When they first think about Morocco travel with an agency, many travelers stick to the imperial cities of Fez, Meknes, Marrakesh and Rabat, spend a few days on a desert trek in the Merzouga dunes and may check out the beaches and nightlife in Casablanca. If you’ve seen the main tourist sights and are ready to do something different on your next trip, consider the following activities.
Hike to the Summit of Jbel Toubkal (4,167m/13,671 feet)
Set in the Atlas mountains, North Africa’s highest peak is a simple and highly scenic two or three-day trek during the summer months. Travel south from Marrakesh via grand taxi to the mountain village of Imlil. At Imlil you can arrange a guide or donkey transport if desired and stay overnight in an auberge or hotel; an alternative option is to stay in the smaller, more picturesque village of Mezzik along the route to Toubkal. (more…)
Laayoune is the largest town in Western Sahara, the desert region south of Morocco’s Anti Atlas Mountains. Occupied by Spain until 1974, Western Sahara remains in legal limbo as a disputed territory. After the “Green March” of November 1975—when 350,000 Moroccans marched across the border into the Sahara—a conflict broke out between the Moroccans and the Polisario Front, a group that demanded independence for its native Sahrawi people. Talks have been underway between Morocco and Polisario since a UN-sponsored cease fire in 1991.
The town tends to serve as a stopover point for travelers going between Mauritania and southern Morocco or for those on the way to try kite surfing at Dakhla’s desert lagoon. From Marrakech, it’s a 16-hour plus bus ride to Laayoune. Although you’ll be driving through desert, don’t expect spectacular scenery like you’ll find at Erg Chebbi; this part of the Sahara is all hamada—flat, rocky desert. (more…)