After 4 hours of border crossings, visa applications, and transfers, we finally arrived to Zimbabwe, Africa, completely drained from the past 10 hours of transiting. As we stepped out of our shuttle van and proceeding on the dirt path, I caught what I thought was a pig in the corner of my eye. But alas, it was a warthog! A cute little (big) “Pumba” grazing nearby. I had a feeling this was the first of many Lion King fantasies that would come to life on this journey staying at Victoria Falls River Lodge. Little did I know…
We climbed into a small boat with our luggage, where we were escorted for the 10 minute ride across the Zambezi River. We started to feel really giddy as we had no idea what to except for the next 2 days in front of us. That and the fact that the wind in our face was a great wake-up call!
We finally pulled up to a cute little dock where several of the team members of Victoria Falls River Lodge joyfully welcomed us. Is this what royalty feels like? I don’t know, but I’ll take it! We let ourselves feel “cool” for a minute..until we realized each and every guest gets escorted by boat. Oh well, it felt good while it lasted haha.
The Victoria Falls River Lodge is not a Hotel, it’s an EXPERIENCE. Let me explain…
As soon as we arrived into the spectacular open-air lobby, we were given a welcome drink as well as a “briefing”. The basic message of the briefing: “we are situated in the Zambezi National Park with no fences or barriers between us and the wild animals. For this reason, you will need to be escorted back to your rooms after dark by one of our trained field guides. You may not walk back to your room alone”.
Excuse me, what did he just say? We are basically on the grounds of a live nature reserve with NO BARRIERS? NO EFFING BARRIERS!!! Carey and I looked at each other with huge eyes and gasped a little. WOW. This is going to be an intense few days.
This was the start to something fabulous, we could feel it! I mean, what other time in your life are you going to experience something like this?
Victoria Falls River Lodge is made up of 14 luxury tents situated on the edge of the Zambezi River. Included in your stay is 3 gourmet meals a day, free coffee/tea/snacks available all day, one sunrise or sunset game drive AND one sunrise or sunset river cruise, as well as the entrance fee to the Zambezi National Park.
We really loved the fact that there were only 14 tents available because this made this a more intimate experience with only a few guests staying at one time. As a result, the staff were able to give us their undivided attention.
In particular, the young manager named Andrew checked in with us at every meal, making sure we were having the BEST time. He was super engaging and you could really feel that he wanted to make sure this was an unforgettable experience for us. Well, he definitely accomplished that! He became more like a friend in the short 2 days we spent there. If you’re reading this, thank you and we miss you Andrew! 🙂
One of the most visually stunning aspects of Victoria Falls River Lodge is the open-air lobby and restaurant. The lounge area is formed by a crescent-shaped thatched roof and offers panoramic views of the Zambezi River and surrounding area.
On one side is the dining area and the other side is a huge area for lounging with comfy couches and simple local decor.
Down a little walkway off the main lobby is a bar area that opens up with an awesome view over the Zambezi River. It was closed when we were there in August, but we still went and lounged around there and took some photos.
There was also a small pool and lounge area right near the lobby/dining area. We were told that elephants were just grazing in this area a few days before!
Included in your stay at Victoria Falls River Lodge is 3 gourmet meals per day. Alcohol is NOT included and you must pay extra for that. You are given a tab at checkout for all your extras. A glass of wine was only $3.50, and it was a HUGE glass. In American measures, it was more like a double glass of wine. I sat back in bliss as they poured my jumbo glass of wine. Paradise found? Haha.
Yumm salmon salad for lunch
We were given a menu at every meal with a few items to choose from including fish, salads, steak, and vegetarian options. They were also very flexible with gluten free options and offered me a few different varieties of foods. There was also coffee and snacks available at all times of the day. Overall, the food was great! I had no complaints.
Our EPIC Luxury Treehouse
My childhood treehouse fantasies came to life in this magnificent dwelling that we got to call home for 2 nights. First of all, it was super spacious. Second of all, it was so nicely decorated and cozy. There was SO much to do around the lodge but we didn’t want to leave our room.
The shower/bath area was HUGE and it felt very freeing to shower in this big space. A thin curtain could be pulled for privacy from the outside room. There was also an outdoor shower if you fancied it! It was quite cold during the early mornings and late night so we didn’t use the outdoor shower unfortunately.
There was a nice deck with lounge chairs and a jacuzzi overlook the river. It was gorgeous. We were told that this was a popular spot to see hippos, rhinos, and elephants drinking, but we weren’t lucky enough to see that.
We did however wake up one morning to all the plants and shrubs trampled over, hinting that a herd of hippos were right next to our tent! A little scary but exciting nonetheless. We also were awoken one night to the sound of scratching noises on our tent. We never found out what it was but it was freaky!
We had 2 separate twin beds that were covered with a large mosquito net. There weren’t outlets near the bed, but they were located in the center counter area. There was also a big comfy couch in the living area, heating/AC, and yes, an actual tree trunk in the center of the treehouse! This place was AWESOME! This was definitely glamping to the fullest!
