/ Morocco - Jbel Toubkal

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JR - on 12 Feb 2010

Does anyone have any recommendations for places to go/stay in morocco? Am going to do toubkal with the gf at Easter but would also like some recommendations for some other cheap/isolated/hidden gems if you have any.

Thanks in advance.

Sam_in_Leeds - on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to JR:

Erg Chebbi near Mezouga is pretty amazing - massive sand dunes - a chuffing long way from Marrakesh/Atlas Mountains but worth it though.

Zagora's alright too and perhaps slightly easier to get to, it's where the 52 days to Timbuktu sign is on the edge of the desert but not asamazing as Mezouga. Drive down the Draa valley to get there is beautiful too but a sodding long way (8-10 hours!).

There's suppose to be some kind of film museum bout all the westerns and stuff that were filmed in the Sahara in Ouzarzarte which might be worth a look on way to Sahara.

Ait Benhadou's suppose to be a "Unesco World Heritage Site" but tbh I found it all a bit underwhelming and consisted of lots of wooden painted houses rather than Lawrence of Arabia mud huts I'd heard about.

Essaoiuira is nice too, espec after being in Marrakech.

Marrakech as well would be nice andromantice but neither isolated nor exactly hidden but cheap tho.

The Italian restaurant on the main street in Gueliz (The new bit of Marrakech) is really good and sells amazing pizzas and BEER!

Fez looks nice too, didn't go there but heard it was like marrakech without the tourists.

A walk over to Lac D'ifni's from Toubkal hut was nice too.
JR - on 16 Feb 2010
In reply to Sam_in_Leeds:

Cheers Sam.
pol - on 16 Feb 2010
In reply to JR: Rabat should be on the list, lots of history, amazing castle looking out to sea. Easy to get to and tourist friendly unlike most of the other big cities. The northern mountain town of Chef'chouen (not sure about spelling) is a bit out of the way but a gem.
lost1977 - on 16 Feb 2010
In reply to JR:

Fez is great, Chefchauen is also worth visiting

hotels i would recommend are

Hotel Afriquia in Marrakesh and The Cascade in Fez
lost1977 - on 16 Feb 2010
In reply to Sam_in_Leeds:

Fez is very different to Marrakesh
Stuart en Écosse - on 16 Feb 2010
In reply to JR:

In addition to everywhere mentioned above, see if you can get to Beni Mellal and the Cascades d'Ouzoud. In addition to it being a stunningly beautiful and interesting place, we also got 2 litres of fig schnapps from our host; delicious!

The Todra Gorge is also well worth a visit, especially if you can travel all the way down from the top. I'm guessing you already know that there is lots of climbing there.

Tangier is interesting in an annoying, hustly, sleazy, dangerous feeling kind of way.

Once you get away from the cities and into the mountains or desert, you will never have trouble looking for a place to stay, the Moroccans are extremely hospitable.

Enjoy, it's a beautiful country with great people.
JR - on 16 Feb 2010
In reply to all:

Awesome thanks. Just looked up a few things and the recommendations look great. I've been to that "bit" of the world before (Tindouf, Algeria) so it'll be interesting to see how it contrasts!
AndyB123 - on 16 Feb 2010
In reply to JR: awesome bouldering on multi coloured painted bouders (and non painted) in a jaw dropping settimg. Bus Marrakesh - Agadir (don't bother staying)- Tiznit - Tafraoute. Beautiful granite everywhere you look, small chilled out village in the palm trees - dead romantic
fredericksburg on 17 Feb 2010 -
In reply to JR: I am mostly just agreeing with what other people have said but here goes:

Chefchaouen (there are about 100 different spellings, all of them are correct) is fantastic. It is a small town in the Rif mountains with a chilled Mediterranean feel to it. This place is a must visit especially as you are not going during peak times. While you are there, be sure to visit the Ashour waterfalls. Out of peak times, you can find your own secluded pool in the river and swim/laze about all day without seeing another person. There are also plenty of walks and some climbing around there too. If you are on a budget, I would recommend the Pension La Castellana to stay in. It is about a fiver a night and the staff are very friendly, always offering you tea, shisha and dinner.

Marrakech is great but it is the exact opposite of Chefchaouen. It is all hustle and bustle, plenty going on. Eating in the djmaa el fna (sp?) is a must even if some people will tell you to stay away. I would recommend staying in the medina, it is where most things in Marrakech happen and there are plenty of hotels for all budgets but be prepared to get lost while finding the right one. If you want to visit the new town, it is only a 20p bus ride away. The Cascades d'Ouzoud are a good day trip from Marrakech if you want more swimming/sunbathing. Be sure to go down the right hand side and be prepared to walk off the path if you want to find some of the quietest, most beautiful pools.

Fes I wasn't so taken with, it is vaguely simillar to Marrakech but we didn't enjoy it as much. Other people we met preferred Fes to Marrakech though. The locals in Fes are also notoriously pushy towards tourists.

Erg Chebbi is definitely the place to go to see the desert for large, beautifully coloured sand dunes. Make sure you spend at least one night under the stars. Watching the sun rise over the dunes is hard to beat.

Essaouira is a beach/fishing town which is again a really chilled place that I can easily spend lots of time at. There isn't a huge amount to do if you aren't in to water sports but I would recommend it as somewhere to go after the madness of Marrakech. If you are allowed to go out to the island at that time of year, definitely do it. It is closed for part of the year to allow wildlife to nest.

The Todra Gorge is a great place to visit and there are some good walks through the mountains. Take a better map than we did, you don't want to be spending the night under the stars! Our walk also included some unintended climbing after our path led us over a cliff.

There are some great walks and villages around Toubkal but I can't remember any of their names off the top of my head. We went with a local guide and spent a week walking in the area before ascending Toubkal which was great for seeing the area and culture but you could easily do it on your own with a decent map.

I didn't especially enjoy Tangier but then we did arrive there at 4am and also almost missed our bus away after we ended up having to climb down the cliff from the medina to the port with our backpacks on when the path we had banked on getting us there in time stopped half way down. (bit of a theme here )

There is plenty of budget accomodation everywhere you go and there is great food at incredible value too.

While you are there, everyone will be incredibly friendly all the time. Most are just being friendly but there are also a few who are just looking for any way to make some money out of you so keep your wits about you and be prepared to haggle for everything.

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