I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived in Morocco. As a solo female traveler, I tried to prepare by reading other travelers’ experiences and came across mixed information. I landed in Marrakech and found immigration and customs to be a very smooth process. I arranged transportation with my riad, and my driver was waiting for me with a sign. As soon as we drove outside the airport, my fear and anxiety subsided. Marrakech just seems to kind of hit you. The people, the architect, the smell, the heat; I instantly became excited. Marrakech was my first stop, followed by Essaouira, Chefchaouen, and Essaouira again.
My first night in Marrakech was spent relaxing in my riad. I was welcomed with Moroccan mint tea and a wonderful dinner that I ordered in advance. It was a delicious meal composing of traditional harira soup, tajine lamb, and finished with crepes and ice cream for dessert. After 21 traveling hours, I was exhausted; my host made a reservation for me at Alphais Spa for a hammam and massage. The next day, a staff from the spa picked me up, and once again, Moroccan mint tea welcomed me as I arrived and changed into my robe.
It was beautiful, clean and the staff was lovely; I felt calm as I took in the décor and listened to the soft music flowing from every corner. I was led to the room and my hammam started. As the warm water hit my body and the young lady started my scrub, I came to the realization that I would give my firstborn for this, and by the time I was led to the massage, I threw my mom in for good measures. They didn’t ask, but fair is fair, you know. After my spa treatment, I was given more mint tea and Moroccan pastries while I relaxed in a room contemplating my life; wondering what I’d been doing all this time without a hammam and how I’d been living? Till this day, I’m still lost.
Following the 2-hour spa experience, I explored the famous Djemaa el-Fna and souks. I did some shopping and practiced the art of haggling. I personally did not find a rule of thumb for haggling; most recommendation I received tell you to pay 50% of the price the shopkeeper initially gives you, however, that advice is so well spread that most Moroccans know about it now and will give you superfluous prices just because they know the guidebooks tell you to pay 50% of whatever they offer you. So I simply haggled for me and came to a price that I was comfortable with that fell within my budget for the trip. I also asked my hosts and Moroccans I met along the way what I should pay for certain things. Most were surprised with my haggling skills and so was I.
I visited Jardin Majorelle, which I found to be very beautiful, but much smaller than I expected. The beautiful blue color and amazing gardens allowed a little respite from the salmon pink colored buildings of Marrakech.
I did a lot of walking around the medina and thanks to maps.me (which I highly recommend) I only got lost once (when I was not using it). I also figured out how to get to my Riad by using markers from several different points in the square my first day there, and was always able to get back to my Riad whenever I needed. I went to Cent Treize for shisha and a lounge in Hotel El Andalous for dancing and drinking. I tried snail broth, just the broth because when I saw the snail’s ears I refused to eat it. Nope.
I felt very safe in Marrakech as a solo traveler. Luckily, I didn’t get many catcalls or people trying to scam me like I read about other’s experiences. I did wear sunglasses at times and had my headphones on when I did not feel like being bothered. I met wonderful people who took me out and I met other solo travelers along the way. I was made aware that souk owners were always trying to sell you things and get you into their shops and I did experience that, but it is a souk after all, and they are sellers. I got a kick out of seeing all the tactics that they would use to try and get people into their shops, including telling you that something was free. Spoiler alert, nothing in Marrakech is free.
As much as I enjoyed Marrakech, I was very happy to head to Chefchaouen. It started with a 10-hour overnight train to Tangier and then a 2-hour taxi to Chefchaouen. I felt very safe in the all-women sleeper that I booked on the train. Chefchaouen was extremely beautiful and the people very kind. When I arrived, an older gentleman helped me with my luggage and took me to my Riad. When I tried to tip him, he would not accept it. I stayed in Asha’s Guest House and not only was it beautiful and comfortable, the staff were amazing; going above and beyond to make sure that I was safe and had a great time. The owner showed me how to make shakshuka and we prepared a meal together to share with the rest of the staff. One of the staff also showed me how to make Moroccan mint tea (I think I developed diabetes with all the sugar) which I made several times for us during my stay.
While in Chefchaouen I also hiked (and ended up in a cemetery-spooky) and roamed the medina taking in the beautiful blue city. But the highlight was hanging out with my host and the rest of the staff at the guest house. When it was time for me to leave, I took a taxi back to Tangier train station and purchased an overnight sleeper ticket to Marrakech. As with most things, you will have to haggle the price of the taxi. You’ll have the option of taking a collective taxi for 70 dirhams, but you’ll have to wait for six people or you can take a taxi yourself which will cost you much more. I got super lucky and I was able to pay 200 dirhams for a solo taxi to get to Chefchaouen and 140 dirhams to get back to Tangier (I told you my haggling skills were great); most people pay 500-700 dirham.
Initially, I took a day tour to Essaouira from Marrakech, but I loved it so much that I decided to go back for another 3 days. Essaouira is less crowded and not as busy as Marrakech. I love the laid-back beach vibe. I met another solo traveler my first time there and we enjoyed wine at a restaurant overlooking the bright and breezy waters. I love the colorful boats and bustling medina; I intentionally tried to get lost but was unable to. It was in Essaouira that I got something stuck in my ear (completely my fault) and had to go see a doctor and get medications which cost me ~$15. Yes, 15.
I stayed in another beautiful riad and took it easy. I saw the goats on the trees (note that you will have to go at a certain time in order to see them on your way to Essaouira), walked the beach, ate delicious seafood, drank wine, and did a photoshoot. Once again, I met some wonderful people. I would totally go back just to spend more time in Essaouira.
I am very proud of tackling Morocco by myself. However, I will say that I experienced a great deal of culture shock that I was not expecting and that brought on more loneliness than I ever felt while traveling solo. I admit this is one place where I would have liked to have some company. I did meet some amazing people and that made things much easier. I thoroughly enjoyed traveling around Morocco as exhausting as it was, and would definitely go back to experience the Sahara Desert and see the friends that I made.
Until next time,