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Chances are you've read about or at least seen a photo from Morocco recently – it's a destination that's growing fairly swiftly in popularity, thanks largely to social media. Which isn't surprising, really. Morocco boasts unique culture and history, great food, and so many photogenic landscapes and cities that it almost begs disbelief.
Yes, Morocco is becoming a social media darling – meaning it's probably time for you to visit!
I tell people that my travel bucket list changes all the time. And it's true – the destinations that are at the top of it right now aren't necessarily the ones that were at the top of it a year ago. Morocco never used to be high on my must-visit list. But then, suddenly, towards the end of last year I felt an intense pull to visit.
My timing was just about perfect. North Africa and the Middle East is poised to open up further to tourism as unrest quiets down and word starts to get out about how incredible countries like Morocco really are.
If you've considered visiting Morocco, I'd say that now is the time to go!
Is Morocco safe?
Technically speaking, nowhere in the world is 100% safe – not even your hometown! But as far as traveling goes, Morocco doesn't rank very high up on the danger list.
Morocco didn't suffer the same amount of unrest that other North African nations did after the 2011 Arab Spring. It's a pretty stable country, politically speaking, and the major things to worry about are petty crime like pickpocketing and verbal sexual harassment if you're a woman.
I spent two weeks in Morocco, and never felt that I was in danger during that time.
Should you book a tour in Morocco?
I've traveled to quite a lot of countries solo, but I know my travel style and what I enjoy tackling versus what stresses me out. I enjoy the “challenge” of solo travel in some cases, but when it comes to visiting countries with very different cultures, languages, and views on solo female travel, I often turn to small group tours to help make the experience more enjoyable.
You don't *have* to book a tour in Morocco (it's not required, and plenty of people travel there independently). But after going, it IS a place that I'd recommend exploring with a guide if it's your first time – especially if you're a woman traveling on your own.
Would something have happened to me if I'd traveled in Morocco completely solo? Probably not. But I know I would have spent more time being on-guard, and may not have visited certain areas or had certain experiences if I'd traveled on my own.
So I'd say there are three reasons why you might want to book a tour in Morocco:
- If you're a solo female traveler inexperienced with traveling in this part of the world.
- If you're into history and having local experiences – a guide can help you with so much of this!
- If you'd rather have someone else handle all the details so you can just enjoy the travel experience.
The Morocco tour I chose
After comparing a lot of Morocco tour itineraries, I eventually settled on the 13-day Morocco Uncovered tour with Intrepid Travel. It covered both the north and south of Morocco, and included the two major things I wanted to see: the blue city of Chefchaouen, and an overnight trip to the Sahara Desert.
I've also traveled with Intrepid on several tours now, and know that my travel style aligns with theirs. (In case you don't know much about them, they offer small-group adventure tours that include lots of unique local experiences, and are also dedicated to responsible tourism.)
The Morocco Uncovered tour ended up being one of my favorite Intrepid Travel tours I've been on!
If you're considering booking a tour to Morocco, definitely check this one out.
Morocco Uncovered tour: A full review
If you're considering booking this same tour for yourself (or if you're just curious about what a Morocco tour is like), here's a full run down of why this might be the best Morocco tour out there.
What makes this tour stand out?
First of all, the itinerary. It was EXCELLENT. This tour covers both the north and south of Morocco, and hits up a mix of metropolitan and rural areas. It was also paced perfectly – it wasn't rushed, but also didn't have us lingering anywhere too long.
Secondly, the inclusions. This tour falls under Intrepid's “Comfort” category. But “comfort” doesn't necessarily refer to accommodations (though all the accommodations we used were nice). Instead, it refers to the way you travel and the amount of things that are included. This tour has you traveling in private vehicles the entire time, and also includes just about everything – meaning you won't be spending much money on optional extras.
Thirdly, the price. Ringing in right around $1600 per person, this is one of the most value-packed tours I've done with Intrepid. I'll go over everything that's included in that price further down.
Where do you go on this tour?
