Morocco vs South Africa: Which African Country Should You Visit First?

Morocco vs South Africa: Which African Country Should You Visit First?

Pick your African adventure.

Picture this: Going on the most-awaited African adventure of your life. But wait — which African adventure are we even talking about? Torn between the vibrant culture of Morocco and the diverse landscapes of South Africa?

Deciding which country to visit can be a tough call. While both African countries promise an unforgettable experience, they’re still very much different and offer something exceptional for every type of traveller — from the bustling souks and ancient kasbahs of Morocco to the dramatic coastlines and world-class wildlife safaris of South Africa. Let’s delve into the heart of Morocco and South Africa to help you choose the perfect starting point for your unforgettable African adventure.

Also read: This Girl Travelled Overland From Indonesia to Africa: Across 18 Countries and 44 Cities in 4 Months!

1. City

As with any other destination, choosing your first African adventure boils down to one important factor: The type of experience you crave. While both Morocco and South Africa offer diverse cultural and historical immersion, the landscapes and other activities they hold differ greatly. To help you decide, let’s explore the unique charms of each destination, starting off with famous cities such as Marrakesh and Cape Town.


Morocco vs South Africa

Jamaa El Fna marketplace, Marrakesh | Image credit: kasto via Canva Pro

Nestled in the heart of Morocco is Marrakesh, a city that thrums with life and culture. Walk through alleys of local spices and handcrafted treasures, be captivated by tourist hotspots, and indulge yourself in delectable Moroccan street food. Inside the city is the medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a maze of narrow alleyways lined with vibrant souks overflowing with spices, handcrafted treasures, and other local trinkets. 

Tourists also frequent other local street markets where you can get fresh dates, cactus fruits, and peaches. For fans of photography, you can enjoy the artworks displayed in the Museum of Photography after a day full of activities or an afternoon stroll.

South Africa

Morocco vs South Africa

Cape Town Harbour, South Africa | Image credit: Lukas Bischoff via Canva Pro

If there’s only one place you need to visit in South Africa, it’s definitely Cape Town. This city is known for its picturesque coastline filled with hubs for both adventure and leisure. Touring Cape Town alone is already an experience to cherish; some of the best places to visit and things to do here include hiking to the Lion’s Head, historical tours at Bo-Kaap, Two Oceans Aquarium, and a wine tram tour at Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.

2. Accessibility and transportation

Accessibility and transportation are big factors to consider when making a choice between Morocco vs South Africa. Is public transportation available in the area? Is the city wheelchair-friendly? Are local shops, grocery stores, and other essential landmarks close by? These are only some questions you need to ask yourself before travelling to Morocco or South Africa, especially when you’re travelling with young children or the elderly.


Morocco or South Africa

City tram on a street in Casablanca, Morocco | Image credit: Leonid Andronov via Canva Pro

Like any country, Morocco seeks to improve its overall tourism experience. But despite progress in recent years, accessibility in Morocco remains a significant challenge for individuals with disabilities, so this is an important matter to take note of. While constant changes are in the works, physical barriers are still prevalent, especially in public transportation and historical sites like medinas with uneven terrain. 

Albeit lacking in terms of accessibility — especially for people with disabilities — navigating Morocco is fairly easy, thanks to the mix of modern and traditional transportation. There are trains connecting major cities such as Casablanca, Rabat, and Fez, while buses provide links to smaller towns and villages. 

For the complete Moroccan experience, share a grand taxi with fellow tourists and immerse yourself in Moroccan life. However, if you want a more comfortable and private experience, renting a car is also possible so you get the freedom to explore the cities and towns at your own pace.

South Africa

Morocco or South Africa

Cape Town streets | Image credit: espiegle via Canva Pro

Like Morocco, South Africa also offers a variety of transportation options that will suit different needs and budgets. Flights are probably the quickest option for long-distance travels, but buses are also available to get you around most cities and towns. But, if you crave the freedom to explore off-the-beaten-path spots, renting a car is your best option. Take note though that driving may be a bit more challenging here due to steep roads. While taxis and minivans are the more affordable alternatives, taking the train is highly suggested for a safer and more relaxing travel experience.

South Africa has also made significant progress in accessibility, specifically in major cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg. But despite all efforts, challenges still remain. While public transportation has slightly improved in major cities, rural areas still often lack adequate infrastructure. However, if you’re planning to travel to these areas, don’t be discouraged. Local organisations are constantly in the process of improving these hurdles to make way for a safer and more accessible African travel experience.

