Until recently, Morocco was arguably one of the world's best-kept secrets. Travelers in the know spoke highly of its bustling cities, vibrant culture, and adrenaline-pumping adventure travel experiences... but most people overlooked this Northern African country as a destination unto itself.
In the wake of social media and the undeniably picturesque nature of Morocco, we now know differently. Morocco is a destination where an infusion of colors, smells, mint tea, and elaborately decorated doors mingle in a chaotic but beautiful mix. Beyond the cities lies a wealth of adventure opportunities in the desert, the Atlas Mountains, and on its coastlines facing two different seas.
Morocco is a destination where European culture has mingled with African and Middle Eastern, and the mix has created a destination that is engaging and interesting, no matter your travel preferences.
One of the country’s most beautiful areas, Morocco’s Atlas Mountain range is also home to some great trekking. Popular trekking routes include scaling all 4,167 meters of Jebel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. The mountains run from south west to north east, with the Sahara Desert stretching out behind.
Both day trips and longer treks are possible from Marrakech. Mountain trails pass through remote Berber villages, where the Berber people have retained their cultural heritage and welcoming hospitality. Overnight treks often include a mule for carrying supplies perfect for all those bottles of water you will need, especially if trekking during the summer.
Although trekking does take place all year round in the Atlas Mountains, expect snow and icy conditions during the winter, and energy-sapping heat in the summer. The mountains come alive with lush plant life in the spring.
Also located in the Atlas Mountains, the Ahansel River winds through 80 kilometers of untouched mountain scenery and Morocco’s ‘Grand Canyon’. The snow melt of the Atlas Mountains feeds raging whitewater that is perfect for rafting.
Multi-day rafting tours are available from Marrakech and are suitable for both beginner and intermediate rafters. The multi-day tours reach areas only accessible by water and feature wild monkeys, bonfires, Berber villages, and cooked meals. River tours run from March to late-May, though in years of heavy snowfall the rafting season can extend until June. Multi-day tours stay in campsites overnight.
Culture & Food Tours
It's impossible to visit Morocco without at least trying the local flavors -- and don't get us started on the smells! Moroccan cities are known for their souqs or markets, where you can buy fresh plates of food, ingredients, household wares, souvenirs, and more.
Whether you join a tour that moves from town to town, or spend several days exploring a single city with a guide, cultural tours of Morocco will give you a 'taste' of local life that will undoubtedly make you want to return in the future.
Best Time to Visit Morocco
Although Morocco can be visited and enjoyed at any time of year, picking the weather that best suits the activities you want to partake in is key.
For trekking in the mountains, choose fall (September to November) or spring (March to May) avoiding the winter season unless you have experience in snow trekking. River rafting runs from March until May, though a heavy snowfall will see the season extended until June. Summer can be too hot for anything besides spending time on the coast.
During Ramadan, the usual pace of life slows right down. Regular services may not be available as staff capacity and operating hours are lower than normal. Tourists aren’t expected to fast during the day, though many restaurants will be closed, and you will want to be discrete about eating and drinking in public. The timing of this month-long holiday changes every year. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, and public transportation will be packed as Moroccans head home for the holiday.
What to Look For In a Tour
If you book a guided tour in Morocco, pay close attention to what is, and what isn’t, included in the tour price. It’s also good to know how big the tour group will be, what level of experience the guides have, and what fitness level or experience is required for any activities involved.
Average Tour Cost
As with most destinations, your tour cost in Morocco is dependent on what's included and the level of comfort you wish to enjoy during your tour.
Morocco is still a relatively budget-friendly destination, so you can expect to spend $100-$250 per day or $750-$1000 per week. A good tour to get a sense for Morocco is from 5-10 days in length.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
Morocco is a Muslim country, which means the dress code for the locals is conservative, though what this means in practice can vary between cities and rural areas. Visitors to Morocco tend to cover up more as well, with clothes that cover shoulders, cleavage, and knees.
For adventure activities, specialized equipment will usually be supplied by tour companies. Bedding may not be included on some overnight camping or trekking trips, so you will need to bring your own sleeping bag or hire sheets. Trekking equipment can be hired.
Moroccan Arabic is the official language of Morocco. French is widely spoken, although English is also becoming a popular language to study and is used in tourist areas.
No vaccinations are required to enter Morocco. However, you should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations. Make an appointment with your doctor, ideally no less than a month before you travel, to discuss if any other injections, such as Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Tetanus, are right for your trip.
You should take out medical and travel insurance before you travel that covers all adventure activities you plan to participate in.
Altitude sickness can be a problem when going into the mountains. Staying a night at a lower altitude village is one way to acclimatize to the change in oxygen levels, before continuing to your final higher destination.
Food poisoning is a common problem for tourists in Morocco. Always wash your hands before eating or handling food. Stick to bottled water, even when rinsing your mouth or brushing your teeth. Choose busy restaurants and food stalls as the high turnover of customers means it is unlikely the food will be have been sitting for too long.
Several Western countries have travel advisories warning that there is a high threat of terrorism in Morocco.
Do not travel to the Western Sahara, which is a disputed territory and where there is a high risk of landmines. Permission from the Moroccan authorities is required to travel here.
Otherwise, Morocco is a relatively safe country to travel in. As a tourist, you may experience unwanted attention from some locals, or pushy sales pitches from shop owners and market stall holders.
Theft, namely pick-pocketing and bag snatching, is the main crime risk, particularly in the larger cities and towns, and in crowded medinas. Pay attention when traveling on public transport, or moving through bus or train stations. Leave flashy jewelry at home, and don’t carry valuables.
Unofficial tour guides, faux guides, or people posing as students studying English will stop you in the street, especially if you look lost, or are outside of the normal tourist area. Anyone offering to show you around will expect reimbursement, no matter what they say.
Female travelers may experience some harassment, especially if out on their own. The best way to deal with catcalls is to ignore them. If anything more serious happens, such as groping or unwanted physical attention, make a scene.