From the dunes of the Sahara to the peaks of the high Atlas Mountains, Morocco is the doorway into Africa, and one of boundless diversity. With ancient cities, rugged coastlines, waterfalls, and the endless desert of the Sahara Morocco is a melting pot for adventure. It has woven itself into the fabric of Africa and the Middle East, yet there remains strong European undercurrents, essences of its colonial past. What results is a heady mix of the exotic and the familiar. Whether you’re wandering through the winding mazes of Fez, drinking tea in a cafe or sitting back setting foot across the open plains of the Sahara, it is sure to be an intense and rewarding experience. Morocco is a country of outstanding beauty, vibrant cultural traditions of hospitality, generosity and openness and is a must visit destination for anyone with a desire for the extraordinary.
Geography & History
Man hiking on snow-capped Atlas mountains
Covering over 172,400 square miles and home to a population of 34 million, Morocco is situated in Northern Africa, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and bordered by Algeria and the Sahara. The country encapsulates a multitude of topographies. In the northern regions of the country there are the magnificent Atlas Mountains, with Mount Toubkal as its highest peak (4,165 meters). Further south the famous dunes of the Sahara, and on the western coastal regions are the fertile plains, where the majority of the countries agriculture is situated. Due to these different landscapes the climate also varies across the country, getting more extreme the further inland you travel.
Morocco’s history is one of royalty and conquests, which have over time resulted in the acumination of different cultural influences, making the country a true melting pot! It is recognised that the first inhabitants of this region were the Near Eastern nomads, the ancestors of the ancient Egyptians. As like much of this region the Romans invaded in the 4th century BC, followed by an invasion by soldiers of the prophet Mohammed in the early part of the 7th century. With them they brought Northern Africa’s most prevalent import; Islam. This religion was was embraced by nearly all Berber tribes and remains the most prominent religion today. In 1912 the French took control of the country, giving a small part of the north to the Spanish. This was met by opposition from much of the population, especially due to the exile of the reigning King Mohammed V which followed. Under increasing pressure from Moroccans and the Allies, France allowed Mohammed V to return from exile in 1995, and the following year Morocco successfully negotiated its independence. Today, Morocco’s human rights record is arguably the cleanest in Africa and the Middle East, with King Mohammed VI, who is currently the reigning monarch, overseeing small but real reformations steps. These have included elections, the introduction of the Berber language on the national curriculum and the much anticipated Mudawanna, which is the legal code protecting women’s rights with regards to divorce and custody.
People & Culture
Food and Drink
The two most well-known dishes in Morocco are couscous and tajine. Couscous is a mound of steamed semolina with vegetables and meat, usually chicken or mutton. Tajine is a delicious traditional Berber stew cooked slowly in a pot over a charcoal fire. Salads, soups and kebabs are also common dishes. Native fruits are diverse and include grapes, strawberries, melons, prickly pear, or cactus fruit and of course figs and dates. Tea is the national drink, in particular green tea, which is flavoured with sprigs of mint and very refreshing on a hot day. Alcohol has a very low profile in Morocco as in most Islamic countries, however wine and beer are produced.
Moroccans are mainly Sunni Muslims of Arab, Berber or mixed Arab-Berber ancestry. The Berbers decend from early nomadic peoples who settled in this part of northern Africa and the Berber dialects are still spoken by around a third of the population. In the 7th and 8th centuries, Arabs arrived bringing their language and the Muslim religion and so many Moroccans speak a colloquial version of Arabic called Darija, and a combination of Arabic and standard Arabic is used in all written communication. Since most of Morocco was ruled by the French in the first part of the 20th century, French continues to be an important language, used particularly in higher education, commerce and government. Spanish is also spoken in Northern areas, reflecting the historic control of Spain over a northern strip of the coast and its continued presence in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla
Ali, our cameleer
Need to Know
Group of trekkers run down famous dune, Erg' Chgaga
Morocco is a very diverse country in landscape and as a result, climate differs regionally. In the south, including the desert, summer is unbearably hot and winter nights cold, though day temperatures can still reach upwards of 25°C. Mountain peaks in both the Rif and Atlas mountains are snow-capped for the majority of the year but in the summer the days are still pleasantly warm. In the coastal areas the climate is more moderate, though more rain falls in the winter.
Climate Chart for Marrakech:
Rainfall in mm
Max temp °C
Min temp °C
Safety and Security
Theft is no more common in Morocco than in most European countries, but you should still be on your guard, especially in the cities. Use your common sense: wear a concealed money belt containing your passport, flight ticket and cash, and do not flash any valuables, including your watch and camera. Leave your valuables behind; you don’t need your best jewellery and gadgets on this trip. Be careful at night and avoid walking or getting into taxis alone. Crowded areas such as bus stations and markets attract pick-pockets and bag-slashers, so be vigilant for both yourself and your companions.
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This challenging five day trek will take you through the beautiful golden dunes of the Saharan deserts, in adventurous yet bite-sized package. From flat desert floor scattered with ancient fossils, to perfect wind-blown sand-dunes, this trek is diverse and demanding. The vast, unforgiving desert is a truly beautiful place to discover, while the incredible star-strewn night skies are truly unforgettable. Accompanied by Berber guides and a small caravan of camels, our remote night-camps with camp-fires and Berber singing are often the highlight of the trip!
The High Atlas Mountains run south-west through Morocco. They are remote, barren and absolutely stunning. Our challenge is to climb their highest peak – and the highest in North Africa: Mount Toubkal, at 4167m.
Our ascent is tough, steep and rocky, and the effects of being at altitude add to the challenge. However, the magnificent views from the summit – reaching across to the Sahara Desert – and our sense of achievement more than compensate for our efforts.
We also witness the local way of life as we pass through colourful villages, where Berbers farm in the river valleys and herd goats and sheep in the mountains. The ancient city of Marrakech, with its labyrinthine streets and intriguing souks, provides the perfect contrast.
** Availiable for month the Saharan Mini Adventure and Toubkal Trek
Our adventure starts with a spectacular drive from Ouarzazate, passing old kasbahs and Berber villages. We stop at the incredible walled city of Ait Benhaddou before continuing over the High Atlas Mountains to bustling, fascinating Marrakech. We stay in an historic riad, an ornately-decorated traditional Moroccan house set around a courtyard garden. A haven of calm amidst the old city, it offers a perfect place to relax and soak up the sunshine from its rooftop terrace, only a stone’s throw from the bustle of the souks.
The souks are crammed with fascinating sights, and you can haggle for everything from leather goods and shoes to spices and argan oil. Soak up the buzz in the Jma el Fnaa, Marrakech’s huge main square, with its food-stalls, musicians, street-performers and snake-charmers, or just sit back in one of the many cafes and enjoy the cultural flavour. A guided city tour is included to get you started – then explore and shop to your heart’s content!
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