Adventure Travel in Morocco

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A Guide to Adventure Travel in Morocco

With a blend of African, Middle Eastern, and European influence, adventures in Morocco are a world all its own. Experience the scent of warm, aromatic spices and marvel at rich beautiful colors and patterns. And hey—the landscape isn’t half bad either! From the sparkling blues of the Mediterranean, to the dusty golds of the Sahara, to North Africa’s highest peaks in the High Atlas, the possibilities for travel in Morocco are endless. Whether you’re exploring the desert atop a camel, climbing mountains, volunteering, eating new foods, or encountering new sensations, everyday is an opportunity for meaningful adventure in Morocco.

Locations

People have been writing about and photographing Morocco for years, and once you’re here you’ll find that it all lives up to the hype. The food really is that good, the people really are that nice, the desert really is that big, and getting lost in the medinas really is that fun. Each city and town has its own unique history and way of life, adding to the rich tapestry that is Morocco.

Rabat. Morocco’s capital city is an ancient, imperial city that is constantly changing and modernizing. You’ll get a sense of life in modern Morocco, without the crowds of tourists in other big cities. Locals are eager to engage with you and exchange ideas and views of the world. Adventure travelers to Rabat will find it the perfect home base to kick off adventures in the Sahara. In between hefty servings of tagine and mint tea, you can trade in traditional Moroccan adventures to volunteer in some of the city’s poorer neighborhoods, teach English, or study French/Arabic. Adventures of the mind— and the heart! 

Marrakech. Get ready to channel your inner Indy (fedora and bullwhip not included). In Marrakech’s medina (old city) you’ll find a maze of alleyways, where traditional souks sell textiles, pottery, jewelry, spices, and more. Getting lost here is an adventure in and of itself. The main square, Djemaa el-Fna comes alive at night with food vendors, storytellers, and musicians. It’s a wonderful city to learn the importance of Islam in modern Moroccan culture. The morning before you head out on a Saharan adventure or on a trek through the Atlas mountains, wake up to the call to prayer permeating the warm desert air.

Casablanca. Of all the cities in all the countries in the world, you walk into this one. This is the beginning of a beautiful adventure. Casablanca is the picture of modern Morocco. The Instagram worthy melding of French colonial architecture and traditional Moroccan design is best discovered in the Quartier Habous, where you can shop, taste, and drink in all that this city has to offer. If it’s not quite a pirate’s life for you in this port city, and you prefer to keep your land legs, take a caravan through the Sahara and follow old trade routes between Casablanca, Marrakech, and Fez.

Each location has a unique mezze of opportunities for Morocco tours. Each city has a character of its own, sharing a slightly different picture of Morocco, both old and new.

Adventure Tours in Morocco

Adventure travel programs in Morocco include opportunities to ride camels through the Sahara, hike through the Atlas mountains, and visit stunning waterfalls. You’ll also have the option to learn French and/or Arabic while being welcomed into a host family. If you want to get a shot of adrenaline while you give back, check out combo adventure travel/volunteer programs. 

When you’re not giving back to your host community or practicing your French and Arabic, you’ll be out exploring all the rugged beauty Morocco has to offer. Trek through the fabled Sahara on the back of a camel, climb North African mountains, and swim in its desert oases. Stock up on sunscreen for your hike through the desert, or do like the locals do and cover up with the bright and beautiful textiles Morocco is so famous for!

English is rapidly becoming a worldwide lingua franca, but so many more doors will open up to you if you take the time to learn the local language while adventure traveling in Morocco. It’s history, culture, and traditions will make more sense and be more available to you with even a limited grasp of Arabic or French. 

Like its landscape and native Moroccans themselves, the climate is quite diverse. As you might expect, the Sahara is quite hot during the day and temperatures drop at night, while the Mediterranean coast is generally quite warm. With warm winters and dry heat in the summers, Morocco is the ideal year-round destination. To avoid the heat, best to visit in the Spring and Autumn. When packing for Morocco tours, focus on lightweight clothing like linen and cotton. Protect yourself from the sun with loose, light layers. And, as always when traveling, keep local cultural sensitivities in mind. Long sleeves and less revealing clothing are favorable to shorts and tank tops in this more conservative culture.

Costs & Affordability

Even with a tourism boom, adventures in Morocco are still considered budget travel. While you might not find it as inexpensive as other budget locations, it’s still affordable. Choose small, family owned restaurants and accommodations. Street food is always an affordable and absolutely delicious option! Opt for public transportation when available, instead of taxis, and find out what kinds of free events are going on around town. You just might find yourself enjoying a free concert of Sufi music because you saw a poster while searching for a bathroom.

With adventure travel programs in Morocco, pay attention to what is provided in the program fees. If you’re venturing out on your own, grab a friend or two from your program and maybe you can share the cost of things like tour guides or transportation.

If you need help funding your adventure through Morocco, consider a fundraising site like FundMyTravel or search for other scholarships and funding opportunities. Or, instead of holiday, birthday, or graduation gifts, ask for cash to use towards your travels.

Accommodation & Visas

With Morocco’s popularity among travelers steadily increasing, hotels and hostels can be found for every budget and competition keeps prices low. Many organized programs arrange housing for you, leaving you more time to salivate over those food blogs you discovered. Nom on some tagine and drink mint tea while you’re busy NOT worrying about where you’ll stay the night.

Many adventure programs will provide rooms in dorms or hostels near your school or work site, or even provide the option for a placement with a local host family, eager to show you real Moroccan hospitality. Take them up on their offer (trust us). Host families are definitely the way to go. If your adventure is taking you out of the city and into the great outdoors, you might just find yourself sleeping in tents under a blanket of stars.

Like most countries, Morocco requires that your passport be valid for at least six months past your date of entry. Visas are not usually required for stays of less than 90 days, but it is always a good idea to check visa requirements specific to your country. Your provider will likely help you with any necessary paperwork if a long-stay visa is necessary for your program, but it never hurts to check in with your designated consulate. Find your consulate and check up on visa requirements with the GoAbroad Embassy Directory.

Benefits & Challenges

For many, Morocco will be a first: first African country, first Muslim country, and maybe even their first time abroad.

Culture Shock. It’s real and hard to escape. Embrace the differences you see all around you and be open to try new things. The call to prayer will soon become a familiar sound, throughout every city five times a day. Depending on the time of year, you may experience holiday observances. Ramadan, lasting for a month, affects all aspects of life. Much of the country is relatively conservative, which can be hard to adjust to. That’s part of why we travel though isn’t it? To experience new places, traditions, and ideas.

Dress to Impress. Pay attention to your surroundings and consider wearing less revealing clothing while traveling in Morocco. If you’re visiting a religious site you’ll likely need to cover up, so do a little research to know what is appropriate dress and behavior.

At a Crossroads. Morocco and northern Africa has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries. It’s a meeting point and melting pot of sorts for Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. This is evident in so many aspects of culture in Morocco, from religion to language to food. Morocco’s history is long, fascinating, and its cities are a true feast for the senses. It’s a wonderful thing to experience. 

Yes You (Moroc)can. Cultural identity and way of life varies greatly from city to city, and between the Sahara, the mountains, and the sea. Moroccans love meeting students and travelers. Like in so many places, if you show an interest in learning about your surroundings, locals will be eager to teach you. Everyone wants to share their culture and country that they love, they want you to love it too.

Whether you’re Indiana Jones-ing it on the hunt for your next big archeological find, or you’re more of a Rick Blaine, soaking in the cities and the nightlife, adventures in Morocco will mark you a time traveler and modern-day explorer

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