Escape 2 Africa: Morocco!

Morocco, one of the few countries that I and my travel buddies, as Indonesian, do not need visa to visit ūüėÄ It promises awesome deserts, ancient cities (they are called “medina”), cool masjids, ancient schools (madrasa), and many moree. Well, Morocco really keeps it promises! Here are five things that highlights our trip!

 1. Europe no more

Marrakech is the first city that we visit. At the moment we left Marrakech Menara airport, we already feel its huge differences to Europe feeling. No more gothic buildings, no more European-style orderliness. It is more like our country, Indonesia. The traffic, the people, the dynamics, the atmosphere!

Main public square in Marrakech
Jemaa el Fnaa, it’s a plaza in Marrakech with huge traditional market.

Random busty street in Marrakech
Random busy street in Marrakech
Lantern sellers with their Lanterns at night
Lantern sellers in Jemaa El Fnaa at night

2. Marrakech is a must

Yes it is! We visit four cities: Marrakech, Casablanca, Fez and Tangier, and among four of them, Marrakech is the best. The airport is very close to city center. Jemaa el Fnaa is very happening square at the day and at night. There are several tourist attractions within Jemaa el Fnaa such as El Badi Palace, Bahia Palace, and Koutoubia Mosque.

From Marrakech, you can book several excursion to other cities nearby Marrakech such as Zagora for desert, Essaouira for beach & seafood, Ouarzazate¬†and Kasbah A√Įt Benhaddou¬†for famous filming location.

Koutoubia Masjid
Koutoubia Masjid, one of tourist attractions in Marrakech
Palais Badia
Palais Badia
Ait Benhaddou
Ait Benhaddou

3. Don’t miss the desert

Among several excursion options from Marrakech, we pick “the most economical”¬†desert excursion via Zagora. Well, none of us have gone to desert before and we are hyper-excited at that time. The excursion starts very early in the morning, around 7 AM. Since it is the economical package (a.k.a the cheapest), we go to Zagora desert by van together with six to seven other tourists. Along the way, we stop at several cool places to take some photos. One of the places that we stop is like Grand Canyon, it is cool rocky hills (? don’t know the exact word :P, but no worry, I’ll post the pic below).¬†Along the way, we also stop near Kasbah Ait Benhaddou (picture in previous section) but unfortunately due to limited time, we do not have enough time to explore the Kasbah.

Cool canyon in our way to Zagora
Cool canyon in our way to Zagora

Once we reach the start of the desert, we continue our journey by riding camel! We have around 1-hour camel ride to the desert camp where we will have dinner together and spend a night at the desert! Unfortunately, my camera has no battery left, so I could not take decent picture of the desert : (. Next day in the morning, we return back to Marrakech and reach Marrakech in the early evening.

Mas Hifni is riding his camel ūüėÄ
Our entourage in desert camp before dinner
Our entourage in desert camp before dinner

4. Get lost in ancient medina

Another cool thing in Morocco is ancient medina, and among four cities that we visit, Fes medina is the best among all of them. Here you can find traditional market which divided into several sections such as perfume section, meat section, textile section, handy-craft section etc. You can find donkey as common transportation mode in the market (Yes, its donkey!!). There are several ancient madrasas (ancient schools), and the oldest is Al-Qarawiyyin university. There is also tannery (place to color animal skin) where you can see the process of coloring animal skin.

Alley inside Fes Medina
Alley inside Fes Medina
University of Al-Qarawiyyin, there is a masjid as well inside
University of Al-Qarawiyyin, there is a masjid as well inside
Leather-dyeing pits in Fes. They are colouring the animal skin for handicraft.
Leather-dyeing pits(tannery) in Fes. They are colouring the animal skin for handicraft.

5. Sail along strait of Gibraltar

To conclude our journey, we set sail from continent of Africa to Europe! From Fez, we continue our journey to Tangier using train and stay there one night. And the ferry is not as simple as we expect, we need to go to the new port (Tangier MED, around one hour bus trip from Tangier city center) to board the ship.  So the trip actually is something like this:

  1. Tangier to Tangier MED via free shuttle bus. The shuttle bus stop is near the main bus station, its somewhere in the round-about (valid on Dec 2011). Operate every half-hour, but it always very crowded.
  2. Tangier MED to Algeciras via ferry
  3. Then from Algeciras we continue our journey to Malaga by bus since we already reserve our accommodation in Malaga.
Gare Tanger Ville .. Tangier train station
Gare Tanger Ville .. Tangier train station as first starting point in Tangier
Tangier bay
Tangier bay, from top of Tangier Medina
Adios Africa!
Adios Africa!

Well.. stay tune for other travel post.. or geeky post! Comments are welcomed! ūüėÄ

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