Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Monkey Madness (Marrakesh Part 1)

For Valentine's Day Joey and I decided to ditch the whole flowers & fancy dinner cliche and take a weekend away instead.

Morocco has been on my travel bucket list for a LOOONG time. This is going to sound dumb, but I frickin' LOVE Moroccan-inspired decor, and yes, that is a major factor in why I wanted to go so bad. I love the architecture, the bright colors, and the idea of indoor/outdoor living.  If you go to my Pinterest you will see quite the array of Moroccan-inspired interior for my dream future home. 

For our getaway, I wanted to go somewhere warm, cheap, and close. Magically - living in Ireland - Morocco fit that bill perfectly. This vacation was by far the cheapest I've ever taken (and the one where I got the most bang for my buck - I'll write more on that in a future post!), the weather was a dream, and flight was only 4 hours! All of this + simultaneously living my Moroccan dreams & and getting to visit the continent of Africa for the very first time = #meanttobe 

We arrived in Marrakesh around 9PM Thursday night and immediately flopped into bed. Though we wanted to go out and explore the city, we decided against it as stumbling around a new country in the dark isn't exactly the safest thing to do. Sadly, the city exploring would have to wait until Saturday.  Friday in Morocco is kind of like Sunday in the western world - a lot of stuff is closed. So when we woke up Friday morning I took action and booked us the coolest day trip I could find. 

Three hours outside Marrakesh tucked away in the Atlas Mountains lies a quaint little Berber village with one very special attribute: a giant, magical as f*** waterfall, inhabited by wild monkeys. 

Welcome to Ouzoud: 





And I know I say this a lot, but genuinely - pictures do not do this place any justice to how magnificent it actually is. We arrived by car to the top of the waterfall, and were greeted with this incredible view: 


Our tour guide told us we were to make our way down through the village and have lunch before heading off for an afternoon hike.

We were maybe half way to our lunch spot when we had our first monkey sighting. Real talk, I don't even LIKE monkeys that much, but I was full blown FREAKING OUT when I saw them: 


They are perfect furry little honey-colored cheeky angels living in a waterfall paradise. I'm so obsessed with them. They seemed to like me too:





I wanted to hug one so bad. They have the kindest looking eyes, and they are very sweet to the tourists. Very majestic creatures as well:



(Can't tell if pondering existence or checking out dat ass)

I was almost in tears when we stumbled upon this display of affection:


Oh my god my heart is melting just looking at it. She was cleaning his fur. I was quietly losing my shit. I could not deal with how cute this was to watch.  

And then...the unthinkable happened. 

We were almost to our restaurant when Joey was attacked and robbed by a local: 


This cheeky monkey hopped from the railing onto Joey's back in order to attempt to snatch one of his prized possessions:  


His $5 Primark sunglasses. 

Don't worry, the perpetrator did not succeed. Though the glasses did manage to get off his head and into the trees, the proper authorities came to retrieve them (our tour guide) 

There was a little bit of tension in the air after that:


But we didn't let that stop us from enjoying lunch with a view:






We stuffed ourselves silly with some amaaaazing traditional Moroccan food before climbing down to the base of the falls for our hike. Naturally, we stopped for a photo shoot along the way: 




After we were thoroughly satisfied with the cheesy couple photo we made our tour guide take, it was time to hike!

We followed the waterfall's stream into the mountains:



(The color of the rock in this area is incredible, I've never seen such a radiant orange in nature before!)


Through campsites, farms, and make-shift nightclubs (not even kidding): 





We managed to conjure up enough grace and bravery to get through the base of the mountains without falling into the river. I even managed to cross these baby bridges without slipping/falling/dying, and anyone who knows me knows this is indeed a GREAT success for me: 


There aren't many pictures from our hike from this stage forward as this is the point where we began our ascent back to the top of the waterfall. Needless to say, my severely out of shape self was too busy sweating like a pig to take photos. Note to self: join the gym or you will actually morph into a beluga whale.

However, I made an exception once we reached the top, as the view was too amazing to pass up:




By far the biggest highlight of our trip to Marrakesh, if not my entire year so far! And as I mentioned earlier, we got some serious bang for our buck. This entire tour (including our three course lunch!) cost us 80 euro each.  So we were picked up from our hotel in a private car, driven three hours to the waterfall, given lunch, taken on a private hike, and driven three hours back to our hotel....for 80. Freakin'. Euro. I still can't get over it. My tour was arranged through my hotel, so sadly I don't know the name of the company we used. But if you're heading to Marrakesh and fancy a day at a magical monkey waterfall, give "Cascades d'Ouzoud" a Google and you'll find a similar day tour! I honestly could not recommend it more.

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