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Morocco in July – The Best Things to See and Do

Morocco has great weather all-year-round, but in July, this country experiences plenty of heat. While hot weather may not be for everyone, July in Morocco offers plenty of activities, unique desert experiences, and cultural charm. Here’s what to see and do in Morocco if you’re visiting during July.

Larache

Escape the big city crowds by lounging around this coastal town. The ocean breeze will help you cool off as you wander around the city and check out the medina. Pop into the art galleries to escape the July heat, and marvel at the beautiful works of architecture as they shade you from the sun.

Sunset over the ocean in Morocco

Spend The Night in The Sahara Desert

While the hot desert may be the last place you want to visit in July, it actually is a top choice, especially at night. When the sun goes down, the weather becomes so cool that you may need a jacket to keep warm. If you can handle the heat during the day, take a camel ride or a tour. At night, stay in a luxury camping tent and enjoy mint tea, authentic food, and local entertainment.

Camping in the Sahara

Lounge on Saidia Beach

When it’s hot in Morocco, it’s best to head to the beach. There are quite a few but Saidia is one of the prettiest. It can be found along the Mediterranean coast and comes alive during the summertime. Grab a beach umbrella, a cold drink, and give yourself plenty of time to play in the ocean waves.

Visit The Waterfalls

Morocco is home to quite a few refreshing waterfalls. Just standing close to the spray is enough to cool you off from the summer heat. The top falls to visit are Ouzoud Falls, which stands at 100 meters high. There’s also Ourika Valley, Paradise Valley, Akchour Waterfalls, and Oum Rabia Waterfalls. If you’re feeling especially brave, take a dip to beat the heat.

International Cultural Festival

Asilah, a town along Morocco’s coast, is a haven for artists and creatives, and is the location of the International Cultural Festival. The walled city is full of murals, and draws in artists from all around the world. During this two-week event, the artists turn public spaces into creative works that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Artist on the street

Timitar Music Festival

This festival takes place on the Atlantic coast city of Agadir. It’s one of the largest music festivals in the country, and stretches over the course of four days. That’s four full days of music and culture that you’ll share with over 800,000 other people.

Alegria Festival

Depending on the year, this festival can fall during the month of July. It takes place in Chefchaouen, a town famous for its bright, blue buildings. The festival celebrates cultural expression, art, and music amongst a beautiful setting. Various cultures from Africa, southern Mediterranean, and Latin America come together to share their stories, music, and artwork.

Chefchaouen

Morocco in July is hot but it’s worth a visit because the country is buzzing with activity. It’s a popular time for tourists and interesting festivals. Find a few ways to keep cool and brave the heat to experience this great country in the summer.

 

Atlas to Atlantic World First Sponsored by Epic Morocco

Alice and Rachid reach Agadir

Epic Morocco’s team, Alice Morrison from Scotland and Rachid Ait Elmahjoub from the Imlil Valley, have become the first ever people to walk from the Roof of North Africa, Mount Toubkal, 300 kilometres across the Atlas mountains to Agadir on the Atlantic Ocean.

Epic Morocco sponsored and planned the expedition with them as a way to open up new routes across the mountains and also explore the hidden valleys and villages on the way.

The team were entirely self-supported, carrying all their own kit and supplies for the trek. They had to constantly be aware of where they might refill with water and look for places to stay or to camp along the way. They relied on getting food from the tiny villages and farms they passed through.

Charlie Shepherd, CEO of Epic Morocco, explained why he wanted to back the exploration, ” Epic Morocco is a specialist in adventure holidays here in Morocco and we pride ourselves on our knowledge of the country. We wanted to showcase the incredible natural beauty of Morocco and the diversity of its landscapes. No-one had ever crossed the whole way across from the highest point to the lowest, but I had every faith in Rachid and Alice and their ability to do it.”

Alice Morrison added her highlights, “Apart from the extreme physical nature of the expedition, the thing that stood out for me was the wonderful and humbling hospitality we encountered from the Berber people. In every village we passed through, people invited us into their homes to eat or drink tea. We ran out of water at one stage on a really hot, deserted piste, and were getting thirsty and worried until we saw a shepherd in the distance. He came running down over the hills with his flock to share his bottle of water with us. This kind of generosity was displayed over and over again. We would not have made it without the help of the people of the mountains.”

Rachid Ait Elmahjoub, an Amazigh mountain guide, navigated the route across the peaks and through the valleys, exploring places he had never been before. “I want to give a clear picture to visitors to Morocco of my country, my culture and my people. I am proud of them and I want to share them.”

The expedition took 12 days in total from its beginning on the summit of Mount Toubkal (4167m). The team were walking for up to 18 hours a day. The temperatures were extreme: from the snows on Toubkal to 43 degrees as they came across towards Agadir.  The terrain was rough and often treacherous, with sharp boulders, river crossings, tough ascents and long, slippery descents.

