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Morocco

If you are up for an eclectic melange of culture and relaxation, Morocco is the destination for you. This multicultural destination has been staunchly independent throughout its history yet remained open to ideas, creating a heady mix of cultures, religions and languages with ancient roots and a strikingly modern outlook.

Whether you've come to relax in family-style Riads (guest houses), shop for distinctive handicrafts, or stretch your imagination on treks to distant Berber villages, you'll meet Moroccans who go out of their way to exceed your expectations. The influence of Romans, Arabs and Europeans is spotted in monuments throughout the country. Though you will hear French spoken in city boulevards, a half dozen Berber languages and Moroccan Arabic are still widely spoken. Morocco is a unique blend of the African Berber, Arab and Mediterranean.

You will notice refined minarets and rugged mud-brick fortifications, across the cities with a sparkling coastline that boasts of silken sands and striped canyons carved out of the High Atlas Mountains. The people who have called Morocco home for millennia have proved themselves adaptable to Sahara Desert silences and bustling market-day medinas.

Witness the dazzling, shape-shifting dunes of the Sahara at Merzouga, where the next stop across the sands is the legendary Timbuktu. Marvel at the non-stop drama in the Djemaa el-Fna, the UNESCO-listed public square in the medina of Marrakech where you can see henna-painters, potion-sellers, snake-charmers and acrobats by day and by night you will see storytellers, Gnaoua musicians, cross-dressing belly dancers and the world's biggest alfresco restaurant here.

On a fresh morning one can boggle their minds with the spectacular outer-space landscapes of the Todra Gorge, reached through the dramatic Dades Valley carpeted with wild roses in spring or unravel the mystery of Fes, the refined ancient centre of sacred learning and imperial power. Take in the art colony charms of seaside Asilah on the Atlantic coast where whitewashed walls are a ready canvas for colourful murals.

Visit its delightful beaches, museums and quiet streets for some local flavour. You can also explore the third-century Roman ruins at Volubilis which are on UNESCO's World Heritage list. Mellow out in the blue-tinged medina of Chefchaouen, where Moroccan archways harmonize with Andalusian architecture or wander through the streets of Casablanca's whitewashed old-town and admire its faded Moroccan art deco glories, from wrought-iron geometric arabesque gates to faded movie palaces.

As you relax in your hammam (steam bath), tuck into your tagine (stew), bargain in the souks or slide into your comfortable caftan you may be surprised how easily you slip into another culture and another century. In these small signature moments of pleasure, Morocco warps all sense of time and place.


Quick Facts

Location: North Africa

Time: GMT
Capital: Rabat


Visa: Pre-departure visas required for some nationalities.

Language: The official language is Arabic

Weather

Moroccan climate varies according to season and region. The coast has a warm, Mediterranean climate tempered on the eastern coast by southwest trade winds. Inland areas have a hotter, drier, continental climate. In the south of the country, the weather is very hot and dry throughout most of the year, though temperatures can drop dramatically at night, especially in the months of December and January.

Currency

The currency of Morocco is the Moroccan Dirham.