10 Moroccan destinations to visit in Autumn

Morocco is justly famous for its long hot summers and amazing beach holidays, but that doesn’t mean the country shuts down for the rest of the year. Indeed, much of the best travelling in the country happens after the crowds head home. Visiting Morocco in the autumn means less tourists, lower prices and a more intimate travel. Here, I pick my top 10 Moroccan destinations for the fall, along with a hotel and restaurants recommendations for each.

1- Imouzzer

In Imouzzer, fall foliage isn’t restricted to the trees. Famous for its lakes, apples and charming village, the region triples the pleasures of fall color in a surprising way. The gold and ruby leaves of apple-trees, oaks, larch, and beech trees are beautiful, sure. But the real punch comes in the low heather, bracken, and bilberry brush that create a velvety red blanket over the Imouzzer’s famed fells (hills and mountains). On still days, you’ll get twice the impact as the dramatic colors are reflected in the lakes below. An autumn hotline helps visitors locate the best color, and hiking offers excellent, free views of the foliage, lakes, and ubiquitous grazing sheep.

 

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2- Ras El Ma

When a the whole region is named after a water spring, you know it’s an extraordinary place to visit. Aspen leaves turn a rich yellow hue in the fall and literally shimmer in the breeze when the sun hits them. The gold tones of aspens in autumn make for a picture-perfect contrast with the evergreens and craggy cedar mountain peaks. While the ritzy ski resort town of Michliffen is the place to see and be seen in the winter, it mellows during the autumn months.

Autumn Photo of Golden Aspen Trees in Colorado

3- Ain Leuh

Cut into the Dayet Awa and forming a natural border between southern Cedar Forest and northern Middle Atlas range, Ain Leuh is a sublime sight. Come fall, when the firs, cottonwoods, big-leaf maples, Atlantic cedars, and twisted pines start to show their colors, it’s absolutely breathtaking. Visitors can choose to take in the golden and bronze hues while hiking a variety of trails.

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4- Ifrane

This is Morocco as you never pictured it, a Lord of The Rings-style landscape of cedar forests and ancient walkways. Best of all, Ifrane is just over an hour from downtown Meknes making it a perfect autumn day-trip destination. Rent a house, read a book by an open fire, or walk through the cedar forests: whatever you choose you can’t go wrong here. Oh, and the local Trout tagine is among the best in Morocco.

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5- Ketama

For the ruggedly self-sufficient, Ketama is a dream fall foliage destination. By the end of October, all the park’s concessions have closed for the season, guests have gone home, and you pretty much have the entire park to yourself. This is one of the best places to see fall folliage. Golden and Bronze trees intermingled with evergreens set against the backdrop of the massive snow-covered peaks of the Rif mountains make for perhaps the most dramatic autumn scene in Africa. Plus, wildlife abounds, with barbary macaques, wilde boars, Atlas deers and foxes making their preparations for winter.

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6- Azilane

The most spectacular section of the Rif mountains? The deep autumnal colours of Talassemtane’s ancient pine forests, plus its incredible rock formations, certainly make this UNESCO World Heritage Site a strong contender.

The Auberge Tissouka  was once a cannabis plantation, and the charming shapes of the alpine architecture lend themselves well to the natural landscape surroung it . There are many varieties of rooms—singles, double with mezzanine areas, family rooms. The hosting family will also offer free tea, coffee, and prepare delicious traditonal meals prepared with fruits and vegetables grown right on the property.
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7- Ouarzazate

In Berber, Ouarzazate literally means “Door of the Desert.” If you’re heading to Morocco in autumn, this region absolutely needs to be a part of your travel plan. On the way from Marrakech heading down to the Sahara desert, Aint Benhaddou is a World Heritage site where your favorite movies  were made, including: Lawrence of Arabia, Games of Thrones and Gladiator…etc.

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8- Tazzeka Park

Tazzeka Park, between Taza and Fez in Morocco’s Imperial Region , is a true surprise. After all, who’d have guessed that somewhere in Africa, among towering snow-capped peaks, you’d find an alpine meadow studded with thousands of mountain cedar and mapple trees, which turn vibrant yellow every Autumn? The trees, some of them 1000 years old, are a sure sign of the region’s « fifth season, » or Berber summer.

