Morocco: sleeping on rooftops over Marrakech, beautiful 100ft waterfalls, camel trekking in the Sahara, Atlantic coast beaches, camping in a monkey forest, rock climbing, quad biking, horse riding, and the option to climb North Africa’s highest mountain – this is a trip of a lifetime that comes with a ludicrously good price tag.
This summer I travelled through city, desert and mountainous landscapes with 25 other students and had the most incredible three weeks of my life. If you haven’t had a gap year, or even if you have, this is a perfect way to see an amazing part of the world on a student budget.
Arriving in Marrakech is completely overwhelming. We slept under the stars on a hotel roof-top – a sizzling sunbathing spot during the day – which overlooked one of the world’s most famous squares, the Jemma el Fna, ablaze with lights and the sound of drumming. During the day the square was full of story tellers and snake charmers, and we could explore the maze of souks selling leather bags, colourful carpets and intricate Moroccan lanterns.
For the adventurous, there was the option to climb Mount Toubkal, the tallest mountain in North Africa. The High Atlas Mountains are stunning, but the 14,000ft ascent is not for the faint-hearted! It’s a tough climb and some don’t make it (I have first-hand experience of that). But the views and feeling at the summit were unforgettable for those who did. The trek is £50 and includes all food and accommodation for 3 days and nights as well as professional mountain guides and mules to carry luggage.
We travelled on to Essaouira, a windy town on the Atlantic coast. The breeze was very welcome in the hot Moroccan sun and there were so many things to do in the pretty city, such as wind surfing, horse riding and quad biking. We also tried cooking Moroccan food using fish from the seafood market and spices from the busy streets.
Next was the Cascades d’Ouzoud, a breathtakingly tall waterfall. We stayed in a traditional Moroccan tent at the foot of the falls. This was the favourite place for many people – the few days we spent there included listening to Moroccan musicians in a cave, jumping off different waterfalls and relaxing in the sun with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
The trip travelled on the Aït Benhaddou, the set of Game of Thrones, Gladiator and The Mummy – an amazing deserted fortress that looks as if it is made entirely of sand. Another drive away is Todra Gorge with its huge palmeries, a pool and the option to rock climb incredible cliff faces.
The journey continues with a drive into the Sahara desert – we spent an evening on the dunes and stayed in a hotel right on the edge of the desert. Late in the evening, we rode camels out into the Sahara and spent a night sleeping on the sand! Waking up to a desert sunrise was one of the most incredible experiences.
Next we headed into a forest near the mountains, wild camping and cooking around a campfire in the evening. The forest is home to monkeys so we saw them very close up, even taking food from our hands!
The last part of the trip is Chefchaouen – a beautiful blue-wash town with meandering cobbled streets. A little drive outside the city is ‘Paradise’ with its crystal blue waters, plunge pools and waterfalls – a perfect place to end the trip.
People travel solo, in couples or as a group of friends – but everyone gets to know each other very well. One of the best things about the trip is the people you will meet. Many people are students and come from many different amazing places.
The trip has run for nearly 20 years and is led by young travel-loving people. As well as the UK crew, a professional Moroccan tour guide travels with the group in the two air-conditioned buses.
The price includes flights, accommodation and travel for three weeks journeying around one of the world’s most diverse countries. The sheer amount of experiences and landscapes that is packed into 3 weeks makes this the ultimate Moroccan holiday.
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