Rambling through Morocco

Rambling through MoroccoMy first Moroccan breakfast was couscous, peas and beans and mint tea.  For lunch we stopped at a little shop which sold lovely warm, flat bread and scrumptious cheese whilst from a roadside stall I bought some tangerines which were so much sweeter than ours.

I had come to Southern Morocco with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays on a birding and walking trip.  The walking is nice and easy amidst some of the most staggering scenery I have come across for a long time now.  From the snow capped peaks of the High Atlas to the sand dunes of the Western Sahara which seemed just as high when we were climbing them to watch the sunset it really does take your breath away.

Morocco assaults your senses big time.  Not least from the starting point of this trip of Marrakesh, a city that has to be one of the most fascinating in the world with its souk and main square offering everything from spices to snake charmers.

Rambling through MoroccoWherever you go in this country it is the colours that grab your attention.  Carpets piled up for sale, the women’s’ clothing or the purple flowers set against the white snow and continuous blue sky.  Even the hotels we stayed in varied so much as to be a new experience every time.  Especially those that were converted private homes filled with ceramic tiles and that Moroccan furniture that swept the interior design market of the west a few years ago.

Gerry our leader was not only a superb birdwatcher but an old Morocco hand who gave us lots of excellent advice one of which was that Morocco runs on tipping.  Not huge amounts just a few pennies here and there from using the public toilets to your room cleaners so you will need lots of change.

Rambling through MoroccoThis holiday really gets you under the skin of the country travelling through deep gorges and winding corkscrew roads, walking down green river valleys and across the flat Great Stone Desert which like the sea stretched away in front of us finally blending with the horizon.

This holiday was billed as a bird watching trip and it didn’t disappoint with some amazing species being seen (over 140 in all).  Going deep into the desert with 4x4s we saw some amazing birds such as Spotted and Pintail Sandgrouse and Pharaoh Eagle Owl.  Ramblers have scored with his holiday as to see the birds you have to go to several extremely different types of habitat and when you do that, you meet the locals and discover their food.

Rambling through MoroccoWhen not eating out at picnic in the countryside evening meals and some lunches were taken in hotels and restaurants.  One of the great cuisines of the world, Moroccan cooking specialises in subtle spices and intriguing flavour combinations.  Most of it cooked in the tagine, a ceramic dish caped with a tall lid. Cinnamon, coriander, parsley, cumin and chilli are all used extensively.  Influenced by Moorish Spain, France and the Arab world the food here is a marvellous combination of mouth watering flavours that make it unique.

The whole holiday is laid back, you don’t have to look at birds, in fact two of our party were avid botanists and spent most of their time studying the rich carpet of spring flowers we found all over the country.  In fact they also had me and a couple of others joining them when they were looking for something special.

Rambling through MoroccoSo would I recommend this holiday?  Yes without doubt. It was marvellous experience and the people were some of the friendliest I have met anywhere.  A simple “Salem Ali khum” in Arabic brought a huge smile and if you can speak a few words of French you will be invited for a cup of tea.

Mint tea is the drink of choice for everyone but beware it is addictive.  It is heavily sweetened with sugar and the tea is steeped with a few sprigs of spearmint stuffed into the teapot hen poured into a tea glass from a height to create a froth called the crown.

The only problem you’re going to have is when you go into one the many carpet/rug shops you’ll wish you had more money than sense.  If you’re not careful you will.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends RamblersWorldwide Holidays

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Steve Newman

Eco Adventure Cruising writer & photographer

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