What to do for the New Year? We decided to be in the warm embrace of the calming blue city of Chefchaouen, Morocco during our first family road trip in Africa! It was a FAMILY-FRIENDLY and KID-APPROVED visit in the heart of the Rif mountains. Here it is in pictures. Of course, this was before the pandemic locked us all down.
After the hustle and bustle of cosmopolitan Tangier and side trips to the northwesternmost point of Africa atCape Spartel and the Caves of Hercules, the village of Chefchaoeun, nestled in the Rif mountains, was a welcome change.
Why the name? Chefchaouen apparently means “Look at the Peaks” or “Watch the Horns”. The town is nestled in between two Rif mountain peaks. the town was originally the base of Berber mountain tribes who attacked the Portuguese in modern-day Spanish Ceuta.
Azure, periwinkle, robbin’s egg, baby blue, sky blue, prussian blue, persian blue, turquoise blue, pale blue, Sapphire Blue. . . True Blue. . . Who wouldvethunk, there are 64 shades of blue? Several can be seen in this little blue village.
Why blue? Nothing for sure. There are several theories as to why the walls of houses are painted blue. One notes that when the Moors and the Jews were expelled from Spain during the long arduous “Reconquista”, the Jews brought with them this tradition of painting blue.
Another claims that blue keeps mosquitoes away. Another states that it is in order to connect spiritually with the sky and heaven.
Yet, locals say that the blue-painting of the walls were mandated at some point in the 1920s to attract tourists.
The village between the peaks lies in the heart of the Rif mountains, the heartland of “kief”. That’s the resin from the flower bud that packs the punch in Mary Jane (aka cannabis/marijuana) or so they say.
So, if you’re travelling, especially with kids, commonsense prevails.
Be aware, be safe and stay ON the beaten path and away from the kiefily seedy ones, even though Chefchauen is considered one of the safest cities in Morocco, even at night.
We never felt threatened at all ourselves, day or night, not in the busy markets nor through lonely alleyways. Everyone we came across were actually quite friendly and helpful.
How to get here? CTM bus is a good and cheap way to travel from Tangier to Chefchaouen, if you do not want to rent a car or taxi. Family of 4 costs: (1) Tangier-Chefchaouen = 160 dirhams or €16. The cost? (2) Tangier-Tetouan = 120 dirhams or €12; and (3) Tetouan-Chefchaouen = 100 dirhams or €10.
You may also cut the travel in half and visit Tetoun to maximize your visit. Note that the route from Tetouan to Chefchaouen is on winding mountain road. And if, your bus driver is a Speedy-Gonzalez one, you or your young ones (children) might feel sick/dizzy. So, bring plastic bags, just in case.
Of course, you can rent a car and there are a couple of enclosed parking garages in the city center. If you do, leave your destination early in the morning to avoid traffic.
If you’d rather not risk driving, you can always take “taxis”–official or not. For example, for €70 you can take a taxi to Chefchaouen (which btw. you can split with other travelers) and maybe save an hour of drive.
Even though Chefchaouen is popular with tourists, spending the New Year’s holiday in it was quite peaceful. And at night most tourists have gone to bed.
Naturally, there were no celebrations, except for the three-day wedding celebration, with all the seemingly continuous singing and dancing and festivities, in the basement of our hostel, which added to our cultural experience.
Listen to a Call of Prayer from the Blue City of Morocco (Chefchaouen) 🤍🕊 Family Travel Video.
The video takes you from outside the mosque and the Kasbah on Plaza Outa El Hammam, then around the blue village of Chefchaouen from the rooftops with the surrounding Rif mountains.
You can hear the overlapping calls from all the other mosques.
Towards the end, you can see and hear the reverberating call to prayer from the Mosquée Bouzâafar on a nearby mountain side.
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😊 free electrons family 😄