If you follow my Instagram, you probably already know that last month I was in Marrakech, Morocco. S and I booked the two week holiday after coming back from wild camping for a week in Scotland, feeling like we needed a sun getaway for once!
Typically, we couldn’t resist a little adventure whilst we were out there, so we didn’t just lounge around the plunge pool in our riad, like we initially planned. Hopefully this post will sum up just half the things we did whilst we were in Africa, exploring beautiful Morocco.
Star gazing in the Sahara desert – one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done ♡
Book a Riad
This was one of the things I was most looking forward to before heading to Morocco. We paid a tiny bit extra to stay at a gorgeous riad within the medina walls in Marrakech.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the souks, the 7 bedroom traditional Moroccan guest house was situated just a short distance from the mosque. We stayed at Riad Chamali and it was genuinely one of the most tranquil places I’ve ever stayed. As soon as we arrived, I fell in love with all the decor, from teapots to furniture.
The staff were incredibly attentive and helpful all hours of the day – not to mention breakfast was to die for! The riad had lots of shaded nooks we could relax in, as well as a sun terrace for when we wanted to catch some rays (it was a little too hot for me – I never thought I’d say that!!).
Riads are completely affordable, and if it’s a special occasion it is even possible to hire the entire building and staff for your break; perfect for a birthday, hen do or wedding
Haggle in the souks
My (well traveled) parents always told me never to buy anything from the markets on the first day; this is pretty sound advice. On the first day, put away your purse and enjoy – it’s an experience in itself just to wander the souks.
If you ask how much something is though, be prepared for the haggling to begin – I literally had a man chase me down the street until I eventually gave in and bought a purse for £4 down from £20.
If you don’t want to be hassled though, keep your head down and don’t linger for too long. Merchants love a haggle, so don’t feel bad when knocking their price down when shopping. I’ve read a lot online and even experienced myself that you can knock up to 70% off the asking price of most things.
The shops are absolutely beautiful, and you’ll be stunned by the lantern displays and walls of teapots. Careful not to take a picture though, as they will ask you for money! We were really keen to get some pictures in the souks, so I worked this into my haggling and it worked!
Sleep under the stars in the Sahara
Trekking across the Sahara desert on a camel before spending the night under the stars was by far one of the best things I have EVER done. ♥♥♥
Before heading to Morocco we planned to relax (after all, the holiday was booked just after we climbed a mountain and spent a week camping in the freezing rain). It didn’t last long though when S saw that you could star gaze in the Sahara desert.
We checked out a few different options online but with all the extra traveling involved to just get to the desert, we really weren’t sure. We read it took a full day of driving each way to get from Marrakech to the Western Sahara.
The majority of tours looked exactly the same and ranged from £100 – £350 per person. This included a return coach journey to the desert (via the Atlas mountains – above), a camel trek across the Sahara and dinner after sunset in a Berber tent before sleeping in the camp.
I’ll be publishing a post in the next couple of weeks with more information about the tour and why it was worth every single second of travelling. I’ll also cover how and where to book for the best price. Without a doubt, make sure that you make enough time in your schedule to visit the desert and ride some camels – you won’t regret it.
On the way back we passed the Game of Thrones film set and the Draa Valley, too!
Visit the waterfalls
Setting off early in the morning, we headed to the Ouzoud Falls, 1.5 hours outside of Marrakech. When we arrived a guide approached us, but we decided to go it alone, and I’m so glad we did.
We swooned over the waterfalls before heading down towards the bottom of the falls. Passing campsites, markets and cafes, we made our way to different viewpoints.
S got a bit too close to the edge a few times and slipped as this shoes had no grip (to which I nearly had a heart attack!), so make sure you bring suitable footwear!
Once we made it to the bottom of the waterfalls there was heaps of people swimming and boats on the water. After crossing a bridge, passing sun bathers, we made our way to an area where the monkeys live to feed them some peanuts. Absolutely hilarious – this is a must.
Go to the henna cafe
During our time in Morocco, I knew I wanted a henna design on my hand. I’ve been toying with the idea of having a permanent hand tattoo, so this was the perfect time to see how I felt about having something on my skin before taking the plunge!
There are so many women on the square, it’s hard to know where to go. After trawling TripAdvisor I decided to go to the Henna Cafe. The Henna Cafe is a non-profit organisation that donate all proceedings to women in need in Marrakech.
We found the cafe, located above the henna education centre near the median souks. Positioned on the roof terrace, the henna cafe is offers amazing tapas food, fruit smoothies and organic henna.
Dotted around the cafe are folders full of henna designs, you just pick your favourite (or bring your own!) and they do it for you before or after you’ve eaten. The staff were so friendly and it had a great atmosphere – this is a must if you want a good henna tattoo in Marrakech.
Be a tourist
Without leaving the median walls, there is so much history and culture to experience. If like me, you love the vibrant tiles associated with Morocco, you’ll love the Tombs. Ignore the low reviews on TripAdvisor. For less than a packet of crisp, I don’t see how anybody can have anything bad to say about the beautiful garden. The tombs are located next to the Palace near the square.
Africa is an amazing place that has a lot to offer, from secret islands to scorching hot deserts. But, by far the most popular and amazing experience is a safari. There is nothing better than cruising around in a Jeep watching the world’s wildlife in their natural habitat.
To be honest, it is an experience that is impossible to replicate. Still, before you go, you need to make preparations to ensure everything goes smoothly. After all, safaris are not a walk in the park (excuse the pun!).
Secure Your Visa
There is no way you are going on a safari without getting a visa into the country first. Of course, that is easy when you know which country you are visiting, but it gets trickier when you start crossing borders. Lots of countries in Africa are close to one another, so it is easy to go from one country to the next. Hopefully, your tour guide should take care of your visa needs beforehand. But, if they don’t, stick to one area.
Africa is hot, so you are going to need a lot of summer clothes regardless of the season. Still, the plains and the deserts also get very cold, and you will need to take warmer clothing too. If you are out on a safari at night, you can get very cold very quickly. And, when you are in a Jeep in the middle of nowhere, there aren’t many places to get warm! Also, don’t forget the suncream and the lotions that will stop you from burning.
Get Your Vaccinations
The continent of Africa is a place where specific diseases exist that doesn’t exist elsewhere. Or, diseases exist that are not common where you live. As a result, your body doesn’t have the antibodies it needs to fight the virus or the bacteria. Thanks to a couple of handy injections, you can build up your immune system before you land so that it won’t be too much of an issue. For more info on the subject, head to http://www.vaccineinformation.org. It is a great site that covers everything you need to know about vaccinations.
Plan Your Trip In Advance
Regardless of where you go on safari, there is so much to see and do that you need a plan. Without a good plan, you may miss something that you may never have the chance to see again. With the help of http://go.safaridrive.com, it is easy to plan your trip well in advance. This site has plenty of tips that cover the best safaris in Africa.
Safety is paramount in Africa. There is no need to be afraid, but there are people that will take advantage of your situation in certain areas of the continent. The best way to stay safe in this regard is to avoid these areas. For example, Somalia is not a place you want to visit if you can avoid it at the moment. Also, you want to stay safe during the safari because there are lots of dangerous animals on the plains. Always listen to your guide and keep your hands and limbs in the car at all times.
Even if it looks safe, there may be an opportunist waiting for you to make a mistake.