Thursday, December 10, 2009
Chefchaouen - Morocco's mountain retreat
Chefchaouen is a blissful retreat in the Rif mountains that makes for a relaxing few days en route from Tangier to Fez. The View from Fez team reports.
The rest of the square is lined with lots of restaurants with pavement tables. Here you can while away your time, sipping mint tea and people-watching ...
... or chewing the fat, like the locals:
Food at these pavement cafes is generally good, though the menu is always the same, basic Moroccan fare. Otherwise, there are some reasonably good restaurants on offer (the same menu again, though). The View from Fez was disappointed with the food at Casa Hassan, which seems to have lost the plot - lots of items on the menu were not available and what was on offer was pretty nondescript. Much better was Casa Aladin, with its three floors and a roof terrace and some interesting art on the walls that's all for sale.
There's a huge range of budget and medium-priced accommodation available in and around the medina, but little in the upper range. The Parador Hotel near the square is a pretty soulless place, but one of the only places with a bar. High up on the hill is the Atlas hotel with its disco and bar, but unless you're very fit, you'd need a car to get there.
The View from Fez team stayed at the colourful Dar Meziana on the northwestern edge of the medina. It's very comfortable and has great views over the medina from the roof terrace. Be warned, though, that prices include dinner at Casa Hassan; only breakfast is served at Dar Meziana itself.
What to do in Chefchaouen
The main interest of many visitors to Chaouen is, apparently, partaking of the local herb ... but there's more to the town than that. There is an abundance of shops specialising in local clothing, jewellery, antiques, fossils and ceramics.
The mountains around the town are great for hiking. If you're more adventurous, you could try climbing here too. Jonathan Ayrton is a qualified rock-climbing instructor who lives in Chaouen. He enthuses about the wide range of grades in the area; the limestone routes are bolted. A day's instruction costs around Dh550, or he'll accompany you if you're an experienced climber; phone him on 0615 435 018.