In April 2016 I travelled six weeks through Morocco.
Morocco is a country so rich in culture and arts and crafts that it is almost impossible to resist to buy some souvenirs on the various markets (souqs) in the country. Morocco is made for Souvenirs Shopping! But you have to learn how to haggle, which I am explaining to you in the end of this post.
Morocco is also widely known for its outstanding interior design, their riads and living rooms with carpets and lot’s of cushions on the floor. If I could, I would design my home exactly like the Moroccans do.
Their way of living is so practical but also colourful and cosy. And I would sit on the floor and eat with my hands. Thank you Morocco for introducing me to this. Check out my Pinterest Board ‘Housing/DIY’ to see all the moroccan interior inspiration I found here.
Here are the stories behind the Souvenirs that found their way in my Backpack during my visits on the various souqs in cities such as Berkane, Oujda, Guercif, Tabant and Marrakech:
Jackets from Berber Blue in Taghazout, Moroccos famous surf spot
Price is around 20-50€
The best things happen when you randomly walk around in an unknown place. And so did I in Taghzout, right at the coastline of Morocco close to Agadir. I stumbled upon Dounias Shop Talisman and visited her the next day to do a little interview. She is a freelanced photographer and does incredibly great photos of Morocco and its people. I bought a jacket from Berber Blue which is a brand established by Beth who lives in Taghazout and had the great idea to combine vintage jeans jackets with vintage Berber Carpets.
When in Agadir you should defininetely check out her shop where you will find some unique and lovely Souvenirs.
Taghazout is not only a place for Surfers and Yoga Lovers, but also for creative minds that search for like-minded People. It has a lovely community of expats and Moroccans being creative together.
Arabic Aladdin Lamp from Oujda
Prices are around 20€
This lamp was actually the only souvenir I really wanted to buy beforehand. A real arabic Aladdin lamp. And it had to be a second hand one. The vendor was a bit puzzled that I wanted an ‘old’ one but the new ones simply don’t have a Genie in it.
I found this one in Oujda, right at the Algerian border when we went Shopping in the old town and its souq. The market there was so relaxed, compared to the very touristic one in Marrakech. I got the lamp for a fair prize of 20€ with some ittle haggling help of my friend Najib.
Berber Tipp* to make metal shiny: wash the item with coal from the oven. Works so well!
Moroccan colourful Berber Scarfs
Prices are around: 5€
You see these sort of scarfs everywhere in Morocco but especially in the countryside (mountain area and Sahara) where men wear them to protect themselves against the sun. You find them in many different colours and they normally consist of two colours melting in one another like these two in blue/black and blue/white.
But be careful: you cannot really wash them and you shouldn’t wear white clothes with them when you sweat. The colour goes off very easily and I am sure many tourists destroyed their laundry by adding one of these scarfs into the washing machine. I had my neck blue for two days.
Berber Tipp*: Let the scarf soak in white vinegar for 24h.
(A friend of mine, I worked with, gets all wrapped up in Essaouira)
Purses out of carpets
Prices are around 10-50€
These two bags I got from a little shop in the suq of Marrakech, which as previously mentionned, I didn’t enjoy that much because it is super commercial and touristic.
BUT there are many small unique shops hidden in between this crazy hustling souq. Such as the one from Mohammed. I found his shop because I searched for some shelter from the crowds and ended up in this calm corridor where Mohammed was sitting and working on his sewing machine and just said ‘Hi’ whereas everyone else had a very extrovert way of selling things.
I chatted with Mohammed and he told me, that his neighbour vendors always tell him he was lazy because he was not selling as extrovert as they do in the souq. But he just doesn’t like it and thinks that when people really like his bags (which he does all by his own) then they will come and buy. And so did I (that’s a rhyme). Again: the arts and crafts sector in Morocco is so unique and so various. Many old crafts such as tadelakt (a Special type of wallpainting) originates from Morocco.
Carefully ‘haggled’ down: the small one for 20€ the white one for 40€. I even got another smaller one for 10€ for a friend of mine as a Souvenir. He told me, he buys old Berber-Carpets in the south of Morocco and then makes these purses out of them. They are simply a piece of art.
Prizes are around 2-5€ per bag
Morocco is so rich in food culture and every time I know someone is there, I write them a list what to bring from the markets. Half of the spices they sell, I probably don’t even know, but what I know is that the cinnamon, tumeric, pepper, saffron and curry are absolutely good in quality and prize. Just a short example on the range of various spices they have on the souq in Berkane in North Eastern Morocco:
Moroccan Oil and Waters
Prices are around 3-15€
Morocco is known for the production of all sorts of oils. Most big beauty companies get their oils from Morocco. You can find Argan and co. in all popular beauty products. When in Morocco don’t miss to buy some of the oils and waters yourself because it is way cheaper than fabricated in some expensive products and it is pure: no chemicals added.
The effect stays the same. Different oils are used for different sorts of treatments and parts of your body. The hashish oil for instance was recommended to me when I was looking for something to moisture my hair. It turned out to be my absolutely favourite parfume. There are more things in it than hash oil and it smells soo good. If you want to buy some Argan Oil online check out the website of Belaid, a friend of mine who sells really high quality oil online: Argan Tislit.
Prices are around 0,50-2€
I got these from a indoor shopping mall in Berkane in the North East of Morocco. I thought they might bring me luck. An Egyptian friend of mine even explained me what the Arabic letters meant but I already forgot 😛 Will ask him again!
Prices are around 20€
Morocco is also famous for its silver boho jewellery you can see on every travelers fingers. You will find it in all souqs. For a real simple silver ring you should not pay more than 25€.
Bargaining in Morocco is a lifestyle
Bargaining is such a big part of daily life in arabic countries. It is part of Moroccos culture and their way of making business.
We as western people tend to feel harassed by so many people trying to sell us things and yes it was so exhausting in Marrakesh, Agadir, Taghazout and Essouira but then visiting not touristic places such as Oujda, Berkane, Guercif or Tabant it was completely different.
Of course you still have to bargain, but being there with locals, I knew the prize was most of the time just a bit over the final prize – so bargaining around 15-30% minus the starting prize. Whereas in touristic areas prizes might be 4 times higher than the actual prize.
You will get a feeling for it, I promise. Just dare to go off the path and don’t be too audacious with pushing the prizes down, most of the time, we as travelers have indeed more money and can pay a bit more than locals. I think that is totally fine if it is not over the top.
Ethical Concerns when buying Souvenirs
When traveling individually in Morocco it is easier to find Souvenirs from non-commercial, regional and ethical cooperatives that support eg. rural people. Just ask around and inform yourself online. There exist many woman cooperatives in rural areas for oil production for instance. When you do a guided tour be careful. In Morocco guides often work on commission. It is better to ask your host or locals for tipps where to buy in order to support people directly.
One thing: do never buy wildlife or forest products. This should be for granted being a responsible traveller. Go to the local souqs outside town or in unknown villages around the city you are staying in.
If you have any questions regarding your trip to Morocco, drop me an E-Mail.
Until then: Stay curious. Lot’s of love. C.
*the Berber Tipps were given by my loved friends from Touda Ecolodge,were I stayed with Berber families in the high Atlas Mountains of Morocco. If you have the time, you should go there to have an incredibly deep and authentic experience. Visit their website here.
(Thank’s Ju for lending me your beautiful hands for this article <3)