Archive for the ‘Morocco Travel Tips’ Category

4 Great Places for Kids in Marrakech

Monday, February 17th, 2014

While historic sites and monuments, stately gardens and the delights of shopping in the souks of Marrakech may appeal to adults, children quickly tire of admiring Berber carpets, sampling spices (however colourful and tantalisingly odiferous!) and learning about ancient history.

So here are just a few great places for kids in Marrakech to keep them busy and, more importantly, smiling.

Le Bowling

Situated in the Palmeraie, Le Bowling is a quaint, air-conditioned bowling alley. Featuring six lanes, it is perfect for keeping kids from going stir crazy in your hotel when it’s too hot to do anything else. A bar and billiard tables are also available.

Kawkab Jeux

Offering arts and crafts, workshops, games and a host of other state-of-the-art activities for children of all ages, the Kawkab Jeux on Rue Imam Chafaï in the central area of Marrakech is ideal for keeping your kids amused while you try your hand at a bit of old fashioned haggling in a nearby souk. There are video games, a mini-train, playground slides, mini foot tables and a snack bar.

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The Place Jemaa El Fna

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Like most of Morocco’s cities, Marrakech has two sharply contrasting personalities, in the shape of the modern, commercial quarter of Guéliz and the original walled medina.

One of five Moroccan medinas included for their architectural richness on the Unesco World Heritage list, the medina of Marrakech, packed with grandiose monuments and an extensive souk, is built around the celebrated Jemaa El Fna, a thronged, pulsating square in the very heart of town.

Shoppers’ Paradise

Surrounded by labyrinthine alleyways amid tightly packed houses, Djemaa El Fna is the starting point for accessing the apparently endless maze of souks selling everything from cheap souvenirs and trinkets and spices to beautiful carpets and finely-crafted wood and metal artifacts, including traditional jewellery. All day long refreshments in the shape of freshly-squeezed orange juice and delicious Moroccan dates are available from a plethora of vendors in and around the central square.

Step back in Time

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Visit the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Amid the frenetic buzz of Marrakech one can still find pockets of tranquil serenity in sharp contrast to the heat and pace of the city all around.

One such oasis of calm is the Majorelle Garden, or Jardin Majorelle, one of the most popular visitor attractions in Marrakech. Named after its French-born designer, Jacques Majorelle, a French painter inspired by the Art Nouveau movement of the early 1900s, the garden in its modern form spans around two and a half acres blending nature and design.

Here, the sound of gently running water from marble pools, fountains and irrigation channels and the constant chatter of birdlife create an idyllic atmosphere of sub tropical exoticism as raised paths lead one through plantations of banana trees and bamboo, coconut palms and bougainvillea and an impressive collection of cactae.

Majorelle spent some forty years designing and sculpting his garden into a splendid piece of botanical art although, following his death in 1962, it fell into a state of neglect.

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Money exchange in Morocco

Friday, September 20th, 2013

The unit of currency in Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham – the Dirham is used in several Arab states, hence the contextual prefix. The Dirham, designated as MAD or Dhs, is comprised of 100 centimes; notes are available in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 25, 20 and (occasionally) 10 dirhams and coins are issued in denominations of 10, 5, 2 and 1 dirham, or 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes.

The word “dirham” comes from the Greek “drachma”, one of the oldest currencies known to man, dating from the sixth century BC. The Greek drachma was circulated through trade in many countries around the Mediterranean, including Morocco, and in the 7th century the term ‘dirham’ was adopted widely throughout the Arab world.

The Dirham is officially designated a ‘closed currency’ which means that it can only be traded in Morocco – so if you have left over cash after your trip you’ll need to convert it back before you leave or you may be stuck with useless money.

According to Trip Advisor, however, Dirhams are traded in a number of travel agencies and airports outside of Morocco but only up to a maximum of 1000DH and one is likely to pay more for money exchange outside Morocco than within the country itself. It is wise to retain currency exchange receipts acquired in Morocco as they may be required when selling back surplus Dirhams at the airport prior to leaving (there is no limit to the number of Dirhams one can sell).

If you’d prefer to exchange your money in Morocco, as most visitors do, you will be able to buy and sell currency at a Bureau de Change in the airport or port upon arrival in the country and also at banks.

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How to barter in Marrakech

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

No visit to Marrakech is complete without a visit to the famous souks, a seemingly inescapable maze of open and covered markets selling everything imaginable. And who doesn’t want to obtain a few good deals when shopping for souvenirs on holiday?

We all know that stall and shop owners hike prices when they see a tourist approaching but don’t let this knowledge deter you from trying to extract the best price.

Local traders expect it. Indeed, haggling is part of the very culture in the Arab world, not least in a tourist city as popular as Marrakech.

