Picture the vast and dry Sahara Desert as a lush green tropical forest. Now add some lakes, waterways and a river as wide as the Danube running through it, feeding the flora and fauna in the area. It’s difficult, right? But this is actually what the Sahara looked like some 100 million years ago. And even way before that (hundreds of millions of years), a part of what is now the Sahara was actually submersed in ocean water. The region flourished in the prehistoric age and much of the evidence from that time has lived on until today in the form of exquisitely preserved fossils.
Every culture has it’s version of fried dough, and Morocco is no different. You’ll find sfenj on street corners throughout the country. The dough itself is simple, a basic yeast dough but it is super sticky, making it a bit of a trick to master. Sfenj is prepared early in the mornings for breakfast or late in the afternoons for tea time and you’ll be hard pressed to find it anywhere in between those times!
The story of saffron in Morocco is more than a story about Morocco’s saffron capital of Taliouine. It’s also about the process involved in harvesting saffron and the local farmers working to supply the world with one of its most sought-after spices. Saffron bulbs are planted in the summer, between July and September, and the flowers are harvested around the end of October, sometimes going into November. Villages higher in altitude among the surrounding mountains are the first to see crocuses appearing. The purple fields continue cascading down to Taliouine according the climate.
In the 1960’s and 70’s Morocco was part of the infamous “hippie trail.” Backpackers and travelers of all nationalities and types crisscrossed the cities, mountains, and coastal hideaways. More than a handful set out alone. Today, as people make travel an integral part of their life, Morocco has grown as a popular destination – certainly thanks to the tales of earlier travelers. If you are considering giving solo travel in Morocco a try, we’ve put together some tidbits and advice to help you plan and stay safe.
Taliouine, the heart of Morocco’s saffron producing region, lies south of Marrakesh and east of Taroudant. The city itself is small – just under 6,000 people – but produces more saffron than any other place in Africa. Every November, a festival is held at harvest time and people from around the world come to watch and celebrate. While the best way to experience this is by visiting, we will give you an inside glimpse through this photo essay.
Asilah is a sleepy fishing town in the North of Morocco, just one hour south of Tangier. While not completely off Morocco’s well-beaten path, it’s often missed by travellers bound inland for Fez or Chefchaouen, yet has a uniquely alluring charm. With an immaculately restored medina that’s re-painted vivid shades of blue & white each summer, Asilah has the feel of being Morocco’s own Santorini – a great spot to see the more chilled out, seaside town life in Morocco.
The town lies in the middle of a fascinating history in historical, architectural and artistic terms. It’s 3,600 year old history that includes a varied range of occupiers, involving Roman, Arab Portuguese, Spanish and French colonisation. Many famous writers and artists have spent time here; in ancient times is it reported Hercules did a tour of the area and, more recently; Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams, Edith Wharton, Jean Genet (who is buried in the nearby town of Larache), William Burroughs, Jimi Hendrix and Henri Matisse have all found the area inspiring. The Portuguese ramparts remain fully intact and a full day can be spent wandering through its old gates and the ever narrowing medina streets inside the walls.
Until 1925 Fez was the modern capital of Morocco and retains its prestige as one of the most enchanting and enriching cities in the country. Home to the world’s largest car-free city center and the world’s oldest functioning university it’s no surprise Fez is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and a must-visit on tourist radars. Before you pack your bags and visit Fez here are seven articles we think you should read to get prepared. (more…)
The Meknes medina, garnished as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, holds many treasures within its walls. The first one can be admired even before you enter the imperial city: Bab Mansour. This incredible gate (bab in Arabic) is not only a spectacular example of Almohad architecture but it also holds a unique story behind its construction.
There are some Moroccan foods (like Sfa) that are so good, you’ll never find them on a restaurant menu. Rfissa is one of those dishes. The simple ingredients of chicken and lentils are elevated with the inclusion of spices and a slow cooking time – until everything is falling apart, delicious.
So you’ve seen the snake charmers in Marrakesh, you’ve gotten hopelessly lost in endless souks in Fez, and you’ve rocked all the casbahs around Casablanca. Check, check, and check. But what if you’re just not a checklist traveler? What if you want more than just a Facebook photo, but an experience to last a lifetime? Here’s our 5 places in Morocco that you should visit (but probably haven’t!). (more…)