a moroccan road trip

Why Morocco?

The tea, Sahara desert, food, completely new culture for me, camels, markets, the riads (guest houses) and the surf were what initially attracted me to planning a road trip through Morocco.

Morocco seemed relatively easy to travel around and it seems like you can literally do everything and anything in that country! Moroccans are blessed with every kind of landscape you can think of from great waves in the ocean, endless sand dunes in the Sahara, epic mountain climbing in the Atlas mountains, big chaotic cities and even dense forests with monkeys and waterfalls! 

What was your itinerary?

Casablanca to Safi (a small non touristy town famous for fish and pottery.)

Safi to Essaouira (very beautiful beach side town with great surfing both in the town and in a small fishing town nearby called Sidi Kaouki.)

Essaouira to Marrakech (I was sick to my stomach for this entire time in Marrakech but I’ve heard it’s pretty cool.)

Marrakech to Ait Benhaddou (EPIC old ruins totally worth sleeping in your car in the parking lot for the sunrise before all the tour buses arrive!)

Ait Benhaddou to Merzouga (one of the highlights of my trip was the night we camped in the desert, rode camels, sand boarded at sunset, pretended I knew how to dance around the fire, sang and played instruments with the locals and witnessed a stunning sunrise the next morning.)

Merzouga to Meknes (a long but wild drive through every kind of landscape you can imagine to a cool imperial city.)

Meknes to Chefchaouen (the Instagram-famous blue city. This city is as pretty in person as it is online, amazing streets to wander through, great hiking right in the town and a photographers heaven, oh and lots of cute cats!)

Chefchaouen to Casablanca (never actually spent any time in Casablanca besides the airport, so I got nothing to say good or bad…I do know the airport has good coffee)

Best decision?

Renting a car, 100%! I had planned to bus around Morocco up until I researched the prices of renting a car vs busing and it was almost dumb not to. The whole process went way smoother than I expected it to and the freedom was amazing! The best part of renting a vehicle and driving yourself around Morocco (or any country, really) is beating the crowds to some of the more touristy landmarks and not being on a time crunch. We had the freedom to; stay at more remote AirBnB’s, pull over on the side of the road for me to take 1000 photos of camels, stretch our legs and run through the desert, pee in the bushes and watch the tour buses zoom past us on the highway.

Weirdest experience?

I wouldn’t say it was weird… maybe it was weird how much I enjoyed it, but I’d say the ‘hammam’ was the most interesting time to be had.  I was scrubbed (very roughly) from head to toe, completely naked by a naked larger older woman who spoke to me only in Arabic (I don’t speak Arabic.) The ‘bath’ consisted of me sitting against the wall getting a bucket of hot water poured over my head and then a series of mud scrubs applied to me, scrubbed off, applied again, another bucket of water over my head, me holding in all my laughter while my arm is resting between this lovely ladies large breasts and one last bucket of water for good measure. I felt refreshed and rejuvenated!

Would you go back?

Yes! I was only in Morocco for two weeks which left me with so much more of the country to explore. I am already day dreaming of another trip to see all the places I didn’t get to see this round and bring home 100x more pillow cases and tea pots. 

All Photographs Copyright Amelia Johnston 2020
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