An American guy once described Morocco as "a combination of the Bible and Hollywood". Though the analogy is factually inaccurate, it does capture how Morocco is indeed a country treading between religious conservatism and western modernisation. Its rich culture is a blend of Arab, Berber, European and African influences.
My itinerary was as follow: Rabat ➜ train to Casablanca ➜ train to Marrakesh ➜ hired a car and drove to Ouarzazate ➜ Ait Ben Haddou, Dades Valley & Todra gorge ➜ Merzouga ➜ Azrou ➜ Fez ➜ Chefchouaen ➜ Meknes ➜ Asilah ➜ Essouira ➜ Marrakesh.
Asilah is a super cute seaside town with whitewashed buildings and colorful horse carriages.
Chefchaouen is also known as the blue city. A very chilled out sprawl of powdery blue streets, friendly people, very photogenic. Close to the city is the Akchour waterfall.
Ouarzazate ➜ Zagora ➜ M'Hamid El Ghizlane
Ouarzazate is a city south of Morocco's High Atlas mountains, known as a gateway to the Sahara Desert. Its huge kasbah has views over the rugged local landscape, which features in several movies. M'Hamid El Ghizlane a small oasis town at the edge of the Sahara. The route between Ouarzazate & M'hamid, passing by Zagora is very scenic.
Taragalte is a 3 day festival under the stars in the Sahara desert in the small town of M'hamid. During this festival, nomadic traditions are celebrated with bedouin music, henna, food etc .
Marrakech is one of the most exotic cities in the world, mesmerizing travelers with its open air bazaar, Jemaa el Fnaa, complete with snake charmers, storytellers and jugglers. The city's centuries-old red walls and towering palm trees are set against the picturesque snow capped Atlas mountains. You can wander the souks and medina alleyways to see traditional Moroccan handicrafts, and practice your haggling skills.
Marrakech ➜ Rissani ➜ Merzouga
The road from Marrakech to the Southern tip of the Moroccan Sahara is known as the "1,000 kasbahs route". Along that route you can see incredible mountain views, oases, beautiful Kasbah architectures, gorges, valleys studded with palmeries, Berber villages, camels and year-round sun.
Sahara [Erg Chebbi]
The Sahara desert is an enchanting place that inspired countless Arabian tales. From the village of Merzouga, you camel trek into the Erg Chebbi dunes. Some of the western ladies claimed the camel ride was more "satisfying" than sitting on a washing machine.. Then you watch the sunset over the dunes and sleep under the stars in a traditional camel-hair tent.
Located in the Middle Atlas, surrounded by olive groves lies the crown jewel of Morocco's imperial cities. Fes was one of the important cultural, scientific and religious capitals in the Islamic world. It's a very old city that served as the country's capital three different times in history. It was established in 789, but most of its famous buildings and places were built during the 13th and 14th centuries when the Marinids ruled and the city was very powerful. Today, Fez is still a very special place in Morocco because it's known for its traditional artists and craftspeople. The city has three parts: the oldest part, called Fes el-Bali, a newer area called Fes el-Jedid that was built in the 13th century to make room for more people, and a modern part called Ville Nouvelle.
A mere 60 km from Fes, Meknes was the capital of Morocco during the 17th century. Meknes has numerous palaces, mosques and madrassas behind its fortified walls, which feature numerous majestic entrances, including the world renowned Bab Mansour. Further out in the outskirts is the Roman archaeological site of Volubilis.
Tbourida horse festival
Also known as fantasia, "tbourida" consists of a group of horse riders, wearing traditional clothes and charging along a straight path at the same speed so as to form a line, at the end of the ride (about two hundred meters) all riders fire in the sky using old gunpowder guns. The difficulty of the performance is synchronization during the acceleration especially during firing so that one single shot is heard. The performance is inspired from historical wartime attacks by Berber warriors. Performances are usually during local seasonal, cultural or religious festivals.
The capital city has a certain calm and harmony other big cities lack in Morocco. Rabat, full name Rabat-Salé, is split into two parts separated by the river Bouregreg: Rabat and Salé. Rabat is where the colonial houses and government institutions are, whilst Salé is the home of artisans and was once a haven for pirates who roamed the seas for centuries seizing European ships. If you ever come to Rabat, be sure .
Beni Mellal ➜ Khenifra
The Beni Mellal - Khenifra region is in a part of the country's interior that is still very much off the tourist trail. The traditional ways of life are still unchanged.
Essaouira is a laid-back fishing town. It stayed a well-kept secret until the annual Gnawa world music festival began drawing larger crowds to the city. There's also been a recent influx of predominantly European expats. Head to the medina to watch the fishermen fixing their small boats at the docks and selling their catch.