From Morocco to Timbuktu: An Arabian Adventure

Camel trek in Erg Chebbi

When we got the call from Tern TV to be their Moroccan fixer for the BBC 2 Series, From Morocco to Mali: An Arabian Adventure, it started us off on a quest to find the historic salt roads that cross Morocco from North to South and down across the Sahara.

Our job was to help plot the route, to input any ideas we had of people to meet along the way, to get all the film permits sorted and to transport the crew through Morocco. We were then there as an integral part of the team all through the filming to make sure that everything ran smoothly.

We needed every one of our fourteen years of experience in designing tailormade tours and adventures in Morocco to get the job done – it was a mammoth task.

Morocco to Timbuktu

Charlie Shepherd, Epic Morocco Founder, took the lead and made sure the three week shoot went as smoothly as possible. Simo Hadji was the camera assistant and Khalid was the driver. Our guide, Saaid Naanaa got to play a starring role as he guided Alice across the mountains.

In fact, the presenter, Alice Morrison is also a part of Epic Morocco. We sponsored her for her big world first trek: The Atlas to Atlantic when she trekked from the top of Mount Toubkal to the Atlantic ocean straight across the Atlas Mountains.

Epic transport to the mountains

The Series starts in Tangier and then travels down through Fez and Marrakech, across the Atlas Mountains and to the ancient, lost city of Sijilmassa.

Morocco to Mali

We explore historic salt mines hidden in the mountains, the traditional camel market in Guelmim, and finally cross into the dunes of the Sahara Desert.

It is on BBC2 on 11th and 18th May 2017 at 9.00 pm and available after that on BBC IPlayer.

We are also designing a trip to visit some of the destinations featured. Please contact escape@epicmorocco.co.uk for details.

The book on the adventure is out now: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1545581371/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Top Ten Things to Do in Essaouira

Essaouira is a beautiful seaside resort just a couple of hours drive away from Marrakech. Endless stretches of white sand, palm trees, camels at sunset and a pretty white-washed town with a harbour filled with bright blue boats. But don’t be misled by the chilled atmosphere and laid back vibe. This is the Cannes of North Africa with festivals, celebrities and some very upscale eating and shopping.

So here are Epic Morocco’s top ten tips for what to do in Essaouira

1. Listen to some Gnaoua music. With its origins in the slave music of Ghana, overlaid with Moroccan beats and Sufi rythmns, you’ll soon be twirling your tasselled red cap along with the best of them. There is an annual festival in May which brings in musicians from all over Africa.
2. Eat fish. It’s so fresh it almost swims off the plate.
3. Buy a knitted hat. They are only ten dirhams, hand made in all the colours of the rainbow.
4. Drink some sugar cane juice, freshly squeezed by a man with a cart. 7 dhs a pop (less than 50p)
5. Unleash your inner hippy and get a henna tattoo.
6. Wear a turban. It is the latest in summer headwear and all the cool chicos and chicas are sporting them.
7. Treat yourself to a gluten free crepe at Creperie Mogador, 4 Derb Laloouj. So good, we went back twice …. before lunch.
8. Buy some beautiful handmade silver jewellery from Corallo, 45 Av. Mohammed Ben Abdallah. If you buy as much as we did, you will also get a kiss from the Italian Designer.
9. Ride a camel along the beach at sunset. Corny? Maybe. Fabulous? Definitely.
10. Hang out with some hipsters. The coolest of Morocco’s boys and girls come here to play and if you have a predilection for beards, great shirts, hats and man-jewellery, check out Mega Loft, 49 Rue al Yeman. Great food and live music.

This blog was written by Alice Morrison check out her website for more www.alicemorrison.co.uk/blog

essaouira03

Essaouira111-e1420308744958

boat-yard-e1420307313858

9 of the best Morocco blogs

Snake Charmer by Kevin Gessner

There is a wealth of writing talent and local knowledge based here in Morocco that we regularly catch up with. Bloggers covering everything from romance  to TEDx Marrakech; from drum making to where to get a sneaky glass of wine in the medina. Of course there is our blog too which looks at the more adventurous side of life   We thought it was time we shared all that experience with you, so here are our Top 9 Blogs about Morocco.

In no particular order…

Alice Morrison came to Morocco in January 2014 to train for the toughest footrace in earth, the Marathon des Sables . It is 6 marathons across the desert in 6 days, carrying all your own equipment and supplies. Temperatures reach 50 degrees and the dunes roll on relentlessly. However, although it ripped her feet to shreds,  it didn’t put Alice off Morocco, in fact she liked it so much that she stayed. Her blog covers adventures big and small. So check it out  www.alicemorrison.co.uk/blog

 

Per Sjodell and Patrick Benjaminsson arrived in Marrakech from Sweden with no fixed plan other than to take a break and enjoy the beautiful riad they had renovated. Morocco, however, had other ideas for them and over a year on, they are absolute fixtures on the Marrakech scene and ran the recent Tedx event. If you want to know what is going on in town – they are the ones to go to http://riadarabe.blogspot.com

