Morocco: A Land Between the Worlds

Morocco: A Land Between the Worlds


is harvest time in
. There is an abundance of fresh olives and mandarins.
The days are luminous, the sunlight dazzling, but there is a chill
in the air which grows as night draws in – especially if you choose
to sleep in a tent on the edge of the Sahara desert.

The desert was one of the reasons I came here: pure and
elemental, the silence of the sands will fill your ears. Camels are
patient, their stoicism is humbling. The people of the desert are
equally resilient, quietly strong. “You can shake the sand from
your shoes, but not from your soul,” a man told me.

Berbers have inhabited North Africa for millennia. They call
themselves “Amazigh”, meaning “free people” in the indigenous
Tamazight language. Perhaps freedom is the biggest draw of the
desert. With sands always moving, boundaries are an abstract

Countless ksars have been built along the routes of the nomadic
Tuareg Berbers from Marrakech
to Timbuktu. Mud, sand, water and straw were used to create these
impressive structures – Ait Ben Haddou, now a Unesco Heritage Site,
is one of the best-preserved examples.

Volubilis, an ancient Berber settlement once under Roman rule,
was once resplendent with its triumphal arch, floor mosaics and
surrounding olive groves. In the eighth century it served as the
seat of Idris ibn Abdallah, founder of Moroccan state and the
great-great-great-grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Three
hundred years later, Morocco’s seat of power had transferred to

Today Morocco’s second largest city, Fez is fascinating. Its
ancient medina is the main draw, a labyrinth of narrow passageways
lined with houses that have been inhabited for 12 generations. Time
here ticks to a different clock. Traditional crafts and industries
thrive; the stone wells of the Chouara Tannery have been in use
since the 11th century. The city is also home to the world’s
oldest, continually operating university, Al Quaraouiyine, founded
by Fatima al-Fihri in 859.

Of course, most people visiting Morocco will make a beeline for
Marrakech – and rightly so. You can savour street food and admire
snake charmers in the bustling market Jemaa el-Fna, explore
beautiful palaces or hike the nearby Atlas Mountains.

Morocco is a country of great natural beauty, unique culture and
long history. It’s at once a Mediterranean country, an African
country and a Muslim country, spread across majestic mountains and
romantic desert. Traditions here are living ones and the people
welcome visitors warmly. Morocco defies definition.

@monkrochmal |

Discover More
Embracing Slow Travel in Fez, Morocco