Archive for the ‘Morocco Travel Tips’ Category

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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Is Morocco a safe country to visit? Tourism in Morocco – business as usual

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

During turbulent times in volatile countries overseas there are moments when the interests of many of us are not best served by the world’s news media.

To judge by numerous headlines, one could be forgiven for imagining that political unrest is rife not only throughout much of the Middle East but right across North Africa too and that, as a result, travel to these countries, for Americans and Europeans especially, should be discouraged. How often have we been asked over the past year or two “Is Morocco a safe country to visit?”

The question is not surprising – people don’t know the facts because they are not well informed. Well, the good news is that, as far as this north-west corner of Africa is concerned, Life goes on as normal, the political situation being entirely calm as, indeed, it has been throughout the so-called Arab spring.

Apart from a couple of minor, well disciplined demonstrations in Casablanca and Rabat, no social unrest has taken place and the country is as safe to visit today as it has ever been.   (more…)

10 things you need to know about Marrakech

Monday, March 12th, 2012

The wonderfully exotic Moroccan city of Marrakech offers so much as a short holiday destination, from reliable year-round temperatures (ideal from mid February to end April) and mouth-watering local cuisine to fascinating historic sites and other landmarks, from golf on six courses to treks in the Atlas.

Not least, Marrakech is also renowned for the limitless varieties of locally hand-crafted products and souvenirs on sale in its vast network of souks.

Here is a short list of important facts you should know about Marrakech.

1. Widely referred to as the ‘Red City’, Marrakech lies in Morocco’s south western region, within sight of the High Atlas.

2. As with most North African cities, Marrakech has two distinct parts: the old city, or medina, and the modern city which, here, comprises the commercial quarter, Guéliz, and leafy residential district of boulevards known as l’Hivernage.

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The Beginners Guide to Marrakech

Monday, December 19th, 2011

To start your Moroccan experience, you must first find a place to stay. There is a huge variety of accommodation in Marrakech and with such a large choice from large luxury hotels down to four to eight roomed riads and modern apartments, finding the right place can be hit and miss.

Our suggestion would be to go for the best of both worlds, i.e. the last word in modern comforts but with plenty of authentic local character added. Les Borjs de la Kasbah is one such, a 5 star luxury boutique hotel in Marrakech, well placed within comfortable walking distance of the centre yet far enough away from its hurly burly to be remarkably peaceful by comparison.

Having found your place to stay you’ll need some suggestions for things to see and do so here’s a short beginner’s guide to visiting Marrakech.

Visit the ancient medina and admire the 13th century walls that surround it. The souk, one of the largest in Morocco, is a tourist’s dream, such is the variety of artefacts and souvenirs you’ll find there. Take an official guide to show you round, with visits to a couple of palaces and museums included.

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Events in Marrakech: December 2011 through February 2012

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Marrakech Events December 2011

International Marrakech Film Festival 2011 – firmly established in the local calendar, this is the main event for December in Marrakech.  Attracting ‘A list’ stars, it is an important occasion for Morocco’s successful film industry, based in Ouarzazate, where the Atlas Studios have played host to countless films from Lawrence of Arabia to Gladiator.

Olive Festival 2011 – another major event, this charming festival takes place in the middle of the month in Rafai, in the Fez province. You can enjoy the traditional olive-picking ceremony, numerous ‘Diffa’ feasts and folklore events performed in a vast area of olive groves.

Marrakech Events January 2012

Marrakech International Marathon 2012more than 5000 international runners take part in the annual Marrakech International Marathon and Half Marathon for which the Pink City offers an exceptional setting for this gruelling athletic event putting it among the most attractive of all marathon circuits.

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Some basic tips for tourists in Marrakech

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

A veritable hub of entertainment, the main square of Marrakech never fails to leave an impression but many other aspects of this historic city have changed little since medieval times. The sights, sounds and even smells of the place are likely to stay with you forever.

Moroccans are famous for their hospitality and most will delight in helping tourists on their way but here are some basic tips:

* Learn a little Arabic. A little effort goes a long way (and will certainly boost your bartering skills). ‘Es salaam alaykum’ – hello or, literally, ‘peace be upon you’. ‘Afak’ – please (if you’re talking to a woman it’s ‘Afik’, to a group, ‘Afakum’). Finally, ‘Shukran bezzef’ – thank you very much.

Carry some loose change. Tipping is an integral part of Moroccan culture and certainly helps in all sorts of situations. Tipping between 5% and 10% of a restaurant bill is the norm. Also tip taxis, guides and small boys (5 or 10 dirhams) who offer their services for helping you find your way out of the complex maze of streets in the old parts of town.

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7 Unusual Activities around Marrakech

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Marrakech is justly renowned for the colourful animation of its feudal main square, Jemaa el Fna, and never ending labyrinth of its souks. But there’s plenty more to the city and its surroundings to attract the tourist visitor. So here are our suggestions for the top 7 alternative attractions in and around Marrakech.

* Get high in Marrakech. African Sky has been operating for 21 years now and its hot air balloons are perhaps the best way to admire the city and High Atlas landscapes. One can book direct on +212 524 43 28 43 or via Les Borjs de la Kasbah.

* For the ‘kids’. Ludiparc is a recreational haven for youngsters with a series of indoor and outdoor water features. Over 55 species of birds can also be found here, some flying free. Pedal boats and playgrounds make this a ‘must visit’ if you have children with you. The best bit? Adults go free!

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Marrakech Events in October

Monday, September 5th, 2011

With temperatures pleasantly warm at 27° / 28°, Marrakech provides the perfect atmosphere for exploring and sampling the ambience of this captivating city.

To underline this, a number of sporting and cultural events in Marrakech take place in October, of which these are just a few:

Marrakech Art Fair – we mentioned this in our ‘Marrakech events in September’ piece but repeat it now because the fair runs through to 3rd October. The Marrakech Art Fair exhibits contemporary collections from Europe and the Arab world.

To give you an idea of its importance, last year’s Art Fair contained works by Karel Appel, Arman, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Eduardo Chillida, Robert Doisneau and Andy Warhol.

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Is Marrakech a safe place to visit right now?

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Given the seismic nature of political events in Tunisia and Egypt, not to mention the shockingly violent response to protest demonstrations seen in Bahrain, Syria and Libya, one might be forgiven for questioning the safety of other tourist destinations in the Arab or Islamic world, such as Morocco.

Although it would be foolhardy to predict the final outcome of the movement for change currently sweeping the region, it should be said that Morocco, though by no means wholly immune to the tide of recent events, is in a different position to countries of the Middle East and elsewhere in North Africa from which it is so far removed both geographically and politically.

Though not an oil state, Morocco prospers through tourism and exports. It is also a broadly fairer society, sociologically and economically, than the states which have occupied the headlines in recent months, not least through being run on more democratic lines than is the case in most Islamic countries.

One positive fact to underline this is that Morocco is a sovereign democracy with a parliamentary system. The young king (Mohammed VI) has been doing his best to keep the economy moving and is gaining respect for his attempts at flushing out corruption. Also, despite the relative poverty of so many, especially in rural areas, the average household income is significantly higher than that of, say, Egypt, where so many millions have to survive on £1 a day, and there is as a consequence much less resentment among the population towards its government than is clearly the case in, say, Egypt or Yemen or, of course, Libya.

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