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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.