Note: the tent is raise above the ground so you aren’t in any real danger when you are inside.
Game Drive (included)
All guests are offered an inclusive game drive, with the option of early morning or evening. Although we HATE waking up early, we opted for the early morning game drive as this is prime time for large feline viewing. We were picked up at our treehouse villa around 6am and taken to the lobby for a quick coffee and snack. We were then off on our game drive through the Zambezi National Park, aka our backyard! We were the only ones on the morning game drive so it was like we had our own little private VIP safari!
The early morning air was crisp and frigid, and we were given blankets and a big heat compress to warm our hands. It was pitch black when we started, but the morning sun soon peaked in warming us up a bit.
Nothing but smiles with our awesome safari guide!
Unfortunately, you aren’t ever guaranteed to see the coveted animals during a game drive and we were a little unlucky that morning. We did, however, get to see endless amounts of Pumba’s, colourful birds, a flock of baboons, and a few crocodiles! I look at it as a warm up of what was to come in Africa!
We stopped along the riverbank where we disembarked from the open air vehicle and took some photos of the surrounding area. Our guide set up a nice little breakfast picnic on the front of his vehicle, consisting of coffee and pastries. Usually on safaris, you cannot get out of the vehicle, so this was really cool to step off onto the sole where wild animals roam! The view was spectacular and we basked in it for a bit before packing up and heading back.
You also have an option of a sunrise or sunset river cruise, and we opted for the latter. It turned out to be a great choice! We were treated with wine and cheeses/crackers as we set sail on the river.
We though it was just a river cruise, but we had no idea it was a river cruise game drive! (For that reason, we didn’t bring our cameras and our phone pics didn’t turn out so well…so not many animal pics to show). Our guide stopped in a shallow area and to our surprise we saw our first signs of hippos! We couldn’t help but sing the hungry hungry hippo song! C’mon, you know you would have too!
It was incredible to get up that close to a real live hippo! Let alone a whole pack of them. We were then shocked to learn from our guide that hippos cannot actually swim! WHAT? Ya, I didn’t believe it until i googled it. Talk about doubting Thomas. Apparently they are TOO HEAVY TO SWIM! So they just push their hooves across the bottom of the water. The more you know..
The BEST part of the river cruise was on our way back, thinking the cruise was over, we spotted a large herd of elephants drinking water at the river’s edge. Our first elephant siting in the wild brought a flood of emotions and we both had tears in our eyes! Our guide pulled up as close as he could (without disturbing them), and we just observed. It was incredible! The first big animal sighting is something you will never forget!
The newest addition to the lodge is a spa with a spectacular view of the Zambezi River offering massages, manis/pedis, and more. We snuck in a 30 minute massage into our hectic schedules and it was incredible. There is something extra relaxing about getting a massage right on the edge of the peaceful waterfront. It was the perfect way to wind down from all the adrenaline activities we had participated in.
Oh, did I mention Victoria Falls River Lodge will help Plan ALL your adventure activities?
This made it so much less stressful. We were given a little booklet with all the activity info in our rooms so we could get an idea of what we wanted to do. We relayed that to the concierge and he contacted the 3rd party vendors to get all the details. They even arranged a shuttle to transport us (and by shuttle I mean one of their open air safari vehicles!).
The activities we decided on were the gorge swing, the flying fox, Devil’s Pool, and a microlight flight over the falls! You can read all about them in my recent blog post (+video) here, where I coined Victoria Falls the “Mini Adventure Capital of the World”.
Here’s a short YouTube video I made of all the awesome activities we did in Victoria Falls:
We were first dropped off at the entrance to the falls, where we ventured to view the falls up close. Entrance is $30. After that we walked about 5-10 minutes to the Lookout Cafe where they offered most of the high wire activities, including bungee jumping, gorge swing, flying fox, and more!
Tip: make sure you book your activities as far in advance as you can because they do sell out, especially in peak season!
To sum up our 2 days in Victoria Falls River Lodge, my travel partner in crime CareBear Abroad made this awesome video:
PIN for later 🙂
Disclaimer: We were guests of Victoria Falls River Lodge; however, my opinions and AMAZING experience are my own. I would never recommend a place I didn’t truly LOVE. Carebear Abroad and I had a blast!
Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. It’s also rated as the biggest waterfall in the world (based on combined width of 5,604 ft and height of 354 ft.).
Victoria Falls goes by the nickname “the Smoke that Thunders”. After my first glimpse of the falls, no explanation was needed as to how it got that nickname. The power of the falls is overwhelming.
But who knew Victoria Falls was so big on adventure activities? I sure as hell didn’t. I thought it was just a big epic waterfall honestly. But no, there is so much more! It’s like a mini adventure capital of the world! Adrenaline junkies, take note!
So, what to do in Victoria Falls? A crap load!!! Here is a quick video recap taken from my YouTube channel. (In case you don’t want to read and just want to watch a video).
