🇲🇦 I had wanted to visit Morocco for a long time. In general, I love Eastern countries for their vibrant culture and colors. It’s unfortunate that all the news about terrorism has had an impact on how some people perceive Muslims. As they say, “the residue remains.” But I always knew that I would definitely visit this country in the near future, and it turned out to be almost unplanned. We were spending the winter in Tenerife, and Morocco was very close by. 

We flew to Agadir. While you could also fly from Tenerife to Casablanca, the dates didn’t work for us. Marrakech was another option, but it involved a 4-hour layover in Madrid, which would have meant losing almost an entire day and adding 30% to our ticket budget. Therefore, we chose to fly to Agadir, where we booked a rental car so that we could drive to Marrakech. The main purpose of our trip was to visit the desert in Merzouga. Since it’s about 1000 km from the major cities, we decided to expand our route and explore more of the country. 😊🌍🌞

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

 🚗The route for Morocco, we meda for 7 days.

1⃣ Day. Arrival in Agadir, transfer to Marrakesh — 3 hours, 250 km.

2⃣ Day. Full day in Marrakech for a walk around the city.

3⃣ Day. 600 km to Tingir, have a night there.

4⃣ Day 4. We see the Todra Canyon. Drive to Merzouga.

5⃣ The day in Merzouga. Accommodation in the camp

6⃣ Transfer to Urzazate. Visit to the Atlas film studio. Night in the hotel at the studio.

7⃣ 🏁Transfer to Agidir. Departure back to the Canary Islands this time to Gran Canaria, where we decided to spend 2 weeks.

The flight from Tenerife to Morocco went well. We were a little worried about the 1-hour transit to Gran Canaria, but we checked our baggage through to Morocco, and our departure gate was only 15 meters from the terminal entrance, with a passport control post nearby. We didn’t purchase anything from Duty-Free as there was only a machine with sandwiches. The decision to pack a couple of bottles of wine in our checked luggage was indeed a wise one. The plane was small, but the flight from Gran Canaria was only 1 hour and 30 minutes.

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

✈ For passport control, you need to fill out a form with your personal information and the name of your hotel. The process wasn’t very fast but went without unnecessary questions. Russian visas are not required for short stays. Our luggage was waiting for us on the carousel. While our luggage was being checked on the conveyor belt, they inquired about the drone, which we did not have. It seems that drones are either prohibited or subject to restrictions there. 

 🚗 We headed to pick up our rental car. However, midway through the process, we were informed that the car we had reserved had been involved in an accident that morning, and they couldn’t provide us with a replacement right away. They informed us that another car would arrive in 1 hour. To pass the time, we were offered the option to go to a gas station where there was a café. We loaded our 6 pieces of luggage and 3 backpacks into the car, and we were driven to the café. Our belongings were secured in the car, and we waited there. During this time, we ate and drank. It had been an hour and a half since our arrival. Initially, we had considered leaving some of our luggage in a safebox at the airport, but we discovered that there was none available, so we decided to carry all our belongings with us. 

 🗻 As we continued our journey, it started to get dark. There was a beautiful, gentle pink sunset that made the reddish mountains appear even redder. In the distance, we could see snow-covered mountain peaks rising even higher. 🌄🏔️


Marrakech

When we arrived in Marrakech, it was already dark. We reached the parking area, where some individuals began waving their hands, indicating that we shouldn’t drive any further and should park there. There was about 15 minutes of confusion and negotiation. They informed us that our hotel was nearby but could only be reached on foot. We decided to leave some of our luggage in the car, relying on the information we had found online that theft was not common in Morocco.

To be honest, without the assistance of those individuals, we would not have been able to find our hotel. It turned out that our hotel was behind a small metal door in an almost hidden narrow alley. Large, conventional signs were prohibited in this old part of the city, so there was no way to guess that something was inside. 🏨🌃

💸 When we arrived at the hotel, our guides expected payment for their assistance, which was understandable given the help they had provided.

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

In this case, the money we initially gave them wasn’t sufficient, as two more gentlemen appeared from somewhere, also claiming compensation. They said, “There are four of us — pay for four, we assisted you, provided security, and watched over you.” We ended up giving them an additional 20 dollars, which is not an insignificant amount in Morocco. This certainly left a lasting impression.

Most hotels in the old city (Medina) are known as riads. These buildings feature a central courtyard, with rooms along the walls surrounding it. I really appreciate their interior design, which includes plenty of greenery, various decorations, cushions, lamps, and more. It creates a cozy and colorful atmosphere. I was quite pleased with the hotel. 🏨🌿🌺

🍞🍰🍪 Breakfast was typically Moroccan, which meant an assortment of pastries — various types of buns, more buns of a different kind, additional bread, jam, and butter. And, of course, freshly squeezed orange juice. ☕ The coffee was instant, as there isn’t much of a coffee culture. However, Moroccan mint tea was always available and a popular choice. It’s worth noting that in some cafes, the mint tea was surprisingly strong, and one might wonder what they put in it, as it felt like you could get a caffeine overdose.

