The One Thing You MUST Do When Traveling to Morocco!
I took a trip to Marrakesh, Morocco with two of my travel buddies for a few days last year. When I plan my 'big trip' once or twice a year, I like to incorporate some type of contrast within the trip, perhaps a culture shock of some sort, by going or doing something different than the rest of the trip. Marrakesh, Morocco was that place. It was the middle city in a Madrid - Marrakesh - Barcelona itinerary that served its change of pace purpose. I did my usual research and found that Trip Advisor had a very highly rated tour given by a local gentleman named Adil (See my personal review here). I am going to mostly focus on this tour as it is an absolute must do if you're ever in Marrakesh, Morocco.
I thought to myself, "How can this man have over 1,000 reviews, average 5 stars and be the number 1 thing to do in this country on a specific category within Trip Advisor? Was this like, really real?" So I reached out to him with a bunch of inquiries and he replied almost immediately with a friendly and helpful tone. Basically, he personally picks you up wherever you are in Marrakesh and takes you on an all-day adventure through the villages in the surrounding mountains and shows you a variety of unforgettable places, foods and experiences.
After picking us up in front of our Airbnb and greeting each other, we jumped into his truck and started to chat as he drove off. He asked us if we wanted to have American breakfast at McDonalds or try something more Moroccan. I felt like this was his first test of how the rest of the day would go for us but we all pretty much agreed to try something native to the country; after all, that was why we were there.
We took a ride outside of the main city all while he taught us about Morocco's land and culture while spitting out countless facts and answering our questions. We briefly stopped off and rode some camels early in the day - (don't underestimate the skill needed to get on a camel) - which was a very cool experience before heading out to our next stop for breakfast.
We stumbled across what appeared to be a small flea market and parked our truck about a block away and made our way toward the tents and crowds. Sticking out like the South Florida guys that we were, we immediately knew we were no longer in the states and in another continent. Everyone working or shopping there was just as curious as us as we were and we felt the extra eyes draped all over us. Then we noticed that everyone greeted Adil with great enthusiasm and affection - He was like the president of this place! As he took us by the massive donkey parking lot (the only cars mostly belonged to the vendors), the village barber pulls me in and laughs as he asks Adil to translate that he wants to pose for a picture 'fake shaving' me with a straight blade. I was initially hesitant AS HELL but Adil pinky-promised me I wouldn't be shanked and that was good enough for me. We snapped some funny pictures before Adil flipped him a coin as we scurried off.
Before making our way to breakfast, we visited some of his vendor friends that that sold us some detergent (we were backpacking this trip) and cookies that we later gave out to the village children. Advice: buy about 10$ worth to later pass out, you won't be disappointed. Then we arrived at an area reserved for mostly cooked food. We went into a hut and he sat us down with some locals at our own table as we got used to our new surroundings. He brought us plates of cow foot stew, lentil soup and pita bread and it ended up being one of our better and most memorable meals of the entire trip. Since they don't typically use utensils, we all dipped our breads and used our hands to communally dig into our plates. My cousin is a picky eater and he still talks about how good it was 'till this day! The lentil soup was very authentic and loaded with their locally made olive oils, a unique and memorable taste that will stay with me forever.
We then drove to higher altitudes and deeper into the mountains. We passed many kids of all ages that were walking to school and work, some distances very far. One thing that Adil suggested to do via email before the trip was to bring something for the kids that we might see along the drive. We brought slap on bracelets, mini coloring books sets and mini soccer balls to pass out. It was touching to stop along the way and see all the smiles that these small gestures brought to the children and parents as we randomly passed them out of our truck and anytime we ventured off into exploration. I highly recommend doing this and asking Adil for tips.
On our way to our locally made lunch with spectacular views, we briefly stopped to see the local women making different oil based products such as soap, oils, etc. It was interesting to note that the women do most of the work in this country. We often saw women transporting crops and goods uphill in the sun, working very hard as the men worked the markets and socialized.
We then reached our lunch destination which was very high up into the Atlas Mountains (about 12,000+ ft.) to a house with a big kitchen and a few cooks running around inside. They had set up an area out back for us that was literally overlooking the highest snowcapped mountains we could see from our vantage point; it was breathtaking. They brought out some very authentic and all locally grown food and tea before we relaxed for a bit and soaked it all in.
We headed back to our Airbnb and one of us was knocked out cold sleeping and snoring the whole way home, but I won't tell you who because I ain't no snitch. Either way, Adil answered more questions, told us stories and gave us tips on what to do for the rest of the trip, I am glad we ended up on this tour with him and would do it again in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.
The next day we tried to cover a few more items on our itinerary before going to the night time Jemaa el-Fnaa market. This was such an AMAZING experience as it was complete chaos! From snake charmers, to all kinds of cooks, to salesmen of anything and everything, this is where you want to come if you want to step out of your comfort zone and get a true feel for Northern Africa. It was so large and even bigger than any picture or person can describe. Just when you thought you've reached a border of the market, you can turn and enter endless alleyways and stretches of blocks that connect and extend this experience as far as you want it to. I highly recommend you making your way down and checking it out for yourself; Advice: There are some very unique souvenirs and authentic foods that can be purchased here.
Overall, this was a great trip and can be a part of a fun itinerary if planned correctly. I would 100% recommend checking out Adil for a tour and make your way down to the night market to get a true sense for the culture, email or DM me on Instagram if you have any questions, I'll be happy to help!