From the numerous high wire activities on the Zimbabwe side such as gorge swinging, zip-lining, bungee jumping, the flying fox, to the microlight and Devil’s pool activities on the Zambia side, you most certainly will not be bored with the endless amount of adventure activities in Victoria Falls.
With only 2.5 days there, we decided to pack as much in as we could. Here are the top 4 adventure activities in Victoria Falls that you must do!
What to Do in Victoria Falls
1. Microlight Flight (best activity of my life, no joke.)
So what exactly is a microlight flight? A microlight flight is basically like a hang-glider but with a motorized engine. That’s the best way I can describe it. It fits one person at a time and it’s just you and the pilot.
Livingstone’s Adventure is the company we went with, who subcontracts out to Batoka Sky. Batoka Sky prides itself on its 100% safety record since opening in 1993. Meaning, no one had ever died during their flights!!!
The pilots also have the most flying hours out of anyone in the world. After learning that, my fears gradually subsided. Flights start at $155, which isn’t cheap. But where else in the world can you fly over the biggest waterfalls in the world in a tiny little motorized hang-glider thingy? The answer is nowhere!
Their signature flight is called “Flight of the Angels”, and rightfully so! If I could describe my experience in one word, it would be HEAVENLY.
While I was up in the air and the pilot was asking me how I felt, I had an unexpected moment. I burst into tears, I couldn’t even answer him. And I don’t mean just tears filling my eyes, I mean uncontrollable balling. For those that know me, I hate crying, I won’t ever show it and I like to remain calm and collected. But this time, it was out of my control and I just let myself feel it. Sometimes we just need to let ourselves FEEL! ♥
I wasn’t expecting to be that overwhelmed by emotions, but the power and beauty of mother nature overcame me. As I was soaring over the falls, there was a stillness, a silence. Despite the loud engine and wind blowing in my ears, I didn’t hear anything. It was as if someone picked up a controller and put the world on mute. The power of the falls showed themselves and I felt so small in the world.
On the way back, we saw elephants grazing in the water and a heard of buffalo traversing the land. It’s EXACTLY what I envisioned Africa to be. A land that is wild and free, and more radiating than anything I had ever seen.
If you do ONE activity in Victoria Falls, please make it the MicroLight Flight!!
2. Flying fox
(I like to call it Superman) since you’re strapped in face down and your arms and legs are free to soar through the air. When I got to the platform, the guide said nonchalantly, “just run and jump off”. WHAT?! Had I known about this before I might have chickened out. But once you’re up there it’s too late and you’re too deep in it to back down.
He counted down from 5 and away I went! I catapulted into the air and over the canyon gorge. For someone afraid of heights, my heart was racing but the adrenaline kicked in and I relaxed slightly for the ride. Once you’re done, they let you sit there for a minute and you have time to take in exactly where you are. Dangling over a 100 meter drop, no worries, right? It was quick, but incredible! (TWSS?) 🙂
3. Gorge Swing
The gorge swing is similar to a bungee jump but there is no buoyancy in the rope so you basically swing back and forth. I don’t ever like to recommend something I didn’t experience personally, but I was with my travel partner Carebear Abroad who did it simultaneously as I was doing the Flying fox and she highly recommends it! I remember seeing her face when she came back and she could barely speak she was so hyped on adrenaline. She even told me it might even be scarier than bungee jumping! I think her face in the photo below explains everything, haha.
The Devil’s pool is a little pool directly on top of the falls where you can swim and sit on the ledge of the actual falls. Think infinity pool…with a 355 foot drop. No big deal!
There is nowhere else in the world like it and it’s something you don’t want to miss. In fact, this was our main reason for visiting Victoria Falls! It was I-N-S-A-N-E! I have no idea how we didn’t fall off the ledge, it was unbelievable!
The Devil’s Pool must be reserved days in advance. We had no idea and were told it was fully booked the 2 days we were there. We were super bummed until we were told there were spots at 7:30am with Tongabezi Tours on the day of our departure. Our flight was not until 1pm so we jumped on the opportunity. Plunging into that frigid water that early in the morning definitely woke us up! It was a kick of energy we definitely needed as exhaustion was kicking in at this point. Who needs coffee after that?
We arrived to the airport with wet hair and probably didn’t smell the best after being in that water. But what we took with us are memories that will last a lifetime. Worth it 100%!!!
The staff is awesome and were doing backflips into the little pool on top of the falls. A little crazy if you ask me, but they seemed to have a lot of experience with it! They were also great with taking lots of pictures for us with our phones and keeping them nice and dry. They gave us a mini photo shoot up there and we were eating it up!
An added bonus was the luxurious breakfast we were served. I wasn’t expecting that given that we were on a tiny island with nothing around. On the menu was eggs benedict, coffee, biscuits, and scones.
The tour is pricy at $90 but don’t let that deter you. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat if I could! Yes, it’s completely worth the $90 if you’re wondering.
