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Morocco

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Morocco

Morocco

Clients often include Morocco in their ‘Wish List’ of future destinations and so we are delighted to bring you a simple yet fascinating programme. We urge you to consider staying beyond a long weekend in Marrakech by including an extension to the breathtaking Atlas Mountains, close by and yet seemingly a million miles away. By also incorporating a stay on the Atlanic in the atmospheric fishing port of Essaouria, we can create an unforgettable itinerary for a 7 – 10 day Spring or Autumn break.

Food and wine lovers will not be ignored with local specialities including cous cous, tajines, salads and pastries accompanied by traditional mint tea or surprisingly good local wine. Whilst French is more widely spoken than English, it is unlikely communication will be a barrier to a sale in the souks!

Marrakech, an ancient oasis of terracotta pink, has been an important trading stop for the caravans driven north though the Sahara ever since being founded a thousand years ago. The 9 metre high wall surrounding the Medina or Old City dates from the 1120’s and extends for 10 kilometres, punctuated by approximately 20 gates, creating a stunning architectural feature in itself.

Set within the heart of the Medina, Jemaa El Fna is an immense square where visitors can watch tooth pullers, herbalists, monkey trainers and snake charmers promote their wares. At dusk it comes alive as the social hub of the City, with musicians and storytellers providing entertainment around the sizzling food stalls. To the North of the square, local wares including babouches (Moroccan slippers), carpets, pottery, leather, textiles and jewellery await those able to navigate the maze of souks, whilst to the South lies the Kasbah District, home to the current day Royal Palace, Saadian Tombs and Badii Palace whose crumbled walls are peppered with the nests of the famous storks fabled to be transformed from humans. Towering over all, however, is the Minaret of the Koutboubia Mosque, dating from the 12th Century, from which the five-times-daily call to prayer is made.

Outside of the City walls, the New Town is characterised by wide boulevards and luxury hotels, also featuring some excellent ‘fixed price’ shops if the bartering in the souks is not your style! The Palmerie, as its name suggests, is an extensive palm grove on the northern edge of the City, home to luxury villas and gardens where you can take a camel ride. Gardens have always been important in Moroccan culture and you will find many in Marrakech. If you only have time for one, we recommend the Marjorelle Gardens, originally designed by a French artist Jacques Marjorell, but now owned by Yves Saint Laurent. Features such as Bamboo and Cacti forests, dramatically enhanced by colbalt blue structures, can be enjoyed before lunch in the delightful café. South of the City Oasiria, North Africa’s largest waterpark, features a wave pool, lagoons and an artificial river and beach, ideal for bribing children during a shopping expedition!

The snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to Marrakech. However, a whole new experience awaits those who venture closer. The home of the Berbers, the original inhabitants of North Africa, a stay here provides the perfect contrast to the bustle of the city. Only an hour from the City, footpaths and mule tracks meander their way through lush, irrigated terraces, apple orchards and walnut groves to villages where the way of life has changed little for centuries and traditional values and hospitality are unaffected by the outside world. Walks of a few hours or treks for several days can be easily arranged whilst for more structured activities, the tree-top adventures of the Terres d’Amanar Acro Park (age 6 plus) can also be combined en-route from Marrakech.

Essaouria, a medieval walled port with rampart walks and fishing harbour has a fascinating history as a conuit between Africa and Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors are welcome to watch the fishermen sell their catch in the market each afternoon or life go by from a café in the Moulay Hassan. Skala du Porte is also still a working dock where the boat builders can be seen in full action whereas a stroll along the promenade or beach will enable you to mingle with local tourists. Whilst the variety of goods may not be as extensive as in Marrakech, the absence of mopeds whizzing past in the Medina makes for a more relaxed shopping experience!

Weather Chart (Marrakech)

Cooler conditions would be anticipated for the Atlas due to altitude and Essaouria as this is to the North by the sea.

Averages J F M A M J J A S O N D
Avg max daily temp (°C) 18 20 23 26 29 33 38 38 33 28 23 19
Avg min daily temp (°C) 4 6 9 11 14 17 19 20 17 14 9 6
Precipitation (mm) 25 28 33 31 15 8 3 3 10 23 31 31

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