Lying on the northwestern corner of Africa, Morocco is a tropical country whose heat is moderated by its rugged mountain ranges and the breezes of the Atlantic. Close to Europe physically, it is light years apart in the colorful experience it offers travelers, ranging from jugglers in marketplaces to its tolerant Islamic culture, from desert oases to Roman ruins and craggy valleys.
Morocco’s coastal cities and towns include Tangier, with its vibrant nightlife; glittering Casablanca, the country’s economic and cultural capital made famous by the 1942 Humphrey Bogart movie; and whitewashed fishing ports, such as Asalih and Essaouira. There are also, of course, many fine beaches for lounging in the sun. Inland, the great imperial cities of Marrakech and Fez have attracted visitors for centuries, with surprises around each corner of the winding streets of their ancient medinas (the old Arabic quarters of North African towns).
The exotic city of Marrakech was founded in the 11th century, when the Almoravides came from the south and settled in a lush valley at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. Its setting remains spectacular today, with ochre stucco buildings set against the stunning backdrop of the Atlas range.
Wandering through the maze of Marrakech’s market streets is a mind-boggling experience, with their snake charmers, rattling donkey carts, acrobats, castanet-tapping water sellers and vendors hawking Berber cures for any ailment or social or economic problem. If your haggling skills are sharp, you can leave the market with that perfect carpet for your home under your arm.
Later, in a restaurant, you can treat yourself to a traditional meal of couscous or the spicy tagine stew of meat and vegetables, or pastilla, with sweet, spiced meat layered between thin pieces of flaky dough. While Morocco is predominantly a Muslim country, it is not dry. Alcohol is available in restaurants, nightclubs, supermarkets and elsewhere.
Thrill seekers can trek the Atlas Mountains. Jebel Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa, rising up more than 13,500 feet. There are many tour groups that organize climbs. While most tours take up to three days, those in a hurry can climb and descend the mountain in just one, very vigorous day.
And at the end of that exhilarating and fatiguing experience, you will be comforted to know that you will return to the pampering care of one of the finest Morocco villas. Set on an estate with mature palm trees, only 20 minutes from the medina of Marrakech, your LaCURE villa boasts a private pool, tennis court and a sprawling roof terrace, perfect for alfresco dining. But you’ll probably be most interested in your luxury-appointed bedroom, with soft, inviting queen bed.