Mount Zalagh in Morocco: Tranquility among the Olive Groves

morocco olive treeMount Zalagh looms high over Fez, looking down on the crowded city and its narrow, winding alleys. A world away from the hustle and bustle of one of the most densely populated areas in Morocco, Mount Zalagh, covered with olive groves and scented by wild lavender, offers a view of the entire city and the surrounding landscapes—the Sebou Valley, Rif Mountains and Sais Plain. In the winter, expect snow, but in the summer, the elevation provides the ideal temperature for an escape from the heat and the perfect spot for a picnic. Despite its proximity to the city, it is never crowded, much to the delight of mountain bikers and hikers alike.

Reaching Zalagh’s summit is easy enough for even inexperienced hikers and takes no more than an hour or two, even at a leisurely pace. To reach the mountain, take a grand taxi (taxi kabir in Arabic) from the Bab Guissa, a 12th-century city gate located in the north of the medina. You can usually count on finding a taxi queue in front of the Sofitel Palais Jamaï nearby. Ask the driver to take you to the base of the Mount Zalagh or, in Arabic, Jbel Zalagh (JE-bal ZA-lagh), along Ouezzane Road, which is to the left after leaving the Palais Jamaï and leads to the southern base of the mountain. You reach a small pine forest, from which you can find the trailhead. As always when taking a grand taxi, agree on a price beforehand. The trip should normally cost no more than 7 or 8 Dh, so make sure to bargain. (more…)

Winter Activities in Morocco

Morocco in winterIconic images of Morocco—golden sand dunes, colorful marketplaces—tend to remind us of blazing hot summers. In reality, Morocco’s winters set the stage for fantastic travel experiences. The country’s Mediterranean climate involves mild winters with cool temperatures and more rain than at other times of the year. Without the summer crush of tourists, beach resorts feel like private getaways between November and March. Meanwhile, southern Morocco is perhaps at its best.

The Atlas Mountains experience cold and snowy winters. Except for those looking for traditional winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, the mountain ranges are a more dynamic location during warmer months. Winter, however, gives the mountains’ few visitors a chance to say that they skied in Africa. (more…)

Birdwatching in Morocco

birds in MoroccoIf you’re an avid birdwatcher, you might want to consider a trek to Morocco. The country’s mix of varied landscapes, including mountains, wetlands and deserts, offer travelers opportunities to see an eclectic mix of rare and endangered bird species. The country has developed a reputation as one of the major birdwatching centers of North Africa.

Morocco’s friendly attitude to tourism draws bird-lovers from around the globe seeking to catch a glimpse or snap a photo of one of the more than 480 species that make the country their home at least part of the year. Visitors should plan their trips during the prime birdwatching seasons, which will vary some with the different species and the regions across the country. The weather in Morocco is normally mild, so you can be assured of plenty of sunlight.

Travelers to Morocco can also hit a number of hotspots for birdwatching. The country’s numerous preserves, parks and other dedicated sites help to showcase the populations of species like wheatears, larks, raptors, warblers and large numbers of resident birds and migratory species. (more…)

Most Romantic Destinations in Morocco

waterfall in MoroccoComing up with a list of the most romantic destinations in Morocco is no easy task. The country’s imperial cities boast a myriad of posh riad hotels and romantic dining venues, and there is no shortage of chic beach villas along the coast, but here are some amorous spots that will get you off-the-beaten path and away from the typical honeymoon destinations. (more…)