Morocco is a chameleon of a country, one where the past and present are fluid and the colours change with both light and landscape. Its vibrant medinas, markets and mosques are set against the golden backdrop of the Sahara’s rolling sand dunes, just a day’s journey from Marrakech. For travellers, it’s a land of the “something for everyone” variety, replete with Roman ruins, dramatic coastlines and epic mountain ranges. The one constant is the immutable sense of history and the hospitality you experience no matter what colourful path you choose to take.
Chasing the blues, greens and golds of the desert.
Local guides are indispensable when it comes to navigating the narrow, winding streets of Chefchaouen’s ancient medina.
Legend has it that Chefchaouen’s many shades of blue – on doors, rooftops, walls and even the trunks of trees – were originally applied in the 15th century by Jewish refugees fleeing the Spanish Inquisition (blue was chosen to mirror the sky and remind them of God). The 500-year-old city’s name means “view of the peaks” thanks to its home at the base of the Rif Mountains.
A desert tour in the Sahara is best experienced on a dromedary or “Arabian camel” of the one-humped variety, which is often better behaved than its two-humped cousin. It’s well-suited to a landscape that may see less than eight centimetres of rain a year — a dromedary’s hump can store 36 kilograms of fat, which it breaks down when food and water are in short supply.
From the daily routine of carrying dough to communal bakeries in Fez to drinking mint tea in the ancient ksar of Aït Ben Haddou (a UNESCO World Heritage Site celebrated for the integrity of its ancient earthen-clay architecture), Morocco is a country where traditions are carefully preserved — and persist — in the present.
Morocco is the eighth largest exporter of citrus in the world and freshly squeezed orange juice is a daily offering at the stalls that line Jemaa el Fnaa, Marrakech’s central square.
Lush green farmland and the turquoise waters of Paradise Valley (a natural oasis) offer a striking contrast to Morocco’s desert landscapes. Thanks to ambitious solar power and irrigation projects and the wind turbines dotting Morocco’s Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines, sustainable agriculture employs about 40 percent of the country’s workforce.
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