Ease Yourself into Morocco with Chefchaouen

FYI: Most of the photos in this post (aka all the good ones) are from my friend Alex, who I met in Tangier and travelled throughout Morocco with. Check out his Instagram, @amilesphoto – he’s got a talent!

If you’ve heard of Morocco, you’ve probably seen a photo of Chefchaouen. It’s the famous blue city in the mountains, known for the fact that practically every building is painted a shade of light blue. Once you start digging into Moroccan travel, almost everyone reports that it’s one of the most hassle-free cities in Morocco: a big advantage, especially for a girl.

Reports differ on whether it’s just the small town vibe that chills Chefchaouen out or if every resident is just constantly a little bit stoned (apparently it’s hash central), but either way it’s a delight.

I arrived to Chefchaouen with a bit of trepidation: me and my newly acquired traveling companion, Alex from England, arrived via bus and grand taxi, with 3 other tourists in our car. The only local in the car, riding shotgun, made aggressive eye contact with me, via the rearview mirror, for the entire ride and it was extremely unsettling.

When we got out of the car, the girl next to me pulled me aside and whispered in my ear, warning me to be careful – I thanked her, and for once, appreciated the fact that I wasn’t travelling alone. Then we went and wandered around some hostels until we found one with availability, and as it turned out we made the best choice ever. We stayed at Hostel Aline and met so many cool people from around the world.

I could have stayed in Chefchaouen for a week. With the hostel costing $8, hassle-free stores where I could actually shop without feeling attacked, a main square where I felt safe relaxing alone at night, and gorgeous surrounding scenery to boot: it’s pretty much the perfect place to ease yourself into Morocco.

Akchour Waterfalls

If you want to take advantage of the nature around Chefchaouen, I’d recommend checking out les Cascades d’Akchour, some gorgeous waterfalls nearby. A few of us originally intended to go, but as it turned out about 15 of us made the trip. This made for a super fun day, but a super hard time finding enough taxis to take us.

Also, one of our drivers didn’t speak seemingly any language – we tried French, German, Spanish, English, Arabic, even a few words of the local Berber dialect!!! I’m still curious what language he could speak.

Anyway, after a gorgeous drive through the mountains to the starting point of a hike to the waterfalls, we were accosted by some ‘guides’ and decided to hire one, since there were so many of us to split the cost. He was very nice and took us through the completely unmarked path – it’s probably about two hours to the start of the waterfalls, and I think you can go much farther than we did.

Reading reviews, it appears to be a pretty busy spot sometimes, but we only ever saw a few other travellers. It was peaceful and gorgeous, and the sweltering heat made our arrival at the waterfall even more exciting – we couldn’t wait to jump in.

After a while of swimming, and making our guide take pictures with about 18 different cameras, most of the guys jumped off the top of a waterfall, and I passed because I’m a baby. On the hike back to the parking lot, our guide decided it would be fun to start up a chat with me that involved giving me his phone number, inviting me back to meet his mother, etc. etc. He also called me about twelve times the next day. Needless to say, I did not meet his mother.

What else to do in Chefchaouen

Other than the classic wandering around, shopping and hanging out with other travellers, hiking above the city to get a view of all the blue buildings is the one must-do.

Hiking in a maxi dress – would not recommend

Your hostel staff can likely give you directions, but we basically just found a path that led into the hills and walked there until we had a view. There were some houses up there, I chatted to some lovely locals, and nervously avoided some goats. (Anybody else kind of afraid of goats? Just me?)

Enjoy the amazing vistas and try to tear yourself away from Chefchaouen – it’ll be hard. When we finally managed, we had picked up three new German travel buddies, and the five of us would remain a team until each of our flights home.

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