Amanda , the writer of MarocMama introduces herself and her site. “I’m Amanda. A curious, world travelling mom of two boys. On MarocMama you’ll find inspiration to eat amazing food, live globally, and explore the world with us. We’re a Moroccan/American family living in Marrakech. Come with us on our adventures!” Well worth a peruse. http://marocmama.com/morocco/

This choice is a little bit different as it is part of Fathom Guides rather than just an individual but we really liked the content and found it useful, so we have included it for you to look through. http://www.fathomaway.com/guides/africa/marrakech/

If it is art and design you are interested in, then Maryam Montague’s blog will provide you with lots of beautiful thoughts and images to enjoy. Maryam and her family founded Peacock Pavilions, a beautiful venue on the outskirts of the city and also founded Project Soar, a wonderful project that empowers girls. Give yourself a treat with http://www.mmontague.com/my-marrakesh/

Morocco is not just about beauty, adventure, and the joy of living, however, it is also a busy, modern state and a leader in African affairs. Huge national programmes are in place to improve the infrastructure, education and the living conditions of the poorest. The Riad Zany blog will keep you across the latest development.  Here it is http://riadzany.blogspot.com/

Colin runs a property company in Marrakech, buying and selling riads and also overseeing developments. He has a different slant on things and his blog is always refreshing to read and full of practical info as well as the latest riads for sale (if you fancy a bit of property porn) https://bosworthpropertymarrakech.com/blog/

There is also this excellent property blog http://grantstonerrawlings.blogspot.com/ which is a wealth of information on everything from building regs to which are the best books on art and design.

And last but not least, this is a really interesting blog collection sharing the experiences of AMIDEAST  students in Morocco. https://amideastedabroad.org/home?category=Morocco

 

We hope you enjoy them!

What to wear in Morocco

By Alice Morrison

Picture: Harpers Bazaar

“What should I wear in Morocco?

This is a question that we very often get asked before people come over on holiday and although there is no one correct answer, we will try to give you some good ideas and options for things to pack.

Morocco is a Muslim country but also a modern, developing nation, so the dress code varies a lot depending on whether people are from the cities or the country and whether they have had a modern upbringing or a traditional one. In the countryside and in poorer areas of the city, you will see a lot of traditional dress.

For a Moroccan woman, this is a jellaba (kaftan), a long dress with a hood, and a headscarf. It is relatively unusual here to see women with the full veil, although you do see some women (often widows) wearing lower face veils in the cities.  You may also see women wearing gloves in the summer but don’t be misled, this is not for modesty, it is to stop their hands getting too tanned and looking silly against their white arms. One thing that is definitely Moroccan-chic is to wear a cap or bonnet OVER your headscarf to protect your face from the sun.

Traditional wear for men is also a jellaba. In addition, there is a long shirt and trousers that is worn for special occasions and you might notice that on Fridays or for special holidays, the men wear bright yellow babouches. In the south, the men may wear their headscarves wrapped in to a turban.

Picture by Carol Horowitz: www.imagesofanthropolgy.com

But what should YOU wear?

Hints for women on what to wear in Morocco

There are a couple of things that are very different here. One thing that seems surprising is that the shoulder and top of your arm are considered super- sexy, like the top of a thigh in Europe, so beware the vest top. Obviously, it is best not to show too much chest or cleavage either. Skirts and shorts on the knee are perfectly acceptable in the cities. In the countryside, they are not and you should go for trousers or an over-the-knee skirt. Jeans, including skinny jeans, are almost a uniform with the modern Moroccan girls here, but they tend to wear a longer top if the jeans are tight. It is not necessary to wear a headscarf although you may find a scarf useful against the heat and also to put round your shoulders if you are wearing a skimpier top.  The other thing is to be careful of clothes that are see through. The sun is strong and you may draw the wrong kind of attention if your dress goes transparent in the light.

At the beach, it is absolutely fine to wear a swimsuit or a bikini and likewise at the hotel pool but you will need a cover up for walking around.

Hints for men on what to wear in Morocco

Shorts and T shirts are acceptable to wear in the cities, but don’t go for the hotpants look. Vest tops would be considered underwear. If you are in the countryside then trousers or longer shorts would be better.

What to wear in Morocco in the Summer

In the hot summer months, the sun is absolutely burning hot, so think about covering up rather than leaving your skin exposed to those rays. Maxi dresses, floaty tops and cool trousers are all good bets for women. We find them cooler and less sweaty than shorts and T shirts – sorry guys! you will have to make do.

It is also absolutely acceptable to buy and wear the local jellabas. They are cheap, pretty and very cool and you will get lots and lots of compliments as you walk through the markets. Men, also, might want to invest in a stripey number!

A hat or cap is an absolute necessity and a light scarf is a good idea to put over the back of your neck. You can also wet it and that can help you cool down.

