Independent Schools Cultural Alliance - ISCA – Summer Programs in the UK

Morocco

From the colourful markets (souqs) filled with the rich scents of spices, to camel trekking across the dunes of the Sahara Desert, there is so much to see and do in this beautiful North African country.

Morocco is a country which has integrated traditions and cultures from Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the wider Middle East over the centuries, making it a fascinating country to visit and explore.

Our first stop is Marrakech. This 1,000-year-old city is home to a thriving Medina, incredible shopping and some of the most gorgeous architecture you’ll find anywhere in the world.

Marrakech is also famous for its riads (guesthouses) which you will find dotted along the winding streets of the city. These riads are beautifully decorated with brightly coloured paint, intricate tiled designs and multi-coloured textiles – an interior designer’s dream and a perfect place to stay while exploring the city.

The tourist hotspot in Marrakech is the Djemaa El Fna. This huge square in the centre of the city is filled with snake charmers, street theatre and acrobats. The best time to go is around sunset when the restaurant stalls start cooking street food and music is playing across the square. From the square is a maze of winding passageways filled with souqs. Spend an afternoon here getting lost amongst all the amazing market stalls which sell an abundance of spices, jewellery, tagines, Argan oil, rugs and much much more!

During the day, head to one of Marrakech’s most iconic landmarks, Bahia Palace. Bahia Palace is a palace and a collection of gardens which was built in the late 19th century with the hope of it becoming the greatest palace of its time. Its name translates into ‘brilliance’ and it truly is an incredible tribute to Eastern architecture which incorporates both Islamic and Moroccan influences with its tiled floors, flawless arches, painted ceilings and shiny marble decorations.

From here, go to Jardin Majorelle. The garden was designed by French landscape painter Jacques Majorelle in 1924 and contains a desert mirage of 300 plant species from 5 continents. Today it is owned by French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent who bought it in 1984 to make sure it was always open to the public. You have to explore these beautiful gardens and find Majorelle’s electric-blue Art Deco studio which is home to the Musée Berbère, a museum which showcases the diversity of Morocco’s indigenous inhabitants.

From the bustling and chaotic city of Marrakech to the scorching and silent Sahara Desert. The best way to explore this vast landscape is via camel – it may be bumpy and a little uncomfortable but it’s really fun and an authentic way to travel. Make sure you trek across the Erg Chebbi (a sea of sand dunes) and watch the spectacular red and orange sand dunes as the Saharan sunset dips below the horizon. Then go ‘glamping’ in the desert and spend an evening learning about the Berber people and their culture. Don’t forget to look up to the sky and do some stargazing – it has to be one of the most extraordinary experiences while in Morocco!

Our final stop is the ‘Blue Pearl’ of Morocco. Chefchaouen is a mountain village with its houses and streets painted in 100 shades of blue. Wander the magnificent streets, people-watch over a traditional mint tea in the cafe-packed main square or amble down the riverside walk. This photographer’s paradise is a place you will never forget.