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Chefchaouen, Morocco
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Chefchaouen, Morocco

 

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

Chefchaouen, also known simply as Chaouen, is a must see in Morocco. Not only does this mountain village boast a picturesque medina, it's set in striking surrounds. White-wash alternates with blue. Narrow lanes twist and turn. Twin summits, Meggou and Tisouka, tower above. Yet what makes Chefchaouen an exceptional family travel destination are its small size, relative safety, plentiful shopping and great hiking trails. The wee medina is easy to navigate. Chefchaouen is one of the safest cities in Morocco. The weekly market and plentiful shops are an unpestered place to souvenir hunt. Woven blankets, wool jackets, and Rif Mountain cheese are three notable finds.
Getting There
 
Chefchaouen is located in the Rif Mountains and is situated inland from Tetuoan. The nearest airport is Tangier Ibn Battouta, roughly 115 kilometers (72 miles) or a 90-minute drive. Chefchaouen is easily reached by bus, car and grand taxi but is not accessible by train. A variety of bus companies connect Chefchaouen to Tangier, Tetuoan, Meknes and Fes. Both CTM and Supratours are comfortable, reliable and safe. (The safety record and comfort of other bus companies is worse than poor.) The bus trip from Chefchaouen to Asilah and other coastal towns requires at least one change. Grand taxis make the trip between Chefchaouen and Tetuoan as well as Chefchaouen and Ouezzane. Few grand taxis make direct trips to destinations farther a field. All roads to Chefchaouen are windy, single carriageways. Family travel tips: The Chefchaouen bus station is located roughly 1.5 km south of the city center. City cabs, called petite taxis, are often found waiting at the bus station. A cab ride to the medina costs roughly 10dh. Bus tickets can't be purchased outside of Morocco. It's best to reserve seats on long distance routes at least one day in advance. Grand taxis traveling north depart from Plaza Mohammed V, those traveling south leave from the main market. The cab fare from Tangier Airport to Chefchaouen is fixed rate and is posted inside the airport.
When to Travel
 
The climate in Chefchaouen is Mediterranean. It's hot and dry April through October. It's cool and oftentimes rainy from November to March. Spring (April - May) and fall (September - October) are the best seasons for hiking and touring. The peak seasons are Christmas, Easter and June-August.
Health & Safety
 
Traveler's diarrhea and sunburn are the main health risks in Chefchaouen. Drink bottled water and eat cooked or peeled fruit and vegetables. Apply high factor sunscreen to all exposed areas, including nose, ears, and toes. Wear sunglasses as well as a hat. Families departing on a Rif Mountain trek should also note the following: 1) Select a trail that is commensurate with the age and ability of the kids. 2) Carry plenty of water. 3) Wear sturdy shoes, light long-sleeved shirt and a hat with a brim.
Things to Keep in Mind
 
Chefchaouen is no longer a well-kept secret. A steady stream of tourists - from backpackers to well-healed travelers - ply the roads to Chefchaouen round the year. In addition to Arabic, Spanish and French are readily spoken.
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Travel Trivia
Which of the following are descendents of the Anasazi: