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  • Where to go in Morocco | Rough Guides
    the pre and fully fledged Sahara With two or three weeks even two or three months you can t expect to cover all of this though it s easy enough and highly recommended to take in something of each aspect Broadly speaking the coast is best enjoyed in the north at Tangier still shaped by its old international port status despite undergoing considerable recent renovation Asilah and Larache and in the south at El Jadida Essaouira perhaps the most easy going resort or remote Sidi Ifni Agadir the main package tour resort is less worthwhile but a functional enough base for exploration Inland where the real interest of Morocco lies the outstanding cities are Fez and Marrakesh The great imperial capitals of the country s various dynasties they are almost unique in the Arab world for the chance they offer to witness city life that in patterns and appearance remains in large part medieval For monuments Fez is the highlight though Marrakesh is for most visitors the more enjoyable Travel in the south is on the whole easier and more relaxing than in the sometimes frenetic north This is certainly true of the mountain ranges where the Rif can feel disturbingly anarchic while the southerly Atlas ranges Middle High and Anti that cut right across the interior are beautiful and accessible Hiking in the High Atlas especially around North Africa s highest mountain Jebel Toubkal is increasingly popular following old mule paths through mud brick villages or tackling some of the impressive peaks Summer treks are possible at all levels of experience and altitude and despite inroads made by commercialization the area remains essentially undiscovered like the Alps must have been in the nineteenth century Equally exploratory in mood are the great southern routes beyond the Atlas amid the oases

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  • Best Time To Visit Morocco | Rough Guides
    go Show Related Guides Hide Related Guides Pocket Rough Guide Marrakesh View Guide Essaouira and the Atlantic Coast Rough Guides Snapshot Morocco View Guide The Rough Guide to Morocco View Guide The Rough Guide to South Africa Lesotho Swaziland View Guide Rough Guides Snapshot South Africa Johannesburg and Pretoria View Guide Rough Guides Snapshot South Africa The Eastern Cape View Guide The Rough Guide to Namibia View Guide The Rough Guide to Tanzania View Guide Rough Guides Snapshot Tanzania The Northern Safari Circuit View Guide The Rough Guide to Mauritius View Guide Morocco When to go As far as the climate goes the best time to visit the south or at least the desert routes outside midsummer when for most of the day it s far too hot for casual exploration especially if you re dependent on public transport July and August the hottest months can be wonderful on the coast however while in the mountains there are no set rules Spring which comes late by European standards around April and May is perhaps the best overall time with a summer climate in the south and in the mountains as well as on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts Winter can be perfect by day in the south though desert nights can get very cold a major consideration if you re staying in the cheaper hotels which rarely have heating If you re planning to hike in the mountains it s best to keep to the months from April to October unless you have some experience of snow conditions Weather apart the Islamic religious calendar and its related festivals will have the most seasonal effect on your travel The most important factor is Ramadan the month of daytime fasting this can be a problem for transport and especially hiking though the

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  • Getting there | About Morocco | Rough Guides
    border to La Linea for the bus From Málaga airport there are a two daily direct buses to Algeciras or else you can change at Marbella see w venta avanzabus com for details Flights from the US and Canada Royal Air Maroc RAM w royalairmaroc com run nonstop flights to Casablanca from New York and Montreal flight time 7hr 30min The alternative is to take an indirect flight with a European carrier changing planes at their European hub Those serving Casablanca include Air France w airfrance com Alitalia w alitalia com and Lufthansa w lufthansa com while Iberia w iberia com fly to Casablanca Marrakesh Rabat Tangier and the Spanish enclave of Melilla If you re flying from elsewhere in North America you can take a connecting flight to New York or Montreal and continue from there on RAM Delta codeshare the New York flight so they should be able to sell you a through ticket without much trouble or buy a through ticket via Europe with a European airline or with a North American airline such as Air Canada w aircanada com American w aa com Continental w continental com Delta w delta com or United w united com in conjunction with a European carrier From New York you can expect to pay including tax US 1200 in high season or US 900 in low season for the cheapest flight to Casablanca From Montreal the fare will be Can 1300 1200 in high low season Getting to Morocco from the west coast will obviously cost more expect to pay upwards of US 1500 1150 to Casablanca from LA in high low season or Can 1965 1425 from Vancouver Flights from Australia New Zealand and South Africa There are no direct flights from Australia New Zealand or South Africa to Morocco From Australasia you will need to change planes in Europe or the Middle East Emirates w emirates com or Etihad w etihadairways com via the UAE are often