In May – June 2018, I made an amazing road trip through Morocco by campervan. Together with my boyfriend I crossed the whole country and explored
Sit back, relax, enjoy the read and.. Have an amazing time in Morocco!!
What's coming up
- 1 Tanger Med
- 2 First stop – Asilah
- 3 Birdwatching in Moulay Bousselham
- 4 Modern Morocco in Rabat
- 5 The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca
- 6 Oysters in Oualidia
- 7 Essaouira
- 8 Getting rest in Taghazout
- 9 Adventure in Paradise Valley
- 10 Tafraoute & Beautiful Anti-Atlas
- 11 The Kasbah of Tioute
- 12 Crossing the Tizi ‘n Test Pass
- 13 2 days of hiking in Imlil
- 14 Love / Hate Marrakesh
- 15 Mountain & Desert time: Tizi n’Tichka Pass
- 16 The Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou
- 17 From Ait Benahdou to MHamid
- 18 Todra Gorge & Gorges du Dades
- 19 Merzouga & Erg Chebi
- 20 From Merzouga to Fez
- 21 Fes and Meknes
- 22 Moulay Idriss
- 23 Volubilis
- 24 Last stop: Chefchaouen
- 25 To conclude our Morocco Itinerary
To kick off our 4 week Morocco road trip, we took the ferry from Algeciras to Tanger. Little did we know that Tanger Med is the new harbor and it’s quite far away from Tangier city! Read more about the whole process of taking the ferry from Spain to Morocco with your campervan.
After lots of hassle in the harbor, we made it out! When we discovered Tangier was a bit out of our way (mind: it’s 35KM from the harbor!), we made Asilah our first stop in Morocco. If you decide to visit Tangier, check this post on how to spend a weekend in Tangier or read all about exploring Tangier’s Medina 🙂 There are also a lot of day or weekend trips that go from Spain to Morocco.
First stop – Asilah
We arrived in Asilah in the late afternoon and decided to have a look at the different campsite options. We were flagged down the road by someone and he offered us a place to park for €2. This was a simple parking lot at the side of a road. It looked fine and had a nightguard, but for our first night in
We bought a
The next morning we explored the medina and were happily surprised
Birdwatching in Moulay Bousselham
As nerdy as it may sound, I kind of like birdwatching 😉 Luckily Bas likes it as well and we decided to make a 2-night stop in Moulay Bousselham. We drove to Camping International which is a decent campsite for Moroccan standards. It was quite big and busy with motorhomes. Although the electricity was terrible, we had a whole meadow to ourselves overlooking the lagoon.
Based on the Lonely Planet, we arranged for a boat trip with famous birdwatcher Hassan 🙂 But no matter how hard Hassan tried, there were simply no birds! I guess May was already out of season 🙂 We were together with a young couple from Rabat and had a lovely time in the boat though. There were some flamingo’s really far away but we got stuck with the boat we didn’t
The lack of birds was made up by Hassan taking us to the fish market, helping us by fresh fish and taking us to the market to have it prepared. One of our best meals in Morocco!
Modern Morocco in Rabat
Rabat was the first big city that we visited in Morocco. We found a little campsite about 16km from the center of Rabat. It was a bit of a hassle to get in and out of the city by public transport and taxi, but we decided to spend two nights there to visit the city.
In our one day in Rabat, we visited Tour de Hassan, the Mausoleo, strolled through the Medina and had a lovely Tajine lunch at Dar Naji (check the second picture in the Instagram post). The highlight for us was the Chellah, a beautiful historic site with lots of storks!
The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca
As we were traveling by campervan through Morocco, we also decided to try out wild-camping to avoid going up and down with taxi’s all the time. In Casablanca, this worked out perfect and we found a parking lot with overnight guard. Right next to the Mosque!
Oysters in Oualidia
Basically, we had our own oyster drive-in
Although many people rave about Essaouira and it’s on many a tourist Moroccan itinerary, for us it was kind of a let-down. This was mostly due to the campsite we stayed at. The campsite in Essaouira was really terrible and it stuck with me as one of the things I really did not like about Morocco. When you are backpacking (and even when you’re vanlifing!) you’re probably better of staying in of the hotels or hostels in the Medina. As a famous backpacking destination, Essaouira has plenty of budget hostels and hotels to offer!
However, the morning that we visited the town we noticed that Essaouira’s medina was very relaxed, clean and pretty! Also, the beach is very pretty. There are many companies that offer day trips from Marrakesh to Essaouira and people have good experiences escaping Marrakesh for a bit 🙂 We did find it hard to find a simple local restaurant – all restaurants were overpriced and aimed at tourists.
