Morocco in December – What to See and Where to Go

December is a great month for a Moroccan adventure if you prefer the comfort of cooler weather and fewer crowds. The northern coastline boasts a Mediterranean climate, so it tends to be pleasant throughout winter, but never too hot. For winter sun seekers, there’ll be plenty of sunshine hours during the day. And whilst conditions aren’t ideal for sunbathing on the beach, it’s the perfect time for exploring Morocco’s magical cities, bustling markets, and traditional Berber villages.

Essaouira

Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Morocco in December. Including what to see, where to go, and what to pack in your suitcase.

Weather

Morocco is a land of extremities, so expect a contrast in climate during the winter months. This is when you can expect the peaks of the Atlas Mountains to be blanketed in snow, yet still relatively warm at other altitudes. The contrasting weather means that mountain expeditions may not be suitable for everyone at this time of year. For experienced outdoor enthusiasts though, snow trekking can be a challenging, rewarding activity with some of the most spectacular views.

Despite being in December, the Mediterranean coast will be lovely and warm during the daytime (though it can turn chilly at night). The climate in the Sahara is at its most extreme; hot and dry in the day and close to freezing after sundown. If you’re moving around or going on a Moroccan tour, average temperatures and rainfall can vary somewhat from city to city. So be sure to check the weather forecast for each destination.

Here are some of the averages you can expect, although it can change from year to year.

Marrakech

Low – 8°C

High – 20°C

Rainfall – 6.5 days

Fez

Low – 6°C

High – 17°C

Rainfall – 9 days

Casablanca

Low – 10°C

High – 19°C

Rainfall – 7 days

Essaouira

Low – 13°C

High – 20°C

Rainfall – 4 days 

What to Do

There are so many things you can do in Morocco in the month of December, and the cooler weather makes it easier to travel around. It’s true that rainfall is higher, but still very low compared to winter in other countries, and the pay-off is that you’ll miss the tourist rush. So this is the perfect time to be out and about. Here are a few ideas to inspire your next trip.

Trekking in the Sahara

Winter is a great time of year to go trekking in the Sahara Desert, with December being a favourite amongst travellers. Whilst it can still get hot during the day, it’s much cooler than the summer months. Making it much more comfortable for young children, and anyone who is particularly sensitive to the heat or prone to heatstroke. You can also arrange camel tours at sunrise or sunset, So don’t forget to pack your camera to capture those beautiful hues.

SAHARA

Atlas Hiking

Ait Bougmez Valley in the High Atlas Mountains is wonderful in the summer, proving to be a nice respite away from the heat of the cities. In winter, it can get a little chilly with temps swinging from 3°C to about 15°C. But it’s still a great destination if you’re interested in exploring the great outdoor space in Morocco. Trekkers refer to this area as “The Happy Valley” and this is due to the friendly local people, who are always welcoming of tourists. A guided hiking tour is recommended if you want to get the most out of your time here, and if you want an English speaking host to give you all the insider tips.

City Tours

December is without a doubt one of the top months to go sightseeing. With cooler temperatures and smaller tourist crowds in winter, there’s no better time to explore the imperial cities on foot. From the Art Deco buildings of Casablanca to the colourful tanneries in Fez, every city has its own unique charm.

fez morocco

Stay in a Traditional Riad

Riads are as authentic as it gets in Morocco. These traditional houses or palaces feature stunning architecture with intricate designs, and all have an interior garden or courtyard for guests to use. Book before Christmas and New Year and you’ll be privy to the best off-season discounts too. This is a great idea for a romantic break, or for a relaxing spa weekend.

Go Skiing

One of Morocco’s best-kept secrets is its ski resorts. An unlikely destination for the skiing crowd, you shouldn’t expect the glamour or the high-end facilities of somewhere like Val d’Isère. But instead, a charming place that relies completely on natural conditions. There is no artificial snow production, so the weather controls the seasons each year. Moroccan resort times such as Ifrane, Oukaimeden and Tazaghart are determined by snowfall, so the later in the year you go, the better chance of snow coverage. But generally speaking, the season starts in December and ends in March or early April.

snow morocco

Where to Go

The beaches in December are usually quiet. If you enjoy beach walks with no-one else around, you might find the coastal resorts to be bliss. But most people like to visit the cities during the winter season. With the intense summer heat out the way, this is the perfect time for urban exploration. Here are some of the places to go.