the most convenient airlines with Emirates in particular offering a decent choice of Australian and New Zealand airports to depart from Alternatively you can also fly with a European airline such as Lufthansa w lufthansa com or Air France w airfrance com or buy a through ticket with Qantas w qantas com or Air New Zealand w airnz co nz in conjunction with their partners in Europe which has the advantage of offering a wider choice of departure airports For the cheapest through ticket you can expect to pay Aus 2250 1800 in high low season July Nov from Australia or NZ 2600 2250 from New Zealand Flying from South Africa you could fly with an operator such as Emirates w emirates com via Dubai Egyptair w egyptair com via Cairo or Air France w airfrance com via Paris The most direct route however is to fly SAA w flysaa com to Dakar changing there onto a Royal Air Maroc w royalairmaroc com flight to Casablanca Expect to pay upwards of

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  • Getting around | About Morocco | Rough Guides
    On private line buses you generally pay for your baggage to be loaded into the hold or onto the roof The standard fee is 5dh but this may be foregone on short hops Note that you only pay to have your baggage loaded not to have it unloaded on arrival whatever anybody may say On CTM SATAS and Supratours buses your luggage is weighed and you are issued with a receipt for the baggage charge usually 5 10dh depending on weight and distance allow time for this procedure On arrival porters with wheeled box carts chariots may offer their services but always agree a price before engaging one Supratours buses An additional service on certain major routes is the Supratours express buses run as feeder services by the train company ONCF These are fast and very comfortable and run from Tetouan Essaouira Agadir and the Western Sahara to connect with rail services from Oujda Tangier and Marrakesh Timetables and fares for Supratours buses can be found along with those for trains on the ONCF website w oncf ma Supratours services compare in both time and cost with CTM buses They do not use the main bus stations but depart from outside their own town centre offices detailed in the text Through tickets to and from connecting rail stations are available Essaouira through to Fez for example and travellers with rail tickets for connecting services have priority It s best to book tickets in advance if possible By shared taxi Shared grands taxis are one of the best features of Moroccan transport They operate on a wide variety of routes are much quicker than buses usually quicker than trains too and fares vary from slightly more than the bus to around twice as much The taxis are usually big Peugeot or Mercedes cars carrying six passengers Peugeots are less common but have a slightly less cramped seating arrangement Most business is along specific routes and the most popular routes have more or less continuous departures throughout the day You just show up at the terminal locations are detailed in the guide and ask for a place to a specific destination The best time to arrive is early morning 7 9am when a lot of people are travelling and taxis fill up quickly lunchtime on the other hand is a bad time to turn up as fewer people will be travelling and the taxi will take longer to fill up As soon as six or if you re willing to pay extra four or five people are assembled the taxi sets off Make sure when asking about grands taxis that it is clear you only want a place une place in French plassa in Arabic or hold up one finger in a shared taxi taxi collectif as drivers often presume that a tourist will want to charter the whole taxi which means paying for all six places Women travelling alone may wish to pay for two places and get the front seat to themselves rather than be squashed up against male passengers Picking up a shared taxi on the road is more problematic as they will only stop if they have a place free if a passenger has already alighted To hail a taxi on the open road hold up one two or more fingers to indicate how many places you need Fares for set routes are fixed and drivers do not usually try to overcharge tourists for a place though occasionally they try to charge for baggage which usually travels free of charge If you think that you are being overcharged ask the other passengers or check the price with your hotel before leaving Occasionally five passengers may agree to split the cost of the last place to hasten departure or one passenger may agree to pay for two places You pay the full fare for the journey even if travelling only part of the way If you want to take a non standard route or an excursion or just to have the taxi to yourself it is possible to charter a whole grand taxi une course in French corsa in Arabic In theory this should be exactly six times the price of a place in a shared taxi if the route has a set fare but you ll often have to bargain hard to get that Hotels can sometimes be useful in helping to charter grands taxis Some people consider shared taxis dangerous It is certainly true that they are prone to practices such as speeding and overtaking on blind curves or the brows of hills and that they have more than their fair share of accidents Drivers may work all day and into the night and it seems a large number of accidents involve them falling asleep at the wheel while driving at night so you may wish to avoid using them for night time journeys especially on busy roads the N8 between Marrakesh and Agadir is the worst Note also that with the seating arrangements it is not usually possible to wear a seat belt though if