Like I mentioned, this tour has you traveling all over Morocco, from the coast to the mountains to the desert. Places you'll visit include:
- Casablanca (tour starting point, though you don't see much other than the Hassan II Mosque)
- Roman ruins of Volubilis
- Sahara Desert
- M'goun Valley (Rose Valley)
- Marrakech (tour end point)
What will you do on this tour?
This tour is so incredibly varied – and you pack a lot in to your days. I loved going from big cities to mountain guesthouses. And of course the camel trek into the Sahara was a highlight!
All the cool things that are included on this tour are:
- Tour of Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca (with a local guide)
- Walking tour with a stop for tea in Rabat (with local guide)
- Tour of Volubilis ruins (with local guide)
- Free time to explore Chefchaouen
- Dinner with a local family in Fes (to try the local pastilla)
- Full-day walking tour of the Fes medina (with a local guide)
- Guided walk near the mountains in Midelt with a stop to have tea with a local family (with our tour leader)
- Overnight desert trip by camel (including dinner)
- Guided walk in the Rose Valley with a visit to a kasbah for tea (with a local guide)
- Tour at Amridil Kasbah (with local guide)
- Walk through Ait-Ben-Haddou with stops at local artisan shops
- Walking tour in Marrakech with a visit to Bahia Palace (with local guide)
- Street food dinner at Jemaa el-Fnaa square in Marrakech
The few extras we had the option to add on included:
- Dinner with a local family in Meknes
- A stop to see a factory where they make furniture out of fossil marble
- Tour of Atlas Studios in Ouarzazate
As you can see, almost everything was already included in this tour.
And, unlike other tours I've been on where your tour leader is the one to guide you around most of the places you visit, this tour utilized separate local guides all across Morocco. I LOVED this. Not only does it mean you're taking a tour with someone who truly is an expert, but it also means you're supporting locals and local tourism businesses that much more.
Some of my favorite things we did included touring the Roman ruins of Volubilis (it's like Pompeii, except way less crowded), wandering the blue streets of Chefchaouen, spending an entire day in the Fes medina, riding camels into the Sahara Desert, and walking through fields of crops in the Rose Valley.
I loved Morocco a lot, guys, and most of that was due to this tour being so great.
Who will you travel with?
Intrepid Travel specializes in small group trips, and the Morocco Uncovered tour has a maximum group size of 12. I went in late February/early March, though, which is the off-season for travel in Morocco – my group was only 6 people!
Our group was made up of 4 solo female travelers and one couple. We were all in our 30s and 40s (usually there's a wider age range on Intrepid trips, but this was a small group!) and we came from the US, Canada, and Australia.
Who is the guide?
Intrepid always hires local trip leaders who live in (and in most cases have grown up in) the country you're visiting. Our guide was Abdoul, a Moroccan native who grew up in a village in the Atlas Mountains and now lives in Marrakech.
Abdoul was kind and soft-spoken, and entertained all our crazy questions (why is the mint tea so sweet? what are Moroccan weddings like? where can I buy a tagine?) while getting us all safely from Point A to Point B. He also made some excellent meal recommendations for us.
How will you travel?
Being a “Comfort” trip means you travel via private transport on this tour. We traveled in a 14-seater van and had the same driver (shout-out to Mustafa!) the whole time from Casablanca to Marrakech.
There are some long travel days (I think our longest travel day was about 6 hours total of driving), but they do a good job of breaking it up with stops. Even if there isn't anything of interest to see, you can count on a stop at least every 1.5-2 hours for coffee and a toilet break – and they always stop at rest stops and cafes with clean, Western-style toilet facilities.
Where will you stay?
You stay in a variety of hotels and riads (Moroccan guesthouses) on this trip, plus spend one night “glamping” in the desert. None of the places you stay are 5-star, but they're all interesting (and sometimes downright quirky!) in their own right. Every room I stayed in was clean and had hot water, so no complaining here!
If you're traveling solo, you'll be paired up with another solo traveler (of the same gender) as a roommate, unless you pay the single supplement fee. The single supplement fee for this trip is around $700.
Not every tour will use the exact same hotels, but here are all the places we stayed along with my notes about them:
- Hotel le Saisons in Casablanca (nothing special, but it was fine)
- Hotel Swani in Meknes (located in the new town)
- Dar Mounir in Chefchaouen (riad-style hotel that was cozy, but had no soundproofing)
- Across Hotel in Fes (it had a rooftop pool and a bar!)
