The Amazigh People (“Berber”)

Most of the people don’t know much about the Amazigh people, haven’t even heard of them at all… that definitely changes once they traveled through Morocco.

Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lybia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Egypt is what Amazigh people, also known as “Berber”, call home. The word “Berber” comes from the Greek word “barbaros”, which means barbarian. Today no one will feel offended by that word anymore, yet for sure it will make them happy to be called Amazigh people or Imazighen, as they call themselves in their language (Tamazight). Some people might use the word “Berbers” as a synonym for nomads, which doesn’t fit for all of them. Only a few from different tribes are having this kind of nomadic lifestyle.

But Berbers aren’t just Berbers.. there are many different tribes with different dialects, different traditions and a different way of living. Only in Morocco you’ll find already three of them. The biggest tribe in Morocco, called Ishelhien is the one that lives in the area around the High-Atlas Mountains until the Western coast (around Agadir) of Morocco. The Berbers in the North of Morocco call themselves Riffians. The once that lives around Agadir and southern are called Swassa.

More than 60% of the Moroccan population still speaks the Amazigh language and therefore see themselves as Berbers. Actually mostly all inhabitants of the north African countries are originally Imazighen (Berbers). The ones that doesn’t identify as Berbers might call themselves Arabs which is genetically not true, but due to the Arabization and the Islam coming to the their countries they don’t feel as Imazighen anymore.

Last but not least, the word “Amazigh” basically means “free people”. Known for their heartwarming hospitality that describes them perfectly well. You won’t find an Amazigh that doesn’t invite you to a cup of sweet mint tea or to have dinner with the family. So whenever you get the opportunity to get closer to the Imazighen, take that chance and you won’t regret it.

Bucket List: Morocco

1. Spending a night under the stars in the Sahara Desert – Merzouga
An unforgetable experience – to sleep under hundreds of stars and – if your lucky – being able to see the milky way. Ride on camels into the dunes (alternatives are mostly available) and spend a night in a tent in the middle of nowhere – nothing but sand around you.
A night you will never forget.

2. Getting lost in the Souks of the Red City – Marrakech
The Berber Souks of Marrakech are full of hidden shops with everything you didnt even know you needed. In this connection the first rule is – bargaining.

3. Get to know the unique culture of the Amazigh people – Dades Gorge
Experience the culture and history of the Amazigh (also called Berber) people in the Mountains. Heartwarming hospitallity and unique traditions, surrounded by untouched nature.

4. A festival in the desert – Zagora M’Hamid
Next to Merzouga the Sahara desert of Zagora is (unreasonable) underrated, yet so stunning. The Erg Chegaga is the largest and still untouched erg of Morocco.
If you visit this place in the end of March take some time and join us for the Festival des Nomads

5. Paradise Valley – Agadir
Hidden in the South-West of Morocco close to Agadir you’ll find an oasis in the middle of forests and mountains – a canyon filled with turkis water. Feels like paradise..

6. Chefchaouen
Explore the Instagram-City in the North of Morocco, also called “The Blue Pearl“. Surrounded by mountains and forests lays the completly blue painted city Chefchaouen which has an interesting history of the three main religions being combined in one place.

7. Getting the best fish in town.. – Essaouira
Only three hours from Marrakech, but a complete different world. Essaouira, a port city, where you will get the best and definetly freshest fish in Morocco. And if you’re already there, you should try wind surfing..

8. To the roots of your new handbag – Fès
Once you are in Fès don’t miss out the Tanneries in the Medina. A place where moroccans have an oldschool and natural way of roducing and coloring leather. Therefore the best place to get it..

9. National and international Art – Assilah
Once a year, in August, artists from all over the world get together in this north-western village on the atlantic cost of Morocco to decorate the walls of the Medina. A great place to relax and take breath.

Most of these sights are covered by our 10 Days Trip – check it out here.

Price guide – Travelling

There are many different ways to explore Morocco. Motorbike tours, renting a car, coming with your own car or using the local transportation. Some travelers are trying to make their way through Morocco just with a bike or hitch-hiking. I even met a guy once who bought a Donkey and travelled with him the whole way from Marrakesh to the desert near Zagora to a festival.

If you come with your own vehicle you should check first about the brand and if, in case of an accident, you would be able to repare it somewhere nearby. Volvo for example isn’t that popular in Morocco. For sure you would find different ways to change for example broken pieces but it will be more complicated and probably more expensive.
Otherwise is Diesel with 9 Dirham, so around 0,85€ quite cheap and even Benzin with 12 Dirham (1,1€) cheaper than in Europe.

If you are interested in renting a car, we can recommend you a rental service in Marrakesh, where you get cars from 35€ per day on. Complete insurance is already included.
If you find cheaper options in the internet they always add fees for insurance, age etc. and most of the time a huge deposit to it (600/700€). Be carefull when you rent a car in the internet.

The local busses are connected almost all over Morocco. They go everyday a few times for a decent price. You can check prices and timetables from the companies Supratours or CTM on their websites. The busses from these companies are normally going and arriving on time, they are clean and more professional.
In every city you also find a bus station called gare routière, where the no-name companies start from. These busses are 10/20 Dirham cheaper but you can’t really count on them. Same with the shared taxis. They are a bit more expensive and faster in the end, but they will wait until the car is full.

Between Marrakesh and Tanger is also a train connection. The train goes faster than the busses and also on time. The prices are very similar to the busses. There are train stations in Marrakesh, Rabat, Casablanca, Fès and Tanger. You can check timetables here (ONCF).