Also read: Beyond Tanzania’s African Safaris: Discover Zanzibar’s Sandy White Beaches!

3. Food

A trip to any destination is never complete without indulging in local cuisine and other culinary delights. Luckily, Morocco and South Africa have promising and diverse food options, each shaped by their unique history and cultural influences.


Morocco vs South Africa

Image credit: (L-R) PicturePartners, EunikaSopotnicka via Canva Pro

While there are many reasons to visit Morocco, food has got to be the best among them. Moroccan cuisine is a feast for the senses, bursting with flavours of exotic spices and seasoning.

Moroccan meals are a delightful (and tasty!) journey to take. Soups often take centre stage, warming the palate with options like harira, a hearty lentil and tomato soup blended with an assortment of spices, or bissara, a blend of split beans and olive oil. Bread, which locals call khobz, is also a Moroccan staple usually eaten with sauces and stews. 

Meanwhile, the main dishes showcase the country’s cultural culinary heritage, offering a variety of lamb, chicken, and vegetables simmered in aromatic spices. To end the flavourful journey, indulge in a realm of Moroccan desserts. A favourite: baklava and chebakia drenched in sweet syrups and honey, promising a hearty sweet ending to any meal.

South Africa

Morocco or South Africa

Image credit: (L-R) AJ Paulsen, CarlaMc via Canva Pro

South African cuisine is also a celebration of diverse flavours and cooking traditions, all these shaped by their rich cultural heritage.

The iconic braai aka barbecue takes the top spot in one of the most famous dishes in the country. South Africa’s take on barbecue features succulent meats such as boerewors or farmer’s sausage grilled in sosaties aka skewers over open flames. With this comes their savoury stews called potjiekos simmered in cast-iron pots, promising a comforting and hearty meal. 

And how can we forget about the legendary curry? A flavourful fusion of Indian and Malay cuisine that has its own unique South African taste. End the palate on a sweet note with unique desserts such as the Malva pudding or the deep-fried koeksisters soaked in syrup and cinnamon.

Also read: 14 Food Destinations Around the World for a Gastronomic Tour

4. Beaches

Going to Morocco or South Africa during the summer? Both countries boast stunning coastlines, though their beach experiences still cater to different preferences.


Legzira Beach

Legzira Beach | Image credit: litchi-cyril-photographe via Canva Pro

Morocco offers a mix of Atlantic and Mediterranean beaches, all perfect for basking in the sun all day, swimming, and engaging in water sports. The consistent winds of Essaouira often attract surfers, while Agadir has calmer waters perfect for a chill beach day. 

Want a one-of-a-kind beach experience? Head on to Legzira Beach, where fiery red sandstone cliffs are effortlessly sculpted by the crashing waves. This place is one of the most peaceful spots in Morocco, making it the perfect hideout for travellers seeking serenity. While the big waves are not ideal for leisure swimming, Legzira Beach is every adventure traveller’s best bet for trying out surfing. To top that, your photos will look like it’s been taken straight out of a sci-fi movie scene!

South Africa

Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach | Image credit: AndreaWillmore via Canva Pro

Meanwhile, South Africa boasts a plethora of spots known for their postcard-worthy beaches that offer a wide range of activities. Everyone’s favourite seaside playground lies on the long stretch of golden sand in Durban, promising a warm and sunny temperature for most of the year. For nature lovers who want a close encounter with wildlife, adorable penguins await you at Boulders Beach near Cape Town, while experienced divers can explore the vibrant underwater marine life at Sodwana Bay.

5. Nature spots

Nature lovers will find themselves falling head over heels for both Morocco and South Africa, yet each country still offers unique landscapes and experiences. From mountain ranges to national parks, let’s discover the popular nature spots in both countries.


Sahara Desert

Morocco vs South Africa | Image credit: JimboChan via Canva Pro

Thrill-seekers will be happy to know that Morocco offers the adventure of a lifetime. Nothing beats a road trip down the Atlas Passes. The dramatic landscapes and breathtaking vistas are enough reason to drive through this road, making picture-perfect postcards for the ‘Gram. 

Atlas Mountains

Atlas Mountains | Image credit: Andrey Khrobostov via Canva Pro

Challenge your driving skills as you wind through the Tizi n’Test and Tizi n’Tichka passes. Despite the very steep incline, you’ll be rewarded with an idyllic sight of lush valleys and plains of the Atlas Mountains. Meanwhile, the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert offers a unique Moroccan experience through camel rides by day and stargazing at night.

