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Sun, Sea and Snowballs: Backpacking Across Morocco

24/06/2015 12:13 BST | Updated 23/06/2016 10:59 BST

Morocco is possibly one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. For one week, myself and six other Arabic language students backpacked from Marrakech to Fes, discovering a diverse range of people, places and most importantly foods! As someone who is not a novice hostel booker or back packer, I knew the basics. Yet still, the variety of the country astounded me as we swam in the Atlantic Ocean, found a mystery waterfall and had a snowball fight in the Cedar forest.

Pre-Travel Plans

This was my first time outside of Europe and into Africa so I made sure to check if I needed shots, a visa or anything else. I didn't. My EHIC card would not be accepted in Morocco if anything did happen, so I popped onto a comparison site and found some cheap but comprehensive travel insurance, in case I fell off a camel or got a nasty bug from the water (drink from a bottle, not the tap). I also made sure it covered all my belongings if I was staying in hostels so as not to get caught out.

Flying into Morocco

Midway through the flight every passenger was handed a form to fill in for passport control. What was this? Never before had I encountered a country where my British passport wasn't enough! It was very straight forward with sections for, passport information, intentions in the country (there wasn't an option for amazing cultural awakening so I ticked tourism instead) and then at the bottom of the page, address of accommodation during visit. I was a little bit lost. The whole plan on this holiday was to have no specific plan, we were intrepid backpackers! Luckily on arrival I was able to phone the others who had arrived the day before and grab the name of the hostel we would be at for the first night. So Top Tip 1: know where you are staying! You don't want to have to have any more hassle than necessary when arriving into a foreign country. When I got through passport control, easy breezy, my next stop was to exchange my pounds to Moroccan Dirhams. It's a closed currency so isn't as widely available outside the country as Euros are, and you have to keep hold of your receipt on exchange at the airport in order to get them changed back on your return (DON'T lose your receipt).

Marrakech

An extremely busy city, and very easy to get lost in. I would recommend booking ahead for a hostel and making sure you know basic phrases in both Arabic and the local dialect (the Moroccan dialect is extremely different to Modern Standard Arabic, so that little bit of effort goes a long way). Watch out for mopeds in the little streets and don't carry too many valuables with you in the souks (the local markets). It's very busy and easy to get lost or pulled into a shop. Don't feel forced to buy anything but also enjoy a good haggle.

Casablanca

Slightly more touristic you can see the famous Rick's Café or go into the mosque. Casablanca has one of the few mosques that non-Muslims may get into, but be sure to dress in a respectful manner. You must take off your shoes as you enter but are welcome to take photos inside. Be sure to have some cash on you as well as a tip for your tour guide.

Fes

Another busy, busy city so once more make sure you keep your belongings safe. Fes is infamous for people getting lost, so I'd suggest that you get a tour guide to take you round the city. Make sure you see the traditional perfumery and spice shop, the leathery and the silk makers. Book this before heading into the city as there will be a lot of people on the street offering tours but they may not be official guides. Agree on a price beforehand and most legitimate guides will meet you at your lodging. We paid 50 dirhams each and then paid for the taxi back. The guide was able to show us good places to eat and was organised by the hostel owner, so don't be afraid to ask those you're staying with for advice. From Fes we visited the local Cedar Forest, which was full of loose monkeys and covered in snow! We also took local advice to visit a waterfall where people are welcome to swim and enjoy using to keep cool in the sun.

Our trip was incredible but we made sure to stay in a group of both boys and girls, always have our bags in front of us and avoid the souks in the dark. As long as you keep an eye on the travel advice at the FCO website https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/morocco, Morocco is a fantastic destination to enjoy your summer in!