Pick of the highlights... Splendours of Morocco
Alan Parratt recently went on holiday to Morocco with Cox & Kings, here he shares with us a blog about his trip.
Splendours of Morocco is a tour that really lives up to its description – mosques, synagogues, palaces, ancient ruins, medinas, souks, beautiful gardens and street entertainers – all packed into seven days. With all this and so much more to see in Morocco, we opted for tour extensions to Essaouira and the Atlas mountains.
Like most travellers, back home we tend to look back and pick our tour highlights. This time it hasn’t been easy.
The Hassan II mosque is a fabulous building for its sheer size and the opulent beauty of its décor, but the tiny Aben Danan synagogue in Fez had a beauty all of its own.
The hustle and bustle of the souks in Fez and Marrakech are fascinating, but so too are the Chellah Necropolis and the Roman remains at Volubulis, where peace reigns.
The trip’s other highlights included visiting a traditional Berber house and taking tea with the family. As with most Moroccan families, the men folk were only seen briefly looking after the animals. Granny was in charge of showing us how to make traditional mint tea, while her daughters and granddaughters baked bread and served it warm with the most delicious honey and argan oil. I’m sure this is one of the stops sourced by our tour guide, and we were made to feel like special guests rather than a tourist group. There was no charge, but our guide suggested we might like to give Granny 10 dirhams each – a bargain for 80p.
We then travelled on to the Ourika valley in the low Atlas mountains. Who would believe that such a tranquil place exists just 30 kilometres from Marrakech? Our visit was on a beautiful spring day early in March and lunch was taken on a sunny terrace gazing at the distant snow-capped mountains – bliss.
Our first trip extension took us to Essaouira, a delightful little seaside town with much to offer and lots of little bars where you can stop to refresh yourself, and just sit and look, and watch the world go by.
Without the hassle of Marrakech, once you have walked through the town twice, the shop owners greet you as friends and offer tea without the pressure of trying to sell.
This is a sales approach that we British appreciate and, of course, has us delving into our purses because “he’s such a nice man”. Essaouira is a paradise if you like to beach walk, as the sandy beach goes on and on, we even had a paddle in the sea – perfect.
We then travelled by taxi to the Kasbah Du Toubkal in the High Atlas. We had been told the last fifteen minutes of this journey would need to be made on foot, but nothing prepared us for this steep climb over rocky terrain. Our luggage travelled by itself on a sure-footed mule that had made the journey many times.
At Kasbah Du Toubkal, guests experience the true hospitality and friendship of the Moroccan people. The service is discreet and thoughtful, nothing is too much trouble – just ask. The hot-water bottle slipped into our bed while we enjoyed our evening meal was a real treat.
The next day, after a delicious breakfast, we were ready to tackle a trek. The Kasbah arranged a local guide and two or three hours slipped past. After which it was time for a traditional hammam and relax before dinner in the candle-lit lounge. It is times such as this you realise three days are not enough.
View Cox & Kings Morocco holidays.