Archive for the ‘Morocco Travel Tips’ Category

Top Walks Around Marrakech

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Walking around Marrakech is one of the best means of exploring the city’s many delights (horse-drawn carriage rides being another). And easy as it is to get lost in the Medina, temporary loss of one’s bearings actually adds to the excitement of the sensory overload that characterises the bustling souks.

Take time to look at the quirky details of many building facades; notice how no two windows or doors are exactly the same; note how the low, covered walkways and door frames seem to have been designed for a shorter generation. These are just some of the features that make walking through Marrakech a fascinating experience.

Top City Walks

Here are five of the most popular walks, each taking in different aspects of the city in both the ancient medina and its modern counterpart.

• Rue Semmarine – one of the Medina’s main arteries, this one embodies the essence of the souks’ frenetic energy. Here, bazaar booths packed with every imaginable (and some unimaginable) objects strike you from every angle. (more…)

May – early summer in Marrakech and beyond

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

With at least 10 hours of sunshine per day, only 20 mm of rainfall (typically falling over just 3 days) and temperatures at an average 21˚c (from night time 14˚c to daily highs around 27˚c), the month of May really kicks off summer, contrasting markedly with the cooler climate of most of northern Europe. Once again, tourists have an array of festivals to enjoy.

Kelaa-des-Mgouna Rose Festival, 2nd Weekend in May

Celebrating the coming into flower of Marrakech’s thousands of roses, the Rose Festival takes place over two days within the souk area of Kelaa-des-Mgouna, the desert town location of the largest of Morocco’s rose water distillery plants. Festivities include a parade of colourful, flower-decorated floats accompanied by traditional Berber music, dancing, singing and sword-juggling displays; in addition, there is the election and crowning of this year’s Rose Queen and sale of lots of delicious local food. Camel rides and excursions to the lovely Valley of Roses are also available.

Gnaoua World Music Festival, 12/05/2016 -15/05/2016

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Events to enjoy in April in Marrakech and Morocco

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Well into the Moroccan springtime, April sees around 10 hours of daily sunshine, very little rain (barely 30 mm throughout the entire month, most of it falling over just a few days) and average temperatures hovering around 18˚ C (lows of 12˚ C and highs of 24˚ C). At this time of year the tourist season is in full swing, as reflected by the number of festivals and other events.

Grand Prix Hassan II, 04/04/2016 – 10/04/2016

One of the main April events is the Grand Prix Hassan II tennis tournament. Held in nearby Casablanca, this clay court ATP World Tour competition, the 32nd, will once again see the attendance of some of the world’s top professionals.

Marathon des Sables, 08.04.2016 – 18/04/2016 

April is also the month of the world renowned ‘Marathon des Sables’, the ‘Sand Marathon’ which attracts hundreds of runners each year to a unique challenge over 150 miles of desert terrain in 6 gruelling stages:

  • IRHS to Khermou, 18.02 miles/29 km
  • Khermou to Jebel El Otfal, 22.06 miles/35.5 km
  • Jebel El Otfal to Taourirt Mouchanne, 24.85 miles/40 km
  • Taourirt Mouchanne to Oued El Jdaid, 51.08 miles/82.2 km
  • Oued El Jdaid to Erg Znaigui, 26.22 miles/42.2 km
  • Erg Znaigui to Merzouga, 13.11 miles/21.1 km

Alwan’Art, 15/04/2016 – 19/04/2016

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Marrakesh Museum of Photography

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Situated at 46 Rue Ahal Fassi, the Marrakech Museum of Photography is a little gem of a visitor attraction albeit one that is too often overlooked by tourists due to its slightly out of the way location on one of the narrow streets of the northern Marrakech medina.

About the Marrakech Museum of Photography

First opened to the public in 2009, this privately owned museum is designed to display the extraordinary diversity of Morocco as recorded by famous and not-so-famous visitors to the city from the beginnings of photography right up to modern times. As an ever-growing archive on Marrakech it also represents a history of ‘architecture and ideas’

The Collection

The museum’s collection of treasures includes photographs (some of which date back to the 1870s), postcards and glass plates, maps, newspapers and documentaries. In addition, visitors can arrange visits to the museum’s library, request to see films and/or organise conferences.

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The Marrakech International Marathon

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Marrakech International Marathon 2016, in January, is one of the world’s most prestigious and an important tourist attraction. Hosted in Marrakech under the patronage of King Mohammed VI, this year’s race, the 26th edition of the event, is preceded on the 30th by a ‘Welcome Race’ and the ‘Kids’ Race’ at 10:00 and 10:30 respectively (from the Marathon Village). 

 Main Races

The starting point for the two main events, the half marathon and marathon itself, is on Menara Avenue on the 31st January at 08:00 and 09:30 respectively.

The Circuit

Predominantly flat (with some modest inclines in the Palmeraie district) and thus one of the fastest, the IAAF-approved circuit covers the regulation 42.2 km (marathon) and 21.1km (half marathon) taking participants and spectators along city ramparts and some of the most attractive parts of the city’s residential areas, through the Menara and Agdal Gardens, past ancient monuments s well as olive and orange groves.

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January 2016 in Marrakech

Monday, December 21st, 2015

While winter in much of the northern hemisphere is characterised by cold, wet and often snowy conditions the climate of southern Morocco is comparatively mild, indeed pleasantly warm during a large part of each day. Average maximum daily temperatures hover around 18° (warm enough to enjoy relaxing by the pool) while night time lows are seldom below 5°. Taken together with some 7 hours of sunshine per day and pretty modest rainfall (25 mm), January can be a great month to visit Marrakech if you fancy avoiding the crowds while profiting from low season prices.

