Archive for the ‘Morocco Travel Tips’ Category

Take a daytrip from Marrakech to Ouirgane

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

The pretty little village of Ouirgane (pronounced ‘Weer-gan’) is a Berber settlement situated in the foothills of the High Atlas, on the edge of the Toubkal National Park, some 90 minutes from Marrakech.

The Magic of Ouirgane

Surrounded by pine forests, red-earth hills and splendid greenery, Ouirgane is a great place for mountain biking or hiking trips; horse riding, bird watching and trekking in the national park are also popular. Offering magnificent views over the Toubkal massif, the village is located in a valley on the Oued (river) Nfis and is particularly delightful in spring when the almond trees are in blossom adding breathtaking beauty to the rural scene.

 Nearby Attractions

In addition to the attractions of the national park itself, Ouirgane lies just a few miles from the sanctuaries of Rabi Haim ben Diwan and Moulay Brahim Muslim, close to the villages of Anraz and Asni, 3 km and 15 km, respectively, from Ouirgane itself.

Another well-known village is Imlil, at the foot of Mount Toubkal, the starting point for treks up to the mountain summits with spectacular views en-route.

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Places to visit in Marrakech – Agdal Gardens, the ‘walled Meadow’ of Marrakech

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Situated close to the Menara Gardens and the Marrakech medina, the Agdal Gardens were created by the city founder, Abd al-Mu’min (1130 to 1163), of the Almohad dynasty who also undertook many of the city’s most significant building projects. The gardens, rejuvenated during the Saadien dynasty, were enlarged during Moulay Abderrahmane’s reign in the 19th Century.

Agdal Gardens

The name of the gardens is derived from a Berber word meaning ‘walled meadow.’ Adjacent to the southern edge of the medina, the Agdal Gardens, or orchards, covering an area of approximately 700 acres, were created to function both as the caliph’s private pleasure garden and for the production of fruit.

The Gardens

Featuring rectangular orchards planted with apricot, fig, lemon, orange and pomegranate trees each linked by walkways lined with olive-trees, the gardens are irrigated by water channelled via an extensive khettara (underground network of ditches and channels) from the Ourika Valley.

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Places to visit in Morocco – the Gnaoua Music Festival, Essaouira

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

The picturesque coastal town of Essaouira may be around three hours from Marrakech but scheduling time for a visit to the four-day Gnaoua Music Festival (12th-15th June) is well worthwhile.

A good, four or five times daily coach service to Essaouira is operated by Supratours from Marrakech (behind the rail station) at a cost of 75 dhs, single.

Gnaoua Music

Combining traditional music, acrobatic dancing and ritual poetry, Gnaoua music originates from sub-Saharan Africa, although it has gradually evolved to incorporate African Islamic and Berber spiritual themes and rhythms.

The Festival

In addition to artists from Essaouira itself and Marrakech, the Gnaoua festival also showcases contemporary world music performed by pop, jazz and rock artists from across the world. Dozens of free concerts can be attended at the festival’s two main stages, one of which will be on the central Place Moulay Hassan, yards from the seawall.

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Events in Morocco May to July 2014

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

In virtually every region of Morocco religious and cultural festivals are staged throughout the year, June and July, despite the heat, being no exception.

June

The Mawazine Festival in the capital, Rabat, comprises street entertainment, art exhibitions and concerts between 30th May to 7th June 2014.

A week or two later in the ancient city of Fes, one of the most highly regarded of all events in Morocco is the annual Festival of Sacred Music presenting a variety of traditional music and dance performed by some of the world’s foremost musicians and entertainers. The event is scheduled to take place from 13th to 21st June 2014.

The Gnaoua Music Festival (Essaouira, 12th to 15th June) focuses on traditional Gnaoua music but also features contemporary world music (pop, jazz, and rock) performed by musicians from around the world. This year’s artists are expected to include 150 international and 250 Moroccan artists. Concerts at the event’s two main stages are free of charge.

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‘Ludiparc’ – a Marrakech Adventure Park Kids will Love

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

For younger kids even the most fascinating cultural and architectural sites will soon lose their interest. We recently wrote about four recreational attractions for kids in Marrakech  and here’s another one likely to meet with their approval.

Ludiparc Marrakech

A day out at ‘Ludiparc’, an adventure theme park located on the Route de Fes, just 15 minutes from central Marrakech, is guaranteed to restore family harmony and have the kids squealing with delight in no time.

Set in a location patterned with a series of small lakes, Ludiparc comprises a series of well run indoor and outdoor play areas. There is also a café/restaurant on site as well as other food outlets. Attractions include: (more…)

The Marrakech Museum of Moroccan Art – Musée Dar Si Said

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Located in a 19th century palace, the Musée Dar Si Said is regarded as one of Morocco’s most eloquent tributes to the skills of its master craftsmen.

