Desert countries to visit: 5 things to do in Morocco

Posted on 31 October 2022 By David Henning

Morocco was the backdrop to the iconic film, Casablanca, and you might Rick famously exclaiming: ‘Of all the gin joints in the world, she walks into mine’. Gin, however, would be Haram throughout most of the country, but experiencing Morocco will still make you giddy.

From the Souks of Fez to the Atlas Mountains, the country enmeshes you in a tapestry of bewilderment. Whether you are sipping on mint tea, biting into a juicy Medjool date, or catching the whiff of an opened tagine in a tiny alley, there is just one rule when visiting Morocco: allow yourself to be enchanted. Here are 5 things to do in Morocco. ‘Play it again, Sam!’

1. Camp under the stars in Merzouga

Picture: Michael Wong/ Flickr Commons

This village on the edge of the Sahara Desert is fed by an underwater canal giving life to a garden of palms, apricots, figs and sunflowers and allowing each family to tend to their own plot of crops.

But notably, Merzouga is on the Sahara’s front porch, with direct access to dunes and camping under the stars. You can arrive at a pre-setup Berber camp at the base of some large sand dunes, where you can enjoy traditional food and music.

Picture: Matthew Sterne

2. Try dates in Erfoud

Erfoud is an oasis town known as the gateway to the Sahara, and a convenient pitstop between Fez and Merzouga. The town is dotted with ancient fortified villages but also has something sweet going for it.

Morocco is known around the world for some of the best dates, exporting over 90 000 tons annually, and is the dominant industry surrounding Erfoud. The town is home to an annual date festival, usually between September and November.

Every year, this town in a tucked-away part of Morocco comes alive with live music, dancing, racing camels and of course, dates.

3. Visit a hammam in Marrakesh

Entrance to the Les Bains de Marrakesh Hammam. Picture: Christoph Nuhs/ Flickr Commons

Morrocan hammams are traditional bathhouses, traditionally used for cleaning the body and soul. This is a remaining tradition from when Morocco formed part of the Roman Empire.

These are incredibly intimate spaces, so leave your inhibitions at the door – one may often ask another for a scrub.

4. Shop at the Souks of Marrakesh or Fez

The market stalls of Marrakesh are not for the faint-hearted, like this one in Fez. Picture: Matt Sterne/ Getaway Gallery

Riddled with life, the Souks of Marrakesh are a thrill for any bargain hunter. Souks are traditionally an open-air market for essential items, often along essential routes where merchants would pass.

From spices and fresh groceries to clothing and carpets, the souks are a tapestry of life and a wonderful place to get lost – as long as you are curious. Both Marrakesh and Fez are famous for their Souks.

5. Visit the Blue City of Chefchaouen

A small city in the Rif Mountains in the northwest of the country, it is endearingly known as “the Blue City”. This is not because the people are feeling down, but because locals regularly apply a dash of blue paint to their homes.

There is no conclusive answer to why the town is blue. One theory is that the Jews and Moors who fled Spain in the 15th century painted it, and locals continue to do so today. Interestingly, it is also known as the cannabis capital of Morocco, where it is allegedly sold openly on the streets.

ALSO READ: A taste of North Africa: 5 dishes to try in Morocco

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