Morocco was unlike anywhere we had been before. Before we arrived, we were very conscious that there would be language and cultural barriers for us to overcome. That though is the point of travel – to experience a life that is unfamiliar.
To help us to experience the real Morocco during our all too brief trip, we knew that we had to enlist the help of willing locals, people who spoke the language and knew where the best bits of Morocco were hidden. Thankfully, with the help of the internet, getting a local by your side has never been easier.
In this post, we’ll be sharing the stories of the authentic Morocco tours and experiences that we took part in during our trip to Morocco. Each experience was carefully selected to get us as close to the real, authentic Morocco as possible.
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4 amazingly authentic Morocco tours and experiences
Here are our thoughts on the four authentic Morocco tours and experiences that we partook in during our visit to Morocco. With each write-up, you’ll find a button that’ll take you directly to the experiences on Airbnb, where you can find out more and book onto the experience yourself.
Experience local Moroccan life in Moulay Idriss
Location: Moulay Idriss
For a true taste of local life in Morocco, you need to escape the big tourism cities and head out to lesser-known towns and villages. While you’re there, enlist the help of a local to show you around. Thankfully, doing this has never been easier.
On our second day in Morocco, we caught a grand taxi from the town of Meknes to Moulay Idriss. Due to its status as a holy city, the town was completely off limits to non-muslims until 1912 and non-muslims weren’t even allowed to stay overnight until as recently as 2015. This means that Moulay Idriss is largely unaffected by tourism and therefore a fabulous place to experience the realities of life in Morocco.
Our guide was Hajiba, a local woman, mother and tour guide. Over the course of a few hours, she showed us around the town whilst explaining its history. As we were walking around, she would take us into buildings and down alleyways that we would have otherwise not have noticed. We were shown the community bread oven, workshops, an olive oil factory and the local market, as well as the entrance to Zawiya of Moulay Idris I, a religious complex that as non-muslims, we were sadly not permitted to enter.
At the end of the tour, Hajiba invited us into her home. Over tea, coffee and cookies, she happily answered all of our questions about what life was like for a woman in modern day Morocco. As we sat on her terrace, enjoying the incredible view of the town in front of us, she brought out her photo albums and shared stories from her elaborate wedding day.
It was a genuine privilege to spend some time with Hajiba on this authentic Morocco tour and to experience a snapshot of her life. Without question, we would not have been able to experience what we did on our own. Only with a local guide can you get a true sense of local life.
Discover how to cook delicious traditional Moroccan food
On the day we arrived in Fes, it happened to be my birthday. Wanting to celebrate in the best possible fashion, we opted to indulge in one of my favourite pastimes – cooking – by enrolling on a vegetarian cooking experience.
This experience would find us visiting another Moroccan home, this time belonging to Yassine and his family. Yassine has cultivated quite the tourism business, offering a number of experiences via Airbnb (keep reading below to find out about another of the experiences he offers).
As vegetarians, we opted for the hands-on vegetarian cooking experience*. Upon meeting Yassine, he introduced us to his sister and mother who immediately put us to work, chopping and seasoning vegetables for a tagine. Also on the menu were a set of accompanying hot and cold salads, which we also helped to prepare. It was great fun being hands-on with the food we would later be eating and gave us a good insight into the work that goes into creating Moroccan dishes. The entire family were all charming and friendly and created a happy and welcoming atmosphere.
Once everything was prepared, it was time to eat. A couple from America, who were on another of Yassine’s experiences, joined us for the meal. For the next hour or so, we shared our food and chatted happily into the night. It wasn’t just a lovely way to spend an evening, it was a brilliant way to celebrate my birthday.
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Embark on a walking tour into the Atlas Mountains
This full day authentic Morocco tour* takes guests away from the hustle and bustle of Fes into the nearby Atlas Mountains around the town of Sefrou. As we discovered, it’s a great way to experience some of Morocco’s beautiful natural landscapes along with ‘normal’ life in Morocco, far away from the tourist trail.
Ahmed was our charismatic, fun and friendly guide for the day. He met us and other guests on the tour on the outskirts of Fes where he arranged a grand taxi to take us all to nearby the town of Safro. Here, we explored the streets, bought freshly fried doughnuts and stocked up on fresh fruit from the local market. He also told us about the history of Safro and showed us into factories where they were making olive oil and bread.
From Safro, we walked slightly uphill towards Sefrou Falls, a set of waterfalls where we stopped for tea. From the waterfalls, we continued uphill into the mountains and into relative wilderness. Ahmed was a fountain of knowledge, continuously sharing information on the local flora and fauna. At the top of a peninsular, a local Shepard and his flock of goats joined us briefly for a chat.
From the mountains, Ahmed hired a Tuk Tuk motorbike which took us on the the town of Bhalil. Here, we were welcomed into a home that was set into a beautifully decorated cave. In exchange for a small gratuity, we experienced Moroccan hospitality in the form of tea and popcorn. After some friendly conversation, we were encouraged to try on traditional Berber clothing and pose for photos.
As the sun set over Bhalil, a grand taxi was hired to take us all back to Fes. It was the end of an incredible day and easily one of the best days of travel we’ve ever experienced. It was a day that we will be forever grateful that we lived through, one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences.
Be scrubbed clean in a local hammam
On our last day in Morocco, we thought we’d wave a fond farewell to the country by visiting one of their famed local bath houses*, otherwise known as a hammam. We were conscious of avoiding a hammam that catered to tourists, wanting instead to experience the real thing. Thankfully, our friend Yassine (provider of our cooking experience) was able to help us out.
Hammam’s, particularly those used by local people, operate in a particular way according to rules and etiquettes that many Moroccan’s are brought up with. It’s therefore a good idea to be guided through the experience with a local so that you don’t fall foul of any rules and upset anybody. For those staying in Fes and wanting to go through the full hammam treatment, Yassine and his sister are on hand to help.
Hammam’s are split into two sections, one for men and the other for woman. While Yassine’s sister guides female tourists through the experience in the women’s section, Yassine takes care of the men. I shan’t go into too much detail about the experience for fear of ruining it for you. Needless to say, the treatment you receive in a hammam is certainly unique and very hands-on. The rumours are also true – we both did come out of the hammam feeling cleaner than we ever have done before.