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The Best Excursions From Marrakech

Marrakech is an oasis destination unlike others, brimming with history romanticism, mystery and intrigue. A world away from your typical vacation and a world away from the typical tourist destination, the Red City will introduce your senses to new experiences at every corner. We’d be content to wander around these streets for hours on end But then we’d be missing the many amazing attractions and experiences which surround the city. From deserts and mountain ranges to ancient villages and waterfalls There are excursions from Marrakech which will ignite fire in the hearts of any tourist.

You could rise early and return to your house in the evening, but perhaps you like exploring within a mere hour of your front door. Whatever the case, Marrakech is your ideal home base. In this article we’ve collected our top suggestions for day trips that are the best out of the capital, all waiting for eager travelers like you.

1. Essaouira

There isn’t much, or even any of the ocean in Marrakech. However, just three hours from Essaouira, the city of Essaouira and you can take in the sound of waves crashing against sandy shores and breathe the fresh air and salty scent from the Atlantic. It is located close to the ocean, Essaouira is not your typical beach destination. On most days, the wind can be quite strong for anyone to enjoy a relaxing day on the sands of warm sunshine. The town is known as the Windy City of Africa’ The town is instead attracting huge crowds of windsurfers who flock to its gorgeous beaches.

Instead of relaxing in the sun, it’s best to go to Essaouira because of its fascinating distinctive culture and distinct personality. It’s more laidback than busy Marrakech, Essaouira is undeniably Moroccan but there’s nothing else similar to it in the entire country. Essaouira is renowned by its fortified white-and-blue medina that is lined filled with colorful boutiques, captivating art galleries and museums are everywhere.

The town’s size is modest and accessible by the foot. All streets in the medina take you to the principal square at the waterfront, and the stunning views of the harbour and miles of sandy beaches give a breathtaking picture. It is easy to see that the reason why this city is given the name Essaouira meaning “Little Picture in Arabic. On the ramparts that surround the city, you will still see old canons remaining from times when it was an Portuguese Fortification for the military. The walk along the walls is also a great method of taking in the stunning panorama of the city as well as the ocean beyond.

2. Ourika Valley

It’s a great place to visit. Ourika Valley tends to be an excellent escape from the hot temperatures of the desert in Marrakech. It’s only an hour’s drive to the south of Marrakech it’s among the most accessible day trips from Marrakech’s city. The valley is a lush expanse of more than 68 miles in amongst the abalone-like snow-covered High Atlas range and is lined with streams, waterfalls and beautiful Berber villages. The name comes from the Ourika river Ourika that flows down from the mountain tops it, supplying the valley with beautiful wildflower flora.

The majority of tourists visit the village of Setti Fatma, located deep in the valley, at an end to the main highway. The village lies on the lush terraces that run along the river in the High Atlas foothills and is well-known for the seven waterfalls that line the hills above it. The waterfalls of Setti Fatma are all reachable on foot, with different degrees of exertion, and the higher up the hills you climb the more stunning the waterfalls and views get. The last waterfall could be quite a walk make sure you have appropriate footwear and plenty of water as you’ll wish to miss the beauty of it.

In addition to Setti Fatma, there are many other locations within the Ourika Valley to explore as well. One of our top picks is the tiny ceramic village called Tafza where you can find an amazing museum that houses artifacts as well as information about Berber culture. If you want to experience a bit more historical significance, explore the tombs, ruins and mausoleums located in the archeological site of Aghmat which was once an important one Moroccos oldest cities that dates to the pre-Islamic era when it was the capital city of the country. The valley’s agriculture can be incredibly vibrant as well as beautiful as you travel through the entire range of olive groves, from cherries orchards during your tour of the region.

3. The Atlas Mountains & Ouzoud Waterfalls

The Atlas Mountains quite literally draw the line between Sahara Desert and the coast of Morocco. There are three different ranges and the most popular among tourists who travel from Marrakech is known as the High Atlas, a mere 90 minutes drive away. The mountains provide breathtaking hiking trails that lead you through the Moroccos most breathtaking landscapes and views and the breathtaking Toubkal National Park.

Within the valleys as well as in the foothills of mountains you’ll likely to find some old Berber villages that have farms and livestock herds. It’s a way of life that continues as it has done for the last a thousand years, leaving a tiny ecological footprint. Visit any of the villages in order to discover the details of their intriguing history before exploring the peaceful mountains.

Just a few kilometers away from near the High Altas range is its cousin that is which is the Middle Atlas. It is here that you can be able to see the world-renowned Ouzoud Waterfalls (or Cascades d’Ouzoud) they are believed as the most beautiful water falls found in Morocco. They drop in levels from the cataracts at the top into a pool that is located in the valley below 100m. It is recommended that you visit the falls on a bright afternoon to view rainbows appear in the mist. Boatmen will lead visitors to the pool to see this natural wonder from afar near enough to experience the cooling mist that fall on your face. Around the falls are paths that allow you to take in more of the green surroundings. You’ll be able to believe that you’re only 90 minutes away from the beautiful Desert climate in Marrakech.

