Morocco Things to Do Tips by angiebabe Top 5 Page for this destination
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impressive dunes at Merzouga
Erg is the word for dune - and Erg Chebbi is the highest dune which is up near Hassi Labied, about half way along the stretch of dunes that run for about 20 km between Yasmina auberge and Merzouga town - but some people also refer to Erg Chebbi as meaning the dunes and desert area around Merzouga to make the distinction from the dunes and desert area known as Erg Chigaga south of Zagora.
Merzouga also has an impressive solo dune that is also popular for seeing the sunsets and sunrises from - it takes a while to get up it to the top so bear this in mind to allow enough time but also take care too that the sun does go down pretty quickly after the sunset and the place is in darkness by approximately half an hour.
YOu will get views in all directions up there so take your camera and make the most of it! Its a beautiful view as also the smaller dunes below indulate nicely and create photogenic shapes and landscape in the terrain.
There are also camel trips available here too - along with quad bikes - just as the auberges all along the Erg Chebbi stretch of dunes provide sunrise and sunset camel trips they are a tourist attraction here,
But with lots of crests and waves in the dunes there are lots of nice places to sit and soak up the sun and atmosphere and most of all the changing colours of the setting sun on the sands.
Directions: several kms along further from the main village of Merzouga - cant miss the dune - go through the big gate that goes over the road and up to the Merzouga hotel and just behind it is car parking
this is an excellent road that is now bitumen all the way that connects you from the road from Erfoud going to Agdz with the Dades VAlley road that is running along from Marrakech, Boumalne, Tinerhr to Er Rachidia.
Its a scenic road and I was finally able to do as part of my drive back ffrom the desert to Ait Benhaddou where we were stopping for budget accommodation on our way to Essaouira.
It takes about an hour and half.....
There are only 2 working mosques and few religious buildings in Morocco that allow non-muslims to visit - one is the amazing and excellent and much recommended Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, which is only 15 years old, and this impressive mosque here at Tin Mal, from the 12th century, 25 km south of Asni near TiznTest along the road between Marrakech and Taroudannt.
Tin Mal, once a fortified holy town, was founded in 1125 by theologian Ibn Toumart who went on to be recognised as a religious leader by the Berber tribes of the High Atlas when he won a holy war against the Almoravids. In 1153 this sumptuous mosque was built by Ibn Toumart's successor and the 1st Almohad ruler, and fortunately left standing when the town of Tin Mal was sacked and pillaged by the Merenids in 1276.
Tin Mal mosque has been under restoration since 1990 and since declared a Unesco World Heritage site. The impressive mihrab is, as advised on both visits by the guardian, in original condition and 3/4 of the mosque is still unroofed. On this recent visit the guardian told me that the roof above the mihrab has been restored in cedar at a cost of 20,000 euro.
The guardian lives in a house nearby and if you arrive to find the place closed dont worry - he will either appear or just go ask an onlooker or knock at a nearby house and someone will find the guardian with the key for you.
A small donation is asked for as entry fee.
Address: Tin Mal
Directions: Along the road to TiznTest, 25 km south of Asni and about 120 km south of Marrakech, about 40km north of Taroudant
valley of Tin Mal in the far background
It was great getting back here again - not only was it great to do the always beautiful drive from Marrakech to Tizn Test: this time in autumn glory with lovely oranges and yellows in amongst the green foliage in the valleys that the road takes you along plus snow already heavily showing on the Atlas mountain tops - but great to get back and revisit the interesting and famed mosque for reflection and for obtaining digital photos whereas my previous visits this way had been with 35mm.
The previous time I had been this way was in spring in early March when the picturesque valleys are blooming with almond and cherry trees in blossom.
