5 highlights of... Magical Morocco
In September Cox & Kings’ Assistant Sales Manager Thomas Saunders travelled to Morocco.
On arrival into Casablanca international airport my friendly driver for the forthcoming week met me and we headed off into Casablanca. At the first roundabout we came to there were people picnicking in the middle, and once on the dual carriageway into Casablanca we overtook a man on donkey. Now I knew I was in northern Africa. Below I have compiled 5 highlights from my trip around Morocco.
1. Hassan II Mosque (Casablanca) – The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is the 3rd largest in the world after Mecca and Medina. Its was opened in 1993 and is one of only a few mosques in Morocco you can actually enter. From the outside the huge minaret towers above you, and the large marbled area around the mosque with its Atlantic ocean backdrop makes for some breathtaking views.
2. The Sahara – The allure of the desert and its mystical emptiness have drawn travellers and writers from all ages. Paul Bowles, Lawrence of Arabia and Wilfred Thesiger all write of the magical pull of the desert and the notion that once visited it never leaves you. Most of Morocco’s desert is stony except near Erfoud where the Erg Chebbi is the name given to the classic rolling sand dunes formed by the Sahara’s hot winds.
3. Driving around Morocco – In one day’s drive you will pass men on donkeys, shepherd’s with wooden canes and herds of goat feeding on the roadsides, rivers where Berber women are doing there laundry and trucks with rooftops full of cattle. Add to these scenes a backdrop of rugged mountains dotted with pine trees in the Middle or High Atlas Mountains, or flat gravelly plains of barrenness with rolling sand dunes on the horizon and it makes for a wonderful spectacle.
4. Fes el Boli – The Fes souk has not changed in over a thousand years. I felt like I had stepped back to medieval times as I twisted and turned down narrow alleys squeezing past donkeys and carts. The souk is split into areas, and mostly serves locals, which makes it a real experience for the passing tourist. As you wander the alleyways all your senses are assaulted: one minute your nostrils are full of cooking spices the next its fish meat. You stop to gaze at a fruit stall and a fig is thrust into your hand to taste, the merchants of Fes el Boli are proud of their goods.
5. Djemme El Fna (Marrakech) – The circus square of Marrakech, with its snake charmers, storytellers, musicians and food stalls covering the square in a mystical charcoal smoky atmosphere. This is a scene straight out of any fantasy novel. The hooded jellabyed men appear even more mysterious, and your cat-called here, there and everywhere to watch, eat or drink all manner of things.
Cox & Kings’ offers group tours, private tours and short break to Morocco.