By the time we hit Essaouira, the Ramadan had started. Even though the Ramadan was going on some touristy restaurants were open (read this excellent post about visiting Morocco during the Ramadan) and after
Getting rest in Taghazout
Our next stop was Taghazout, known for being a surf spot. We had been carrying our surfboards in the van and were keen to get them out. However, after having visited the Essaouira medina in the morning, Bas got a nasty food poisoning so we stayed at camping Terre D’Ocean for 2 days to recover. This kind of messed up route planning but we needed some rest. When Bas recovered, we had a nice lunch at Cafe Mouja in town. No pictures of this part of the trip 🙂
Adventure in Paradise Valley
Our next destination after Taghazout was Paradise Valley. From Taghazout, we took an inland route that was on Google Maps but not on our paper map. We should have checked
Tafraoute & Beautiful Anti-Atlas
From Paradise Valley we had a long drive ahead to get to the anti-atlas. We came down the modern and paved new road from Paradise Valley to Aourir this time and made it to Agadir in about 1,5 hours. There we went to the Marjane to stock up before heading into the mountains. Shopping in this huge supermarket was quite a relief as everything had fixed prices for a change! No haggling and not feeling ripped off was great for a change 😉
It took us about 1,5 hour to get from Agadir to Tiznit. We had expected this to be longer, but the road was in quite a good condition and there was not too much traffic. We skipped Tiznit all together and took a left turn to head into the mountains. The road got more scenic as we climbed further.
To get a taste of the Anti Atlas we drove all the way from Paradise Valley, past Agadir and Tiznit to Tafraoute. Tafraoute is famous with people spending the winter in Morocco – hundreds of campers come to stay here in the valley!
We wild camped here (something I was initially a bit worried about in Morocco) but we had a great peaceful night. We stayed in the desert next to the town, surrounded by palm trees, donkeys and huge rocks and red mountains!
The Painted Rocks near Tafraoute
A couple of kilometers outside of Tafraoute you find some blue and pink painted rocks. These rocks are an art project by a Belgian painter who (I guess) had the urge to brighten up the sandy desert colors. The result is interesting and made for a nice pitstop 🙂 Too bad lots of people have put graffiti texts on the rocks though! You can easily spend the night under the starts here too!
The Kasbah of Tioute
Driving up from Tafraoute and the Anti Atlas we skipped Taroudant and made our way to Tioute. We had read in the Lonely Planet of Morocco that there was a very pretty Kasbah here and we were happy to make a small detour.
Read here about our unwanted guide experience. Even though unwanted, we had a nice walk through the palm trees and he explained us a lot about all the fruits and veggies growing there, including the dates. We also visited the local rug shop. The Kasbah was a bit of a letdown 🙂 We stayed here for free on the parking lot next to the Oasis.
Crossing the Tizi
‘n Test Pass
Coming from the south of Morocco, we were now headed north for Marakkesh. There are different ways to get there, but we took the adventurous road via the R203 Tizi
The largest part of the road was paved, although it was only single lane. Coming from the south we observed a lot of construction was going on to widen the road. This is good and bad news – the good news is that it will be easier to travel via this road. The bad news is that there will be more and more people!
There are some cafes on the way and on top of the pass. Here you can get a fresh orange juice, mint tea or a tajine.
It was a fun drive but also long! It took us a full day to arrive in our next destination: Imlil – a hiking village 😀
2 days of hiking in Imlil
After conquering the Tizi n’Test pass, there was one place that had been on my Morocco itinerary from the start! The hiking village of Imlil is famous for hiking the Jebel Toubkal of 4167 meters altitude and is filled with hikers, guides, cute guesthouses and adventure stores. The town is basically closed in winter because of the cold and snow and just started to wake up early June. We parked in a parking lot in the town center (it’s a tiny town!) and were guarded by the lovely Mohammed 🙂
As we had not exercised an awful lot during this trip, climbing the Toubkal was a bit ambitious. Instead, we opted for an 8hr hike along the mountains and valleys around Imlil. Hiking in Morocco is not very straightforward as there are no real paths sign posted you have to hire a guide. A licensed mountain guide usually costs around €30 for the day.
In this area a satellite messenger system can come in really handy! I never carried one, but on my future vanlife trips I would definitely add a SPOT or Garmin InReach to my vanlife travelling safety tools!
The hike was beautiful and we saw some authentic villages and learned a lot about the irrigation methods in these areas. The mountains are so dry and nothing grows there, but the valleys are very fertile and have ingenious irrigation systems. You also see lots of irrigated terraces built on the mountains. Although life here is not easy for the people, there is plenty of water, veggies and fruit and enough grazing for the animals. I wrote an extensive guest blog on traveling to and hiking in Imlil.
