Hidden Morocco: Aoufous and the Ziz Valley

The Ziz Valley, Morocco

Morocco is home to numerous stunning palm groves and your journey from the imperial cities of Fez or Marrakesh toward the vast Sahara will take you past an oasis valley before reaching the dunes themselves. As you pass through different towns and terrains, the landscape begins to notably change into a rocky scrubland, geographically indicating the beginning of the ‘desert.’ While many people rush through the area between Marrakesh and the Sahara,  those seeking a glimpse into rural Moroccan life slow down to appreciate the area known as the Ziz Valley.

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Hidden Morocco: Asilah – A Photo Essay

Hidden Morocco Asilah

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.

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Telouet Kasbah in Morocco: A Rare Performance

Our team at Journey Beyond Travel was on the road filming the Telouet Kasbah in Moroco. We were fortunate enough to meet Sofia. She was once a regular performer to the Glaoui family and was famed for her traditional Berber (Amazigh) songs. She agreed to perform for us that day, and we were left feeling privileged to have watched her sing. Being presented with such a rare opportunity to witness a once in a lifetime performance, we decided to film Sofia so we could share the experience with others. Her amazing voice echoed within the intricately designed walls of the main room with the stunning mosaics and carvings gracefully complimenting her talent.

The Telouet Kasbah stands on the old caravan route towards the Sahara, between Ait Ben Haddou and Marrakesh. It is somehow an easily missed historical site, with visitors often passing by unaware as they leave Morocco’s world famous UNESCO world heritage site for the imperial city of Marrakech. But the Kasbah arguably boasts some of the best Islamic architecture in Morocco and should not be missed if passing through the High Atlas Mountains. With an interior so intricately designed and a history so gripping, many visitors are stunned by the rewards reaped when deciding to turn off and drive the dusty narrow paths leading up to the building.

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