A Solo Female’s Journey from Casablanca to Marrakech

Last I wrote to you guys, I let you know there was more to the story than just Casablanca and my fears the day I arrived in Morocco. A lot more.

It has been a very hectic and exciting last month. And while I didn’t mean to take forever to catch you up on the whole trip through Morocco and what I loved most, the exciting news that took over all of December was well worth it (you’ll find out more soon, and soon as in less than a month—I promise not to slack off this time).

Morocco was more than I could ever have imagined. But what I realized is that there are few words that will truly explain the beauty that is North Africa. And what better way to fill in that lack of words than to put together a quick highlight video for you of my road trip from Casablanca to Marrakech and everywhere in between. Check it out!

And read about some of my favorite spots and tips below, not if, but when you decide to visit Morocco for yourself.


Casablanca

You won’t need more than a day here unless you want to spend an extra day at the beach. While Casablanca has some beautiful views of the ocean, there really wasn’t much here to explore. However, if you do make it to Casablanca, do NOT miss out on the Hassan II Mosque. It is what architecture dreams are made of.

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Tip: If you are a solo female, don’t be afraid to walk alone here. While you do have to be VERY prepared to be hollered at and catcalled, ignore it, keep your chin up and forward, and be brave. I never felt unsafe here, even at night. If you do choose to take a taxi, be aware that many taxi drivers only spoke Arabic so know where you are going before getting in the taxi.

Meknes/Fès/Volubilis

These stops were some of my favorite of the trip. One of the best views you’ll see is at Volubilis, the ancient Roman ruins. Make it a quick stop, but not before exploring the ruins, taking in the sites, and standing over what was once thought to be Hercules’ bedroom.

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In Meknes, be sure to explore Heri es-Souani, Moulay Ismail’s granaries and stables. Another incredible architecture site, these stables were home to over 12,000 horses.

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As for Fès, this is a city you absolutely cannot miss. From mosaic shops to the tannery, there is no shortage of color and life here.

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Tip: While in the Fès medina, be aware that you will get very easily lost, so if you can find a reputable guide, do it! As well, hold on tightly to your purse or personal belongings. While the people of Morocco are incredibly nice and caring, the tight quarters and large crowds in the medina are a recipe for pickpocketers.

Merzouga/The Sahara Desert

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The Sahara Desert is where my life changed forever. I know, I know, a bit dramatic. But it’s really no exaggeration. You will NEVER experience something like camping in the middle of the Sahara Desert with a few new friends (along with a few new furry camel friends, too).

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I went at the beginning of November and the weather could not have been more perfect for camping here. Just be sure to bring a jacket and thick socks for when the sun sets. With the cold sand between your toes, you’ll have the chance to take a break from technology, and take in the insane beauty of the rolling golden dunes lit up by the full moon.

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Tip: I am beyond thankful to have partnered with G Adventures to take a caravan out into the desert to camp beneath the stars. You’ll have an incredible adventure this way, as they organize the camel ride and campsite for you, supply an amazing authentic Berber meal, and even provide a little entertainment in the form of hookah and drums 😉 Could not recommend them more if you’re looking to have the time of your life!

Todra Gorge/Ait Ben Haddou

Be ready to walk! For both these locations (which are both ones you really shouldn’t miss), you’ll be hiking quite a bit, so wear your most comfortable shoes. If you love rock climbing, Todra Gorge is your little slice of heaven in Morocco. If you’re not a rock climber, don’t be afraid. There is a well-paved road to walk along and still take in the sites.

Ait Ben Haddou is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s a must-see, but you won’t need more than a day here. Explore the kasbahs and see where movies such as Gladiator were filmed. Along the drive from here to Marrakech, you’ll travel through the Route of 1000 Kasbahs and through the Hollywood of Morocco, passing by quite a few movie studios and sets.

Tip: I would definitely recommend staying at Hotel Amazir near Todra Gorge. Not only did they have some of the best tangine that I had the entire trip, but come on… look at this view!

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Marrakech

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If you’re going to stay at any of these places (besides the Desert), stay in Marrakech the longest. I was a little let down that I didn’t save enough time on my trip to truly explore Marrakech for all it’s worth, as I only had two days there. The medina alone could take an entire day to explore!

Tip: Save all your shopping for Marrakech. You’ll find the best bargaining and best prices in the medina here. Just be aware that the shop owners will be quick to charge you far above local pricing. For example, one bracelet I bought, the owner was trying to charge me the equivalent of $55 USD. I left with it at the equivalent of $6 USD, and probably could have gotten it lower. So be ready to haggle! A LOT!


Morocco was one of the most exciting and interesting countries I have ever been to! Planning to go? Feel free to ask any questions, and I’ll be happy to provide any information that I can (hotels to stay at, restaurants in the area, etc). And if you’ve been to Morocco or any of the cities mentioned, I would love to hear what you enjoyed most!

Don’t Believe What They Say About Morocco

Don’t believe it when they say Morocco has beautiful landscapes.

They’re not beautiful; they’re breathtaking.

Don’t believe it when they say Moroccan people are friendly.

They’re not just friendly; they’ll welcome you into their homes for every meal.

Don’t believe it when they say Morocco is colorful.

This country has more colors than you could ever dream of.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect with this country. Morocco was always on my list, but so is every other country in the world. And like a lot of other countries, it was definitely not at the top of my “places to explore next.”

When I came back to the states, a majority of my conversations began with “So why Morocco? I mean, what made you want to go to a country like that?” And to be blatantly honest, it was just by chance that I ended up there.

I had time off of work for my wedding and honeymoon, and I knew I wasn’t going to let that go to waste. But I only had those days off and no more. So the top of my list at the time—South Africa, Philippines, Maldives, Madagascar, and Rapa Nui—were not feasible, all with a travel time of at least two days there and two days back.

