Reasons to Visit
The Berbers are the indigenous people of Morocco. During the Arab conquest they retreated into their mountain strongholds and took refuge in the inhospitable deserts of the south. This is where their culture persists, based around fortified dwellings; a strong sense of community and an ability to cope with almost any hardship.
The Sahara washes into Morocco at its western extremities, and the Erg Chebbi sand sea is the best place to see this. Passing first through dramatic ridges of blackened rock, the going becomes sandier and sandier, until you're eventually confronted with towering dunes and the best sunsets in Morocco.
A kasbah is a fortified village, made from traditional pisé, or mud brick. Their distinctive towers, with ornate windows, are a dominant feature of the Moroccan landscape, none more so than along the Dades and Draa Valleys in the south: some have been converted into hotels, so you can even spend the night in your very own kasbah.
At the heart of any old Moroccan city will be the medina, the vital core encircled by walls punctuated by ornamental gates. It's in the medina that you'll nearly always find the souqs, and there will probably be a number of old palaces too: some of these are now hotels, some are museums, while others are abandoned and decaying gracefully.
The High Atlas are home to Jebel Toubkal, at over 4,100m the highest mountain in north Africa and a challenging climb. But the Atlas mountains also offer gentler hikes, perfect just to appreciate the scenery, the cool, clean air, and to enjoy Berber hospitality in remote villages.
The souqs of Marrakesh are the most famous in the country, but almost every town has its souq. Those of Fez seem endless and labyrinthine, whilst those in Taroudant are much more compact and sell the simple goods that the local, rural population need. It's unlikely you'll escape from Morocco without doing a bit of shopping at some point!
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North Africa & the Middle East
A great value hotel with a lot of character, Dar Zitoune is a good place to relax near Taroudant in the High Atlas.
Set in four acres of landscaped grounds, picturesquely dotted with olive, palm and orange trees, Dar Zitoune was created in traditional Berber style architecture using only local materials. There are 12 comfortable, bungalow style rooms and eight more luxurious suites with a separate sitting room. Each are air-conditioned with satellite TV, a safe, phone and internet access, while three of the suites also have a bath. Although not recognisably Moroccan in style, they are spacious and attractively designed.
The 20 metre pool is wonderful in the summer heat, while the adjacent open air heated jacuzzi is ideal for relaxation in the cooler winter months. There is a small spa with hammam and a massage room with a choice of treatments. Inside the main building there is a restaurant, bar, gift shop and internet access, but despite being essentially a modern style hotel, Dar Zitoune manages to retain a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
Taroudant is a wonderful little Berber town, completely encircled in ochre ramparts that cradle good traditional souqs trading with a gentle parochial air.
Our rating: Deluxe
Include a stay at Dar Zitoune on your tailor-made trip around Morocco by contacting one of our specialists...
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Further reading:Tours in MoroccoWhen to GoHighlightsItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout MoroccoCountry Guides
Other countries in North Africa & the Middle East:EgyptIranJordanLebanonLibyaOmanSyriaTunisia
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