TAKING MOROCCO

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I am thrilled to finally be able to share these images from one of my unforgettable adventures in Morocco. It seems only apt for me to bring 2015 here on Missingavenue to a close with a destination that has since defined me and not a day goes by where I am not thinking about the beauty I saw throughout that one week right in the heart of summer. Morocco was more than just another holiday for me, it was everything I had dreamed of and I was presented with fresh new perspectives, scenic landscapes, fortress cities, heartwarming and souls. I had never felt more myself than I had during that time I was there. This is a place that is a world of it's own, and one that's filled with happy accidents.

Everyday I found myself speechless and in awe of the sights that I saw...from getting lost in the ancient medinas in Marrakech to falling asleep under the stars in the Sahara desert. This country didn't just surprise me but took my breath away at every moment. While much of it's cities have allowed tourism to get in the way, it is the imperfections and intricacies that make Morocco what it is. I loved haggling over prices at the souks with a dash of cheeky flirtation or enjoying the kind hospitality of locals whilst sipping hot mint tea on a roof top terrace and watching life go by. What I saw in Morocco was but a tiny fraction in comparison to what it has to offer, but the great thing is, I personally can't think of a better holiday destination simply because it can be easily tailor-made just for you. If you're willing to take the road less travelled and do it the unconventional way of renting a car and getting by on your own, I say why not? I had the help of a private guide, Ismail, who crafted a tour according to what I wanted and everyday was perfect- I really wouldn't have done it any other way. Inexpensive and probably the best way to see the country, it is a personal and enriching experience that money simply cannot buy. Here are bits and pieces of my time on the road after leaving Marrakech to make my way towards the epic Sahara desert.

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You can view more of my time in Marrakech here

We stayed in riads we found off airbnb and absolutely loved it. Inexpensive, so comfortable and such a local experience. One of which was at Riad de l'Orientale where we met Latifah who runs the traditional guest house. From arranging us a pick-up direct from the airport to making sure we got safely through the ancient medina into the riad, it was easy access and we were grateful for her amazing hospitality every step of the way throughout our stay. 

Make sure you get yourself lost in the souks, visit the Museum de Marrakech, Maison de la photographie Marrakech, Yves Saint Laurent's strikingly blue Majorelle Gardens, the intricate Bahia Palace and the hidden Madrasas hidden in the old medinas.

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Arranging our tour with Moroccan Desert Tours was easy-peasy. We had read numerous reviews before deciding on which agency to go forward with. The thing with most private tours is you get a personal guide who will be your driver throughout the duration of your journey. He will be with you pretty much every step of the way, ensuring your safety, making sure you get to see the sights while still getting a local experience. It was through Moroccan Desert Tours that we got to meet Ismail, who became our best friend throughout our 3 days on the road.

He picked us up from our riad in Marrakech and from there we hopped into a car and started our journey into the Sahara Desert, through the Atlas mountains where we were greeted with some unbelievable sights like the Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou. The journey was felt like forever driving through Draa valley before we finally arrived in Merzouga and got checked into a hotel, with the Sahara right at the back and camels waiting for us to head into camp. We were going to experience a night in the desert like Berbers and trekked into the Sahara on camels just in time for the sun set before having dinner of tagine cooked on-site traditionally and dancing to North-African drums under the most number of stars I had ever seen in my 22 years of being.

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We woke up the next day to the sunrise in the desert and slowly trekked our way back to some form of civilisation and was greeted by a hearty breakfast before jumping back into the car and making our way slowly out of the desert through some stunning landscapes like the Ziz Valley Gorge- a dense canopy of palm trees wedged between ancient cliffs that stretches over 100km. We were constantly in awe of the sights we saw on the road that day and the life of nomads and villagers in small towns and how vastly different they were from each other despite the short distance. Ismail would patiently stop the car for us every time we wanted to take photos and it soon became a chase for wild camels which we found (!) and before I knew it, I was running in the fields with a herd of goats. I felt like I was in a movie and had never felt so happy.

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That evening, we finally arrived in Fes, which was going to be home for the next 2 nights. Ismail dropped us off right outside our riad and we explored the city on our own- had dinner on a rooftop terrace, bought lots of figs, fed cats and made friends with other tourists drinking mint tea. Fes felt slightly more authentic than Marrakech- there was more local life we got to see like their daily markets where locals shopped for spices, meat and veg. It was also a lot cheaper than Marrakech. 
The medina of Fès el-Bali (the old Fes/ old city really is the heart of the city where souks filled with a maze of narrow lanes of aromatic food stalls, intricately painted ceramics, piles and piles of rugs and carpets, tanneries and mosques. The trick with the souks is really to dive head first, straight in. It's overwhelming but slowly you find your pace and way around with every other corner surprising you with it's charm in the most unexpected ways.


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As part of our private personalised tour, we were travelling to Chefchaouen, up North along the Rif Mountains of Morocco. Read more about my time in Chefchaouen here.

chefchaouen from the distance

It is undoubtedly one of the most magical places I have ever visited, like a still from a movie set. I still slap myself at times to think I made it there. Ismail was with us every step of the way while we were in Chefchaouen, so we got to mix around with locals, do our shopping and explore the town.

After a day trip to Chefchaouen and returning to Fes with grinning from ear to ear with new stories to tell, we spent our last day in Fes before getting a train back to Marrakech. I genuinely loved every minute of being in Morocco. It was such a happy place for me. And I can only hope that everyone reading this will one day get to experience it for themselves. The one tip I can give is that coming to a destination like this really requires a good amount of research- plan your route, how you're getting from city to city and the things you want to do. Every city in Morocco is different, and there is so much I am dying to visit. But it may take a whole lifetime to explore. We are especially grateful to Ismail for making our trip such a memorable one, for not just being our guide and taking such good care of us, but also being our friend every step of the way. Try your luck and meet Ismail by booking your private tour with Moroccan Desert Tours.

So here's to undoubtedly one of the best trips of my life so far, thank you Morocco for making my 2015. I hope everyone is spending their last few hours of the year giving thanks and feasting with their loved ones. Thank you guys so much for yet another year of support with the blog and thank you for reading!