Note: only do this activity if you can swim against a moderate current. To get to the pool, you must walk across slippery rocks and swim through deep parts of the falls against a moderate current. Water shoes with traction would have been helpful as well. Do people still wear those?
So…Should You Visit Victoria Falls?
If you’re even thinking about going to Victoria Falls and wondering if it’s worth it, let me tell you that it completely blew me away and quite frankly I think it’s underrated AF. My only regret is not spending an extra day there.
I recently spent some time in Queenstown, New Zealand, the “adventure capital of the world”, and honestly Victoria Falls gives it a run for the money when it comes to unique adventure activities on offer.
If Victoria Falls wasn’t on your radar before, hopefully I have convinced you to check it out! Stay tuned for another post soon detailing all you need to know about traveling to Victoria Falls.
Have you been to Victoria Falls? What was your Favorite Activity? Do Tell!
Note: Carey and I were guests of Livingstone’s Adventure/Bakota Sky for our MicroLight Flight. My opinions, however, remain my own and I am in no way obligated to write a positive review. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and was completely life-changing. I would highly recommend this company! All other activities mentioned were paid for in full on our own. ♥
Who doesn’t have “doing a safari in Africa” on their bucket list? This girl sure did! I have always dreamt about doing a safari, since I was young. In fact, it was at the very TOP of my bucket list. However, this dream never seemed like a reality as I was always told safaris cost like 5 grand. WRONG!
If you’re not too high maintenance and don’t mind “roughing it” a little (and by roughing it I mean glamping), they can totally be affordable for most budgets!
As my friend CareBear Abroad and I would be in South Africa, we really wanted to visit Kruger National Park, the biggest safari park in South Africa!
Searching for a tour company can be extremely overwhelming because there are SO many tours in Kruger National Park. The one thing we did know is that we wanted a safari with a SMALL group size for a more personalised experience. This is a once-in-a-lifetime-experience and we wanted it to be perfect!
We found a tour company called Africa Spear Safaris that offered small group safaris. It got great reviews and had a very reasonable price. Bingo! We chose the 4day/3night option with a pickup from Johannesburg.
I think I can speak for Carey as well and say this was one of the best experiences of our lives! NOTHING can compare with being in the wild in Africa on a safari!
Note: Please don’t go on a safari unless you have a nice zoom lens. I made the mistake and have literally no good pics to show from it. Thankfully, my travel partner Carebear Abroad was with me on this trip and she was able to supply most of the wildlife pics for this article (as marked). Thank you Carey!!! ♥
Kruger National Park Safari
So, What Exactly do you DO on a Safari?
This may sound stupid, but I have always wondered what you do all day on a safari. Well, I can tell you that you go out searching for animals on a game drive LITERALLY ALL DAY LONG!
Our mornings started at about 5am with a small pre-brekkie snack and coffee at 5:45am. I am so NOT a morning person and nothing can get me out of bed at 5am…except animals! I love animals to death. Maybe even more that people. Is that bad?
The first morning game drive starts at 6am sharp, prime time for large feline viewing! After brekkie, you embark on another game drive in the afternoon, followed by lunch and then a final late afternoon game drive.
Dinner usually commences at 7 or 8 and then it’s time to pass out. It was an exhausting schedule, but 100% worth it. The adrenaline and excitement kept us awake all day! That and coffee…lot’s of it!
The first night we had a BBQ dinner with choice of steak, chicken, or pork. It was really tasty and we were were even offered seconds!
We brought our own wine into the safari camps, which saved us money. I recommend stocking up if you plan to engage in consuming any alcohol (and I fully support this action ♥).
Does a Small Group Size Really Make a Difference?
OMG, HELL YES it does! Carey and I were accompanied by a lovely British family of 3, making a total of only 5 people in our vehicle. I cannot tell you how much of a difference this made! We were really able to bond with this family and now have some new friends in the UK!
Our small safari crew and awesome guide Dave. We miss you guys!!
As we were driving through Kruger, we saw so many other bigger safari vehicles jam packed with people. The people in the middle had a crappy view and couldn’t really get in position for great photos. I am SO glad we chose the smaller group as it made the experience so much more memorable!
Are you in Danger During a Safari?
A traditional safari vehicle is an open vehicle, meaning the sides and sometimes the top are fully open and exposed. The guide will explain to you on day one to avoid loud noises, sudden movements, or sticking any body part outside of the vehicle as wild animals can see this as a threat.
So really, you aren’t guaranteed full safety, but don’t let that deter you. Nothing is guaranteed in life. They take out 100’s of vehicles daily and the chance of something bad happening is slim. Just follow your guide’s precautions and you will be fine! The fear of a dangerous animal encounter is half the thrill! Trust me on this one.
What Kind of Close Animal Encounters Did We Experience?
