Bright primary colours, mis-matched patterns, and riads to marvel, Morocco is a feast for the eyes.
Morocco, for most, is the place you go to soak up the souks, where you can spend hours wandering, looking and exploring. With so many fabrics, prints, colours, and patterns, Morocco can seem like Aladdin’s mystery box.
For me, Morocco is about experiencing the vastness of the Sahara Desert, the diversity of the Atlas Mountains, and the colour of a souk, all in one destination.
Arriving in Marrakech feels strikingly different to that of any place I have travelled to before. The temperature, architecture, people, and spirit are clearly poles apart from what I am used to. Ladies wear long dresses, men stand lazily around door frames in the heat of the day, and Riads showcase a myriad of colours with tiled entrances of the most wonderful patterns. Marrakech is also an alcohol free City.
First stop is a short walk to the grand souk. This is a labrynth of narrow alley ways and shops that host all the colours and patterns of the rainbow through fabrics, textiles and crafts. It’s true that the Moroccans have their own way of delivering market experience, and every stall offers something wonderful I desperately want to purchase. In the centre of the souk is a large cobbled square where Moroccan men proudly display their talent for the ready tourists and their wallets. This is the first time I see a cobra dance to the chimes of a recorder, and a monkey available for a cheap photo. Bordering the square are plenty of restaurants that look unassuming until stepping inside unveils their true character. Roof top bars don’t seem valuable when they can’t be accompanied with an ice cold beer, so we select a restaurant to enjoy a Moroccan tagine.
In the morning I walk back to the souk area where the night before I noticed tour groups competing with one another to take tourists into the dessert. This is why I came to Morocco so I explore a few to find one that allows us to camp overnight in the desert, and drive through the magnificent Atlas Mountains in order to get there.
The drive from Marrakesh to the Sahara Dessert is wonderful. I haven’t, before now, experienced such a diverse range of landscapes in such close proximity to one another. Outside I see dusty brown hills, and we travel along brown windy roads. At times we pass through small villages which are made from brown, clay, windowless houses, and horse and cart seemed the common transport type in these places.
The Atlas Mountains are not what I expected. In place of lush green trees as I am used to mountains being, are instead panoramas of brown and orange with valleys and crevasses joining each mountain.
Arriving at the dessert we are met by camel. Around 8 camels linked together with rope we each climb atop and began a camel ride for 3 hours into the Sahara desert. Here a large tent is erected and waiting and we fall asleep to the sound of Moroccan drums under a starry black sky.
Back in Marrakech the short trip ends with a wander of the City in the Western direction this time. Taking in more of the architecture of painted archways, and luxury riads, this truly is a place that delivers a vast range of experiences.
Flight and accommodation package, London – Marrakech booked through TNT Magazine. If you are based in the UK, keep your eye out for this magazine as it has a lot of great travel deals!