I didn’t particularly like the city. The old part of the city was quite dirty and run-down. It’s not that there was trash everywhere or foul odors, but everything felt untidy and uncomfortable, with various items strewn about on the roads. I had expected more.

🍸 As is customary in a Muslim country, alcohol is not openly sold. I had read about underground sales and local alcohol, but we opted for a simpler solution — staying at a 5⭐ hotel with a bar and restaurant. The French influence left its mark, and Morocco still produces wine. The wine was of average quality. They also had their own gray wine, which they referred to as such. In color, it resembled a pale rosé. The French no longer produce this type of wine. 🍷🇲🇦


7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

🕌Jam’a al-Fnaa Square, 


We visited a place that everyone recommended, but we quickly left because it was too crowded, and it was time for lunch. While at the square, we tried pomegranate juice, which tasted quite bland to us. I couldn’t resist tasting the various types of date fruits available in one of the shops. I sampled each one, but they were overly sweet, and I couldn’t eat them all.

The square is quite large and is considered one of the main attractions, even included in the UNESCO list alongside the old city. In the past, this square was used for slave trading and public executions. Nowadays, it’s a bustling market with snake charmers and women offering henna hand-painting. In the evening, the square comes alive with even more activity, including some dubious characters, but we decided not to venture there at night. 🌆🐍🌟


Spices of Morocco

🌈There are a lot of shops with spices.

In Morocco, spices are the essence of culinary and cultural magic. At the bustling markets under the bright sun, vibrant carpets of colorful spices are laid out, creating a sensory feast. The scent of cinnamon, cardamom, and turmeric blends into a captivating bouquet, as if inviting you on a culinary adventure. From the gentle aroma of rose petals to the fiery notes of chili pepper, the world of spices in Morocco caters to every palate. In a country where cuisine and the art of cooking play a pivotal role, spices are not just ingredients; they are treasures that infuse each dish with a unique taste and aroma.

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures
7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

I wanted to buy some curry because I absolutely love this seasoning. As I walked past the next shop, my attention was drawn to colorful stones. The vendor offered to let me take a picture and then began to tell me about the incense they burn. It seemed that these stones were likely something resinous that smolders and produces smoke, somewhat reminiscent of rosin. 🙏 If anyone knows what kind of stone this is, please share. I found it very intriguing. 

🍵 After that, we delved into a conversation about Moroccan tea, which is sold as a mixture, and even had a tasting session. We observed how argan oil is made and were offered a taste of eucalyptus. This was perhaps the most surprising experience. It came in granules, resembling large sea salt, with an intensely strong aroma that made your eyes water. Just one granule is enough for a cup of tea or a bath. I brought a small amount back with me. Of course, we couldn’t resist buying various types of curry and some sweet, highly fragrant paprika. I also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy soap. It has become a tradition of mine to bring back a piece of soap from every trip. Currently, I have Balinese soap. Since I don’t use soap frequently, a single piece lasts me more than a year. Moroccan soap is wonderfully fragrant, and some of the scents truly captivated me. In total, we spent around 80 dollars. As a special gesture, they gave us a ginseng root for the men 😌 and a bottle of argan oil for the ladies 😃.


Moroccan Cuisine

🍽 The menu in restaurants is somewhat limited, and it’s quite similar everywhere. The cuisine tends to be very flavorful, with a balance of spiciness and sweetness. Many meat dishes incorporate ingredients like cinnamon, sugar, date fruits, and raisins. It’s not to everyone’s taste 

🍽 What stands out among the dishes:

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

🍲Kus-kus

everyone knows porridge. With vegetables or meat / chicken. Vegetables are fairly milled. 

 🍲Tajin

baked meat in a special earthenware dish. 

 🍮Pastilla

This is a puff pastry with chicken, for example. BUT with cinnamon and a lot of sugar. For an amateur. My friends liked it, but I do not accept it at all. 

 🍅Maroccan salad

several variants of vegetables of different processing in separate cups. 

🍜Maroccan soup (Harare)

must be on the meat broth, but many are cunning. Vegetable soup with chickpeas, lentils, vegetables. Not bad.

 7⃣ days was enough to know moroccan food. I think that in the Moroccan cuisine I have quenched my thirst for 20 years for sure.


🗻On the photo are Atlas mountains, and yes, we are in Africa

 🏜Our goal of trip was the desert — Merzouga. Despite the fact that sand dunes occupy an area of 50 to 5 km, this is part of the Sahara, which occupies the territory already 10 countries.