you pay for two places you can get the front seat to yourself and put the belt on Trucks and hitching In the countryside where buses may be sporadic or even nonexistent it is standard practice for vans and lorries camions pick up trucks camionettes and transit vans transits to carry passengers for a charge You may be asked to pay a little more than the locals and you may be expected to bargain over the price but it s straightforward enough In parts of the Atlas local people run more or less scheduled truck or transit services generally to coincide with the pattern of local souks If you plan on traversing any of the more ambitious Atlas pistes you ll probably be dependent on these vehicles unless you walk Hitching Hitchhiking is not big in Morocco but you may resort to it on routes where transport is scarce Fellow tourists may pick you up and Moroccans may carry you for free but usually you pay around the same as a bus or grand taxi fare This is especially the case in country areas where local rides can operate in much the same way as truck taxis As a rule however hitching is not really safe and it is definitely not advisable for women travelling alone We have heard of Moroccan hitchhikers being robbed on the N12 Tata Bou Izakarn road and it probably happens elsewhere too By car There are few real problems driving in Morocco but accident rates are high largely because motorists routinely ignore traffic regulations and drive aggressively and dangerously most people pay baksheesh for their licence The N8 between Marrakesh and Agadir is a particular accident blackspot Do not expect other drivers to indicate or observe lane discipline beware when coming up to blind curves or hills where vehicles coming in the other direction may be trying to overtake without full view of the road ahead treat all pedestrians with the suspicion that they will cross in front of you and all cyclists with the idea that they may well swerve into the middle of the road All this makes driving a particularly hair raising experience in towns and even experienced drivers may find city driving quite stressful The difficulty of finding places in cities due to lack of street signs adds to the problem Be particularly wary about driving after dark as it is legal to drive up to 20km h without lights which allows all cyclists and mopeds to wander at will donkeys goats and sheep do not carry lights either However with those caveats in mind daytime and certainly long distance driving can be as good as anywhere Good road surfaces long straight roads and little traffic between inhabited areas allow for high average speeds The usual speed limit outside towns is 40km h 25mph in built up areas 100km h 62mph on ordinary roads and 120km h 75mph on motorways There are on the spot fines for speeding and oncoming motorists flashing their headlights at you may well be warning you to slow down for a police check ahead radar speed traps are common The French rule of giving priority to traffic from the right is observed at roundabouts and junctions meaning that cars coming onto a roundabout have priority over those already on it By law drivers and passengers are required to wear seat belts Almost no one does but if you follow suit and are stopped by the police you may have a small fine possibly unofficial extracted Given Morocco s high road accident rate it is foolhardy not to wear a seat belt anyway Piste and off piste driving On the pistes rough unpaved tracks in the mountains or desert there are special problems Here you do need a good deal of driving and mechanical confidence and if you don t feel your car is up to it don t drive on these routes Obviously a 4WD vehicle is best suited to the pistes but most pistes are passable with care in an ordinary small car though it s worth asking local advice first On mountain roads beware of gravel which can be a real danger on the frequent hairpin bends and in spring flash floods caused by melting snow The six volume series Pistes du Maroc Gandini are invaluable guides for anyone planning on driving pistes they are available in major Moroccan bookshops or online w extrem sud com guides php Driving a 4WD can be an exciting way of exploring the mountains and desert off tarmac or even off piste Some companies lay on vehicles driver and mess tent organize food and cooking and will go wherever requested For economical and practical reasons groups should number five or eleven so you ll probably find yourself exploring with strangers UK based AMIS specializes in this field Car rental Car rental starts at around 2000dh 150 240 per week or 400dh 30 47 a day there s usually a three day minimum for a basic car with unlimited mileage and insurance cover You will be expected to leave credit card details and fuel prices are high see Equipment Having a car pays obvious dividends if you are pushed for time especially in the south where buses and taxis may be sparse but chartering a grand taxi and agreeing a daily rate will not cost that much more Many visitors rent a car in Casablanca Marrakesh or Agadir but it may work out cheaper to arrange car rental in advance through the travel company who arranges your flight With international firms such as Hertz Budget Europcar and Avis you can book from home by phone or online Local car rental firms are listed in city Arrival and Departure sections in the guide Deals to go for are unlimited mileage and daily weekly rates paying by the kilometre invariably works out more expensive Local firms have the advantage that the price is more likely to be negotiable though the condition of the vehicle should be well checked Many hotels can