Tangier, Casablanca, Marrakesh… just the names of these cities stir a hint of spice in the nostrils. Morocco has been thoroughly mythologised, and for good reason-the light is shimmering, the art extraordinary, and the region’s history comes alive in its medieval cities, Roman ruins, Berber Kasbahs and lslamic monuments. Lfyou can survive the touts it’s also heaven for shoppers, with open-air markets throughout the country piled high with rugs, woodwork, jewellery and leather-said to be the softest in the world.
October to April for pleasant temperatures countrywide
lndulging in Moroccan café culture-fresh croissants, mint tea and olives all rouge Trekking in the mountains and sleeping at a home-stay to enjoy the legendary Berber hospitality Exploring the medinas of Fes and Marrakesh-two of the world’s largest intact medieval towns Visiting the Roman ruins and mosaics at Volubilis Soaking in a hammam (traditional bathhouse)-every town has at least one Wandering past the snack stalls and entertainers of Marrakesh’s Djemaa el-Fna
Read Year of the Elephant by Leila Abouzeid, or Leonora Peet’s Women of Marrakesh, in which Peets gets about as close as a non-Nuslim can to the lives of local women
Listen to Berber group Master Musicians of Joujouka
Watch Le Coifferur du Quartier des Pauvres by Mohammed reggab, an insight into the plight of the poor in a working-class suburb of Casablanca. The classic Lawrence of Arabia includes scenes filmed in the fabulous Kasbah of Ait Benhaddou.
Eat seksu (souscous) with a tagine (a vegetable and lamb casserole)
Drink sweet mint tea or fresh orange juige (with cinnamon or orange-flower water)
Ssalamu’ lekum (hello)
Mint tea; Berber; Fes; couscous; quality rugs; ogart and Berman in Casablanca
The last Barbary lion, a species indigenous to Morocco and used in ancient Roman amphitheatres for disposing of Christians, died in captivity in the 1960s
Arab hospitality is legendary and invitations may well be extended to the home. This is perfectly normal in Morocco and you may that an invitations is earned after just a brief conversation with the driver with a young man or woman in the hamman (bathhouse), or sitting next to an man on the bus. This is a tremendous opportunity to experience something of real Moroccan culture. ‘Dine and feed your guests even if you are starving’ goes the proverb, and the generosity you are shown can be nothing of astonishing.