What to wear in Morocco in the Winter

In winter, the days are often clear and sunny but the nights are cold. Remember that houses in Morocco are designed more for the heat, so you may find them chilly. You will definitely need jeans or heavier trousers, a sweater or fleece, closed shoes or boots and a warm jacket for the night time. You might also want to bring something cosy to wear in bed or while in your hotel room.  A warm shawl during the day (there are many to buy in the markets) is handy for when you go out of the hot sun into the shade.

Sports clothing for Morocco

People doing sports get a bit of a free pass when it comes to dressing appropriately. But again a T shirt style rather than a vest top and long leggings or a skort(for women) rather than short shorts would be a good choice.  If you are going to be hiking out in the rural areas then you are better to wear hiking trousers. Likewise, if you are mountain biking in remote areas, pack a pair of baggy overshorts.

Be glamorous!

You will probably see every kind of style and fashion while you are in Morocco. Moroccan girls are absolutely famous for their beauty and they love to dress up so be ready to look good! The men are also very handsome – although a bit too addicted to stonewash jeans. The main thing is to be comfortable in the different weather conditions and also to really enjoy what you wear. Girls, think 70s kaftan glamour, bright prints, gorgeous colours and maybe even a sequin or tassle or two for the evening.

Have fun!

This piece is by Alice Morrison. For more from her, check out www.alicemorrison.co.uk or her latest book 

The Best Time to Visit Morocco

Morocco is a land of diverse landscapes, majestic architecture, vibrant colours and heady spices. From the white-topped Atlas Mountains and the azure seas to the rich orange-gold hues and unpolluted starlit skies of the Sahara, the explosion of colours are reflected in the rich culture and heritage of this ancient and exotic land.

The diversity of the landscape however, lends itself to varying temperatures and climatic conditions, so if you’re planning a trip to Morocco, it’s wise to choose the right time of year so you can make the most of your trip.

Here’s a guide to the seasons, climate, festivals and most popular destinations to help you decide the best time of year to fully enjoy your Moroccan experience.

Depending where you go, Morocco can be a land of extreme temperatures – from blisteringly hot days to freezing cold nights. The diversity of the landscape also means that the climate varies from region to region. The mildest climate can be found on the coast, which is moderate and sub-tropical. The further inland you go, the more extreme the temperatures become.

As a general guide, if you want to avoid the hottest and coldest times, spring and autumn are the best seasons to enjoy Morocco.

Spring

In the spring you’ll find pleasant temperatures that aren’t too harsh, especially on the coast. Temperatures range from around 18 to 28 degrees, whereas the interior still reaches 35 degrees. Spring offers ideal hiking weather in the Atlas Mountains from around mid-March to May.

‘Atlas Mountains’ by Matthew Harrigan

Summer

The Moroccan summer lasts from June to August. July is the hottest month and, with bearable temperatures and little humidity, it’s the time of year when many escape to the coast to avoid the stifling heat in the cities and the harsh sirocco winds coming off the Sahara.

Autumn

With similar temperatures to spring, autumn is also a good time to visit as the heat of summer dies down and the cold winter nights have yet to set in.

At Essaouira on the coast, the Atlantic swell peaks in October, offering perfect surfing conditions. Autumn temperatures also make city sightseeing far more pleasant. The markets in Marrakech are far less hectic than in the summer so it’s a great time of year to fit in some early Christmas shopping. As the evenings start to get chilly, you’ll find a cosy, log fire in most Riads, where you can warm yourself, sip on mint tea and savour spicy and rich Moroccan dishes.

Winter

The north coast has a Mediterranean climate and conditions tend to be cool and rainy in the winter months with an average daily temperature of around 12 degrees. Although the cities of Marrakech and Fez are comfortably warm during the day, night-time temperatures can plummet to around 5 to 7 degrees.

The winter is when the Sahara is at its most extreme: hot, dry days followed by freezing, bitterly cold nights. From November to February, the Atlas Mountains are blanketed in snow. Trekking boots are replaced with skis and snowboards, and snow trekking is available for experienced hikers.

 

 

Festivals are an integral part of the country’s culture and provide a great opportunity for visitors to experience the ‘real’ Morocco.

When planning your trip, if possible, try and make the dates coincide with at least one of the many festivals held throughout the year to add an extra special touch to your holiday. Here are some of the most popular festivals worth attending.

 

International Nomad Festival (March)

This 4-day festival is a celebration of Saharan culture and heritage, which takes place in the desert near the village of M’hamid in the Draa Valley. You can enjoy a rich and varied programme of music, theatre, folk stories and ethnic art in specially constructed tents and in the open air. Highlights of the festival are camel racing and nomadic hockey.

 

Rose Festival (May)

Roses are an integral part of the Moroccan culture, and the buds and petals can be used in various ways. Dried buds are used in cosmetics, home decorations and cooking, while distilled rose water and oil are key ingredients for many globally produced perfumes and serums.

Nestled in the Atlas Mountains is the Vallée des Roses. Each May over 700 tonnes of rose petals are harvested and, to celebrate, a 3-day festival is held. The event attracts over 20,000 visitors to the small town of El-Kelaâ M’Gouna every year. The highlight of the festival is a procession through a shower of rose petals and the annual crowning of the ‘Queen of Roses’.

You’ll also have the opportunity to feast on mouthwatering traditional Moroccan dishes while being entertained by local Berber music, songs and dances.

 

Gnaoua And World Music Festival (May)

The annual festival is held at Essaouira where you can enjoy a range of free concerts featuring an eclectic mix of international music and traditional Moroccan Gnaoua music. Gnaoua music goes back thousands of years and is thought to create healing powers. Mystical Gnaoua masters use rhythmic, hypnotic music to evoke their ancestors to draw out ill health and cure the afflicted.

Every year over 500,000 visitors, including worldwide jazz, pop and rock performers, come to the festival to learn from and perform with the great Gnaoua masters.

 

‘Gnaoua Festival’ by Magharebia

Tanjazz Festival (Mid-September)

The world-famous Tangiers Jazz Festival runs over 4 evenings and features some of the best jazz artists in the world, performing in various hotels throughout the city. If you love jazz then this festival is a truly unmissable event.

 

Berbers are ancient, North African tribes people and the nomadic population of Morocco. Twice a year the Berber tribes walk in the footsteps of their ancient ancestors and undertake a long journey, herding their goats, sheep and cattle between summer and winter pastures from the edge of the Sahara to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. The bi-annual migration heads towards the mountains in May and back down again in September.

Visitors have the chance to accompany a traditional Berber family for part of the journey and experience the everyday life and culture of this fascinating tribe.

 

If you want a change from the traditional run up to Christmas, then head to Morocco instead to witness the Geminids Meteor Shower spectacle from the Sahara desert. The clear and unpolluted Saharan skies guarantee a breathtaking cosmic display and a once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll never forget. The meteor shower is at its most intense in mid-December, so why not finish your trip with some last minute Christmas shopping at the markets of Marrakech? Be aware though, night temperatures in the Sahara at this time of year are bitterly cold, so make sure you wrap up warm.

 

Spanning 50 km from north to south and with wind-blown sand dunes reaching up to 150 metres high, the endless views of the golden-orange sands of the Sahara desert are just as they appear in the movies.

Camel trekking and camping out under the stars is the best way to experience the Sahara. For a short trip, Erg Chebbi is easily accessible from Marrakech. Alternatively, for those with a true spirit of adventure, head to Erg Chigaga where you’ll find the largest, wildest and least visited dunes of the Sahara. However, Erg Chigaga is not for the faint-hearted. It involves a good 2-day camel ride from the nearest village and your only accommodation choice is an elaborately decorated tent camp in the Saharan wilderness.

‘Other Riders in Desert’ by ActiveSteve

Daytime heat is most bearable in April and October, whereas night temperatures in December and January can reach below freezing. Whatever time of year you plan your trip, ensure you pack suitable clothing.

 

The magnificent Atlas Mountains offer a range of activities throughout the seasons: from hiking in the spring, summer and autumn, to skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

In the spring and early summer, a 5-hour trek will take you through the mountains, from Marrakech to the walled city of Taroudant. You’ll pass traditional Berber villages, kashbahs (a type of ancient fortress where local leaders lived) and some of the most spectacular scenery in Morocco.

The Tizi n’Tichka Pass is the highest and most impressively paved pass in Morocco, linking Marrakech with Quarzate. The landscape varies from lush green foothills to stark, rocky outcrops before reaching the edge of the vast Saharan landscape. Along the way be sure to visit Kasbah Aït Benhadou, the most celebrated Kasbah in Morocco that featured in Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.

Snow and Morocco may seem an unlikely coupling, yet the Oukaimeden ski resort is easily accessible from Marrakech and offers skiing, snowboarding and sledging activities for all levels. You may not find it up to European standards, but the fact that you can say, ‘I’ve skied in Africa’ definitely makes the resort worth a visit. The skiing season lasts from early January to mid-March.

‘Oukaimeden’ by Ismaïl Taha

 

Two of the most frequented coastal towns in Morocco are Essaouira and Agadir. The cooler ocean breezes make them popular destinations with native Moroccans trying to escape the summer heat. July and August coincide with European school holidays. It’s the peak tourist season, so early booking is essential.

If you’re not restricted by school holidays, late spring and early autumn provide pleasantly warm weather so you can top up your tan without the crowds.

Essaouira

Essaouira has a long sandy beach and a good choice of pavement cafés and restaurants for alfresco dining. The laid back atmosphere provides the perfect spot to relax. Windsurfing here is also popular. When you’ve had enough of the beach, the old town is delightful and small enough to explore on foot.

