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While the cities of Fes, Marrakech, Tangier, seaside Essaouira and most recently the blue city of Chefchaouen get a lot of tourist and media attention, going off the beaten track in Morocco provides not only some of the tastiest cuisine, but also a glimpse into local village life. Discover these 8 amazing stops in Morocco that are sure to become the next big attractions!
The Remp’Art festival in 2013 provided the medina of Azemmour with a new look as international and national street artists descended on the town, creatively installing street art and graffiti throughout. While some of the installations have faded and others are disappearing, wandering along the waterfront where Oum er-Rabia River meets the Atlantic Ocean is extremely pleasant before heading in for a swim. While tourist facilities are minimal here, the tajines cooked over an open grill in the street cafes or a mint tea in the central square just outside of the main gate provide for delicious fare!
The hillside town of Moulay Idriss Zerhoune, visible in the distance from the Roman ruins of Volubilis, is a food-lover’s paradise. The grills serving kefta (ground beef) and grilled vegetables are divine. The local olive oil has a unique taste and is available throughout, at the most unassuming corner stores. The nougat for sale in the central square is tasty and available in a variety of flavours off the carts. Coffee in the square, watching the world go by, provides a glimpse into local life where the main attraction here is the Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss, the founder of Morocco. While the mosque is off-limits to non-Muslims, wandering up either of the hills provides wonderful views of the mosque and the surrounding rolling hills filled with olive groves.
Once a Spanish outpost, Sidi Ifni sits perched on the Atlantic Ocean with Spanish, art-deco, architectural gems dotted throughout the town. While the tourism industry is rather undeveloped, Sidi Ifni provides for a truly authentic stay for those who crave this type of tourism. Nearby, Legzira Beach is a highlight and a popular excursion includes the camel market in Guelimim on Saturday mornings.
Tucked near the base of Jebel Sgharo, the landscape here in Nkob is brilliant, with palm groves and mud-brick kasbahs all around. The unique attire of the local Berber women is fascinating as is the Berber cooking that includes a type of pizza, a stuffed bread cooked on an open fire. Wash it down with a mint tea for a mouth-watering experience. Prolong this desert excursion with a stay in the valley to experience the warm hospitality and local way of life!
Often overlooked by the nearby Todra Gorge, Boulemane Dades is home to interesting geological landscapes including not only the gorge, but the monkey fingers cascading over the former village filled with ruined kasbahs. Legend has it that the monkey fingers exist because the people of the village were misbehaving and as a punishment they were turned to stone, resulting in the rock formations that resemble human beings. Spend a day walking around the valley with a guide, learning about the local geology and history.
Located on the Atlantic Coast, where the waves are rugged and the village tiny, Taghazout is a special little village. With developments taking place along the nearby coast, the vibe is sure to transform in the upcoming future. In the meantime, it’s an ideal stopover for surfing and chilling out for a weekend. The services are basic but cafes and surf shops are available. Given its location on the bay, the temperature is comfortable here year round and is best accessed via Agadir.
The beautiful and ever so remote Ait Bougemez Valley is a pure delight! Arriving in the 18-kilometre long valley is like stepping back in time. Little Berber villages dot the hillsides with mud-brick kasbahs and white marabouts dispersed throughout the valley. Wandering from village to village, travellers are sure to meet friendly locals along the way to exchange a few words with, and if lucky, be invited to join for tea. Or meet farmers working the small plots of land belonging to the local families while the women are in the homes making fine carpets and children run freely through the streets. A hiker’s paradise and a dream for travellers looking to get off the beaten path!
Often given only a half-day by tour groups and agents, wandering around Meknes visiting the impressive sites, including Place Lalla Aouda where Moulay Ismail inspected soldiers belonging to the Black Guard, the granaries known as Heri es-Souani where 12,000 were once housed and the Agdal basin, and even the mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, provide insight to this once regal town. Enjoy mint tea or coffee nous nous on Place el Hadim and admire the street performers and the turquoise and green Bab Mansour across the square. Given its proximity to Fes (only 40 minutes by train), this is a pleasant day trip.