a VirtualTourist member
I've been thinking of visiting Morocco for one month (May). Thought the weather would be good and sightseeing would keep me busy. (female, solo traveler)
But now I'm wondering whether I could make it 2 months, perhaps spend May swimming in a quiet town with a good beach (Essaouira?)
Is 2 months too long and where should I spend them. I dislike noisy, polluted places but can get bored in nothing- -to-do small towns.
Would love to hear from mature, solo female travellers. thank you
I believe one month is enough and if you feel that you have had enough you can just as well so some popping on the Canary islands. I find the idea interesting. Lovely beaches and fun. We visited Fuerteventura and we loved it.
Essaouira is certainly quiet, unhurried and unpolluted, whether you will be bored is really up to you. I lived in Essaouira for 7 years and found plenty to occupy myself with. You will need to get to know a few people, there are plenty expats (single mature ladies ) living there so getting to know a few wouldn't be a bad idea. There isn't much to do in the evening,
May is a lovely month to relax on the beach but not much fun if it is windy. You will probably be a magnet for Moroccan men looking for a meal ticket, so watch out for them. If you decide to go I can put you in touch with some nice people.
Hi as already said May is a lovely month...i am often there through various months for the good things about them. If you can drive getting around by car is great to take in the scenery and have the freedom to get to interesting places when and where you want and really make the most of your time. There are some amazingly beautiful places and landscapes in Morocco which without taking a bit of preparation people do not really get to realise.
If you are going to go by bus or grande taxi then of course you have the extra time to do a lot by that mode of transport. So the more time the better! If you have the time to spend a week or two in a place you like then move on you can have the luxury many dont to see a good range of diversity plus have the atmosphere in the lovelier areas to stay longer.
If you have alook around my travel ages you can get an idea of what I mean. My favourite ateas would tend to be Southern Morocco through the Anti-Atlas area ie Tafraoute and Taroudant through the Atlas ie Marrakech,Telouet, Dades, Imilchil, Cascade douzoud and Ait Bougoumez to the Sahara ie around Merzouga and Rissani and up through the Ziz and Draa valleys and around the coast Essaouira,Agadir and Tiznit.
I have frequented Asilah and Chefchaouen and had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time in both which are both photogenic towns that are quite different ..
But ive found dont have the same genuine friendship that ive gathered with my connections in Tafraoute.
Windcitys advice re men and their advances is a big issue...and the whole looking for the lottery situation. Take particular care where you stay...which is why I do have the information and hotel recommendations that I do in my pages. Not so much a safety issue or to be scared of but there are lots of tourists in some areas for easy pickings so youre not quite as special or the first one they will try to make out....and many particularly in the Merzouga area in the tourist industry have 3 or 4 on the go.
Have a great time...its my favourite country and i have very special people i love indeed there. I would recommend Tafraoute and meeting up with my connections there...who havr connections in many places...including lovely Essaouira
Also the first weekend in May is usually the Rose festival at Kelaa Mgouna along the Dades valley with the parade on Saturday being the highlight then the music after. There are a number of auberges up the Dades gorge Id recommend to stay at and travel back and forth to the festival. For good but cheap car prices check out my tip for Malta cars in my Marrakech page.
I travellled to Morocco by myself last year.
Although I had a tour bus that took me from A-B. I got to do what I wanted at each place which was lovely.
I would really recommend Chefchaoeun as well as Essouria.
Chefchaoeun was a favourite. Their was just a nice relaxed vibe and the shop owners were lovely and allowed you to "just look" with out getting pestered. In the evening in the Mediana....the place comes alive. I sat there and had a lovely dinner and people watched.
I would also have to agree with Windcity about the Moroccan Men. They are such charmers. I got given roses and lots of hugs...and told I was a beautuful lady (alot). It was great for my self esteem.. :0) There was only one time when I felt a little bit threatened. But if you keep you wits about you will be fine.
How to thank everyone?
I have rarely- if ever- received such helpful, informative, nice, clear replies from people here. I am so grateful to you all!
I have learned a lot and I must add that you've attenuated my fears. Yes I admit to have heard that people can hassle you in the streets, which can be so exhausting you want to run to the border. And I recall the unpleasant experience-in Egypt- of having to negotiate endlessly to buy even an apple. I hate that! As for men, no worries. (Just spent 3 months in Turkey practicing my crispy leave-me-alone look. Actually I avoid eye contact and never answer them so it's generally not an issue).
My concerns are with bad bus drivers and accidents (know several tourists who died there).
What about costs, can you provide some comparisons?