Here is s quick clip straight from my iPhone that I put on IG, just to give you a little idea of what you will see…
Our first morning started out with a sunrise over the dewy/foggy land. Out of nowhere, the mysterious elephants appeared in the distance. It was so eerie and beautiful, it’s something I will never forget!
The scariest part was when one huge bull elephant came within 10 feet of our vehicle, stopped and stared us down for a good 5 seconds, and then went on his way. I’m not going to lie, I was trembling as I realised the power of this humungous being weighing a few tons. At any moment he could have charged and trampled us.
We had a prime location on the road and the lions started to cross RIGHT beside our vehicle. They literally came within 2 inches of the car. At any point, they could have jumped up and mauled us to death and my heart was racing like I had never experienced before.
We were able to see the whole pack of lions cross with a front row seat! Our guide Dave said that in 30 years that was the second best lion encounter he has ever witnessed.
The thrill and adrenaline that runs through your veins when you’re up close and personal with a deadly wild animal is the most exciting thing I have ever experienced in my life. It’s something hard to explain and you would only understand once it happens to you! It gives me goosebumps just thinking of it.♥
What kind of animals do you see at Kruger National Park?
A shit ton! Here is a list of animals we saw:
What is the Big 5?
The coveted big 5 consists of the elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, and leopard. This is why most people go on safaris, to see the prized big 5!
You are never guaranteed to see the Big 5 quite honestly. But I’d say you have a good chance in Kruger. We were lucky enough to see the big 5 twice! We actually saw the big 5 on one single game drive in the afternoon. It was incredible!
“Oh my God, oh my God, go back, go back…..leopard…in..tree”.
I could barely speak as I saw this beautiful creature lounging high up in the tree. The above photo is of the leopard I spotted with my own eyes after we were eagerly searching for the last of the Big 5 animals.
At one point I thought we might not get to see one as the leopard is the most elusive and difficult to spot out of all the Big 5. My crazy cat lady instincts kicked in big time and of course I would be the one to spot this gorgeous large cat. #catwhisperer ♥
What Should You Wear During a Safari?
We had our safari in August, which is technically their summer. Winter is their dry season, and we were told by our guide that August and September were the best months to visit Kruger National Park.
Anyway, winter in South Africa means frigid mornings and evenings and very hot afternoons. I would definitely recommend bringing a jacket, hat, gloves, wool socks. It was also a little windy when were were driving, adding to the cold.
We always brought a change of clothes for the afternoon as it got super hot. You will have time to change during lunch hour so keep that in mind! We were bundled up for winter in the mornings and evenings, and in tank tops and shorts in the afternoons.
You also want to keep in mind that you will want to wear something comfy as you will be sitting in a vehicle literally all day. I wore my gym pants/leggings every day and it worked out perfect. When it comes to safaris, comfort definitely wins over style!
Note: you definitely want to bring some bug spray and/or mosquito repellant bracelets for your safari. I didn’t want to take malaria pills due to the possible side effects (personal choice) so I made sure I covered myself from getting eaten alive. I used a combo of natural bug spray and bracelets. I also do NOT like Deet chemicals so I went with the natural alternatives which worked out excellent! I didn’t get ANY mosquito bites on my entire 4-day safari so I highly recommend the below products I used.
Is Kruger National Park too Touristy?
Yes and no. But for the most part no. Let me explain. At some points, especially with the lion viewings, there were way too may vehicles there than we would have liked. Our guide Dave informed us that there are even FaceBook group dedicated to spotting the big cats (lions and leopards). With real time updates, these vehicles were able to get to the scene very quickly. But half the fun of a safari is spotting the animals on your own! So I don’t get it.
On the other hand, the fact that there are daily vehicles cruising through the park, the animals are used to the noise of the engines. Therefore, they never get scared away and you can view them in their natural habitat! A huge plus! I would also assume they are less likely to attack humans due to this, but hey, that’s just my opinion.
What are the Accommodations Like?
Let me start by saying I am SO not a camper. It doesn’t mean i’m high maintenance. It just means I like electricity and NO bugs. So I knew this would be a challenge for me.
Have you heard of glamping? Welp, this was kinda like that and it ended up being not that bad! We were able to try out 3 different accommodation types on this safari.
1.Simple “tent cabin”: this was basically like a little hut with 2 beds, a fridge, and a small dresser, and thats about it! The communal bathrooms/showers were about a 50 meter walk from our place. It was scary at night and we were warned of possible monkeys and/or hyenas, so once it got dark, we decided to hold it until the morning.
Note: most the cabins had only one or 2 outlets, so keep that in mind if you have a lot of electronics to charge. In the last cabin, there was only ONE outlet so we had to share, which really sucked seeing as we both had our phones, cameras, Gopro’s, and extra power banks to charge. We made it work, but barely!
I have been using the Jackery dual power bank for the past year and it was a total lifesaver on this trip! It has 2 USB ports to charge and it charged my iPhone and camera batteries at least 3 full charges each. This power bank is slightly heavier than I would like it to be, but it’s by far the BEST I’ve ever used and a must have for my travels.