This photo is taken heading south towards Tin Mal and Tizn Test just before the village of Ijoukak which is a large village before the village of Tin Mal - and has a weekly souk with a reputation for being excellent and we have found an excellent place to eat in the town a few weeks ago - the tagines and bread were just excellent and low priced...info in the coming tip with photos
Tin Mal is about 120 km from Marrakech, about 40 km from Taroudant over the winding Tizn Test road
March is the month of flowers around Morocco
March is one of the best months to be travelling around Morocco so with a good amount of time a wide route is an advantage and you can keep prices down by doing things independently such as getting a rental car - perhaps with a good guide but with good tips here and a good guidebook such as the Lonely Planet, the Footprints guide and/0r DK Eyewitness guide its possible you would be fine to see the sights on your own.
I find having a good map such as the Michelin with its scenic routes marked gives a good help with planning and linking must sees. I have quite a few tips and pages on my must sees but not all are covered yet.
The top places and areas -
Marrakech to Telouet - and the valleys around Telouet and its Glaoui palace to see while you still can
Telouet to Ait Ben haddou - the road that goes through Ounila valley has recently been fantastically improved and tarsealed - and has so many almond blossoms throughout in February but is lush and green with summer flowers still as late as June - there a few gites and hotel along this road now - half a day or even only 2 hours is enough for Ait Benhaddou!! worth stopping at Tamdaght kasbah a few kms from Ait Benhaddou
the kasbahs around Skoura and the Dades Valley road from Skoura to Boumalne and Tinerhr
The road that turns off just before Skoura and goes over a huge mountain pass to Demnate - only a few years old people are stil getting to know it is there - this road is absolutely stunning in February when we saw almond blossoms in awesome abundance - this is a good route to then go on to Africas highest waterfall at Cascade douzoud - there are usually poppies and yellow flowersa round between March and June - and/or go on to Ait Bougoumez - which is is just stunning with the valley around TAbant being in full bloom in June with thousands of orchids.
The Dades Gorges road up to the Dades Gorges and Msemrir - and also Todra Gorge to Tamtatouche (a good place to stay overnight - and much less touristy as the hotels right in Todra Gorge) and onto Imilchil which is a scenic road - famous for excellent marriage festival Friday-Sunday usually end of August but with ramadan in July and August this year and last year it has been held in September
Rissani and its circuit touristique and its big souks on Tues, Fri and Sun - and then nearby
the wonderful dunes of the sahara around Merzouga!! and you can book your own auberge/hotel and you can either walk to the dunes right next to the hotel or the hotel can take you out on camels or 4x4 - I recommend nice family run hotels such as Dunes Dor, then places such as Timbuktu, Auberge du Sud, Erg Chebbi - not the Lahmada and not Sables D'or!!
Ouarzazate and its view from the top of Taourirt kasbah - also a Glaoui palace
the Draa valley drive - with a stop at the old town of Tamnougalt and its fortress on the hill above down to Zagora - guides wait up at the entrance to the fortress on the hill for customers but are worth it - just dont let them get away with shark behaviour at the end...
from Zagora its worth going further south to the village of Tamegroute famed for its green roof tiles and pottery, old Koran library and its old kasbah - worth taking the offers of a local guide to take you around -
the road from Rissani to the Draa Valley through Nkob
the Ziz valley road up from Rissani to Midelt and on up to Azrou - near Azrou are its huge cedar trees and its macaques
Fez and its medina and its view over from Borj Nord
Volibulis and Moulay Idriss
The drive from Fes up to Ouzzane and Chefchouen
Wonderful Chefchouen in the Rif!! and the drive to Tetouan and Asilah
Asilah and the Grottoes of Hercules
Moulay Bousselham along the coast from Asilah down to Larache
the exotic botaniques just north of Rabat and the Ouadia fortress and Chellah of Rabat
Casablancas wonderful Hassan II mosque
The drive south from Casablanca in March can be spectacular with fields in colours of orange, red, purple, yellow for miles
the drive down to Khenifra - which is also nice in that time of year and then turn into Azilal past the big dam to visit Cascade Douzoud - and from Azilal to Ait Bougoumez ie Tabant
the road from Marrakech to Tizntest with a stop at Tin Mal and road up to Ourika and Oikaimden - the view from the top of Tizntest - along here you will see almond blossoms and (also in Telouet area)
Then Tafroute!! and its surrounds - especially in February when the almond blosssoms are just stunning - the road from Taroudannt down through Igrhem is tar sealed and can come down through Ait Abdalla which is usually thick with pink almond trees - the colours of the sky and landscape are usually best here in the cooler months
a good back to come down then over Kerdous to either Sidi Ifni or just to Tiznit and Aglou Plage - though the road from Tafroute back to Agadir is also lovely and passes by hilltop fortress towns. there is a good/famous hotel on the top of the Kerdous pass called hotel Kerdous which would make a good stay
Aglou Plage and just further north SousMassa national park on that road from Tiznit to Agadir worth spending some time to see birds (as also in the desert of Merzouga there is often a lake formed there bringing flamingoes and other birds if youre lucky with timing)
Essaouira of course - the drive up from Agadir following the coast along with the goats in the argane trees and the argane cooperatives to get excellent purchases of argane oil and cosmetics - with stops at fishing villages such as Immoussouane
El Jadida and its famous/unesco portugese fortress and cistern, Safi and Oualidia on the way up the coast.
