From The Africa Report. 4 great places in the North.
Morocco’s government has poured billions of dirhams into giving the North a facelift – new bus routes, better roads, better security. When you add this to an economic boom driven by the huge Tanger-Med port complex and car factories, you have a new dynamic in a once decrepit region.
Under the heel of the Spanish and then the French, surviving a ferocious colonial war (the Rif War), the Tangier area still retains an independentist feel – this was a region that still stamped its own currency a little over a century ago. Shunned by the previous king, it has become a favourite of King Mohammed VI, and its unprepossessing charm is yet to be flooded with EasyTourists.
A rooftop oasis in Rabat’s ancient centre – Riad Kalaa, Rabat
Touching down in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, visitors can hop on one of the regular trains to the North. But you might like to break the journey in Riad Kalaa, a boutique bolthole in the city’s medina. Built into the ramparts, it has an emerald rooftop pool, its own hammam and open fires in five of the 11 rooms. riadkalaa.com
The bliss of rolling waves on an empty beach – Rmilate beach, Asilah
Those in search of a tranquil beach, away from the millionaire mansions that are creeping across Morocco’s shorefront, should head to Asilah in spring or autumn. This small Atlantic coast town with a Spanish flavour has an abundance of stunning beaches that are largely deserted except in summer.
Tea and tumbledown buildings in a laid – back medina – Medina, Tangier
The northern port is quickly becoming Morocco’s second business hub, but step into the medina and you are lost in time. A refreshing diffidence is on show here – the locals couldn’t care less, and tourists will get a lot less hassle than in the medinas of Marrakech or Fez. It may not last. The beautiful tumbledown buildings are slowly being bought up by French retirees.
Nature’s lush bounty in the Rif Mountains – Akchour waterfalls, Chefchaouen
Thigh-deep in cold water may not be your idea of fun, but the simple beauty of a waterfall can move the hardest heart. When added to the genuine hospitality of Chefchaouen, the walks around the cascades can sway the mind from the thrill of totting up a balance sheet.