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The Rough Guide to Morocco (Rough Guide World Music CDs) Audio CD – Audiobook, December 20, 2004
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About the Author
Various Authors --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The attractions of the individual regions are discussed in the chapter introductions. Broadly speaking, the coast is best enjoyed in the north at Tangier, beautiful and still shaped by its old "international" port status, Asilah and Larache; in the south at El Jadida; at Essaouira, perhaps the most easy-going resort; or at remote Sidi Ifni. Agadir, the main package tour resort, is less worthwhile but a functional enough base for exploration.
Inland, where the real interest of Morocco lies, the outstanding cities are Fes and Marrakesh. The great imperial capitals of the countrys various dynasties, they are almost unique in the Arab world for the chance they offer to witness some city life that, in patterns and appearance, remains in large part medieval. For monuments, Fes is the highlight, though Marrakesh, the "beginning of the south", is for most visitors the more enjoyable and exciting.
Travel in the south roughly beyond a line drawn between Casablanca and Meknes is, on the whole, easier and more relaxing than in the sometimes frenetic north. This is certainly true of the mountain ranges. The Rif, which can feel disturbingly anarchic, is really for hardened travellers; only Chaouen, on its periphery, could be counted a "holiday spot". But the Atlas ranges (Middle, High and Anti-) are beautiful and accessible.
Hiking in the High Atlas, especially around North Africas highest peak, Djebel Toubkal, is in fact something of a growth industry. Even if you are no more than a casual walker, it is worth considering, with summer treks possible at all levels of experience and altitude. And, despite inroads made by commercialization, it remains essentially "undiscovered" like the Alps must have been in the last century.
Equally exploratory in mood are the great southern routes beyond and across the Atlas, amid the oases of the pre-Sahara. Major routes here can be travelled by bus; minor ones by rented car or local taxi; the really remote ones by four-wheel-drive vehicles or by getting lifts on local camions (lorries), sharing space with the market produce and livestock.
The oases, around Tinerhir, Zagora and Erfoud, or (for the committed) Tata or Figuig, are classic images of the Arab world, vast palmeries stretching into desert horizons. Equally memorable is the architecture that they share with the Atlas bizarre and fabulous mud (or pisé) kasbahs and ksour, with Gothic-looking turrets and multi-patterned walls.
As far as the climate goes, it would be better to visit the south or at least the desert routes outside midsummer, when for most of the day its far too hot for casual exploration, especially if youre dependent on public transport. But July and August, the hottest months, can be wonderful on the coast and in the mountains; there are no set rules.
Spring, which comes late by European standards (around April to May), is perhaps the best overall time, with a summer climate in the south and in the mountains, and water warm enough to swim in on both the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. Winter can be perfect by day in the south, though be warned that desert nights can get very cold a major consideration if youre staying in the cheaper hotels, which rarely have heating. If youre planning to hike in the mountains, its best to keep to the months from April to October unless you have some experience of snow conditions.
Weather conditions apart, the Islamic religious calendar, and its related festivals, will have the most seasonal effect on your travel. The most important factor is Ramadan, the month of daytime fasting; this can be a problem for transport, and especially hiking, though the festive evenings do much to compensate. See "Festivals" in the Basics section following for details of its timing, as well as that of other festivals. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The Rough Guide to Morocco contained a lot of practical information, great advice for food, lodging and activities; the prices were accurate every time. The historical and anecdotal comments within the text are very helpful and useful, not too much, but a great way to further your understanding of what you are seeing, especially if you aren't the type to find tour guides everywhere you go.
I highly recommend this book, and if you are thinking of traveling to Morocco soon, don't be afraid to buy this book because it was published in 2007, you'll still find it very accurate now. (Just as a side note, two women traveling alone in Morocco isn't the best idea, you won't be in danger, but prepare for major, almost debilitating harassment)
For the independent traveler who wants to explore Morocco in depth, the Rough Guide is clearly the best option among current guidebooks. It is much more detailed than the Lonely Planet, covering charming smaller towns left out of the LP and other guidebooks. If you are planning to go from Morocco to Mauritania overland, the Rough Guide is extremely helpful. While Lonely Planet didn't even update their Western Sahara cover in the latest edition, Rough Guide gives information on the new opportunities for those without their own vehicle. (Be aware, however, that the Mauritanian visa must now be requested in Rabat, not in Casablanca as RG advises.) Unlike Lonely Planet, which is now abandoning its traditional demographic of backpackers on a budget, the Rough Guide has as much guidance for shoestring travelers as for people with money to spend.
If you are curious about Morrocan history and culture, the Rough Guide makes other guidebooks look like they were meant for rude and insensitive package tourists. It contains a hundred-page supplement which not only explains the whole of Moroccan history and its prominent writers and artists, but it even gives some short pieces by Morrocan traditional storytellers. The Rough Guide does a good job throughout of trying to put tourists in contact with the locals. The hammams (Turkish-style baths) listed in the book are those frequented by ordinary Moroccans, not expensive spa-type locations as in other guidebooks. I was unhappy, however, with the Rough Guide's mention of hitchhiking. While it does mention it as an option, and doesn't try to scare people away from it, it suggests that it is difficult and requires payment. That's odd indeed, since hitchhikers consider Morroco one of the easiest countries on Earth, and my usual waiting type was just a couple of minutes, and I didn't have to pay a dime.
If you are an independent traveler, the Rough Guide is probably the only book you need. Lonely Planet does have a whole section dedicated to trekking, but even for those keen on trekking this may not be worth it. All in all it's funny how the Rough Guides, held in scorn for so long because they contain ads and are published by a major corporation (Penguin), now seem the best guidebooks for solo shoestring travelers.
First of all its nothing like the rough guide to Turkey. The authors of this book are not only sympathetic to the country (Sometimes to the point of being over the top) But it actually seems they have taken the good time to do some serious travel and research into the country instead of just a whistle stop tour of cheap hotels and the odd ex pat student bar.
All the major cities are covered and most importantly the places of the greatest interest (Fez, Rabat, Tangier, Marrakesh, Casablanca etc) The manners and customs of the Moroccans also well covered with plenty of what to do and what not to do when you travel around the place. Some issues though they do seem to be a little over sensitive as I previously mentioned, examples of these are the fact that other than the Mosque in Casa non Muslims are not allowed in any Mosque in the country so the authors just go on about what you can see from the outside (Presumably the authors think that anyone outside of Morocco reading the book is a non Muslim) one particularly comical comment is regarding a Mosque which is cordoned off to prevent "Christians and stray animals" getting too close!
Another issue is the authors obsession with the Berbers (Much as Travel books go on and on about the Kurds (As though no other minority exists in the country)) It gets to the point you would think the Berbers are some kind of exotic endangered species rather than just ordinary people who happen to live in the country. I mean you would never find a travel book of the UK going on and on like this about the Welsh or Scots or even Asians or black people for example. One other point is that the Arabic phrase section at the back has no Arabic translation so while you may learn a few words you will be stuck for trying to read any road signs or even learn the basic alphabet.
There is plenty of further reading provided, lots of advice, lots of listings of hotels (Though one thing worth pointing out they dont mention any prices and you should know that when they say budget in this book expect no toilet, awful washing facilities and bedding you wouldn't give to your pet. Believe me, pay the extra for a decent hotel) They also cover a fair bit of south Morocco (Though after reading this book why anyone would want to go there God alone knows)
All in all a very good book.
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However, Rough Guides make it a little difficult to find basic details.Read more