So will Epic Morocco be running it as one of its regular hiking trips? “We are looking at doing it perhaps as a hiking/biking trip,” said Charlie Shepherd, ” We would need to tweak the route a bit and it would certainly be a challenge, but if there is an appetite for it, it is a big thing to accomplish .and you get to see a great swathe of the country”

For more information please email escape@epicmorocco.co.uk

For more adventures from Alice Morrison please visit www.alicemorrison.co.uk

19 Tips for Visiting Marrakech

It’s historic, colorful, brimming with culture, and probably a lot different from your hometown. Marrakech was once an imperial city, leaving it filled with stunning mosques, gardens, and palaces. It’s a medieval city, protected by an aging wall, and keeping to its roots with bustling souk culture. Marrakech is a dream for those who love art, shopping, photography, and history. If you’re planning a trip, here are 19 tips for visiting Marrakech. Keep these in mind for a holiday that’s all smooth sailing.

Keep Plenty of The Local Currency With You

The local currency is the Moroccan Dirham and it is what you must use when making purchases. While a few places will accept Euros now and then, make the Dirham a priority in your wallet. Before leaving the airport, you can exchange your currency with no fee. The vendors in the souks typically only take cash, and the hotels and medinas are cash heavy too. Plus, many of the locals will ask for tips after providing services, so having cash on hand is useful. And, since ATMs are scarce, make sure to take out large amounts of cash when you do find one.

Try Staying in a Riad Within The Medina Walls

People who have visited Marrakech say that no trip is complete without this authentic experience. Even if you prefer hotels, it’s recommended to try a Riad for a night. A Riad is a traditional Moroccan home with its own interior courtyard. Many of them come with swimming pools, sunny terraces, and a complimentary breakfast.

Marrakech

Dress Modestly

While Morocco can get extremely hot during the summer, do your best to dress modestly, especially if you are a woman. This is part of the country’s culture and religion, and as a guest, you should do your best to respect their customs. Showing off shoulders, cleavage, and knees could be offensive to the locals, so try to keep covered up when possible. This is especially important to keep in mind when visiting religious sites.

See The Tanneries  

The tanneries are some of the most visually stunning, colorful, and interesting sights in the city. You’ll find them in the northeast of the medina, and there are sure to be locals who offer to bring you to them. You can stand on one of the terraces and watch the locals hard at work below as they dip cloths into colorful pools of water. This will give you a chance to see how many of the items in the markets are made. The tanneries are especially a treat for photographers who can easily get amazing shots.

tannery

Be Aware Of Taxi Scams 

Taxi scams are big business in Marrakech and you don’t want to fall prey to one. Make sure to ask someone at the airport for the normal rates. Tourists should expect to pay more, but many of the taxis inflate their prices to preposterous amounts. Some taxis will claim that you won’t find a cheaper option. But, if they don’t come down in price, just be prepared to walk away. And, try to make sure you solidly negotiate a price before getting in. If you can arrange a taxi through the airport, this is much easier than trying to get one on your own.

Get Prepared to be Lost but Learn to be OK With That

Getting lost in Marrakech is to be expected. If you’re the kind of person who gets frustrated and upset when you can’t find your way, try to go into it with an open mind. The narrow streets and busy souks are easy places to lose your way. But, you’ll end up finding some true gems while you try and get back on track. Many tourists say that the signs are hard to read or aren’t correct. however, you’ll usually come across a large tourist attraction that will help you navigate. And, you can easily find a taxi to take you back to your hotel.

marrakech market

Haggle in The Markets

Between the souks and the colorful souvenirs, you’ll probably want to do some shopping in Marrakech. If you do, be prepared to haggle. The vendors will quote you outrageous prices, mostly because you are a tourist. Haggling is also a common practice in the culture, so prices start high as vendors expect you to make counter offers. If you can’t agree on a price, just walk away. It’s highly likely that the vendor will give you what you ask for instead of losing the sale altogether. And don’t forget, keep things polite. You don’t want to insult the locals.

Don’t Drink The Tap Water

The water in Marrakech isn’t all that safe to drink, especially if you aren’t used to it. Avoid tap water and ice made from tap water as much as possible. Buy bottled water and make sure to keep some on hand as you are wandering around the city.

 moroccan man

Try Speaking The Local Language

You can certainly get by on English, but many of the locals speak French and Arabic. If you can learn a few words in the local language, you may get more respect and better prices. If Arabic is too much of a challenge, try to brush up on your French. It will get you a whole lot further.

Watch Out For Pickpockets

Like any bustling city, there are pickpockets lurking in the crowds. Make sure to wear a money belt under your clothes or to keep your backpack on your front. Always be aware of your surroundings and keep a backup credit card and extra cash in your hotel room. Be especially alert while in the markets, wandering around the medina or at busy tourist attractions. As long as you take precautions and pay attention to what’s going on around you, you shouldn’t have any problems.

marrakech medina

Be Careful in The Medina at Night

This is especially true for women, but everyone should take precaution. While the area is not inherently dangerous, it is a place where locals may prey on tourists. There is a lot of poverty going on in Marrakech, which makes tourists with money look like appealing targets. Travel in numbers, stick to crowded areas, and avoid the Medina if you are alone.