You could then pay a fee to have the car taken back to Marrakech if youve decided to pick up from there....and now theres excellent freeway to make that drive shorter and quicker
with the amount of extra satisfaction youve had by doing it yourself and probably money saved then the fee which is only about a days rental fee is probably worth it.
All the best and enjoy having a lot around at VTers pages and recommendations!
Ive driven around and spent time in a lot of Morocco. As far as rental car prices the best til now have been in Marrakech or Agadir - Casa, Fes and Tangier terribly expensive. We had connections in Meknes though who we were able to get a new Yaris for 30 euro a day. Windcity is living in Morocco and good to see that she too says that a small car can be got for 30 euro a day - thats what I paid or slightly less for local rates for a good Clio which is better than the smallest cheapest such as an Uno or Punto. Whereas there are companies who are out to get as much as they can from tourists and charge as much as they can and go on that 45 euro is the norm (up at Tangier for eg. we struggled to haggle to get less than 55 euros a day.)
Ounila valley between Telouet and Ait Benhaddou
Morocco is a great place for doing walking tours. The actual Lonely Planet guidebook is very good for suggestions and routes so worth grabbing the latest edition which is not long out.
Fab places for walking I would recommmend are: around Tafraoute - and in March the almond blossoms will still be out or if gone or going other flowers and colours start appearing in various places. I have a few accommodation tips in my Tafraoute page. and I have good connections there who can guide you if needed.
Another great place as a base for walks is Telouet - there are lovely walks around the nearby valleys and also from Anmiter 11km down the road up to Tiigzha and the Tamda lakes. or even a 2 day walk through to Ait Benhaddou - there are a couple of gites along the way to stay at with a good place at Anmiter to start off with. I have a few tips for accommodation in my Telouet and Anmiter pages.
Another lovely place is at Tabant in the Ait Bougoumez valley. a particularly good place to stay and base with lovely people who are also professional guides is at Chez Moha - i have the info in a tip in my Morocco page. Walks of several day durations can be arranged with them to do Mgouna walks.
On the way to Ait Bougoumez nearby at Cascade Douzoud is a lovely base for some walks with the lovely waterfall as the main focus I guess.
Another great place for walks of course is up the Dades gorge and also up the Todra Gorge - for the Todra gorge I would probably more so recommend Tamtatouche.
Even walking the Draa valley would be nice - i have good contacts at Riad Mallal in my Zagora page but walking down from Agdz to Zagora would be rather lovely - there is a road that follows the river on the opposite to the main bitumen road that runs on down to Zagora which takes you through small villages, particularly ksar villages and kasbahs.
and of course walking around Rissani with the circuit touristique with its kasbahs and intersting villages and Eroud with its villages in amongst the date palms and the nearby desert area of Merzouga down to Khamlia and Taouz.
All good/recommended auberges have people or contacts who act as good guides - go with recommendations though.