So what next? Where do I go? I started looking into Argentina and Guatemala, but both were countries I wanted to be in for more than two weeks at a time. Iceland? Tempting but I knew I wanted to camper-van it and didn’t have much time to organize and prepare for a trip like that.

So I sat down and googled camping trips, and the Sahara popped up. I looked up caravan tours and the dates fell perfectly in line with my time off. That was it. Immediately after seeing pictures of those bright orange rolling dunes, I knew what I wanted to do; I just had to figure out how to get there.

Within 24 hours, I had my flights and hotels booked along my route. The countdown began… and so did the anxiety.

Like I mentioned in my last post, I was scared shitless before I left. I honestly didn’t put much thought into the planning of the trip at all. I knew I had a flight and places to stay but I was about to experience some serious culture shock.

With my first night in Casablanca, I had a minor breakdown. As soon as I got off the plane, I realized that I was way WAY beyond my comfort zone. I’ve traveled a lot, but everywhere I have been, the people of that country have at least known a minor amount of English. This is the first country I’ve been to that they looked at me like I had four heads when I said “Hi. Do you speak English?” And you know what?

It was incredible. And also insanely terrifying at the same time. All the signs were in Arabic so forget the fact of even trying to sound out the names of cities or which way I was trying to go. So I sat outside the airport for an hour at a small café, letting the culture soak in a bit, while I studied the small amount of Arabic I knew.

Finally, I see my last name on the sign of the driver I hired and off we went into the city—an extremely dusty, construction-filled city that is. I got to my hotel, of which couldn’t have been more colorful inside but couldn’t have been grayer outside. I dropped my bags off and went to catch a taxi to the mosque. A taxi cab ride the wrong way and a few dirhams later, I was back at the hotel, realizing how unprepared I actually was for this city.

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Did I make a huge mistake? Who did I honestly think I was traveling alone to a country like this? There was no way for me to communicate for food, for a ride, for even directions. The front desk only spoke Arabic and some French and here I was, a blonde American girl who speaks only English and Spanish, in the middle of Casablanca with two days to spare.

As the sun was setting, I went back to my room, showered, and turned on Stranger Things 2. Yes, you read right. Here I was in North Africa, doing exactly what I would’ve been doing if I had stayed home. This wasn’t what I imagined.

But before I fell asleep, I promised myself that no matter how uncomfortable I was, I wasn’t going to let fear and assumptions take ahold of me, I’d get out of my hotel room, and I’d push myself to meet people and explore in the morning.

That’s when everything changed.

I woke up, had the most delicious Moroccan breakfast for free, met a Moroccan man who spoke a small amount of English (enough to tell me which way to walk when I left the hotel) and met a blonde German girl who was willing to walk to the mosque with me. I had a smile on my face again and knew this was exactly where I was supposed to be.

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For the next ten days, I would make the greatest memories of my 29-years on this earth. For the next ten days, I would realize more and more every day that even the shittiest things in your life happen for a reason, and that reason for me was scaring me enough that I almost gave up the life I was dying to live for a life that I was dying in, and allowing me to realize that I deserve everything I have always wanted.

The next ten days were spent exploring Fes, Meknes, Merzouga, Todra Gorge, Ait Ben Haddou, and Marrakech, to name a few. There’s so much to tell, but more than will fit in just one blog post, so I’ll stop blabbing here. But don’t worry, the story has just begun.

 

You’re Going Alone to Morocco? As a Female?!

Yes. I am. The amount of times I’ve heard that question since I booked this trip a few weeks ago is tiring. But I understand their concern. I promised to be my honest, raw self from the moment I decided to start this blog, so here it is. I’m f*cking terrified.

Yes. I am.

The amount of times I’ve heard that question since I booked this trip a few weeks ago is tiring. But I understand their concern.

I promised to be my honest, raw self from the moment I decided to start this blog, so here it is.

I’m f*cking terrified.

I’ve travelled my whole life, multiple times alone before, to many different countries. But I’ve always somehow been in my safe place. From Canada to Europe to Australia, everyone spoke at least a little English—enough for me to get around—so I had no problem wandering the streets knowing that I’d somehow make it back (obviously with the use of common sense). Throughout Central and South America, the Hispanic/Latino cultures are somehow buried deep in my soul so I’ve always felt more at home in those areas than frankly, I do in the states.

Moroccan woman

But this time is different. Very different. I wouldn’t label myself a feminist by any means, but I sure as hell am independent and will stand up for myself when a male thinks they are superior to me (cue to my first post, on why marriage was not for me, at least not right now). So travelling to my first Muslim country where females are expected to cover themselves—and where it is well known that, as a female, you most certainly will be harassed and possibly groped—is a lot for me to mentally prepare for.

But that was the point. Not to be harassed, obviously. But to put myself in a position so beyond my comfort zone that I’m forced to figure out my own comfort.

I’ve been searching endlessly for the last couple weeks of blog posts about Casablanca (where I’ll be for a couple days before travelling along to Merzouga then heading out into the Sahara). Sadly, 95% of the blog posts I see are “How to Stay Safe and Sane in Morocco” or “How to Avoid Scammers and Pickpocketers in Morocco.” I searched and searched for “what is there to do in Casablanca as a solo female traveler” and all I found were depressing, albeit honest, posts about Morocco as a female.

So while I’m terrified… I’m f*cking stoked. Stoked to see what Casablanca, and Morocco as a whole, has to offer a blonde hair, green-eyed American girl like me. More importantly, stoked to have the chance to show off everything you CAN do as a solo female in Casablanca.

And lastly, stoked to check off the next to last continent of my travels. So, does anyone have any good recommendations for Antartica? 😉

Hassan II Mosque