Marrakech

There are fewer places for more exciting than Morocco’s capital. Loud, bustling, and bursting with atmosphere, it’s a fun place for all ages. Go shopping at the markets surrounding Jemaa el-Fnaa, and head back there in the evening for some tasty street food. Visit the spectacular Majorelle Garden, see the Koutoubia Mosque, and go sightseeing at the Saadian Tombs. At night, there are number of restaurants to try, as well as unbeatable nightlife. From the city, it’s possible to book guided tours of the Atlas Mountains too.

Casablanca

Make sure you spend plenty of time on foot when in Casablanca. The beautiful Art Deco buildings are better seen when you’re walking, and this way you won’t miss all the lovely pavement cafes. Be sure to see the 1930s Cathedrale Sacre-Coeur, the Hassan II Mosque, Palace Mohamed V, and the charming medina district. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to boutique hotels, riads, spas and Hammams too, making it a great city for relaxation.

CASABLANCA

Fez

The former capital of Morocco is a must if you’ve never been before. It’s the oldest of the imperial cities, and it remains as the spiritual and cultural heart of the nation. Discover its intricate maze of tiny streets, hidden souks, striking monuments and the old tanneries. Be sure to spend at least a day exploring Fes el Bali, the old medina, and also home to palaces and mosques. Head to Art Naji to watch the making of the region’s distinctive blue pottery, take a walk around Medersa Bou Inania, and soak up the sights at Rue des Mérinides.

Chefchaouen

Any time of year is good to visit this city in the Rif Mountains. But December is best if you’re looking to escape the tourist crowds. It gets quiet here in winter as temperatures drop. But you can still expect highs of around 16°C, which is nice and comfortable for sightseeing. Book a guided tour to learn more about the blue-washed buildings, explore the Old City and go shopping at the traditional souks, or take the Cascades d’Akchour trail for some stunning natural scenery.

Chefchaouen

Taroudant

Get lost in the High Atlas region and spend a week exploring Taroudant. Famed for its pretty pink houses, fortified walls and winding streets, it’s one of the most unique cities in Morocco. Known as the “Grandmother of Marrakesh” for its similarities to the capital, it’s an exhilarating alternative if you’ve already seen all you want to see below. And more traditional than Marrakech, this is one of the rare places you can get a taste of unspoilt Berber life. There’s a bustling Berber market every Thursday and Saturday, and there’s a very relaxed atmosphere here. The pace is much slower and the locals are extremely friendly.

Tangier

The city of Tangier is the perfect off-the-beaten-path destination, and the weather is excellent in winter. Although it can rain in December, temperature highs can be 18°C or higher and the sun is always out. Tangier is relaxed, laid-back and slightly hipster, popular with some of the most renowned writers and artists throughout modern history. It’s an ideal place to stay if you like your cities to have a bit of edge. Don’t miss the Caves of Hercules, the Dar el Makhzen museum, or the breath-taking views from Cap Spartel.

tangier

Essaouira

With its gorgeous coastline, wide sandy beaches and pleasant winter weather, Essaouira is a great destination for December travel. It can get a bit windy for beach sunbathing, but kite flying is a hugely popular activity. The great thing is beaches and resorts are generally quiet around this time of year, so you won’t have to deal with huge tourist traffic and you’ll never struggle to get a table. The port town is excellent for restaurants, so foodies will enjoy discovering new flavours here. The vibe here is laid-back and sleepy, so if you’re looking to wind things down, Essaouira is ideal.

Festivals & Events

Another reason to travel to Morocco in December is because there is always something going on. With it being a Muslim country, Christmas isn’t celebrated in many places but there are plenty of other events to pique your interest. Including a film festival and some fun things to do for New Year’s Eve. Here are some of the events taking place each year in December.

Tan Tan Moussem

The Tan Tan Moussem is an annual gathering of over thirty different tribes from Morocco’s southern region. Taking place in the city of Tan Tan every December, this event is a celebration of traditional Berber culture. The main draw for the tribes is camel trading, but there are also other exciting things taking place throughout the festival. Including weddings, inter-tribal competitions and games, traditional Berber re-enactments, and plenty of music and dancing.

camels

Marrakesh International Film Festival

This international film festival takes place in Marrakech every year and is one of the biggest events in the country. It makes way for film stars and Hollywood actors/actresses, and features a competition and awards for new talent. Created in 2001 by His Majesty King Mohammed VI to promote the arts in Morocco, this festival is now one of the best in the world. Tickets are open to film professionals, press as well as members of the public.

New Year’s Eve

Another great event not to miss in Morocco is New Year’s Eve. Whilst Christmas isn’t widely celebrated, Morocco is a popular destination during the festive period. So expect it to get a little busier later in the month. By New Year’s Eve, some cities could become crowded again. Here, it’s tradition to see in a brand new year sitting under the stars in the desert. So if you’re interested in exploring the sights of the Sahara, December could be the perfect time. Or if you prefer to stay in the cities, you’ll find plenty of rooftop spots to celebrate and enjoy a delicious meal.

What to Wear

December weather is still wonderful in Morocco, with most of its cities and port towns experiencing warm daytime temperatures and hours of glorious sunshine. But it can get cold in the evening, so it’s recommended that you pack light jackets and layers. Rainfall is also at its highest in the winter season, so bringing a lightweight waterproof and an umbrella could also be wise.

A good thing to remember is that the weather can get unpredictably hot some years, so your summer/beach wardrobe will still be useful. Even when it’s not hot, the sun can still be strong so UV protective clothing, sunglasses, hats and sun cream are a must.

For anyone going on a desert adventure, remember that it can be close to freezing at night time. For desert treks or overnight camping, you will need to bring a warm coat and thermal layers.

If you’re planning on visiting Morocco and would like expert advice then please email us or give us a call on +44 (0)208 150 6131. Alternatively, fill out our booking form here

 

Everything You Need to Know About Todra Gorge

Todra Gorge, also called Todgha Gorge, is a natural oasis in the mountains of Morocco. Made of limestone and split by the river bed, it’s one of Morocco’s top attractions for visitors. The walls of the gorge are towering, and the river bed is dried, allowing visitors to walk through the landscape most of the year. The entire area is a paradise for photographers, and hikers and climbers have grown to love it. If you’re planning to visit Todra Gorge, here’s everything that you’ll need to know.

Interesting Facts

 

• The Dades Rivers are responsible for creating the Todra Gorge.

• Many of the canyon walls can reach 400 meters in height.

• The last 600 meters of the gorge is the most beautiful.

• There are more than 150 bolted routes for rock climbers.

• The gorge was featured in the premiere of the T.V show, Expedition Impossible.

• It was featured in a 2012 Cadillac CTS advert.

• Visitors can stay overnight at the mouth of the gorge.

• The surrounding area of the gorge is home to Berber tribes.

 

Where is Todra Gorge

 

The Todra Gorge is located in eastern Morocco, in the High Atlas Mountains. The closest town is Tinerhir, and the Dades Rivers are close by. If you’re traveling between Ouarzazate and Erfoud, you can easily stop off to visit the gorge. However, Tinerhir is an ideal base from which you can explore the gorge.

 

If you’re flying in, Ouarzazate International Airport, is the closest as it’s under three hours away by car. Marrakech International Airport is another, more popular option as there are more flights coming in and out. It’s about 402 kilometers from the town of Tinerhir. If you have a car, you can take the P32 highway from Tinerhir heading towards Er-Rachidia and Erfoud. Drivers will be able to follow the signs towards Todra Gorge, passing the village of Tizgui along the way.

 

When To Visit Todra Gorge

 

The best time of year to visit the gorge is during Spring and Autumn. This is when the weather is the nicest, but also when the most tourists come. You may be better off coming during the summer, when it’s very hot, or the winter, when it’s quite cold, to avoid crowds. March through November is said to be one of the best times to visit. Since there is no snow here, visitors can come from December through February and still enjoy their stay. However, nights tend to get much colder during this time. If you plan on staying in a hotel instead of outside, this might be a great option, especially if you’re trying to avoid the crowds.

 

During July and August, temperatures can get up to 30 degrees celsius. You may also want to avoid visiting during Ramadan which takes place in May and June, and April and May. Many businesses shut down during this time.

 

What To Do in Todra Gorge

 

From hiking and rock climbing to photography and local culture, there is plenty to do while visiting. Here are some options for making your trip to Todra Gorge more interesting.

 

Shop For Carpets: Berber carpets are ornate, beautiful, and make fantastic souvenirs. There’s a kasbah located near the gorge, and local villagers set up shop with their handmade carpets. Before you leave, make sure to take a look, do a little haggling, and snag yourself a great deal on a new item for your home.

 

Hiking: There are hikes for all levels around in the gorge. Most people go with tour groups or guides who show them around. The hikes will take you throughout the valley and up to the top of many of the limestone walls. Some of the trails are more like walks than hikes, but the scenery is beautiful regardless.

 

Have a Picnic: If you want to spend a little time soaking in the scenery, pack a picnic. You’ll probably see other visitors scattered around the gorge having lunch with their friends and family. This is a great way to spend some time here without spending a lot of money at a restaurant.

 

Go Camping: If you love the outdoors and adventure, you may want to camp instead of staying in a hotel. There are a few tour companies who can set this up for you. The warmer months are better for spending the night outside. Stargazers and photographers tend to love this option.

 

Rock Climbing in Todra Gorge: This is one of the best spots in the world for rock climbing. There are more than 100 official routes that allow climbers to experience the gorge safely. There are routes for every level, many of which include multi-pitch routes. Beginners are welcomed here too as the gorge is a great place to learn. The Todra Gorge uses the French Sport Grade, so make sure that you have a grade conversion chart. While there are tons of rock climbing routes, here are a couple of the popular options:

• Saracosta: This route is located on Plage Mansour and starts off on a slab-like face. It ends up on an overhanging corner that has fantastic holds.

• Voie Albert: This one of located in the center of the gorge. Climbers will head up Pilier du Couchant with an 8-9 pitch mixed climb.

• Chibania: Best for well-seasoned climbers, this route goes up the right side of Pilier du Couchant and offers stemming on the crux pitch, as well as face climbing.

• Big Ben: This climb will take you up Jardin D’Hiver. It starts off with a ledge, and follows up with a steep second bulge. The anchors have pockets and there are crimpy holds.

• Docteur Excentrique: This climb is classic, especially for those who like picturesque scenery. Climbers will start with a flake, go up through the overhanging roof, and finish over the bulge.

• Je Abidul: This route is a long classic that offers incredible views of Jardin D’ete. It has a crux right before the anchor, and will require a 70m rope.

 

Todra Palmeraie: This stunning landscape is a must-see if visiting Todra Gorge. It’s lined with palm trees, small villages, olive groves, and vegetable gardens. Give yourself a couple of hours to wander around the area by foot and enjoy the scenery.

 

Ikelane Mosque: Located two kilometers from Tinghir, this mosque is one of the most beautiful in southern Morocco. There’s a prayer hall, a skylight dome, terrace, classroom, and a well. The structure was used as a school for small children, a high school for those studying the Koran, a mosque, and a hostel for students. The mosque was once abandoned but has been under restoration throughout recent years.

 

Amtoudi Village: Home to around 300 families, this Berber village makes a great stop when visiting the gorge. The land is dotted with farms and irrigation systems that help grow figs, olives, apricots, dates, and almonds. Overlooking their village is an ancient grain facility which is partly what sets them apart from other villages. It’s a bit off the beaten track, but local guides are happy to show visitors around.

 

Aït-Boujane: Located in the valley of Todra, this ancient village is a beautiful sight and interesting destination. Visitors will get to see a lineup of mud houses, palm groves, and a lovely mountain backdrop. Tours can be had by foot or via camel.

 

Tinghir Weekly Market: This is one of the largest markets in southern Morocco. If you’re using Tinghir as your base, it’s worth sticking around to explore. The market has been around for centuries and sells local crafts, livestock, dates, olives, fruit, and grain. The big market happens on Mondays, and the cattle market takes place on Saturday. Aside from food and produce, visitors will also find handmade, traditional clothing, sandals, furniture, woven mats, teapots, toys, kitchen items, bikes, craft tools, seeds, plants, spices, mineral salt, henna leaves, eggs, poultry, baskets, scarves, makeup, pottery, and antiques. Don’t forget to stop into one of the makeshift cafes for some mint tea.

 

Dades Gorge:  Alongside Todra Gorge, this is one of the best in Morocco. This gorge can be wide and low, but in some areas, the walls are massive. Take a drive through the area and stop off at villages along the way.

 

Ouarzazate: While a little bit farther away from Todra Gorge, Morocco’s, Little Hollywood, is a great destination to add to your trip. You can visit Ben Haddou, one of the top Game of Thrones movie set destinations. Pop into the Telouet Kasbah, a historically significant building that has since fell to abandonment. Visitors can also check out the film studio, tour the desert on camel, or drive a 4×4 into the dunes. It’s a great stop for an adventurous day while visiting Todra Gorge.

 

Erfoud: This town is another great place to stop on your journey to Todra Gorge. It is known as the Gates of the Sahara, and has plenty to see. Visit the Royal Palace, the bustling souq, the renowned fossil collection, and the Jewish cemetery. Stop off at one of the street cafes, or head into the desert for a 4×4 ride. The town is also well known for its food and drink options so make sure to wander around and have yourself a delicious meal.

 

 

Where To Stay

 

There are quite a few accommodation options around the Todra Gorge. From hotels to guest houses and camping, visitors will have their choice. Here are some of the top options:

• Auberge Le Festival Todra Gorge: Top-rated hotel with outdoor pool, terrace, onsite restaurant, private bathrooms, and a historic decor.

• Kasbah Maison D’hôte Lalla Zahra: Popular with couples, this hotel has private parking, WIFI, some rooms that overlook the mountains, a terrace for dining, and options for biking and windsurfing.

• Berbere De La Montagne: A campsite in the Dades Gorge. It’s quite small but has shot showers, western toilets, a lounge, restaurant, fireplace, and a place to charge cell phones and camera batteries.

• Palmeraie Guest House: Located in Tinerhir, this guest house has a sun terrace and mountain views. There’s a restaurant onsite, gardens, and traditional decor.

• Riad Al Anwar: This Riad is located in Tinerhir and offers free WIFI, private parking, and a restaurant. The area is popular for biking, and they offer rentals so that you can go off and explore.

 

Useful Tips

• Visit with a guide for a better understanding of the gorge.

• Be careful of the local people trying to sell you tours at the gorge.

• Nearby hotels can set you up with rock climbing or hiking tours.

• Not all of the hotels have quality rock climbing equipment so bring your own if you are concerned about that.

• For something different, rent a mountain bike and explore that way.

• You can ask your guide to take you to a local Berber house for tea and a meal.

• Be prepared for tourist crowds. Try to come earlier if you want to beat them.

• Check out the nearby vendors if you want to buy some Berber crafts such as rugs.

• If you explore without a guide, there are usually local villagers around who can help you if you lose your way.

• Pack sunscreen, sturdy walking shoes, and layers if you want to make sure you’re comfortable during your visit.

• Once in the vicinity of the gorge, a car is not necessary.

• It’s OK to haggle on prices when it comes to hotels, car rentals, and restaurants.

• Watch out for fake tour guides and carpet sellers who may try to rip you off.

• Don’t give money to the children who are begging. Many of them will offer to take you to Tinerhir; don’t accept.

• Don’t drink the water from nearby springs or the tap water in hotels.

 

Todra Gorge is a great place to visit when you want to take a break from the bustling cities of Morocco. It’s one of the most spectacular gorges in the world, and should be a must-see on your trip. Whether you rock climb, hike, take photos, or just wander around, the Todra Gorge is bound to impress. Get in touch with us today for more information about planning your trip.