North Africa has always been a dream destination of mine and somewhere I knew I'd end up visiting one day. I must admit I always thought Egypt would be my first stop in North African but as Marcus had already been, we decided to plan a holiday to Morocco. As you guys may already know from my Instagram, a tour company called Travel Talk Tours kindly offered me a complimentary trip and I could have not been more excited because not only was I going to be heading to Morocco but I was also going to be doing a tour of some of its most amazing cities with a knowledgeable tour guide and what I hoped would be some new friends.
Travel Talk, are a UK based tour company with one focus; to make your trip the experience of a lifetime without breaking the bank. They know exactly what it takes to create the perfect trip and they combine all of these elements in each and every one of their tours. They take care of all the logistics so that you can simply go and enjoy some of the world's most exotic destinations like Greece, Egypt, Nepal, Thailand and of course Morocco. Each tour comes with an experienced tour guide to make sure you get the most authentic of experiences and Travel Talk also take care of your accommodation and domestic travel during the tour - all at a price that won't hurt your bank balance. I was completely sold on the idea of not having to worry about all the logistics that come with a multiple destination trip and the only thing on my to-do list was to look forward to the trip!
Travel Talk currently do nine different tours to Morocco and the one we opted for was the eight-day Adventure Morocco tour which promised a mixture of culture and exploration! Our tour would begin in the capital of Morocco; Marrakech and then we would spend two nights camping in the desert before heading over to the coast towns of Agadir and Essaouira and then finally making our was back to Marrakech.
Me and Marcus decided to go to Marrakech a day earlier than our tour so that we could see a little bit more of the capital and visit some places that were not part of the tour. We arrived in the evening on Friday the 28th and checked into our amazing Riad - Riad Le Jardin d'Abdou. We unpacked and freshened up before heading downstairs to enjoy a three course Moroccan meal prepared by the staff at the Riad. After dinner, we headed out to a quiet bar where we enjoyed a couple of drinks before heading back to the Riad to rest and prepare for a day of exploring Marrakech and meeting the rest of our tour-mates on the Travel Talk Adventure Morocco tour.
Our Saturday started off with us watching the most breathtaking sunrise from our Riad’s rooftop terrace and after a traditional Moroccan breakfast we chilled out by the pool before heading out to spend the day checking out some of Marrakech's most popular tourist attractions such as the Majorelle Gardens, the Berber museum and the YSL museum. It was such a great experience to see the gardens in person after all the amazing pictures I had seen online and I would definitely recommend seeing them if you're ever in Marrakech. After our day of being tourists we headed back to the Riad and checked out before hoping into a taxi to Hotel Le Printemps by Blue Sea which was our first stop on the tour.
We arrived just in time to meet our tour guide Abdoul who made sure we were all checked in before the welcome meeting commenced. Abdoul suggested that we head into the Medina for dinner and have our welcome briefing there so that we could all unwind and to get to know each other. We weren't originally planning on attending the welcome dinner especially after a long day exploring Marrakech but I'm extremely glad we went in the end because it gave us a chance to get to know some of the other people on the tour. Our group of nineteen had a great mix of people all around the same age and It was clear straight away that we had great chemistry. Everyone was busy chatting and laughing and sharing stories and we all just instantly felt relaxed around each other. Our group had a lot of Australians and Kiwis living in England and we had also seemed to have a few people working in medical professions with two paramedics, a physiotherapist, two speech therapists and a nurse. A few of the people on our tour had booked tours with Travel Talk before and it was very reassuring to see that people had enjoyed themselves on Travel Talk tours so much that they booked more tours.
At the restaurant we enjoyed traditional Moroccan dishes like tagine and Chicken Bastilla which was a flaky sweet and savoury pastry filled with chicken and almonds and topped with cinnamon and sugar. Me and Marcus shared a salad and bread with our tour mates and I also tried the harira - a traditional Moroccan soup. For my main I had a meatball tagine which had an egg in the middle and it was pretty tasty. After our bellies were filled, we headed back to the hotel and chatted to our tour mates a bit more before heading up to bed for a good night’s sleep in preparation for our early morning wake-up call.
The following morning, we got ready and packed up before heading down to breakfast and we set off from Marrakech at around 8 am in our spacious and air conditioned coach. Our next destination was the desert village of Zagora which promised a taste of traditional Moroccan life. The drive was a was a pretty long one but time passed by quickly as we watched the beautiful towns and views through our windows while Abdoul shared his great knowledge of Morocco with us. Our drive had us winding our way through the Atlas Mountains with their big canyons and steep drops and then driving along the Draa Valley where we saw stunning landscapes. We made a few stops for toilet breaks and photo ops before finally stopping for lunch at the village of Ait Ben Haddou. We enjoyed a traditional Moroccan lunch and stretched our legs for a bit before heading back on the coach and continuing our journey to Zagora.