Agadir

This modern city features palm-adorned promenades, an immense sandy beach and premier hotels and resorts. The beach is pleasantly sheltered from ocean winds and is well patrolled, clean and safe. However, the ocean undercurrent is sneakily strong, so it’s best for children and weak swimmers to rely on hotel pools for swimming.

The markets, fishing port and impressive new marina are also worth a visit.

‘Sunset Agadir’ by Martin and Kathy Dady

 

Marrakech

To fully appreciate this buzzing and vibrant city, visit the main square in the evening where you can soak up the atmosphere and drink in the intoxicating aromas of exotic spices from the food vendors and various Moroccan street food stalls that line the square. It’s also the perfect place to buy quality leather goods, handcrafted objects, decorative homeware and jewellery. Just don’t forget to barter – the stallholders expect it and it’s all part of the experience.

Marrakech is stiflingly hot and cloying at the height of summer, so if you want to avoid the heat, go in spring or autumn when the markets will be less crowded without losing its vibrant buzz.

‘Marrakech, Morocco’ by Kyle Taylor

Fez

Founded in the 9th Century, Fez is the largest and oldest medieval city in the world. The jewel of this imperial city is the ancient medina, which provides a delightful and fascinating escape from the modern world where donkeys are still used for transporting goods. Filled with narrow, winding streets, the colour-coded routes are theme-related and will take you on a discovery of palaces, gardens, markets and mosques.

Another site worth a visit, although non-Muslims are not permitted to go inside, is the Kairaouine Mosque, site of the largest mosque in Africa and the oldest university in the world.

 

The sacred period of Ramadan takes place for 30 days from early June to early July. During this time, Muslims fast and pray from dawn to dusk. Expect to find museums closed, services affected and most cafés, bars and restaurants closed during daylight hours. As night descends and fasting comes to an end for the day, the city streets are filled with revellers, feasting long into the night. You’ll find many eateries stay open longer during this time. However, if you’re concerned that Ramadan could affect your trip, then avoid booking your holiday over June.

If you’d like to find out more about the seasons in Morocco, or you’re ready to book a trip now, contact Epic Morocco or visit our website today.

 

Save

HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE OVER MARRAKECH

Flying high over Marrakech By Alice Morrison.Hot Air Balloon Ride, marrakech, ciel d'afrique, marrakech

I woke up with a jump as the alarm went off at 5.00 am for my pick up. My first ever hot air balloon ride with Ciel D’Afrique. I was excited but slightly nervous, my Mum’s message had been, “Have fun, but remember balloons can pop!”. Any qualms I had were calmed when I  met our pilot, Hicham.

“It IS fun,” he said about his job, “but it is also a matter of responsibility. I am not only a pilot I am also the first Moroccan balloon flight instructor.”

Hot Air Balloon Launch

Our launch point was about a half hour’s drive from Marrakech, towards the little mountains, the Jibilat. We had stopped to pick up the guests including James and Ashley who were on their honeymoon and expecting their first baby. Seven of us clustered round and watched the miracle of the balloon unfold. It was like a scene from a modern Rembrandt as the glow of the propane lit up the faces of the men working and then the magic of the balloon billowing and filling above us with its bright red and green stripes.

Hot Air Balloon Ride, marrakech, ciel d'afrique, marrakech
We clambered in and it was time to go up. Hicham let loose the propane and we gently, gently started to rise. It was so gradual that I got a shock when I looked over the side and saw how high we were.

Magic in the air

Everything you imagine about a balloon flight is true. It is a magical experience, drifting over the surface of the earth in the cool of the morning air, silent except for the wooosh of the propane. We could see the lights of Marrakech burning bright in the distance and then slowly fading as the sun rose in a perfect yellow ball over the Jibilat.

Ciel D’Afrique had provided champagne and we toasted Ashley and James and their new life together. Extra magic.

The wind was light and we moved lazily towards the little mountains for sunrise, then changed direction and over flew some tiny farms. We could pick out every detail below in the sharp morning light; olive trees, a flock of sheep, a well with a water tower beside it, clusters of date palms and even a magpie scurrying along.

In the distance, the Ciel D’Afrique vehicles were following us, ready to pick us up wherever we landed. I thought the landing might be a bit of a bumpy, jolty affair but it was a lot smoother than most Easyjet flights. We came down next to a Oued, a dry river bed, near one of the farms we had seen from above.

Hot Air Balloon Ride, marrakech, ciel d'afrique, marrakech

Flying definitely creates an appetite, and we were very happy to see the Berber breakfast laid out in one of the tents at the landing ground. Local honey and olive oil with freshly-made crepes and Moroccan pancakes, teamed up with salty, black olives, eggs and mint tea. The perfect end to the perfect morning.

If you would like to try a flight with Ciel D’Afrique, let us know, or contact them directly.

This article was by Moroccan-based Adventurer, Alice Morrison.

