It’s an unfortunately inevitability in our travels that, at some point or another, we’re going to have to take on the “long weekend.” We all know it – that deceptive span of time that boasts the word “long” but is actually far too short.
No country can truly be explored with only 72 hours, (though an argument could be made for Monaco, given its impressively small size of 0.7 square miles.) But if a long weekend is all you’ve got (and you’re not headed to Monaco,) you’ve got to make the most of it. And that means picking one or two unforgettable experiences rather than trying to jam in so much you don’t remember any of it. Here we suggest one way to spend a long weekend – 72 precious hours – in Morocco.
A lifetime could be spent in Morocco immersing oneself in the culture. With a history of Berber, Saadi, French and Spanish rule (just to name a few,) the country enjoys an impressively rich diversity of language and culture. Combine that with a climate that ranges from lush Mediterranean to arid desert, and the possibilities for a traveler become numerous to the point of being overwhelming.
How does one tackle so much to see with so little time to see it? By identifying an immersing and unique experience. And one of the most unique and spectacular experiences to be had in Morocco is exploring its territory in the Sahara desert.
One of the easiest ways to explore Morocco’s desert is to start in Marrakech. While that puts the adventurous traveler a few hours away from the Sahara, it offers crucial benefits. Flying in and out of the Marrakech airport is generally one of the most economical ways to go, whereas arriving to cities like Fez or Casablanca can be more expensive. Equally important is the chance – however brief – to explore Marrakech. With no time to spare, take a walk through the city’s famed square, Jemaa el-Fnaa, which is teaming with life, color and spices.
After a city stroll, it’s off to the desert. There are several guided groups available to explore the Sahara in Morocco. Travelers should do their homework ahead of time. Looking to head into the sunset on a camel? Camp out under the stars? Sandboard down the dunes of the Sahara? All and more are possible, but with little expendable time, travelers should make sure to arrange with their groups ahead of time which experience they’re looking to have.
From Marrakech, it can take up to a day and a half to get deep into the desert. The trip to the dunes will introduce travelers to those Moroccans who live outside the bustle of city life, an important experience. The country is renown for its commitment to retaining historical landmarks and influences from the various cultures that have influenced its history, and one of the best ways to appreciate that is to get outside the city walls.
Upon arriving to the desert, the majesty of the Sahara makes the long journey worth it. Surrounded by great sand dunes on all sides, watching the moon rise over the horizon, and sharing the experience with locals is a long weekend one will never forget.
A long weekend in the Moroccan desert may not provide much time to find souvenirs to bring back home, but there’s one thing travelers will most certainly return with – a passion for Morocco, its people, and a fierce desire to come back. And with more than 72 hours next time.