Money Supermarket are running a great competition where participants are asked to try and make £1000 last for as long as possible. I have chosen Morocco – it is so diverse and exciting. The vibrant blues of Chefchaouen contrast so much with the sultry reds of the desert. Morocco is so rich in culture, overflowing with history and a photographers dream. It has been on my bucket list for years.
More information about the competition can be found at A Grand Adventure by Money Supermarket. Look for #agrandadventure on twitter for entries into the competition!
For my Grand Adventure to Morocco, I will share with you the following:
- Where I would go
- What I would do
- How to make the £1,000 go further!
I want to see and do it all! I don’t want to compromise all the time either. My travel philosophy is to travel slow and experience more, and to cut dollar corners some times to splurge on those things that matter more to me. I have managed to stretch my £1,000 over 3 weeks – that is 21 days of immersion in Moroccan culture, not compromising on the experiences that are most important to me, or on safety as a solo female traveler.
Welcome to my Morocco
What do you picture when you close your eyes?
The history and culture?
I see it all. I picture the medinas and souks, filled with the smells of a cuisine that has been influenced over the ages by the Berbers, the Arabs and the Turks, and more recently – a French and Spanish Mediterranean flair. I want to get lost in the quiet streets that are off the tourist track, capture a glimpse of the every day and jostle around in the crowded markets. I have heard of Morocco as the land of the awesome and can’t wait to get lost in the mayhem.
Where Would I Go? What I would do!
I would start in Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains…known to be a top destination for budget travellers. The cool, clean air and laid back medinas would be the perfect setting to ease into my Moroccan adventures.
Next stop: Fes. Shaped by the great dynasties throughout history, Fes is considered Morocco’s cultural capital. To wander through the medieval cities of Morocco has beckoned for years….it is in fact my biggest travel regret that I did not go when I had the chance! I would make up for it by hiring a city guide for the day. At £19, I know it would be the best way to be introduced to the magic behind the culture. While in town, I would also like to visit a tannery – a unique experience best done early in the day. They say the smells of the tannery are not for the faint of nose. I am not sure how I will over come this….but the bright colours and fabulous photo opportunities …. let’s just say, if there is a will, there is a way! Judicious vaseline or vicks vaporub in the nose may do the trick.
A tour of the great imperial cities would not be complete without a day trip to Meknes, also known as the Versailles of Morocco. I’d saunter through the narrow streets of what was once the centre of the Moroccan sultanate and the mausoleum of Moulay Ismail (founder of the current Alawite dynasty). I would also check out the Roman ruins at Volubilis. I could see spending so much more time here, tasting the local produce and wandering the markets – the region is known for its olive, almond and citrus groves.
It would not be long before Marrakesh would be calling my name. Found in the central region of Morocco, the ochre colours and vibrant life of the city is mesmerizing. Marrakesh is dramatic and so very alive. I would experience for the first time, the Hamman, or public steam bath, eat in the medinas at night, and sip mint tea in a courtyard as I watched the buzz of life go by! While I will revel in exploring the Moroccan microcosm of Djemaa el-Fne, the souqs and the Koutoubia monument, the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains will surely beckon. I know I would thrive as I delve further into the cultural heritage of the region, embarking on a camel trek as they did when the camels were king on the trade routes. (Related Link: Camel Trek by Real Adventures)
From here, I will splurge – an 8 day trek into the Atlas Mountains – a dream of mine for over a decade. If I wanted to stretch my time in Morocco, here is where I could save, but somehow, it is also here that I feel I don’t want to do that! I know cheaper trips can be had if I ask around at the tourist offices in Marrakesh, or perhaps at the back packers. What ever my route – I can’t wait to get into the mountains. (Related Link: Walking Trek in Morocco)
Will there be time to go to the Dades Valley? I would love to see the Rose Festival….but I may have to choose, and I know my heart belongs to the camels and the trekking. I may have to save the festival for another year. I know, once I visit Morocco for the first time, I will want to come back, again and again!
My final stop would be in Essaouria – a picture perfect postcard port town on the Atlantic Coast. I would wander the streets of town, take in some mint tea and know that Morocco is such an amazing country to experience, and I will finish the experience with a half day Moroccan gastronomy class at L’Atelier Madada. I once read that experiencing the local cuisine takes a 2D experience and makes it 3 dimensional. How perfect to finish my cultural experience with a hands on lesson on Moroccan food where you not only get to work in a professional kitchen, but also eat the fruits of your labour.
How to make the £1,000 go further!
To make it all happen, I would have to watch my impulse spending! The more I travel, the better I have become. No longer do I come home with a bag full of souvenirs…my best souvenirs have always been my photos and memories.
To stretch my budget even further, I would stay in hostels and Moroccan Riads. A little research into the hostel scene found the average nightly cost to be as low as £15 – £20. As I would be traveling solo, I love the hostels for the chance to meet fellow travellers and hook up with people interested in doing the same activities. It would be amazing to meet some new friends and share a few nights in a Riad – a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard, often converted into a hotel or guest house.
Food – eating in restaurants is not part of the local custom. I am looking for something a little more authentic and would be inclined to eat on the street, at the markets or if invited, in the home of a local family.
Transportation – I learned my lesson in Croatia when I moved from city to city every couple of days. This goes against my slow travel philosophy and found me spending more money and time on buses than I ever imagined!
For 3 weeks (21 days), with a budget of £1,000, I would have to watch my pennies…but by cutting a few corners here, and combining with fellow travellers there, a £48/day budge means I could still live it up in Morocco and experience all that I want to see and do.
Examples of average costs:
- hostel accomodation: £15 – £30 per day
- train Fez to Marrakesh: £22
- 3 day camel trek: £30 – £35 per day
- 8 day Atlas Mountain trek: £51 per day (all meals and accommodation already included)
- Cooking class in Essaouria: £34