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Morocco

Morocco is a crossroads between Europe and Africa and one of the world’s most inspirational countries. This lovely region is a melting pot of cultures, flavors, and landscapes, with many things to discover.

There are several ways to genuinely experience this nation, from lunching with locals in Moulay Idriss to climbing across the High Atlas Mountains.

Morocco is a dynamic combination of spectacular scenery, spiritual centers, and metropolitan cities. Tangier, the country’s northernmost city, is rich in history and located on the northern coast. This port town, known as «The Door of Africa,» has changed hands hundreds of times and was once an international espionage hotspot. Nowadays, the city is a melting pot of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish traditions. Tangier used to be a popular hangout for artists like Delacroix and Matisse and Beat writers like Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg. Today, the ancient Kasbah is alive with innovation, with busy marketplaces and casual eating locations.

Casablanca, Morocco’s most populated city, has a thriving cultural scene. The city’s streets are dotted with various intriguing architecture, ranging from Art Deco to more contemporary designs. Casablanca is an excellent site to learn about Moroccan art and culture, with sections of the city designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s also a culinary paradise, with a plethora of fantastic restaurants and traditional farmers’ markets. Rabat, Morocco’s capital, is also a lovely city with a central beach, ancient kasbahs, and an exquisite walled medina.

Marrakech, Morocco’s colorful city, attracts visitors from all over the world, and with good reason. Marrakech is encircled by a medieval red-walled medina, with towering gates leading through to meandering alleyways. Morocco’s artistic scene comes to life here. From aromatic spices to lamps and ceramics, vibrant souks and artisan marketplaces sell everything. The city’s pulsating center is the bustling market square Jem el-Fnaa, which hosts storytellers, musicians, and entertainers every week. Charming riads, opportunities to learn about rich Berber culture, and Yves Saint Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle are highlights.

Fes, Morocco’s second-biggest city, is often regarded as its cultural and religious capital, and it’s simple to understand why. Fes el Badi, Fes el Jdid, and the Ville Nouvelle are the three districts that make up the city. Fes’ streets are steeped in history, with all three communities established between the 9th and 20th centuries. Donkeys and hand-pulled carts make you feel like you’ve gone back in time at Fes el Badi. The enormous Royal Palace is located in Fes el Jdid (or ‘New Fez,’ whereas the Ville Nouvelle is one of Fes’s most trendy neighborhoods.

Morocco has world-class scenery in addition to sophisticated cities and cultural centers. The Atlas Mountains, which span Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, are a rough natural wonder between the rich Mediterranean coast and the enormous Sahara desert. The High Atlas, the most spectacular part, is located in central Morocco. The incredible Toubkal, which rises over Marrakech at 4,167 meters, is one among these breathtaking peaks (13,671 feet).

The Sahara, the world’s biggest scorching desert, also occupies a significant portion of Morocco. This arid terrain blankets northern Africa from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, passing through eleven nations. Morocco’s Sahara region, located south of the High Atlas Mountains, is incredibly romantic, with oceans of never-ending rolling golden dunes taking center stage. Camel herds are tended here by nomadic blue-scarfed Berbers, whose culture has been preserved for over 4000 years.

Morocco’s coast is peppered with quiet fishing villages and coastal lagoons. Essaouira, on the Atlantic coast, is a relaxed port town slightly under three hours from Marrakech. Once a cosmopolitan melting pot turned hippy haven, Essaouira’s bohemian atmosphere continues in intriguing galleries and boutiques. Sandy beaches run in all directions from town, and near-perfect winds make the months of April through August ideal for wind and kite surfers. It is nice to visit Essaouira and see its argan tree plantations, wineries, and breathtaking coastline from March to October.

Oulidia, a tranquil coastal village, is about 200 kilometers north of Essaouira. Oulidia’s setting could not be more beautiful, overlooking a seaside lagoon teeming with migratory birds. The crescent-shaped lagoon is surrounded by golden sandy beaches with colorful fishing boats scattered amid the waves. The lagoon, shielded from the ocean, is ideal for kayaking, swimming, and canoeing.

Predictably, the seafood is outstanding, with the calamari, lobster, shrimp, and oysters being among the finest in Morocco. In Oualidia, visitors may enjoy panoramic views of the coast from a ruined kasbah or tour the fortress at El Jadida. While there are lots to do, part of the appeal of visiting this seaside town is the ability to rest for a few days.

MOROCCO HIGHLIGHTS

  • Casablanca
  • Meknes and Volubilis
  • Fes
  • Cross the Middle Atlas to Midelt
  • Explore The Sahara
  • Agdz crossing the Anti Atlas
  • Ourzazate and reach Ait Benhaddou
  • Explore Ourika Valley, Marrakech and Essaouira
  • Cross the High Atlas to Ourika

QUESTIONS?


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 Time and Weather

Much of Morocco’s weather is characteristic of a four-season climate, with summers sweltering with little rain, winters being rainy, snowy, and humid with milder conditions, and the shoulder seasons of autumn and spring behaving normally with moderate to mild temperatures.

A frequent misunderstanding about Morocco is that it is only desert and that it is always hot. Yes, the Sahara covers a significant portion of inland Morocco, and many locations are hot in the summer. Still, the temperature varies depending on where you are in the nation and when you visit.