Save

Save

11 Must Try Moroccan Foods

11 Must Try Moroccan Foods

By Alice Morrison

 

11 Must Try Moroccan Foods is quite an ask …. There are so many to choose from! Morocco is rightly famous for its cuisine, which is unique to this country lying between Africa , the Middle East and Europe. Many of the Mediterranean countries like Greece, Turkey and Lebanon have a common basis to their cooking but Morocco has developed something entirely different. Fantastically fresh, naturally organic ingredients, a fusion of African, Arab and Amazigh (Berber) flavours and a liberal usage of spices are combined in the best of Moroccan cooking. Cooking classes and gastronomic tours are extremely popular here, and it is easy to see why. Here are our top 11 must try Moroccan Foods in descending order.

  1. Corne De Gazelle. This is Morocco’s favourite pastry. It means Horn of the Gazelle and is a delicate pastry filled with a fresh almond paste. It gets its name from its shape.
  1. Snails. Fresh, cooked snails are sold at little stalls in all the main squares and on the market corners. Popular all year round, but especially on cold winter nights, the snails are served in a hot, peppery soup. You drink it up as you winkle the snails out of their shells.
  1. Dates. If you thought there was only one type of date, the kind you get in the supermarket at Christmas, think again. If you visit any of the stalls in the markets, you will be offered a plethora of dates which are all subtly different. The price matches the quality, but they are always a bargain.

BASTILLA

  1. Bastilla. This sweet and savoury combination can be filled with a variety of different meats or vegetables. Our particular favourite is chicken. Bastilla is a pocket of very delicate pastry, filled with a spicy meat/vegetable and then lightly dusted in sugar.
  1. Tripe and beans. This is one that you will either love or hate. The white beans are prepared with masses of garlic and a bit of cumin and are delicious in their own right, but if you have an adventurous spirit then go for a little bit of frilly tripe on top.
  1. Kefta with eggs. A hot, sizzling dish of spicy meatballs in a tomato sauce with eggs poached perfectly on top.

ANYONE FOR A SAUSAGE?

11 Must try moroccan food by Epic morocco

  1. Merguez are Morocco’s famous sausage. Lean and hot, you can buy these from the street sellers stuffed into a piece of freshly baked bread. It’ll only cost you a few dirhams and we guarantee you a feast.
  1. Bessara soup can be eaten at any time including breakfast and is one of the traditional ways of breaking the fast at Ramadan. It is made from broad beans with garlic, cumin and paprika. During Ramadan it is traditionally eaten with some dates and a very sweet pastry called Shebakiyya. It may sound strange but it is a delicious combination.

SLOW COOKED FOR FLAVOUR

  1. Tangia is a very traditional dish in Marrrakech. It is named after the urn shaped clay pot that it is cooked in and it is a rich, slow-cooked stew. You may have to order this one in advance, and if you look closely in the medina you can see the pots being taken to the communal bread oven where they cook all day.
  1. Tangia is a very traditional dish in Marrrakech. It is named after the urn shaped clay pot that it is cooked in and it is a rich, slow-cooked stew. You may have to order this one in advance, and if you look closely in the medina you can see the pots being taken to the communal bread oven where they cook all day.

MOROCCO’S NUMBER ONE DISH

Epic Morocco Moroccan Food

Epic Morocco Moroccan Food

  1. MOROCCO’S NUMBER ONE DISH
    1. Tagine has to be our number one. A tagine is simply something that is cooked in the tagine pot – the clay pot with the pointed lid that could stand as a symbol of Morocco. Whatever your preference is, sweet, spicy, sour, robust… you will find it in a tagine. Beef and prunes, chicken and olives, goat and vegetables are just three of our office favourites. And one of the great things about the tagine is that traditionally it is a dish you share, with everyone sitting around the dish, using their bread as cutlery.

Choosing just 11 dishes has been difficult but we hope you enjoy the selection.  If you would like to come over and taste for yourself, or learn to cook some of these dishes, email us at escape@epicmorocco.co.uk

For more from Alice check out www.alicemorrison.co.uk

 

 

37 Awesome Things to Do in Marvellous Morocco

Morocco is one of the most magical places in the world. From the traditional riads that take you back in time, to the intricate carpets hanging in every market. From the multi-coloured madness exploding in the tanneries of Fes to those forgotten villages hidden in the Atlas Mountains, everything about Morocco is captivating. Wherever you go in this world of frenzied hawkers, exotic snake charmers and smiling Berbers, you’ll find yourself being taken by surprise. And whether you find the pace exciting or a little bit overwhelming at times, we can all agree one thing: there’s no place like Morocco.

Here are 37 awesome things to do while you’re here…

Stay in a traditional Moroccan riad

Traditional riads are like a gateway into medieval Morocco and staying in one can be a truly fantastic experience. Defined by their traditional architecture, their ornate interiors and lavish application of mosaic, and their incredible courtyard gardens, a luxury riad stopover is a bucket list must. Luxury seekers won’t want to miss this.

Eat snails on the cheap

Snails have long been a luxurious French delicacy but in Morocco, you can get this tasty snack at a fraction of the price. For a few dirhams, you can have a piping hot bowl of snail soup – a popular local delicacy.

Ride a camel

It’s almost an obligatory activity in Morocco, not only because it’s such a fun way to get around and explore your surroundings, but also because these animals are such treasured creatures here.  The story of man and camel in the Sahara goes back thousands of years, and camels have long been a symbol of wealth for rural Moroccan families. Camel ride prices start from around 300 dirhams for 30 minutes.

Visit the Musee du Patrimoine Amazigh d’Agadir

Amazigh is the correct name for the Berbers and this hidden gem in Agadir is a must if you want to learn more about Berber history. The Musee du Patrimoine Amazigh d’Agadir is one of the few museums dedicated to Berber artefacts and it opens between 9:30am and 5:30pm Monday to Saturday.

Visit the tanneries in Fes

If you don’t mind the smell, head to the tanneries in Fes. Leather making is a big industry in Morocco and tanneries open up their premises to the public so that people can get a glimpse into the world behind dyeing and treating leather. Images of the tanneries have made countless travel books, magazine features and coffee table hardbacks, so it’s one of the iconic tourist attractions on your Morocco holiday not to be missed.

Visit the Saadian Tombs

The Saadian Tombs in Marrakech date back to the time of the Saadi Dynasty during the 1500s and early 1600s. They were discovered in 1917 and were later restored, and now the tombs are open daily to visitors from 9am to 4:45pm. Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour ed-Dahbi spared no expense on his tomb and this can be seen from the tomb’s incredible and intricately-designed interiors.

Camp in the Sahara Desert

Take a tour of the Moroccan sand dunes and then camp under the stars at one of the Berber style campsites. This is a great thing to do with the kids! Luxury camps offer private family tents and have great bathroom facilities plus there will be plenty of activities including guided walks, cooking classes and stargazing.

Stay in a traditional Berber lodge

There are a number of hotels in the Atlas Mountains but we definitely recommend staying overnight in a traditional Berber lodge for the full Berber experience – the more rustic the better! Berber hospitality is second to none, so you’ll find the Berber community most welcoming.

Find secret restaurants in the back streets of Fes

Unlike Marrakech, Fes’ restaurants are hidden, which if you ask us, is all a part of the charm. Many are tucked away in the backstreets of the city and if you book a table, set off in good time in case you find yourself lost in the labyrinth of winding roads and walkways.

Check out the architecture in Casablanca

If you love colonial architecture and European art deco, be sure to come to the elegant port city of Casablanca and don’t miss the Casablanca Cathedral, the Hassan II Mosque and the Maârif arrondissement.

Sunbathe in Agadir

Agadir has some of the best beaches in Morocco and if you’re travelling with kids, this resort is a great place to come. Whilst most of the beaches are public, some beachfront hotels offer a private beach area which is ideal for sunbathing. The sea is warm and this is very much a family friendly holiday spot.

Nibble on crumbed liver

Moroccans are big believers in nose-to-tail eating. Absolutely nothing is wasted when it comes to meat and one of the many delicacies you can try is the street-eat of crumbed liver, a fried liver snack. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can sample cow’s udders, tongue or tripe.

Eat a Tagine

Known for its complex yet mild flavours and unique preparation/cooking style, the national dish of tagine is not to be missed. Although packed with fragrance and warming aromas, this dish is not spicy so it’s suitable for kids too.

Buy fresh olives from the market

Eat and shop like a local.  Moroccans love to snack on fresh olives and you’ll see so many varieties in the souks including pink olives, green olives, black olives and purple olives.

Check out the Musée Tiskiwin

For Moroccan art and locally-made crafts such as baskets, jewellery and accessories or carpets, head over to the Musée Tiskiwin on Rue de la Bahia in Marrakech. The house was owned by Dutch anthropologist, Bert Flint, who collected North African art from the Sahara Desert, different areas of Morocco, Mali and beyond.

Dine on a rooftop in Marrakech

Rooftop dining is the best way to experience Marrakech at night. When you’ve been battling large crowds in the bazaars and busy squares, there’s nothing more rewarding than a luxury feast and an ice cold drink on a rooftop restaurant such as Le Foundouk or Terrasse des Epices.

Shop for souvenirs

Before you finish your tour of Morocco, make sure you’ve dedicated a little time to shopping for souvenirs. Some great things you’ll be able to find include leather goods, inlaid wooden boxes and trinkets, hand-crafted jewellery and Moroccan lanterns.

Go Inside El Badi Palace

El Badi Palace is a ruined palace in Marrakech, dating back to the 1500s and took five years to build. It was commissioned by the Arab Saadian sultan Ahmad al-Mansur. It opens from 8 am to 5 pm daily and guests can walk around inside.

Get a henna tattoo

Henna tattoos are a safe and painless way of inking the skin, and skilled henna artists usually line the streets of tourist areas offering both traditional and modern designs. Henna lasts for up to three weeks on the skin and it makes a fantastic semi-permanent souvenir.

