If you are looking for an experience beyond Europe but aren’t quite ready to learn a new language or give up the everyday comforts that you have been used to then Morocco could be the right choice for you. Due to its historic relations with numerous European countries and its proximity to Spain, Morocco is a pleasant mix of Islamic Africa and Europe. Many of the locals speak one or more European languages and often someone who speaks English is a stone’s throw away. However Morocco has retained its unique culture and history enough to feel like a new world.
Morocco offers a large range of experiences depending on your personal taste. From historic landmarks, architecture, a unique shopping experience, a music festival and sports such as kite surfing and wind surfing. A suggestion would be to fly into Marrakech the heart of Moroccan culture. This experience may seem like a baptism of fire to some but it is here that locals from all over the country come together to sell their goods and to entertain.
Marrakech during the day provides a pleasant warm environment to wander around its many market stalls or visit the colourful tanneries. During the hot periods why not enjoy a Turkish bath. The baths come in all shapes and sizes with some of the higher price range offering luxury services. The basic baths however can give insight to the local way of life and make it easier to gather information on the surrounding areas that may not be in a guidebook. At night however Djamaa el fna in Marrakech transforms into a bustling entertainment experience full of storytellers, traditional water sellers and snake charmers for you to take photos of (this does however come at a cost and you should barter for the price before taking any photos). Henna artists wanting to paint the hands of females will often approach and again the price of this depends on the artist, the size and the details of the design. A section of the square is dedicated to food stalls in the evening, each offering a variation of similar food. For a friendly English-speaking stall you may want to try number 82.
Once you have taken in all the experiences on offer then retreating back to the quiet Marrakech hostel provides a much-needed break. There are dorms for both males and females and the beds come with sheets so no need to bring your own, and breakfast is included in the price.
A trip to the Cascade de Ouzoud, 128km away from Marrakech, will provide quite the opposite experience and for couples or small groups it is a great opportunity to bond. Made up of a tier of waterfalls the cascades are one of the most beautiful sites Morocco has to offer. Along the edge of the falls are food stalls serving traditional meals such as Tagine, whilst rainbows form above the pools. For light entertainment a three or four piece band may play as you eat, making this a truly romantic experience. If that isn’t enough then why not take a boat to the waterfalls themselves. Be warned, you may get wet.
If you are looking for a more creative experience then visiting Essaouira could be right for you. Situated on the coast, Essaouira is full of art galleries, craft shops and offers wind surfing lessons. In the summer months (usually July) the streets are filled with music from all over the world, though generally with a Gnawa influence. You can get pleasantly lost within the labyrinth of small alleyways that makes up a large part of Essauira whilst listening to people playing the Qraqab. Alternatively visit the seaport to experience some of Morocco’s history.
Another of Morocco’s great cities is Fes, formally the capital of Morocco. Despite being the second biggest city in Morocco Fes has quite a relaxed feel to it. There are plenty of places to relax over a tagine and the market is an experience not to be missed. Don’t be scared to get lost amongst the stalls as you are likely to find new parts to the market every day, each with its own charms. The locals are friendly and the pressure to buy is minimal. Venturing further will reward you with sights of weavers making carpets, mosques and beautiful architecture. The Hostel Fes is able to organise tours for its guests including visits to the Sahara. Clean sheets are provided and the free breakfast will set you up for an active day. It’s situated near the bus and train station making getting to and from the area very easy, and for those of you at the end of your trip Fes has an airport within easy access from the hostel.
All round Morocco is an exciting place for new and seasoned travellers with unravelled opportunities to meet other likeminded people. The mix of European and African cultures gives the country a wide appeal and you’ll be hard pushed not to find something you like during your visit.
Other Morocco Hostels of interest: