Travelling through Morocco will change your perspective – and not only when you lollop through the desert sitting high up on a camel. The pink hue of Moroccan architecture, the vast expanse of the galaxy at night-time in the desert, the colourful traditional garb, the depth of flavour of local dishes, the bustling markets at night-time: Morroco is eye-opening, humbling, revelatory and unforgettable.

travel talk tours morocco

Travel Talk Tours is a UK based company which offers Morocco trips as well as tours to a range of other exotic and adventurous destinations like Egypt, Jordan, Greece, Turkey and many more. This is a great way of discovering countries when it may be safer to travel with a group and with a guide, which is the case with Morocco.

Day 1

On our first day of our Morroco tour, we had an easygoing time checking in and enjoying the pool at the Golden Tulip Hotel. In the evening we met our guide Abdoul, who briefed us on the itinerary – we were about to embark on the “Adventure” theme Morocco tour, key words being camel trek, jeep safari, camping, local food, resort, beach, Agadir, Essaouira.      travel talk tour morocco

After the briefing, Abdoul suggested we head in to the Medina (old town) for dinner, to get to know our group, which was a great idea. It was clear straight away that our gang had great chemistry, every table was busy chatting and laughing. We had a great variety in our group of about thirty people including a bunch of solo travellers, a few pairs of friends, mothers and daughters and one larger group of five. A lot of people had come from the UK but were from New Zealand and Australia, as well as a few from the US. It was reassuring to hear that for quite a few people, this was their second or third time on a Travel Talk Tour, and for others the tour had been highly recommended by friends or relatives.

travel talk tour morocco

travel talk tour morocco

At the restaurant we enjoyed traditional Moroccan dishes like Bastilla – a flaky pastry filled with chicken and almonds, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar on top; harira, the traditional tomato based Moroccan soup and of course cous cous and tagine, the slow-cooked savoury stew. With full bellies we headed back for a good night’s sleep before heading out on the road to our first campsite the next day.

travel talk tour morocco

 

.Day 2

Our coach was spacious and with much appreciated air-con – October temperatures in Morocco are in the high 20’s. Sadly the wifi on the coach did not work, but it was a blessing in the end and the journey time passed quickly with our noses pressed up against the window as we passed through beautiful towns on our way, chatting with our coach-neighbours, playing cards, or sleeping off the travel time instead of peering at screens.

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We winded our way through the vast Atlas mountains, with amazing views of steep drops and huge canyons. Our first stop was for lunch where we had our second taste of tagine at a local kitchen, with Moroccan cookies and tea for dessert.

We were heading to our first camp, and stopped in the town of Tamegroute on our way, where we learned about the centuries old traditional Moroccan method of pottery which has been passed down through generations. The unique green colour given to the pieces is achieved with Magnesium and is distinctive to this area of Morocco.

travel talk tour morocco

After the tour the group enjoyed shopping and bought some unique pottery pieces, from cups to jewellery boxes, spice holders and serving plates. Abdoul arranged for everything to be sent to our hotel on the last night of our tour, so that we wouldn’t have to worry about lugging pottery all over Morocco!

Our coach took us to the edge of the desert, where we transferred to a convoy of jeeps, which would be able to handle the desert terrain better. It was an unforgettable moment racing over the sand dunes, our driver pumping Tinariwen on the sound system – a band from the Sahara desert region of nearby Mali. We pulled in to catch the sun setting over the vast desert in the distance, we were nearly there.

travel talk tour morocco

Pulling up to the camp was an exciting moment: the tents looked like little houses, and once we were allocated our digs for the night, I flung the door open – yes our tents had doors – and any generalisations I might have had about camping in the desert were replaced with that of comfort, cosiness and our own beds with brightly coloured textiles. The centre of the campsite was decked out in beautiful rugs, ideal for us to lay down on for stargazing later that night. So. Many. Stars! (I’m also happy to report that the campsite even had his and hers bathrooms).

travel talk tour morocco travel talk tour morocco

travel talk tour morocco

Later on that evening we gathered around cosy tables in the dining tent and were fed a delicious feast of harira and tagine. I’ve been eating mostly vegetarian lately, but couldn’t resist second helpings of sumptuous beef tagine, so full of flavour and melt in your mouth good.

After dinner we tucked into the beers and wine which we had bought along the way and packed into ice-coolers (thanks Abdoul) laying down to watch the stars unfold in the desert sky. This was a beautiful moment which we marked with a few minutes of silence – no easy feat in a group of thirty chatty travellers! So far on this Morocco trip – so very good!

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Day 3

The next morning the early birds rose to catch the desert sunrise which was absolutely stunning, and we ate a simple breakfast of fresh fruit, bread, eggs and lashings of mint and green tea. We packed up our jeeps once again and took off, roaring over the sand dunes – our driver Ibrahim turned up the hip hop and took us on a thrilling gravity-defying ride. (I won’t forget racing through the desert to the tune of Mariah Carey). We drove through an oasis and stopped for a photoshoot on the roof of the jeep – why not? The group of drivers we had for the jeep safari were good fun and didn’t mind posing. Abdoul brought us to see the very last town before the start of the Sahara, which felt like the edge of the earth.

travel talk tour morocco

We had a few hours to relax in the afternoon before we would head off on our camel trek. For lunch we feasted on freshly barbecued chicken skewers at a local hotel, and made use of rare access to wifi. After eating we bought headscarves as we would be spending a couple of hours trekking across the desert – and also because they looked great! travel talk tour morocco   travel talk tour morocco

I’ve barely ridden a horse, let alone a camel before. Our camels were sitting waiting patiently for us while a few things were explained beforehand: the main piece of advice was hold on to the handle tight as soon as you get on, because once your camel feels your weight, he will stand up! After the first few white-knuckle minutes, I relaxed and within no time I was even taking my hands – both! – off the handle. Others rode side saddle to get more comfortable during the trek – the camel ride will leave you with a bit of a sore bum, even though a saddle and ample padding blankets are provided. But it’s absolutely worth it. The camels keep a steady pace, and it was easy to take photos, there was even a selfie stick in action. I was fascinated by the camels’ feet, which look like huge furry slippers with a flat underside. Our camels were tied together in rows of 5 or 6, and trained to follow the lead of their friend in front. Each row had a guide leading the way on foot, and I noticed how the camels obeyed hand signals and reacted to some special noises the guides made. The camels were very patient with us and noone plodded out of line. I gave mine an appreciative pat on the neck when I got down, and I think he enjoyed it!

travel talk tour morocco

….Remember that scene in Bridget Jones where she gets off the machine in the gym and falls over? Yeh, that, except with camels. It takes a while for your legs to get used to walking again after sitting on a camel for a couple of hours!

travel talk tour morocco

Campsite number two was a sight for sore eyes. The layout was similar, this time we also had showers (omg) a night watchman, and a pet donkey. Once again our rooms were equipped with our own beds, warm blankets, clean sheets and towels. We gathered on the sand dunes to watch the sunset, enjoying a local ‘Speciale’ Moroccan beer, and later we headed into the dining tent for another tagine feast of turkey and beef. Not sick of tagine – yet! The sky put on another fine starry display, we sat around the fire to listen to some of the locals singing in Berber (Berbers are one of the indigenous people of North Africa).

Day 4

A treat lay in store for us on Day 4 of our Morocco trip, as we made our way to Agadir, to spend the night at a resort hotel. On our way we pulled over to visit the goats in trees: yes those very goats you may have already seen in a meme, they are for real! The goats in Morocco are lucky to have access to the indigenous Argan tree and it’s delicious nuts. They literally climb up high into the branches to get at the nuts, creating quite a comical sight while doing so. Since they quite often tumble out of the trees, we had to be careful, but they also didn’t mind being petted or even picked up. Goats make the best, funniest, noises in the world.

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Arriving in Agadir, our first stop was to a local Argan oil production facility where certified organic Argan oil is made. We learned about the process – generally Argan oil is made by a local women’s co-op. First of all the nuts are harvested from the Argan tree (have to get to them before the goats do) and left to dry. Once dried out, the nuts are hulled and broken apart by hand using two stones. The women grind the nuts to a paste (looks like a nut butter) and squeeze the paste to extract the argan oil. The oil is bottled and the leftover solids make a delicious goat snack. We had the opportunity to purchase Argan oil products and book in for a reviving hamam and massage the next day.

travel talk tour morocco

Our hotel, the Tulip Inn Oasis, was directly on the beach, so the group went for a stroll on the strand and enjoyed dinner at a beachside eaterie. These days, Agadir itself is a beautiful seaside resort, however its development into the major tourism city it is today only came about when it was rebuilt due to a large earthquake in 1960 which devastated the area.

travel talk tour morocco travel talk tour morocco

travel talk tour morocco

 

In the morning, we were spoiled with freshly made crêpes for breakfast, I took a walk on the beach and was happy to see date palm trees up close. Date-pickers have special training for picking dates, as it’s a dangerous task involving clambering to the top of the tree by means of rope. Date-pickers are usually paid in dates, there’s a wide range of prices for different types of dates, we saw many colours of dates growing from bright yellow to bright red.