Since childhood, I’ve always envisioned the desert as an endless expanse of scorching sand stretching thousands of kilometers, where daytime temperatures soar to 50 degrees Celsius, and the sand is so hot you could fry an egg on it. However, upon closer examination, I discovered that the Sahara’s minimum temperature occurs at night and can drop to as low as -18 degrees Celsius. In the summertime, it does indeed get incredibly hot. 

However, the Sahara is not just a sea of endless sand dunes; it boasts a diverse range of landscapes, including mountains and rocky terrain. Sadly, human activity has taken a toll on the local fauna, nearly wiping out many species. Our journey from Marrakesh to Merzouga was quite substantial, covering just under 700 kilometers. 

Along the way, we decided to spend a night near the town of Tingir. The route took us through the Atlas Mountains, and gazing at them, you can’t help but feel that you’re truly in Africa! But then, why the presence of snow? 

The journey was characterized by endless switchback roads for most of the way, ongoing road construction, potholes, and muddy conditions.

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures
7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

🐫 The traffic signs here exhibit a unique local flair. Merzouga, a city just 50 kilometers from the Algerian border, is known in the Old Atlas language as ⵎⴰⵔⵣⵓⴳⴰ. 

The same desert is referred to as Erg-Shebbi, although for some reason it’s customary to use the city’s name to describe this place. It covers an area of approximately 110 square kilometers, and within this expanse, a small lake emerges during the rainy season. During that time, you can spot numerous pink flamingos 🦄. 

Life in this region revolves around Berber tribes. You might have heard of the Tuareg, who are also part of the Berber culture. Interestingly, the word “Berber” shares its origins with the word “barbarian.” During our time in Tingir, we picked up a couple of words: “Vaha” means okay, and “Saha” is a way to say thank you. I hope these words don’t carry any unintended curses! 😄


Todra Gorge near the town of Tingir

We arrived in the city of Tingir and decided to stay overnight. 

🍳 The following morning, we were served eggs! 

🍷 By the way, we purchased alcohol for the upcoming days in Marrakesh at Carrefour—a French chain store with a good selection. I also picked up some cheese and pâté made from rabbit and chicken for breakfast, as we were getting a bit tired of the usual buns. Near the city, you’ll find the Todra Gorge, and it’s simply stunning. It’s a pity we didn’t have much time, and the morning was quite chilly. It’s a true marvel of nature, and the lighting here is truly magical. Overall, Morocco offers wonderful and somehow very enchanting light. 🌄🏞️

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures
7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

Merzouga desert

🏜 After observing the sand dunes, we had to veer off the road, as there was no further path ahead. In a spontaneous decision, we navigated towards a point on the map. Being typical Russians, we didn’t bother to find out where everyone else was going and simply drove right through the sandy barchan. After all, that’s why we had rented a jeep!

Yes, it was a Jeep Cherokee, and the suspension was truly a horror, much like a couch. ⛺ And there was our campsite. You can see more photos from our time in the Erg-Shebbi desert via the link.

The locals were surprised, mentioning that most people don’t venture here on their own. As we later learned, the typical route involves being driven to the city, then taking camels to the sand dunes, with your suitcases transported by car. You arrive at your camp on a camel 🐫, just like a true Bedouin.

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

And what to do in the desert? 

Entertainment is not so much, but a couple of days is enough.

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

🐫Camel safari

It is easy, at dawn and sunset. 20 minutes one way, 20 back. The cost is 20 e / person. 40 minutes is enough to enjoy this entertainment)

🏍Capture on ATVs

🚘Jeep safari 

🏂Sundsurfing

 — boards and boots are given for rent. You are looking for a barkhan higher and more abruptly, climbing on it and forward. Wheelchair is not very good, but excellent cardio

🔥In the evening the staff lights up the bonfire and sings berber songs to you, playing on national instruments: drums, tambourine and something like maracas-cymbals. Then they call on everyone. It was cold and to go dancing and jumping to this cacophony of sounds was an ideal idea, however very tiring, the rhythm of music almost does not change)

🏜 Walking in dunes

🌄Sunrises and sunsets

 — a game of light and shadow magic. The colors are unreal beautiful. The dunes turn bright red in the rays of the setting sun. The dunes become clearly visible. And then the entire sky is painted pink and purple. 

🌌Stars

 — such a sky that at first you run into a stupor. Without the slightest highlight, the sky is simply teeming with stars. I saw the bow of Orion!

We took our vine, bedspreads, dressed warmly and went into the dunes. To look at the stars. The truth was at two o’clock in the morning it was quite cold and we moved to the tent.

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

🐫🐫🐫 I’d like to share my thoughts on riding a camel. When it comes to mounting a camel, they kneel down due to gentle pats and persuasion, not commands. Their wool is incredibly soft. During the ride, the camel occasionally nudged its snout against my leg, which made me a bit uneasy.

