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The most visited city in Morocco is Marrakesh. Based on TripAdvisor user reviews, Marrakesh was chosen number 3 on the list of the top world destinations in 2016. When I started planning my trip to Morocco, I felt confused how to organize visiting various cities in that part of the world in such a short time frame. This post will give you a simple summary of my Morocco travel plan and will help you to organize your own trip much easier!
Anywhere I travel, I always want to see off-the-beaten-path spots rather than crowded with tourists spots. Morocco is one of these places, where if you want to explore outside of Marrakesh and you have only a week in the country, the help of a guide would be highly valuable. In some places, organizing and doing your trip 100% on your own is working, while in other places it simply doesn’t, unless you have months to plan beforehand and couple of weeks to spend there.
WHAT TO BRING
Read my other post Traveling with Less: Travel Gear Guide
FINDING A GUIDE
I found a guide to hire through a friend. I was traveling together with 3 more people, so sharing the cost for a guide, helped to keep the trip still on a budget. If you decide to explore only Marrakesh, you should be fine without a guide. However, if you want to travel outside of Marrakesh and need to find a guide, I would recommend you checking on TripAdvisor Expect to pay around $40/day for a guide (without car service included) and about $90/day for a guide with a vehicle. Contact few of the guides you find there, based on TripAdvisor users reviews and start negotiating a price. That would be a good skill for you to practice before visiting that part of the world, since most prices are not fixed. Bargaining is part of life there and it’s not something to feel bad about.
Once you are in Morocco, keep in mind that the initial price you will be given is usually much higher than what you should be paying. For example if they ask you to pay 30 dirhams for something, most likely the real price for that same thing is half of the asked price or sometimes even less. If you are hiring a local guide, he can help you with that part too, since prices for locals are always much lower than the prices for tourists. This situation exists not just in Morocco but ain countries such as India, Jamaica, as well. If you want to avoid being ripped off, always negotiate a price before you get on a taxi too, especially if the taxi meter is not set on.
HOW TO GET THERE
I flew to Marrakesh from London with Ryanair, an Irish really low cost air company. However, watch out for excess luggage since they will charge you a lot for it. They have the lowest baggage allowance in Europe (15 kg) and the highest excess luggage fee (20€ per kilo). That was the place where I learned my lesson that I should always travel with a foldable duffel bag, which can come really handy in situations like that.
I was based in Marrakesh, where I stayed at Oudaya Hotel & Spa You can book a place through AirBnb. If you’ve never used AirBnb before, you can accept my invite to join and get $40 off towards your first trip.
PLACES TO VISIT
You should always do your research beforehand and make a list of things to see and do. Then figure out how you can fit them within your visiting time frame and make a choice which ones to leave out. For example, I really wanted to visit the Sahara Desert, however that activity would had taken 2-3 days, which would had cut my time and chance to visit more nearby places! So I had to leave the Sahara Desert out of my itinerary.
1. Marrakesh: Visit the Medina in Marrakesh. Get some fresh squeezed orange juice from the street vendors, walk around the Jamaa el Fna, which is a square and market place in the Medina quarter. Enjoy the vibrant energy of the city. Another sites to see are the Marakesh Mellah, which is a walled Jewish quarter and Bab Agnaou, one of the 19 gates of the Marrakech Medina, dating from the 12th century. If you hire a guide, ask him if he can bring you to eat couscous at a traditional Moroccan family. Another thing to consider is visiting a hammam (bathhouse), which is an excellent way to experience the local culture!
2. Essaouira: It’s a gorgeous port city about 2-3 hours driving from Marrakesh, which you shouldn’t miss visiting! You can either go with a guide like I did or get a taxi from the Grand Taxi stands in Marrakesh.
3. Fes: The Leather Tanneries of Fes are fascinating site to visit! This is the place, where the leather which is used for making hand bags, belts and other leather products, is being treated and dyed. It’s so impressive to watch the entire process happening right in front of your eyes!
4. High Atlas Mountains (Ourika Valley and Imlil): To get to the Hight Atlas Mountains takes about 2 hours driving from Marrakesh. There is no bus running to this part of the country. You should go with a guide or get a taxi. Hiking to Imlil will be your chance to visit a traditional Berber village!