While many a tourist and traveler to Tangier spend their time immersed in the medina and navigating the kasbah – if fresh air and flora is your thing, there are some wonderful outdoor spaces to explore. One of these pockets of nature is Donabo Botanical Gardens, located in the forest conservation area of the same name.
It’s a common refrain heard around the world: “It’s not easy being green.” In bright contrast to the Kermit dirge bemoaning the color green, the hillside town of Ouazzane, Morocco celebrates green. Greens of every tone are splashed across the medina walls and reflected in the fields and olive groves that surround the town. So, if you find yourself in this hillside medina on the edge of the Rif Mountains, the fact remains: It’s easy being green! Consider a road trip to Ouazzane! (more…)
On the outskirts of Marrakech lies the Agafay Desert of Morocco. In the 18th century the area was settled by Saharan nomads who planted crops and flowers, changing the arid landscape into blooming fields during the harvest months. In the months when the plants are dormant, the Agafay Desert returns to a parched wilderness, giving travelers an idea of the great Sahara Desert. The Atlas Mountains sit behind the desert and provide water to the enormous manmade Lake Takerkoust, sometimes referred to as Lalla Takerkoust Lake.
At 5,000 hectares and seven kilometers long, the lake was built by the French in the late 1920s as part of a dam and irrigation project to provide electricity and water to Marrakech. The French, of course, insisted that the lake would enhance the area and add to its natural beauty. Today Lalla Takerkoust Lake is an ideal day trip from Marrakech for those who want to get out of the city and admire views of the lake, mountains, and desert, especially for those who don’t have the time or ambition to journey to the Great Sahara. (more…)
As a habitat for more than 100 species of birds, Merja Zerga Nature Preserve in Morocco is one of the most important wetland sites in North Africa. The large tidal lagoon is fed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Oued Drader, a freshwater stream. The area has been designated as a biological preserve and has served as host site for the Ramsar Convention, an organization dedicated to the conservation of wetlands worldwide.
The area surrounding Merja Zerga was populated during Phoenician times and during the Roman period. During the Islamic period, a religious leader named Moulay Bousalham established a base there. Now, the small village that is nearest the preserve is named after this Muslim holy man. It’s a quiet, agricultural area whose main crops include strawberries and watermelons. (more…)
The short ferry ride from Europe to Tangier has made this port city a popular entry point to the country and a convenient base for exploring northern Morocco. During a day trip from Tangier you can drive along the Mediterranean coast or the Atlantic coast.
Located about an hour’s drive from Tangier via CTM bus or grand taxi, Tétouan is an excellent place to learn more about Morocco’s colonial history. Having served as capital of the Spanish Protectorate from 1912 to 1956, the city’s architecture features a blend of Moroccan and Andalusian influences. Its medina has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unique display of craftsmanship, and it is regarded as one of the best-maintained historical sites in Morocco. After strolling around the three-mile long walls of the old city, you can head to the National Institute of Fine Arts or dine in a Spanish-era cafe. (more…)
With a population of around three million, Casablanca in Morocco attracts visitors because of its fame (thanks to its namesake movie), attractions and international airport. Although the city offers a wealth of culture, history and entertainment, some travelers like to escape the bustle with a detour off the beaten path.
Travel an hour or so south down the Atlantic coast from Casablanca and you’ll reach the quiet city of Azemmour—a short day trip or overnight jaunt from the big city, or a convenient stop when traveling northward from the popular coastal town of Essaouira. Like much of the coast, temperatures here are relatively mild, with highs lingering around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). (more…)
Located in the deep south of Morocco, the Draa Valley stretches from the city of Ouarzazate into the Sahara Desert. The Draa Valley is a stunning oasis home to Berber villages, sumptuous Kasbahs, streaming sand dunes, lush green plains, snow-capped Atlas Mountains, endless stretches of palm trees and the Draa, Morocco’s largest river.
During ancient times, the river of Draa crossed the desert and traveled hundreds of kilometers west until it joined the Atlantic. Today, most of this river has dried but its path still leads through one of the most fascinating landscapes in Morocco. (more…)
With its roots as one of Morocco’s imperial cities, Meknes has plenty of history and architectural treasures to attract travelers. It was once the shining capital during the dynasties of Berber and Arabic families, but though it has faded into the background a bit, Meknes continues to attract international visitors. Located close to Fez, one of Morocco’s more populous cities, it is also a very popular jump off point for those who want to see other sites in the region.
Meknes itself is made for explorations with sites like the Dal El Makhazen palace, the Tomb of Moulay Ismail (the sultan who once ruled Meknes as a capital city) and plenty of souks that provide colorful shopping experiences for locals and visitors alike. However, destinations beyond the immediate walls of the city also have much to offer, and those who want to explore Morocco’s wine country or get a glimpse of the age old techniques used to produce premium olive oil will be in for a treat. (more…)