After lunch we drove through Ouarzazate; the Hollywood of Morocco. Abdoul shared his knowledge of all the blockbuster movies that had been filmed in this town such as prince of Persia, Sahara and Game Of Thrones. It was so good to see the actual place where some of the world's most renowned films had been filmed and the only thing that would have made the afternoon better was if we had had the opportunity to see the place more up close and actually explore the places that had been used in movie scenes in a bit more depth rather than glancing at them from a distance.
We continued on our journey after our brief stop and our coach took us to the edge of the desert, where we met our 4x4 Jeep drivers who were going to be taking us to our fish desert camp. While our lovely drivers secured our luggage to the top of the Jeeps we nipped to the nearby shops with Abdoul and we stocked up on bottled water, ice water, drinks and snacks. Some of the people in the group even did some shopping for harem pants and scarves in preparation for our camel ride the next day.
We were soon on the road again headed to our first camp with the intention of making it there before sunset. We drove through the vast desert racing over magnificent sand dunes while music blasted on our Jeep's sound system and it really was an unforgettable experience. Unfortunately for us a storm was coming in and it quickly became apparent that we wouldn't get to see the amazing sunset we were all looking forward to. We arrived at the camp and only had time for Abdul to allocate us our rooms before the winds got extremely strong and the rain finally pierced the clouds. As we were the only people at the camp we got to have two people to a tent which meant me and Marcus could share. This was ideal as the camp had no electricity in any of the rooms apart from the main one where we would be having our dinner. I don’t know if this was in any way attributed to the storm but it would have been nice to have some electricity so that we could have settled in properly after a long drive.
The excitement of being in the desert overshadowed any woes we had about the rain, having no showers or electricity and soon we were all gathered in the main tent unwinding with a drink in hand while we waited for our dinner. The rain didn't last very long and before we knew it we were having a drink and a sing-song around a massive camp fire outside our tent. It was such a good night and we all sang, drank, laughed and got to know each other even better as the locals entertained us.
The next morning started with me waking up in complete awe and disbelief at having spent the night in the Sahara desert. It was definitely an experience to cross off the ol' bucket list and I woke up eager to cross off two more; watch a desert sunrise and ride a came. The sunrise was absolutely magical and something I'll never forget. It was so picturesque as we sat up on the sand dunes in the vast desert catching up and reminiscing on the night before with newly made friends. After getting our fill of the desert views we headed down to the main tent to refuel for the day ahead with a lovely breakfast of eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt, bread and mint tea.
After breakfast we packed up our Jeeps and headed off back into the desert and headed to our next destination; Tamegroute. Once in the town of Tamegroute, Abdoul introduced us to a lovely man who would be giving us a guided tour of the site and showing us how the amazing pottery pieces were made using an old traditional Moroccan method. He explained that this method had been passed down through generations and he also explained how the pottery got it's unique colours by mixing the clay with various items such as magnesium and saffron. A few people in our group even got to have a go at the pottery making which was a fun experience to watch. Marcus took part in this activity and let's just say he won't be quitting his day job anytime soon to take up pottery.
After the tour, we had the opportunity to buy some pottery on the site and of course I couldn’t resist. I managed to bag some tagine-shaped candle holders which I have no intention of using these for their intended purpose and instead plan to use them to serve some olives and nibbles when I get round to hosting my very own Moroccan night. Abdoul arranged for everything to be sent to our hotel in Marrakech and we would be getting our pieces on the last night of our tour, so that we wouldn’t have to worry about lugging pottery all over Morocco and probably breaking it.
After leaving the pottery stop we headed for lunch and enjoyed a selection of salads and bread after saying bye to our amazing Jeep drivers. Our luggage was taken off the Jeeps and was to be loaded on to a bus that would make its way to our second campsite with the campsite manager 'Batman'. We had a couple of hours after lunch to chill out, charge our phones and connect to precious WiFi before going to get on the camels that we would be riding to our second desert camp. I must admit I was very apprehensive about riding a camel having never ridden an animal of any kind before - let alone one as big as a camel. I had no idea how I was going to survive two hours but I was very excited and knew it's get through it somehow.
Once we arrived at our camels we were all assigned one and helped on to them by the camel handlers and we were also given some handy riding tips. My camel was definitely the most mischievous; it kept stopping to snack on shrubs and bits much to its handlers dismay and It also managed to slip in a muddy puddle nearly taking me down with it. Two hours later, after barely surviving the most uncomfortable ride of my life, I was happy to see the campsite in the distance and I happily thought I was home and dry but then my camel decided to have a little play around in the sand whilst I was still on its back so at that point I decided I’d had enough camel riding for the day and decided to walk the rest of the way to the camp. I didn't mind this at all because it gave me an opportunity to rest my very sore bum while I took some pictures of the gang on their camels.
