Morocco has got to be one of the most beautiful and exotic countries I’ve visited. On our 2002 visit, one of the things we did was take an independent tour from Marrakesh into the High Atlas Mountains, stopping at spectacular gorges and ancient medieval towns and fortresses. We rode camels and spent nights in Bedouin tents, braving the sand storms and watching the sunset from the top of high sand dunes in the Sahara Desert.
Marrakesh sits near the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains. The colour of the city is unmistakably red and glows crimson as the sun sets. A magical sight. Inside the old city walls lays its beating heart: Djemaa el-Fna. At sunset it really comes alive.
Rows of open-air food stalls offer spreads of local delicacies such as pastilla, a rich mixture of pigeon, lemon-flavoured eggs, cinnamon, almonds, saffron and sugar, all encased in fine layers of pastry. As you walk through the food stalls you’re constantly bombarded by guys telling you to take a stall number from them and eat at their stall. It’s overwhelming and it’s fantastic.
The souqs surrounding the square are a labyrinth of dim alleys and laneways offering an array of handicrafts, perfumes, jewellery, food and tourist tat.
Essaouira, the Windy City, straddles the Atlantic coastline. Within the old city walls are blue and white painted houses and a maze of narrow lanes making home to artisan workshops, restaurants and cafes, local produce markets and perfume merchants.
Seafood is high on the agenda here and can be bought fresh from any of the stalls down at the port or cooked from the fish grills near the Fish Market.
Chefchaouen is set high in the Rif Mountains and is recognised by its trademark blue and white-washed dwellings. The Medina sits above the newer part of town and is a gorgeous place to explore and lose yourself in.
It’s much quieter up here than the big cities and towns at lower altitudes so you can just sit yourself under an old olive tree and eat the local food while sipping the local mint tea.