Meringues, mix masters and the Marrakesh Medina

by Nicole Farrell

Marrakesh is the 4th largest city in Morocco. It's a fortified city with a medina packed with stalls and vendors. The medina is UNESCO listed. It is a maze of alleys with donkeys transporting goods, motorbikes and plenty of people. I honestly think it would be impossible to see it all. Everyday is a new adventure!

On this day, I was thrilled to discover meringues! As a self confessed sugar addict, meringues are a favourite! These remind me of the ones we used to have as kids from woolworths. Bags of tiny coloured meringues! Check out the size of the mix master! 

   

  

Our Morocco Highlights Tour departs in March which is a perfect time of year to visit. Discover more about the tour here.

12 Top Travel Tips for India

by Nicole Farrell

India is one of those countries that people have an opinion about. I regularly hear statements such as "Wow, I've always wanted to go'' or ''I could not deal with the poverty'' or ''did you get sick''.

India was top of my bucket list for more years than I wish to admit. Now I have been, I am so keen for other travellers to experience this amazing country. It is not without its challenges. However, you'll be rewarded with an amazing experience. Here are my top 12 tips:

1. Pack ear plugs

Even if you never sleep with ear plugs in, don't leave home without them! India is a country with lots of culture and a ton of festivals. Everyday is a festival somewhere in India! Indian people know how to party and this often means loud music, lots of food and of course amazing colour! Embrace the festivals but pack ear plugs as weddings can be an all night party!

  

2. The traffic is chaotic 

Lots of people and lots of traffic often results in chaos and in India there is the addition of the beloved horn! Yes, all drivers believe that tooting their horn will result in action so it is NOISY! Always walk when crossing the road as the traffic can judge and move around you. If you run they can't judge your speed! 

Speaking of traffic there is a fabulous documentary called 'Horn Please' which shows the folk art painting of trucks in India and how modern ways are changing traditions. I watched it online and really enjoyed it!

  

3. Wear appropriate clothing for the culture

India is a conservative, religious country and as a visitor, it is wise to dress appropriately. Cover your shoulders, arms and knees. There are plenty of shops that sell cotton tunics like the one I am wearing in the photo below. In cities, women are wearing jeans and Western clothing. However, in rural areas, ladies still wear sarees. 

 

4. Avoid uncooked food

When travelling in India, there are a few precautions you can take to avoid getting sick. Only drink bottled water and brush your teeth with bottled water too. Smart Traveller offers excellent advice.

5. Take a passport photo if you want to purchase an Indian SIM card

 Do you really need the internet 24/7? On my first trip to India I only used hotel and restaurant wifi and I LOVED it. I really felt like I was living in the moment and experiencing India. There was no temptation to post on Instagram or check my emails while I was out exploring. If you do need a SIM card, they can be purchased at the airport.

6. Print your flight details

To enter an airport in India, you need to present a printed copy of your flights. If you don't have this, there is a small office and you can pay to print!

7. Books are cheap in India 

If you love to read, India is a great place to pick up a few books. There is usually a good selection of books in English in one of the reputable book shops in each city.

8. Photographs

You'll be asked to be in lots of photos with Indian families, men, couples! Indian people love to have a photo with a foreigner. It does not seem to matter their age, hair colour etc, they like to get a selfie with you. Some people also ask you to hold their baby and have photos taken!

Indian people smile a lot UNTIL you ask to take their photo and then they look very serious!

9. The food is so good!

Garlic naan, curry, dahl, samosas....what is not to love? Just ask for the spices mild until you adjust your taste buds. Enjoy! I always take Travelan tablets or a good probiotic as a precaution when I travel in India. I also carry charcoal tablets. Do some research and prepare for your trip as best you can.

  

10. Don't over plan

There is a festival everyday in India and tourists are often welcomed with open arms. Allow time and flexibility to embrace these opportunities.

11. Don't over pack

Leave some room for shopping! India has amazing textiles, leather, jewellery and more. I always take a few older items of clothing which I am happy to leave behind. This means more room for shopping!

12. Be flexible

India is an amazing country with so much to offer travellers. However, you need to go with the flow and embrace the culture, chaos and fun!

We offer 3 tours to India in 2020. Our tours are in February and early March so the temperature is perfect for sightseeing. Discover more here.

   

Is the Sahara Desert On Your Bucket List?

by Nicole Farrell

EOne of the highlights on our Morocco tours is an overnight 'glamping' experience in the Sahara Desert. We'll share some of our favourite photos from this amazing experience.

  

Our desert adventure begins in Merzouga, a small town on the edge of the Sahara. To avoid the desert heat, we start our camel trek around 5pm. It is a 1 1/2 hour ride into the desert.

If you'd prefer not to ride a camel, we can arrange a 4WD to take you into the camp. This is a fun, exhilarating experience!

Tips for the perfect trip:

- wear long pants

- ensure your camera/phone is fully charged

- wear a scarf which can be used to protect your face from wind and sunburn if required

- drink lots of water prior to the ride

  

 This is our luxury camp site. It consists of about 8 tents and a dining tent. 

 I just love this rug...........and most of the rugs I saw in Morocco! 

    

The bathroom in each tent consists of a basin, shower with hot water and toilet. The beds have warm blankets and the dining room is heated. It can get cool in the evening in the desert so you  need a jacket for sunrise and sunset.

Highlights of the overnight trip include:

- sunset 

- sunrise (it is tough walking in the sand to reach the top of the dunes but worth it! 2 steps forward, 1 step back!

- a delicious dinner inside the gorgeous dining tent

- watching the stars and listening to Berber drumming after dinner

  

Learn more about the amazing bucket list experiences on our Morocco Highlights Tour. Our tour departs October 2019 which is an ideal time to visit Morocco. The weather is mild with an average top temperature of 22oC.