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9- Legzira beach

Travel from Atlantic shore to Sahara’s edge on this bird-filled autumn to southern Morocco. Legzira beach is often seen as one of the most amazing stretches of sand in all of Africa, mainly due to its two formidable red rock arches, formed by years of erosion from the pounding ocean. I’m told the best time to see them is at sunset when the rock turns a glowing red colour..

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10- Dakhla

Between ocean, lagoon and desert, hundreds of km  from any kind of civilization, Dakhla is the perfect place for relaxing and spending unusual holidays. You will find in this place, at the border of several worlds, influenced by the Moroccan and African cultures, an ideal location to open up to new sensations and horizons.

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Tarfaya Strip: Where Sahara meets the Ocean

This isn’t a destination to be rushed. Poor infrastructure and undeveloped tourist industry mean that you’ll often be left frustrated if you’re trying to travel in a hurry. So slow down; don’t try to pack too much into your itinerary. Between dunes and waves, the region isn’t a tick-the-sights-off-the-list type of destination. It’s a place to relax, meet people and discover a nature which is full of secrets. And for that you need time.

Fish and shellfish are very important elements in the Atlantic Sahara cuisine and there is a great range of fresh fish available all year round. Aside from tasty, seafood is healthy too, specially after a Sand & Wave surfing session !

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The Drâa Delta was home for variety of extinct animals like the Saharan crocodiles (Crocodylus suchus) who adapted to the arid environment by staying in caves or burrows in a state of æstivation during the driest periods. They seem to have disappeared by the 1960s. ‪

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Tea, Sahara and Ocean10568998_904181599631751_6197109082316944915_n

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The Devil’s Hole (Gouffre du Diable / Ajab Rabbi), located 450 km south of Agadir (Between Tan Tan and Tarfaya) and 150 meters north of Akhfennir, is one of many caves along the Moroccan coastline but certainly the most stunning one that can only be reached by the water when the ocean is calm.

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Khenifiss National Park, is a national park in the southwest of Morocco, located near Akhfenir at the Atlantic coast in the region of Tarfaya,between the towns of Tan-Tan (north) and Tarfaya (south). The park includes a coastal portion, the Khenfiss lagoon, the biggest lagoon at the Moroccan coast, and the inland portion, located on desert plateaus. The lagoon is also an important bird nesting ground. Every year, about 20,000 birds stay in the lagoon area in the winter season.

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The Red and Golden Sand Dunes of Naïla are stunning ! This lagoon is situated in the middle of Khenifiss lagoon, and the sand is very smooth and the beach is shallow

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Glamorous winter in Marrakech

Today I whisk you away to the glamorous decoration and stunning gardens of the prestigious Royal Mansour in Marrakech . Set within the walls of Old Medina, this prestigious palace is an oasis of elegant riads, delightfull restaurants and a quite and luxurious hammam. With views of the Atlas moutains and the Koutoubia mosque, the palace is located within walking distance of the historical Jama el Fna square.



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Autumn: Ifrane’s Secret Season

With its European style villas and surprising nature, Ifrane is such a different place that you won’t forget. It is reminiscent of certain Swiss villages! It is the perfect place to top up your reserves at altitude. When the weather is good, walk close to the Vittel spring and its waterfalls shaded by the poplar and maple trees. Its national park contains one of the largest cedar plantations in the world, where mischievous monkeys, which are used to seeing people, will welcome you. The lakes and rivers are crammed with pike and trout. Are there any takers? ‪

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Ifrane is worth visiting every day of the year, but autumn might be the city’s best season. Colors are everywhere and you can still enjoy it’s outdoor terraces with a Hot chocolate or Local tea

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The Lakes circuit, pretty diversion north of Ifrane around Dayet Aoua, Dayet Hachlaf, Dayet Ifer and Dayet Ifrah

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There are many beautiful trees in this Moroccan Middle Atlas city, with leaves turning many different hues until they eventually fall. The colors are at their zenith from late October, often throughout December.