The second camp was much like the first one but the fact that it had a shower and electricity meant that it was a five star hotel in comparison. We all got settled in once our rooms were allocated and we treated ourselves to a shower before settling in for dinner and drinks and another song and dance around the campfire. I must say, camping in the dessert has to be one of the most amazing things I’ve done in my life - at one point I was just like “wow, I’m in the freaking Sahara dessert!”. It was truly an experience of a lifetime and something I’d definitely suggest doing if you ever find yourself in Morocco.
The next day we were off to the coast and headed to Agadir. As much as I loved the desert, I was so excited about finally being by the coast and washing the desert sand (that seemed to get absolutely everywhere) off me. The drive was one of the longer ones of the tour but it was broken up with a stop by the side of the road where we got to see the famous “goats in trees”. These are the goats that climb the tops of Argan trees to eat the fruit which makes one of Morocco's most famous products, Argan Oil. It was quite fascinating to see goats in actual trees and I can confirm that they were not tied to the trees as I had read sometimes was the case.
After seeing the goats, when were back on the coach and after about an hour and a half we were finally in Agadir. Abdoul told us a bit about the town as we arrived and he also told us about the devastating earthquake the town experienced in 1960. It was good to see that the town had been rebuilt and restored after such a tragedy and we felt happy to be there. Our first stop in Agadir was a local Argan oil production facility where 100% certified Argan oil is made. We were greeted by a lovely lady who told us a bit about the oil making process from harvesting of the nuts, drying and hulling to finally squeezing the oil from a butter like paste. After the talk we also had the opportunity to purchase some Argan oil products from the site and I jumped at the opportunity to buy myself a travel-size bottle of 100% Argan oil and a moisturiser. A Few people also booked in to have some massages and hamam treatments for the following day while we shopped and once we were done we headed to our second hotel of the tour, the Tulip Inn Oasis hotel.
Once we checked into our hotel, Abdoul let us know that we had the evening to do whatever we pleased and he kindly recommended some places to eat and see while we were in Agadir which was extremely helpful. Me and Marcus quickly dumped our bags in our room and headed back down to have a dip in the hotel pool with some of our tour mates and we relaxed for a bit before heading back up to our rooms to shower and get ready for dinner. On this night we separated from the group and went for dinner by ourselves along the marina. It was a lovely evening as we walked, talked and soaked in the atmosphere of Agadir which was surprisingly very European with it's many tourists and European restaurants. We dined at a French restaurant called Chez Mimi and the food was tasty and a welcome change to tagine (lovely as it was). After Dinner we walked back to the hotel for a relaxing night in a comfy bed and I was looking forward to spending some time at the beach the following day.
We arrived in beautiful Essaouira nicknamed the 'Windy City' at about 5pm and made our way to the Marimar hotel where we would be staying for the next two nights. The hotel was definitely my favourite hotel of the tour with it being only a stones throw away from the beach. After checking in I freshened up, had something to eat and went straight to bed while Marcus and the group went to dinner at a seafood restaurant recommended by Abdoul. I was totally jealous to be missing out of course but I thought it was best I stay in and get some rest so that I could be well enough to take part in the following day's activities.
I woke up the following morning feeling more like myself and ready for the day ahead and I was really glad because I did not want to miss out on Essaouira and on Marcus' birthday. We went down for a lovely breakfast once we were dressed and ready and after breakfast was done we met up with the group at the hotel's reception. Abdoul then took us into the medina where we met with a local guide who would be taking us around and giving us some knowledge about the beautiful Essaouira. He explained how over the years, the city had attracted famous musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens which awarded the city it's reputation as the "Hippie City". We walked around the medina and the guide shared his knowledge of Essaouria with us while we took pictures and took in the incredible atmosphere. One of my favourite moments of the tour was when we visited and stood in a place where one of the scenes in Game OF Thrones was filmed. I am completely obsessed with the show and it was so amazing to be somewhere where such an iconic show was filmed.
After the short tour was complete, we visited a Jewish jewellery making workshop. Abdoul explained the traditional Moroccan designs and showed us some of the stunning pieces made of silver. We also got the opportunity to have a look around the shop and purchase some pieces with a 10% discount which Marcus used to bag himself a stunning ring as a birthday present and souvenir of his time in Morocco. After jewellery shopping was done Abdoul explained that we had the entire day free to check out the souks and buy some souvenirs and he even gave us a few tips on how to haggle with the sellers and I must say his tips worked a treat! I managed to bag myself some pottery, a rug and gifts for my family and friends at a fraction of the asking price. I felt incredibly proud of my haggling skills and even lent my services to some of my other tour mates who hadn't mastered the art of haggling like I had.