And yes, yes, I'd like to meet expats living there. Send me a private message please telling me where to go to meet them.
I hope this thread will help future readers as well. I've really enjoyed all your suggestions. Thanks a million to you all!
Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. Read your travel pages with interest. Also retired and travelling slow. Basically after so many months of bad weather (in Split at the moment, daily rains and chilly winds) I've been tempted to fly to Morocco earlier. But still convinced 1 month is enough, since there's no swimming weather there either. Some people complain Morocco is a difficult and tiring country because people won''t leave you alone. Hence my concerns.
Hi i would still recommending leaving your options open to stay longer...as you have not uet been to pick up the addictiveness of the place yet!
May is often swimming weather in Agadir which is a place Ive grown to like and appreciate a lit more, nice beaches up around the coast, through to Essaouira. I wouldnt assume its not swimming weather as it can be pretty warm to hot through the day! We swim in our cooler countries in 25'C just as its likely to be in various areas in Morocco when its sunny weather!
If you are going to stick to buses or grande taxis they do go from Marrakech and Fes down to Merzouga which is where I also like to hang out for a week or so
Also to the men there are a lot of genuinely nice kind men around Morocco...to my thinking you dont necessarily have to give them a cold stare! Just be yourself, be ftiendly, be firm you know who you are and not getting in any other way than be friendly on the street...Moroccans are well known for being opportunists...any opportunity and will suss out what they can get and where they can go but its 2 sides so whatever you choose to accept or give, including the price is your choice
The thing with Essaouira is once the locals see your face a few times they leave you alone. Generally the men are quite pleasant and will just say hello or bonjour. Good places to find expats are Cafe du France in Moulay Hassan square, usually before mid day. And La Cantina which is owned by an English lady, Her name is Sharon and if she is not rushed off her feet will introduce you to some regulars.
Thanks for those tips. I had no idea there were expats living there. Retired? And which nationalities?
You lived there. May I ask you if the wind is cool and pleasant or rather very strong and annoying?
I appreciate your helpful advice.
Many expats living in Essaouira including Brits, French, Americans, Italians and many others. Essaouira is known as "Windcity Africa" and is popular for windsurfing, kiting etc. The wind is often just breezy but on occasions can knock you off your feet. I lived in Essaouira for 7 years until last year but have now moved back to the UK, We just went back for a holiday which was very relaxing, and great to catch up with old friends.
A lot of the expats are retired but many have riads (guest houses) and restaurants. Without causing offence I would say that a lot of the expats are a little bit excentic, some are old hippies and the rest are just trying to escape the rat race.
Benny, thanks again for your generosity and kindness in providing all those helpful details. I feel more confident to embark on my Morocco adventure. Will buy my ticket in the next few days. Have I confessed that I've gone around the world without ever buying or using a Lonely Planet or other such guide? No better guidance than that provided from travelers who've been there before us.
Great pictures. Love those coloured sands. Thank You!
If I could do one thing differently, I would only stay at riads and avoid the "5 star hotels"- yes the rooms are "pretty" but the service is awful, and even disrespectful to women. Look for riads with good reviews, especially from other women.
I think it all depends on where you drink and with whom ! If you are staying a while it would be good to rent a self catering appartment, Outside the Medina is much cheaper and also more choice, not as damp and with more light. Contact Salwar at Jemma el Fna Immobilier 0644090000 she has some very nice short term rentals .
I also think you will find that your experience with the local men will be better than with the local women. The men know how to take a "no" and leave it at that. The women will look at you like trash because you don't cover your hair and pray five times a day. Their children will say "bonjour" to you and they will yell at them for acknowledging you...
I would have to agree a little bit with Cutie. I had some wonderful encounters with Moroccan women especially away from the bigger cities. But I also had some fiesty encounters. In Fez I was walking in the Medina..hugging the wall to kept out the the way when this women came barreling along and pushed me into the wall!!!
The worst moment was in Casablanca airport even getting off the plane was a mission with one women, shoving her shopping bag between my legs as we were waiting to get off the plane. (I think it was a hint to move forward...which I couldnt do). After giving her a "do you mind" look....I then started to walk backwards until she got the message. In the airport, although I was standing next to a pillar I still got pushed around...by the women.
I put most of it down to being a huge culture shock for me. As a Kiwi our personal space is huge...so going to a place with crowds takes a bit to get use to.
