Morocco

Morocco

Morocco all at once confounds and astounds, and as much as anything, that’s probably due to it sitting at the crossroads of Africa & Europe. A country that offers the best of the deserts and landscapes of Africa and melds it with a culture and society that has been a significant part of Europe for much of its history, it is no surprise that this melting pot sometimes seems like it’s falling apart at the seams.

Kasbahs, deserts, ancient medinas, roman ruins, stunning arts & architecture and a cuisine that is a wonderful amalgam of all the cultures that have influenced it over the centuries - what’s not to love.

And, the great thing about Morocco is that it’s all so easily accessible, with even the ‘full circuit’ of the country being relatively easy to complete. Start in Marrakech to celebrate all that’s wonderful about Morocco, with the incredible Djemaa el-Fna square at the centre of it all to complement a labyrinthine medina and sublime Islamic architecture. Drop in to Casablanca, if only to tick it off, or to visit the world’s largest Mosque, but otherwise, keep moving on to Meknes, the former imperial capital of Morocco, and home to the most impressive imperial palace complex in the country. North from Meknes you’ll find the strikingly blue-washed (Greek islands-style) town of Chefchaouen, while a short day trip from Meknes takes you to Fes, and the chance to get lost in (arguably) the world’s most confusing and impenetrable souk.

Outside of the cities, and the wilderness landscapes of Morocco deliver a completely different experience. The brilliant red limestone cliffs of Todra Gorge are a precursor to the deserts of the Sahara to the south and the west, while the ksar (fortified villages) of villages along the Sahara-Marrakech trade route are not to be missed - the world-heritage listed Ait Benhaddou (pictured above) is the finest of these, having famously featured in Game of Thrones. In between the cities and the desert, the mighty Atlas Mountains are the spine of the country, offering up spectacular hiking, with Mt Toubkal the most accessible (and highest) of Morocco’s peaks, and a wonderful hike through the valleys and villages of the high Atlas.

All of this is complemented by a cuisine that borrows from its French influences, but is mainly authentically Berber in style, with tagine a delicious staple of the country. Wash it all down with delicious mint tea and you'll have more than enough to keep you fuelled for your Moroccan adventure.

Image by Leonid Andronov, Shutterstock