*You also have the option to upgrade accommodations so make sure to check when booking your safari!
The Importance of a Great Safari Guide
Iv’e said this many times before: a tour guide can really make or break a tour! We got lucky with the BEST guide named Dave.
He had been a park ranger for 25+ years and his passion for it seeped through his skin. A plus was that he knew a bunch of secret spots for viewings and never let us down!
He was highly engaged with us and always made sure were were comfortable and having a good time. He had a soft demeanour and was the nicest guy! We miss you Dave!
He was constantly informing of us animal behaviours, pointing out each and every bird species, and telling us some crazy stories. If you happen to get a tour guide named Dave, please ask him about the elephant whisperer story! Pretty creepy!
Pros and Cons
small group size (5 total)
private transport all the way from Johannesburg
our awesome guide Dave
3 game drives a day
high chance of seeing the big 5 (we saw them twice!)
BBQ dinner was great
thrilling animal encounters
accommodations were basic, but much better than sleeping in a zip-up tent!
not many gluten free options (story of my life)
not many food options in general
lack of outlets (hey, this is supposed to be roughing it, isn’t it? Haha)
Note: I must mention one of the cons specifically was that the owner forgot about my gluten allergy (not cool). I was able to eat the BBQ, but the early morning snacks of muffins, etc I couldn’t eat so I was literally starving and hangry. On the other hand, Dave was awesome and went with me to a little shop and personally bought me some snacks to eat in the mornings, so it worked out. Forgetting about a food allergy is NOT something to take lightly because some people DIE from it. (My condition is not life or death, but some are…). So ya, I have had some bad luck with tour companies “forgetting” about my allergy and it seems to be happening more often. I would recommend double checking a few days before your tour to make sure they have note of it! It didn’t ruin my time or anything, but I had to mention it because I can’t just highlight all the good.
The Final Verdict
Overall, you must do a safari once in your life before you die. You just have to! It is one of the top3 experiences of not just traveling, but of my life!
The thrill of findings these animals and then to have a close encounter is the most thrilling thing I have ever experienced. At some moments, I cried tears of joy because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
I am so glad we chose to tour with Africa Spear Safaris on our first Kruger National Park Safari and I would 100% recommend them! This one goes down in the books! Thanks guys!♥
Note: Carey and I were guests of Africa Spear Safaris during our safari. My opinions, however, remain my own and I am in no way obligated to write a positive review. This experience was AMAZING and I would highly recommend this company.
Full disclosure: the few Amazon products in this article are affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission if you purchase these products, at no extra cost to you. This is what keeps the blog up and running so a special thank you for that! ♥
I hate you. No, I really love you. Ok, now I hate you again. I’m so torn. Ugh Morocco, you drive me crazy! I just can’t make up my mind about you.
Now that I’m gone I have a clear head to reflect on you.
Morocco was a tough pill to swallow, especially traveling solo as a female. I have never been harassed so hard and aggressively in my life. I thought I had thick skin, but damn! This trip really tested my boundaries and I often questioned if traveling solo in Morocco was actually a good idea or if it was just plain stupid.
My recent trip to Morocco included half solo travel and the other half with friends. I traveled to Fez, Rabat, Chefchaouen, and briefly in Marrakech solo and then my bff Rachel and her bf Ryan joined me in Marrakech, Essaouira, and the Sahara desert.
I never imagined visiting Morocco would cause so much stress on me. I cried 3 times during my trip (and I’m so not a cryer). It was probably the most emotionally challenging place I had ever visited. I enjoyed my experience, but let’s just say I had never been so happy to see my friends in my entire life when they finally arrived.
Here are the highlights and lowlights of my experience in each Moroccan city:
My introduction to Morocco started with Fez, probably not the best first impression I must say. I’ve heard mixed reviews about Fez, you either love or hate it…with the majority not fans of it.
Well, I hated Fez. I’ve never been harassed so much in my life. The store owners were the most persistent sales people I have ever met . If I went in and didn’t buy something, most of them got angry and made me very uncomfortable. A few times, they even grabbed me by the arms. Super aggressive and NOT cool.
Not only that, the city smelled really bad and was extremely dirty. Imay get some backlash for saying that, but thats’s my honest observation. The rest of Morocco wasn’t in that condition, just this city.
I think my negative experience started within my first 5 minutes in the medina when I saw some chickens being killed and it scarred me for life. I know that’s life and eat chicken myself, so I’m not trying to be hypocritical here.
But this was different….
I saw this man grab the chicken by the neck, from the backside so its face was visible for everyone to see, and then he took a knife and slowly slit its throat. He didn’t chop it off quickly…he slit it SLOWLY. Like in the scene from Game of Thrones during the red wedding where Caitlin Stark’s throat was slashed. Just like that with all the blood gushing out.
I literally cried and had to leave. I couldn’t eat chicken after that for awhile. I mean, why did he have to kill it in such a brutal way? It was tragic. That picture will never leave my mind. Never.
