Whilst checking out Morocco’s third largest city Fes, I managed to do a day trip to the nearby city of Chefchaouen which is located beautifully high up in the Rif Mountains. There was only one reason I wanted to come here and this was to check out the buildings which are all painted in shades of white and blue which makes it a very popular destination for photographers and those who want to get beautiful shots (i.e. for modeling)
Before my arrival in the city, I managed to get an overview of all the buildings from the outskirts, looking down at a scene of white (couldn’t really see the blue on the buildings from afar). Its location is truly stunning. Sloping small mountains to the south but its tall mountains which overlooks the medina gives it a magical feeling. The name of the town ‘Chefchaouen’ is named after these mountains as they look like two goat horns.
On the outskirts of the medina I was lucky to get an official-English speaking guide. There are only six official guides here (as of December 2016) and four of those are Spanish speaking (as the city has a huge influx of Spanish tourists from across the Mediterranean and this part of the country used to be under Spanish rule). Without him (I can’t remember his name but he was the oldest man in the town and has lived here all his life but his knowledge and information was vast despite the broken-English) I would have got lost, wouldn’t know where to go and wouldn’t seen the amazing alleyways, passageways, buildings and other stunning features this city has to offer. As well as the information he was given me, all I can remember him saying is ‘Isn’t it pretty’ (whilst pointing to buildings etc) and ‘this is a hotel’. It didn’t occur to me that afterwards despite the city being small in size and located in the mountains, it has around two hundred hotels to accommodate the growing influx of visitors to the city.
I also learnt that Chefchaouen is a very popular shopping destination where top of the list of items to have is the woolen garments and woven blankets which are only made in this part of the country due to the coldness of the winter months. Goat cheese native to this area is also popular and claims to be the very best in Morocco (and unfortunately when I got to the stall I wanted to try it from, the owner decided to go out for lunch). Chefchaouen and the surrounding area has also got the reputation of producing kief which means there are a lot of drug gangs around here who try and smuggle it out of the region to the rest of the country and nearby Spain via boats. Hence why I always saw a lot of police on the main roads leading out of the area trying to nab the drug lords.
Back to the city and I learnt there were many reasons why the blue walls were painted in this way. The most believable one is that blue keeps mosquitos away (I couldn’t really test this theory out as it was the middle of winter) and the Jews which introduce the blue back in the 1930s when escaping Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and is said to symbolise the heaven and the sky. When walking around the narrow passageways, I felt calm, relax, it wasn’t too busy and it was great fun to see children playing games on the cobblestones. The battery on my camera was also nearly flat with the amount of shots I took and I just had great fun taking in the beautiful architecture. Every corner I turned, a new amazing view came into focus. This is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in the world I have come across.
MINT TEA TOURS
I traveled to Chefchaouen with Mint Tea Tours who are based in Fes, Morocco who provide private tours, excursions and shuttle services. As my trip was booked at the last minute and I really wanted to go to Chefchaouen which was a three-and-a-half hour drive away, I was really fortunate to be passed onto the tour company ran by Jamal and Ellen. Even better was the fact the company has a wide range of vehicles to choose from with comfortable legroom, comfortable seats and air conditioning for the warm weather whilst all their drivers are multilingual. For this trip I had Jamal and he helped me so much in getting a guide in Chefchaouen but more importantly he got me from A to B very safely and his knowledge of the country, the products, the history of the area is immense and very passionate about his country and his business. This has to be one of the best tour companies I have come across and used and would recommend them whilst visiting the North African country. Mint Tea Tours also help visitors plan their tours from anywhere in Morocco and not just Fes and can be contacted via their website here.
My opinion of Mint Tea Tours is honest and I did not receive any sort of sponsorship. I paid to use their services and I can honestly say they were that good I had to mention them. Jamal’s honesty and help went along way to make my visit to Fes and Chefchaouen a very memorable one).