Morocco is the most exotic country of Northern Africa. When you visit you will be impressed by the royal cities with their labyrinths of markets and mudbrick streets where the African, Arab and European cultures are mixed into a colourful unity. Marrakech, Fes and Meknes are among the most oriental cities of the world, only rivalled by cities like Cairo and Damascus. The souks (markets) are sheer treasuries full of craft, pottery, woodwork, tapestry and heavy silver jewelry. You can also find aromatic spices and sweet perfumes and secret treasures which traditionally have been transported from black Africa by means of the camel caravans from Timbuktu. Islam is Morocco’s religion and five times per day the air is charged with the calls to prayer, the sign to bow to the will of the almighty Allah.
But Morocco offers much, much more. With its 3500 km of coastline unspoiled beaches abound. One third of the country is mountainous terrain with peaks above 4000 meters. In these areas you can ski in winter and trek in summer. If you go on foot or by landrover into the remote areas of the Atlas mountains , you will come to Berber villages where mules and donkeys are the main means of transportation and life is simple and hard.
There is also the Sahara . East and south of the High Atlas Mountains the vast expanses of the desert unfold and life retreats to the sparse areas where water can be found. Springs and rivers provide the water that seeps out of the mighty mountains in the north. By sheer human effort lush oases have been created with the splendour of date palms and other fruit trees which provide protection against a merciless sun and produce an abundance of vegetables all year round. Here people live in kasbahs, mud brick castles with walls up to a meter thick. Every village is a fortress, some of them housing thousands of people. On the vast dusty plains the last nomads live in traditional goat hair tents surrounded by their herds of goats, sheep and camels. Especially in the oases many people are black. These are the descendants of people from Mali , Senegal and the Sudan who once crossed the great desert as traders or slaves.
The most important cultural divide in Morocco is the one between the cities and the rural areas. It is the divide between Arabs and Berbers, learning and simplicity, wealth and poverty. In the royal cities a culture of over a thousand years of Islamic architecture and scholarship frames the minds of the inhabitants. In the city exquisite carpets are woven, Islamic texts are calligraphied and golden jewellery of the utmost refinement is produced. The rural population weaves beautiful but crude kelims, forges rough silver ornaments and lives a life full of superstition and local beliefs rivalling the influence of Islam. In order to understand Morocco , you should experience both cities and villages.
Moroccans are intense people with a tendency to isolate themselves from the world at large. Thousands of years of extreme climate and the reign of ruthless warriors and sultans have taught them to mistrust everything outside the thick walls of their houses. Foreigners are viewed with a touch of suspicion and it takes time and effort to get to the hearts of these people. But once they open their houses to you, a great hospitality is offered which is second to none in the world. It takes time to get under Morocco 's skin, but once that happens it will get under your skin and Morocco will become a very special experience indeed.
Morocco has a varied climate with three distinct climate zones: coastal regions; interior mountains and plateaux; southern desert regions on the fringe of the Sahara .
Coastal regions have warm dry summers, with some rain the rest of the year. Winters are generally mild. The northern coast of Morocco has a Mediterranean climate, but rainfall can be heavy in winter. The coast is drier to the south of Rabat . Agadir has a narrow range of temperatures making it pleasant most of the year. Cold offshore currents cause some cloud and fog on the Atlantic Coast in summer.
The mountains experience hot, dry summers and harsh winters. Many parts of the High Atlas are under snow well into summer. At lower levels summers are hot, with low humidity. Winters are generally mild and sunny but winds from the mountains can cause chilly days.
The desert regions of the country have a dry climate, getting hotter and drier in summer to the south, but moderated by the sea to the west. The inland Sahara regions have very dry, hot summers that give way to warm sunny days and cold nights in winter.