- Hotel Taddart in Midelt (huge hotel but with traditional Moroccan touches)
- Yasmina Desert Camp (yes it was camping, but the tents had real mattresses and the bathroom had real toilets)
- Gite d'etape Tamalout in the Rose Valley (traditional Berber guesthouse)
- Hotel Ksar Ljanoub in Ait-Ben-Haddou (big, new hotel that looks like a mix of a kasbah and a riad)
- Riad Marrakech by Hivernage in Marrakech (more like a boutique hotel than a riad; nice rooftop terrace, though I don't recommend the restaurant here)
Again, you can see the variety here, too. I was quite happy with all the accommodations, especially based on the price of this tour.
What will you eat?
I don't consider myself a “foodie” traveler at all, but I think it's impossible to travel to Morocco and NOT mention the food. I fully expected to get tired of Moroccan food after two weeks there, but I did not. In fact, I came home and immediately Googled the nearest Moroccan restaurant (thank goodness we have one in Cleveland!).
Moroccan food can be summed up as meat, veggies, bread, and copious amounts of both orange juice and sweet mint tea. But how these meals are presented varies enough that even if you eat two tagine dishes in a day, you probably won't feel like you had repeat meals.
This specific tour includes a handful of meals, including dinner at a local home in Fes, amazing meals at the guesthouse in the Rose Valley, a couple hotel meals, and a meal at Jemaa el-Fnaa square in Marrakech.
On top of this, our guide organized several other meals for us, including another meal with a local family, several restaurant meals, and a roadside stop for barbecue in the town of Zaida that was one of our favorite lunches of the whole trip!
*Note: Moroccan food uses different spices than you might be used to, and people also often run into stomach issues from the water (even if you only drink from bottles, you might sometimes run into fruit or veggies that was washed in tap water). No one in my group got sick, thankfully, but I recommend packing ginger chews, Pepto Bismol tablets, and maybe even some probiotics just in case! I took Travelan on this trip, which is a preventative that you can take along with meals.
How much money do you need?
You can easily check the price of the tour, but people are always curious about how much additional spending money to bring with them on trips like this. So I kept very close track on this trip!
Morocco uses the Moroccan Dirham as currency. I mostly used my bank card to take money out of ATMs in larger cities (they're everywhere!), but also exchanged cash once in Fes. If you're going to exchange cash anywhere during your trip, make sure to ask your guide to recommend a cash exchange place that offers good rates.
I took out/exchanged a total of 4600 MAD during my two weeks in Morocco. This is the equivalent of about $480 USD. I also spent an additional $270 USD on some souvenirs along the way. So, all-in, I spent about $750 USD on the ground in Morocco.
This is definitely on the higher end of how much money you should budget for Morocco, though – I ended up going home with a rather full suitcase!
Here's a look at how some of that $750 was spent:
- 400 MAD ($42) for a group “trip kitty” – This was used to buy 5 gallon jugs of water to keep in the van, and to tip porters and the local guides we were using. Not all tour leaders will organize this, but I was very glad ours did!
- 700 MAD ($73) for guide/driver tips – Intrepid suggests tipping tour leaders $2-3 per person per day, and drivers up to $2 per person per day. I tipped a little extra.
- 270 MAD ($28) for laundry – I had laundry done twice; it's not as cheap as I would have hoped, but it's tough to find any self-service places so I just sucked up the cost of having laundry done at hotels.
- $300 on souvenirs – Yeah, I shopped a bit! I came home with a small Berber rug, some painted pottery from Fes, a scarf made from agave silk, and some argan oil. So obviously you can spend a lot less if you don't shop very much.
The rest was spent on food, and a couple optional extras. (I also spent an additional 2 days in Marrakech on my own, so rolled in is also what I spent during those extra days.)
A typical restaurant meal in Morocco will usually cost 80-100 MAD for lunch and maybe 130-150 MAD or so for dinner. Obviously fancier restaurants will be more expensive, but if you budget for those amounts you should be good. Breakfast is included every day on this tour.
