The first time I got introduced to the adventure travel company G Adventures was when I worked in a hostel in Sydney, where I was also the in-house travel agent. One of the tour guides came to promote their product, as they all do, except for the fact that this time we didn’t so much have a sales talk, as just a great conversation about travel in general.
While I never got to try their products and write a G Adventures review for you, this moment stuck with me and I was reminded of them again when I got the invitation to the Future of Tourism event that was held at the Royal Geographical Society in London in the beginning of April 2014. G Adventures was the host, together with the Planeterra Foundation.
Besides an evening of discussion about whether tourism can be a force for growth, change and global good, there was also the UK launch of the first book of G Adventures’ founder Bruce Poon Tip: “Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business“. If you’re interested in learning more about the remarkable history of G Adventures and the life of Bruce Poon Tip, I can highly recommend reading this book!
On the evening, Bruce talked about how technology has taken away the element of surprise for travel these days, how travel has become an emotional purchase and how, luckily, the consumer is changing how they book trips. People want their vacation choices to match the way they live (responsible travel not package holidays) and they want to give back and do good, they no longer spend randomly on their travels.
The evening really made me think about just how travel can make a difference to this world and how the travel industry has the responsibility to provide their customers with products that benefits everyone.
“Travel can be a force for good. It can transform lives and communities, but it has to be done right. The core issue for sustainable tourism is consumer awareness. We need to educate consumers on the power of their purchasing decisions and the change that it can bring.”
For example, did you know that of $100 spent on vacation in developing countries, only $5 stays in local hands? (source: UNEP). Tourism really has the opportunity to distribute more wealth across the world, but besides creating better products, they need the consumer to help by making more considerate choices when they book their travels. Like Bruce said: “As a consumer your buying power will change the world. You need to be willing to pay a premium for sustainability.”
All this came full-circle when a few months ago, Nick and I had the chance to join a G Adventures tour group for one week in Morocco, where we travelled for a week from Casablanca to Marrakech via Fez. Curious to find out what we did on this trip? Keep reading!
ONE WEEK IN MOROCCO – CASABLANCA TO MARRAKESH
G Adventures Tour of Morocco
We chose for the “Morocco Kasbahs & Desert” Tour by G Adventures, which is a guided, 8-day tour from Casablanca to Marrakech.
You’ll get to wander through old medina’s, taste local food, ride a camel to stay in the desert overnight and visit natural gorges and Roman ruins. It’s a nice mix of everything Morocco has to offer and a great choice for people that have never visited the country and have limited time.
The pace of this short trip is very fast, since you’re covering a lot of ground, so expect to be in the car about 4-10 hours each day with early departures and not a lot of free time! Groups are about 10-14 people.
This G Adventures group trip is accompanied by a driver and a group leader, otherwise known as a Chief Experience Officer (CEO). He (in our case), makes sure you’ll have the best experience by taking away all the hassle, explaining about the historical, cultural, religious and social aspects of the country and giving you tips on what to see and do in each location. Apart from the main guide, there will be certified local city guides where more specific knowledge is required.
If you’re a solo traveler, you’ll be pleased to know that there is no single supplement on accommodation, but do note that if you aren’t paying extra for your own private room, you will be paired with someone of the same sex in a room.
What to do in Casablanca?
The tour itself doesn’t spend any time in Casablanca, so we can recommend what we did and arrive a day early to explore on your own.
Casablanca is an easy city to navigate and has a nice mix of architecture, restaurants, a beachfront and an old medina for you to explore. Something you definitely don’t want to skip is a visit to the Hassan II Mosque.
To see all our recommendations on things to do in Casablanca, make sure to read our entire guide to Casablanca:
What to do in Meknès?
After our welcome meeting and a dinner in Casablanca the night before departure, we head off in a minibus to our first stop of the tour: a traditional lunch in Meknès. G Adventures supports projects all over the world and in Morocco they arrange a lunch that benefits rural Moroccan women and children.
This G Adventures lunch program provides access to education opportunities and healthcare services, so these women can support their families and children. The home-cooked Moroccan meal is lovely and you’ll even get the chance to practice a bit of Arabic when meeting the women. We thought this was a great first stop along the way!