But that being said...some of my most precious moment where some of the charade type conversations I had with the women. And sharing a laugh is a quick way to bond...with both the men and the women. The Morcocan sense of humour is very similar to the Kiwi's
hi i think pretty much Benny your experiences are different because of the hanging out in cheap bars - I had a Moroccan fiance once who said the same and wouldnt take me to them - the cheap and rough bars are different though to the mens cafes and women\family cafes scene
- and Ive been for years going around various places and in cafes, truck stop towns and wherever its all or predomintly all men but they are still open cafes and decent enough just for the way social order works between the genders they are not places that Moroccan women would go for their outings with their female friends and children...its not really particularly complicated or offensive either that men and women have their different places to go...its not a lot different to pubs in many country places around Australia. men want places to go to have a beer with their mates, Moroccan men go to have coffee with their mates and watch football. and not have to worry about the social propers of when Moroccan women are around.
as for horrid Moroccan women well no different to anywhere else in the world - we have our share of particularly horrid women in countries around the West but generally the women Ive been involved with in Morocco are warm, funny, interested and very kind....Ive had and have Moroccan women who are like family from both the ARabic city side of life and the Berber population in north and south and though they may cover their hair when they are out or when men that are not friends or family are in the vicinity no one has ever in 9 years asked or implied it would be better or neccessary to cover my hair - in their homes or when out on the streets with them....might be different if I expected to go out to the souk with them in a spaghetti top and shorts or mini skirt which I never have put myself or them in that position.
the thing with Morocco is there is a higher percent of liberalism and liberal and peaceful people. but it takes understanding and respect from the visitor to Morocco too for 2 way friendship as in any good relationship....
and I still havent learnt much Arabic which Im regretful of but Ive never needed to learn phrases for rude people in Moroccan either - I go with the flow in Morocco, I know my way around, and I hang in a range of places - the benefits of the hard work of the first few visits around Morocco but just like I dont study up any replies for rude people in French, Spanish or Italian - though in those countries I must admit theres been a few people there to push a few angry response buttons.
I had the same experienced being pushed on several occasions. Always by women and never by men. Plus helped a woman carry her luggage. No smile and "thank you"- she could have said it in any language...I would have gotten the point. Of course, like Angie points out, plenty of unfriendly women in the west (maybe I happened upon the 1 out of 1000 in that scenario). I just found the men easier to get to know, and maybe it was because I wasn't particularly well versed in the culture and assumed "if your friendly to people, they will be friendly back" will apply.
\Well cutie your experience in Morocco sounds quite horrible, which is a shame.
ive been writing my experiences and recommendations here on VT for quite a few years now - the gradual progression since the hard work of the first few visits and the unusual ways I managed to get to know and see Morocco that many never would - getting through the negatives and seeing the positives that still draw me back instead of the 2 new countries a month I had been doing in the 3 years I lived in Europe before being taken to MOrocco - so it has not been a trivial time or superficial experience
We also have travel pages that still many people neglect to look at and stick to info in the forum here and then go to TA or LP for business recommendations when a lot of info is put here to help new visitors to Morocco connect easier - such as good places to stay for being run by lovely people that by meeting them open up the positives to be found in Morocco, and instead still seem to prefer to go off to Trip Advisor and LP for more commercial hotel and agency info.
I totally agree that situations can happen around Morocco that can bring one to tears - Ive certainly been in that boat - it can be very frustrating being stopped every roadblock and asked for money because you are with a Moroccan or because one light bulb on the car is out or told you are entering the western sahara and should have a visa when you know thats certainly not the case - but this is what the joys of travelling is about too - and there are many countries that are far worse and actually enter the hazardous to life and freedom domain - which at least Morocco is safe in that regard.
I thnk really its about the ability to get in and understand rather than unfair expectations and judgements - and certainly are attributes expected of us in the nursing profession - and not particularly acknowledged either but expected
of many stories a few that come to mind - the guy who charged me a 2nd ticket when he knew well I had already bought one and that was insistent but then at the end of the journey the police run after him and get him - he will be in big trouble but Im not going to slang off Morocco just because of the guy who tried to cheat me out of 50dirham...he obviously would have done it in any opportunity and the police cared about me as a person not just as a foreigner and didnt fob me off for being just a foreigner - the barrister who wanted me to come to a party and not tell my Moroccan friend from Londons sister who I was staying who was actually his fiance as he wanted to see if I could be interested as id be a better chance of getting a ticket to London for him....
or even trying to get a rental car in a place that they are all overpriced and when finally agreeing on a price the add on days are charged back at the exorbitant price and totally ripped off - and it was an ex policeman we were doing business with - and the we is me and and a pretty sharp Moroccan - so Ive seen plenty of Moroccans getting ripped off and being hard done by in Morocco too- we are blessed with passports to leave if we want to...
there are good people still around so judgement could be made on each merit just like being fair in your own country or with your own family.
