Looking back on our trip to Morocco, there are so many things that I wish I had known prior to our trip. Here are our must do’s.
1. Make the trip to Merzouga
Yes, I know it’s an excruciatingly long drive and yes, I know it’s out of the way of virtually everything in Morocco. When you fall asleep under the starts and wake up and see the sunrise over the dunes of the Sahara, you’ll thank yourself.
We booked our camel trip the same day through Mohaventura and could not have been happier. I highly recommend booking through Moha. They also have an auberge called Le Petit Prince that can be booked either before or after your trip. While we did not stay here, the others who did seem to really enjoy the experience and hospitality offered by Moha and his family.
2. Invest in a SIM card upon arrival
Make this your first purchase in Morocco. We were hesitant on this initially thinking we would be fine without it, but it saved us several times. For starters, you’ll have service everywhere. We had full coverage in the middle of the Sahara, the backroads of the Riff Mountains, and everywhere in between. The GPS was essential for navigating backroads and finding our way through the maze of the Fes marina and back to our riad after dinner each night as all of the walkways are clearly mapped out.
We purchased an INWI SIM card so I can only speak to their service. If you’re in Fes, they have a small store just inside of Bab Boujelud (Blue Gate) to the right.
3. Buy a Moroccan rug and be ready to drive a hard bargain (and walk away)
We always love to purchase one special souvenir on each of our trips so a rug was an obvious choice. We purchased ours in Meknes and found the prices to be much lower and the experience to be much more enjoyable than the high pressure of Fes.
4. Visit the less touristy cities of Chefchaouen and Meknes
While we loved the hustle and bustle of Fes, but it’s not for everyone. The laid back pace of these two cities was just what we needed. Not to mention that Chefchaouen is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited.
Extra Tip: Stay at Riad El Ma in Meknes, but don’t book in advance online. We called them on our train ride over from Fes and were able to get a much better price than what was advertised.
5. Rent a car
Now this goes against what most people probably suggest for Morocco. Let me preface by saying that this is only a good idea if you are very comfortable driving a manual as that’s all you’ll find in Morocco. Neither of us had ever driven a manual so to say this was an adventure would be quite the understatement.
While I would not recommend our route (Fes-Chefchouen-Tangier), I think that renting a car is hands down the best way to get to the desert in Merzouga. The road between Fes and Merzouga is in very good condition and the drive is very straight forward. Renting a car will give you the flexibility to make the trip on your own time and give you the ability to stop and enjoy some of the beautiful sights you’ll pass along the way. You’ll also get to avoid the grossly overpriced pre-packaged ‘Merzouga desert tours.’ As an added bonus, the rental companies in Morocco will deliver the vehicle to your location and meet you wherever you like when you’re ready to return. We rented through Sixt and had a great experience.