Honestly, you couldn’t pay me to go back to Fez. But I understand everyone’s experience is different and some may like the madness. It just wasn’t for me, and that’s ok. Never again Fez. Never again.
On the bright side: I did buy an awesome leather bag that I will use as my new camera bag, so something good did come out of visiting.
Rabat was such a breath of fresh air after Fez. The capital of Morocco surprisingly had lots of character and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was more calm and less hectic than Fez, which I really appreciated.
However, my trip to Rabat started off on a bad note as well. For the first time ever, I got totally abandoned by my Airbnb host. Stuff happens and I had to book another place last minute. I only had one day in Rabat and this misfortune took almost half my day trying to figure everything out.
What started off on the wrong foot ended up being okay and I really enjoyed Rabat.
If you have time to do only one thing in Rabat, I recommend heading over to the The Kasbah of the Udayas. The walk up to it is a photo treat in itself as the tiny streets are painted bright blue and are so adorable. I felt like I was back in Chefchaouen!
From the Kasbah you can see the surfers riding the waves below and the backdrop is absolutely gorgeous!
Where to Eat in Rabat:
Le Dhow Boat Restaurant–I usually don’t like tourist places, but this was an exception. Only 3 restaurants came up on google maps as being walkable and this was one of them. The funky decorations and the location on the water with a great view of the Kasbah was worth it alone.
Fun fact: the boat was constructed in India and took 2 years to build. It was then lugged all the way over to Morocco. Such a cool story and a great atmosphere.
Oh, and they had wine. All the wine. Wine solves all problems. I ended the day in a happy place!
Side note: wine is super tricky to find in a “dry” country.
Chefchaouen (Blue City)
Ahhhh Chefchaouen (insert bulging heart eyes emoji here). I could have stayed here forever.♥
The blue city is often called “The Blue Pearl of Morocco”, and that it definitely is!
There are 2 main theories on why the city is blue: to protect from mosquitos/heat and the latter as a spiritual symbol. It was believed that Jewish refugees started painting the city blue to symbolise the sky and heaven.
Whichever theory is true, it’s such a spectacularly beautiful place to see!
Chefchaouen was my favourite city in all of Morocco, without a doubt, hands-down. It was also where I got harassed the least and felt the safest. I even felt ok wandering the blue alleys alone after dark.
There isn’t much to do in Chefchaouen, but the magic lies in just wandering around and experiencing the bright blue colors. I couldn’t stop taking photos and it’s one of the most photogenic cities I have ever seen, if not the most photogenic!
It’s a little (okay maybe a lot) out of the way but SO worth it! I took the CTM tourist bus from Fez and it took 5 hours. Don’t miss this unique city! I have never seen anything quite like it!
Where to Eat in Chefchaouen:
Restaurant Morisco–This one is in the main square, but that doesn’t mean it’s overpriced or super touristy. What to Try:Tahliya (Goat meat tajine with honey, raisins, and almonds). This was the BEST meal I had in all of Morocco. The meat was super tender and the mixture of sweet and nutty blended perfectly. YUM!
Molin’arte-I randomly went into this one as it was near my riad. The food was tasty and the place was so inviting and cozy. And the fruit juices were extremely good!
I really liked Essaouira . It was a very relaxed seaside town with great local fresh fish! Don’t go there without eating fish!
You can walk through the markets and watch them bringing in the fish straight from the nets. There are many restaurants near the fishing area where you can pick your own fish and have them cook it. It is priced based on weight.
Make sure they tell you the price of it before you agree to cook it. We paid around $36 for 3 people for 3 sea basses, and lots of calamari and squid. It was super fresh and not “fishy” at all, just how I like it!
Essaouira is also one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones! The big scene where Khaleesi obtained her unsullied army happened right there in the fortress walls near the fishing area! Surprisingly there were NO signs advertising GOT….which may be a good thing since there weren’t many tourists! #score
For a good sunset: head to Taros rooftop. It’s kinda touristy but they serve alcohol and the views can’t be beat! We highly enjoyed it. Did I mention they have wine? THEY HAVE WINE!
For brekkie/brunch: Yoo
Fresh juices and frozen yogurt parfaits. Healthy, yummy, and in a cute little secluded square.
For dinner: Tiskala
The ambiance of this place can’t be beat. It’s super cozy, dimly lit, with separate little seating areas and comfy couches. The food was pretty good, but I wouldn’t say awesome. But the ambiance won us over and we went back twice!
Ohhh Marrakech, where do I begin? Marrakech is hectic AF! That’s the best way to describe it. There is SO much going on at all times and it’s very fast paced.
Ahhh Marrakech had such unique things! If I hadn’t taken a RyanAir flight with already overflowing luggage, I would have bought SO much more! I wanted it ALL!! I would go back to Marrakech solely for the shopping!