Are you pressured to shop?
Judging by the fact that I spent $300 shopping in Morocco, you might be wondering if there's pressure to buy things on this tour. After all, Morocco, like much of North Africa and the Middle East, is known for having a slightly pushy culture when it comes to selling things. Walk through any souk in any medina, and you'll have people trying to get you to step into their shop.
To try to help you avoid the fatigue that can come along with this onslaught in medinas, this tour includes several pre-arranged shopping stops at places that Intrepid supports. In many cases, they're artist or women's cooperatives – meaning you might feel a little bit better about shopping at these spots since you can see how, where, and by whom things are being made.
Some of the places we stopped on this tour included a tile/ceramic factory in Fes, a leather shop near the famous tannery in Fes, a weaving cooperative in Fes, a women's argan cooperative on one of our driving days, and a Berber carpet cooperative in Ait-Ben-Haddou.
I never felt pressured to actually buy anything (and ALL of these visits included a little behind-the-scenes look at how things are made), but felt good about spending my money when I did choose to buy something unique.
What should you pack?
I'll be writing a Morocco packing guide later, but for now here are some of the essentials you'll want for Morocco (especially if you're a female traveler):
- Conservative clothing – Morocco is a majority Muslim country. Even though it's a fairly progressive one (you won't be expected to cover your hair as a women, for example), you should still plan to dress respectfully. For women, this means shoulders, knees, and cleavage covered at the very least. Some items I took to Morocco included a couple colorful maxi dresses and these lightweight palazzo pants.
- A scarf or two – Scarves are a travel must-have for me. They can liven up any outfit, and are also great in a place like Morocco to further help you cover up. If you want your scarf to do double-duty, check out Speakeasy Travel Supply's hidden pocket scarves.
- Warm layers for winter – I traveled in winter, meaning I also used my scarves for warmth! I also traveled with a leather jacket and a packable down jacket for the desert.
- Good walking shoes – You do a lot of walking on a tour like this! I took two different pairs of shoes with me: my Teva Verra walking sandals, and my SUAVS Zilker shoes (lightweight sneakers that you can wear without socks and throw in the washing machine when you get home!).
- Shampoo/conditioner – Not all hotels in Morocco will provide it, so you might want to bring your own. I traveled with solid shampoo and conditioner from Ethique – I like this brand a lot, and it meant I didn't have to worry about any shampoo explosions in my luggage!
- A travel towel – Hotels and riads in Morocco will provide you with a towel to use, but I'll be honest: They're not always very nice. I used many thin, scratchy towels in Morocco. So next time I would definitely bring my own quick-dry travel towel.
- A sunhat – Especially if you're traveling during the summer! I like this packable one by Wallaroo.
- A reusable water bottle – Tap water is not safe to drink in Morocco, so you'll be relying mostly on bottled water. Our guide/driver stocked our van with 5-gallon jugs of water, and we could fill up our personal bottles whenever we needed to. This helps cut down on plastic waste! I like my CamelBak Chute.
- A first-aid kit – I always stock mine with things like chapstick, pain killers, Pepto Bismol, Imodium, rehydration salts, and some Band-Aids. For Morocco, I also added some travel-sized rolls of toilet paper, as you might run into restrooms that aren't stocked.
Intrepid Travel also requires you to have travel insurance for the entirety of your trip in Morocco. I recommend buying coverage through World Nomads. They offer the most affordable basic travel insurance out there.
The tour: Morocco Uncovered with Intrepid Travel
How much? $1400-$1800 per person, depending on departure date
The best time to visit Morocco: The months you want to *avoid* in Morocco are July and August, when it's the hottest and most oppressive. You also may want to avoid the holidays in December/January, which can be busy. Some of the best months to visit Morocco are the “shoulder” seasons, like March-May and September-November. I also enjoyed visiting at the end of February – it was still “off-season,” but warm enough to enjoy the weather.
Lastly, you should know that Morocco is probably going to surprise you! I went into this tour expecting to like Morocco, but I ended up LOVING my time in the country.
So what do you think? Would you ever book a tour like this to Morocco?
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