Morocco

Morocco conjures up images of mint tea and tagine, date plantations and minarets, labyrinthine medinas and pungent spice stalls.

Morocco is nestled in the north western tip of Africa and just a short step from Europe across the narrow straits of Gibraltar. This nation with its mystique, diverse culture and exotic nature is a must for the discerning traveller. The influence of the Romans, Arabs and Europeans is documented throughout the country in its buildings and traditions.

Publically vibrant and privately elegant, Marrakech is a cosmopolitan city with a historical flair. The epicentre of the city is the Djemaa el Fna where one will find snake charmers, hidden palaces, exotic spices and magic potions. In the evenings the town square of Jemma el Fna is awash with street musicians, storytellers and street vendors which allow the visitor to revel in this dynamic part of Marrakech. Off the main square are the winding alleyways of the souks where you will encounter the vast, bustling and chaotic central market of Marrakech where textiles, jewellery and carpets are on offer for the enthusiastic haggler. Also in the city are Yves Saint Laurent’s Majorelle Gardens which provide an oasis of cool and calm where flowers and plants from all over the world are set against a backdrop of stunning architecture and vibrant colour.

The strikingly beautiful Atlas Mountains are less than two hours from Marrakech, where the two mountain passes of Tiz n’ Tichka and Tiz n’ Test cut through them. Offering breath taking vistas, spectacular rock formations and river valleys. Although popular with hikers and climbers this can be a relaxing trip where you can glimpse Berber Villages and townsfolk. Ouarzazate, just over the mountains, was created as a French garrison town and is where parts of Lawrence of Arabia was filmed and with its many hotel complexes offers the perfect place to stay and marvel at this unique region. Fez affords the visitor to take a step back in time where the modern world has barely intruded on this ancient city. The main attraction to this city is the medieval Medina where one can sit back and watch the world go by. Negotiating through its narrow cobbled lanes and visiting the tanneries where the famous soft leather is manufactured is not only an adrenaline rush but an education. The best vantage point of the city is from the ruined Merenid tombs where one can view magnificent palaces, souks, squares, workshops and the Karaouine Mosque.

Essaouira is known as ‘the pearl of the kingdom’ and during the 60′s and 70′s such luminaries as The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix vacationed in this romantic city with its retro feel. Also known as the windy city but protected by solid bastions the main industries here are crafts, fishing and tourism. This intimate seaside city is the home to many free spirited artists who find its picturesque nature and blue azure skies an inspiration.

Tangier was the destination of the great and the good between to the 20′s and the 50′s including aristocrats, authors, artists and spies. Truman Capote, Gore Vidal and Errol Flynn all luxuriated in Tangier’s forbidden pleasures. Cecil Beaton likened the place to an ‘Oriental Cheltenham’ but for the most part this was a beloved playground for cafe society. Now after a long relapse visitors are once again warming to its decayed grandeur and sandy beach. Tangier’s kasbah is dominated by the former Sultan’s palace where one can view an art collection encompassing all the regions of this country. The art on display includes firearms decorated with marquetry, pottery, carpets from Rabat and bound royal manuscripts. Its heady mix of Moroccan and European charm are still in evidence and with its upmarket hotels and restaurants offer an inspirational experience.

An enchanting land full of mystery and wonder, travellers are sold on snake charmers, perfumes, and the call of the muezzin.

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