Fascinated by the Middle East, but concerned about unrest in Egypt or Jordan? Morocco (located in North Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain) is a great alternative, with a friendly and welcoming culture and endless possibilities for adventure and authentic cultural experience. From Casablanca to Marrakech, and Tangier to Taghazout, Morocco’s cities are home to a vibrant, cosmopolitan way of life in an ancient setting.
Moroccan Adventure: Surfing, Motorcycle Tours, and the Trans Atlas Marathon
Want an adventurous introduction to Morocco? Book a motorcycle tour of Marrakech or nearby Atlas Mountains and the Agafay stone desert. The highly rated trips by Marrakech Insiders are ideal for photographers since you’ll travel on the back of the motorcycle or in a sidecar. Remember that while landscape photography is encouraged, don’t take a photo of a person until you’ve gotten to know them and have asked their permission.
For a more visceral experience of the Saharan mountains and desert, the Trans Atlas Marathon (TAM) 8-day training camp is a challenge in and of itself, whether or not you use it to prepare for the TAM. You’ll spend nights in comfortable nomad tents in a desert bivouac, visit the city and Souk of Zagora, and practice running through sand, over mountains and across desert plateaus.
You have the option to skip TAM training camp and enjoy dessert glamping without the suffering. Instead, sleep under the stars at Erg Chigaga, a luxury desert camp featured in Condé Nast Traveler and The Wall Street Journal. Although hammock-time is encouraged, camel rides, quad bikes, sand boarding, music around the campfire and picnics in the dunes are all on offer.
If you prefer ocean to land, the Taghazout fishing village is Morocco’s premier surfing town, equally famous for its calamari and its hippies. Ranging from novice to advanced, Taghazout’s surf breaks can accommodate a range of skill levels. The well-regarded Surf Berbere offers a variety of classes, including a Surf & Yoga package and a Surf Instructor training course. Taghazout is also a chill destination for women, where western female visitors will experience more acceptance and less street harassment.
Is anything more personal and cultural than sharing food? Plan-it Morocco will take you on a culinary adventure: farm to table dining events, local street-food tours, bread baking in a 500-year-old community oven, and tea on a saffron farm.
Essential Packing list:
- Matador NanoDry Shower Towel and Matador Droplet XL Dry Bag to stash your wet stuff
- Matador Camera Base Layer because you will not be able to stop taking photos
- LEWIS N. CLARK adapter plug to keep your phone charged, and safe in a lightweight, inexpensive waterproof pouch that’s photo, video, and touchscreen usable
- Matador Transit Tote for beach days and shopping trips
Culturally Appropriate Clothing
Moroccans are very fashionable, with a street style that is a mix of European, North African and Middle Eastern looks.
Want to look sharp, and culturally sensitive? Men should wear business casual, with button-up shirts, polos and long pants. Leave shorts, sleeveless t-shirts and sandals at home, or save them for poolside and the desert. Pack a more formal outfit for dinner.
There are many loose, lightweight styles for women that are fashionable and will help you blend in and feel appropriate in Morocco.
- Beautiful djellaba from a stall in the market
- Knee-length tunic shirt with leggings
- Lightweight kaftan
- Loose fitting jumpsuit
- Wide leg pants or a maxi skirt paired with a loose, ¾ sleeve blouse
- Maxi dress with longer sleeves
- Jeans for women are fine, but will probably be too hot in the summer months
Finish your outfit with sunglasses, a large, gauzy scarf (to cover your head and chest if you’re getting too much sun, or too much scrutiny), and a floppy sun hat.
Much More Morocco
Morocco requires repeat trips to experience the full variety of its cities, mountains, beaches and deserts. MuchMorocco.com offers an interactive website that will recommend destinations according to your interests. Some famous options:
- Casablanca is cosmopolitan and packed with fine dining, art galleries, nightlife and fashion, and striking historic architecture.
- Marrakech, a thousand-year-old city, is filled with vibrant markets, ornate mosques, and exquisite gardens. Don’t miss UNESCO World Heritage site the Medina of Marrakech, a mix of Amazigh, Arabic and Moorish architecture.
- Tangier, on the ocean closest to Spain, is an ideal launch pad to enter North Africa from Europe. Have a mint tea in one of the cafés where Matisse and Burroughs used to sit, wander through the old quarter, or visit Tangier beaches, with the Mediterranean to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
Wherever you choose, Morocco is a place where you can relax, explore, and take a deep dive into an ancient and vibrant culture.