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Morocco

Inspired by Morocco

From the deep blue waves of the Atlantic Ocean, to the calm, bath-water-like shores of the Mediterranean, from highest peaks of the High Atlas Mountains, to the hot desserts of the north-western Sahara, Morocco bursts with spectacular diversity. Today, the country of 35.2 million is a melting pot of Arab, Berber, European and African influences. Unsurprisingly, if you walk the streets or visit a local souk you will hear a colourful mix of Arabic and Berber, the country’s two official languages, as well as French and Spanish. Here, the people and the cities are as diverse as the landscapes.

From high peaks to the desert

Far up in the High Atlas Mountains, hours away from the boisterous metropolises, lie some of North Africa’s most remote villages. Since antiquity, the Berbers have lived on this terrain in the shadows of some of the continent’s highest peaks. Mount Toubkal, for example, stretches a whopping 4,167 metres into the sky. To reach this corner of Morocco, travellers and locals alike must cross an old, windy mountain road with heart-stopping views of the area. Should you and yourself here, hire a driver and cross the pass in the daylight, so you can take in the surroundings.

Starting in spring and stretching into autumn, trekkers flood the area seeking to cover this corner of Moroccan terrain by foot. After the first snow of the season (yes, there’s snow in Morocco), winter sport enthusiasts sweep in to enjoy the slopes. More than just catering for sport lovers’ wants, the mountain range also serves as a natural weather barrier between the milder Mediterranean climate to the north and the sweltering, rural Sahara to the south.

Cross over into the desert landscape and you will find great Saharan ergs, the infamous shifting sand dunes. Two of the most talked-about in the area are Erg Chebbi and Erg Chigaga. The former is a spectacular example of breath-taking Moroccan desert landscapes. This part of the country is only accessible by car or bus, making it truly off the beaten path. Each year, thrill-seekers travel to the area in hopes of witnessing a famous desert sandstorm – from afar, of course.

Bedazzling Marrakesh

Moroccan cities are as inspiring as the country’s landscapes. Marrakesh is a beguiling, lively city that beckons travellers to explore and uncover its secrets. The inside of the medina – the ancient city walls – is home to a maze of streets dotted with souks and their rainbow of colours. Don’t bother looking for street signs or taking along a map should you wander through Marrakesh’s narrow, pastel-washed alleyways called derbs: they are notorious for being unmarked.

For an unforgettable show, head to Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakesh’s main square, which the UNESCO declared a ‘Masterpiece of World Heritage’ in 2001 for its ability to bring urban legends and oral history to life. Here, night after night storytellers, acrobats, buskers and comedy actors perform a dazzling street carnival for the general public to enjoy.

Car-free in Fès

Did you know that the city of Fès is the world’s largest car-free urban area? Stroll along the streets without worrying about motorists zipping by while you take in the elaborate architecture of mosques and madrasas (schools). Get lost and find your way home in the old medina Fes el- bali, famous for its labyrinth of streets. High-quality leather goods look back on a long history in Fès and an afternoon at the iconic Chaouwara tanneries is worth a trip. At the end of a long day, visit a hammam and enjoy a relaxing massage.

Captivating Casablanca

Hollywood may have made Casablanca a household name, but the city’s beauty and modern slant has earned it a place in contemporary Moroccan society. With examples of art deco, modern, and traditional Arab style, Casablanca is home to world-class architecture that expertly blends cultures and the old and new world. The Hassan II Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world, which was built in the 1980s and early 1990s, enriches the city with a contemporary monument. The intricate masterpiece, which took over seven years and the manpower of up to 10,000 artisans to complete, demonstrates remarkable craftsmanship.

For those who simply want to take a stroll, absorb the sights and tuck into a delightful meal, Casablanca offers a booming art and culture scene and incredible restaurants along the beautiful waterfront boulevard, La Corniche. However, should you come to Casablanca looking for traces of the eponymous movie, you will go home disappointed: it was all filmed in a Hollywood studio.

Beachside getaways

With its long stretches of coastline along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, Morocco also attracts throngs of tourists from abroad looking to enjoy sand and surf. Especially the ocean breezes can provide a refreshing relief in the sweltering summer months. Along the southern Atlantic coast, Agadir is one such popular coast getaway that is particularly popular among European tourists. It boasts modest beaches, golf courses and resorts on or near the seaside. Further north on the ocean, Essaouira offers kilometer. long sand beaches alongside jaw-dropping fortifications. In the lovely old town, the medina is bursting with narrow alleys and picture book, blue and white houses.

Culture & culinary traditions

Moroccan hospitality is legendary and the people here are proud of it. Engage with the locals and you may and yourself invited to a lavish meal at someone’s home, possibly a beef or chicken tagine. And no trip to Morocco is complete without tasting traditional sweet breads and delectable mint tea. Throughout the diverse country, magical argan oil is said to make everything better. It is used in spa treatments, cosmetics, haircare and food. The precious oil, which is chocked full of vitamin E and fatty acids, is extracted from nuts of the argan trees that grow in southwestern Morocco.