A Few Glimpses Of A Great Travel Destination
Itinerary And Time Of The Visit
We traveled 10 days in the beginning of November 2019, and drove a loop starting from Marrakech to Essaouira, Taroudant, Agdz in the Draa Valley, Ait Ben Haddou (including the spectacular drive to Telouet), and back to Marrakech. This is only a small part of this huge and very diverse country, but it was an amazing road-trip nonetheless, that really put Morocco high on our list for the near future.
This is definitely not enough to give qualified and comprehensive recommendations about a country that would deserve at least 2 months, or even more. Nonetheless, the short time we spent there gave us a few impressions of Morocco, and we would like to share some advices, based on the questions we had when organizing the trip.
Why Travel To Morocco?
There are many reasons why Morocco should be high on your list:
- Culture – With its grand past and regional influence, Morocco offers a large number of historical sites / architectural highlights distributed throughout the country. Each city we visited during our road-trip offered a fortified city, a Medina, a Casbah, a Ksar, …
- Landscape – We drove on some of the most spectacular roads I have experienced (especially, but not only, the part from Ait Ben Haddou to Telouet) – And we focused on a small part of the country, didn’t really go high in the Atlas or down in the desert.
- People – We had read a great deal of extremely negative posts about how aggressive people are in Morocco. Well, it was not in line with what we experienced!
- Traveling with a baby – People in Morocco love kids and that was a real “ice breaker” in many cases. People went more than once well out of their way to help us thanks to our little boy. And you will find anything that you need for babies, everywhere. This is definitely a great destination for “young parents”.
- Food – Moroccan cuisine is a delight, really tasty, healthy, and affordable at that.
- Splurge at a reasonable cost – When visiting Morocco, if you have a few extra € / $ at hand, enjoy the comfort and atmosphere of one of those traditional Riads or go to an exquisite restaurant. They are all in all great value for money.
Challenges In The Organization Of The Trip – What Would I Have Wished To Know?
I had read several negative feedbacks about Morocco:
- Mass-tourism – True, you will not be the only tourist in Marrakech… By far not! But as soon as we left Marrakech, we could enjoy a beautiful country with most of the time surprisingly few other foreign visitors (except maybe in Ait Ben Haddou), even though we covered a very classic route.
- Aggressivity of local guides and sellers, supposedly some of the most aggressive ones you can encounter – There is no denying that you will be offered services very frequently, but it was always done politely, and several times it came really handy. As for pushy sellers, I experienced far worse in quite a few other countries, believe me! Traveling with a baby maybe was an advantage.
- Driving – Road conditions are excellent, and you will not need a 4WD. Even Marrakech was easy to manage, with traffic not as bad as many people pretend (actually much easier than in many Mediterranean Countries), and with many parking possibilities close to the Medina. Gasoline is easy to find, even in remote areas. Beware that police speed checks are numerous though, so respect very carefully speed limits! The got caught twice, even though I basically respected the speed limits…
Highlights Of The Trip / What Will We Especially Remember?
Maybe what made this road-trip so nice was that the loop offered us various types of experiences, of places and of landscapes. And we only focused on a small part of the country:
- Essaouira is touristy indeed, but pleasant nonetheless, with a really nice Medina and a wind-swept but beautiful beach
- Taroudant’s Medina is superb, and the fortified walls offer an incredible walk at sunset
- The landscapes of the Draa Valley and the Palm Groves around Agdz offer many opportunities to discover rural Morocco
- The Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou, one of the most famous actually, is pleasant in the evening when tourist buses have gone back to Marrakech
- The route from Ait Ben Haddou to Telouet, now completely tared, is one of the most scenic drive I ever experienced, remembering me landscapes and colors I had seen in Northwestern Argentina & Southwest Bolivia only.
How To Go Off The Beaten Track?
Honestly? No idea… We weren’t long enough in the country…
What Would We Do Differently?
Not much actually…
- Renting a 4WD was comfortable but not at all necessary. You might need one on some very remote parts of the country, but that was in no way the case for us.
- Traveling with a baby starting to walk, those charming traditional Riads were not a wise choice: too many stairs, to many small furniture to be touched and played with…
- Choose hotels with swimming pools beginning of November… Well, if days are pleasantly warm in Novembers, nights are cold (going down to 10 degrees Celsius or even lower at night), making that swimming pools were almost as chilly as the English Channel. Not exactly inviting for an afternoon dip in the pool!
Best Time To Visit Morocco
Spring is definitely your best bet, right after the rainy season when the country is greener and partly covered with flowers. But fall was also a very good moment, with pleasant temperatures during the day (mid to upper 20s Celsius) and not too cold during the night.
Communication (Language Barrier?)
Communication was surprisingly easy but being French helps a lot. I cannot say how widely spoken English might be…
Getting Around In Morocco
We have no idea how public transports work, as we even haven’t looked into it. But there seem to be a rather good and efficient network, at least between cities.
Renting a car is a very good way to discover the country, it is cheap, safe and very convenient. Road conditions are excellent, and even Marrakech was easy to manage, with many parking possibilities close to the Medina. Gasoline is easy to find, even in remote areas.
Conclusion About Morocco…
For some reasons, Morocco had never been on my list… I had many biases about this country: mass-tourism, aggressive people with foreign visitors, …
How wrong! Especially traveling with a baby, Morocco is a great destination, easy to navigate, easy to organize, easy on the everyday basis, and offering so many highlights! We will go back, for sure!