Archive for the ‘Morocco Travel Tips’ Category

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.


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.


What’s Happening in Marrakech in July 2015

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

July 17th this year marks Eid ul-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, a month of daytime fasting for all devout Muslims. Eid is celebrated by a day of feasting on a scale similar to the Christian Christmas although, unlike Christmas, the date of the festival of Eid changes every year.

Popular Arts Festival

This is also the first day of one of the major cultural events in the Marrakech calendar – the Popular Arts Festival. Scheduled to take place from 17th to 21st of July, this popular event is one of the city’s biggest and most colourful festivals. Performers, including seductive belly dancers, Berber musicians and international artists, magicians, snake-charmers and others will transform the city (and, in particular, the Djemma el Fna square and El Badi Palace) into a riot of colour and sounds. If you were able to experience only one Moroccan festival in your life this would be the one to go for.


Marrakech in May – upcoming events

Friday, May 15th, 2015

From festivals taking place in Marrakech itself to those in the surrounding area and slightly further afield, every one of the popular events listed below is well worth adding to your schedule of things to see and do when planning your holiday in Marrakech.

Babyboomer’s Adventure Rally, 05/05/2015 – This light-hearted sightseeing rally takes in some of Morocco’s most scenic landscapes and routes. Winners are not determined by who reaches the final destination first but by whose car (and driver) are considered to be the ‘best turned out’ for the occasion.

Gnaoua & World Music Festival, 14/05 to 17/05/2015 – Taking place in coastal Essaouira, this annual event celebrates local gnaoua music but also features regional and international acts. The free public concerts regularly attract thousands of visitors from around the world.

World Sacred Music Festival, Fez, 22/05 to 30/05/2015 – Aiming to ‘highlight the spirituality and musical traditions which have served human and social development through the ages’, this wonderful festival, featuring some of the world’s best exponents of a diverse range of musical traditions, explores a vast repertoire of rhythms and musical genres.


Exploring the Marrakech Souks

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

To first-time visitors, the labyrinthine Marrakech souks will seem like a bewildering warren of narrow passageways, impossible to navigate. There is, however, some simple advice for negotiating your way round this vast market and, in the process, getting the most from your visit.

Method to Madness

First of all, remember that the layout of the souks, as with every other major market in the world, has some method in its apparent madness. As you look closer, you will notice that there are clearly defined sections within which the respective trades are grouped together making shopping for the various products on offer, from food and spices, to textiles, household goods and souvenirs, that much easier to manage.

Focal Points

However laid out, in a circular manner or rectangular grid system, or just randomly labyrinthine, markets always have anchoring focal points and the Marrakech souks are no exception. Focal points here include, for instance, the vast central square, the Place Jemaa el Fna, and the slightly smaller Spice Square, from which one can access the Carpet Souk, for example. If all else fails, you can always ask for directions back to these anchor-points.


Koutoubia Mosque – a major Marrakech landmark

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

The Koutoubia Mosque, one of Morocco’s largest, in the centre of Marrakech was built in 1158 by the Almohads, one of the country’s great imperial cities.

Koutoubia Minaret

The Koutoubia’s rose-coloured sandstone minaret stands 12.5 m wide and 67.5 m high. Adorned with delicately sculptured decorations giving the appearance of lacework on the stone walls, it is topped by a cupola crowned with three golden copper orbs and a square, decorated lantern. Most striking is the perfect harmony of the minaret’s height and width, a perfect example of Hispano-Moorish which served, as a model for the Giralda in Seville.

Legends of the Orbs

The beautiful orbs crowning the minaret’s cupola are surrounded by legend, one of which claims that they were created by melting down the jewellery belonging to the wife of Yacoub-el-Mansour, who completed construction of the tower started by Sultan Abd el-Moumen. Another legend is a warning to thieves that the orbs are guarded by jins (genies) who will plague with terrible misfortunes anyone trying to steal them.


Themed Break Bargains in Marrakech

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

While enjoying a short sunny break in Marrakech there are many activities you can indulge in, from golf to trekking in the Atlas Mountains and shopping in the souks. But there are many other options for getting the most out of that precious weekend away.

At Les Borjs de la Kasbah, for example, in the Marrakech medina, one can join a cookery class on Moroccan cuisine, enjoy a series of spa treatments including the traditional hammam bath, or visit Marrakech and its surroundings with a series of excursions.

There is even a Romance package with champagne, flowers and more for that special occasion.

The big difference at Les Borjs, however, is that these themed activities are included – i.e. there is no charge at all beyond the cost of a room!


Tips for a cheap Marrakech break out of season

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

If you’re looking for an off-season holiday bargain Marrakech should certainly appear high on the shortlist of likely destinations. With its wealth of exciting, yet surprisingly inexpensive things to do, combined with the prospect of soaking up some winter sun while enjoying the facilities of a comfortably affordable four or five star hotel, you could say there is no need to look further than Morocco’s tourism capital.

Les Borjs de la Kasbah

Widely regarded as one of the best 4 star hotels in Marrakech, Les Borjs de la Kasbah currently offers rooms and suites at prices ranging between 750 dh (£55) for a single room in low season (December and January, Christmas/New Year excluded) to 1650 dh (£122) for a suite. These nightly rates include local taxes, airport welcome and transfer to the hotel as well as breakfast for one or two.

Bargain Breaks

In addition, this luxury boutique hotel also features regular special offers that are well worth looking out for, not least its ‘Bargain Breaks on a Theme’ deal (where a range of activity options is included in the room price at no extra charge) or the ’4 nights for the price of 3′ promotion.


Gommage at the best Spa Hotel in Marrakech

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Like most of the best spa hotels in Marrakech, Les Borjs de la Kasbah’s facility, the Arganier, offers exquisite hammam sessions (with or without full seaweed or volcanic clay body masks) followed by the traditional ‘gommage’ (a vigorous scrub down with black ‘beldi’ soap).


Basically, a gommage involves the application of ‘beldi’ soap, made from black olives and eucalyptus leaves, to the damp skin. Some five minutes after the application the soap is then vigorously frothed and scraped off the body, together with layers of dead skin cells, with the help of a ‘kessa’, a glove made of crinkled, coarse fabric.

The Benefits

Rich in vitamin E and featuring both anti-microbial and moisturising properties, the black beldi soap serves to deep-cleanse the skin, removing toxins from the body and softening the skin in preparation for the exfoliating scrub with the kessa. Combining the cleansing, moisturising effect of the soap with the increase of lymph and blood circulation resulting from the exfoliation process, the gommage helps in treating problem/oily skin leaving it feeling soft and invigorated, the better to absorb subsequent skin care treatments.