In tourism terms, Morocco came onto the travel radar in the 1950s when the Beat writers Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs spent time there. They came onto my radar in the 1960s when no self respecting hippy home was without Moroccan decorative furnishings and the words Kasbah and Medina became synonymous with exotic travel.
At the beginning of a new century, when the pound fell sharply against the dollar and non-euro destinations took on a whole new sheen, Morocco and Egypt went to the top of the winter sun charts but recent troubles in North African neighbours Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, coupled with the Marrakech bombing in April, have given many visitors cause to pause. In reality, Morocco is still a very safe and politically stable destination but inevitably tourism figures have fallen and souks, riads and medinas are feeling the effect, which means there are bargains to be snapped up.
The Kingdom of a thousand kingdoms, Morocco has many different facets; from the bustling medina and souks of Marrakech, to the hikers’ paradise of the Atlas Mountains, the mystique of the desert, the spirituality of Fes and the beach resorts of Agadir and Essaouira. Travel to the country is easy from anywhere in Europe with regular, cheap flights into Marrakech and once there, travel around the country is also cheap and easy with a good bus and rail network.
The majority of visitors to Morocco come from Spain, the Arab countries, Italy and France with French being the most commonly spoken language in tourism terms. The currency is the Dirham which, as I type, stands at 1 dirham to 0.076 GBP/0.089 euros/0.119USD.
As a shopper’s destination, Morocco is hard to match. The souks are filled to their noisy brim with intricate wood carvings and glass engravings; beautifully crafted jewellery, ceramics, richly decorative rugs, carpets and cloth, and spices whose scents lure you with all the force of a magnetic field. To watch the artisans at work in their hot, cramped conditions and see the care and attention that goes into every garment, tea pot and leather bag gives an insight into a culture that’s rightly proud of its artistic heritage.
Historically attracting explorers, adventurers, artists and anyone with a passion for the unusual and the unique, Morocco still presents an extremely attractive package to travellers. To the uninitiated, it’s a cultural, full-on assault of the senses while its people are gentle and welcoming.
Buzz Trips Opinion
It seems incredible that we have lived within 300 kilometres of Morocco for almost eight years and have only just got around to hopping across the Atlantic to its exotic shores. While it certainly won’t be everybody’s cup of mint tea, we found Morocco to be a fascinating country which defies you to treat it like a standard holiday destination, constantly throwing you new challenges and curve balls. You may well still pick up a suntan along the way, but Morocco should not be just a destination for sun seekers, it’s an adventure package waiting to be unwrapped.