Be Careful When Taking Photos

This is probably not that obvious to most visitors, but taking photos is kind of a big deal in Marrakech. It’s considered rude to take photos of the locals without their permission. In Morocco, they believe that photos capture their soul. So, it could be quite devastating to someone to have their photo taken if they aren’t expecting it. Also, avoid taking pictures of animal performers or snake charmers in the main square. The owners of these operations may demand a hefty fee from you for the privilege of taking photos. And, be inconspicuous when taking photos of shops or stores. Many of the owners may ask you to give them money or buy something for using their shop as your photo subject.

 taking photo

Don’t Trust The Advice of The Locals In All Situations

There are plenty of nice, generous, and helpful locals in Marrakech, however, there are some malicious ones too. If someone offers you advice without you asking for it, just be wary. You may encounter men in the street who will tell you that your hotel is closed. Then, they may try to lead you to an alternative, most likely their family’s hotel or Riad. This can happen with restaurants and shops too. Other times, someone will tell you that a street is closed and offer to direct you another way. However, they may aggressively demand a tip for being your guide afterwards.

Try The Food in The Markets/ Night Markets

The food in the markets is generally safe to eat and is much cheaper than in the restaurants. Try the snail soup which has a well-spiced and very flavorful broth. The snails are usually very tender as well. Enjoy a B’stilla, which is savory pie with flaky layers. It usually has some kind of fish or pigeon inside. It also has eggs and almonds, and is a treat that is both savory and sweet. Chebakia is a fried sesame cookie that is shaped like a flower and covered in syrup or honey. Ma’gooda are potato balls that are deep fried and often covered in a spicy harissa sauce. And Harira is a traditional soup that is served throughout the year. It features noodles, lentils, chickpeas, and sometimes has meat.

Marrakech Medina Food

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings at all Times

The streets of Marrakech are busy and crowded, leaving you vulnerable to a lot of danger. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sounds and sights, but stay alert, especially to the traffic. There will be taxis, motorbikes, carts, and donkeys that could easily knock you over if you aren’t paying attention. And, since the city tends to be crowded and busy, make sure that you and your travel partner have a way to contact each other if you get seperated.

Get Ready For Heat If Visiting in The Summer

It’s sunny and hot most of the year, but especially in summer. Make sure to prepare for the high temperatures by bringing a water bottle with you and wearing loose, light clothing. Opting for a Riad with a pool is a great idea if you want to retreat from the heat during your stay. Despite the hot weather, remember that Morocco is a Muslim country so women should not show too much skin, you can find out more about what to wear here.

pool marrakech

Experience The Jemaa el-Fna 

This is one of the most famous public squares in the city. It’s a place that really captures the culture and feel of Marrakech. You’ll stumble upon snake charmers, entertainers, henna tattoo artists, and stalls full of street food. It can be found within the medina and is usually brimming with locals and tourists. This is one of the best spots for people watching and sampling the local cuisine. While a visit during the day is eventful, it’s in the evening when this square truly comes to life. You’ll come across magicians, storytellers, dancers, and even more food stalls offering treats and unusual snacks. It’s a Marrakech experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Visit The Jardin Majorelle

Created by French painter, Jacques Majorelle, this is one of the top attractions in Marrakech. Over 40 years he infused this garden with art and creativity to make it what it is today. There are more than 300 species of plants and a maze of small streams, tiny alleyways, and beautiful trees. It really is a magical place with an intriguing history. The entire place is two and half acres and it has been bringing in visitors since the 1920s. It used to be the home of Majorelle and his wife until they divorced. Then, it was taken over by fashion designers who restored its beauty and continued to allow public entry. There are a few museums on site as well so you can make a day out of it.

Jardin Majorelle

Try a Hammon 

A Hammon is a traditional bathhouse and a great way to experience the local culture. It can be a bit intimidating for visitors as the custom is to strip down with a group of strangers. However, if you can gather up the courage to try one, there are a ton of health benefits. Males and females are separated and before you can enter, there will be someone to wash you. These facilities tend to overcharge tourists so be careful about which one you choose. Locals typically pay 50 to 100 dirhams so try not to pay much more than that.

Marrakech is brimming with colorful sights, sounds, culture, history, and natural beauty. As a travel destination, it really has it all. No matter what you’re looking for, it’s likely that you’ll find it in Marrakech. Travel in Marrakech has its challenges, but so do most places in the world. So, arm yourself with these tips, and enjoy your travels.

Morocco’s Mountain Ranges: The Ultimate Guide

With the dazzling sights of Marrakech, the pretty coastline in Agadir, or the romantic draw of Casablanca, it’s easy to become distracted by all the amazing things that Morocco has to offer. Its cities are magical, each with their own unique charms and they give travellers a sense of the exotic through their colourful souks and bustling night bazaars.

