Whether you’re taking photos of the desert dunes or the magnificent mosaics, Morocco is a feast for the eyes. Jess, a staffer here on our Travel Team, went on our Highlights of Morocco: Marrakech, the Sahara & Fes tour and loved getting to know the dynamic destination. She shares the top three moments from her trip that will have everyone putting the country at the top of their bucket list.
While Morocco has a variety of idyllic landscapes, many people dream of seeing the light-brown desert sand dunes that seem to stretch for miles on end. Taking a sunset camel ride through the Sahara Desert was the biggest highlight of the tour for Jess and her fellow travelers. “It was a crowd favorite,” said Jess. “It looked like a screensaver and being out there at sunset made it even more beautiful.”
The camel ride lasted for about 20 minutes and after, everyone had free time to walk around and explore the dunes on foot while watching the sun dip below the horizon. A big perk to the experience were the guides who walked alongside the camels. “They were always right there to take tons photos of you on the camels and dunes,” said Jess. “They even gave everyone a camel driver’s license at the end of the night.”
One pro-tip Jess picked up that’ll make the experience even more enjoyable is to bring along a scarf that can be tied around your head. It can be windy out in the desert and a headscarf will keep the sand off your face.
The souks in Morocco are a combination of a marketplace and a meeting place that together form the heartbeat of cities like Marrakech and Fes. These Arab markets are known for their winding alleyways and boisterous vendors who sell everything from rugs and lamps, to spices and leather goods.
Even for the adventurous traveler, the souks can easily become overwhelming as they’re filled with hundreds of pathways and people. “When we were walking through the souks, we had a guide in the front and in the back to keep us together,” said Jess. To make sure the group visited the best spots, Jess’s Tour Director Idriss brought the group to specially selected shops. Some of these were in the Marrakech and Fes souks and others were located outside of the city, which they visited when traveling from one destination to the next. “At each shop, we watched a presentation to learn about how the different products are made,” said Jess. “It was a more personal experience and we knew that if we chose to a buy a souvenir from the shop that it was authentic.”
Traveler favorites included a spice shop, yarn shop, and a tannery. At each one of these places, Jess and her fellow travelers received a lesson from the artisans on how they create these classic Moroccan goods. “We learned where the spices come from and how they are harvested,” said Jess. “We also watched the women embroider at the yarn shop and saw the leather being dyed at the tannery. Each place had so many quality souvenirs on display and knowing how they’re created made them that much more interesting.”
There’s no shortage of scenery to capture on your camera while in Morocco. One of the country’s biggest calling cards are the colorful tiled surfaces throughout cities like Marrakech and Fes. The intricately laid designs adorn courtyards, walls, and mosques. Head to Majorelle Garden to take in the beauty of the mosaic artwork in an environment that’s more serene than the lively city streets.
French architect Jacques Majorelle designed the garden and legendary fashion duo Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé purchased it in 1998. “Majorelle Garden is located in the middle of Marrakech,” said Jess. “It’s a unique experience to one minute be in the heart of the city and the next to be in this relaxing, oasis-like atmosphere.” There are around two and a half acres of green space filled with everything from cacti and flowers, to fountains and palm trees.
Be sure to stop by the Berber Museum as you stroll through the lush landscape. The vibrant blue and yellow building houses exhibits where visitors can uncover the history and traditions of North Africa’s original settlers. You can also learn more about Yves Saint Laurent’s legacy by visiting Love Gallery. Inside are original pieces of artwork that Laurent created for his friends and family.
If rural landscapes call your name, there’s plenty of those to see as you travel throughout the country as well. “There are lots of scenic spots that we stopped at and were able to get out of the bus to take photos of,” said Jess. “Todra Gorge was one of my favorites!”
What has you dreaming of visiting Morocco? Let us know in the comments!