Boasting incredible historical sites, vast landscapes and exotic cuisine, Morocco has always been a mecca for travelers. While our volunteers are busy with their day to day volunteer work, many like to take the weekends (or even longer once their volunteer placements have finished) to see more of Morocco. We’ve listed below some of the popular sites and cities that past IVHQ volunteers have experienced while on the IVHQ Morocco program.
In and Around Rabat
The IVHQ Morocco program is based in capital city of Rabat. From here volunteers can see a wide variety of historical sites and attractions.
Hassan Tower and Mausoleum of Mohammed V
Hassan Tower begun construction in the 12th century by Yacoub El Mansour with the aim of building the largest mosque (and subsequently religious building) in the world. Unfortunately, his successors did not have the same vision for the building and it was never completed, with the minaret now standing at 44m (half its intended height). Sitting opposite is the Mausoleum of Mohammed V - widely considered to be one of the finest pieces of architecture in all of Morocco. The Mausoleum is the burial place of the current king’s grandfather, father and uncle. Non Muslims are allowed to enter and see the Mausoleum but must be respectfully dressed.
Kasbah of the Udayas
Roam through this ancient castle, part of the original city of Rabat. Estimated to be built in the 12th century, it sits at the mouth of the Bou Regreg river and for centuries was used to fight off enemies, host royal guests and was a base planned for the Muslim conquest of Spain. The narrow streets and architecture within the Kabash are very typical of ancient Moroccan towns and are popular with volunteers to explore. There are a few home stays located here for IVHQ volunteers. Visit two of Rabat’s major historical attractions, standing opposite each other in the city center.
A trip to Morocco is not complete without a visit to a Medina and the Medina in Rabat is definitely worth a visit. Located opposite the Kabash is the entrance to the Rabat Medina. Inside the Medina, you’ll be surrounded by colorful carpets, leatherworks, babouches (leather slippers), copper crafts and other Moroccan goods. After the carpet souq, the street ends in an open area lined with craft shops which was the setting for the slave auctions in the days of the Sallee Rovers (pirates). From here you can make your way up the hill to the Kasbah.
Across the country, Morocco offers some vastly contrasting landscapes and the majority of the major tourist sites are located outside of Rabat. We’ve highlighted a couple of popular weekend destinations and activities for volunteers that our local staff are more than happy to help arrange with you.
Spend a weekend away in Marrakech to explore Morocco’s largest traditional Berber market (souk) and one of the busiest squares in the world in Djemaa el Fna. The square bustles during the day time with acrobats, snake charmers, dancers, musicians and markets. At night, food stalls open and the square transforms into an open air restaurant. After a day of exploring, volunteers often stay overnight in one of the many traditional Riads in the city centre.
Immerse yourself in the medieval capital of Morocco - an ancient city of sacred learning and imperial power and home to the best preserved Medina in the Arab world. Named a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s worth a trip to Fez just to see the Medina, however be prepared to lose yourself in the never ending winding alleys and streets.
Transport yourself back in time and spend a night or two in a Berber tent in the expansive Sahara Desert. Travel to the campsites by camel (2-3 hour trek), but be warned, it can be tough on your legs and bum if you are not used to horse (or camel) riding!
To apply for the program or explore the volunteering opportunities available in Morocco, visit our Volunteer in Morocco page.