Morocco was at the top of my wish list for Local Hideaways. How I longed to introduce this fascinating country to you. I had been here six year ago and visited it again last May, and frankly…..I can’t wait to return yet again, for this country has stolen my heart! And for the Europeans among us, it is only a three and a half hour flight away. But is feels as though you’re flying to the other side of the world, or better, as if you’re entering a time machine.
But what is it that is so fascinating about this country? The colours, the smells, the exotic atmosphere, the hospitality of its people….it is hard to put into words because it is more a sentiment, an experience. The landscape varies so much over a relative short distance; the coarse Atlantic coast; the massive mountains and beautiful valleys, the vast desert, the lush oases and all the bustling cities….There is something for everyone in Morocco. Add to this the lovely food, the fresh fruit and even, for the wine buffs among us, some very good Moroccan wines….have I convinced you yet?
Both times I was here, I only visited the southern part, as it is very easy to take a direct flight from Europe to Marrakech or Agadir. But direct flights to Fez or Rabat are also available increasingly often.
Personally, I wasn’t too crazy about Agadir, especially when it came to finding Local Hideaways. But getting to Essaouira or Taroudant is very easy from here and even Marrakech is only a three hour drive away.
Allow me to tell you about some of my personal highlights:
Essaouira is a small fishing village on the Atlantic coast – a three hour drive north of Agadir and 2,5 hours west of Marrakech. I had been here six years before and had fallen completely in love with the place. But would it still be as relaxed, lively and colourful as it was when I was last here? Mrs. Local Hideaways says you should definitely go, because, even though it is a bit more crowded nowadays, the atmosphere is still fantastic and this town offers you the perfect combination of ‘an old medina where local colour defines the atmosphere ’ and ‘coastal living where fishermen sail out for the catch of the day but where you will also find a lively kitesurfing scene and ditto funky beach bars.’!
And what a pleasant surprise is the city of Taroudant! Only a fifty minute drive from Agadir airport you find yourself in a different world. The things I had read about it beforehand are all true: “little Marrakech”; wonderful climate the year round; authentic; friendly…. I had never been here before but by now I am able to tell you that it is indeed wonderful to stay here for a couple of days and explore the city and its surroundings. It is almost like a movie set: the snow-covered peaks of the Atlas Mountains in the background, and ahead of you the olive groves, orange trees and the red adobe city wall of Taroudant….I highly recommend it!
Both Essaouira and Taroudant are great alternatives to the bustling city of Marrakech…although the latter, in spite of the enormous influx in tourism, certainly has its charm and is easily accessible by air. Among the many riads in the medina, the old city centre, it was a challenge for me to find an accommodation that met Local Hideaways’ requirements. I therefore decided to literally distance myself and came to a beautiful oasis-like area of palm trees, La Palmeraie, where I discovered a lovely Hideaway that was perfect for an escape from busy Marrakech.
And, last but not least…. the mighty Atlas Mountains. Driving through them in itself is a wonderful experience, with the most stunning panoramic views and the perpetually snow covered mountain peaks. Here, you find authentic berber villages where time has actually stood still and where people work hard and football is a universal language!
I could simply go on forever telling you about the magical desert, the Draa valley and all the many palm oases, but time has run out for now. I hope that, as in the Arabian Nights, I have enchanted you with my stories. If not, the various Local Hideaways will be sure to do so: www.localhideaways.com!
Esther van Onna – Founder Local Hideaways. July 2014