But for those who really want to get off the beaten track, there’s much more to Morocco than its urban settlements. The mountain ranges are home to some of the country’s most isolated communities. It’s a Pandora’s Box of history, tradition and culture waiting to be unlocked. And with mind-blowing views and challenging climbs, the mountains of Morocco can offer you and your group an epic trekking experience. Here is our ultimate guide for anyone in search of their next hiking expedition.

The Rif Mountains

Tucked away in Morocco’s far north, the Rif Mountains are an almost forgotten destination. Despite its beauty and the wonderful views that come with the journey, this mountain range is by far the lesser known of them all, receiving fewer visitors than anywhere else in the country. So if you’re looking for something different that no-one else has accomplished before, this is the place to begin your trek.

Whilst The Rif isn’t quite the challenge of The High Atlas Mountains and the Toubkal National Park, it’s still worth visiting. The views of limestone cliffs and gorges as you ascend will certainly beguile you, and there’s a laidback vibe here suitable for even beginners. A hike to up Jebel al-Kalaa (8,058 ft.), the Rif’s biggest peak, will take a full day.

Interesting Facts:

During your trek, you may come across a number of cannabis fields. These can be avoided if you speak to your guide beforehand. Morocco produces over a third of all hashish sold around the world, and these farms are key to the Berber community’s survival; for many of the villages, it’s their only form of income.

Tips for Trekking:

A popular starting point for most travellers is the city of Chefchaouen, known as the gateway to The Rif. Not only does Chefchaouen give you the easiest access point, but it’s also a fine destination that deserves at least a few days of your time. Known as ‘The Blue City’, Chefchaouen is recognised for its blue-washed stone buildings – it’s a photographer’s dream. Another good base is the port city of Tetouan, best known for its UNESCO listed medina.

Where to Stay:

There are many short half day or full day treks, meaning that you can stay in Chefchaouen or Tetouan without the need to camp. If you want a longer excursion, you can also find plenty of spots to camp just off the trails of Talassemtane National Park or further west in Al-Hoceima National Park.

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High Atlas Mountains

The High Atlas Mountain Range is perhaps the most popular choice for many travellers looking for a physical challenge. There are over 400 summits that have an elevation of up to 10,000 ft. and a number which are over 13,000 ft. So if you want a destination with tall peaks and mind-blowing views from the top, High Atlas is a great option for walkers.

This region is relatively well serviced in terms of guest houses, restaurants and professional tour operators, and a bit of forward planning can ensure a very smooth trip. Whilst the Atlas Mountains have become rather well known in recent years, they still remain relatively untouched. So it will never feel crowded here, even during peak travel periods.

With the region’s high elevations, there are also a number of trails that are still feasible for the average hiker. And many of the routes can be achieved without the need for advanced mountain skills such as rock climbing. Even the highest peak up Mount Toubkal (13,665 ft.) doesn’t require technical skills, so people of all levels and abilities can enjoy trekking within this range.

Additionally, the High Atlas region is a wonderful location for mountain biking or even horse riding. Many mountain biking guides can take you out for a half or full day, whilst horse riding trips can provide a fantastic alternative to exploring on foot.

high atlas

Interesting Facts:

The entire Atlas Mountain Range stretches over 1,600 miles through Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Unlike other mountain ranges, this one is not a series of continuous peaks but a collection of mountains that are separated by large areas of land. Toubkal is the tallest summit, not only in Morocco but also in the whole of North Africa. Oukaimeden, which is near Jebel Toubkal, is also the country’s largest and most popular ski resort!

Tips for Trekking:

For a good base or starting point, head over to the small town of Ouirgane or the village of Imlil. Both of these locations offer a number of different trails. Ouirgane has plenty of variety whilst Imlil is ideal for longer and more linear hikes. There are also a number of convenient day trips leaving from the city of Marrakech.

Where to Stay:

Good guest houses are easy to find in the area of Ouirgane as well as in Imlil Village. Many of these houses come with spacious double rooms, swimming pools and even Hammam spas. Prices tend to be very affordable and service is always excellent. Many of these guest houses will also feature restaurants, serving up traditional Moroccan food made with fresh ingredients sourced from the souks of the surrounding neighbourhoods.

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Middle Atlas Mountains

They call it the ‘Land of Lakes’ and natural beauty just oozes from the Middle Atlas Mountains. This is the place of the untouched, with fewer tourists than the High Atlas or Anti Atlas. And trekkers going through here will get the chance to discover some of Morocco’s most remote villages, as well as the unique wildlife. Within the range lies Ifrane National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty and often referred to as ‘Little Switzerland’.

This park features spectacular rows of cedar trees which give it the Alpine resemblance, and it’s also home to much of the country’s endangered species. The range is also home to Tazzeka National Park, an area created in 1950 to protect the natural resources at the top from Jbel Tazekka. Both parks have a wonderful array of flora and fauna, and walkers will get to experience the magical mountain landscape. With its intricate cave systems and deep valleys, beautiful streams and dramatic waterfalls, volcanic hills and coniferous woods, and dales carpeted with wild flowers and plants.