I absolutely loved the relaxed and laid back atmosphere of the Essaouira souks. The sellers were super friendly and the place was full of locals and tourists just going about their business. Most of the group did their shopping at this stage of the tour as Abdoul advised us that the prices here would be significantly cheaper than in Marrakech. We were all happy with our finds and buys and after some retail therapy we headed back to the hotel to get into our swimming trunks and head down to the beach before an exciting afternoon of quad biking that Abdoul had arranged for us.
After a couple of hours at the beach a few of us met up outside the hotel where some cars were waiting to take us to a quad biking centre. We took a 20 minute drive before we arrived and once we were there we got into our helmets and had a short safety talk before we picked our quads and set off on the quad biking trail. Being a first-timer I was incredibly nervous about quad biking but after a few minutes on the bike I relaxed into it and really started to enjoy myself. We rode around for just over an hour and the trail took us through sand dunes and along the stunning beach where we stopped for a few minutes to take those all important pictures before riding back to our starting point. I thoroughly enjoyed my first quad biking experience and I was glad that I got to pop my quad biking cherry in a place as stunning as Essaouira.
We headed back to the hotel after quad biking and as I had missed out on dinner with the group the night before I was determined to get my glad rags on and go out to have some food and drinks with my tour mates. We headed into the medina and had our dinner at Taros Cafe restaurant which had such a great atmosphere. It had live music, a great ambience and the food was incredibly tasty. Our tour mates arranged a lovely surprise for Marcus which started with the night's live musician singing him happy birthday before calling him up to perform some very questionable karaoke. It was such a great night and we laughed, drank and danced the night away before heading back to the hotel.
The following day started like a lot of the others with packing up to leave and then heading down for breakfast. After we were fed and watered we checked out of the hotel and then it was back on our coach headed back to our starting poin - Marrakech. We arrived in Marrakech just after 2pm and as we couldn't check into our hotel Abdoul arranged for us to go to the Agdal Gardens. We had hoped to explore the place but as we didn't have a lot of time to go in we just spent some time at the fish pond where we fed the fish in the pond biscuits and took in the view around us.
It was not long before we were on the road again headed to the hotel and we even made a Maccie's stop on the way. Once at the hotel we had a few hours to relax, eat and go for a dip in the pool before heading into Jemma el-Fnaa for the evening. Jemma el-Fnaa is the main square and marketplace of Marrakech and it was vibrant and full of life when we arrived. There was everything you could possibly imagine from snake charmers, henna artists, magicians and storytellers to monkeys and vendors selling everything you could think of. Abdoul had advised the women in the group to cover up while visiting the square and warned that we may experience harassment. We were lucky enough that no one in our group experienced any harassment and that we were able to shop and experience the square without any issues.
We walked around the souks and did some last minute shopping before we had to leave Morocco and I managed to pick myself some lovely bits including a spice container and some sandals. After our shopping trip we all headed to a restaurant near the square where we all enjoyed one last meal together as a group and reminisced about the tour and all of Abdoul's jokes. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and a few of us met up in the downstairs bar to share a few more stories and spend some more time together before we all went our separate ways the next day. We swapped numbers and followed each other on social media and I honestly feel like I gained so many new friends who all taught me so so much in such a short period. I was not expecting to come on a tour with 17 strangers and leave with 17 new friends after only 7 days.
Me and Marcus headed up to bed just before 10 pm as we had an early morning airport transfer which Abdoul had kindly arranged for us. I was gutted to be leaving Morocco and would have loved to stay for a few more days but I was also so ready to go home and sleep in my own bed.
We left the following morning feeling very sad but content and with so many amazing memories that were all made possible by Travel Talk Tours. I highly recommend Travel Talk Tours if you ever want to do a group tour of Morocco. They have nine different tours to suit everyone's tastes and needs and all at a very affordable price. I had never done a group tour before this trip and having done this one I'd highly recommend it if you want a tour that is well balanced with activities and free time. I also have to say that our guide Abdoul was the true MVP and he definitely made the tour the most enjoyable experience. He was full of knowledge, the full of energy and provided us with endless entertainment. He was also always happy to help, very attentive and etook care of us at all times and even more so when a few of us fell ill during the trip. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better tour guide or a better tour company to see Morocco with.If you would like to book this tour BOOK HERE. I promise you you won't be disappointed.