Okay, so you’ve spotted a beautiful hand-crafted item that you simply must take home as a ‘look where I’ve been’ brag item to decorate your lounge; here’s how to barter in Marrakech:

  • Take a stroll around the shop/market and see what the general asking price is for similar items – you’ll probably find (by asking – items are rarely priced) that things cost pretty much the same but it’s good to know. (more…)

Marrakech Weather

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

“What’s the weather like in Marrakech?” It’s the question most frequently asked of those in the leisure and travel business. Seldom an easy question to answer with certainty at the best of times, it’s a query all the more difficult to respond to these days as exceptional weather events continue to occur right around the globe and climate change, whether due to global warming or not, makes itself felt.

In Morocco’s southern interior, much of it semi-desert and mountainous, extremes of temperature can always be expected. During summer, in Marrakech, it’s common for maximum daily temperatures to reach the 40’s, if not more.

Even at night it’s still hot, often over 20ºC. During winter, by contrast, the climate is agreeably mild although, even then, daytime temperatures range from 15º to 25º between November and March, falling to 5º or even less at night, due to the influence of snowfall on the nearby Atlas. This would be typical of Marrakech.

Temperatures apart, if it’s winter sun you’re after, Morocco is right up there with the best. Over 10 hours of sunshine per day, on average, from June to early September, and no less than 7 hours from October to February – quite a contrast with the gloom of a European winter. Whenever clouds and rain decide to put in their inevitable appearance, one can’t argue with statistics like that!

For Marrakech weather updates, please see our website (on the right hand side, at the top of page)

Events in Marrakech April 2013

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

If you’re visiting Marrakech in April 2013, you might be interested in these events:

Awaln’art : International Encounters with Art in Public Places, 11-14 April

Marrakech is hosting the 7th edition of the Festival Awaln’art: International Encounters with Art in Public Places. If you’re in the city at this time, you’ll definitely not want to miss this dynamic display of Moroccan art and culture.

The festival is a celebration of street art and invites local artists and members of the public to join Awaln’art in its creation of prominently displayed public artworks, sculptures as well as giant puppets roaming the streets and performance art , all free of charge!

The Marrakech Atlas Etape, 28 April

The Marrakech Atlas Etape is a charity bike ride that starts and ends in Marrakech.

A one day affair, it offers two routes from Marrakech, a merely ‘demanding ’ one (a 60km ride to Ourika and back) and a ‘really challenging’ one (140km to Oukaïmeden, in the High Atlas, and back). (more…)

5 alternative activities in Marrakech

Friday, February 1st, 2013

A hive of activity year round, Marrakech fizzes along with its varied menu of delights to tourists from the world over. As we have covered a number of these in previous posts we thought it would be useful to mention a short selection of alternative attractions, most of them outside the city of Marrakech itself.

1)     The Berbers of Morocco. The Berber Cultural Centre offers a glimpse into the history and culture of Morocco’s indigenous people (Arabs began to arrive only in the 8th century) comprising around half of the population today, most of them in the south-west and the mountainous areas of the High and Middle Atlas.

This fascinating centre reveals the full colourful history and customs of the Berber people from pre-Arab times to the present day.

2)     Jetski in Marrakech! Why not?! Just 30 minutes from Marrakech, at the foot of the High Atlas, snow capped in winter, you’ll find Lake Takerkoust, home to Atlas Jet and a private beach. Here you can ‘max out’ on thrills thanks to the latest Yamaha jetskis.

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Uncovering the culture of Marrakech

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

The culture heritage of Marrakech can be soaked up in many places throughout the city’s famous medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The heritage is diverse, not just in terms of Arab, Berber and Muslim influence but historically, best exemplified by monuments associated with centuries of ruling dynasties in the form of tombs, traditional architecture, palaces and kasbahs.

It is in and around the Marrakech medina that most of its historic treasures are to be found, often hidden in the maze of its twisting alleys and narrow streets.

 Founded in 1070, Marrakech was for centuries a major political, economic and cultural centre of the western Muslim world, its influence extended, notably, to Andalusia.

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Skiing in Marrakech

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Skiing in Marrakech?! Well not in Marrakech, exactly, but from a base in Marrakech, only a short hop away. You might be forgiven for questioning the viability of skiing in Africa yet the High Atlas Mountains, about 90 minutes south of Marrakech, offer a skiing experience like no other.

There is a number of small ski resorts in the Atlas, most of them unsophisticated by European standards and with limited infrastructure but well worth checking out: Ifrane, Djebel Bou Volane and Mischliffen in the Middle Atlas, Mount Tidiquin in the Ketama district and best of all, Oukaïmeden in the High Atlas.

Perched at an altitude of 3000m in the Moroccan High Atlas Mountains, Oukaïmeden touts itself as ‘Africa’s Premier Ski Resort’.

Though many of the tallest peaks of the High Atlas are snow patterned for much of the year the ski season itself is limited to four months (December to March), the best snow being in January and February. Oukaïmeden has North Africa’s highest lift, a fixed-grip double chair to the mountain’s summit where you are treated to a 360º panoramic view.

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