our Morocco Advernture
(5.0) (7 Votes)
September 23, 2005
Pros: A great adventure and excellent guides
Morocco has always appealed as a destination for us. The country
is so full of contrasts and steeped in rich culture and traditions.
The question for us had been how will we travel in Morocco? We settled
on a 7 day camping tour on an overland 4 X4 all terrain expedition
truck which was offered as an add on to our busabout pass. Our adventure
began when our bus from Granada arrived at Algeciras the embarkation
point for the ferries to Tangier in Morocco. On the 3 hour ferry
trip we met up with Bronwyn another Aussie who was to be on our
tour and was arriving a day early as we were. Also on the ferry
were several handcuffed Morroccans being deported from Spain accompanied
by Police officers.
Tangier is a busy, bustling port city full of hustlers and we enjoyed
spending time looking around before our tour began and trying to
avoid the scammers. The old centre Medina was full of colour and
life and we went to the traditional fish, meat and vegetable markets
and saw amazing sights including camels hooves and goats heads for
sale. Men dominate the street cafes sitting watching the world go
by drinking mint tea and women are mostly covered up in traditional
We started our tour with a group meeting and hotel dinner on the
Saturday night to get to know each other. Our guide Corrine was
from the Netherlands, our driver Cosmic was from the UK and all
6 of us travellers turned out to be Aussies with Avan the only male!
Our group was Bronwyn from NSW, Katherine from Tassie and Brooke
and Natalie from NSW. This tour can take up to 20 people but we
are at the end of the season so we were really quite lucky to have
a small group and when it came to travelling in the back of the
truck we could spread ourselves out.
Out first day of travel was really only a half day. We left the
city of Tangier behind and journeyed up into the Rif Mountains arriving
at our Chefchaouen campsite at lunchtime.The view from the campsite
was spectacular as it was perched on the side of the mountain overlooking
the city. Then it was time to set up our tents and stretchers for
the first time. Reality set in a bit when we realized there were
no pillows and our beds were canvas stretchers but generally we
slept very comfortably on the trip. In the afternoon a local from
Chefchaouen arrived at the campsite to take us on a tour of the
city below. We were taken to have mint tea and biscuits at a weavers
shop and shown the most amazing handwoven blankets and rugs. The
Medina of the city (as most Moroccan cities) is a maze of twisting
little alleys which are very easy to get lost in. As darkness set
in we made the steep climb back up to the campsite which was a little
eerie as the twisting path took us through a cemetery with the graves
clinging precariously to the side of the mountain. Once back at
the campsite those rostered to cook got busy preparing fresh vegetables
and rice for our tea. We ate extremely well on the trip with most
meals being predominately fresh vegetables and fruit which was all
carefully washed in condy´s crystals before use.
The next morning Avan was up with the roosters (and the Muslim call
to prayer) watching the sunrise over the mountains and light up
the valley. The call to prayer is relayed by loud speakers at various
points throughout the valley and mountain villages. After breakfast
another local guide arrived to take us on a 4 hour hike in the mountains
where we saw Marijuana fields, little villages and stunning scenery.
We took mint tea very high in a mountain village with the locals.
The mint tea drunk in copious quantities in Morocco (given that
alcohol is banned) is made with a branch of mint in the glass and
lots of sugar. We learnt to ask for it without sugar!
After leaving Chefchaouen we spent the day in the truck with an
amazing stop over at the Roman ruins of Volubilis. The mozaics in
the ruins are in excellent condition because they were buried and
not known about for centuries. A guided tour in English was arranged
for us and we learnt such a lot about the ancient roman way of life.
We arrived in Fes as darkness was setting in, with camp to set up
and evening meal to cook. All was achieved and then Corrine advised
of a slight change in plans for the next day as Achmed our truck
needed a new water pump and Cosmic our driver would need to work
on it all day. The alternative of taxis for our Fes touring worked
very well and we were taken to various artisans workshops around
Fes before commencing a guided tour of the Medina. We definitely
needed our wonderful guide as the Fes Medina has some 9,000 twisting
little alleys to get hopelessly lost in! In the evening we were
pleased to find Cosmic had worked wonders by locating and installed
a new water pump in the truck. We then all dressed up and had an
amazing night out of Moroccan music, dancing and entertainment
Leaving Fes behind was a bit sad as we had all enjoyed ourselves
immensely but on to our next adventures. We arrived at the Imperial
city of Meknes and found it a little bit more laid back, quieter
and smaller than Fes(however we did witness a domestic in the main
square). After a few hours to look around we were back on the truck
and off to the port and beach side town of Asilah where we set up
camp, had tea then walked into town to have a look around. Asilah
has a Portuguese influence in its architecture and beautiful murals
all around the town walls.
Next morning we had quite an adventure, visiting the local Haman.
This is a communal segregated bath house,where you have the pleasure
of being scrubbed clean with a loofah, massaged, and have your hair
washed all for a few dollars. You come out all squeaky clean. The
girls were lucky because Corrine came with us to explain the procedure
but Avan had to brave it all alone!
After the Haman had beaten us into a state of squeaky clean, we
travelled on to our last campsite at Cap Spartel and enjoyed exploring
the Hercules caves before having an "all hands on deck"
clean up of the truck and preparing our last meal together of a
BBQ on the open fire. The campsite looked a replica of the Aussie
Bush complete with gums and wattle. The camp had an onsite Massuesse
who for about $5 gave an excellent massage which meant we had scoured
2 massages in the one day! Can be absolutely justified given we
had been sleeping rough for a week. We had a fabulous farewell night
and ended up sleeping under the stars.
We made a plan that night that we wanted to stay longer in Morocco
and as Kqtherine was heading off to Marrakesh on the next night
train we decided to join her.