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Morocco - Riad Delight - 2021
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Peter and Marjorie South
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Why go to Morocco ?
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Why go to Morocco ?
Morocco is a must for all travellers who crave adventure and an immersion in a rich exotic country shaped by history and culture. Its position at the top edge of Africa, with ancient trading routes connecting to it from all directions has made Morocco a vibrant and colourful place with a mixture of Western and African influences creating a unique culture.
any travellers wish to visit the lively hustle and bustle of the Grand Souks and market places of Marrakesh, Fez and Tangier. With incredible sights, sounds and smells they are intoxicating cities to wonder through, and your bartering skills will definitely be put to the test. Accommodation is plentiful everywhere with many of the ancient Riads, traditional merchants’ houses, being stunning places to stay with their open central court yards, fountains and lush gardens. The old parts of every town now blend seamlessly with the new modern Moroccan architecture which has emerged in the last 20 years under the guidance of King Mohammed VI.
Morocco is an Islamic country with a moderate political system which is ruled over by the King and the Royal family. Although it is an African country it looks towards Europe for commerce and trade. The northern coast is very close to Spain which still possess two ports in the country. It was ruled by the French from 1907 until 1956 and it still has very strong links with the majority of people able to speak French.
The people are wonderfully warm and welcoming and in the more rural areas local cultural traditions have not changed at all. Moroccans love their mint tea with heaps of white sugar and your hosts will pride themselves on their ability to pour the tea, in the traditional manner, from the tea pot from a great height! This method is adopted to create the bubbles.
The barren emptiness of the Atlas Mountain range creates a natural divide in the middle of the country with the towering sands of the Western Sahara contrasting to the lush green and fertile lands of the Rif valley and northern coastline. It is the under used Anti-Atlas Mountain range south of Agadir that calls to many adventurous cyclists. Staggeringly beautiful with twisting roads drawing you to see what it around the next corner. It is a truly wonderous area to explore with a mixture of terrains, high passes and mixed road surfaces. Some roads are still unpaved and can be a challenge but recently the tarmac has spread out over the land allowing the cycle tourist to venture into areas which only a few years ago would have only been accessible by donkey or mountain bike.
The Atlas Mountains with its Berber peoples are high and beautiful visible from most of Morocco there are several 2000 metre passes that go though small Berber villages and lush valleys. The climbs are long, but steady, built by French road engineers with no gradient above 8%. Amazing cycling.
he southern part of Morocco is renowned for its walled cities like Taroudant and Tiznet. The ancient protecting walls built using the traditional building methods of rammed earth, (Pisè de terre) with many gated entrances are gems to explore by bike with narrow passageways giving way to open meeting areas and huge markets. The markets are always full of fresh vegetables, nuts, couscous and every variety of fruit imaginable.
Tagine is the food of choice everywhere. This spicy dish has many variations and is cooked in its iconic conical dish and served with tonnes of bread. For travellers this roadside dish is a life saver after many hours on the road and washed down with pots of that hot green tea.
With such differences between the regions of north, south east and west, Morocco is a country that has to be visited more than once.
One of the beauties of Morocco for us northern Europeans is the climate. The best time to visit this wonderful country is during the winter when the UK is cold and dull. Morocco is warm, lush with bright sunny days, simply a cycling Mecca.
Bikexplore is running a series of cycling holidays, both moving on and fixed centre gravel tours, in Morocco. We have a comfortable base in the Anti Atlas where some superb rides set out from.
Click here for details
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