The vast region covers more than 100,000 km2 in total and the highest peak is Jbel Bou Naceur (11,000 ft.), with a number of different trekking routes to suit varying abilities.

Interesting Facts:

Due to the elevation of the mountain range, the Middle Atlas experiences a cool and pleasant climate in the summer and wonderful snowfall in the winter. This unique climate means that Ifrane National Park features one of the few ski resorts in the whole of Africa! Although the runs are short (and not exactly challenging for skiing pros), there are more than 13km of slopes, with 11 ski lifts for guests. The resort was built during the French protectorate, so don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re in an Alpine village in Europe!

Tips for Trekking:

Day trips are common for people staying in Marrakech or Fes. But for independent trips, you can make your start at Sefrou, a small market town with a Berber population. The town of Azrou is also a popular choice, with fantastic souks and medinas to explore.

Where to Stay:

It can be hard to book as places are limited so planning ahead is recommended. Ifrane is a good resort to stay in, particularly if you are after a bit of Alpine-inspired luxury. However, with the close proximity of nearby towns such as Azrou and Sefrou, looking for a place to stay in the mountains isn’t always necessary.

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Anti-Atlas Mountains

Situated between the High Atlas in the north and the desert in the south, the Anti-Atlas region has a different climate to its sisters. Alpine charm and ski resorts do not exist in this arid part of the range, with temperatures between 12°C and 36°C, with a mostly dry and barren landscape.

The biggest draw for hikers is the otherworldly appearance of the range, and this is what attracts climbers from all across the globe. Imagine a world of contrasts, with rocky boulders and lunar topography. With perhaps the biggest attraction being the Ait Mansour Gorge. This is one of the most beautiful oases in North Africa, cutting through colourful vegetation.

Another attraction not to miss in Anti Atlas is the Jebel Siroua, which is an ancient and isolated volcanic peak. It’s got some of the most spectacular 360 views, a superb cliffside village and dramatic terrain.

mountain

Interesting Facts:

Around Tafraoute is home to some works of modern art. You may spot some blue rocks, which were painted by Belgian artist Jean Verame in 1984. It took more than 18 tonnes of paint to complete the project. Today some of the paint has faded, with some of the rocks featuring modern graffiti art instead.

Tips for Trekking:

The months of September and May are the best times to visit if you are hoping for pleasant weather that isn’t too hot. The summer heat can be very intense, which can make it difficult for those who are not used to trekking in such an extreme climate. A good starting point would be Tafraoute and it’s important to understand that the Anti Atlas only has a very basic infrastructure once you begin your journey. So trips need to be well-planned before you go, especially if you are wanting a multi-day trek.

Where to Stay:

Guest houses are available in the village of Oumesnate or for day trips, the modern Berber village of Tafraoute can make a good base. Alternatively, wilderness camping is also possible for those who want to really experience the outdoors. For campers, it’s important to bring warm layers of clothing for when temperatures drop at night.

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Jebel Saghro Mountains

This is a remote and rugged mountain range, located between the High Atlas and the Sahara Desert, and about a 6 hour drive from Marrakech. It offers a fantastic alternative to High Atlas trekking, especially when the snow can prove to be a challenge.  With a relatively mild climate, this is a great all-weather mountain range that can offer spectacular views no matter which direction you choose. Your climb to the top will feature deep gorges and beautiful almond groves, as well as ravines and apexes carved by volcanic activity.

Interesting Facts:

The Jebel Saghro region is home to the Ait Atta Berber people. The Berber tribes can be found living in the region’s two main villages, N’Kob and Tazzarine, which you may come across during your trek. In some parts of the range, you may also stumble upon the prehistoric cave paintings.

Tips for Trekking:

The best time for visiting the Jebel Saghro is in May or October when temperatures are cooler, yet rainfall isn’t particularly high. The months to avoid are the peak summer months when it can be as hot as 40°C in the day. The two nearby towns of Boumaine du Dades and Kelaa M’Gouna can make good starting points. The famous Sahro Loop will take you around five days.

Where to Stay:

In terms of accommodation, there are only a few good guesthouses, mostly limited to the village of N’Kob. You may also find a small number of village houses across the range. But the best way to truly experience the Saghro is to camp beneath the stars. You will find plenty of wilderness camping spots and you will encounter very few tourists here.

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If you’d like to discuss planning your visit to Morocco’s incredible mountain ranges, do get in touch with our knowledgeable team today.

Here Are the Best Things to Do in Marrakech (37 of them!)

Colourful hanging carpets, whiffs of spice as you walk through the souk (market), and camels elegantly crossing sand dunes is what comes to mind when you think of Morocco.

But that would be just another touristy day that anyone can do. We want you to taste Morocco for what it really is, in its detail. That’s why we’re handing you on a silver plate the best things to do in one of its most culture-intense cities, Marrakech.

