I’ve been drawn to go to Morocco since I first started dreaming of faraway lands. It was exotic, mysterious, and I really didn't know much about it, other than that I wanted to go. Over the years, Morocco evolved into an increasingly popular tourist destination; eventually, each time I scrolled through my Instagram feed, I would see photos of travel bloggers in pretty dresses, posing in front of gorgeous tiles and colourful markets. The perfect shots reminded me of my long-held desire to explore this mysterious country, but I still wasn’t sure what I would actually do once there. I knew I wanted to get out of the cities, explore the natural world, and have an adventure, rather than a photoshoot.
I found my ideal Moroccan experience while browsing the horseback holidays at Equitours, a travel agency that focuses solely on equine escapes, and who I had previously booked several excellent European riding trips with. The week-long ride would be a 230km loop, starting in the resort town of Agadir, crossing the foot of the Anti-Atlas mountains through to the silver-crafting town of Tiznit, then circling back to Agadir via the Atlantic coast. The riders would be mounted on strong, willing, endurance-trained Arab Berber horses. The trip profile specified only advanced riders should consider the ride, due to the fast pace, long hours in the saddle, and the sometimes challenging terrain. Additionally, it was a rustic adventure; riders would camp out in the Moroccan wilderness overnight.
I’d found my dream trip. As much as I love trekking, diving, road-tripping and island-hopping, my absolute favourite way to explore a new land is definitely on the back of a horse. Riding gives me a sense of freedom and connection to the natural world that is truly without comparison. Combining the ride with a camping trip was the ultimate combo; there’s really nowhere I'd rather be after a long day of riding than sleeping under the stars next to the horses.
The trip was scheduled for a time when I could be away from work for a short while, but as I researched flights I realized the journey was extremely inconvenient; it would take a total of 8 flights and almost 6 days for me to get to, and return from, a little Moroccan town that was actually a very long way from the tiny Thai island on which I live. The transit time meant it would not be reasonable to go to Morocco for only a week… but it would be possible, which is all that is needed to make a dream come true…
For some reason (that still remains a mystery to me), when I first looked into going to Morocco for a week-long horseback camping trip, I assumed it would be a fairly straightforward journey from the tiny Thai island on which I live. Once I actually researched my flight options, I realized that in fact it would take four flights over three days to get from Koh Tao to Agadir, the starting point for my riding trip. Basically, I’d spend almost as much time traveling to and from Morocco as on the actual expedition. By the time I came to this conclusion, however, I had emotionally committed to the trip and wasn’t going to let anything like reason or logic get in the way of my equine adventure.
Most of the excessive travel time was due to awkwardly timed flights; I was going to have to stay overnight in Malaysia, as well as Dubai. Fortunately, I was able to arrange my Emirates flights to spend the bulk of my outbound connection time in Dubai, taking advantage of the free tourist visa and stopover offered by Emirates for tourists who want to check out this Middle Eastern metropolis. I was going to have 18 hours in Dubai; from 13:20 to 07:25… so, what to do?
One of my 2017 travel highlights was definitely my week-long road trip down the Great Ocean Road, from Adelaide to Melbourne. To be honest, Australia hadn't even really been top of my travel list, and initially I was just going to stop by on my way to Fiji. But, I knew I had the chance to see Australia's iconic 12 Apostles, and I'd heard the Great Ocean Road was legendary, so when an Australian friend offered to loan us her custom van, my girlfriend and I jumped at the chance to take this epic roadtrip. It turned out to be an incredible experience, and so I thought I'd share some of my top tips for making the most of this adventure.
Let's talk about money. Finances can be hugely discouraging for people who dream about travelling the world, but feel like they'll never have the cash to do so. I'm here to tell you that you don't need rich parents, a sugar daddy/momma, or a massive Instagram following that will reward you with comped trips to lush destinations, in order to travel the world. Yes, saving up enough money to travel can be challenging, but it's totally possible. My trips are fully self-funded, and have been since I left Canada over 10 years ago. Now, I'd like to share some creative tips that have helped me, and can help you, afford to travel.
Okay, okay... I get it. This is supposed to be an adventure travel blog, but my very first destination post is the city in which I was born. In my defence, I haven’t lived in Montreal since I was six years old, and I've only visited a couple of times since my parents moved back. When I did visit, I didn't explore much of the city... so, this time with my Scottish girlfriend in tow for her first ever trip to Quebec, I vowed that this trip I would finally see what this awesome urban jungle has to offer.
Montreal is, after all about as dope as a concrete jungle can get. As one of the oldest cities in Canada, it’s got cobblestone sidewalks and a very old-world European vibe, but it’s also super stylish and contemporary. Canada in general, and Montreal specifically, is very welcoming to other nationalities (my own father immigrated from Egypt), so the city is a veritable mosaic of ethnicities and cultures (note: a melting pot is where other cultures are expected to assimilate into one *cough USA cough* whereas a cultural mosaic celebrates multiculturalism and diversity.) The province of Quebec has a really different vibe than the rest of Canada; it’s Francophone, and has a strong sense of identity (rooted in maple syrup and poutine). In short… Montreal is a city I can definitely get down with.
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