When most people think of Morocco they have one image – rolling sand dunes on a never ending desert, stretching further than the eye can see. This, however, is not the case. Morocco is just not a desert, at all! In fact the landscapes in Morocco are extremely varied.
Some of the very best places to visit in Morocco have absolutely nothing to do with deserts, or dunes, or camels. Or spices. In fact, some one the best places to visit in Morocco are the exact opposite!
When visitors come one of the most common things I hear is, “this is nothing like I imagined!” It’s true. There is a huge variety of landscapes in Morocco. The scenery that ranges from subtropical banana groves to deciduous forests, rolling Mediterranean waves, to crashing Atlantic surf breaks. And I have the photos to prove it.
So settle in and get ready to feast your eyes on some of the most surprising landscapes of the beautiful country that is my home. Morocco.
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The Many Landscapes of Morocco
Desert landscapes may be the most well known scene but a large chunk of Morocco is carved by mountain ranges.
There are 3 mountain ranges across the country; the High Atlas, the Middle Atlas, and the Rif Mountains. Hiking and trekking are very popular activities for many visitors. You can take an easy walk of an hour or two or spend weeks backpacking through the ranges.
It’s always important to take a licensed trekking guide if you do go on a longer trek as the weather and environment can very quickly change making a very dangerous situation unless you know what to expect.
Towering green trees surrounding streams and waterfalls – not in Morocco you’re thinking but yes, this is Morocco!
The mountains of Morocco are full of water. They supply many of the cities at lower elevations with the precious liquid via snow run off and ground water.
In late winter and spring everything is in bloom. Visit the Valley of the Roses in May to see miles of rose fields in all their full glory. Head to Taliouine in November when saffron is harvested and crocus flowers make a purple carpet as far as you can see to get a truly unique and unexpected view of the Moroccan landscape.
Fishing is a major industry in Morocco, one of the largest in the country.
Men still go out daily in wooden boats to fish the coastal waters. Sardines are the most common fish that make up the Moroccan diet and are also one of the top exports for the country. Much of the work is still done on a small scale, by hand. Port scenes like this one in Essaouira (one of my favorite cites in Moroco!) are common across the Atlantic coast.
Serene, green landscapes make up central Morocco.
Small trees grow fruit like apricots, peaches, apples, figs, and cherries. All food in Morocco is seasonal and thanks to a variety of climate zones it’s possible to have a very wide range of produce throughout the year.
Believe it or not in northern Morocco grape production is a growing business, and the production of wine has seen a big increase in recent years. There are even some small farms that are going back to their roots and creating artisan products like organic cheeses and honey.
Mt. Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa is a favorite destination for people who want to summit a big mountain with relative safety.
Most people leave from the village of Imlil and hike to the 4,167m summit point. There is some danger of altitude sickness but if done slowly it is much easier to avoid. Late spring is the safest and easiest time to do the trek (but remember to always use a vetted and authorized guide). Winter is the most difficult time due to snowfall and low temperatures. The mountain is covered in snow for a large part of the year. If you’d like a really unique experience you can go snow skiing in Oukaimden. For under $15 you can rent a pair of skis or a snowboard and buy a lift ticket.
Morocco has one of the most diverse and varied landscapes in the world. You can swim in the ocean in the morning and ski in the afternoon. Ride a camel at sunrise through the Sahara and be in the pulsing medina of Marrakech by nightfall. Go clubbing in Casablanca or sit in a Sufi shrine – the choice is yours! Whatever you choose to do when you visit Morocco, it will doubtlessly include more than just touring the desert. Safe travels, and we hope to see you here soon.
Bio: Amanda is an American expat, food and travel blogger living in Marrakech, Morocco with her family. When she’s not writing or keeping her two tween boys fed, she runs Marrakech Food Tours with her husband or exploring the world! Read her blog at MarocMama.com or follow their daily life on Instagram.
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