Before you all get annoyed with me (why do people in these forums do that? Not all of us are confident experienced travellers!), I have read around this forum for hours!
I've taken the plunge (for the first time) to go group travelling with Intrepid. I'm going in late June, on the South Morocco Tour. I will be spending 2 days in Marrakech by myself first. Itinerary as follows:
Day 1 Marrakech
Marvel in the spectacle of Marrakech, mingle with the performers and fortune-tellers at Djemaa el-Fna or sample Moroccan fares alfresco at the night stalls. Relax while sipping mint tea with locals and pick up last-minute supplies for the South Morocco adventure. (Hotel le Caspian)
Day 2 Aroumd
Stay in a mountain gite with incredible views while exploring the High Atlas Mountains. Hike to the burial place of a medieval saint.
Ait BenhaddouExplore the grand Ait Benhaddou kasbah, Morocco's internationally acclaimed film set, as featured in Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.
Day 4 Zagora
Embark on a journey towards the mighty Sahara Desert, through the lush Draa Valley and on to Zagora - a small oasis town on the Sahara fringe that is perfect for an overnight stop.
Day 5 Sahara Camp
Travel along rugged mountain ranges, through seas of sand and past the occasional desert oasis of date palms. Investigate an ancient library filled with manuscripts and discover the green-glazed pottery of Tamegroute. Enjoy a camel expedition across the Sahara at dusk and spend the night under the stars.
TaroudanntClimb aboard a 4x4 for an epic trip out to the Erg Chigaga sand dunes. Look out for the incredible sight of goats climbing argan trees on the way to the bustling market town of Taroudannt. Take to the souqs and haggle with local traders for silver jewellery or colourful Moroccan ceramics and mosaics.
Days 7-8 Essaouira
Travel to the seaside gem of Essaouira and discover a variety of active or relaxing things to do. Essaouira's old medina is a fascinating place to explore with a local guide, or perhaps take the opportunity to relax by the beach or browse the bubbly markets.
Days 9-10 Marrakech
Farewell the beach and head from Essaouira to Marrakech. Once again, get lost in the mayhem of the souqs or seek out Majorelle Gardens to relax in a tropical oasis.
I've read the forums, and have decided to use a pre-paid card for ATMs and purchases (Caxton FX), and I've been reading a lot about the culture and weather and attitudes to women etc.
I feel there are a few conflicting messages, or just that people have different experiences?
1) The weather seems very changeable throughout the different areas of this trip? Will I need extra warm clothing and sleeping bags etc for desert camp and Essouria? That's a lot to pack in a backpack!
2) I plan on spending time by myself - and i've read all kinds of stories here, from women being harassed, to women feeling very comfortable. To add to the equation, I'm a muslim women (who will be deemed extremely westernised). I'm not married, I don't wear a head scarf etc. Will I be viewed much more negatively than the standard woman who visits the country? Do I need to worry?
Should I wear a pretend wedding band (I ended up doing so In Egypt)? Should I take a head scarf? Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. I wouldn't want to aggravate anyone and would rather not draw attention to myself.
3) Again, I've read very conflicting responses on here, I plan to dress modestly, of course and respect the culture. Linen trousers - no leg! Are capped / short sleeves allowed? Some say yes, some say no. I'm going to struggle in heat and full sleeves!
Has anybody been on this tour previously? I'd love specific reviews - I've not spotted one yet! Any further tips are greatly appreciated. And apologies to anyone this is going to annoy - not intended to do so.