Africa's iconic safari destinations lie south of the Sahara; north of the desert is the region the Arabs call “Maghreb,” marked off by the Atlas Mountains and comprising the countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Islam has had a pervasive influence on the physical and cultural landscape here since the conquest of the seventh century, but North Africa is also marked by a distinctive Mediterranean flavor, born of centuries of sea ties with Spain, Sicily and Malta. Morocco is perhaps where the age-old intersections of culture and conquest have their most colorful and eclectic manifestations. Fes and Marrakech, two historic trading posts that have each been the country's capital, express the sacred, chaotic, mysterious grandeur of the region: Medieval labyrinths, magnificent mosques and teeming bazaars spring from a parched soil that has soaked up the sun's rays for eons, and seems to have burst with human drama for just as long. These organic, entropic cities tend to thwart careful planning and reward wandering; when it comes time for rest, an ample number of palatial and exotic resorts have added modern amenities to an ancient landscape.