Tour Leader: Ben Churcher
In October 2016 21 NEAF members travelled to Morocco to explore the land of a thousand kasbahs, the Atlas Mountains and the legendary cities of Fes and Marrakesh.
Morocco can easily be divided into two zones: the area north of the Atlas where the majority of the population have traditionally dwelled, and the areas to the south of the Atlas on the fringes of the Sahara Desert and the home of the Touareg peoples. In the north are the royal cities of Rabat, Meknes, Fes and Marrakesh where, at various times, Morocco’s ruling families have established their capitals. This has left a rich architectural legacy spanning from the ninth century CE to the present day in the cities, as well as the hustle and bustle of markets in places like Fes along with quiet residential gardens and agricultural vistas. Across the Atlas, date palms dominate, as do the wonderfully exotic mudbrick kasbahs that dot the fertile river valleys in an otherwise forbidding environment.
The group, over 20 days, were able to gain an appreciation of both these faces of Morocco, along with time in the modern entrepot of Casablanca and delightful Essaouira whose ramparts hold back the mighty Atlantic. Along the way we enjoyed a variety of foods (some good, some not so, with the ubiquitous tagine never far away), saw some splendid historical monuments including the Roman period Volubilis and a wide range of people, both Berber and Arab. The variety present in Morocco has to be seen and we hope the group came away with a great impression of what this marvellous country in north-western Africa has to offer.