ARGUABLY, Morocco “has it all.” A rich culture (blend of Arab, Berber, and other African and European influences), ancient history (inhabited since Paleolithic times), varied geography (from coastal beaches to agricultural plains to desert to high mountain ranges), and flavorful food.

So why haven’t I been? Well, that’s a complicated question. The closest I’ve gotten was when I was in Granada, Spain, in 2004. I was green then, an unseasoned traveler. Morocco barely registered on my map — I craved the comfort and familiarity of Western Europe. In short, adventure into such a distinctly different culture than my own Canadian one wasn’t appealing to me.

But now I know better, and I won’t pass up that opportunity again. Here are 30 reasons why Morocco is at the top of my list.

1

Camel caravan

Camel trekking is a very popular thing to do when visiting Morocco. These can be short day trips or multi-day overnighters.
Photo: Lalo Fuentes

2

Berber children

The Berber people are indigenous to North Africa; most who speak the language reside in Morocco and Algeria, although small communities also live elsewhere in Africa and Europe. There are 25-35 million people who speak Berber in North Africa.
Photo: Paul Sullivan

3

Goats in an argan tree

In and around the city of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast, goats frequently scale the argan trees. These trees are endemic to the area; an interesting product made from the combination of tree and goat is argan oil. Traditionally, the pits of the fruit the goats ate was harvested from their waste to produce the oil. Today, most of the oil is produced by press-extraction.
Photo: Grand Parc - Bordeaux, France

4

Loneliness in the desert

The Sahara Desert—the third-largest in the world and the hottest—makes up much of the southeastern part of Morocco.
Photo: A~~~

5

Palmeraie

Marrakech has over 180,000 palm trees, as well as orange, fig, pomegranate, and olive trees.
Photo: WiLPrz

6

Mausoleum of Mohammed V, Rabat

The Mausoleum of Mohammed V is part of a complex that was meant to be the largest mosque in the world, but its construction was stopped in 1199 after the death of Sultan Yacoub al-Mansour. In the mausoleum are the tombs of the Moroccan king and his two sons.
Photo: Holger Wirth

7

Sahara sunset

Depending on the tilt of the earth's axis, the Sahara Desert fluctuates between dry and wet. In about 15,000 years, it will be green.
Photo: Christopher L.

8

Countryside

Certainly not the image that comes to mind when I think of Morocco. It was taken in the Middle Atlas region near the town of Ifrane, a ski resort in the winter that sits at 5,460 feet (1,665m).
Photo: Fr Maxim Massalitin

9

Moussem of Tan-Tan

The Moussem of Tan-Tan is an annual gathering of nomadic tribes of Morocco and northwest Africa. The first official moussem (an economic, cultural, and social fair) took place in 1963; it is meant to "promote local traditions and to make the event a place for exchange, meeting and celebration." Shown here are horsemen partaking in the "tbourida" (aka "fantasia"), in which they exhibit their horse-handling abilities.
Photo: Fr Maxim Massalitin

10

Blue

Chefchaouen, in northwest Morocco, is well-known for its blue buildings. It's also popular as a shopping destination for its unique local handicrafts and goat cheese. It was founded in 1471.
Photo: Ana P. Bosque

11

Artisan in Marrakech

Artisan quarter in Marrakech. Craftsmen—including weavers, metalworkers, and potters—ply their trades in the medina.
Photo: Paul Sullivan

12

Dadès Gorge

The road leading down into (or up from) the Dadès Gorge. The Dadès River separates the Atlas Mountains and the Anti-Atlas Range, and its valley is home to hundreds of Berber kasbahs.
Photo: Rosino

13

Temara Beach

Temara is a city located just south of Rabat on the northwest coast of Morocco. The area is the former residence of the Oudayas tribe.
Photo: WiLPrZ

14

Feet

This photo of cow's feet next to women's shoes was taken in the Rabat medina. Rabat is the capital of Morocco, home to 1.2 million people. It was awarded 2nd spot in the Top Travel Destinations of 2013 by CNN.
Photo: Rosino

15

Motion blur

Fantastic capture of what looks to be a mother and her children on a horse-drawn carriage, a common method of transportation in Morocco.
Photo: Dominik Golenia

16

Road to the mountains

A large portion of Morocco—its northern coast and interior regions—is mountainous. The highest peak, Jebel Toubkal, rises to 13,665 feet (4,165m) above sea level.
Photo: Vincepal

17

Tannery, Fez

Fez, a city founded in 789, is highly regarded for the quality of its leathers. Tanning is the process that turns animal skins to leather; it changes the protein structure of the skin to preserve it. Tannin—from which "tanning" is derived—is the traditional compound used in the process.
Photo: Pejman Parvandi

18

Tagines in Marrakech

Traditionally the tagine is made from ceramics and was historically used by the Berbers. It's typically employed to slow-stew meats and vegetables; unglazed tagines give the food a more earthy flavor.
Photo: Manuela de Pretis

19

Atlas Mountains

Something else that doesn't come to mind when I think of Morocco: snow. In researching this gallery, I came across shots of groups trekking over snowy passes, even a cyclist riding on a snowy road. The Atlas Range extends 1,600 miles across Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
Photo: Hasna Lamini

20

Busker

This street performer in Marrakech is playing the guimbri. The three-stringed instrument is traditionally used by the Gnawa people and sounds similar to a double bass.
Photo: Ahron de Leeuw

21

Spice cones in Marrakech

One of the most iconic images from Marrakech: colorful, conical spices. Spices have been imported to Morocco for thousands of years, some common ones used being cinnamon, cumin, tumeric, and saffron.
Photo: Guillen Perez

22

Desert sandstorm

The best time to visit Morocco if you want to avoid sandstorms is outside of February-April.
Photo: Manuela de Pretis

23

Aït Benhaddou

This kasbah (fortified city), near Ouarzazate, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. It served as a movie set for films including The Mummy, Gladiator, and Babel.
Photo: Alexander Cahlenstein

24

Father and son

This photo, taken in Rabat, captures a beautiful moment between father and son.
Photo: ZL-Photography

25

Chefchaouen

Proof that all of Chefchaouen is not blue! The town got its name from the two mountain tops that rise above it, which look like the horns of a goat: chaoua.
Photo: Jean-Francois Gornet

26

Single tree

This lonely tree was captured in Merzouga, a small village in the southeast part of the country. It's often visited by tourists because of its close proximity to Erg Chebbi, one of the two main sand dune areas of Morocco.
Photo: Christiaan Triebert

27

Souq in Marrakech

A souq is an open-air marketplace or commercial area. You may know it also as a "bazaar."
Photo: seier+seier

28

Dunes near Merzouga

Sand dunes near the town of Merzouga. Another name for a region with lots of sand dunes is erg.
Photo: Matthias D

29

Essaouira fishing boats

Fishing is a major industry in Morocco, accounting for 56% of its agricultural exports; it brings in more fish than any other African nation.
Photo: wonker

30

Skhirat sunset

Skhirat, just south of Rabat, is known among Moroccans for its beautiful beaches. And, apparently, sunsets.
Photo: WiLPrZ


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