Thursday, 2 July 2015

PHEWWWWW……….. In Morocco we have ways of keeping cool......

With temperatures in the UK currently running in the mid/high 30’s a holiday in a warm and sunny destination such as Morocco is probably quite low on your forward planning agenda. That’s understandable, but as you know it’s [the weather] unlikely to last and places for our 2016 tours are already VERY LIMITED.
Since our last blog entry was published just a few weeks ago we now find that the last remaining places for 2015 have GONE……

So…….If a tour of MOROCCO is on your “Wish List” a FEW available places on our 2016 tour dates remain ....... 


Morocco is well known as the set-location for more than a few major film and TV features. Not many know that a number of scenes for the epic television series of Games of Thrones were filmed in Morocco……….particularly in Season 3 where Ait Ben Haddou, Essaouira, and Ouarzazate were used for a number of scenes.

Game of Thrones is attracting thousands of tourists/fans to the locations where the sequences were filmed. Tours are also available in most of these filming locations……..Better still, join one of our tours and visit for FREE!

Essaouira – Astapor

In the series, Essaouira stands in for the fictional city of Astapor. The windy city features in the Season 3 finale, with its cliff wall providing a backdrop for one of the series’ scenes.

Ouarzazate – Pentos

Morocco’s Hollywood, Ouarzazate, has hosted many international films over the years, such as Gladiator and Babel. It is now used in Game of Thrones. The enigmatic city was used as the port of Pentos, where character Daenerys Targaryen lives in exile in the beginning of the series.

Ait Ben Haddou – Yunkai and Pentos

Ait Ben Haddou provides the backdrop for the cities of Yunkai and Pentos in Season 3, where the majority of Daenerys Targaryen’s scenes are set. The fortified city provided the setting for Daenerys’ battle with the Second Sons and another set of slaves for her to set free.

So if you are a “Thrones” fan or a “Film-Buff” there are more than a few locations we visit during various tours……and most look even better in real-life!

 I am not going to “Knock” the franchise……I actually visit their locations both in Morocco and here in Southern Spain ……Yes, I do buy a burger and not just sit outside connected to their WiFi. Not only that, Jimmy [My Dog] loves their Cheeseburgers and a lick of a Mac-flurry tub. Trust me, as much as I love Tagines there are only so many a person can take which make a Big Mac somewhat appealing!

As well as the regular Mac-Menu the Moroccan version also includes MacArabia, Big n Tasty and some great salads ………… All are halal of course.
Visit an outlet at almost any time during the day and you will be surprised how popular they are, and not just with the young, judging by the number of families present it seems like it’s the new place to go for an evening out.

The world’s largest fast food chain will strengthen its presence in the kingdom. The American company will open 15 new restaurants in the next three years. The news was announced by Idriss El Alami, Managing director of McDonald’s, following the signing of an agreement with the National Agency for Promotion of Employment and Skills (ANAPEC), through the agreement with ANAPEC McDonald’s aims to recruit future employees for its new restaurants. The American company wants to create an additional 900 new jobs in three years.
It’s worth considering that McDonald’s are not silly and will only open branches and operate where there is a demand…….it’s not compulsory to visit !!!!!

The fact is that McDonald’s has been an active franchise in Morocco since 1992 and is by far the most popular international fast food restaurant in the kingdom. The chain already owns 34 stores throughout the country and employs nearly 3,000 people. The company recorded revenues of MAD 864.4 million in 2013. It was followed by Pizza Hut with MAD 157.5 million, and the leading chicken chain KFC with MAD 104.6 million.


Mist nets for harvesting water from fog have been around for a while and now the technology has come to Morocco. The results are impressive and have changed the lives of the inhabitants of five villages in the southwest of the country, who no longer have to travel several kilometres each day to fetch water.
At 1,225 meters above sea level, on the mountain overlooking Boutmezguida, five villages in the region of Sidi Ifni have installed forty huge nets to take advantage of fog. A fog fence or fog collector is an apparatus for collecting liquid water from fog, using a fine mesh or array of parallel wires. They trap the water droplets, which are then processed, mixed with well water and transported via pipelines to the villagers.

"In a region with semi-arid climate, having water by opening a simple tap is a revolution," says Aissa Derhem, president of the association Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture. A Douar Id Achour, one of five communities served, women and children previously lost four hours a day on average to make round trips to retrieve well water. "I filled two 20 litre four times in the day. But these 160 litres were sufficient not even us, because we have cattle! "says Massouda Boukhalfa, 47.

