Whether you’re hiking the Atlas Mountains with a sure-footed Berber or sipping mint tea in a Marrakech riad, autumn might be the best time of year to visit Morocco. And it’s certainly better than playing conkers in the rain at home. Here are five reasons to go…
PEAK SEASON Hiking the Atlas Mountains
After the heat of summer has passed, and before the winter dumps its snow, the Atlas Mountains spend a few months in blissful equilibrium. The ochre peaks are dramatically sunlit and garnished with oak and juniper trees, and temperatures stay trekker-friendly all day long. Kasbah du Toubkal (above) has a rustic lodge up the mountain, which guests can trek to with the hotel’s brilliant Berber guide and cook.
SWELL TIMES Surfing in Essaouira
Essaouira‘s blustery coast is a beloved surf hotspot year-round, but from October to late spring, Atlantic swells produce breaks of up to three metres high. Sheltered nooks on the beaches offer sunbathing without sand-blasting, and as autumn sees fewer visitors than summer, you’re assured a private plot of sun-warmed sand.
LOG OFF Smoke-scented nights
In the coming weeks, Morocco’s daytime mercury will rarely dip below the 20°C mark. But by night, the desert chills sets in and temperatures fall to crisp single figures. But don’t reach for the hot-water bottle just yet. Most riads, like the sultry Dar Darma (above), have rooms with real log fireplaces for long, cosy Arabian nights.
SOUKS YOU Christmas shopping in Marrakech
Avoid the soggy trudge along your local high street, and do your Christmas shopping in the Marrakech souk off Djemaa el-Fna square (above). The spice stalls give an aroma that’s headier than a cauldron of mulled wine, and things are (fractionally) less hectic than in the height of summer. Sugar-dusted pastillas (pastries) and almond-studded fekkas (biscuits) stand in for stollen, and a menagerie of monkeys and snakes make donkeys look pedestrian. Stock up on trinkets and textiles to give your loved ones a warm glow in the coldest months.
BOHO MOMENT On-trend idling
Morocco’s been the backdrop to many an iconic fashion moment – Talitha Getty posing in a kaftan for Patrick Litchfield in the Sixties, Jacquetta Wheeler partying at the family pile in Tangier, or Pucci-clad Poppy Delevigne floating down the aisle at La Mamounia. The A/W 2015 collections are having another boho splurge, with Chloe, Lanvin and Burberry Prorsum piling on tassels and prints. Eschew £1,000 ponchos for a stay at a rainbow-coloured riad.