Chasing the sun
After a thoroughly soggy summer, we bet your bodies are pale, pasty, and just crying out for some sunshine.
Luckily, not all countries suffer the same fate as the British, and Africa has a wealth of still-hot spots so you can get your winter fix. Check out our top three—Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia—and swap the grey clouds of the UK for much brighter skies.
November average high: 23 degrees
If it’s culture you’re craving, head to Marrakech. Just be aware that any previous reliance you had on your finely-honed directional skills should be firmly thrown out of the window, along with your map, since this city is a veritable twisting-turning maze of wonderful distractions and labyrinthine alleyways.
Sure, you’ve got to keep your wits about you: Marrakech is loud and chaotic, but it’s also beautiful and exciting, and after a while you’ll acclimatise and you’ll be dodging rogue donkey carts and snake charmers like a pro. Soak up the atmosphere in the bustling souqs, undercover markets selling anything from poultry to handmade local crafts.
Ahron de Leeuw, Flickr
If you’d rather kick back and relax, Chefchaouen—a laid-back mountain town in northern Morocco noted for its chilled vibe and buildings in various shades of blue—might be more your scene.
Considered one of the prettiest towns in Morocco and set against the striking background of the Rif mountains, Chefchaouen is the perfect place for a little R&R. Have a wander around the streets of the old town until you happen upon the square, where you can sip on a mint tea and watch the world amble past.
November average high: 28 degrees
It’s one of the most visited cities in Egypt—and for good reason. Luxor is your one-stop-shop for Egyptian history. As the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, and considering its proximity to various monuments and tombs across the River Nile—including the Valley of the Kings—it’s no wonder it’s a city often labelled “the world’s greatest open air museum”.
Book yourself a guide to talk you through a tour of some of the sights, and take an early morning balloon ride to watch the sun rise over the Nile.
Bonus: rainfall in Luxor is extremely rare. Official ‘average’ weather charts show no measured rainfall for any month. Perfect antidote to the British sogfest!
Ray Euden, Flickr
For those looking for something a little more coastal, head to Marsa Alam on the Western Red Sea shore. Previously a fishing village, it still has the feel of an undiscovered destination, though it is rapidly growing more popular with tourists due to the building of an international airport.
Penned as a ‘tropical paradise’ lined with palm trees and sandy shores, it is reputed for the great diving on offer due to an abundant sea life and largely unspoilt diving spots.
Youssef Abdelaal, Flickr
November average high: 20 degrees
The perched village of Sidi Bou Said is a dazzling bohemian sanctuary. Originally a place of pilgrimage, it sits on a hill offering spectacular views of the Mediterannean Sea and the Bay of Tunis. Think blue latticed balconies, white sugar-cube buildings and cool-tiled mosaic courtyards, all set against the backdrop of a cobalt seascape, and you might be halfway there.
Sidi Bou Said’s tranquillity and light has attracted painters for centuries—André Gide described staying there as “bathing in a fluid, mother-of-pearl sedative”—and even today it still holds its reputation as an artist’s town, with a number of galleries and workshops.
Be sure to visit the Dar Ennejma Ezzhara palace, the old residence of Baron d’Erlanger, which now also serves as Tunisia’s national Centre for Arab and Mediterranean Music and houses his personal collection of traditional musical instruments.
If remarkable Roman cities are more your thing, head down to Dougga, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to see “the best preserved Roman small town in North Africa”.
A cluster of impressive ruins dating back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, Dougga lies on a plateau in the Teboursouk mountains in the north of the country. The site is completely open and unrestricted, so you’re free to walk around and get up close to some pretty spectacular ancient monuments.
The most notable include the mausoleum, theatre, capitol, the two triumphal arches of Severus Alexander and Septimus Severus, the Licinian baths and the temples of Saturn and Juno Caelestis.
Simon Blackley, Flickr
Banner image: Rosino, Flickr