I am most excited to share with you the start to our time in Morocco with Journey Beyond Travel. Beginning in the ‘blue city’ the magical Chefchaouen.
JOURNEY BEYOND TRAVEL
Late last year you will have seen that Mario and I spent a week in Morocco working with Journey Beyond Travel, a private guided tour company specialising in creating outstanding personal tours that are entirely tailored and authentic.
Before we left we spent time planning and mapping out where we wanted to go, what types of experiences we were looking for and how long we wanted to spend in each city, with the guidance of JBT founder Thomas.
Why A Private Tour Company?
I wanted to make sure that we were able to get around without any trouble (we read about travellers who’d experienced some strange issues with taxi drivers) and decided not to jump on a bigger tour. I could not have been happier that we had decided to go this way. As we got off the ferry from Spain, we watched as most people headed to the endless rows of tour busses. Instead we were greeted in the rain by our driver for the week, Hamid, who was a seriously cool guy.
Where to Start – Beautiful Chefchaouen
Arriving in Tangier (in the rain) we decided to drive straight on to Chefchaouen (a couple of hours drive) and make the most of the afternoon there. I take it the rain is not very common, but it cleared by the time we had checked into our hotel and had our first Moroccan Mint Tea. Although completely all over Instagram, to my surprise there were not many tour groups that detoured to Chefchaouen, the ‘blue city’.
Based at the foot of The Riff Mountains, I really wanted to go, so made this a priority. As it turns out, it was my favourite spot in Morocco (though there were so many breathtaking places on the journey!).
WHAT TO DO IN CHEFCHAOUEN
We didn’t have a ‘plan’ as such for our afternoon here, other than wander. We did exactly that- making our way up and down twists and turns, descending staircases, spotting cats, children playing and of course being offered wares. Mario and I decided not to shop on our trip, so we took in the craftsmanship and appreciated it on our journey but not by taking any home.
The town is made up of one main square (medina), and surrounded by a wall. Inside there are no cars and the lanes can be narrow. Most of the hotels and food spots are tucked away and only really for tourists. Bags of the dyes, buckets of olives, dried fruits, knitted hats from the “Hat Man”, leather tooled bags and rugs are all on display. Each are eye-catching, but it is the town itself that leaves the biggest impression.
Painted in indigo dyes to ward off mosquitoes, the walls and often floors of the lane ways are a striking, incomparable blue.
WHERE TO STAY – LINA RYAD & SPA
We stayed at Lina Ryad & Spa, as kindly organised by Journey Beyond Travel, and it was a beautiful stay. Upon checking in we had our first Moroccan mint tea before heading up to our beautiful room. (Which I loved!) Of course, the room was so beautiful, I wanted to stay longer than one night.
We booked in to use the pool for an hour, which you reserve privately. It was so relaxing! The light streams right down from the skylight above the pool, so we swam and watched the clouds blow over. The best part though was the rooftop terrace, which overlooked the town and the mountains. Watching the sunlight stream through the clouds and later set to the sounds of the evening call to prayer was a moment I will not forget in a hurry.
My Top Tips
Chefchaouen is far enough off of the beaten track that a lot of tourists (and tour companies) don’t visit. The good thing is that it is not overcrowded, but calm and fun to explore. We learned that a lot of Spanish tourists visit to smoke weed, as it is well known for it and many people were surprised that neither of us were smokers. Mario was definitely offered to buy some a lot which proved quite amusing.
You can wander out to the waterfall outside of the Medina- we didn’t, though if we had stayed longer would have done. You can visit a traditional Hammam here, just off of the main Medina for a really unique experience. There are some restaurants, but we waited to have dinner in the Ryad.
Don’t worry about a map, or getting lost- the Medina is small and part of the fun is to feel transported into somewhere totally unlike anywhere else.
Of course, I have a lot to share with you of our guide and trip to Morocco. In the next post I will touch a little more on the history of the country and its culture. Before we visited I had a lot of questions, so feel free to ask anything!
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: MARIO RECCHIA AND JENELLE WITTY
To find out more about creating your own tour of morocco with JOURNEY BEYOND TRAVEL, find them here and be sure to ask questions!
Read on for more of our Morocco travel journals below:
Morocco Diary Day Two: Volubilis
Morocco Travel Diary Day Three: Fez
Travel Diary Day Four: Marrakech Food Tour