What makes Morocco so enchanting? From spice-scented souks to Instagram-worthy riad-style buildings and courtyards, you’ll discover hidden gems beneath each exotic layer.
Solo travellers don’t need to be daunted by the unknown either, with guided holidays a great way to explore far-flung and foreign destinations.
Solo women need not be perturbed
“Conservative Morocco can be overwhelming for female travellers, for example,” says Teresa Richardson, Managing Director of The Travel Corporation (TTC), who has travelled to over 70 countries, many of them solo.
“Women walking alone may experience unwanted attention. However, travelling within a group or dressing appropriately by covering your head, shoulders and knees can help travellers adjust. A guided holiday is a wonderful option for female solo travellers eager to explore this beautiful country.”
Travellers planning a trip can save by booking early, Richardson adds. “Flights can be booked up to a year in advance, so travellers who book early can secure the limited seats in the cheapest fare classes,” she explains.
TTC brand Trafalgar operates two Morocco itineraries. The Best of Morocco is a 10-day in-depth trip exploring the country. There’s also an option to explore Morocco alongside Spain and Portugal as part of a 16-day trip. Departures for 2020 are currently on sale.
Morocco is a year-round destination, although spring and autumn are popular with temperate weather. Winter lasts from December to February and the peak summer months, from July through August, being the hottest months, are considered off-season.
Beyond the bazaare
Marrakesh is filled with exoticism, but travellers who only visit this popular city are missing out! Beyond the bustling bazaars are endless desert dunes, oasis villages and the dramatic Atlas Mountains.
On Trafalgar’s Best of Morocco trip, discover the romance of Casablanca and Meknès. Meknès is known for its ancient medina (old city), a UNESCO site, and the gate of Bab el-Mansour, famous for its elaborate design of green and white traditional zeillij tiles.
In Fez, the country’s oldest imperial city, travellers can visit the area’s medina, the royal palace and discover how the city’s reputation for fine leather goods came about.
In the traditional village of Bhalil, near Fez, locals still live in dwellings carved out of the rock.
Journey on to Erfoud, the gateway to the Sahara desert, a location much loved by filmmakers.
From Erfoud, you can also hop into a jeep at sunrise or sundown and make the 50-km drive to the Sahara desert’s endless dunes.
Ouarzazate, the ‘door to the desert,’ is home to a 19th-century palace that’s almost completely disguised by its rugged surroundings. Film buffs will be delighted to learn that movies such as ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ ‘Cleopatra’ and ‘Gladiator’ were filmed here.
The UNESCO-listed village of Aït Ben Haddou in the High Atlas Mountains is another must-do.
Last but not least, Marrakesh is home to the largest traditional souk (market), the Djemaa el Fna Square in the Old Quarter. Find it filled with palm readers, acrobats, snake-charmers and other exotic treasures. The Majorelle Gardens, restored by the late Yves St Laurent, is a must-do for beautiful photographs.
Be smart, cover up light
Morocco is conservative, so dress accordingly and respecting of local culture and customs. For women, that means keeping your knees and shoulders covered. Covering your hair will also help blend in.
Prepare for extreme temperatures depending on the season and altitude. It’s a good rule of thumb to pack cool, breathable clothing that can be layered and to add a warm layer or two. Sun hats, light scarves, thin kaftans, airy long-sleeved blouses, maxi skirts and floaty pants will keep you cool and comfortable.
Relish the incredible cuisine
Influenced by Berber, Arabic, Jewish and French cultures, Morocco is a melting pot of more-ish flavours. From your first cup of sweet mint tea, traditionally served as a welcome drink, to your last sweet treat, foodies will love Morocco.
Succulent tagines slow-cooked in earthenware pots, and seasoned meatballs are popular. The country is filled with the scent of bread baking in wood-fired ovens, enjoyed hot and fresh.
Try fried doughnuts, or beignets, baklava and the many sweet treats sprinkled with orange blossom water, cinnamon, date syrup or honey.
An Arabian dinner in a riad (a traditional house or palace with a central courtyard) is a must-do experience. Enjoy belly dancing, traditional music and tables heaped with food.
In the port city of Essaouira, don’t miss the seafood.
Order in the chaos
French is widely spoken in Morocco and is often used instead of Arabic as a second language and for business and official purposes. A handy tip is to download Google Translate (and the offline version of the language App) before your trip.
Just like travel insurance (an absolute must, even though you hope never to use it), organise your paperwork before any trip. Save copies to multiple devices, and back these up to the iCloud.
Another handy tip for travellers is to make a trip wish list. Save photos of places you want to see from Instagram, bookmark restaurants and make a shopping list. Morocco is a haven for shoppers looking for unique clothing, homeware, ingredients and more.