Imlil is of course one of the top bases for walks being the base village for treks up to the Jebel Toubkal the highest mountain in Morocco - the village is full of professional mountain and walking guides and i have a couple of good connections there. There are lovely walks around the lower hills and up to the kasbah in the centre of the valley without having to do the endurance test of a walk right up Toubkal - and often March is still too early anyway with too much snow or ice to make safe walking up there but plenty enough around the area - and March the area is starting to green up and almond blossoms and irises are in flower.
So you have plenty of choice!
mountain guides Hassan and Lahcen of Imlil
Ramblers in the UK do nice walking tours as well as do well known tour agencies such as Intrepid and Exodus.
Or you could just do your own independent travel and do guided walks/join groups at locations around Morocco of which several come to mind eg Imlil which is the base for overnight trekking to North Africa's highest mountain, Jebel Toubkal and also lots of other lovely and less demanding walks around the area - it is therefore a base for professional mountain and trekking guides so turning up here there will be no problems with finding suitable walks - I also met and made friends with some good guides and places to stay when I was there February and March 2010,
also Zagora - see my tips for Riad Malal who are also excellent people for guiding and tours to rockdrawings and oases from their riad accommodation and also visits to the sahara dunes near Mhamid or overnight bivouacs out further at Erg Chigaga,
Also the desert around Merzouga and Erg Chebbi.
Same with walks from a good place Id recommmend up the Dades Gorge, and also walks from Telouet - beautifully spoilt for choice here! - I know 2 excellent places/management to stay and organise walks from Telouet to villages in the area such as Tasgha or from Anmiter up to for example the Tamda Lakes via Tigzha
Last September stayed at a gite 2 km out of town near Imilchil and the owner there is also a professional guide - there are lovely areas around there that you could be taken to walk...take photos....enjoy the remoteness!
I also know good guides and 4x4 agency from Tafraoute where there are some lovely routes and places to trek - the Ameln valley, Ait Mansour, the area out around the painted rocks....
Telouet, Anmiter, Tigzha and Tasgha are great bases for walks in the High Atlas behind the TiznTichka area - theres a great all day walk up to the Tamda lakes from Anmiter or Tigzha.
And also Ait Bougoumez is a huge valley with a drive to get there that looks like youre in the Himalayas! I have excellent contacts there in my accommodation tip on a family who own a gite near Tabant who are professional trekking and mountain guides....there are walks around Mgoun and further up to 20 days - Moha and Houssine can also accompany you to the desert and take you trekking there too.
So much choice in Morocco!
Col Kerdous between Tiznit and Tafraoute
Have a read around VTers travel pages - Ive got quite a lot written with info thatd answer some of your questions - we spend a lot of time putting tips and pages together, along with photos to pass on recommendations into many destinations and locations
also read back through the Morocco forum to get answers to similar/same questions - Ive written so many times recommending getting a rental car....
I like Agadir as a base actually - theres quite a few directions one can go in each day and a few overnight circuits too such as:
a visit to Souss Massa National Park about an hour south of Agadir,
Tiznit and Aglou Plage to Tafraoute and back to Agadir - this is a full day and youd need to start early - or stay overnight in Tafraoute - which is a great idea to see the pink rock formations and old Berber kasbah villages amongst the rocks,
or down to Aglou Plage and Tiznit-Mihrleft-Sidi Ifni-Goulmime,
also Taroudant and Tioute,
a half day or full day trip to Immouzzer,
definitely a day or overnight trip up to Essaouira - with stops at fishing villages such as Imousouane along the way,
a trip down to impressive 12th century hilltop granary Id Aissa at Amtoudi....makes a very full day or an excellent overnight stay.
With the new freeway to Marrakech thats now only about 2 hours away as well.
Agadir has always tended to be slightly lower in price for rental cars but also hiring a grande taxi can be a good way to get out and about for these excursion trips.
Agadir can be quite cold at night, as with a lot of areas cold at night during Dec and Jan but days can be warm and sunny and very nice or could be wet and cold - really its whatever comes - take clothes to layer and be ready for both cold and hot temps and you will be fine - and this is another advantage of travelling by rental car/your own wheels.
