Interview with one of our local partners in Morocco
By Kati Taylor
Morocco is vibrant in every sense of the word. With colourful markets in the cities contrasting with the serenity of the mountains and their rural communities, there is something to suit every kind of traveller. We caught up with Angela to talk about food tours, favourite places and unmissable experiences…
What is life like in Morocco?
Morocco has a very diverse climate - very hot summers and surprisingly cold winters. Marrakech is a real hub: late night souk shopping and early morning cappuccinos. It’s also just a short trip to the coast or the Atlas Mountains which is ideal - you never feel like you can’t get away from the city. In terms of fondest memories… probably the simple things. Wandering through orange groves, visiting my in-laws’ farm in the Ait Bougamez Valley and watching the sun rise over the dunes of the Sahara.
What is your favourite place in Morocco?
It’s tough to pick but probably the Ait Bougamez Valley! Because it’s at high altitude it has beautifully clear skies and there are plum and peach orchards all over the landscape. The people are friendly and hospitable, there’s great wildlife and it’s so easy to get out into the wilderness. Just head up behind the village and you can scale to the pass of Tizi Ait Imi which is near the summit of Mgoun.
What three words represent Morocco to you?
Colourful: The first thing that strikes you as you enter the souks and medina is the brightly coloured wares, all stacked up for maximum effect.
Noisy: Everyone chattering; the drumming and chanting for small celebrations and the hugely amplified music at weddings!
Varied: The bustle of the cities compared with the stillness of the mountains, the silence of the desert and the wind and waves of the coast.
What is Moroccan culture like?
That is a big question! There are so many different parts of society: the Amazigh (or Berber peoples) who are the indigenous population and mainly from rural backgrounds. There are also the Arab peoples in the cities and lowlands. People in general are very accepting of visitors and welcome people to their homes. In general, Moroccan houses are very ornate with beautiful patterned tiles and colourful carpets. Traditions vary from town to town, food is rich and delicious and music is an essential part of daily life.
What is your favourite Moroccan food?
Tajine is an absolute classic but my favourite is probably Harira. It’s a soup of meat, tomatoes and chickpeas which is served in pretty much every cafe. It’s really delicious and simple, served with dates and a boiled egg. For a sweeter tooth, there’s chekabia: a delicious pastry which is served during Ramadan to break the fast.
Do you know any interesting facts about Morocco?
I’ve definitely got a few! The university in Fez is the oldest in the world and the High Atlas Mountains were joined to the Scottish Highlands before continental drift. Morocco was also a pirate hub back in the 1700s, just one more piece of its exciting and varied history.
What experiences should people travelling to Morocco definitely not miss?
There are so many wonderful experiences to be had in Morocco but I would say make sure you experience cities, coast and mountains. Take a cooking course and learn to make Moroccan food - preferably up in the mountains where life has a slower pace. Get to know the people, the culture and, of course, haggle in the city souks!
Do you have any top tips?
Be prepared for the heat and wear light, long-sleeved clothing. Pick up a few words of Arabic if you can and especially remember ‘la shukran’ (no thank you) for when you’re in the souks! When eating with locals use your right hand, always greet people with a smile and don’t forget your pleasantries when haggling. Morocco is an incredible country but you really have to expect the unexpected!
What is the story behind your company?
Mainly the sheer love of the country. We wanted to show people the real, in-depth Morocco and take them beyond the average itinerary.
What have been your favourite and most memorable experiences?
Getting feedback from clients that they loved Morocco or, even, that the trip has changed their mindset. Through guiding, we have made friends all over the world and it’s so nice to have kept in touch with them. It also encourages you to be open-minded - to embrace different people and their cultures and to help give them the best possible experience.
Hopefully more of the same! We want to branch out into developing specialist foodie tours with cooking lessons as well as historical and adventure-themed itineraries. We would also like to help some of the communities in the High Atlas. We are looking for bio-digester solutions so that villagers can produce energy by recycling rather than having to cut down local forests.
Where would be your dream destination?