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Thursday, 9 October 2014 12:00 AM

The Telegraph - Winter Sun

North Africa and the Middle East: where's safe for winter sun? - From Morocco to Muscat, much of this fascinating region remains safe for winter sun holidays

Article by Lizzie Porter, Telegraph, 4 September 2014

"There is little doubt that much of the Middle East is stricken with problems that put our holiday decisions in the shade. …

But it would be wrong to dismiss this fascinating region out of hand. From Morocco in North Africa, to the nations that border with Central Asia, the Middle East has well-developed beach resorts and reliable sun, a rich history, fascinating culture, and often excellent cuisine – in many hotels you can get a drink, too. …

Morocco – Ouarzazate, 22C

Morocco retains a stable politically and varied geographically, from resorts on the Atlantic coast to exotic medinas in the cities, Sahara oases towns to villages in the in the Atlas Mountains. For the best chance of winter sun head south and east, where mountains and greenery give way to desert and the sands and kasbahs are navigable by tourists looking to mix a little adventure with relaxation in villas and guesthouses.

Naturally Morocco (0845 345 7195; tailor-makes holidays to Morocco, and can put together a seven-night itinerary that includes Ouarzazate – which has the moniker the “doorway to the desert” and was the shooting location for films including Gladiator – camel trekking into the desert from Merzouga, and the Ourika Valley."

We At Naturally Morocco Say

Lizzie Porter is an excellent travel writer and is right to highlight Ouarzazate as a good option for winter sun.

Situated south of the High Atlas mountains it is not an easy destination to get to – 4 hours drive through the stunning mountains from Marrakech (the most common port of entry) or 5 hours simpler drive (and less weather affected in winter) from Agadir, which also has international direct connections - but it is in abeautiful region of Morocco and well worht the effort getting there.

Ouarzazate is an interesting destination with some excellent accommodation in the region, but it is the places nearby and others that can easily be added to make a holiday to remember that make Ourzazate all the more important.

Most obviously the ruins at Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage site, are well worth spending an unhurried day exploring, but equally talk to us about other less obvious options – such as heading into the stunning gorges of the southern High Atlas, and maybe even staying in a cave room at Auberge Le Festival.

Morocco was affected by "Arab Spring" events in 2011, and the demonstrations that occurred at that time led to significant changes in government and there have been minimal unrest since - read more on the Arab Spring in Morocco. By comparison to most other events in the region, those in Morocco were very constrained and short-lived and the outcome and changes have been widely accepted.