When I first went to Casablanca with Moroccan friends from London we only got as far as a walk around the huge mosque on its platform beside the Atlantic Ocean - with nice views of crashing waves on the white sands around the coastline - as theyd come when it was shut. The mosque is only open for viewing during set tour times or for muslims to come and pray.
The next sighting was when I flew over it, a very stand-out sight in the city of Casablanca from my window seat flying from Ouarzazate to London via a landing at Casa.
Then we were back in Casablanca a few times and included my first visit into the interior of this collosal building - tours are still compulsory and are available in a number of languages - lasting about an hour.
The mosque, and Moroccans have told me this, in addition to the information available in my guidebooks, cost an enormous amount of money - maybe $600 million US! and much of those money was raised from the taxes - nicely put as a 'subscription' - from Moroccans all over the country. For their money though they have a landmark, an icon, a stunnning representation of something that truly is Moroccan - the best of Morocco's cedar wood from the Middle Atlas, granite from Tafraoute, marble from Agadir and the best master craftsmen from around Morocco - producing a stunning and most beautiful interior with all the traditional wood carving, zellij and stucco styles that have been seen in Moroccos beautiful buildings down through history.
Along with the traditional is the modern very hi-tech of a sliding roof!, heated flooring and electric doors - all built above the Atlantic ocean - and at a collossal size that could easily fit the Notre Dame or St Peters! making this the 3rd largest religious building in the world.
Very gratefully this is one of the very few Islamic buildings in Morocco open to non-muslims - so do take the opportunity to see an amazing investment that does make many Moroccans proud (a 2 sided debate of course in which many would say it cost too much but ultimately under it all many are proud of their monument of world famous Moroccan craftsmenship still alive and well).
Tours 9am, 10 am, 11am, 2pm - 2.30pm in summer Saturday to Thursday - Ive been there though to see that there are tours available 2pm on Fridays when many people have said it is shut.
the photos from my visit to the interior are all on film so they are pics also waiting for a scanner - I took a taxi from the bus station to get digital photos from around the outside while I had a couple of hours break between buses when I was taking public transport to get back from Marrakech overland April 2010 due to Icelands volcano....! only 15minutes max by taxi - 15 dirham each way
and then returned again in March 2011 for a slower paced wander in the sunshine taking in the sights and atmosphere of children playing in the waves that were crashing against the base of the mosque and their families sitting on the beach in the sun and others just relaxing together in the area around the mosque. Got to see for my first time the roof of the great mosque open....
Marrakech with snowy Atlas mountains
If you need to budget your time then Fez, Marrakecha and the desert are excellent variety and highlights and of course the scenery enroute in between these places and leave Essaouira for another time - I probably need to go back and give Meknes another chance but each visit Ive had there I still dont have any liking for the place - and there is enough in Fes and Marrakech to see examples of them being imperial cities with grandeur and also antiquity and culture.
Would be great if you could get to Volubilis - which Id almost say if you had the energy and opportunity to go just have half or 3/4 of a day in Fes and go to Moulay Idriss to stay the night so you can see Volubilis then itd be worth doing that as a good option for accommodation as well
you could have a day in Fez, a day shared between Volubilis, Moulay Idriss and Meknes, a day getting to the desert, a day at the desert and Rissani,two days getting to Marrakech - as you could have a stop at Boumalne and go up the Dades gorge road or stop at Tinerhr and go up the Todra gorges road, or stop at Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou,
and then have 2 days in Marrakech
I would not really use night services unless you really have to as the journeys in between make up an important part of seeing what makes Morocco - the towns, villages and architecture and locals out and about, the diverse and beautiful landscapes along these routes....
Try and use grande taxis when you can as they tend to be much faster than bus - you can also enhance your viewing and comfort by buying the front two seats - helps the grande taxi get away faster too as they leave as soon as its 6 seats (2 in the front) 4 in the back are sold
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