I just dont agree with it being said as a general statement that Moroccan women will call you trash! and the ones that do move off and forget about them and give the rest a fair hearing
-Ive heard it said by Lebanese in Sydney about us blondies that we are trash and just tarts for having blonde hair - they come into our society and country and say that about us which is very unkind and obviously how close minded they are with their closed minded upbringings and traditional thoughts.
but I have never experienced that in amongst the berber families that i have been family in during my years in Morocco. and nor to the many families i have visited or stayed with.
and if some do well its a Muslim country and quite a lot of uneducated people who grow up in traditional families too - but across the board the Moroccans and Berbers are much more liberal and hospitable than many other Muslim communities elsewhere in the world. So be grateful that you can visit and that you can walk around without having to cover your hair.
If you are talking about Moroccan women in Casa that can be very different to speaking for women down in the sahara where I have heard from travelling judge friends saying they have found them to be the most honest and kindest people in all Morocco...and down in that area my fiance had family we visited many times or were altogether in the one house who I found out a long way down the track his sisters husband was an iman but never once did they make any complaint or objection that i had uncovered hair, was not a muslim, wore tshirts and went outside as well like this and walked in the company actually quite proudly with the women folk (and a few years later realised the top i used to wear a lot was actually rather see through) - who do have to cover their hair and wear jellabas when they are out in public - and say their husbands would divorce them if they didnt they are still happy in their marriages and their home life...yet there are many women in the cities of Rabat, Casa, Fes, Tangier, Meknes, Marrakech, Agadir who dont have to cover their hair but are still practicing muslims with praying husbands.
Did you know that there are entire communities in Morocco that have lost their husbands to foreign women? and what impact that could have...but i have been in those communities and there are still kind open minded women that get on with their lives in a positive way (with help from other amazing MOroccan men that have cared about them and the community - so much for the people here that say Morocco is full of abusive and oppressive men) and are still open to the foreigners from which their countries their husbands didnt come back from.
Im sorry that I have excellent people in Tafraoute and elsewhere who would do anything for me and that regard me as family - and when I recommend them just as other people from around the world recommend people to them that here on VT they are just regarded as Moroccans with the probability of just being rip offs and dont take any notice of the recommendations - well the VTers here who think that miss out and those that do continue to come from around the world and enjoy having a connection with them get to enjoy the joys of being in Morocco - but I have ver y good Moroccan friends all over Morocco now and some that have done me wrong but its my choice to understand I have friends that also love and have moved into the Moroccan life as its actually quite a special country and environment that unfortunately many do miss maybe no fault of their own but many could have done better by being better prepared and listened to others - but we are not all the same
Thanks for sharing your experiences in this thread.
So many horror stories based on facts. Agreeing that many find themselves in situations that bring them to tears, etc. In the end, is it any wonder that tourism has been dropping? It isn't the world crisis per se but the reputation that Morocco has.
And I'm still determined to visit it and am arriving next week. Wish me luck!
I'm frightened, very frightened. Yet I must go and experience it in person.
As the new Pope says pray for me!. Just kidding, I'm secular.
Dont be frightened, once you are there and get into the swing of things you will wonder what all the fuss is about. Millions of tourists visit Morocco every year and have a great time. Thousands of expats live in Morocco and if it was that bad there wouldnt be any.
Just have your wits about you and ignore the touts and you will be fine.
Good Luck, & keep us posted on your experiences.
So none of my ramblings nor travel pages helped you feel not so worried!? I love the place and as already said feel safer there than almost anywhere and would and continue to stick up for the place that i love to be in...hopefully flying over in two days time...have a great trip Canata. Have a good guide book with you and you will be as ready for anything as you can be
If Im honest I had the same feelings as you did last year when I travelled all the way from NZ to Casablanca. I remember flying in (after being awake for 40 plus hours) and thinking "ABBEY!! What are you doing...why couldn't you just be like every other Kiwi and go to Ozzie!".
The hardest part was at the airport....it was just a huge culture shock, it was hot, I was tired and everything seemed really hard.
But I managed to catch a train to Marrakesh......and meet this lovely Moroccan lady on the train who wrote out some helpful sayings for me and helped me find a taxi at the other end.
In all honestly...the worse thing that happen to me in Morocco was (apart from a tummy bug) was arriving in my Hotel the first night and finding out that somewhere between Casablanca and Marrakesh...I have developed a huge pimple on my nose!
I also got heaps of good advice from Windcity and AngieBabe as well....who really gave me confidence before I left.
Please come back Canata and let us know how you got on.