4. Casablanca

In all the talk about the ancient villages and traditions It’s easy to overlook the fact that Morocco is an advanced, flourishing nation. Casablanca is sure to bring that to mind. The city of awe is vibrant, fast-paced and full of flourishing young, vibrant business. The first impression you get of the city is likely to be the mix of styles. Its long history has provided for Moorish French colonial, traditional and Moroccan structures to be positioned together in the lively downtown. But, major modern developments are always in progress while the area is always expanding and evolving.

However, don’t forget to admire the areas of Casablanca that have endured the tests of time for example, the Hassan II Mosque, which is the most ancient mosque in the country , and it is the culmination of more than thousands of talented artisans. If you want to experience a more contemporary style of art, check out any (or five) of the numerous art galleries located in the old villas of the art deco era. Casablanca is a thriving center for art and culture where you will find all kinds of art, from sculpture and paintings to music and dance.

Culture aside Don’t forget the food scene in Casablanca. Our most popular suggestion is to head down into one of the numerous waterfront restaurants along La Corniche for dinner with an ocean view. The coastline is the center of Moroccan surf culture and there are great schools to consider taking a class with the locals and trying it out. Because Casablanca is not a major tourist city and is not filled with tourist traps. It’s possible to relax on the streets of France knowing you’re enjoying the same experience as everyone else who lives in the city. This applies to all kinds of restaurants and cafes to galleries and boutiques.

5. Ait-Ben-Haddou

Ait-Ben-Haddou is an UNESCO World Heritage Site right at the edge of Sahara Desert, where this city of ruins is protected by palm trees and olive groves. The drive here is 3 and a half hour long from Marrakech deep into the mountains that make up Ouarzazate by curving roads. Unsurprisingly, its rough remnants were used as a backdrop for the city of slavery Yunkai during The Game of Thrones television series however, that’s not the reason the majority of people visit it.

In the 17th century, Ait-Ben-Haddou was one of the most prominent fortified towns and a major trading point on the way from Marrakech across the Sahara. It was constructed to last, and was situated on the slope of a hill, with thick exterior walls, which were simple to defend, and a fortress on the highest point. The city, however, failed to stand up to the decline of the once-popular trade route, which was the city’s principal source of revenue when it vanished. Since then, harsh weather has had a devastating effect on the clay structures, and left the town in ruins. In the 1940s, around ninety families were still there. There are now only five.

The streets of the old are narrow and filled with stairs that are steep and the once sturdy walls are now crumbling however, the old city has a lingering appeal for those who are able to wander through the labyrinths and imagine the life that previously lived in that city. It is, above all, an amazing illustration of the traditional pise architecture and 17th-century city planning with a variety of fortified castles and citadels. There are plans to rebuild Ait-Ben-Haddou in its previous splendor and grandeur There is a chance that the village could be rebuilt in the time to come.

6. Agafay Desert

Just 40 kilometers south of Marrakech and along the Route d’Amizmiz, the Agafay Desert is an ideal day trip from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. It’s a lot easier to access than the famous Sahara and is a great place to take a taxi or the bus and be there in less then an hour. The Agafay is a favorite among travelers and locals alike, and is a great spot for anything from horse riding to camel trekking, to quad biking, and even plain old hiking.

The thing that draws tourists, of course most is the seemingly endless desert dunes and hills which cover this region of the region in the summer months when it is dry. With an ever present snowy High Atlas, the landscape appears like moonscapes. Although the desert is dry to support any kind of growth, the region’s “wet season,” also known as spring, is a time when a wealth of life-giving plants emerge out of the dry soil. As the wildflowers begin to bloom the landscape is transformed and is stunning for a short time.

If you’ve been longing for an afternoon of sun-bathing while you’re in the hot Moroccan hot, make sure to visit the artificial Lake Takerkoust, right at the desert’s edge for a dip and sunbathing on the shores. The lake has been built to blend in with the surrounding landscape, and is a major factor in improving the natural beauty of Agafay. In case you’ve forgotten to pack a picnic lunch There are many restaurants located around the lake that are perfect time break to explore. Or , if you prefer to stay in, there’s some Berber villages located in the mountains’ foothills and where you can set up for a meal cooked by the family.

7. Oukaimeden

Skiing is most likely among the last things you think of when you think of holidays within Morocco (unless you’re particularly interested into snow sports off the beaten track). But, just 45 minute drive from Marrakech and around 3000 m high to Oukaimeden, in Atlas Mountains, is Africa’s most awe-inspiring ski resort, Oukaimeden. With just a few runs starting from the summit at Jebel Attar and about 20 in total it is possible to take a day to enjoy the stunning scenery in The Atlas Mountains from a whole new view.

It’s not like everyone expects that you bring ski equipment to spend a vacation in the desert. In Oukaimeden you can hire skis and boots at less than you’ll find at any European ski resort, and lift-passes are cheaper than ever (but should you not want to lifts, if they’re not your style, there’s always the possibility of riding a donkey up to the highest point). If someone in your group is an inexperienced skier and would like to learn, there are instruction too.

Beware, the slopes of Oukaimeden aren’t as groomed and maintained as the ones you’d be familiar with in the Nordics or the European Alps, and it may take some time getting used to skiing on “virgin snow’. But eventually, it’ll feel like easy sailing and we guarantee it’s enjoyable and totally secure. We suggest visiting during the winter season to enjoy the most snow cover. After you’ve completed your wintery adventure to the end of your day there’s an array of restaurants offering hearty meals that will keep you full before your journey back to home.