South Africa

Morocco or South Africa

Kruger National Park | Image credit: Utopia_88 via Canva Pro

South Africa’s natural landscapes are equally beautiful. Safari is one thing you can never miss if you’re travelling to this country. Fortunately, there’s a handful of well-kept safaris that are teeming with wildlife. 

Dubbed as the ultimate safari destination in South Africa, Kruger National Park is one of the most popular national parks that is home to different kinds and species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and trees. Relive a childhood favourite — The Lion King — and book a stay in one of the hotels or safari camps in the woods for the ultimate South African experience. 

The Garden Route

The Garden Route | Image credit: Ben1183 via Canva Pro

Traverse through the dreamy place of The Garden Route or Blyde River Canyon, two South African hotspots that look like they’ve been taken straight out of a postcard. Or, if you’re up for it, reenact your favourite K-drama scene in a bed of over 3,500 flowers in Namaqualand, a remote region in the northern part of South Africa where flowers burst into life for a short period in July.

Also read: 7 Amazing Luxury Wildlife Travel Experiences to Try Today

6. Historical landmarks

When it comes to heritage, Morocco vs South Africa? Both are treasure troves of rich history. Each country boasts unique historical narratives of their own — most of which history buffs can explore through their landmarks.



Chefchaouen | Image credit: John_Walker via Canva Pro

Morocco unveils its past through ancient ruins, starting off with the popular clay buildings of Aït-Benhaddou. What once was a fortified walled city built as a trading post during the 17th century now stands as a residence for some of the locals in the area. Although there’s not much to see here, the unique sight of earthy clay buildings still captivates tourists who come to admire the rich culture and history that lies within the building’s walls. 

Morocco also boasts a plethora of fascinating medinas, each with its unique charm that tells a story. Wander through the labyrinth alleyways of Fez, known as the world’s oldest continuously operating university. Alternatively, you can explore the pretty blue hues of Chefchaouen, dubbed as a “Moroccan Chefchaouen” nestled in the Rif Mountains.

Telouet Kasbah also makes it to the list of must-see historical ruins in Morocco. Located right in the heart of Morocco, this brick fortress was once a palace of the famous El Glaoui and his family. Today, the kasbah sits in ruins — though partially restored already — offering a glimpse of Morocco’s complex history to travellers who want to take a peek at one of the country’s hidden treasures.

South Africa

Robben Island

Robben Island | Image credit: steve_is_on_holiday via Canva Pro

South Africa’s historical landmarks tell a different story, portraying its struggle for freedom and reconciliation. Robben Island is a significant landmark just off the coast of Cape Town and stands as a symbol of both struggle and triumph. This island is where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years of his imprisonment, and has since then become a powerful symbol of South Africa’s fight for freedom and equality. Today, the island stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, serving as a constant reminder of the country’s resilience in the face of injustice.

Meanwhile, the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is a powerful testament to South Africa’s transformative past. The museum’s exhibitions aim to educate visitors by taking them on a chronological journey, starting with pre-apartheid history. More than just a museum, the Apartheid Museum stands as a space for reflection and healing, encouraging visitors to sit with uncomfortable truths and learn from the mistakes of the past.

Also read: 10 Memorable Things to Do In Tanzania, “The Soul of Africa”!

The TZ Verdict on Morocco vs South Africa

In the end, deciding between Morocco vs South Africa boils down to your preferences. 

The captivating Morocco enchants with its rich history, vibrant culture, and diverse landscapes. In this African country, you’re definitely going home with a lot more knowledge about its significant past. Explore ancient medinas in Marrakesh, architectural wonders through kasbahs, and stunning natural wonders from the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert.

On the other hand, South Africa beckons with its dramatic coastlines, diverse wildlife, and impactful historical narratives. Spend a full day of adrenaline-pumping activities, witness penguins go about their day at Boulders Beach, or delve into the Apartheid Museum’s poignant history.

Also read: Longest Road in the World Takes You from South Africa to Russia

Both countries offer unforgettable experiences, so the choice ultimately lies in what ignites your travel desires. After getting a glimpse of their similarities and differences, which African country will you be travelling to first? Morocco vs South Africa? Let us know!

About Author

Patricia Caleon
Patricia Caleon

Patricia is a simple girl who likes to express herself through pictures and words. Not much for talking; writing and taking pictures have always been her way of telling people of her stories and adventures. On a normal day, you'll probably see her reading a good book in one hand and a cup of coffee in another.