We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Jane, a member of the Solo Travel Society . Jane is from the United States, and submitted the following report about Morocco. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Arabic, Berber, French, English
Reasons to go: I usually backpack on my own, but I went to Morocco during Ramadan with Intrepid Travel, and I absolutely loved my trip. Doing this as a solo traveler was great because it gave me the flexibility to wander off and do things on my own while still being able to be part of a small group and make friends. Not having to pay a single supplement was also a big draw. The biggest advantage to joining the group, though, was that it allowed me to engage in so many activities and cover so much of Morocco over the course of 2.5 weeks, something that would have been very difficult to arrange on my own.
During my trip, I visited the impressive Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, smelled the tannery pits and observed rug weavers in the Fez medina, hiked into both the Atlas and Rif Mountains, caught a tagine cooking demonstration in Ait Benhaddou, explored a curio shop in Zagora that would make Indiana Jones proud, went sea kayaking in Essaouira, munched on a camel burger in Meknès, got scrubbed down to within an inch of my life at a hammam in Chefchaouen, and watched snake charmers and belly dancers in Marrakech. My favorite places were Moulay Idriss, Morocco's holiest town, and a beautiful, quiet place to truly experience a call to prayer during Ramadan and Volubilis, where we had a fantastic local guide to lead us on a surprisingly non-boring walk through the Roman ruins and regale us with hilarious historical tidbits. The highlight of the trip for me was taking a camel ride into, and then camping out overnight in, the beautiful Sahara desert. We had tents, but most of us fell asleep under the sky near the campfire, listening to folk songs. Absolutely amazing.
I also appreciated that our group took some time out for more conscious travel. We paid a visit to Project Horizon, which is sponsored by Intrepid. The center provides artificial limbs, wheelchairs, physical therapy, and job training to Moroccans with disabilities. We also spent some time at a women's argan oil collective learning about the various processes through which the argan nut is transformed into cooking and beauty products. At both of these stops, we had the opportunity to contribute to the work being done by making donations and/or buying some of the products made onsite.
The biggest recommendation that I could give to a solo traveler to Morocco would be to learn at least a few French phrases (assuming, of course, that you don't already know some Arabic). My French skills definitely came in handy when I was trying to get around or haggle for souvenirs. Speaking of shopping, if you like unique jewelry and/or beautiful textiles, Morocco is a great place to buy them; until you suss out appropriate prices for what you want, bargaining with an eye towards paying half of the initial asking price is a good way to get your feet wet. Finally, in Marrakech, although Djemaa el Fna is certainly the place to go for varied dining choices, if you're looking for a snack, I would highly recommend getting one of the delicious fruit smoothies at Winoo (introduced to us by our awesome Intrepid guide). I still dream of the dwak smoothie (which has, among other things, avocado, watermelon, pineapple, and mango)!
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)