Here at The Bucket List Company, we’re currently celebrating all things Morocco for our special offer Morocco Week. During this week, we share our insider knowledge of the incredible experiences to be had travelling in Morocco, be it trekking in the Sahara, rafting through the Atlas Mountains or climbing Mount Toubkal. (We’re also offering a free hot air balloon ride add-on to anyone who books a Morocco trip by the 21st May – give us a call for more info on that!)
This Morocco Week, our theme is – Morocco: at the crossroads of culture and adventure.
The theme is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s more than just a slogan. One of the things that makes Morocco special is its truly unique blend of culture – with centuries of diverse history visible in everything from the architecture to the food – and adventure, be it trekking in the mountains or riding camels in the desert.
To give you a sense of what we mean when we call Morocco the “crossroads of culture and adventure”, here are a few experiences that show that, whether you’re a culture vulture or an adventure seeker, Morocco is the destination for you.
Morocco’s diverse culture stems from a long history of conquest and rebellion by a series of dynasties, from the the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties of the 11th century to the Marinid, Saadi and Alaouite dynasties in the 1600s. The country was colonised by European forces in 1912, being split into French and Spanish territories. Since it regained its independence in 1956, Morocco has been under Alaouite rule.
Due to many centuries of occupation and migration, Moroccan culture has become incredibly multi-layered. Morocco itself is a cultural crossroads for this very reason. Today, visitors can observe influences from every sect of modern Moroccan society, be it Arabic, Berber, Sephardi Jewish, French, Iberian or West African.
In Marrakech, you can visit many sites that pay homage to the Islamic influences in Morocco, such as the famous Ben Youssef Madrasa, where young scholars learned the ways of the ancient religion, Koutoubia Mosque – the largest in Morocco, and the intricately tiled Bahia Palace, which was constructed in Islamic styles for Si Moussa, former grand vizier of the sultan.
It is currently Ramadan for Muslims around the world, which means that our Bucketlisters who are currently exploring Marrakech will be able to experience the religious festivities, as local Muslims fast and pray five times per day throughout the month.
However, Marrakech is a hive of countless cultural influences. Exploring the souks, the main square and the kasbahs of the old town, you see Morocco’s unique concoction of cultures in everything from the local handicrafts to the spice markets and herbal apothecaries. The aromas of the spices, the colours of the market stalls, and the sounds of myriad languages spoken in tandem will stimulate all of your senses as you wander the streets.
The colonial French influences are notable everywhere in Morocco, as French is one of the primary languages spoken around the country. The presence of French settlers is famously found in the Jardin Majorelle – a beautiful walled garden once owned by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, and now preserved as a verdant oasis in the middle of the city.
However, one third of all Moroccans speak an Amazigh – or Berber – language. In the Atlas Mountains, you will encounter many local Berber people, dressed in their traditional djellebas. Here, many women spend months weaving incredible carpets, which you can buy in towns such as Imlil as you enjoy a cup of hot mint tea with the shop owner.
Morocco is also home to a large proportion of the Sahara Desert, and with that comes the presence of nomadic Bedouin tribes, who pass through on their travels. During our Sahara Desert treks, we often catch a glimpse of traditional Bedouin campsites in the sand dunes, and even get a taste of what it’s like to live in the desert from our cameleers.
But Morocco isn’t just a cultural hub – it’s also an adventure travel hotspot. It might be hard to believe that one country could boast world-famous deserts, spectacular mountains and dramatic coastlines all in one… but that’s exactly what Morocco does!
Morocco claims the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara – making it the perfect launchpad for your dream desert adventure. The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world, and is renowned for its landscapes of endless rich, red sand dunes that are more or less the pinnacle of bucket list material!
Here, you can trek with camels and their local cameleers over the rocky hamada, climbing towering sand dunes and camping under incredible starry skies. What appears to be an uninhabitable, overwhelming landscape turns out to be an awe-inspiring environment ready to be explored, be it on foot or with your trusty humped steed.
In stark contrast to the dry, dusty desert are Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. Band Aid clearly hadn’t heard of this amazing mountain range when they wrote that it “never snows” and “no rain nor river flows” in Africa because – well – it certainly does here!
The High Atlas Mountains are simply budding with life, from the verdant foothills (often terraced by local Berber farmers) to the wildlife that survives among the peaks.
In the Atlas Mountains, even the most intrepid of adventurers can get their adrenaline fix climbing Mount Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa. The summit is often snowy, making for a real expedition experience, and gives stunning views across the Atlas Mountains, Anti-Atlas and even to the Sahara in the distance.
But it’s not just trekking adventures that await here – the Atlas Mountains are also the focal point of white water rafting in Morocco! In the beautiful valleys, you can go cascading down epic rapids, paddle past impressive formations such as Cathedral Rock, and even swim in the pools below the famous Cascades d’Ouzoud. If you’re looking to get your heart beating, the challenge of navigating Morocco’s fastest rapids will definitely do it!
So, there you have it – just a few examples of what makes Morocco such a special destination for culture lovers and adventure seekers alike! On all of our trips to Morocco, we make sure that Bucketlisters get to experience both sides of this amazing country by including a couple of days exploring Marrakech alongside your active adventures.
And, if you book by May 21st, you can enjoy a FREE hot air balloon ride over the beautiful Moroccan countryside after your adventure. So what are you waiting for? BOOK NOW or call us on 01769 309 007 to dive into the magical country of Morocco for yourself…