arrange car rental at reasonable rates If you can t or don t want to drive yourself car rental companies can often arrange a driver for around 300dh 23 35 a day Before setting out make sure the car comes with spare tyre toolkit and full documentation including insurance cover which is compulsory issue with all rentals It s a good idea to get full insurance to avoid charges for bumps and scratches Most car rental agreements prohibit use of the car on unsurfaced roads and you will be liable for any damage sustained if you do drive off tarmac Equipment Whether you rent a car or drive your own always make sure you re carrying a spare tyre in good condition plus a jack and tools Flat tyres occur very frequently even on fairly major roads and you can often be in for a long wait until someone drives along with a possible replacement Carrying an emergency windscreen is also useful especially if driving your own car for a long period of time There are lots of loose stones on the hard shoulders of single lane roads and they can fly all over the place If you re not mechanically minded be sure to bring a car maintenance manual a useful item too for anyone planning to rent a vehicle Fuel and breakdowns Filling stations can be few and far between in rural areas always fill your tank to the limit Unleaded fuel is available in most places nowadays but it s always worth filling up when you have the chance as supplies can be sporadic Fuel prices are generally lower than in Western Europe at 10 33dh 77p 1 22 a litre for unleaded sans plomb or bidoun rasas and 7 30dh 55p 86 for diesel gasoil pronounced gazwaal In the Saharan provinces basically the Western Sahara fuel is subsidized and costs about a third less Fuel in the duty free Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla is cheaper than it is on the Spanish mainland but currently costs more than it does in Morocco proper at around 1 24 for unleaded sin plomo and 1 14 for diesel gasóleo As in Morocco proper unleaded fuel can sometimes be in short supply in the Spanish enclaves Moroccan mechanics are usually excellent at coping with breakdowns and all medium sized towns have garages most with an extensive range of spare parts for most French cars and usually for Fiats too However if you break down miles from anywhere you ll probably end up paying a fortune to get a truck to tow you to the nearest town If you are driving your own vehicle there is also the problem of having to re export any car that you bring into the country even a wreck You can t just write off a car you ll have to take it out of Morocco with you Vehicle insurance Insurance must by law be sold along with all rental agreements Driving your own vehicle you should obtain Green Card cover from your insurers If you don t have it on arrival you can buy it from Assurance Frontière for 950dh 77 113 a month for a car or camper van at Tangier port Nador port or the land frontiers at Ceuta and Melilla to renew it the main AF office is at 59 Bd Bordeaux Casablanca t 0522 484156 or t 7 Parking Parking in almost any town you will find a gardien de voitures usually licensed by local authorities to look after cars and claiming a couple of dirhams by way of parking fees Alternatively most of the larger hotels in the Ville Nouvelle quarters of cities have parking spaces and occasionally garaging It s always worth paying for a gardien or parking in a garage as new or well looked after cars attract a certain level of vandalism Red and white striped kerbs mean no parking is allowed By motorbike Morocco has all the major attractions sought by bike enthusiasts but if you ve never taken a bike abroad before seriously consider going with a group H C Travel in the UK w hctravel com Moto Adventures in Andorra w motoaventures com and Wilderness Wheels in Ouarzazate w wildernesswheels com offer off road and trailbiking packages Taking your own bike is subject to the same bureaucracy as taking a car see Entering Morocco by ferry One way of avoiding that is to rent a bike in Morocco see Local bus routes Getting around So far as road conditions are concerned our comments on driving also apply to motorbikes Taking your own bike If you take your own motorbike you will need special insurance Most companies especially those based outside Europe will not cover motorcycling as part of a holiday overseas particularly when off road riding is contemplated or inevitable as it often is in Morocco You ll have to shop around and remember to take the policy with you together with your bike registration certificate biker s licence and International Driving Permit Even large insurance companies don t give clear answers about Green Cards for motorcycling in Morocco and do not understand that you may encounter up to a dozen police checks a day When entering Morocco try to arrive as early in the day as possible If you are a lone traveller and speak neither Arabic nor French you may be left queuing until those without queries have been dealt with If the office then closes you may have to return the next morning In these circumstances it might be worth investing in a tout who for a fee will take your papers to a friendly officer It s also worth picking up a couple of free extra immigration forms for the return journey What to take and when to go If possible don t take a model of bike likely to be unfamiliar in Morocco It s worth carrying cables and levers inner tubes puncture repair kit tyre levers pump fuses plugs chain washable air filter cable ties good tape and a toolkit For riding off road take knobbly tyres and rim locks brush guards metal number plate and bashplate In winter take tough fabric outer clothing In summer carry lighter weight clothing woollen jumpers and waterproofs Drying out leathers takes a long time In the south the heat in summer can be overwhelming making travelling a far from enjoyable experience Cycling Cycling and particularly mountain biking in the Atlas and other areas is becoming an increasingly popular pursuit for Western travellers to Morocco The country s regular roads are well maintained and by European standards very quiet while the extensive network of pistes dirt tracks makes for exciting mountain bike terrain leading you into areas otherwise accessible only to trekkers or four wheel drive expeditions Regular roads are

