Morocco is often called a “gateway to Africa,” but this captivating kingdom, with its enthralling history, heady spice fragrances and whispers of adventure, is no mere stepping stone. Explore this fascinating country, including main city Marrakesh, where medieval meets modern, and cultures are still bridged with the sharing of mint tea. Spring is one of the best times of year to visit (summer and winter weather tends to be harsh), so why not book your flight?
MOROCCO AT A GLANCE
Population (2012): 32.3 million
Languages: Arabic (official), Berber languages, French
Currency: Dirham (MAD)
Requirement: No VISA required for Canadians staying 90 days or less
Morocco has played host to several cultures over the millennia. The nomadic Berbers, the earliest-known residents, have been here since antiquity. They were followed by Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, the Spanish and the French, all of whom left their mark. Today, you’ll find a mixture of cultures, customs and languages, with Islam as a common thread (the Arabs introduced the religion to Morocco, in the late seventh century). The relics of history – palaces, mosques, walled cities, narrow markets (called souks) and tombs – are yours to explore.
SOAK UP THE CULTURE
To get a taste of everyday Moroccan life, stay at a riad, a traditional house with a courtyard and garden. Then venture out to a medina (ancient walled city), such as the ones in Marrakesh, Casablanca, Fez and the capital city, Rabat. Once there, dive into the legendary souks to test your haggling skills. You’ll find everything from spices and dyed linens to handwoven carpets, exquisite leather goods and handcrafted musical instruments. Chat with locals over Morocco’s signature mint tea at a café.
Morocco’s landscape is more than just the Sahara Desert. The country’s terrain ranges from lush, green forests and glorious white-sand beaches to the Atlas mountain range. Morocco also boasts national parks and nature reserves. Join a camel expedition and spend a few nights at a camp in the desert. Surf, windsurf or jet ski in the Atlantic along Morocco’s 3,500 kilometres of coast. Try rafting in the N’Fiss and Ourika rivers, or climb the sheer rock faces at the Todra and Dades gorges.
BOOKED YOUR TRIP? GET A TRAVEL REMINDER TEXT
Text “ALERT” to 4766 to sign up to receive a travel reminder text alert. Before you leave, you’ll receive a text message reminding you to purchase a roaming data pass or travel pack.
It’s easy to conveniently stay in touch with family back home. Rogers Talk & Text Travel Packs for Africa (Zone 4) start at $60 for 15 minutes of talk time and 100 sent texts, and International Roaming Data Passes start at $25 for 5 MB. To purchase, visit rogers.com/roaming or text TRAVEL to 7626 from your device (link is free).
MAXIMIZE YOUR DATA USAGE
Gawk at the sights, not your cell phone bill! Check out our tips and tricks to maximize your data usage, including how to turn data roaming on and off, how to turn off push email, and how to reduce the data (and battery power) used by apps running in the back- ground.
Keep a lid on costs by monitoring your data usage. Some smartphone models have a built-in usage tracker. If yours doesn’t, download an app like My Data Manager (free for iOS and Android), DataWiz (free for iOS and Android), or Data Usage ($0.99 for iOS). How they work: you set data limits, and the apps send alerts when you reach them, helping you avoid extra charges. They also show usage patterns and which apps eat up the most data. Pretty cool, huh?
NEAR A WI-FI ZONE?
Reduce your data usage by switching your device reception over to Wi-Fi to download large files or stream video. You’re most likely to find wireless hot spots in cafés, shopping centres and resorts. Just note: Wi-Fi may not be secure, so ensure that you are not sending any sensitive files or information through these public networks.