If you’re based in the UK or elsewhere in Europe, Morocco is one of those countries which offers the traveller some unique sights and diverse cultural experiences without needing to head off half way across the world.
So if you’re dipping your toe into all things Moroccan, where would you start? What would be the not-to-be-missed experiences?
Djemma el Fna
Food stalls producing delicious smells, acrobats, musicians, snake charmers, storytellers … a world of entertainment begins in the main square of Marrakech each evening as dusk falls. The hustle of humanity here is not to be missed.
There are some fabulous hammams and spas in Morocco, especially in Marrakech. Relax in beautiful dimly-lit elegant surroundings, then be scrubbed to within an inch of your life to find newly silky skin, before chilling out again in steamy marbled rooms. Add to this a sensual massage, and you’ll be floating your way out of the spa at the end of the afternoon!
A culinary feast
Food in Morocco is definitely one of the delights to be savoured. There are some truly superb restaurants, and you should definitely go for a proper Moroccan feast one night. This usually entails at least 5 courses. A harissa soup is often a starter, which is followed by a myriad of tiny bowls of ‘salad’ (really tasty small dishes with such things as smoked aubergine puree, pickled vegetables, spiced fried cauliflower). After this may come a pastilla (a kind of savoury pasty usually with icing sugar and rose water). The main meat or fish dish will be a tagine, follwed by a couscous. If you can force a pudding in after this it will probably be a kind of baclava – honey and nut pastries.
A night in the desert
The sand dunes of Erg Chebbi at Merzouga are the closest Saharan sand dunes to Europe. These are the dunes you will have seen on countless films. Come and see them for yourself and spend a night under the stars in a berber tent to experience the mysterious beauty and silence of the desert. This is not just a tent though, this is very comfortable with proper beds, hot showers and someone to cook for you too.
Rock the kasbah
Kasbahs are the fortified castles of Berber warlords. Since warlords are not really around any more, some of their kasbahs are now used as grand homes and incredible hotels. There are many around, but one of the ones with the most impressive situation is in Imlil in the High Atlas Mountains. Kasbah du Toubkal is certainly worth a stay, and as you’re in the middle of the Atlas, you can do some great hiking from here.