Take a day trip to the Atlas Mountains

Day trips to the Atlas Mountains are great for getting out of the city. Day tours leave from central Marrakech and you will enter a whole new world as you start to climb up and up and the scenery changes from the desert of the Agafay to the juniper-encrusted slopes of the high mountains.

Haggle in the Marrakech souk

No trip to Morocco is complete without some good old-fashioned haggling. The famous souks of Marrakech are the perfect shopping spots to put your bartering skills to the test. Moroccans can hold their own when it comes to negotiation, so be ready to put up a fight! And remember, if someone says you haggle like a Berber, that’s a compliment.

Els souks by Jordi Marsol

Trek to the peak of Jebel Toubkal

Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa and it stands at 4,167 metres. An ascent to the top is a strenuous uphill climb and in winter you will need crampons and ice axes (available to hire). This is a real challenge but well within your grasp if you are reasonably fit. Set off is at around 4.30 am so you can watch dawn break over the mountains

Visit the Museum of Photography and Visual Arts

Marrakech has a thriving art scene with the Biennale attracting international artists. The Museum of Photography and Visual Arts is one of the galleries at the heart of it. There are usually a couple of exhibitions on at any one time so it’s definitely worth a visit whilst you’re here.

See Jemaa el-Fnaa by day

Marrakech’s main square is a sensation and it acts as a meeting point, a cultural hub, and the heart and soul of the city. Come here in the day and be confronted by the snake charmers, “lucky lucky” men, orange juice vendors and hassling hawkers.

Snake Charmer by Kevin Gessner

Go shopping for leather

Morocco is famed for its amazing leather and you can get awesome leather goods such as handbags and purses, leather belts and leather moccasins/slippers at very affordable prices. Leather goods are handcrafted and totally unique – never factory made! 

Watch a belly dancing show

Marrakech socialites will probably tell you that the era of belly dancers in restaurants is “so over”. But they would be wrong. There are lots or places that feature belly dancers, entertainers and live music over dinner.

Get a scrub down at a traditional Hammam

Getting a body scrub and massage in a traditional Hammam spa is an interesting experience. You’ll feel totally refreshed and invigorated afterwards and your skin will be as soft as the proverbial baby’s bottom.

Drink Moroccan mint tea

Mint tea is the drink of choice here. It is a green tea prepared with mint leaves and sugar. The pouring of the tea is done from a height of at least 12 inches – this is done to create a foam. If there is no foam when you pour, it means that the tea is not ready and should be poured back into the teapot to steep a little longer.

Drink a Flag beer

You’ve not experienced Morocco until you’ve had an ice cold Flag beer. Another regional beer to try is Casa Beer which is the official beer of Casablanca.

Attend the Timitar Music Festival

If you love music, be sure to check out the Timitar Festival which takes place every year. More than 500,000 people attend to see the 40+ artists perform on stage and the music ranges from Amazigh traditional music and music from the Maghreb to modern day rap, jazz and hip hop.

Go to the Kasbah of the Udayas

One of Rabat’s top tourist sights, the Kasbah of the Udayas is well worth a visit if you’re interested in World Heritage Sites and history. This old Islamic city dates back to the Almohads and visitors will feel like they’ve travelled back in time as they walk around inside the city walls.

Rabat – Kasbah of the Udayas by Andrzej Wójtowicz

Raft down the Ahansel River

In search of an extreme adventure? River rafting down the Ahansel River is made for adrenaline junkies. The continuous white water varies from steep rapids to big wave trains – perfect if you’re looking for a physical challenge.

Go cycling in Souss-Massa National Park

Souss-Massa National Park sits along the Atlantic coast of Morocco and the best way to explore it is on two wheels if you ask us! You can hire a bike from various rental shops in nearby Agadir or you can book to go cycling with a guided group.

Have Bessara for breakfast

Skip the toast and pancakes and opt for a traditional Berber brekkie. Bessara is a hearty bean soup which will keep you fuelled up until lunchtime. The perfect breakfast food if you’re setting off to climb the Atlas Mountains.

See Jemaa el-Fnaa by night

By night, you’ll get to see a complete flipside to Jemaa el Fna square. Hawkers and snake charmers disappear as the square fills with back to back stalls selling tasty street food. As soon as the sun goes down and the daytime heat disperses, the locals all come out to meet with friends and family and this is when you’ll see the square at its liveliest.

DSC_7093 by Vincent Poulissen

Hit the nightclubs in Agadir

As one of Morocco’s most tourist-friendly destinations, Agadir has a thriving club scene.  You will find a number of English pubs and modern bars but look hard enough and you may even stumble across some cool underground venues!

Take 5 in the Majorelle Gardens

Need to get away from the hustle and bustle of Jemaa el Fna? Take five minutes to chill out in the stunning Majorelle Gardens on Rue Yves St Laurent. This 12-acre botanical site was designed by Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and it offers a peaceful retreat away from the crowded streets.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save