8 places to go in Morocco
Morocco Morocco Morocco... Where to start? Having just returned from over a month in Morocco I could not recommend the country more. After a hesitant start I fell in love with everything and was fortunate enough to see a wide range of things. In no particular order here are some of the places I went and would recommend.
1. Morocco Mall. When the Moroccan's do something well, they do it very well. Morocco mall is situated a short drive away from Casablanca's beach and the Hassan II Mosque. It is the largest shopping centre in Africa and only opened in December 2011. It offers much more than just shops; it features a stunning aquarium which provides the opportunity to scuba dive with a professional instructor. Along with this it features its own fairground, "Adventureland Maroc" which comes paired with a fantastic ice rink (real ice, not the plastic rubbish!!). This is fun for all the family - we went with children and adults and everyone had so much fun. Along with this there are many places to eat, including lots of ice cream stations!! Outside there are people offering horse rides, along with little things to see situated by an artificial lake - don't try and put your foot in... you will get told off by the security guards. My only regret is not taking a whole day out to spend there.
2. Ouzoud falls. If I had to put things in order of preference, this would possibly come first. Right in the heart of the Atlas mountains, (and I mean the real heart - hours travelling through the windy roads of the mountains to get to it) you will find the most beautiful waterfall. I went with the idea that there was nothing surrounding these waterfalls however there is a small village called Tanaghmeilt with traditional Moroccan gifts to buy and traditional Moroccan food to try. The atmosphere is indescribable; the children and even adults bathe in the water at the bottom of the falls, and the most daring scale the walls to dive off! Brave! If you don't want to get wet you can take a short but delightful ride in what looks like a homemade boat but very nicely decorated which takes you right to the bottom of the falls (be prepared to get a little wet). You can spend hours admiring the beauty of the falls and the surrounding village. A definite must see - do not miss it!
3. Chellah. This is a necropolis and compelx of ancient Roman Mauretania Tingitana and medieval ruins at the outskirt of Rabat. Before the thriving city of Rabat came into existence, this was the city! It is beautiful and calm and you can take all the time you want to admire the beauty. You can see the old Mosque, and the spaces in which they used to bathe, and in which the children used to learn the Qur'an. It's a definite must see - my only regret is not appreciating it enough at the time.
4. Mausoleum of Mohammed V. It is located on the opposite side of the Hassan Tower in Rabat, and contains the tombs of the Moroccan king and his two sons, late King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah. The building is absolutely beautiful and boasts a luxurious gold decorated ceiling inside. Guarded by men in traditional Moroccan dress on beautiful white horses adds the perfect finishing touch.
5. Rabat Zoo. This was quite odd as the day we went, it seemed a bit eerie. There weren't many other people, nor were there many other animals on our first lap round - they seemed to be hiding, but they soon came out. Perhaps it was because it was during Ramadan that there was a lack of people. There's lots to see here and it's not expensive to enter. We even saw a wild Chameleon on the path - not sure whether it just escaped - oops!
6. The markets. If you haven't investigated the souks of Morocco then you have missed the heart of the country. They are beautiful and vibrant, and in the main cities they are well organised - souks for shoes, souks for technology, souks for clothes etc. This is a perfect opportunity to try and haggle and pick up traditional Moroccan gifts - chilabahs, bilgah, tagine dishes etc. Be prepared to encounter lots of people begging and lots of stray cats - it is very typical in the souks of Morocco.
7. Hassan II Mosque. It is important to note that all the Mosques in Morocco are beautiful, each with it's own tower for the call to prayer - even in the poorer towns the Mosque is always beautiful and well looked after. This Mosque however is the seventh biggest in the world (its Minaret is the biggest in the world), and the biggest in Africa, and is situated right by the beach in Casablanca. Despite being a non Muslim I thought this was stunning and I would go back again. Unfortunately I could not enter, out of respect, however I could see inside and the inside is even more beautiful than the outside. You can't get a feel of the place from a picture, it's something you need to visit. Hoping to convert to Islam means I will get the opportunity to enter soon and hopefully get to see the glass floor that it boasts, allowing you to see the sea below!
8. The home of a family. This one might seem like an odd addition, however Moroccans are extremely hospitable and the chances are you will get some opportunity to dine with them or something of the sort if you are there for a cultural trip. I have never met nicer people than the Moroccans I stayed with these past months. They will welcome you as one of your own, pay you compliments, and always make sure you feel extremely comfortable. Don't let that opportunity slip! A must-do is to try Moroccan tea - your trip is not complete if you have not tried it.