If there’s one thing that I enjoy doing before traveling, it is planning. I always plan everything in advance: the hotels, the means of transportation, recommended restaurants, places to visit… However, the more we plan, the more things go worse, and I’m starting to realize that, especially after this Morocco road trip. So, sit back, relax, and read about my experience!
Psst: if you’re traveling to Marrakesh, make sure to check out my Marrakesh travel guide!
The car rental nightmare
It all started on the day we were leaving Marrakech to go to Chefchaouen. It had already been a tough and stressful decision to quit our trip to desert, after multiple Moroccans advising us against driving on the snow – the Atlas Mountains were full of snow and icy roads, and to get to the desert we would have to cross them. So, for our own safety, we decided not to go and instead departed to Chefchaouen.
Yes, I lost all the money from the hotels and the big dream of sleeping in the Sahara Desert and riding a camel. I was already very sad and stressed, but at the same time looking forward to visiting Chefchaouen, The Blue Pearl.
Well, I had rented a car online, from a Moroccan company. I remembered I paid 40€ just to have full coverage and not have to pay a security deposit, and the remaining amount I would pay at the airport. We got a taxi to the airport, one hour late, but confident that it was an airport company.
Guess what? It wasn’t. I called the guy and half an hour later he showed up with another car (I had rented a Fiat 500). At that point I didn’t even care anymore, so I just asked him to sign the contract and pay. That’s when he tells me that we have to pay a 1200€ security deposit – when I had already paid online to avoid that deposit. Of course we didn’t have that amount of money, since we were still students/interns, and even if we had we wouldn’t agree on paying it.
So, suddenly, we were left with no car! I’m not gonna lie to you, we were fucked and I just wanted to cry. Then we went again to the airport and my boyfriend started negotiating with several car rental companies, trying to get the best price. We finally settled for a full-coverage insurance car, but we still had to pay a deposit of 300€ that would be given back when we returned the car. At that point I didn’t care, I just wanted to get on the road.
The crazy 9 hour trip
We finally got out of Marrakech, at 14h in the afternoon. We didn’t even have lunch, we were so overwhelmed with the whole car rental situation and a little bit nervous about driving at night, as we didn’t know the roads. So, we drove for about 4 hours on the high way at the speed limit (120) – there are radars everywhere – and we only stopped in Rabat to have late lunch at a restaurant in a service stop.
The drama began when we got out of the relaxing “auto route” and entered the national road. By that time the sun had set and the drivers started going crazy. Can you imagine how it is to drive on a dark road with big trucks constantly overtaking very dangerously?
We passed many small villages and hundreds of roundabouts. In every roundabout there was police. In every single one! But, surprisingly, we were not stopped once. As they saw we were tourists, they let us pass. Thanks, Moroccan police!
So, finally the GPS tells us to turn right, after 2 hours driving on a crazy straight road with roundabouts. We saw that we only had 90km left. Easy, right? Well, no. It turned out that we were going up a HUGE mountain and the road was literally just curves because, well, it’s a freaking huge mountain (sorry for the swearing).
And then there were crazy truck drivers overtaking all the time. At that point we were both so tired and nervous about driving in those conditions. Once again, we passed several small villages in the mountains – you wouldn’t believe there was so much life there – only to be taken by the darkness again after exiting those villages. And for 2 hours we drove in those conditions, stressed that we might be hit by a truck and fall of the mountain at any time.
The worst hotel I’ve ever stayed at
We finally arrived to Chefchaouen at 22:00h and had to park the car outside the village because you cannot drive in there. Then, the GPS didn’t work on those tiny streets. So we asked a random guy on the street about the hotel and it turned out the owner was on the street as well. He greeted us and then we went to the house.
We just left our bags on the room and went to have dinner at the only restaurant that was still open. I asked for vegetable couscous, but I was so tired that I wasn’t even able to eat. I didn’t even feel like talking, I just wanted to sleep.
So, we returned to the hotel and I decided to have a hot shower after the long drive – except there was no fucking water on the shower. Also, the towels were stained and looked disgusting and there was no wi-fi on the room!
But the worst: it was so freaking cold inside. On the street the temperature was 2 degrees, but I swear inside was even worse. And we had no heater (we even asked the guy). We were two and had 4 blankets, but still it was the coldest night I’ve ever spent in my life. When we woke up, our bedsheets had dew! And not to mention that for 2 days I wasn’t able to get a proper bath…
Despite all of this…
Well, I learned a lot. And now I have adventures and stories to tell. And Chefchaouen was totally worth it, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever stayed at. Stay tuned for a future post about Chefchaouen!