Posts

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.

 

Epic Portugal!

It’s been a long time…… 13 years and counting since Epic Morocco welcomed its first mountain biking group. It was a one-man show back then, just me, my bike, a spirit of adventure and a handful of biking routes through the wilds of backcountry Morocco. I didn’t know it at the time, but as the years would pass, Epic Morocco would grow in different directions.  As time went on I took on staff (once you take on the first one, the writing is on the wall!), found new partners in the travel industry, new directions and new ideas. Without wanting to sound too clichéd, it’s been a wonderful journey – and as I often say, it’s all about the journey – and it’s one that takes us to another new dawn.
Many will know that last year I found a new business partner in crime – the wonderful Carla Petzold-Beck – upped sticks and moved to Portugal after 14 years in Morocco. A fresh adventure for my family, but also a new look at the world outside Morocco. In Portugal I found a less-developed and unhurried Europe, a place that seemed real, authentic, and in many respects, undiscovered.  The Epic brand  (as it is now known!) is about uncovering authenticity in an interesting, engaging and often adventurous way, and Portugal seems like a perfect fit for this remit.  So, an idea was born, and Epic Portugal has become a reality.
The next two months is a period of travel and research by two members of the team, together with me. A journey to uncover the best in hidden, character-full places to stay that are off-beat, interesting, adventurous and, above all, offer unique experiences; and, of course, the best places to discover both on and off the beaten track.
So the Epic family is growing! Please follow our progress on social media and visit our (for the moment) temporary website : www.epicportugal.co.uk
Who knows where the journey will take us in the next 13 years……
Charlie Shepherd, Founder

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

How to take the best photos of Morocco

morocco photography

Morocco is a stunningly beautiful country with an extraordinarily varied terrain, perfect for taking photos. Tiny berber villages cling to the rock, towering mountains are dazzling in the snow, the desert is magical by day and night and the ancient walled city of Marrakech brings you scenes unchanged by centuries.

To showcase some of what we have to offer our clients here, Epic Morocco hooked up with the talented Swiss photographer, Pascal Gertschen. After the shoot, we asked him to tell us a little bit about himself and his work and also how he found it working in Morocco.

Q: What is your experience as a photographer? What kind of things do you photograph, what other countries have you shot in and how does Morocco compare?

I’m specialized in tourism and lifestyle photography and as I live in the Valais in Switzerland, this is where I find most of my subjects. The Valais is in the south of Switzerland and basically in the heart of the Alps. So most experience I have got includes everything that has rocks, snow and a lot of sunshine to it.

Outside of my country I already travelled quite a few times to northern Norway and could get in touch with fisherman in the Barents Sea, take pictures of the wide snowy landscapes of the Finmark or even the Aurora Borealis.

Another snowy and rocky spot was Terrace in Canada. Taking actions shots of skiers and a lot of powder!

My experience with rather hot locations closer to the equator was quite limited – but that has changed now and I’m extremely happy that I got this opportunity.

Morocco has (in terms of the technical side of photography) quite some similarities with what I know from Switzerland and winter: you do have to take care not to get any sand/snow in your camera during a lens swap. Always keep your gear protected from wind and weather.

Once you get in the Atlas, even the surrounding conditions start to be similar to what I know from Switzerland: cold nights (store your batteries in a safe and warm place), bright star nights and deep blue skies.

What was a big difference for me was the Agafay desert and the cities. The sunset was just … incredible. Living surrounded with mountains I rarely get to see the sun set on the horizon and that is totally different in Morocco. The lights, the mood… the dust in the air that literally starts to glow once the sun is low.

morocco photography

Q: What was the aim of your recent shoot in Morocco for Epic Morocco? What were you trying to get across?

My aim was to show the different experiences a traveler can have being in Morocco. And to show that beautiful, dreamlike sunlight in the evening. I didn’t know Morocco well and I still don’t but what I could see during one week was amazing. Being one evening in the heart of Marrakech, enjoying a tea in the sunset on a terrace and the next day already on 1800 meters above sea level hiking with mules. I didn’t care too much about details and super HiRes Landscape photographs, for me it was more about the feeling being in this landscape.

Q: What is it like shooting in Morocco? Does it provide good locations and backdrops? Are there any particular problems?

Well there are a couple of things to take care of: first of all, don’t take portrait pictures without asking first. Some Moroccans don’t like it (as well due to religious reasons) and I wouldn’t like it either, to have my picture taken, no matter where I am. Being in the desert is heavy on the gear. Dust and sand will get everywhere. Hiking in the Atlas is like the Alps: the air gets thinner, so don’t carry a too heavy bag around or the mules will have to do it for you.

Other than that: You have colorful cities, vast landscapes, high snowy mountains, the sea, stone and sand deserts… If you don’t find the perfect subjects there… then I don’t know where you are going to find it.

Q: Which are your favourite three photos from the shoot and why?

It’s hard to pick three photos. But I might have to go for these ones:

photography morocco

This was the first evening on a terrace in Marrakech. We just arrived, got on top of the building and had this beautiful sunset. Step on a plane in Switzerland and 4 hours later you are in the middle of a different world.

This picture doesn’t need a lot of description: tent, fire, cosy blanket… in the middle of the Agafay desert. What else?

morocco photography

It’s all about tea! Just a moment, nothing particularly special but it’s just something everyone will experience in Morocco.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone (amateur photographers) coming to Morocco on taking photographs here?

Enjoy it! Take photographs, document your travel but don’t forget to put the camera sometimes aside and just be present in that moment. This will give you new impressions and inspiration for further photographs. Morocco has so much to offer and not only through a lens, just have fun!

For more photos from Pascal, check out

https://www.facebook.com/pascalgertschenphotography/

https://www.instagram.com/pasge/

morocco photography

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

 

 

Chefchaouen – The Blue City

Epic Morocco Travel

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