1. Medina

The first thing you have to do in Marrakech is put on your comfortable shoes and head to the Medina. Walk under the archways and through its alleys, and absorb the life around you. Take in the browns of the stone the city was built with, the sound of locals talking to each other, the aromas splurging out of the food stalls…

A word of warning though: keep an eye out for cars and horse carts, they’re everywhere!

2. Djemaa El-Fna

Follow the old city walls of the Medina to get to the main square, Djemaa El-Fna. If you’re there during the day, try a fresh orange or grapefruit juice from one of the carts.

At night, as the temperature cools down, people start sprouting out from everywhere and the square fires into a vivid atmosphere.

Sit at one of the shared tables and eat a Harira, a pea, lamb and pasta soup. This is the same soup Moroccans eat for breakfast to break their fast and celebrate the end of Ramadan.

oranges

3. Hat for the Heat

If the heat starts getting to you, look for women selling straw hats. You’ll bless the few dollars you pay for it as it blocks the direct sunlight from your head. Is is important to dress appropriately when visiting Morocco to ensure that you feel comfortable.

4. Saadian Tombs

These tombs were discovered in 1917 and subsequently restored, but date back to the same era of Ahmad al-Mansur.

When visiting, admire cedar wood, stuccowork and Carrara marble decorating the tombs of about sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty, who came from the valley of the Draa River.

There are three rooms to go through with twelve columns, but what’s interesting is just outside is a garden with the graves of various soldiers and servants.

5. Marrakech Museum

This classical Andalusian-style house, Dar Menebhi Palace, was renovated and converted into a museum in 1997. Walk around the fountains in the central courtyard, admire the mosaics, carvings and tile work around you, then head towards the exhibits – pottery, coins, historical books – from every period of Moroccan history, Islamic, Berber and Moroccan.

6. Souks

Once your belly is nice and full and your head covered, head to one of the endless labyrinths that surround Djemaa El-Fna. You’ll find countless souks where you can buy leather, spices beautifully decorated in huge colourful cones, the local shoes – babouches. But probably the most hypnotising thing to do in a souk is walk into a carpet house. Be ready to have various carpets flung open in front of you, until you fall in love with one.

babouches

7. Barter

Of course, once you decide to buy any item in the souk, you’ll need to barter. Here are a couple of hints:

• Start by greeting the shop owners when you walk in: ‘Salam alek um’, to which they’ll reply ‘Alek um salam’. A little friendliness never hurt negotiations.
• Remember, it’s always a 3-step process. They’ll give you a price, you give them another, and it’ll always be somewhere in between the two. Keep that in mind when shooting your price – don’t say what you’d really pay, but a little under.

8. Walking Tours

There’s no better way to get to know a place than to walk around it. You have the time to look around, hear what’s around, and smell what’s around. It’s a fully sensual experience that you can take up on your own. However, in places as rich in culture and history as Marrakech, a walking tour with a local guide will dive you into much deeper layers than you’d imagine.

9. The Mellah

Also known as the Jewish quarter, the Mellah isn’t a souk but is probably the best place in the Medina to buy fabric.

10. Have Tailormade Clothes Made

Find a tailor, tell them what you’d like made, be advised on how much fabric you need, then go to buy it in the souk. Doing this will save you from the fabric seller overselling unneeded lengths.

A jilab with a touch of your own style is a great idea for a souvenir to take back home.

11. Visit a Riad and Have a Mint Tea

When you feel like a break, stop at one of the old aristocratic houses usually turned into a boutique hotel, a Riad. Ask for a mint tea and enjoy watching the ritual of the tea, as the waiter pours it three times until it reaches the perfect foam on top.

mint tea

12. Rue Bab Agnao

For a calmer atmosphere, head on a 5-minute walk to the entrance of the Kasbah district, the Rue Bab Agnao, which is the most impressive of the Medina’s entrances, with less hustle and bustle and better-kept streets.

Once there, visit the Royal Palace, the former El-Badi Palace, and the Saadian Tombs.

13. El Badi Palace

Built in 1578 by the Arab Sultan, Ahmad al-Mansur, from the money of a substantial ransom paid after the Battle of the Three Kings by the Portuguese, this now-ruined palace has turned into a must-see for anyone visiting Marrakech. Make sure you get there before 4pm to have time to enjoy it before closing time at 5pm.

14. Jardin Majorelle

Created in the 1920s and 30s by the French expatriate Jacque Majorelle, this 12-acre botanical garden sprinkled with brightly painted walls and plant holders also houses the Islamic Art Museum, the archaeological museum of Marrakech.

15. Bahia Palace

When Si Moussa, the grand vizier of the sultan built this palace at the end of the 19th century, he meant it to be the greatest palace of its time. Named after one of his wives in the harem, the rooms intended for the concubines surround the central basin.

16. Boucharouite Museum

This museum holds interesting Berber boucharouites, rugs made out of rugs, and a gallery with Moroccan popular art including painted doors. If you feel like eating something light, head upstairs to the terrace.

17. Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret

This mosque and minaret have welcomed visitors of Marrakech with their overpowering height for close to a thousand years. The name comes from the Arabic ‘bookseller’, which is interesting because it dates to the 1200s when books were still unknown in the Christian world.

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18. Cyber Park, Arsat Moulay Abdeslam

Good place to just sit in the shade to have a break from all the sightseeing and enjoy some free wifi.

19. Dar Si Said

A beautiful museum that oozes nostalgia in every little corner. It mixes old with new in such a way you can see items that were used in the old Hispano-Moorish times, which you can still see in use on the streets of Marrakech simply by walking out of the same museum.

20. Smoke a Shisha

You’ll know when you’re near it. The sweet aroma of the flavoured tobacco will drag you in as if under hypnosis. Just go with it, sit down and let the assistants bring the coal for your Shisha, then just watch as it bubbles and it starts vaporising for you to enjoy. You might not be a smoker, but what you’re doing with this is experiencing an ancient communal ritual, once exclusive to the higher class.

21. Take a Belly Dance Class

Why not? Go on, go get those muscles a good stretch and find out what fun belly dance can be. Don’t take yourself too seriously, simply enjoy the moment and the wisdom of the celebration of the woman’s femininity in all its shapes and forms. After all, everyone in class will probably never ever see you again. Just go for it!

22. Food Tasting

There are tours for food tasting too, but the best thing to do in Marrakech is to walk around the city and follow the best aromas for the best food. Sometimes they’ll be coming from a street vendor cart, other times they’ll come from a small, local eating joint, and sometimes out of lush restaurants. Take your pick! Just try not to end up in someone’s private kitchen.

23. Rahba Kedima Square

A quieter souk. You’ll find souvenirs, spices, and carpets, but what’s most intriguing are the dried up plants and animals!

spices

24. Photography Museum of Marrakech

You’ll find more than 8,000 photographs ranging from 1870 to 1950, including an exhibition of hundreds of old photographs and projection of the very first film recorded in High-Atlas colour, ‘Landscapes and Faces of the High-Atlas’, produced in 1957 by Daniel Chicault.

25. Musee Tiskiwin

Compared to other museums, the Tiskiwin might look small but it’s well-organised and contains insightful information about the history of Marrakech and its region, including artefacts from past centuries that will make you look at the city with fresh eyes.

26. Mouassine Museum

If you like old buildings, this is a museum you shouldn’t miss. It’s split into parts, one used by the family and the other open to guests. The most amazing feature of this house is that the plaster was taken off and its original bright colours were restored back to vivid life.

27. Get Lost

Once you plunge into this addictive shopping spree, you’re sure to look up at a certain point and realise you’re lost. Here’s what you have to do – find a narrow door that signals a rooftop café, walk up its winding steps, and from there you’ll be able to (more or less) locate yourself.

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28. Look for Local Delicacies

Here are some of our favourite dishes we highly recommend you sample:

Moroccan crepe for breakfast, tagine of sardine balls, liver in onion sauce, roasted lamb and of course you have to try some bakery items!

29. Try an Avocado & Date Smoothie

Maybe the most curious refreshment you can get in Marrakech is the avocado and date smoothie.

30. Farmhouse cooking tour

As days go by and you feast on makouda, kefta, zaalouk, cous cous and b’stilla you might end up thinking how you’d miss this food back home. Well, there’s a way to prevent that – learn how to cook some Moroccan dishes, so you can make them back home. Ask around for the best cooking course or tour.

That’s not all. If you fancy stepping out of Marrakech for a while, you can find other fun, active things to enjoy. Here are some:

31. Horse Riding

Visiting the Atlas Mountains while riding on a horse, past Berber villages, and soaking in the landscape of all shades of brown is definitely worth some time away from the city.

32. Palm Grove, Sunset & Camel Ride

The only thing to top that is riding on a camel in Palm Grove, just half an hour out of Marrakech and walking into the sunset as if you were in a postcard or movie.

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33. Quad Bike Safari

If riding on the back of animals isn’t your idea of fun, then maybe riding on a four-wheeler might be. Just put on your helmet and ride the sand, through wild palm groves.

34. Hot Air Balloon Ride

Then again, it might be the sky you’re aiming for. Well, nothing in Marrakech is impossible. Book yourself a hot air balloon ride and feel the excitement of elevating away from the ground and going swiftly up, up, up into the sky.

35. Oasiria Water Park

The gardens and pools of the water park are a great idea for a relaxed day away from the heat of the streets, but also a fun place to entertain kids.

36. Get a Flag Beer

Trying the flag beer of every country is a must. In Morocco, you’ll find Casablanca Beer in most of the touristy places. Snap that bottle open; it’s time to freshen up from the heat.

37. Visit a Hammam

Let’s face it, holidaying can be tiring. The good news? In Marrakech, there are various hammams, what we know as a spa. You’ll find varying prices and qualities, but whichever you choose make sure to get a nice scrub, especially to your well deserving feet, then soak into a beautiful massage.

