Morocco: Where You Should Head on Your Next Adventure
Summertime for most travelers will include travel for leisure, not just business, and while many Americans take the family to hot spots within the United States, more and more are traveling abroad.
According to a study done by Get Going Travel Insurance using data from the U.N. World Tourism Organization, the U.S. ranked second for outbound travelers and spent over $135 billion in overseas tourism. Perhaps it's because of the excellent economy or just all those darn Millennials searching for new experiences, either way; it's time to call Mira Vista Aviation and book a trip to someplace that will both excite and rejuvenate.
Mexico and Canada are the first stop for many Americans going abroad. The comfort of not leaving the continent gives the two countries the majority percentage of outbound U.S. travelers. European cities also see a high share of American visitors with the connection of heritage, bringing consistent tourism over the last few decades. In recent years, a few countries off the beaten path, have struck a chord with seasoned and green travelers alike. Iran, Japan, and West African nations have jumped ahead as must-see places piquing more interest than in years past.
One country in particular recently garnered the attention of Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Camp Digital, Carly Mask, the Kingdom of Morocco. Morocco sits in Northern Africa bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Economically, Morocco has impacted the textile markets for years and is dependent on the export of agriculture and other natural resources. Morocco has long held romantic value, thanks to movies like Casablanca, and has recently seen a surge in interest having the city of Marrakech designated as the African Capital of Culture in 2020.
Mask trekked,via camel, through the beautiful coastal nation and took in its many wonders including the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, Atlas Mountains and local markets. Need Proof? Check her out on Instagram(@carlymask). Her inspirational posts gave everyone at Mira Vista Aviation major FOMO. So, we asked her to provide us with all the details before we book our next trip east.
MIRA VISTA:Boring questions first. What was your largest hassle, if you had any, about booking your trip to Morocco? Did you obtain VISAS or have to do anything unique to visit?
MASK:"I had always dreamed of visiting Morocco, and it seemed like such an exotic, faraway destination. Getting there was quite the trek (especially from Santa Barbara, California). We flew into Madrid, Spain to explore a new city and break the journey up a bit, then flew directly from Madrid (MAD) to Marrakesh Airport (RAK). We didn't have to obtain and special visas, as visas aren't required for visits lasting less than 90 days for travelers coming from the U.S. You simply need a valid passport with at least one blank page."
MIRA VISTA:How did you decide where to stay and where did you ultimately end up spending your time?
MASK:"I planned my trip to Morocco with Nomoon Travel, a certified travel agency based in L.A. that curates small-group global tours, off-sites, and tailor-made itineraries. Nomoon is all about supporting local businesses, providing authentic experiences, and sustainable tourism while having a good time (which I'm also all about).
"We spent a couple of nights in Madrid, Spain, then flew to Morocco for two nights in Marrakesh, and a few nights in the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. We covered a lot of ground in a few days; camel trekking through the desert, staying at authentic riads, and traveling throughout Dades Valley, Draa Valley, and Todgha Gorge."
MIRA VISTA:We're sure you did your research before traveling, deciding where you wanted to go and what you wanted to see. Of your list of finds, what provided the best eye candy? Alternatively, what took you by surprise at its majesty?
MASK:"It's difficult to narrow it down to just one place! I'd say the three most magical places in Morocco, for me, as far as, 'eye candy,' and for my wanderlust spirit were the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakesh, the textile markets around the city, and the small Moroccan town of Merzouga in the Sahara Desert. Marrakesh is filled with shopping stalls, majestic doors, and vibrant tiles around every corner–there are finds for everyone, as Morocco has some of the best quality and most unique textiles in the world.
“The YSL Museum blew me away. I could have spent an entire day there, marveling at the Majorelle Garden, sipping coffee at the café, and admiring YSL's Morocco-inspired masterpieces on display that span his 40-year career. As for the Sahara Desert, it was magical, so surreal. I'd suggest camel caravanning at sunset and watching the sunrise over the dunes. The pink and orange hues cast on the sand during these times left me speechless, and it was fun to remote and off the grid for a few days, as we went glamping under the stars.”
MIRA VISTA:When Americans think African cuisine, we tend to think of traditional West African meals, but what did Morocco, quite literally, bring to the table food wise? What was worth trying? Was there anything worth the story but not the taste?
MASK:"The cuisine in Morocco is one of the things that surprised me the most. The palette and offerings seemed quite limited, with most restaurants and riads often presenting chicken tagine as the main entree option. Though the flavors and offerings felt repetitive, the presentation of the tagine was always special. I always thought of Morocco as famous for its spices and flavors and was again surprised that most of the foods felt under-seasoned and mild. I'd encourage travelers to make a stop at duty-free at the airport and to bring their own wine or spirits if they want to enjoy a drink with dinner. Most places did not serve alcohol, but had wine glasses in case guests brought their own."
MIRA VISTA:We know you brought back some stellar prizes from local markets. What's worth the purchase and in the same respect what is worth skipping? We try to organize souvenirs into two categories, Van Gough and Eiffel Tower Key Chain.
MASK:"Every country seems to have its specialties, as it relates to not only food but also textiles. One of the things I was looking forward to most when traveling to Morocco was hand selecting a couple of antique rugs that our family can cherish for years to come. There's something special about having little memories from our travels surrounding us in our home—plus, they make great conversation pieces. I was worried about getting the rugs home, wondering if and how people carry on or check their textiles to bring them back.
"The good news is, most established shops take credit cards and have official shipping methods that take just a few weeks to arrive. And, let's just say, there were more rugs to choose from than you could even imagine. We bought our rugs from a local Berber village (which means we were able to support local Berber families with our purchases). It costs $100 to ship each rug home, and they arrived only 2-3 weeks after I returned. A few other favorites that I scored include ceramic tile purses, cotton pom-pom blankets, and poufs constructed from Moroccan rugs and handwoven fabrics.
"Another quick tip for textile buying or souvenir scoping in Morocco, as with most countries, is cash is king. Head to a local ATM upon arrival and withdraw amounts needed each day (so as not to carry too much cash on you at any one time). Tipping and bartering with cash goes a long way. Morocco also had extremely limited cell service and WiFi, so be prepared to be a bit more remote and off the grid than usual."
MIRA VISTA:You're a stylish Instagram influencer on top of being a boss lady. Morocco has and is influential in the fashion world when it comes to textiles, particularly denim. Did you find any piece of Morocco you would adapt into your daily style?
MASK:"You're too kind! I love immersing myself in new cultures, and picking up trends from each place I visit, trying to incorporate new pieces into my daily wardrobe and lifestyle. The pieces that I will integrate into my style here will be three different purses I bought constructed by hand with bits and pieces of tiles. They are so many unique designs, and I've never seen them anywhere else. And not only are they a statement and conversation piece, but they're super functional and are the perfect fit daily essentials."