Don’t miss: Fruit juices. The fruit juice stands were abundant in the main squares. Starting at 4 dirham ($.40), we had about 2-3 juices a day! They were so refreshing and so good!
Where to eat in Marrakech if you get sick of Tajines:
Henna Art Cafe for fresh juices, a comfy rooftop, and affordable/unique dishes.
Earth Cafe for healthy veg/vegan options.
Nomad for hearty and flavorful food (also the great rooftop views!).
Note: most restaurants on this trip were picked by my bff Rachel, as she is the foodie in the group and does all the research, so I definitely can’t take credit for it. Thanks wifey!
If you’re not opposed to getting severely harassed/haggled and have a strong stomach, street food is a cheap option.
What to do in Marrakech:
shop til you drop in the souks.
don’t miss tasting the fruit juices.
drink mint tea. As much as you can. Everywhere.
entertainment galore in Jamaa el Fna square.
visit Ben Yousseff Madrasa for beautiful architecture and an inside look into a former traditional Moroccan school
visit Majorelle Jardin outside the medina . It was beautifully decorated and had some really cool plant life (especially the cacti)! A taxi from the medina should not cost more than 50 dirham!
The monkeys on chains for entertainment and the pushy/rude vendors.
When we walked down the food vendor “aisle”, each vendor would aggressively step in front of us so we couldn’t move and shoved a menu in our faces. All we wanted to do was take a look at options, but that was impossible to do when they literally blocked us off from seeing anything else.
I have an issue with personal space and I get really defensive when someone impinges on that, especially if they touch me. A few times, I just wanted them to back the fuck off. Is that too much to ask?
We were even called derogatory names when we didn’t want to eat at certain food cart vendors. They thought we were British and were bad mouthing British people. One yelled at me to go back to my country. Is that really necessary? Not a delightful experience at all.
You can’t go to Morocco and skip the Sahara desert. I feel like this is THE quintessential thing to do in Morocco. But keep in mind that it is extremely far! As in, most your time will be spent driving. It’s 9-10 hours from Marrakech. It’s painful but the Sahara desert totally is worth it!
Despite our shitty tour company, riding camels in the Sahara desert during sunrise and sunset and laying on the sand viewing the Milky Way was one of my best travel moments yet! Nothing can beat that. We also got to stop in Ait Ben Haddou, another GOT filming location, which we were super excited about!
Learn from my mistake: there are several ways to book Sahara tours..online, through your riad or hostel, or on the streets of the medina from various vendors.
Booking in advance online is usually twice as much. It’s cheaper to book when you arrive through your riad/hostel or street vendors. We booked through our riad for €92 for 3days/2nights.
Our riad was great, however, this tour they offered was awful! The accommodation were extremely low budget, the food was complete shit, and our tour guide was terrible/kinda a dick. And worst of all, they didn’t accommodate my gluten allergy like they promised. All they had was bread and a cake for breakfast with no other options, so I went completely without breakfast, watching everyone else eat, leaving me in tears one day because I was starving/hangry.
If you book on arrival, make sure to get ALL the details and have them show you pictures of the accommodations. If I could do it again, I would have paid more to have a better quality tour for sure!
I have such mixed emotions when it comes to visiting Morocco. I don’t like to say never, but I honestly don’t see myself returning to Morocco any time in the near future. I had a crazy time and I got to travel with my bff and her bf for most of the trip so that made it extra special.
It’s definitely not one of my favorite places I’ve visited, but I’m so glad I went because I liked to be shocked and surprised. And that was 100% accomplished! But by the end of it, I was definitely ready to leave and return to calmness, cleanliness, and lack of daily harassment.
I saw some wild and new things, I experienced gazing under the stars in the Sahara desert, seeing the Milky Way, riding camels dressed like Princess Jasmine, drank way too much green tea, walked the maze like streets of the heavenly blue city, was forced into a quick marriage with a local Berber man with a ceremony while visiting a Berber village (joking but it was funny…he even had a quick ceremony in the presence of all our tour members #awkward), bought some unique souvenirs, and experienced a culture so different than what I have ever seen.
Morocco was hard on me, but it’s such an interesting country with so much to experience. I was always on the edge of my seat, my senses were forced into overdrive, and my boundaries were constantly being tested. Morocco is hectic, it’s crazy, it’s dynamic, and at some times shocking, but it’s such a vibrant place you will surely never forget!
If you could only visit 2 places in Morocco, I would definitely say the Sahara desert and Chefchaoen. These 2 places were the highlights of my trip!
Morocco is a 3rd world country, so go in expecting lower standards than you’re used to and you wont be disappointed. If you like madness, you will love Morocco.
Although I’m in no rush to get back, I would definitely recommend anyone to go and visit, Morocco is a must! Weird to hear after reading this, huh? Can you feel the dichotomy here?
Morocco surely gave me thicker skin and now I feel like I can take on anywhere! Bring it on world, bring it on!
Have you been to Morocco? Have you had similar experiences, or completely the opposite? Let’s discuss!
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