Marrakech, mountains and medinas; a taste of Morocco - Handpicked Itineraries
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Marrakech, mountains and medinas; a taste of Morocco

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Despite being only a stones throw from the Mediterranean, Morocco still remains somewhat of a mystery to most Brits. We know about the bustling markets and have perhaps tried a tagine, but what else is there to learn about this Northern African country? Well, according to Luxtripper blogger Natalie Walford, a total infusion of sensory delights.
BY Natalie Walford
Luxtripper Travel Editor

I was so excited to go to Morocco and it did not disappoint! 

The first thing I remember from my trip to Morocco is the colour; I had arrived into Marrakech and stumbled off the plane into a taxi when suddenly I was being blinded by sunlight. It was early evening and as the sun settled over the city, it seemed to be glowing a burning orange everywhere I looked. My taxi driver told me that there was an old law in Marrakech that all buildings should be painted a pinkish-orange colour, and that people still abide by it, meaning the sunlight is emphasised in every corner. It was a truly spectacular introduction to Moroccan life.

Colour seemed to be the theme of the trip as I set off to explore the main marketplace in Marrakech the next morning. Wandering down the alleyways off the central Jemaa El Fna market, trying and failing not to get lost, I was surrounded by rich reds, azure blues, deep purples, and all manner of orangey-gold hues. It took every inch of self-control not to purchase every scarf or throw I saw hanging from the medina stalls, but, with some serious consideration, back and forths and haggling – you’ve got to do it, and you will learn to love it, I promise – I settled on one intricately embroidered patchwork throw which now adorns my coffee table with pride.

Aside from the colour there was something else I’d noticed too, the noise. The medina is a place full of chaos; stall holders yell offers, delivery men shout warning as they drag carts full of goods down the narrow alleys, and everywhere you look, someone is passionately haggling. But it’s somehow beautiful, almost musical, to step back and listen to this chaos unfold with all of its vibrancy and life. And you know what else you notice when you step back? The smells. Oh boy, that first smell of freshly cooking tagine is something I will never forget. Thinking with my stomach I found a sign for a traditional Moroccan restaurant and followed the winding staircase up to the roof of the building, where I sat down and quickly ordered a lamb tagine complete with apricots, dates and couscous. Watching the hustle and bustle of the activity down in Jemaa El Fna from the shaded rooftops was the perfect location for a mouth-wateringly delicious lunch, washed down with a refreshing mint tea.

Now suitably refreshed I decided I would continue my afternoon wandering around the city centre, this time with my camera prepped to take advantage of the littering of beautiful buildings, doorways and ceilings I had remembered seeing. By chance I happened upon the help of a kind and eager teenage boy, who was keen to practice his English, and so I was taken on a guided tour of many of Marrakech’s most architecturally brilliant sites. The Dar Si Said museum’s wonderfully opulent tile mosaics were a particular favourite spot of mine. It might be a little shabby in places, but Marrakech is also perfectly bringing the chic.

After another day exploring the medina and the nearby area I had begun to feel slightly dazzled by the heady sights and sounds of Marrakech. So I booked myself onto a tour to the Atlas Mountains – a decision which turned out to be the best one I made during the trip. The highest mountain range in North Africa, the Atlas Mountains sit proudly in the backdrop of Marrakech, and across their 600 mile length they are home to the traditional Berber people of Morocco. After an hour and a half jeep drive from my hotel I found myself arriving into Toubkal National Park - right in the height of the mountains – and opening the door to a breath-taking view. We had stopped at the side of the road, next to a huge gorge of brilliant blue water juxtaposed against the rustic red of the cliffs encasing it. As I looked closer I saw that down a small path there was a wooden rope bridge crossing the gorge, within minutes the tour group had all positioned on the slightly precarious looking bridge for photographs. The day continued with a similar state of high morale and epic views, namely a coffee stop in a small Berber community, next to a huge gushing waterfall which we all attempted to climb to the top of. It also included a visit to a farm which was growing groves of Argan trees to produce the ever popular Argan oil, an endemic product of Morocco. By lunchtime we had been driven to the top of Aroumd Berber village, where a traditional feast of tagine, couscous and tabbouleh salad was being prepared for us. Sitting on top of a panoramic roof terrace overlooking the Atlas Mountains and in the company of the exceptionally hospitable hosts and guides was a completely unforgettable experience.

Sadly, with a drive back into Marrakech, one last mint tea, and a hearty bowl of Harira before bed, my trip to Morocco had come to an end. But knowing I had only scratched the surface of this wonderfully dazzling country, I promised I would be back to feast my senses again very soon.

Hotels in this article
5
Selman Marrakech
Marrakech, Morocco
The distinctive five-star Selman hotel is set at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, outside the walls of the medina, and is a perfect choice for those preferring to stay a bit further out from the bustling and vivacious old

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5
Riad Kniza
Marrakesh, Morocco
Riad Kniza is a true jewel hidden within the heart of the Old Medina in Marrakech, this traditional Moroccan riad was lovingly transformed by Morocco’s most highly skilled craftsmen to reflect the dramatic beauty and decadence of Marrakech’s rich heritage.

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5
Palais Namaskar
Marrakech, Morocco
Between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert sits the luxury oasis of the five-star Palais Namaskar in Marrakech. Designed in the Moorish style with Balinese-inspired gardens, meandering pathways, and still pools, this hotel offers an ambience of true calm

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