"Reaping the fog", has been used for more than twenty years in Chile, in the Andes. Developed by the NGO Fog Quest, which has already tested prototypes in several countries (Guatemala, Peru, Namibia, in particular), this is the first use in North Africa.

"Morocco has a lot of fog due to three factors: the presence of an anticyclone, the Azores, a cold sea current and the obstacle represented by the mountain," says Derhem. "It's environmentally friendly and it helps preserve the water table in the region, which we were emptying."

The Dar If Hmad Association now wants to equip the surrounding villages and replace existing nets with new models capable of withstanding winds of 120 km /h.

The nets were built in Morocco with the help of a German foundation.

Symbolically, the water flow in Morocco began for the first time on March 21, World Water Day. Since then 92 homes and nearly 400 people have received running water to their homes.


It’s Ramadan and I know some of my friends over in Morocco will be breaking the fast in various ways with the not so humble Date……… This is a great refreshing and energetic drink I picked-up on my travels………

15 large pitted Medjool dates, chopped.
1 cup raw almonds, blanched (and brown skin removed).
4 - 5 cups of milk (to taste).
2 tablespoons of orange flower water.
1/2 teaspoon of genuine vanilla essence.
Small pinch of salt.
1/2 tsp cinnamon.
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.

Blend until frothy and smooth. Leave in refrigerator for a couple of hours or, if you are desperate, serve with ice cubes. You can of course vary the ingredients and proportions to fine tune to your own taste. For example add an extra hit add a chopped ripe banana, mango or apple.

For a really extra hit do what Debbie does……. And a healthy dollop of Cointreau or Bacardi ………… Trust me; it tastes much better than it looks!


Oulidia, on Morocco's Atlantic coastline, is famous for its oysters. It also has a reputation as one of the cleanest, most family friendly seaside towns in the country. And it is almost impossible to avoid oysters when visiting Oulidia. Not only are they on the menu of every restaurant, but cruise the waterfront and a dozen oyster salesmen will appear, shuck the oysters and pass them through the car window.

In fact if you have rented an apartment, it is likely that a fishmonger on a scooter will appear each morning at your door with reasonably priced fish. They will also hunt out particular fish or prawns for you and deliver them the following day.

There are a number of good restaurants such as the Issa Blanca, and Ostrea II.  The Ostrea II is a well-known stop for tourists and their oysters were delicious but expensive. However, their avocado and prawn salad was bland and based on frozen rather than fresh seafood.

For ambiance, price and an extensive menu you can't go past the L'initiale.  The Paella Royale for two is a real treat and packed with fresh seafood. Their oysters were also considerably cheaper than the Ostrea II and Issa Blanca.  L'initiale also serves a low priced and delicious breakfast.

In recent years Oulidia has undergone a face-lift and a great deal of development. Villas and apartments have sprung up, which now cover most of the hillside facing the lagoon, but unlike some other Moroccan seaside towns there has been a conscious effort to keep new buildings low rise. Their style is in sympathy with the original Art Deco and Modernist beach houses, which line the streets adjacent to the beaches.

While the town is relatively quiet for much of the year, the holiday season following Ramadan sees the town packed with visitors. At this time, booking an apartment in advance is recommended. For those without a booking, locals waving sets of keys are happy to show you apartments for short term rent.

Oulidia is also home to a wide range of birds and ornithologists will find many different species in the wetlands and surrounding areas. Taking a boat ride around the lagoon is also a way of getting close up to the cormorants, falcons, herons and wading birds of the region.

One of the most pleasing developments in Oulidia is the culture of civic pride in the cleanliness of the town and its beaches. Every morning sees teams of workers scouring the dunes and beaches collecting rubbish.  There are rubbish bins everywhere, which are regularly emptied. It is wonderful to see that, unlike at many Moroccan beaches, visitors actively collect their rubbish and deposit it in the bins.

Local boat operator, Hamid, complains that much of the plastic rubbish washed up on the Oulidia beaches comes from other places. "They all need to clean up like we do," he said. Oulidia is one of 23 beaches in Morocco that have been awarded the "Blue Flag" environmental designation.

There are plenty of amenities for beach lovers, ranging from small paddle boats through to dune buggies which, though noisy, are restricted to an outlying area, away from the family beaches around the lagoon. Intrusive jet-skis are also thankfully prohibited at the main beaches.

For fishing enthusiasts, rock fishing is very popular; though caution needs to be taken as the occasional large waves can be dangerous.

Navigation tip: while all the local signs say "Oulidia", many GPS maps have the spelling "Loulidia".