Love / Hate Marrakesh
Marrakesh – a city people either love or hate. But one that’s mandatory on any Morocco itinerary 🙂
We started off well by choosing camping Le Relais de Marrakesh. An absolutely beautiful campground with a gorgeous swimming pool. In winter, which is camper high-season, this place is packed and even in May, it was busy!
The first night we wanted to eat on the main square in Marrakesh. From what we had read, you could find cheap street food here combined with the busy and chaotic Moroccan vibe. We found a grand taxi from the main road along the campsite to Marrakesh (5 MAD per person) and headed for the main square.
Right when we entered the square, we were basically ambushed by touts wanting do direct us to their eatery. It got so pushy and aggressive that we fled away from the square.
We ended up eating in a rooftop restaurant which served very mediocre food for a tourist price. Not a great first night but the next day, we decided to give Marrakesh another try. We found the
Mountain & Desert time: Tizi n’Tichka Pass
It was hard to leave our campsite with pool in Marrakesh, but after busy
The Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou
We had been trying to wrap our head around the word Kasbah for a while. Sometimes it refers to a fortress, sometimes a citadel, sometimes a walled city or a castle and sometimes we cannot even identify the structure people call Kasbah. That’s usually the fault of rain: these century-old Kasbahs are mud-based structures and crumble away a bit each year. Such a shame but there seems to be no budget to restore them.
Although we skipped the town itself, there are some things to do in and around Ouarzazate. One of them is Aït Benhaddou, a beautiful Kasbah town. This Kasbah was one of the most beautiful that we have seen – with a reason. Several Hollywood movies have been filmed here and they brought their budget 🙂 The result is a well preserved, touched up Kasbah that is a joy to explore. There are some guesthouses, shops and a cafe in the Kasbah and people still live in it! And we bought our awesome rug here 😀
Obviously we made our way to Aït Benhaddou ourselves with the campervan, but you can get also get to Aït Benhaddou as a daytrip from Marrakessh.
We also played for “grand taxi” today as we were driving a route with very little traffic. We helped three women get from A to B and they were super grateful –
From Ait Benahdou to MHamid
We took a detour from
10 minutes after the sign we drove past a whole bunch of dromedaries right on the N12 on the way to Zagora. They were just chilling out, walking around and grazing on some desert bushes. Dromedaries are the livelihood of many people living in this area. Not only for tourism, but also for transport or milk, and even the wool to make rugs.
Todra Gorge & Gorges du Dades
We had planned to stay in the Gorge du Dades and Todra Gorge for a few days but unfortunately, the weather was really bad! But we didn’t want to skip these highlights on our Morocco itinerary completely! The Gorges du Dades is famous for
We stayed at a local families’ camp site, which was basically in their garden! It was during the Ramadan and they invited us in for their breakfast (at
Merzouga & Erg Chebi
From the Todra
Desert trip in the Sahara
Next to parking meters away from the Sahara, a
From Merzouga to Fez
From the Sahara, we had a little bit less than a week to make it back to the north of Morocco to take the ferry back. We stayed one night in the middle of nowhere on a pretty lake 🙂
Fes and Meknes
After lots of driving, we made it to Fes and Meknes! We were pretty exhausted, but enjoyed the Fes Medina! For
We also spent half a day in Meknes, but due to the
Moulay Idriss and Volubilis can be visited together in one day. We had a campsite in between the two and started with a morning visit to Moulay Idriss, a pelgrims town. We had an unwanted guide again 😛 but he did show us a good place with a view of the town. The mosque is not accessible to non-muslims.
Volublis was one of the historic highlights of Morocco! A beautiful, well-preserved site with lots to explore and an informative small museum. The roman ruins are beautiful and I especially loved the mosaics! Well recommended 🙂
Last stop: Chefchaouen
To be honest, by this point we were quite tired of Morocco 🙂 We had one last stop before hitting the ferry back to Spain and that was: Chechchaouen, the blue Moroccan town. You can check out this blog on the background of Chefchaouen and things to do there! We mainly liked just walking around and enjoying the quiet, blue medina 🙂 We parked for free near the town centre so it was easy to walk up and down.
To conclude our Morocco Itinerary
When people ask me about my travels in 2018, Morocco is always the first thing I mention. The incredible landscapes, beautiful roads (despite their conditions), the crazy experiences. If you want to prepare some more after reading this extensive Morocco itinerary, make sure to read this guide to a
If you have any questions about this trip, the locations or other questions about Morocco, feel free to put them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them 🙂