January Events

Proclamation of Independence – January 11th is Morocco’s Independence Day when the nation marks the formal separation from colonial France in 1956. Some businesses will be closed on this day in observation of this national holiday

Aid al-Mawlid – 24th January is the birthday of the prophet Mohammad. Mosques are busy, of course but, again, many businesses will be closed.

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Ali Ben Youssef Medersa – A Must for Fans of Historic Architecture

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

A splendid place to admire traditional Moroccan architecture while unwinding from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Ali Ben Youssef medersa is a must for anyone interested in art, architecture and Islamic culture in general. A medersa, an intricately decorated school building as impressive in its way as any European university, is critical to the culture of Muslims.

A Brief History

Founded in the 14th Century by Abu al-Hassan, the then ruling Marinid Sultan, the Ali Ben Youssef Medersa is Morocco’s largest madrasa. In 1565, a reconstruction of the original building ordered by Abdallah al-Ghalib (Saadian Sultan 1557 to 1574) was completed. Restored again in 1950 before being closed to both the general public and the faithful in 1960, the madrasa was finally reopened to in 1982 following further restoration work to permit visitors to experience this exquisite master-piece of Moroccan architecture and art.

The Madersa

Featuring 130 dormitory cells for students clustered around a richly carved courtyard with its central rectangular pool and two bronze fountains, Ali Ben Youssef Medersa was one of North Africa’s largest theological colleges and was home to perhaps as many as 900 students at a time.

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October festivals in Marrakech & elsewhere

Monday, September 7th, 2015

As late summer moves towards autumn October in Marrakech is arguably the best time of year, although with temperatures still in the high twenties it is hardly cool. One can expect around nine hours of sunshine per day. Rainfall, after the drought of summer, begins to be a feature of the weather once again but, at 23mm, there’s not much of it. If there are fewer festivals in Marrakech now than at other times in the season there are still a number of noteworthy events to draw the crowds.

Fatih Muharram

Fatih Muharram is celebrated by Muslims all over the world on the first day of the Islamic Calendar’s new year which, this year, falls on the 14th October. On this day, Muslims reflect on the journey made by the prophet Mohamed and his followers to Medina in 622 of the Muslim Current Era.

Erfoud Date Festival

This famous festival, celebrated in Erfoud, a small Saharan oasis some six hours to the east of the former garrison town of Ouarzazate, is set to commence at the end of the harvest, usually at the beginning of October. The festival involves traditional dance and music with processions, dromedary races, feasting and the crowning of this year’s ‘Date Queen’.

Tissa Horse Festival

The quiet country town of Tissa, some 30 miles north east of Fes, holds its Horse Festival at the beginning of October (exact date still to be confirmed). At this popular, unique festival hundreds of horsemen and their mounts, decked out in elaborate, colourful, traditional costumes, show off their skills. In addition to equestrian events and competitions, the festival involves a good deal of energetic music, dancing and singing, traditional food and plenty of mint tea.

Tip of the Month

If you’re looking for one of the lesser known places of interest in Marrakech look no further than the Mellah, the historic Jewish neighbourhood. Still in comparatively excellent shape (unlike many Jewish Quarters in Europe), this area offers a one-of-a-kind experience and notable synagogue.

Notable Occasions in August in Marrakech

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Marrakech, like all other cities and regions in Morocco, celebrates three major public holidays during August. The first of these events, Allegiance Day, takes place on Friday, the 14th.

Allegiance Day

Zikra Oued Ed-Dahab, as this national holiday is locally known, is celebrated to mark the return, by Mauritania to Morocco, of the disputed region of Oued Eddahab.

Thaourat al-malik wa shâab

On August 20th the country celebrates ‘Thaourat al-Malik wa Shâab’, or ‘The King & the People’s Revolution’, an event commemorating King Mohammed V’s return to Morocco after exile in Madagascar. Mohammed V’s return set in motion the negotiations which eventually led to Morocco becoming an independent nation.

Eid Al Milad

Introduced mainly for the youth of Morocco (Eid Al Milad is often referred to as ‘Youth Day’), this public holiday, on 21st August, marks the official birthday of Mohammed VI. Ascending to Morocco’s throne following the death of his father, King Hassan II, in July 1999, King Mohammed is the Alaouite dynasty’s 18th monarch. Intended to reflect the harmonious relationship between the king and his citizens, Eid Al Milad sets the tone for a joyful, festive atmosphere throughout the country.

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Visiting Marrakech – Top Tips for Maximum Enjoyment

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Intriguing, atmospheric and filled with a seemingly endless variety of sightseeing options, the city of Marrakech is one of the most tourist friendly destinations in North Africa and, unlike most of its neighbours in the Maghreb, it suffers from none of the political unrest seen in the Middle East, Egypt and Tunisia. There are, however, a few things you should know in order to get the most out of your visit.

Bringing Cash

It is difficult to find ATMs in most parts of the city’s ancient medina although they are numerous in and around the Jemma El-Fna, the city’s main square. They are also widely available in Gueliz, the modern commercial quarter. Many shops and restaurants accept credit cards, although by no means as many as would be the case in Europe or America. Shopping in the souks invariably requires cash, i.e. Moroccan dirhams, although quite a few traders are happy to accept euros. There are several bureaux de change at Marrakech Menara airport but you will be able to draw cash without much difficulty in many parts of town.

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