.
Why not stop-off for a tasty bite? Go where the food smells and looks great, or perhaps ask a local but be free, relax and just stroll through it.
Local ‘organised’ experiences can also be booked; cooking classes, food(ie) market tours, pottery making, and much more are now available to book – these can be good ‘anchor points’ for your getting to know the city. These experiences can often be far more revealing of the country than the ramblings of a tour guide more interested in getting you into a carpet shop than providing accurate accounts of historical events. You may understand these by reading a few pages of a decent guide book! Of course, some travellers will want a guide to tick off their ‘absolute musts’ within often, limited time. Nevertheless, we always recommend immersive cultural experiences over planned city tours – it’s authentic.
Reasonable logistical expectations
We’re frequently asked by clients, who have perhaps not yet fully studied the map of Morocco, to help plan a 4-night trip including Marrakech, a Sahara Desert overnight camp and a night in Fes.
Driving times in Morocco are to be seriously considered, you may unintentionally find most of your trip is sat in a car if not thought through. Helicopter flights leave Marrakech and only take 2 hours to get to the Sahara Desert – this does however come with a heavy price tag and therefore a price the few and not the many can only afford. This doesn’t make a tour of the of the country less possible, only that it will contain much more driving. Do note, the unique scenery of Morocco that would be missed by flying over as opposed to driving is to be seriously considered – it’s far more spectacular by road than by air!
Road trips around Morocco
So, you have a week, perhaps 10 – 14 nights to explore Morocco. Fantastic! here are however different ways of filling that time and the first thing to consider is how busy you want it to feel.
Some will want to prioritise seeing as much of the country as possible, others will want to include parts of the trip where they stop moving for a bit and enjoy ‘being’ in a new and different location. Imagine, a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains where you can take time to go on half-day excursions, sunbathing on the Atlantic Coast or even reading, fishing or just looking over the hypnotic lagoon of Qualidia. You could even take a city break in Marrakech, Fes or Rabat to enjoy a luxurious hotel, a touch of culture, evening walks or perhaps some nightlife.
Consider the requirements of your party and simply plan around these, whatever you decide, you won’t be disappointed!
A few road trip recommendations
- Three nights at a hotel or villa is a great length of time to get to know a place. Unless passing through, or it’s a Desert camp, use this time to sightsee, experience culture and relax for a well-balanced trip.
- Consider driving yourselves rather than having a driver. The roads are generally good and this of course saves on cost.
- Avoid long drives with young children. Morocco has a hot climate, break any long journeys with a day at the pool or other fun activities.
- Leave early enough to arrive at your destinations during daylight hours and in time for dinner – night-time lighting in some areas can be low.
- When planning a stay in a location for only 2 days, don’t fill both days with sightseeing – make time for relaxing and experiencing the environment.
- Consider flying back from a different airport to the one you flew into – this can help you travel across the county and avoid seeing things twice.
- Leave a nice chill out location for a few days at the end of the tour so that you go home feeling relaxed and not needing another holiday to recover from the road trip!