Marrakech - Morocco: TOP Offbeat things to do!
If you're off to Morocco, chances are you will be landing at the Marrakech Menara International Airport in Marrakech. Easy and cheap connectivity to Marrakech, tempts you to dedicate a couple of days to the cultural mayhem.
Now that you're headed to Morocco - particularly Marrakech, you must have read about the orange juice you're supposed to have, or the mint tea that's amazing. or that a stay in a Riad is a must do!While all of the above are true - here's what I did beyond the usual customary top things to do!P.S. The best blood orange juice is not orange juice it's grapefruit juice! :P
If the colorful dye pots of the tanneries in Fes caught your attention and you do not want to miss the experience, Bab Debbagh is your best bet.
Located at the far end of the Medina, it would take you 20 mins to walk to Bab Debbagh, from the center of the Medina. If you thought people were milling at the souks, the locality around the tanneries will question your opinion!
You will be greeted with the stench of poop and local 'guides'. The guides are friendly people hoping to make a couple of Dirhams. They will talk you through the process in a couple of minutes. Even if you wait back to click pictures, you may not spend more than 20 minutes in the tanneries. I would suggest 20-30 Dirhams for a guide.If you can haggle for a better price and 'shake hands on it' before you enter the tannery - Awesome! :)
You should carry a sprig of mint with you in case you do not wish to have a guide accompany you, as the smell is overwhelming.
Our guide informed us about these basic steps:1. The hide has to be first sterilized with salt and then washed with clean water2. The hide then has to be put in a solution of milk of lime to get rid of hair and grease, to ensure the elasticity of the leather is maintained and it does not get wrinkly3. It is then put in vats of pigeon poop [ containing an excess of sulphuric acid] to ensure tanning agents can penetrate the hide in the later stages4. It is then bleached if required or dyed
A great offbeat one-off experience!
Experience a vehement Belly Dance!
Not all you see in the movies is falsified!
If you are in an exotic land, why not veer towards something more entertaining? Stepping outside the Medina will make you question if you've stepped into a different city other than Marrakech! The Le Comptoir Darna - Restaurant Marrakech is the hub of activity outside the Medina in Marrakech.
A favorite with expats, everyday is a day of celebration which includes - An orchestra of local performers at 8.30 pm followed by the highlight of the evening - the belly dancers at 10.30 pm. If you want a tray of lamps placed on your head for a picture, try grabbing a seat by the aisle's!
The dancers are truly acclaimed! Comptoir Darna also has a live band from Sunday - Wednesday and local DJ's at the club everyday. The food is on par with all the excitement happening around and will not let you down!
One of the best places to try a Tangia! [which is not a Tagine! :) ]
Exotic food & a local cooking class
Every country we step into, we ensure we try something unique that we've never had before.Be it wood worms, crocodiles ...it's a long list. We couldn't stop ourselves when we heard camel burgers were on offer in Marrakech.
Although the locals are not keen on camel meat, they do not object to anyone having it. One of the best places to have a camel burger is at Cafe Clock. An amazing corner with an artistic vibe, this place has lovely activities and events on the calendar, providing a chance to take a piece of Morocco back home!They have storytelling nights [in English too!] , jam sessions and concerts! The best part - a cooking school.
Enroll for a 1 day course - it starts from deciding the menu you are preparing and having for lunch. You then proceed to pick fresh veggies in the souks of Marrakech, and the spices you will require - then a heady 4 hours later, be prepared to enjoy your Moroccan feast by 3 pm!
Interested in it all? Ask Mike - he will be glad to assist!Not interested in trying the unknown? Well, why not opt for a date milkshake? Quite filling by itself, I had 2 - it was delicious!
Unwind at a hammam
It would't feel right to step out of Marrakech without paying a visit to a hammam.
You have variety to suit every taste and budget. Although Les Bains De Marrakech is top rated, it is quite bothersome to land an appointment.Hammam Rosa Bonheur is a charming place tucked away from the center of the Medina. The staff are friendly and are ready to assist if directions are required. We had an exceptional experience and loved it so much, we opted for it twice!We later realized Hammam Rosa Bonheur is 2nd on the list of top spa's and hammam's in Marrakech as per Tripadvisor!
Looking for something more budget friendly? Why not try one of the local hammam's? - However do keep in mind, they might not be peaceful as expected as the locals do use them too and it could get quite noisy! Hammam Ziani is a good option but has been receiving mixed reviews lately.
Do check if you might need to carry your own Beldi black soap [Savon Noir] - a soap made from olive oil used traditionally in a hammam and your own towels, if if plan to visit a traditional hammam.
Zoom off on a Quad!
One things the locals are great at - other than cooking and haggling are riding the Quad's! Never having driven one before , I knew I had to dedicate some time, as it involved exploring the outskirts of Marrakech.After some research, I opted for Dunes and Desert as the reviews were great! After being collected from Djemaa-el-Fna- we were taken to the office, given a briefing and allocated some time to try the Quads.
We later set off on the journey, over hills surrounding Marrakech. It is quite a stark contrast as it seemed that other than a few mud houses, there hardly existed any life outside Marrakech. We stopped for some mint tea and some Moroccan Msemen [local pancakes] at the cottage of one of the local Moroccon drivers on the way back. Their hospitality was touching.
We later returned back to the city having spent an amazing 4 hours in the country.
We had explored the souks, [My pictures and suggestions here] , binged on street food & gone restaurant hopping by ourselves in Marrakech.
However, I skipped visiting the Bahia and the Badi Palace, only with the promise to return to Marrakech, and explore it more :)
Top things to do in Marrakech
- You can easily navigate to Bab Debbagh using Google Maps. Download the map if you will not have access to the internet while traveling. It is a quick 20 minute walk from the center of the Medina. No entry charge. Apprx. 20-30 Dirhams are sufficient to tip the guide if you opt for 1.
- Bookings are required in advance for Comptoir Darna. Opt for a late dinner around 9 pm. This way you can ensure you will not miss out on the performance which happens in the aisle's in the entire dining area for 30 minutes
- Do ensure you arrange for a taxi to pick you up at night from the place where you are putting up. It's a tedious task to haggle with taxi drivers all wanting to take you home!
- It is sufficient to book the cooking class at Cafe Clock at-least a day in advance. This way you can be sure not to miss out when the class starts at 9 am! Prices at 600 Dirhams per person
- All the activities at Cafe clock are walk-in. Do call in advance case of any queries
- In order to make a reservation at the Hammam Rosa Bonheur, a call a day in advance is sufficient. you could walk-in to check their availability for the day and their services too. Great and friendly staff.
- It is required you pre-book a Quad biking tour. Dunes and Desert do have other activities as well including Buggy riding and a camel ride. All details are available on their website.
Perplexed on the best way to navigate the souks? Or the best prices for goods? Read all about it here!
Do leave a comment below if this helped you out in any way...it would make my day!
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