“I’m not going to Marrakech, I’d probably catch malaria or get kidnapped by Aladdin.”
Such were the typical responses when I proposed a trip to Marrakech to a few friends. Many sighs and hours spent wondering if solo female travel in Africa was safe later, I managed to round up three other friends to go on a weekend to Marrakech.
And it was FABULOUS.
Marrakech is definitely growing in popularity every year- it’s became a real celebrity hotspot. David Beckham celebrated his birthday there AND the Daily Mail listed it on its top places to visit in 2015. So there. You have to visit.
Our trip (myself and three female friends) was a budget trip, which is, happily, more than doable in Marrakech. We stayed in the Trip and Friends hostel which was actually my first time staying in a hostel, but it was more than adequate (I mean, it had free WIFI and a shower…what more do you want?) and also really cheap.
When we first stepped into Marrakech it was a slightly over whelming experience. We got a taxi from the airport (which were extremely affordable- around the equivalent of €12 and there were four of us) and the roads to Marrakech were dotted with camels. The taxi driver literally abandoned us in Jemma El Fna(a large square featuring snakes, food sales and various other questionable things) and left us to find our hostel. Much confusion ensued.
We stepped into a café, ordered breakfast and asked for directions to our hostel. Unfortunately, the waiter couldn’t provide any but did ask for a tip for the privilege nonetheless- this happened quite frequently in eateries there! I dread to think about the fee he would have demanded if he actually knew the address.
After an hour of wandering and desperation, we resorted to doing what everyone had advised us not to do- ask a young male for directions. Gulp. However, many innuendos and requests for money later he managed to lead us to our door- merci!
Our favourite thing to do in Marrakech was literally just wander the ever winding, and possibly neverending, streets. While most of the shops do sell the same thing at various prices (note- HAGGLE!) it really was a fabulous experience. Donkeys and carts will collide with you while you walk. Just a warning.
Jemma El Fna and the Medina were particularly chaotic. We loved the atmosphere, but it can be slightly overwhelming. Beware of crafty salespeople. I stopped to get a Henna tattoo, having pointed at a photo in the tattooist’s collection. Five minutes and a henna tattoo later, the artist attempted to charge me around the equivalent of €15 more than our agreed price- apparently our original price that we had agreed on was just for purchasing the actual photo of the tattoo. Oh. The same goes for taking photos with monkeys/ snakes; the owners do expect you to give them money for the privilege. We had an unfortunate run in with a monkey owner and had to avoid him for the rest of the weekend…fear. Worth it for the Instagram likes.
There are lots of amazing trips available- most depend on the length of time that you have to spare. There are trips to the desert, bike tours through Berber village and all sorts of mountain trips.
We went on a day trip and it was amazing. There were five of us on the trip (we picked up an American along the way!) and we went to an Argan oil producer (where we watched how Argan oil was produced), Berber village, a camal ride and we climbed the Atlas mountains. It was honestly one of the best days of my life. And the best thing of all? That day trip (including an English speaking driver who was extremely patient to our photographer needs…”GROUP PHOTO TIME!”) including a two course dinner in a lovely riverside restaurant cost the equivalent of €25. It was originally €30, but our haggling worked a treat! We didn’t have it arranged before we went to Marrakech- instead, a tour guide visited our hostel and we arranged it from there. From what I can see online, this ended up being significantly cheaper than organising it beforehand.
I do plan to return to Marrakech sometime in the near future. It was a fantastic trip- it’s like a different world. Allez-y.