That was our top 37 things to do in Marrakech. Is there something that you love to do in Marrakech that we’ve missed out? Let us know, we always love to hear about your experiences and holidays in Marrakech.

Need any more reasons to visit Marrakech? Get that suitcase ready and, whatever happens in Morocco, remember the 2 magic words: Mashi Muskhi (No problem!)

For more inspiration contact Epic Morocco today and discover more about the enigmatic city of Marrakech and book your trip. 

Chefchaouen – The Blue City

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Chefchaouen has to be the most photographed city in Morocco. It lies nestled in the Rif Mountains in the north west of the country, a brilliant blue and white splash against the starkness of the hills. The walls, streets, stairs, alleyways are all painted in various shades of blue from duck egg, through turquoise to a rich shade between royal and marjorelle that is unique to the town. It is an absolutely beautiful place.

When you arrive in Chefchaouen, you immediately fall for its magic. You can feel yourself shifting down a gear and relaxing. Apart from its colour, it is famous for being the centre of the Kif (hashish) growing region. No wonder it is so chilled out. But as well as taking time out to wander and wonder, there are some great things to do and here are our top three.

1. Take a short hike out of the city up to the Spanish Mosque. It sits halfway up the hillside and gives you the best view of the town. You leave the median through the old gate, cross through the orange juice sellers and up to the steps cut into the wall. It takes about twenty minutes and the path is shaded by cedars and cherry trees. You’ll share it with women carrying big baskets of supplies down to town and the occasional worshipper. It is called the Spanish Mosque because it is actually a converted church, something that is clear to see when you get there. After the final flight of steps, you are rewarded with a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding mountains and plains.

2. Stop at Volubilis on your way. If you are lucky enough to get to this ancient Roman site before the crowds, take a moment to enjoy the early sun glowing on the magnificent archways and watch the storks who have taken up squatters rights on the tops of the columns, converting them into handy bases for their enormous nests. The setting for Volubilis is a jewel green range of hills and valleys where apparently elephants, bears and lions used to live in abundance. They were trapped and shipped off to die in Rome’s circuses and are now extinct, remembered only in the magnificent mosaic floors of the site.

Epic Morocco tailor Made Adventure to Volubilis

3. Stay at Casa Perleta, a gorgeous Riad in the heart of the old town. Concha and her husband came to Chefchaouen on holiday and never really left. They bought and renovated the Riad, filling it with hand carved furniture, pretty fabrics and old and new artwork, including works by Javier Reta, who combines photography and paint, and sometimes straw!, in his pictures of Moroccan women. The roof terrace lets you spy on your neighbours and also gives you a sweeping view to the mountains and is the ideal place for a long, lazy breakfast. Concha and her team can also advise you on where to go and what to do in the town. It’s like having your own personal tour guide.

We stayed for just two days in the town, but you can easily make it your base for longer and combine it with a more intense hike into the mountains or day trips to Tangier and the coast. However long you decide to spend in Chefchaouen, it will reward you with its beauty and tranquillity.

Epic Morocco travel chefchaouen

This blog was written for Epic Morocco by Alice Morrison. You can find out more about her on www.alicemorrison.co.uk

Ten things to try in Taghazoute

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Taghazoute is a tiny fishing village just north of Agadir which has some of the best waves in North Africa pounding onto its shores. It’s a surfers’ Mecca, but if you don’t fancy taking to the waves there is still plenty to keep you busy. Alice Morrison took a weekend to get together her top ten tips for what to do in Taghazoute.

1. Surf. Even if you have never stood on a board before, it is worth giving it a go. Surf guides and surfing lessons for all abilities are available from Surf Maroc, just along the main street.

2. Do a yoga session on the terrace at L’Auberge The picture above was taken from the roof top. It is a cool place to stay too. White washed walls and bright blue shutters.

3. Eat some fish. It is fresh off the boats and it would be rude not to. I’d recommend Paradis Plage

4. Gallop through the waves on a magnificent white horse as the sun goes down. If you walk or drive a bit further on from Taghazoute town centre, there are lots of options on the long beaches.

5. Grow some dreads. Admittedly, you will have to make it quite a long stay to do that, but if you want to fit in…..

6. Buy some art. The little suq has some nice, bright paintings by local artists, that are reasonably priced and will bring sunlight and sea into your living room, when it is time to go back to the rain and cold.

7. Sing along with the guy who roams the seafront with a guitar. Catch him early in the evening as by about nine, generous whistle-wetting has impaired his tunefulness a little.

8. Adopt a kitten. They hang out around the fish stalls and are plump and pretty and very ready to play.

9. Go for a run along the beach. The beaches really are endless and the sand is just the right side of firm to give you a proper workout. Best of all, at the end you can plunge into the water for a cool down.

10. Round off your day by eating at Josephine’s. It is a truly charming French restaurant owned by two equally charming French ladies, who decided to leave the rat race behind and settle in paradise.

For more from Alice check out her blog

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