Surrounding a splendid courtyard filled with shady cypress trees, flowers, a fountain and gazebo, the museum’s exhibition rooms are filled with a wealth of items showcasing some of the finest examples of Morocco’s rich arts and crafts heritage.

Treasures to be discovered

Some of the most noteworthy items to be admired at the Musée Dar Si Said include a chest, dating from around 1000 AD, heavy silver Berber headdresses and striking High Atlas carpets in innumerable shades of purple. Other items include jewellery, wedding costumes, pottery, leather articles and rugs.

Throughout the museum visitors can see extraordinary mosaics, stucco artefacts and beautifully carved cedar doors embellished with elaborate talismans believed to ward off the evil eye.

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Exchange Rates Favour Morocco

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Having risen against most currencies during 2013, the Moroccan Dirham (MAD) has eased by some 8% during the past few months and is currently fluctuating at around MAD 13.45* to the pound sterling and MAD 11.25* to the euro; holidays in Morocco are thus even better value, with spending money going that much further.

Cost of dining in Marrakech

Take, for example, a restaurant meal for two. Whilst a fine dining experience (and there is no shortage of opportunities for experiencing the very best of European and Moroccan cuisine) will vary between MAD 600 and 800 a meal at a midrange restaurant will average around MAD 400; if that’s not reasonable enough a street food experience can be yours for less than MAD 100!

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What’s on in Marrakech – March and April 2014

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Springtime is the ideal time of year to visit Marrakech when temperatures average an idyllic 26° with more than 8 sunshine hours per day and just the occasional light shower to keep vegetation fresh before the heat of summer.

As the air fills with the intoxicating scent of flowers in bloom throughout the city, the streets buzz with the excitement of things to come as visitors arrive to experience some of the popular events taking place during March and April.


International Magic Festival

From the 19-22nd March, the squares and streets of Marrakech, as well as the Royal Theatre, will be taken over by street and stage performers participating in the International Magic Festival.

Transmarocaine Challenge

Following on from the magic is the demanding reality of the Transmarocaine Challenge (22-30 March). This year’s running, walking, canoeing and mountain biking challenge, the ninth in the series, will take participants (and spectators) from Essaouira, a pretty coastal town on the Atlantic coast, 150 km west of Marrakech, to Tahanaoute, situated at the foot of the mighty Atlas, in the shadow of Mont Toubkal (4167m), and finally on to Marrakech itself.

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The Benefits of Hammams

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Marrakech, like most places in the Arab world, is renowned for its traditional hammams. No visit to Marrakech is complete until you have experienced the delights and benefits of these time-honoured steam baths.

What are Hammams?

The marble-clad hammam at Les Borjs de la Kasbah

The Arabic word ‘hammam’ means ‘hot water’ and the origin of traditional Moroccan hammams dates back to Roman times when they were popular both as bathhouses and meeting places. A traditional hammam consists typically of a series of two to four connected steam rooms, the temperature increasing to around 50°c as one proceeds from one to the next.

Hammam Treatments

Housed usually in marble-clad rooms, a hammam bath involves dousings of alternating hot and cold water followed by a vigorous scrubdown with black ‘beldi’ soap. Other treatments include ‘ghasoul’ or henna coatings, ‘rassoul’ hair treatments and, after a short recovery period, relaxing massages using essential oils. In addition to being wonderfully relaxing and providing welcome relief from stress, hammam sessions provide a number of physical benefits, not least improved blood circulation:

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The 7 Delights of a Trip to the Cascades d’Ouzoud

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Situated within the Grand Atlas province of Azilal, some 150 km to the north-east of Marrakech, the Cascades d’Ouzoud are more than simple waterfalls.

Surrounding Region

The journey from Marrakech to the Cascades d’Ouzoud is an experience in itself as the road takes you there via green valleys and the superb gorge of the El Abid River, passing orchards and ageless olive mills along the way to the Berber village of Tanaghmeilt, close by. Seeing the magnetic beauty of this desert region it is easy to understand why much of the area is designated a conservation site by a number of national and local organisations.

Cascades d’Ouzoud

First sight of the Cascades d’Ouzoud explains why they are renowned as one of the region’s most photographed sites. Dropping in a series of wide and narrow steps from a height of 110 m, the falls are at their most beautiful during mid-to-late afternoon when the appearance of rainbows makes the scene even more spectacular, the widest of them appearing towards the bottom of the series of cascades.

The Top of the Falls

Refreshingly un-commercialised, with just a few Berber traders selling fresh orange juice and market produce, every section of the falls offers a fascinating spectacle. At the summit you’ll find a dozen or so small mills, the last working examples of the many olive and flour mills believed to have given the site its name, Ouzoud being the Berber term for the act of grinding.

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