Navigating Morrocco

Maroc_Marrakech_Jemaa-el-Fna_Luc_Viatour

Even in mid January, we were walking through Marrakesh with crop tops and shorts, the sun weak but warm. The city seemed to radiate summer from its walls, the crisp terracotta colours melting into the blue skies. Every street reached out tantalizingly, scents of spice and soaps, tagines and teas infecting our minds. Children ran between streets, dodging blaring scooters and vanishing into cracks and side lanes. Vendors shouted out phrases in different languages to us, an escalating competition of which would make someone turn around to look at them and their wares. ‘Ola, señorita! Eiffel Tower! Fish and chips, fish and chips. Tesco!’ Monkeys bleated and chattered. The noise was constant and humid, sticking to the skin until the early hours. Marrakesh is the commonly repeated ‘must see’ city of Northern Africa, particularly famous for the night food market in Djemma el-Fnaa and the numerous marketplaces within the walls of the Old City. It can, however, be experienced in a cheaper, miniature version, with a quick trip to the northern part of the country. In the small town of Essaouira, settled on the northern coast and a few hours from Marrakesh, tourists can wander the much smaller streets and find souvenirs, spices and other items for a fraction of city prices. It offers its own counterpart to the Djemma el-Fnaa market with its open air seafood vendors situated on the docks; fishermen here display their newly fished wares in order to offer a seafood pick ‘n’ mix, cooking for and serving tourists in front of them. Morocco offers many more jewels across the country, from Casablanca to Tangier. However, much of its beauty comes from the unlabelled places between them. The unparalleled geography ranges from the glimmering coastline to the precarious Atlas Mountains, all the way down to the northern border of the Sahara Desert. The common tourist trek departs from Marrakesh to travel this path. Commonly frequented and loved locations include the Asni Valley, host to beautiful examples of traditionally built Berber houses, and the Ourika Valley, with beautiful waterfalls down rock faces. For something slightly off the beaten track, the town of Chefchaouen is situated in the corner of the north east, famous for most of its buildings being in shades of blue. The common Morocco experience often ends up with a camel trek a few kilometres into the desert and a night of camping under the stars. What with so much to see, however, there is plenty of scope for tourists to Morocco – particularly those possessing a strong pair of mountain boots for the Atlas Mountains – to scope out their own path through this varied country.

by Dannee McGuire, Razz Travel Correspondent

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