Morocco is on everyone’s lips these days and with good reason. This North-African destinations has made quite a come-back as a travel destination, so without further ado: here are the 5 best reasons to go.
Photos by @milleayo
The food scene
Moroccan cuisine is an explosion of taste, colour and texture. Many recipes are passed on from generation to generation which makes the dining experience even more interesting. Still, the food varies a lot from region to region. Here are a handful of the dishes you simply must try when in Morocco:
- Tanjia: A specialty in Marrakech, Tanjia is either prepared by the man (!) at home or by the butcher. It consists of beef, lamb or chicken with spices and lemon, and it’s usually slow-cooked over the same coals that heat the local hammams. Served in a rustic clay pot, this dish is best enjoyed steaming hot with a slice of bread.
- Sardines: You can get sardines all around the world, but nothing beats the grilled version from the coastal town of Essaouira. Enjoy them with fresh tomato, onions and pepper, in a salad or as a kefta sandwich. To be sure of the freshness, buy your sardines in a restaurant or at the supermarket.
- Couscous: Loved by many, couscous in Morocco is often served for lunch on Fridays and weekends. It’s usually served on a large round platter with seven different vegetables, e.g. aubergine and courgette, and shared amongst friends and family. Enjoy with a glass of fermented milk!
- Tajine: Very similar to tanjia, tajine ranges from lemon chicken to meatballs. The original Berber version is prepared with vegetables and chicken or beef.
The cultural heritage
Few cultures has changed as much as the Moroccan, which history is influenced by different cultures such as Berbers coming from the East (Arabs), the sub-saharan Africans and the Romans and Spanish people. Today, the majority of the Moroccan popularity is Arab and Berber, and even though it’s declining, one third of the population still speaks the Berber language. If you travel in Morocco, make sure to pay a visit to a local Berber village, where a few Dirhams can make a great difference in a family with often many children. Although there are still Berber tribes living in the desert, many Berber families have adjusted to society with modern amenities.
It’s a great adventure traveling through Morocco, not only because of the cultural heritage, but also due to the change in scenery and nature. While snow and minus degrees is a common thing in the North (especially in the mountain region), it’s mostly dry and hot in the South.
The comfortable climate
Due to its diverse geography, the climate in Morocco varies a great deal. The general climate though is warm and sub-tropical. During summer, it’s definitely recommended to stay by the coast, as temperatures can get quite extreme in the interior land. In Winter, it can get very cold as well. A general rule: the further you go from the coast, the more extreme temperatures you will encounter in both summer and winter. The most pleasant time of the year is definitely spring and autumn with average temperatures between 18-28 degrees.
Its comfortable climate makes Morocco a popular destination for especially Europeans, who wants to escape the cooler months without flying for more than 4-5 hours.
While many tourist destinations have failed to keep their original, authentic charm, it’s different in Morocco. Even though tourists have been flocking here for decades, this North-African country has managed to maintain its culture and customs in ave. Of course you’ll find tourist traps, especially in bigger cities such as Marrakech and Casablanca, and plenty of coastal chain hotels are build as I write this, but if you travel through the country, you’ll immediately notice the untouched culture, which – in my opinion – is worth the trip in itself. This is hopefully also the reason you travel: to explore and learn. Unfortunately, there’s still a very big gap between poor and rich in Morocco and this can easily be seen when passing through villages and deserted areas, where some locals have established themselves in poor conditions. Nevertheless, Moroccans are very friendly and helpful, and I never felt unsafe when traveling in what’s generally known as ‘The Golden Triangle’ (Marrakech, Essaouira, Agadir). As always: remember your manners when traveling. I recommend always having a few coins and notes on you for locals, who need the support.
The surf scene
Surfing in Morocco is a dream coming true for most surfers around the world. The best surf season is from late September to early April with its peak in December, January, February and March. I had the pleasure of visiting one of the leading surf areas, Taghazout, where both beginners and pro’s were indulging in the waves from the Atlantic Ocean. You can find plenty of surf schools and water sport activities in general: it’s a fun and different way to spend a holiday.