Adventures in Marrakech

Words and images by Kasper Nybo Photography, December 2014.

 

Whether you're coming down from the cool Atlas mountains or straight in from the burning desert, Marrakech, Morocco, is nothing short of being a physical manifestation of an elusive fatamorgana chased for thousands of years!

In a hypnotic rhythm it draws people from near and far as an oasis of plenty. It lures you in. It teases and tempts until you’re swallowed up by the endless mazes of shops, pathways and people in the old Souks in the Medina. When - eventually- you make it out on the other side, you'll find yourself turning around and running right back for more! Marrakech is indeed a seductive place.

City of Marrakech, Morocco. Taken from a rooftop near the Spice Market, looking towards the Koutoubia Mosque and the Jamaa el Fna night-market.

City of Marrakech, Morocco. Taken from a rooftop near the Spice Market, looking towards the Koutoubia Mosque and the Jamaa el Fna night-market.

There’s a government vision to increase the number of tourists visiting Morocco each year to 20 million by 2020, a 100% increase from today! That’s a tall order by any standards, and Marrakech is a key player in this strategy. After walking the streets for a few days, you quickly realise why.

 

There’s an overall laid back attitude and friendliness that seem forgotten many other places. Even the most pushy merchant will leave you with a smile when you turn him down. Don’t get me wrong they will dance and beg - pull down the stars if they have to - to make you take their “very special offer”, but it is a dance - they know it - and why get upset when you’re dancing, right? Adding to the magic is the fact that the Moroccans themselves seem to enjoy the city - and life - as much as any visiting tourist. During daytime there’s a constant flow of local people going between each others shops to catch up on the latest gossip - and downing another mint-tea together. Later, in the explosions of the night-time market on the main square Djemaa El-Fna, you’ll find hordes of Moroccan storytellers that spellbind people around a small fire - with nothing else than the power of words and a good story. No zapping, no browsing, no hashtagging. Just enjoying life. I Like it!

 

Before arriving I was told to get lost - literally - in Marrakech. It’s of course a universal advice when travelling, but here it will happen automatically. I’m a

quite capable navigator, but the physical layout of the streets are like navigating inside the mind of a French surrealist painter - absinth in hand! It’s an experience and an (unknown) destination in itself that only adds to very welcoming mystery of the city.


In my few days there I was put back to the roots of travelling: go somewhere unknown and explore! For me that happens on foot and without plans - at best, I set a direction, the rest I leave to chance and whoever I meet along my way. Marrakech is perfect for this kind of travelling, the city is intoxicating, disorienting and extremely addictive. You should really stop reading now - and get yourself there. You’ll thank me later.

 

B’slama
/Kasper, for Kasper Nybo Photography

 

Travel tips, where-to-stay and how-to-go at the bottom of the page

City of Marrakech, Morocco. A back-alley in the dyers market.

City of Marrakech, Morocco. A back-alley in the dyers market.

City of Marrakech, Morocco.
City of Marrakech, Morocco. Inside the Ben Youssef Madrasa Quranic school.

City of Marrakech, Morocco. Inside the Ben Youssef Madrasa Quranic school.

Courtyard of a tea-house and carpet factory in the Medina.

Courtyard of a tea-house and carpet factory in the Medina.

Lost in time in a back-alley in Marrakech, Morocco.

Lost in time in a back-alley in Marrakech, Morocco.

Early mornings. Boys on their way to school, walking along the old city wall of Marrakech.

Early mornings. Boys on their way to school, walking along the old city wall of Marrakech.

Marrakech Medina, Morroco
Walking in the Medina, Marrakech, Morocco.

Walking in the Medina, Marrakech, Morocco.

Walking in the Medina, Marrakech, Morocco.

Walking in the Medina, Marrakech, Morocco.

Night-time streets are as busy and crowded (or more) as during the day. Marrakech, Morocco.

Night-time streets are as busy and crowded (or more) as during the day. Marrakech, Morocco.

The perfect chaos of food stall in the night-time market of Jamaa el Fna, Marrakech, Morocco. It's a must see experience!

The perfect chaos of food stall in the night-time market of Jamaa el Fna, Marrakech, Morocco. It's a must see experience!

The perfect chaos of food stall in the night-time market of Jamaa el Fna, Marrakech, Morocco. It's a must see experience!

The perfect chaos of food stall in the night-time market of Jamaa el Fna, Marrakech, Morocco. It's a must see experience!

The perfect chaos of food stall in the night-time market of Jamaa el Fna, Marrakech, Morocco. It's a must see experience!

The perfect chaos of food stall in the night-time market of Jamaa el Fna, Marrakech, Morocco. It's a must see experience!

The perfect chaos of food stall in the night-time market of Jamaa el Fna, Marrakech, Morocco. It's a must see experience!

The perfect chaos of food stall in the night-time market of Jamaa el Fna, Marrakech, Morocco. It's a must see experience!

The lowdown.

- Stay away from the big hotels in the new parts of town and you’ll get a peek behind the veil of privacy as many older private houses in the Medina transform themselves into luxury mini-hotels, or Riads, often consisting of just 5-6 rooms surrounding an inner courtyard of peace, shade - and the ubiquitous serving of mint-tea. It’s a haven. There a countless Riads to choose from, I stayed with Lorent in Riad Tawargit and can only recommend it.

- Haggle in the same friendly attitude that you’re met with - remember it’s a dance and give yourself into enjoying it. Seriously when was the last time you had the chance to haggle over the last few dimes of a price - it’s serves no other purpose than the enjoyment of commerce at its best and simplest.

- Marrakech exists in two versions; day and night. There is no comparison between the two and both have to be explored equally intense.

- When the noise and hustle becomes too much - escape to the desert for a day or two, it’s literally just outside town. Within 30 minutes from town you’ll experience quietness like you’ve never experienced before (trust me, I grew up in the country side). And if you enjoy travelling through the desert in a manner worthy of the Queen of Sheba, you’ll want to hook up with Sahara Experience who’s running a network of luxury beduin-style palace-camps in the desert. Pure magic.
 

Kasper Nybo Photography was invited to Moroccor by our good friends at Marokko Eksperten, based in Copenhagen Denmark. We have no economical affiliation with them or are under any obligations in regards to content, images, stories etc. We will however warmly recommend you to contact them if you want to cash-in on strong local knowledge of where to go and what to do. They have a great network of really solid people on the ground, and we’ve been very impressed with their operation. Thanks guys!

 

Images by Kasper Nybo Photography. We work in the no-man’s land between narrative observation and visual storytelling, capturing authenticity and creating no-nonsense visual communication. We believe in the power of originality and honest stories across our line of work in editorial, commercial, artistic and humanitarian photography. Get in touch and let us know how we can help you deliver stronger stories! For bookings or questions click above. If you want to read more about us, click right here.