A Few Words About Touring Morocco Morocco’s renown as a place of mystique, romance and adventure didn’t come out of thin air! The rugged landscape and Islamic, Roman and Western European cultures that converge here where the Sahara Desert and Atlas Mountains meet the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea create a melting pot that matches any in the world. Taking in color, culture and cuisine with scenery and history to match any in the world, to tour Morocco is to experience North Africa as it has both modernized and endured through the centuries.
Many travelers have continued heading to South America, New Zealand or Iceland in recent years in search of dramatic landscapes, but Morocco tours offer comparably beautiful coastline and mountain trekking - its mountains even seasonally receive snow as well! Add to this a charm reminiscent of Eurasia or the Middle East (think Turkey, Israel or Jordan), as well as a Mediterranean feel hinting of Italy or Croatia with locals as friendly as you’ll find anywhere, and Morocco tours adds up to a special opportunity. Just a handful of hours from Europe, or easily routed flights from the USA or Canada, the major Moroccan airports in Marrakesh, Casablanca and Agadir make for easy access to whatever region of Morocco is at the top of the bucket list. Learning a few greetings and phrases in Arabic - and even one or two in Berber, another national language - is a good way to go to put your best traveler foot forward in Morocco.
Western Europe and northern Africa have been in contact for millennia. With Spain, France (both formerly claiming Morocco as a protectorate) and Portugal lying just across the Strait of Gibraltar, the Kingdom of Morocco has been a long-lasting monarchy since it was first united in alliance with Berber tribespeople under Idris I in the year 788. Through numerous changes of rulers and their dynasties, four major cities have served as capitals of Morocco and today remain bastions of historical sites and popular with tour travelers as “imperial cities”: Fez, Marrakesh, Meknes and Rabat. The Roman Empire, having reached into northern Africa, found its southwestern terminus in Morocco - sites like the UNESCO World Heritage ruins of Volubilis near Meknes are of unique significance. The olive oil industry of antiquity was a main source of wealth that helped develop this area, and the wine industry of today continues to do so. Add to this a tour of the hammams (bath houses, staffed by attendants ready to scrub their clientele with vigor!) found throughout the country, donning a jellabah local robe, sampling local couscous-based, and haute accommodations, and visitors on Morocco luxury tours will experience finery found only here.
Of course, the 1944 Humphrey Bogart film “Casablanca” helped put Morocco on the map of the Western mind. One visit to the city now and it’s undeniable that conditions have changed; while it has grown to be one of Morocco’s - and northern Africa’s - major financial centers, its beautiful medina walled city sections with a narrow maze of alley-like streets exemplify these cities, including the amazing blue color schemes of the buildings in the Chefchaouen area. Marrakesh represents iconic Morocco, with authentic cuisine and spirited street vendors on every corner and filling the souk traditional marketplaces, along with the chance to visit monuments like the Saadian tombs and Bahia Palace. While the Beatles and Rolling Stones wandered the streets of this city in the 1960s, Marrakesh’s span of history is wide indeed. From Berber traders and their current descendants, Arab influences and their Moorish architectural and artistic influence, and freedom from French and Spanish colonialism, Marrakesh has remained a fixture in the cultural gaze of the world.
The bustling city of Fez is not to be overlooked during your tour. It has remained a hotbed of Morocco’s social thought and progressive thinking for over a thousand years. Home to ancient and still-active leather tanneries, it is a patchwork of streets filled with mule carts and souks, the scent of spices waft through the garden courtyards of the riad houses and lodgings. The woodwork of Fondouk Nejjarine is a spectacle of craftsmanship - one among many in Fez, all of which come alive that much more when observed on a highly recommended guided tour of the city.
Fez and Marrakesh serve as ideal gateways to two other parts of the perfect Morocco tour, visiting areas known for their cultural and natural scenic beauty. The first is the Atlas Mountains. Walking tours of the Ziz Valley with farmers of date palms, or the scenic beauty of Al Haouz plain and Ouirgane’s lake and small town, are vital parts of experiencing this area of Morocco. Lying beyond the Atlas Mountains is the massive expanse of sand, sun and wind of the Sahara Desert. A tour of this region by 4x4 or by camel with Berber guides, sleeping in a Bedouin-style camp, is a life-changing experience! Sip hot tea, listen to traditional music and watch millions of stars overhead by the campfire, savoring every minute. Include a stop at Skoura and the Valley of the Kasbahs to check out and appreciate Saharan village life.
On the coast, popular with local and visiting surfers, fishermen and lovers of the water of every type, Essaouira is a lovely place to unwind. The stoic shoreline fortresses convey the city’s historic European influence. The calm atmosphere relative to busier Fez and Marrakesh and sea breezes make for a placid setting to enjoy some R & R, shopping and the endearing art galleries and traditional boatbuilding.
The tours Morocco has to offer lead down many paths, and we’re here to serve as a sign to select the right activities for you! This country has much to offer solo and family travelers on holiday, as well as those bringing or seeking to join a small group. Reach out to a Global Basecamps agent to start planning your Moroccan journey!