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  • Accommodation | About Morocco | Rough Guides
    house The riad craze started in Marrakesh and quickly spread to Fez and Essaouira Since then it has gone nationwide and almost every town with tourists now has riads too Even the Atlas mountains and the southern oases are dotted with them Most riads are eighteenth or nineteenth century Medina townhouses which have been bought and refurbished by Europeans or prosperous Moroccans often Moroccans who have been living in Europe Some of them are very stylishly done out most have roof terraces some have plunge pools or jacuzzis pretty much all offer en suite rooms and breakfast is usually included in the room price The best riads have a landlord or landlady who is constantly in attendance and stamps their own individual personality on the place but many riads nowadays are really just boutique hotels and can be quite impersonal The popularity of riads has also attracted a fair few amateur property developers some of whom invest minimum money in the hope of maximum returns Therefore before you take a riad even more than with a hotel it is always best to give it a preliminary once over Riads may be more expensive than hotels with a similar level of comfort but at the top of the market they can be a lot classier than a run of the mill five star hotel Hostels Morocco has thirteen Auberges de Jeunesse run by its YHA the Fédération Royale Marocaine des Auberges de Jeunesse t 0522 470952 e email protected Most are clean and reasonably well run and charges vary from 30dh 2 25 3 60 to 75dh 5 60 9 per person per night in a dorm most have private rooms too Hostelling International HI membership cards are not required but you may have to pay a little extra if you do not have one The hostels are located at Asni High Atlas Azrou Middle Atlas Casablanca Chefchaouen Fez Goulmima Laayoune Western Sahara closed at last check Marrakesh Meknes Ouarzazate Rabat Rissani and Tinerhir Most are reviewed in the relevant sections of the guide Further information on Moroccan youth hostels can be found on the Hostelling International website at w hihostels com Refuges and gîtes d étape In the Jebel Toubkal area of the High Atlas mountains the Club Alpin Français CAF 50 Bd Sidi Abderrahmane Beauséjour Casablanca t 0522 990141 w ffcam fr maintain five huts or refuges at Imlil Oukaïmeden Tazaghart and Toubkal equipped for mountaineers and trekkers These provide bunks or bedshelves for sleeping at 100 180dh per person with discounts for members of CAF or its affiliates Some refuges can provide meals and or cooking facilities Also in trekking areas a number of locals offer rooms in their houses such places are known as gîtes d étape Current charges are around 100 150dh per person per night with meals for around 60 80dh Camping Campsites are to be found at intervals along most of the developed Moroccan coast and in most towns or cities of any size

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  • Food and drink | About Morocco | Rough Guides
    may be open in the morning and between times too Places that don t display prices are likely to overcharge you unless you check the price before ordering Eating Moroccan style Eating in local cafés or if invited to a home you may find yourself using your hands rather than a knife and fork Muslims eat only with the right hand the left is used for the toilet and you should do likewise Hold the bread between the fingers and use your thumb as a scoop it s often easier to discard the soft centre of the bread and to use the crust only as you will see many Moroccans do Eating from a communal plate at someone s home it is polite to take only what is immediately in front of you unless specifically offered a piece of meat by the host Vegetarian eating Vegetarianism is met with little comprehension in most of Morocco though restaurants in some places are becoming aware that tourists may be vegetarian and many places do now offer a meat free tajine or couscous In Marrakesh there is even a vegetarian restaurant see Café Argana and pizzas are usually available in large towns Otherwise aside from omelettes and sandwiches menus don t present very obvious choices Bisara pea soup a common breakfast dish should be meat free but harira bean soup may or may not be made with meat stock while most foods are cooked in animal fats It is possible to say I m a vegetarian ana nabaati in Arabic or je suis vegetarien vegetarienne in French but you may not be understood to reinforce the point you could perhaps add la akulu lehoum wala hout in Arabic or je ne mange aucune sorte de viande ni poisson both of which mean I don t eat any kind of meat or fish If you are a very strict vegetarian or vegan it may be worth bringing some basic provisions such as yeast extract peanut butter and veggie stock cubes and a small camping gas stove and pan canisters are cheap though quite hard to find Carrefour hypermarkets usually have them as do the DIY chain Mr Bricolage and some cheap hotels allow guests to cook in their rooms The most difficult situations are those in which you are invited to eat at someone s house You may find people give you meat when you have specifically asked for vegetables because they don t understand that you object to eating meat and you may decide that it s more important not to offend someone showing you kindness than to be strict about your abstinence Picking out vegetables from a meat tajine won t offend your hosts but declining the dish altogether may end up with the mother sister wife in the kitchen getting the flak Fruit Morocco is surprisingly rich in seasonal fruits In addition to the various kinds of dates sold all year but at their best fresh from the October harvests there

