OVERVIEW

The north African country of Morocco seems to have it all. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, landscapes or adventure, Morocco ticks all the boxes. It’s a fascinating place to immerse yourself in, with the saturated colors and amazing scents sure to make an immediate impression on you.

Sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and the Sahara Desert, Morocco’s landscapes range from beaches to rolling red dunes, and from hills studded with olive trees to the snow-capped Atlas Mountains.

The Sahara Desert is naturally irresistible to most travelers. A camel-back or 4×4 visit to the dunes can feel like you’re reliving scenes from either ‘The English Patient’ or ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. Gazing out over the vast stretches of sand and sky is incredibly soothing for the soul.

It is perhaps Morocco’s cities that will resonate with you most, and exploring them is bound to be an experience. Inside the ancient, walled medinas, you could be forgiven for thinking you had stepped back in time, with everyday life continuing much as it has for centuries. You’ll be intrigued by the incredible array of goods on offer, from traditional earthenware cooking pots to richly-colored rugs and leather bags.

Take time to enjoy a refreshing cup of mint tea – although poured hot, it seems to have a cooling effect. It’s often served with small, sweet pastries, which you should definitely also indulge in. If the heat and the haggling become a little too much, step inside a riad or traditional Moroccan house. Many of these are now hotels, and their interior gardens with fountains, pools, and mosaics are wonderfully cool, even in the middle of the day.

Moroccan interior design may look familiar – that’s because this unique blend of rustic and finely detailed elements is very much in vogue. You’ll spot metal lanterns with colored-glass panes, carved wooden doors and low couches and tables – perfect for gathering around to eat.Which reminds us – Moroccan food! Aromatic and delicately spicy, the stand-out dish is a slow-cooked lamb tagine. If you weren’t hungry beforehand, you soon will be when the chef lifts the lid.

Traditions are alive and well in this intriguing and sensuous country – the regular calls to prayer from the minarets set the rhythm of the day, and (for women especially) it’s as well to respect local sensitivities and cover your shoulders and legs when away from the beaches.

Gateway cities: Casablanca, Marrakesh

Best time to travel: January through May; October through December

Highlights: Rabat, Fes, Marrakesh, Erfoud, Merzouga, Ouarzazate

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