Day 5 & 6

Leaving Agadir behind and on our way to Essaouria, we made an unofficial stop to find a scorpion. We set about turning over rocks and found a female yellow scorpion which Abdoul was able to pick up, the ol’ scorpion-charmer. Not sure how he managed it but he held the scorpion in his palm for a few minutes while we oohed and aahed.

travel talk tour morocco
Arriving in beautiful Essaouira, which has nicknames like ‘Windy city’ and ‘Hippy City’ due to the brisk breeze and the fact that it has attracted musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens over the years, the sunset was stunning as we arrived. We dropped off our bags at Hotel Mogador and headed out for a fishy dinner to celebrate. After a great night’s sleep, we got up early to visit a local jewellery making workshop, Abdoul explained the traditional Moroccan jewellery designs to us and the group spent some time shopping for souvenirs and gifts. I picked up a silver ring with a Berber design as a memento of my time on this Morocco trip.

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We had the rest of the day free to amble through the market, which is beautiful and full of incredible handcrafted boots, bags, outfits, textiles, food and lots of cats who are snoozing in doorways and baskets and love a bit of attention. The stall-holders were friendly and we didn’t feel hassled, the atmosphere in Essaouira is very laid back and relaxed, with lots of locals going about their business – it’s a fascinating place to people-watch. I’d say the group did most of their shopping at this stage of the trip – prices in Essaouira seem to be cheaper than Marrakech.

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At this point on the trip I was suffering with travel sickness and was relieved to spend the evening resting in my lovely room at the Mogador, with a tasty soup sent up from the restaurant. In the morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast including fresh orange and carrot juice and got our bags packed to head back to Marrakech.

Day 7

Before leaving Essaouria I went for a walk on the beach, it’s incredibly beautiful. You can take camel rides and go surfing at this beach, go for a swim or just walk along the shore and let the cool water lap over your feet. Bliss!

travel talk tour morocco
On our way again, we headed back to our starting point – Marrakech. Arriving in the afternoon at the Golden Tulip, we had a few hours to drop off our bags, relax and go for a dip in the pool before heading in to Jemaa el-Fnaa, the Medina for the evening: the Medina in Marrakech is a UNESCO World heritage protected site and is the main square and marketplace of Marrakech, with snake charmers, henna tattoo artists, macaque monkeys, storytellers, magicians and food stalls late into the night – you’ll find it all at Jemaa el-Fnaa. This was the one point of the tour when Abdoul advised the women in the group to cover up, and warned we may experience harassment. As far as I know, luckily nobody from our group reported back any incidents from the evening, but it’s something to be aware of. Unfortunately I was still sick and decided to stay back at the hotel for the evening as I faced an early start and long day of travel home the next day.

I highly recommend Travel Talk Tours for your Morocco tour, it was a fantastic way to discover this amazing country, which I’m not sure I would have done otherwise. Our guide Abdoul is from Agadir himself, and at every opportunity Abdoul gave us loads of background history about life and culture in Morocco. Abdoul was also super helpful with anyone who had a problem: chasing lost luggage, answering a million and one questions and making sure everyone was well looked after throughout the trip.

To give you a better feel for what it was like I made this little video – check it out!

Travelettes tips:

Pack immodium, paracetemol, and sachets of electrolytes which you can get from your chemist. We were swapping various medications during the tour depending on who was feeling ill. There’s a certain amount of coach travel on this tour, so motion sickness tablets helped as well on a particularly winding day through the Atlas mountains.
Morocco is known for causing tummy upsets so you’ll be relieved if you prepare in advance and have some supplies to help you or a fellow traveller out!

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This experience was a press trip for Travel Talk Tours – all opinions expressed are the author’s own.

 

elizabeth rushePhotos and text by Elizabeth Rushe – a writer and photographer from Ireland living in Berlin. Visit her website Berlin Belly. Follow her @berlinbelly on Instagram and Twitter.