Fes panorama, Morocco.
***Marrakesh (aka Marrakech) is home to some terrific buildings (mostly pink), especially traditional riads, good museums and a great covered souk (market) – the best place to find good quality crafts in Morocco – but most of all Marrakech hosts Djemaa el Fna, the wackiest square in Morocco and probably in Africa, where assorted weirdos put on performances and in the evening food stalls serve excellent local cuisine. Marrakesh Pictures
**Fès is the oldest imperial city in Morocco and has the largest medina (old city) and souks in the world, with great old walls and gates. You have to get lost in this medieval maze of 10, 000 tiny streets to feel the city.
Another fine old city – Meknes, is a good day trip from Fès. Fès Pictures
***Sahara Dunes. Head past Erfoud (to Merzouga) or Zagora (to M’Hamid) to get to the dunes at the edge of the Sahara desert, and stay two or three days or more to get a real feel for the place. Sahara Pictures
***Drive the lovely Ziz Valley from Errachidia to Erfoud – then on to Merzouga and the Sahara desert. Or along the Dràa Valleyfrom Ouarzazate to Zagora and on into the desert.
Also driving between Errachidia and Ouarzazate (the Kasbah Route) with snow-capped mountains, valleys, oases, villages and kasbahs is magnificent. Visit the Todra and Dadès gorges. Road Pictures
***The Atlas Mountains. This high mountain range across Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia offers spectacular year-round trekking with stops in Berber villages and low-cost guides and porters. Toubkal National Park is especially popular with its High Atlas walks only a couple of hours from Marrakesh. From there hikes ranging from 1 day to 1 week and more can be easily organised.
Driving Errachidia – Marrakech through/beside the Atlas is also highly recommended; navigation is fairly easy, the roads are uncrowded and views spectacular.
**Essaouria. For a cool seaside scene try this pretty blue-and-white walled fishing port, rather than the over packaged Agadir. It’s relaxed but authetic and fronts a large, firm brown beach that is less than great for sunbathers and other inactive beach-goers due to a pretty constant NE wind, but much favoured by windsurfers, kitesurfers, sand-yachters and quad bikers. Get there via a spectacular road in a couple of hours from Marrakesh.
*Casablanca is a huge modern city with not much ethnic interest bar the biggest mosque in the world and the old quarter.
*Rabat, the capital and seat of government, is smaller than Casablanca and much more tourist-friendly though still not a must-see. It’s relaxed, hassle-free, has some worthy sights, fine architecture and masses of pleasant cafés.
*Tangier, Morocco’s main port and only an hour by ferry from Spain has a some interesting structures, a couple of not-very-clean beaches and a run-down old town but is useful as a transit point to the magic of the rest of Morocco.