 Just look at those teeth! 

😄 Other than that, the experience was enjoyable and quite amusing. However, it’s incredibly challenging to fathom how vast distances were traversed on camels. It must have been incredibly tedious, as these creatures are very slow, although they are remarkably resilient. 🐪🏜️

🦄In the desert, incredible light at sunset.

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures
7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures
7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures
7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures
7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures
7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

On the sand dunes near the camps, there are chairs for contemplating the sunrises and sunsets. You can endlessly watch the wind play with grains of sand, rearranging them and gradually altering the landscape. The desert, without a doubt, holds its own unique beauty, and visiting it at least once in a lifetime is a must. 

However, I must admit that I still prefer the sea. We spent two days in the desert. Most visitors were bundled groups from China, with fewer other foreign tourists. Interestingly, most people arrived in the evening to witness the sunset and left in the morning after breakfast. 

This puzzled us because spending at least a day here allows you to explore the sand dunes, try on sand boots, and perhaps even try sandboarding. 🏜️ As we had two days remaining in Morocco, we opted for a different route on our way back, passing through the city of Ourzazat, famous for its film studios. 🎥


7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

On our way back to Agadir (from where we were scheduled to fly to Gran Canaria), we chose a route that took us through the city of Ourzazat, primarily because of its renowned film studios. When we arrived in Ourzazat, we decided to stay at a hotel located within the studio premises.

The hotel was exceptionally pleasant, and we managed to upgrade our room to a suite. It boasted a swimming pool, outdoor seating areas, a bar serving alcohol, a restaurant with an extensive menu, a cozy fireplace zone, and the entire hotel was adorned with posters of films that had been shot at the Atlas Studios of the same name. 

 The hotel is named Oscar Hotel by Atlas Studios, and to top it off, our room came with complimentary tickets to visit the studio. 🏨🎬🎟️


🎬Film studio Atlas

Many famous films were shot here, including “The Mummy, ” “Cleopatra” starring Monica Bellucci, “Game of Thrones, ” “Gladiator, ” “Troy, ” “Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, ” “Kundun, ” “The Jewel of the Nile, ” and many others. 

😲 It was quite a revelation for me.

 It felt as if I had just been told for the first time that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. I had always imagined that movies were made in old cities, using old houses, palaces, and castles as sets. I thought they used real ancient scrolls on the shelves, real stones for columns with authentic Egyptian symbols, and that the walls of castles were constructed with real stones. Behind those walls, I had believed there were actual rooms with their own unique interiors. 🏰🎬

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

☝But 

Almost everything is made of foam, plastic, and gypsum. The set decorations are constructed for no more than three months and are reused for many other films. With minor adjustments, details, and lighting changes, they can transform the same location into something completely different. For instance, the Chinese palace was used in the film “Kundun, ” and even the books on the shelves are made of polystyrene. When we asked our guide why they bring in so many people from China to shoot just 15 minutes of a film and build a palace here, he explained that Ourzazat offers remarkably good lighting conditions. The exceptionally bright blue sky can seamlessly replace a green background, allowing for the addition of effects like rain in post-production. It’s true; the lighting is perfect, and the sky is absolutely stunning. We were fortunate with our guide, as he constantly cracked jokes and shared stories about various film shoots and the actors he had encountered. 

🎬 For example, in the scene from “Asterix and Obelix” where they are floating on a boat, the entire scene was filmed against a green background. In the studio, you would only find the boat itself. The castle used in “Game of Thrones” is, in reality, the same castle from “Troy.” It’s a wall made of foam, cleverly painted to resemble stone. Behind the wall, there are forests for the crew and everything you can imagine. As you walk through the studio, it’s almost surreal to believe. 🎥🏰

7-Day January Trip in Morocco: Adventures and Cultural Treasures

The sky here is truly captivating. We’re still at Atlas Studios in Ourzazat. In the distance, you can spot the castle that, according to our guide, played a role in the filming of “Game of Thrones.” In the morning, we set off for Agadir, where we checked into an all-inclusive hotel right by the ocean. Most of the guests in the hotel were retirees. Agadir boasts an extensive promenade, complete with sunbeds and camel rides.

To guard against infections, we purchased antibacterial gel and used it regularly, but unfortunately, we still ended up dealing with some sort of intestinal infection during our trip. At the Agadir airport, we faced an issue with excess baggage, and we had to pay 200 euros for an extra bag space. It seemed a bit silly since two bags could be checked together (regardless of weight), but one bag was already on its way via the conveyor belt. 

 That concludes our adventure in Morocco. I’m not sure if I’ll decide to visit again; the country didn’t quite align with my preferences, although I had hoped for a different experience. 🇲🇦


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