After our meal, some of us on the tour wandered around the little market for a bit and especially the butcher area was a bit of a shocker, so be aware of the pictures below if you are a sensitive person!
What to do in Volubilis?
From Meknès, we drive to the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis, where we get a guided tour and see some of the most incredible mosaics! This site has some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in this part of Northern Africa, so you can imagine why this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
We wander around the old bathhouses, see all the incredibly detailed mosaic floors and gaze up at towering marble pillars. We even walk over the same road that people walked over thousands of years ago! It’s hard not to be impressed here.
What to do in Fez?
After Volubilis, it’s on the bus again as we continue to Fez / Fès, which turned out to be our favourite city on this tour. We stayed overnight in the New City of Fez, which wasn’t really that interesting, but at night we decided to go to the old city to soak up a bit more atmosphere, which was a good idea.
The following morning, we got a guided tour of the old medina (with over 9000 streets!) that featured buildings that date back to the 9th century. There are also 350 mosques in the medina that are still in use today, which was super impressive.
We also saw lots of handicrafts such as pottery and tanneries and wished we had more space in our backpacks already, haha! Some people in our group arranged a hammam at the hotel, which is not really something for us, but they loved it.
You can read our entire guide to Fez here and find out what else we did in this amazing city:
What to do in Merzouga?
From Fez, we drove through the Middle Atlas Mountains to Merzouga, which was a 10 hour journey and really quite a long sit for everyone. We saw the landscape change from green to red as we reached the edge of the Sahara Desert, where we ‘boarded’ a camel to take us to a traditional Berber desert camp.
Unfortunately for us, we had a bit of rain on the way over to the desert (yes, apparently we really were this ‘lucky’), so we only had grey skies and what was supposed to be the highlight of this tour was a bit disappointing for us, as we didn’t even see any stars and couldn’t sleep outside. We still liked the experience though and were happy we got to see the camp, but yeah, bit of a bummer for our group!
What to do in Tinejdad?
On our way to Todra Gorge, our next overnight stay, we made a few stops along the way. Here, we saw a factory where they produce products out of fossilized stone from the area, and we also visited Ksar El Khorbat Oujdid, a “ksar” (fortified village) completely built out of rammed earth near the town of Tinejdad, that was built in 1860 and is still inhabited. The houses here are built over the alleys below, so the alleys are dark and cool, which is of course nice if you pretty much live in the desert.
Here, you can visit a museum or have a nice lunch, like we did.
What to do in Todra Gorge?
After some more driving, we finally arrive at Todra Gorge which is a gorge wedged between massive cliff walls. Around it, there is a green oasis filled with palm trees and we took some time to walk through the local village farmlands and explore the area a bit, before going for a quick (rather chilly) swim and dinner in our accommodation.
What to do in Ouarzazate?
After a good night’s sleep, we depart Todra Gorge again and head onwards to the Aït Ben Haddou Kasbah, a UNESCO World Heritage site. But before we get there, we travel along the “Route of 1000 Kasbahs” to make a quick lunch stop at the thriving town of Ouarzazate.
This town is home to the Atlas Film Studios, where many films have been shot over the years, including Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.
What to do in Ait Benhaddou?
As I said, Ait Benhaddou is a UNESCO World Heritage site and as soon as you arrive, you can see why. Of all the remaining Kasbahs (a type of medina or fortress) in Morocco, the walls and interior of this area are the most intact. The Kasbah still houses a few families, but many now live in the adjacent village.
Like many of the earthen built fortresses in Ouarzazate, Aït Ben Haddou has been used in many film and television productions like Gladiator, Babel, and my favourite: Game of Thrones! (see more GOTR film locations I visited in Malta and Northern-Ireland)
In Ait Benhaddou, you can opt for a cooking class, but Nick and I just walk around town for a bit an relax the afternoon. We do go with our guide on a little walk up the hill, so we can get a stunning view over the area.
What to do in The Atlas Mountains?
On our final day of the tour, we again drive through the Atlas Mountains and are this time treated with some a-ma-zing views into the distance.
