On September 9, 2023, an earthquake hit central Morocco, primarily centered in the High Atlas region as well as the city of Marrakech. While devastating to all people involved, an immediate sense of compassion and solidarity emerged as people moved into assisting those impacted.
It’s essential to note that the majority of Morocco remains unaffected, with its historical landmarks and daily life continuing as usual. This post is being written 3 weeks after the earthquake and by and large life has resumed as normal outside of the most affected areas.
Is it Tone Deaf or Insensitive to Visit Morocco Post-Earthquake?
In the wake of a natural disaster such as the recent earthquake in Morocco, travelers often find themselves at a moral crossroads: is it insensitive or tone-deaf to visit a country that is in the process of healing and rebuilding?
The answer, however, is not black and white and may lie in the approach one takes in making such a decision.
- Awareness and Sensitivity: Being cognizant of the situation and expressing solidarity and sensitivity towards the affected individuals is a step towards understanding the circumstances of your visit. Showing respect, offering help where possible, and avoiding affected areas unless you’re contributing to relief efforts are ways to exhibit sensitivity.
- Responsible Tourism: Tourism can be a double-edged sword. On one side, it could be seen as inappropriate at a time of recovery, yet on the other hand, it is a vital source of income for many communities. Engaging in responsible tourism – such as staying in locally owned accommodations, eating in local restaurants, and buying local products – can contribute positively to the economy and aid in recovery efforts.
- Community Engagement: Engaging with the local communities to understand their needs and respecting their wishes is essential. Some communities might welcome tourists as a sign of returning to normalcy, while others might prefer to focus on rebuilding efforts first.
- Check Official Advisories: It’s crucial to check travel advisories from both your home country and Moroccan authorities. They provide necessary information on the safety and advisability of travel, helping you make an informed decision.
- Supporting Relief Efforts: If possible, consider contributing to local NGOs or community-driven relief efforts either financially or through voluntary work. This engagement showcases a deeper level of empathy and support.
In general, Moroccans are encouraging tourists to continue coming. Your visit to the country is a tangible way to show you support people and is a way that you are contributing to the rebuilding of communities both directly and indirectly.
Tourism provides a means of livelihood for many Moroccans, and its continuation will ensure a swift return to normalcy, fostering economic stability in the aftermath of the Moroccan earthquake. Your visit is more than just a holiday; it’s a show of support, helping to propel the affected communities towards full recovery.
Visiting (or Not) Areas Damaged by the Morocco Earthquake
The recent tremors that swept through parts of Morocco have left travelers with a veil of uncertainty regarding their plans. The essence of responsible tourism springs from an informed perspective, enabling travelers to make respectful and supportive decisions. In light of the recent events, let’s delve into the conditions of some of the affected and unaffected areas, gauging the appropriateness of a visit.
Imlil Morocco Earthquake
Nestled in the High Atlas Mountains, Imlil witnessed the natural calamity up close. The region is currently focused on rehabilitation efforts. Unless involved in relief operations, it might be sensible to postpone your visit, allowing the community to recover and rebuild.
Many hotels and homes have been damaged; however, there are some mountain guides who have begun treks again in the region. Two of the premiere hotels in the region; Kasbah Tamadot and Kasbah du Toubkal experienced damage and are currently closed for reservations. Moving forward with any plans to be in the region should be done with a trusted outfitter and considered as a day trip.
Ait Ben Haddou Earthquake
A haven of ancient architecture, Ait Ben Haddou experienced tremors, its structures remain intact. While the area is recovering swiftly, it’s prudent to check with local authorities or travel advisories for the current situation before planning a visit. Many smaller communities in the Atlas mountains near Ait ben Haddou and Ouarzazate did suffer damage. However not all.
Ourika Valley Earthquake
The serene Ourika Valley felt the tremors but with minimal impact. This picturesque locale remains a viable option for travelers, albeit with a gentle reminder to engage in responsible tourism practices. Roads and homes into this general area may have seen damage but relief and repair efforts are underway.
Tafraoute’s rocky landscapes endured the quake with resilience. There have even been reports that the local building practices in this small town are one thing that has helped it to endure minimal damage. While the local community appreciates the support that tourism brings, it’s always a good practice to check the latest updates from official sources to ensure the area is ready to welcome visitors.
Lalla Takerkoust Earthquake
The vicinity of Lalla Takerkoust experienced minor tremors. The local establishments continue to operate, making it a relatively safe option for travelers seeking tranquility near the Atlas Mountains.
Agafay Desert Earthquake
Known for its lunar-like landscapes and peaceful ambiance, the Agafay Desert experienced the quake’s tremors, momentarily pausing its quiet allure. The recovery process has been prompt, with many local establishments returning to operations swiftly.
Ouzoud Earthquake: Home to Morocco’s most majestic waterfalls, Ouzoud felt the quake but retained much of its natural charm. The area remains a welcoming destination for those seeking the tranquility of cascading waters amidst a lush landscape.
Known for its blue-painted streets, Chefchaouen was fortunately spared the severe impact of the earthquake. Tourism activities continue here, and visiting can support the local economy, providing the much-needed impetus for regional recovery.
It’s evident that the impact of the earthquake varies across regions. As potential visitors, staying updated with the latest advisories, being sensitive to the needs of local communities, and opting for responsible tourism practices are the steps towards ensuring that your visit is both enjoyable and supportive. Morocco, with its vast landscapes and hearty hospitality, awaits a responsible embrace that cherishes its essence while contributing to its journey of resilience post-earthquake.
Areas Damaged by the Marrakech Earthquake
All areas of the city of Marrakech experienced the earthquake. In the older parts of the medina there was structural damage to historical buildings and homes however in the first week following the earthquake much of the rubble and immediately visible damage was cleaned up.
The Bahia Palace is currently closed after the earthquake. It suffered damage and will undergo repair work. Nearby the Bahia Palace, the Mellah area encountered the most damage in the city. Many buildings faced serious damage leaving people homeless and the buildings unstable.
in the medina visitors will see damage to some walls and buildings and there are areas where buildings are still be shored up with scaffolds and repair works are in process. If you are planning to stay in a riad in the medina, you should check to ensure they remain open and operational.
The iconic Jardin Majorelle experienced no damage and reopened immediately following the earthquake. New build hotels and sites outside of the medina faced little to no damage.
How to Help Moroccan Earthquake Victims
There are many people and organizations that are providing relief for Moroccan earthquake victims. If you would like to contribute to the reconstruction of villages in the High Atlas Mountains or any other trustworthy causes, this page on my website contains some of the options that are available.
Many people have indicated to me that they would like to volunteer to support relief efforts. Before volunteering consider if you have specific skills that will be beneficial. Maroc-Assist is a great website and resource for volunteering your time and skills.
Still Planning Your Morocco Trip?
If you have decided to continue with your vacation to Morocco and need a little extra help. Navigating through the various regions of Morocco post-earthquake calls for a nuanced understanding of the local circumstances. A well-informed traveler can contribute positively to the areas they visit.
To aid in this, I encourage you to pick up my Morocco Trip Planning Guide. This guide provides general information on preparing for your trip to Morocco. Pairing it with the information you’ve just read will help you create a plan that suits your vacation needs while taking into consideration affected areas. If you’re considering a trip to Morocco, this guide could be a handy companion to ensure your journey is as enriching for you as it is supportive of the local communities.