The Blue Pearl of Morocco - Chefchaouen

Grande Cascades of the Rif Mountains.

All I know is I know this place from other bloggers who have been to Morocco. This part of Morocco was not even part of my plans but it fell into place so perfectly and I believe it was meant to be. I took a bus from Rabat the capital of Morocco to Chaouen as the locals call it. 

The bus ride is just over 4 hours and of course, it was not on time. I used the CTM bus services and the ticket from Rabat to Chaouen was 100 Moroccan Dirham and 5MD to pay for your luggage. Although the bus has the reputation of being the best and most comfortable in Morocco, their travel times are inconvenient but at least you will have air-con unlike with other buses. 

The alleyways of the Chaouen Medina.

As the bus started winding down the mountain roads, from a distance I could see the city, and then only did it kick in, I was in Chaouen, a city I have only known in blog posts. I got so excited, I am rather familiar with this feeling, the excitement of being in a new place that you never imagined you would one day visit. 

The stairs leading you the loacal houses.
Chefchaouen is also known as the blue pearl of Morocco or the blue city. This name is because the whole town is painted in blue. various shades of blue compliment each other through the narrow alleyways of the Medina of Chaouen. There is not much to do in Chaouen, the beauty is all in living in this Medina. There are plenty of hotels and hostels around so finding accommodation would not be an issue even if you arrive without booking as I did. 

where to stay? This is the single room at the Riad Baraka hostel.

Upon arrival, I checked into a hostel that would organize a hiking trip to the Rif Mountains in Ackhour, a 45min drive from the city. The hostel is easy because there will be other travelers who would want to go hiking and that means the costs will be shared with those travelers.

Rif Mountains.
There are 2 routes to the hiking trail. to your right is the trail that goes to God-Bridge. A rock formation with a pool where you can swim. it apparently takes an hour to go to the bridge. I didn't have the kind of fitness that goes to both. 
The trail to the Cascades will be the one to your left. once you can figure which one to take, the routes are very easy. 

The entrance of the hiking trail.
The hike needs you to be moderate to super fit if you intend to go all the way to the top. The top would be the Grande Cascades (literally meaning the Big Waterfalls). I didn't even know I had this kind of fitness, but it took us 2.5hrs to get to the top with a few refreshment stops. 

A small pool on your way to the top of the mountains.

If your fitness won't allow you to get to the top, there are various other pools and smaller waterfalls on your way up the mountains and you can stop there. There are various refreshment stops on your way to the top of the mountain. there are also a few restaurants as you go up. 

A refreshment stop with the owner making freshly squeezed orange juice. 
The men who run or own these restaurants and refreshment stops are locals who live in the mountains. you will also walk past a homestead or 2. Usually, just a single man who lives alone up in the mountains. 

And these are the Grande Cascades, although not a lot of water was coming down.
Besides the hiking and the breathtaking sunset views over the small town, there is not much else that happens here. 

Chaouen sunsets from the Spanish Mosque - that's what they call it. it's just an old catholic chapel.
Chefchaouen is the worlds leading producer of hashish. this has been the biggest attractor of tourists to this region of Morocco. Most people you meet will try to sell you some hash as they understand that people come there to smoke the hash and also stay up to 6 weeks sometimes even longer just sitting on rooftops and smoking the natural herb. 

A Moroccan countryside.
Islam is the religion in Morocco, so finding alcohol is very tricky. unlike other North African countries with the same religion where you can find alcohol at every second supermarket, in Morocco, it is easier to find it at the larger hotels and it is very expensive. most travelers stick to just smoking as it is cheaper. 

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