I’ve already made four trips to Morocco, but even then, I’ve barely scratched the surface of its incredible beaches, mountains and markets. When I was offered a trip back, this time with Intrepid, I was excited to dive back into the history, landscapes and culture of this North African again. At the same time, I know it’s not the easiest country to travel in.
As a Black woman, I’ve encountered many instances of racism, microaggressions and sexual harassment abroad, and unfortunately, I faced many problematic situations in Morocco too. Yet, despite its challenges, Morocco has plenty to offer.
One of the ways I like to prepare before travelling is by hearing from those who have done it before. If you want to visit Morocco with more confidence and ease but aren’t sure what to expect, let me share some tips.
1. Do your research before any trip
If you’re reading this, you’re already doing your research, which can help you avoid common pitfalls and guide your journey. Don’t forget to check the sociopolitical climate of any country before travelling.
Beyond reading about my experience, look up what it’s like to travel as a Black person in Morocco on Google and social media. You’ll find personal accounts from other Black travellers about their experiences in the country. Black travel sites like Travel Noire and my platform Melanin Travel also post regular content on what it means to be a Black traveller worldwide.
You may not want to, but you will likely stand out and attract attention as a Black traveller in Morocco. Even more so if you don’t adhere to the local dress codes and customs.
Morocco is a Muslim country, so remember to dress modestly and err on the side of caution. Be respectful while visiting religious sites and mindful of local etiquette like removing shoes before entering mosques, tipping and not drinking in public areas.
2. Explore Morocco outside of Marrakech
The crowded, sometimes chaotic vibes of Marrakech are what travellers normally expect of Morocco, so the city serves as a great introduction, but there’s so much more to see. It was easier to do this with Intrepid as we visited multiple cities in one trip.
Each place in Morocco has a different personality. I encourage you to find where you feel most confident and happy exploring. Once you venture out beyond the Red City of Marrakech, you’ll discover a quieter and calmer side of Morocco.
I loved the ancient feel of the world’s oldest medina in Fez. We explored the narrow pathways and soaked up the culture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. I felt at peace walking through the blue homes of Chefchaouen as a handful of people greeted me and complimented my outfit. While there was still some name-calling, it was isolated to particular areas instead of experienced multiple times throughout the day, as in Marrakech.
After exploring other cities, going to a cosmopolitan city like Casablanca can be a bit unexpected. It’s very modern and feels different to the rest of Morocco. Then there was the coastline and scenery in the quaint beach town of Asilah – once Spanish territory – which transported me to Southern Europe. In Asilah, you will even find Valencian dishes like paella and tortilla.
3. Prepare yourself for the inevitable
Every time I visit Morocco, I get called Mama Africa, Michelle Obama, Beyonce or Naomi Campbell countless times, or I feel hypersexualised by being catcalled. I get loads of stares as I walk down the street, especially if I’m alone. Some stares are tense, and some are curious. No matter how hard I try, I never blend in.
Being so visible all the time is overwhelming at best, but once I knew that it was just going to be part of the experience, it helped me mentally prepare for it. I was honest with myself and who I wanted to travel with because I only wanted supportive people around me. You can’t escape the negatives of travelling while Black, but you can be equipped with the knowledge so you can focus on enjoying your trip as much as you can.
However, if you face an unpleasant experience abroad, my advice is to prioritise your safety and do whatever feels right for you in that moment. Your sense of safety is personal and unique, so trying to mimic how someone else might respond could potentially be harmful. Always trust your instincts.
4. Travel with a group
I’m a solo traveller at heart, but I really appreciate group travel. When another person looks like you on a trip, you won’t feel completely alone in your experiences, thoughts and actions.
There were other people of colour on my trip, one a Black man, so I felt understood without needing to explain certain things. Most importantly, race wasn’t at the forefront of our conversations as it often can be with others you meet while travelling.
The leader on your trip matters too. I’ve felt alienated by guides on random tours I’ve booked before and had them make my race an uncomfortable topic, but I never felt that way with Abdellah Bouraihan, our Intrepid leader.
Abdellah was a godsend. Of course, he gave us in-depth information on Morocco, but he also helped me as a mediator and translator during difficult situations that could have been more challenging to diffuse if I were alone. Having support on-hand 24/7 allowed me to relax.
Plus, things that would generally be stressful, such as booking transport and tours, were already taken care of, so I could focus on having a good time. All I had to do was show up and take in Morocco’s beauty. I’d choose that feeling as a Black traveller any day.