Boarding our easyJet flight to Morocco we instantly noticed there were no other children, let alone babies, on board. Hmmm. Both sets of grandparents remained uncharacteristically quiet following our announcement of a holiday to north Africa with our 14-month-old daugther (Alannah). A stoney silence on both sides.
Stepping off the plane, the blazing heat practically took our breath away. The air felt thick, the 36 degree heat instantly apparent. We sheltered Alannah from the midday sun and made our way to arrivals. Luckily, we quickly found out travelling in Morocco with a baby is a VIP fast track. The huge queue at immigration became a distant worry as we were escorted by security straight to a fast track lane. Within minutes were through and off on our adventure. Result.
Something to think about before leaving home – car seat!
If you’re a nervous passenger bring one with you, there’s no chance of finding a taxi with one. We didn’t bring a car seat and found the situation fine, but if this bothers you come prepared as you don’t want to ruin your holiday mood before you’ve even left the airport. The driving is erratic, however, the pace is snail like. Donkeys, horse and carriages, men pushing carts, bikes carrying anywhere between two people and a family of five all weave in and out each other. Somehow it just works. Our daughter sat happily, wearing a seat belt, watching the bonkers world around her go by. The roads to our villa across the desert were bumpy and unpaved so the pace of travel rarely moved past sloth-like, which suited us with our lack of car seat just fine.
We stayed in a fantastic private villa – a secluded oasis just 15 minutes drive from Marrakech centre. Fawakay Villas was perfectly kitted out for families.
The three-bedroom villa came with high chairs, bowls, plates and baby cutlery, a cot bed with mattress and blankets in our bedroom and sterilising necessities for milk bottles. Our villa Lak Lak had two huge Moroccan baths with glamorous tiling and lanterns making bath-time an adventure for Alannah, every night. She loved it.
One of the bedrooms was kitted out perfectly for toddlers/ children with two single beds, games, books, toys, kids DVDs etc. A huge colourful mural covered the entire back wall and paintings by the owner’s children hung elsewhere. The villa also had a private pool, perfectly shallow for kiddies to play in.
What to expect:
The villa staff we so kind and playful with Alannah going out of their way to make her (and us) feel welcome. They picked her up and kissed her every time they saw her, constantly asked if she had everything she needed and cleaned/ sterilised her milk bottles without being asked. The owners even brought Alannah a pair of gorgeous Moroccan baby pyjamas, which were perfect for the 36 degree heat. She wore them every night.
Things to know:
1.) Pack a travel changing mat
There isn’t any kind of baby changing in public toilets in Marrakech or in restaurants around the Medina so bring a fold away travel mat for your handbag. Be prepared to change nappies on toilet seats or bathroom floors.
2.) Bring a pushchair
A pushchair is the best way to navigate through the bustling Medina among motorbikes, men with carts and random donkeys. The roads were fine to easily push along our pushchair (we brought a cheap one, nothing fancy, leaving our proper iCandy at home). On the first day we used a baby carrier (we have a BabyBjorn). She was too hot and sweaty attached to our bodies in the daytime heat and we worried about her in the sun on our backs.
We switched to a pushchair for all other days out. She could relax under the shade and see everything going on ahead of us. We had no trouble with road surfaces and pushchair wheels. Don’t forget a sun hat and bottled water!
3.) Embrace the locals
Alannah got a lot of attention from the locals everywhere we went, all singing, clapping, blowing kisses at her and touching her hands and feet. Despite some reports we read we felt really safe with her near the snake charmers, monkeys and entertainers in the main square. The locals all showered her with affection, which was lovely.
4.) Bring your own baby food.
Ñappies and baby wipes are fine to get hold of in local stores/ pharmacies however, packaged baby food isn’t so easy. I’m not sure about powdered milk as at 14-month-old she was drinking full fat fresh milk – which we easy got hold of at our villa. Breakfast was great she loved the mountains of fresh fruit and smoothies on offer, also pancakes, muffins and different fruit breads. But we took enough baby food for lunch and dinner every day. (Our villa catered for older toddlers/ children with a daily children’s menu.)
5.) Take mosquito repellent
In fact take mosquito everything… candles, bite spray, plug ins. The mozzie situation was quite intense. I gave up counting past my 40th bite, the six on my face did little to help my annoyance with the situation. Don’t think, like we foolishly did, you can buy repellent sprays in Morocco. None of it seems to work, if anything, it seemed to attract the little cretins. This was our only gripe with the holiday. The beautiful oasis we stayed in, surrounded with lavish gardens and flowers in full bloom meant mosquitos were constantly on the prowl. However, our daughter wasn’t bitten once!! They didn’t bother with her at all.
Our daughter slept like a King during the week in Morocco. Her daytime naps were legendary, maybe due to the heat? Maybe due to the relaxed atmosphere? Either way she slept brilliantly, which meant we had chance to sunbath and really recharge in peace around the villa for hours each afternoon. Bliss.
Like most parents we were anxious about taking a toddler on an aeroplane. However, the EasyJet staff were amazing. We boarded the plane first, which meant we had time to faff with our luggage and get settled. They checked on us numerous times during the flight to see if Alannah was OK or needed any water etc. Even though she was not yet 2-years-old we booked her a seat of her own. We’re so glad we did, it made the flight much more enjoyable for all of us. She slept the entire way home – from take off to landing.
Would we recommend Marrakech to other people traveling with a baby? Yes, definitely. It was such an experience and a lot of fun. Just come prepared so you don’t have to worry about things when you arrive.
I will be writing another blog on our amazing villa and sight seeing around Marakech in a few weeks.