Follow in Our Footsteps
Morocco may be only slightly larger than California, but the country offers travelers an incredible diversity of experiences. In less than two weeks, I went from the spice-filled souks and perfumed palaces of Marrakech to the cool alpine majesty of the High Atlas Mountains. I explored abandoned kasbahs and ksour (fortified villages) amid palm-filled oases and rode a camel over immense dunes in the Sahara. A snowstorm and a sandstorm buffeted me within three days of each other. Morocco is never boring. “Morocco” still sounds exotic and far away to many American ears, but Europeans increasingly regard Marrakech as a place for a long weekend. Indeed, one young Englishwoman I met rented an entire riad (traditional courtyard house) for her bachelorette party a few years ago. I also spotted quite a few groups of Chinese tourists, who no longer need visas to visit Morocco. The country is not undiscovered. Most tourists keep to a narrow range of sites, which means popular places such as the Majorelle Garden have become overrun. But it also means that it’s surprisingly easy to escape the crowds. Even in Marrakech, one need only turn a corner to find an unspoiled alley or a small square. A good guide helps, and if I’m being perfectly frank, paying for expensive hotels helps as well. The experience of staying at Dar Ahlam’s private desert camp is worlds away from staying in crowded Merzouga. This itinerary follows my most recent visit to Morocco, which included Marrakech and the southwestern part of the country. I recommend traveling in spring or autumn. Winters are uncrowded but too chilly for swimming in the beautiful outdoor pools.