3 Unique Moroccan Experiences You Do Not Want to Miss

Morocco is a mesmerizing mosaic of cultures – Arab, Berber, European and African. It can feel foreign, romantic, captivating and bewildering all at the same time. From mountain villages to desert camps to seaside beaches and you’ll find exotic Moroccan experiences that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Here are three of my favorites.

Moroccan Cuisine

moroccan experiences

Moroccan salads are small plates of fresh vegetables to share – carrots, beets, potatoes, eggplant, green beans, squash, lentils, tomatoes, and of course, olives.

To fully appreciate Morocco – or any destination, frankly – you need to dive in and immerse yourself in the culture. One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to do that is by eating the local food. Moroccan cuisine is basically comfort food – tender meats and vegetables – cooked in exotic spices. Beef, chicken, and lamb are common. You won’t find pork since Morocco is a Muslim country, although you can try a delicious camel burger! “One pot” meals are frequently cooked in tagines, a round clay baking dish with a conical lid, and served with couscous. Travel Maestro tip: The famous Moroccan spice mixture, ras el hanout, is a proprietary mixture of 27 spices – each herbologist has their own special blend.

moroccan experiencesPastilla, a Moroccan form of empanada, is a popular stuffed pastry filled with chicken or beef and you’ll find grilled meat skewers on many menus. Harira is a delicious, hearty soup of chickpeas and noodle eaten with bread. Semolina wheat bread or flatbreads are served with every meal, as are bowls of olives. With about 2,000 miles of coastline, fish and seafood are plentiful. Fresh-squeezed orange juice is bursting with flavor and you can count on being offered hot mint tea served in a small clear glass at least a dozen times a day. Travel Maestro tip: Don’t drink the tap water. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t peel it or boil it, don’t eat it.

Moroccan experiences

Pouring the mint tea from far above is partly for show, but it also cools the hot tea so you can sip it.

Hammam Experience

moroccan experiences

Spa La Mamounia Hotel, Marrakech, Morocco. Photo by Alan Keohane www.still-images.net for La Mamounia

The hammam is a must-do Moroccan experience for men and women. Essentially, it’s a public bathhouse, similar to a Turkish bath, but with its own rituals and social etiquette. Hammams are a place to not only get clean but also gossip and relax. Travel Maestro tip: Neighborhood hammams are single-sex with multiple people bathing at once. At a luxury hammam, my husband and I enjoyed a private hammam together.

At a luxury hammam, you’ll undress (keep underwear on) and don a robe. Your attendant will take you to a steam room, hang your robe, and slosh heated stone slabs with water (so you don’t sizzle when you lay on it!). She’ll then slosh warm water all over you with a bucket and leave you to steam for about ten minutes. When she returns, she rubs you all over, front and back with the thick black mud called savon beldi then rinses it off.

moroccan experiences

Hammam beldi sold in the markets

Next comes the scrubbing! We opted for a salt scrub, which she administered with an exfoliating hand mitt called a kess. The amount of dead skin that rolls off your body is nearly alarming, but you come out feeling baby soft. Finally, she washes you off and shampoos your hair, then leaves you alone to steam and relax for a few minutes. Travel Maestro tip: The exfoliation can feel a bit rough. If it’s too hard, “Bshwiya” means rub softer.

The bathing ritual lasts about 45 minutes. In a neighborhood hammam, you bring your own products and can scrub yourself or hire someone to do it, then stay to gossip as long as you like. Travel Maestro tip: We chose to follow up the hammam with a full body massage, so we felt completely refreshed and renewed after our unique Moroccan experience.

Goats in Trees

moroccan experiencesHave you ever seen a goat climb a tree? Well, they do in Morocco – under special circumstances. No doubt you’ve heard of argan oil, a deeply nourishing oil that comes from the nut of the argan tree. The gnarled trees grow in the semi-arid areas of Morocco, south of Marrakech. Shepherds tend their goats in the same area and goats love the argan nuts – so much so that they clamber into the trees to munch happily on the fruit and leaves. If you stop to take photos of this amazing sight, the shepherd will expect a tip. Travel Maestro tip: While goats do naturally climb the trees, some less than scrupulous shepherds tie their goats into the trees to make money off the photo op. Please don’t support this practice by stopping or tipping.

moroccan experiences

Argan oil cooperative where women press argan oil from the nuts to be used in cosmetic and food products.

While seeing goats in trees is definitely a unique Moroccan experience, be sure to also stop at the women’s Argan Oil Cooperative to see how they harvest the seed from the nuts and make hammam black soap, hair products, and cosmetics. Travel Maestro tip: You can tell the difference in true argan oil products and ones blended with other oils by rubbing it on your skin. Argan oil will absorb very quickly, leaving no greasy residue.

Morocco has many more special experiences in store for visitors. If you want to learn more about Moroccan experiences, you might also enjoy this Travel Maestro post:
A Sahara Camp in Morocco is an Adventure of a Lifetime 

To plan your own Moroccan experience, contact the vacation experts at Covington Travel.

 

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