We make a quick stop at a shop that sells argan oil, before we drive into our last stop of the tour: Marrakech!
What to do in Marrakech?
In Marrakech, we get a guided walk from a local guide with G Adventures to see the Saadien’s Tombs, Bahia Palace, before we head in to the maze of tiny streets and alleyways of the ancient medina surrounding the famous Djemaa el Fna market square.
We say farewell to our group and group leader and spend one more day on our own in Marrakech, to visit the lovely Jardin Majorelle, The Yves Saint Laurent Museum and to go on the incredible Marrakech Food Tour, which you can read more about (and should definitely do as well!) below:
Curious on what else to see and do in Marrakech? Make sure to read our complete guide:
For our review on the Marrakech Food Tour, click below:
In one week’s time, we saw so much of Morocco, that we would have never been able to see on our own. We loved having a local guide with us on the trip, so we got to understand much more about Moroccan culture!
Yes, this tour is super fast paced and it would probably be better if you had more time (G Adventures offers many more tours, some of which cover the same are, but a bit more relaxed), but if you’re like us and just don’t have many days to travel because of Nick’s limited holidays, this was a great option.
We had a nice mix of people on our trip, but I did have the feeling that not everyone had a good sense of the type of trip they’d booked, or it just wasn’t the type of trip suited for them. They had problems with not being able to buy alcohol or having no fridges on their hotel rooms and limited food options, for example, which of course is a bit silly if you know that you’re travelling to a Muslim country and will be staying in the desert and small rural villages most of the time!
What we didn’t expect was to spend quite a lot of money on things like food, activities and tips (there are just 7 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner included in the trip), so make sure to calculate some extra money for this. We were happy to have brought a few granola bars and other snacks/sweets as well, and we can recommend you do the same BEFORE you depart (there is a chance to get things in the supermarket in Casablanca), because there are limited to no options to get anything like that along the way.
That said, we had a great time and this tour definitely provided a nice introduction to a country we’d never been to and felt a bit hesitant to visit alone, as we just had no clue what to expect. Morocco turned out to be a fantastic destination to visit, with super friendly people, amazing architecture and a rich history. We would love to come back one day and see more of the country in the future.
Thank you G Adventures for helping us create some amazing memories!
Plan your Morocco Trip
Time Zone in Morocco? GMT +1
Currency in Morocco? Moroccan Dirham. Check the latest exchange rate here.
Electrical Plugs in Morocco? 220V, Type C and E. We recommend getting a universal travel adapter to never worry about having the right plug on your travels!
Languages Spoken in Morocco? Moroccan Arabic (Darija), Arabic & Berber + French. We had no trouble getting around with just English and our G Adventure guide helped us everywhere, as he was a local and spoke all the languages needed.
Best time to visit Morocco & Marrakech Travel? Spring (March-May) or Autumn (September-October). Summer can be nice on the coast, but will definitely be too warm more inland. Make sure to also take the date of Ramadan, the month of daytime fasting, in account when planning your trip!
Insurance for Morocco? Make sure to get travel insurance! We recommend checking out worldnomads.com
Which organised tours to do in Morocco? We highly recommend organised tours with G Adventures Tour!!
Flights to Morocco:
Hotels in Morocco:
Tours in Morocco:
I hope you enjoyed all the suggestions for Marrakech Morocco things to do!
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Make sure to check out our other Morocco articles:
Here are some other great Morocco articles written by our fellow blogging friends and colleagues:
- Maroc Mama [Entire Website: marocmama.com]
- One Week In Morocco – Morocco Itinerary For Marrakech And Essaouira [wonderfulwanderings.com]
- Hiking In The Atlas Mountains, Morocco [insidethetravellab.com]
- Mysterious Chefchaouen: The Blue Pearl Of Morocco [expertvagabond.com]
- Taroudant, Morocco: So how many camels are you worth? [adventurousmiriam.com]
- A Guide To Essaouira | Morocco’s Windy City [alongdustyroads.com]
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Disclaimer: We were hosted on our tour through Morocco by G Adventures. All photos and opinions in this article are, as always, 100% our own. This post contains affiliate links.