Since we had some direct flights from Montreal to Casablanca with AirTransat, Morocco was a perfect choice for a week off that combined week ends.We focused on the southern part of Morocco as we knew it would not be possible to see the northern cities and that another trip would be done in the future.
3 days in Marrakesh
Marrakesh is incredible, a normal day is buzzing with activity and with the intensity of a festival, but it’s like that every day. From getting lost in the souks, museums, architecture and culture, street artists, visiting tanneries (you might get scammed!) and just the overall crazed ambiance.
Our ”Ryad hostel” was better than most 5 stars hotel and we paid less than 20$ per nights each. It’s important to be in the old city especially since at night it’s very safe and it allows you to go around without any problem.
Seeing the Sahara desert was what I was the most thrilled about for this trip and we reserved a classic 4 day trip. There are 3 days trip that do the same itinerary than us but I don’t recommend it as 4 days was already very packed.
It took me a lot of time to get a company that offered a decent price. Almost all companies do the same activities and have the same providers – so paying tons more will barely get you anything more. After a lot of research and discussions we booked with www.desert-morocco-trips.com (Aziz was our driver.) I wrote to more than 30 companies before making my choice and a few of them tried to outright rip me off with some deposits.
Here is the description of the activity we did from desert-morocco-trips website with my pictures.
DAY 1: MARRAKECH – TIZI -N-TICHKA – AIT BENHADDOU – OUARZAZATE – DADES VALLEY/GORGES
We will pick up you from your hotel/riad/ bus station the we will start our journey from Marrakech to Dades Gorges. Across the Tizi-n-Tichka Atlas pass, with far-reaching views across the mountains, to the traditional High Atlas Berber village of Telouet and we continue to Ait Benhaddou to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait Benhaddou, a spectacular fortified village (Ksour).you’ll take your lunch at Ait benhaddou or ouarzazate and continue to Dades valley, we well spend the night in a riad/hotel in dades gorges
DAY 2: DADES GORGES TENGHIR TODRA GORGES – TINJDAD ERFOUD MERZOUGA NIGHT IN DESERT MERZOUGA
After the breakfast, we go from Dades gorges to the erg chebbi Sahara desert in Merzouga. Berber villages are scattered along the way, we’ll pass through Tinjdad, Jorf and Erfoud in which we’ll feel the beginning of the Saharan oasis of Tafilalet, and the we continue to Merzouga,after relaxing few minuts in Merzouga,we go to ride the camels who are waiting to take us on an adventure in the sand dunes. we will spend the night in an camp(Nomad berber tents) with drums music in the middle of the Sahara,this is a great opportunity to take lovely pictures of the sunset and sunrise,when we arrive at the camp we go to a high dunes to see the sunset , we will spend the night in nomad tents .
DAY 3: CAMEL TREKKING BACK TO MERZOUGA – BERBER VILLAGES – OUARZAZATE.
After seeing the sunrise in desert we go back on the camels to Merzouga after the breakfast and take shower in Hotel then start our journey to Ouarzazate trough the Berber villages of the atlas mountains ( Tinjdad , tenghir todra gorges ,Boumalene-du-Dades )we arrive to Ouarzazate in evening/night
DAY 4: OUARZAZATE – BERBER VILLAGES AND ATLAS MOUNTAINS to Essaouira
Leaving Ouarzazate in the Morning ,we will visit UNESCO protected site of Ait Ben Haddou. A most impressive Kasbah and well-preserved fortress in Morocco. Many movies were filmed here such as the Gladiator. Leave Ait Ben Haddou and start heading towards the majestic Atlas Mountains. Cross the High Atlas Mountains via the highest road pass in Morocco Tizni Tichka 2260m high offering impressive views of valleys, mountains and many Berber villages nearby. arrive a in evening.
After the dessert we wanted to see some of the Moroccan coast and we heard good things about Essaouira, a port city with an artistic vibe to it. The old city is fortified and there are a few things to do like visiting the fort, fish market and souks.
When you visit the old fort, there is a tower you can climb to get a view on the center of the old city.
At the fish market (not the touristic one) you choose a place to sit at a table, and you order and negotiate what you would like to eat. The owner goes on the other side of the streets, buys the fish from a stall based on what you asked and then his wife cooks it for you. The dynamic is very interesting, the quality and taste fantastic!
Going back to Casablanca
Casablanca felt pretty blend compared to the other places we saw in Morocco, however the Hassan II Mosque is a unique sight and absolutely worth the visit. We were blessed to have a friend from my university drive us around the city to show us some of her favorite places.