Morocco tagged posts

Kasbah de Toubkal is an Authentic Berber Lodge in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains

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The Kasbah de Toubkal is a beautifully restored stone and thatched-roof village compound that offers guests an insider’s experience of Berber life in the heart of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains.

I love hotels that help you engage with the locals while still enjoying a touch of luxe. National Geographic Traveler writer Daisann McLane captured the sentiment perfectly when she wrote a piece about her favorite South American hotels. “A hotel is a threshold to an unfamiliar culture…Good hotels have a strong sense of place.” The Kasbah de Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco is a perfect example. And to emphasize this fact, it isn’t even called a hotel but rather ‘a Berber hospitality center.”

Re-imagined by British adventure guide Mike McHugo and his friend and fellow guide from Morocco, Hajj Maurice, who grew up in these mountains, the Kasbah de Toubkal was a crumbling fortified village at the top of the Imlil Valley, which at the time had no electricity...

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Photo Friday: Sunset in the Palmeraie outside of Marrakesh

Sunset over the Palmeraie outside of Marrakesh in Morocco

I took this photo at sunset in the Palmeraie outside of Marrakesh in Morocco.

With 130,000 hectares of greenery and over 180,000 palm trees, the Palmeraie is an oasis on the edge of the desert just outside of Marrakesh in Morocco. It was originally a thriving market garden area but today much of the region is dotted with luxury resorts and golf courses. You can still, however, experience the grandeur of its palm groves during sunsets like these.

One delightful place to stay is Jnane Tamsna, which is a privately owned estate set in nine lush landscaped gardens. Created by Ivory Coast born lawyer turned designer Meryanne Loum-Martin and her ethnobotanist American husband Gary Martin, this chic compound offers a minimalist approach to Moroccan design. Traditional furnishings and carpets are mixed with artwork from Mali and Senegal in a series of serene contemporary spaces while the locavore meals from homegrown organic produce are often served in the lush gardens...

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Insider’s Guide to Fez

The leather dyeing vats in the Fez medina

The leather dyeing vats in the Fez medina

Fez is the cultural and spiritual heart of Morocco, its UNESCO World Heritage-listed Medina the world’s largest car-free urban area. The American writer and longtime Moroccan resident Paul Bowles called it “an enchanted labyrinth sheltered from time”. Today people live and work in its 9000 lanes in much the same way as they have for a thousand or so years. Donkeys remain the main form of transport. For a visitor this ancient city can seem inscrutable so it is important to find ways to connect with the locals in order to gain an insider’s view of this fascinating place.

On my first visit to Fez I had felt very much the tourist with an official guide leading me along a hackneyed path of historical highlights (such as the tomb of its founder, Moulay Iddriss II, the great, great, grandson of the prophet Mohammed) and shopping meccas where I’d bargained for leather, carpets and jewelry in government-approved shops.

Yet I was fascinated by this place of secrets, of veiled women and hooded men navigating narrow passageways that weave between high windowless walls. It was so radically different to Marrakesh, six hours drive to the south, which has become a sort of Sub-Saharan Costa Brava, with mega resorts and nightclubs fed by a constant stream of budget flights filled with sun-starved Europeans. Fez, on the other hand, followed a fervent daily rhythm in a time capsule, like a lost tribe in the middle of a maze, unaware that the rest of the world had moved into the 21st century.

It was time to take a different tack on my next visit.

Lucki...

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