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  • The media | About Morocco | Rough Guides
    International Herald Tribune are available at some newsstands in city centres and tourist resorts Newspapers and magazines The Moroccan press has a range of papers in French and Arabic but news coverage especially of international news is weak Of the French language papers the most accessible is the pro government daily Le Matin w lematin ma Others include L Opinion Istiqlal party w lopinion ma Maroc Soir pro government evening daily L Economiste independent w leconomiste com and Al Bayane communist w albayane press ma Periodicals include Maroc Hebdo w maroc hebdo press ma La Vie Eco w lavieeco com and the Time Newsweek style news magazine Tel Quel w telquel online com There s also an independent online English language news magazine Morocco Newsline at w morocconewsline com The most widely read Arabic daily newspapers are Assabah the sister paper to L Economiste and the more sensationalist Al Ahdath Al Maghribia which is independent but left leaning In addition to these Morocco has a number of football magazines women s magazines and other publications in French as well as the excellent Francophone African news magazine Jeune Afrique w jeuneafrique com Radio The BBC have cut World Service short wave broadcasts to North Africa but with a deft twiddle of the dial you may be able to pick up short wave broadcasts for West Africa or MW broadcasts to Europe programme listings can be found online at w bbc co uk worldservice You can also pick up Voice of America currently in the afternoon on 11840 or 13570 KHz and in the evening on 7470 or 9490 KHz but these sometimes change see w voanews com english programs for up to date frequency and programme listings Television Most of the pricier hotels receive satellite TV CNN the French TV5 and

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  • Festivals | About Morocco | Rough Guides
    in public In fact the best way to experience Ramadan and to benefit from its naturally purifying rhythms is to enter into it You may lack the faith to go without an occasional glass of water and you ll probably have breakfast later than sunrise it s often wise to buy supplies the night before but it is worth an attempt Other Islamic holidays Ramadan ends with the feast of Aïd es Seghir or Aïd el Fitr a climax to the month s night time festivities Even more important is Aïd el Kebir which celebrates the willingness of Abraham to obey God by sacrificing his son Isaac in the Old Testament but believed by Muslims to be his older son Ishmael Aïd el Kebir is followed about two months later by Moharem the Muslim new year Both aïds are traditional family gatherings At Aïd el Kebir every household that can afford it will slaughter a sheep You see them tethered everywhere often on rooftops for weeks prior to the event after the feast their skins can be seen being cured on the streets On both aïd days shops and restaurants close and buses don t run on the following day all transport is packed as people return to the cities from their family homes The fourth main religious holiday is the Mouloud the Prophet s birthday This is widely observed with a large number of moussems timed to take place in the weeks around it and two particularly important moussems at Meknes and Salé There is also a music festival Ashorou which is held thirty days after Aïd el Kebir when people gather to play whatever traditional instrument they feel capable of wielding and the streets are full of music Moussems and ammougars Moussems or ammougars held in honour of saints or marabouts are local and predominantly rural affairs and form the main religious and social celebrations of the year for most Moroccans along with Aïd es Seghir and Aïd el Kebir Some of the smaller moussems amount to no more than a market day with religious overtones others are essentially harvest festivals celebrating a pause in agricultural labour after a crop has been successfully brought in but a number have developed into substantial occasions akin to Spanish fiestas and a few have acquired national significance If you are lucky enough to be here for one of the major events you ll get the chance to witness Moroccan popular culture at its richest with horseriding music singing and dancing and of course eating and drinking There are enormous numbers of moussems An idea of quite how many can be gathered from the frequency with which travelling about the countryside you see koubbas the square white domed buildings covering a saint s tomb Each of these is a potential focal point of a moussem and any one region or town may have twenty to thirty separate annual moussems Establishing when they take place however can be difficult for outsiders most local

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