High Atlas Mountains
Perhaps the most popular area for trekking, you can climb Morocco's tallest mountain, Jebel Toubkal, trek through the jaw-dropping Todra and Dades Gorges, or exert less energy and amble through kasbah settlements and villages, getting an insight into daily Berber life.
Anti Atlas Mountains
From jagged peaks to lush meadows, its diverse terrain hides ancient rock-paintings, crumbling fortifications and remote Berber villages, the Anti Atlas is Morocco's best-kept secret. After a hard day's walk, rest your weary limbs in a Berber home with delicious home-cooked food and revitalising mint tea.
Situated in Northern Morocco, the culture, flora and fauna of the Rif Mountains is more similar to that of the Mediterranean. Charming coastal towns and fragrant cedar forests define the landscape. Infused with Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic influences, the delightful blue mountain town of Chefchaouen makes an ideal base to explore the Rif area.
Allow the indigo-clad Tuareg nomads to lead you on a camel trek through the captivating landscape of the Sahara Desert in Erg Chebbi or the more remote Erg Chigaga. Set up for the night with a drink by the bonfire under the glittering starlit sky.
Join the nomadic Berbers on their bi-annual migration in the Atlas mountains. You will accompany a Berber family for the duration of the trip, living and eating with them, getting an intimate insight into this unique way of life.
Luxury Riads, Kasbahs & Spas
Images of Morocco conjure up magical medinas, walled cities, sand dunes and rich Berber culture. However, just as impressive are the opulent riads and converted kasbahs which you can call home during your Moroccan adventure. After a day taking in the sights, feast on delightful Moroccan specialities and enjoy a range of Moroccan spa treatments - from steam hammams and massages to natural full body therapies. There are few better ways of rejuvenating your mind, body and soul.
Time your Morocco holiday to coincide with one of Morocco's colourful festivals if you can:
Tan Tan Festival (Sep)
Deep in Southern Morocco's Anti Atlas mountains, the village of Tan Tan witnesses the annual congregation of Sahrawi and Berber tribes, who meet to celebrate their proud culture through traditional song and dance, as well as trade, arrange marriages and exchange stories.
Gnaoua World Music Festival (Jun)
The coastal town of Essaouira sees its beaches and public squares come roaring to life with some of the best musicians performing from all over Africa. Few festivals can boast world class music with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop.
Morocco is blessed with two stunning coastlines - the Atlantic and the Mediterranean - making it a great beach destination.
Agadir's resorts and long strips of sand have long been popular for sunbathers and surfers. However, for beach and culture, the lesser-visited coastal towns of Mirleft, Sidi Ifni and Dakhla Bay are equally good with fewer tourists.
To the north, between Tangier and Al Hoceima, the sea is warm and calm and the beaches more intimate, with some tucked in amongst small traditional fishing villages. New Mediterranean seaside resorts are also springing up in Tamuda Bay, on the outskirts of Tétouan and Saidia.
Formerly Morocco's most important imperial city, Marrakesh is a bustling city proudly posing between the snow-capped Anti Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. Marrakesh is divided into two regions: the fortified, historical medina, a charming fusion of Arab, African and Spanish culture, and the modernised Gueliz, a sparkling array of top notch restaurants and designer shops, serving Morocco's ever increasing tourism industry. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Marrakesh is said to be the second largest medieval complex in the world after Cairo. Marrakesh has a small selection of monuments and museums, the world-famous botanical garden Les Jardins Majorelle, and an impressive 12th century rampart surrounding the medina. The real draw of visiting Marrakesh is the colourful, lively and exotic atmosphere of the main square, Djemma El-Fna.
Within the heights of the Atlas Mountains is the enchanting kasbah of Telouet, an old Islamic city founded by the powerful Glaoui family in the 1800's, a work which was never competed. Wander through the crumbling red brick alleyways, the dusty pink state rooms and admire the colourful zellij tilework.
Within the Ounila Valley of the High Atlas lay the 17th century Ait Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site taking the form of an earthy-red fortified ksar, boasting panoramic views of the Sahara. Used frequently as a location in blockbuster films (such as Ridley Scott's 2000 film Gladiator), this stunning example of Moroccan architecture contains a mosque, a public square, numerous kasbah's and cemeteries.
The Draa Valley
A trail of kasbah's and flourishing string of oases are dotted along the Draa River running through the Anti Atlas Mountains, forming the Draa Valley. Thick with date palms and fig trees, this fertile land has over the centuries become home to a people of Arab, Berber, Jewish and Mauritanian heritage.
The most dramatic dunes of the Zagora region reachable only by a two day camel ride (or two hour 4WD drive!), are awaiting you at Erg Chigaga. One of only two ergs (shifting sand dunes) in Morocco, the deep red colour and perfectly formed peaks of soft sand are the classic image of the Sahara Desert; watching the sun set behind the tall ridges is sure to be one of the most impressive sights of the whole trip. Stay at the luxurious Erg Chigaga Desert Camp, and begin your journey like no other, through the heart of the Sahara Desert.
The Anti Atlas Mountains
Part of North Africa's Atlas mountain range, the Anti Atlas runs through Morocco and is cut through by the Draa River. The mountains provide great hiking opportunities, as well as an insightful look into the Berber culture. Visit stunning rock formations, majestic agadir and deep, brooding canyons. Breathe in the sweet air during the dry season, when the mountains are blossoming with rosemary, thyme, almonds and argan.
A serene town brimming with ancient tradition, Tafraoute is an oasis located in the Anti Atlas, where shepherds tend to goats amidst minarets and earthy-pink homes. This small and hidden Berber town sees no tourism, and therefore has maintained an old-world charm, with market stalls selling such items as dried chameleons, cactus roots and myrrh for their traditional spells and medicines. Don't miss the blue rocks; giant boulders painted bright blue by Belgian artist Jean Varime in the 80's.
The Ameln Valley (Almond Valley)
Built on the slopes of Jebel el Kest, the Ameln Valley is a series of villages with brightly painted houses, mosques, palms and springs. Blossoming almond trees decorate the valley and its many oases, providing a beautiful setting while getting to know the fascinating culture of the Berbers.
Coastal Towns: Mirleft & Sidi Ifni
Morocco's coastal towns attract those looking for quiet, remote beaches absent of the usual hubbub surrounding such beauties. Mirleft is a small, traditional market town blessed with earthy, red sand and surrounded with wild flowers. The seaside town of Sidi Ifni neighbours Mirleft, and is known for its art-deco Spanish charm.
Souss Maasa National Park
This vital habitat for 95% of the world's most wild and endangered breeding birds is made up of 33,800 hectares along the curvaceous Atlantic coast. With regular visits from flamingos, the Northern Bald Ibis and kingfishers amongst others, birdwatchers can admire a colourful display of wildlife by visiting the park. A conservation and breeding plan is also underway for some critically endangered species of gazelle and ostrich.
A little on Berber culture...
The Berber people are an indigenous ethnic group of North Africa whose lineages have been traced back 12,000 years. They were so named by the Roman Empire; the title is said to stem from the Latin word for barbarian, however they now refer to themselves as i-Mazigh-en, meaning 'the free people'. The Berber's speak a form of North African Arabic, and are ethnically mixed with Moroccan, Libyan, Algerian and Tunisian heritages. Their culture is largely based around desert-life, and little has changed for centuries past. The men tend to their livestock spending the day searching for food and shelter, while the women take care of the families and create handicrafts for themselves and for sale in souks. They are a tribal, hierarchical culture, and in some cases women have appointed with powerful roles within their communities.