Northern coasts, such as Tangier, have a warmer Mediterranean climate, with warm summers and cold winters, but not too much extreme weather on either side. Temperatures in coastal cities and towns are typically cooler throughout the year, seldom exceeding 30°C/86°F on a hot day. The deeper you go inland, the drier the climate becomes, and elevation becomes more critical. Temperatures in deserts and arid zones can go well beyond 40°C/104°F. Mountainous places, such as the High Atlas, have similar patterns, although nights may be very chilly, so don’t be fooled by the harsh sun-kissed landscapes.

Tangier, Morocco’s northernmost point, has a more Mediterranean climate with moderately hot summers, rainy and mild winters, and coastal winds blowing inland to mitigate the heat at various times of the year. It receives more rain than much of Northern Africa but receives almost no rainfall in July and August.

Farther down the coast, Casablanca has a more oceanic sub-mediterranean climate and, unexpectedly, weather patterns comparable to Los Angeles! Casablanca is located in the cold Atlantic Canary Current route, which helps regulate temperatures throughout the year.

The Atlas Mountains stretch throughout most of northwestern Africa, passing through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The High Atlas in central Morocco is the highest point of this range, with high height allowing for dry summers and snow in the winter. The upper portions of the High Atlas, where some peaks climb to over 4000 m, are understandably colder, but, farther south, the climate is more affected by the Sahara, with scorching desert temperatures dominating the most of the year.

Marrakech is about three hours south of Casablanca, and because it is inland, the weather may be hot. It has a semi-arid climate, but because it is north of the Atlas Mountains, it cannot be classified as a desert city. But it feels like that at times!

July has the most daily sunlight hours, with an average of 10.8, while November has the most rainfall, 40.6 mm. Temperatures have reached over 50°C (122°F) in the summer, so if you’re planning a trip, be prepared for hot weather.

The best time to visit

Morocco is best visited in the spring (mid-March to May) or fall (September to October). Unlike the frigid temperatures and snow of winter or the blazing summer heat, the weather is mild yet comfortable.

The coastal regions are open all year. They are delightfully moderate in the winter and bask in temperatures in the upper 21°C/70°F in the summer.

The High Atlas Mountains are also open all year, but it does become chilly in the winter. Summer may still be too hot for long-distance walks, but if the heat doesn’t bother you, conditions are acceptable from April and October. Outside these months, the summits are covered in snow, making trekking riskier but providing some beautiful views.

Wildlife

Morocco is still teeming with animals despite millennia of being inhabited, farmed, and grazed — a monument to sustainable traditional methods and careful resource management passed down through generations. Morocco’s 40 distinct ecosystems now provide a home for many unique species, including flora and wildlife found nowhere else. While efforts are being made to construct wildlife reserves for Morocco’s endangered species, tourists may help to conserve natural ecosystems by keeping on defined pistes (unsealed trails) and removing garbage.

Coastal Animals

Away from the urban development of port cities and resort complexes, there are extensive sections of rocky Moroccan coastline where large bird populations and marine animals such as dolphins and porpoises outnumber people. White-eyed gulls, Moroccan cormorants, and sandwich terns may be seen along the beaches. Seabirds and freshwater birds coexist in preserves like Souss-Massa National Park, where you may see endangered bald ibis and ducks and waders that come here from Europe for the winter.

Desert Ecosystems

The Sahara may appear harsh, but it is home to a variety of species, including some fuzzy, cuddly ones: fluffy gerbils; long-eared, spindly-legged, comical jerboas; and the desert hedgehog, the world’s tiniest hedgehog, weighing between 300g and 500g. The adorable fennec fox has fur-soled paws and enormous batlike ears to keep cool in the Saharan heat; puppies resemble chihuahuas, only fuzzier. This desert fox is nocturnal and secretive, but if you’re traveling by dromedary and camping overnight in the desert, you could catch a glimpse of it.

While most people become lethargic in the desert heat, many desert animals are graceful and quick. Dorcas gazelles are plentiful, and you may also see a rare, reddish Cuvier’s gazelle. Skinks and spiny-tailed lizards are among the reptiles you could see racing through the desert, as is the devilish-looking (but not particularly deadly) horned viper. The most frequent predator in the Sahara is the golden jackal; however, a few desert-adapted cheetahs may still exist in the more isolated regions of Western Sahara.

Wildlife in the Mountains

Forested mountain slopes are Morocco’s richest animal habitats, with friendly Barbary macaques (also known as Barbary apes) quickly spotted in the Rif and Middle Atlas, particularly around Azrou. Mountain gazelles, lynx, and the endangered mouflon are more difficult to trace (Barbary sheep). The mouflon is currently protected in a High Atlas refuge near the Tizi n’Test, where its main predator is the severely endangered Barbary leopard – North Africa’s last leopard population.

Golden eagles fly in Atlas mountain updrafts, while High Atlas excursions may present you to red crossbills, horned larks, acrobatic booted eagles, Egyptian vultures, and black and red kites. In the spring, butterflies such as the crimson cardinal and the bright-yellow Cleopatra flourish in the highlands.

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