MARRAKECH & ATLAS EXPERIENCE
Based for 2 nights at Riad Africa in the Marrakech Medina, 2 nights at Kasbah Africa in the Atlas, this short break holiday offers a scenic contrast of Atlas mountains, river and Berber villages.
Transfers between Marrakech and both locations, all meals and two activities are included in this great value package.
Based at Riad Africa for 4 nights you’ll have lots of time to explore the numerous attractions of Marrakech including the most animated square in the world – Djemaa el Fna. Next you’ll spend three nights at Kasbah Africa, perched on the valley side above the banks of the Azzaden River Valley. Set in a truly restful location and with a wide choice of activities available, a stay at Kasbah Africa needs to be savoured not rushed. From deep-green olive groves to dramatic dark night skies, this is a slice of North African wilderness at its best. Manicured lawns lead out to a big swimming pool and landscaped gardens abundant with fruit trees. Here you can walk up to the fascinating Tassa Ouirgane village to experience authentic Berber life, climb up into the white-capped Atlas Mountains in Toubkal National Park or take part in an Atlas cooking workshop. Or simply do nothing, take off your watch, turn off your tablet and just relax!
Day 1 – Arrive Marrakech. Transfer to Riad Africa
On arrival in Marrakech you will be met at Menara airport and transferred to Riad Africa. With palaces and palm groves, rose gardens, and a backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is the capital of the Moroccan South, a cultural crossroads and keeper of tradition and folklore.
After time to settle in the famous souks of Marrakech offer an intoxicating passage to Africa’s most famous meeting place – the huge medieval square of Place Djemaa el Fna. Here at the heart of the old city acrobats and jugglers, snake charmers, beggars, boxers, musicians, fresh juice and food sellers all compete for your attention. As night falls take a seat in one of the cafes that overlook the square and watch the scene unfold. With the conflicting sounds from musicians and singers, and thousands of tiny white lights illuminating swirling smoke rising from food stalls, expect a night you’ll never forget! Tonight a tasty home-cooked Moroccan dinner is included at Riad Africa.
4 nights at Riad Africa including breakfast and welcome dinner on first night.
Day 2 – Explore the Medina on a Half Day Guided Tour
For first time visitors to Marrakech, a great way of getting to grips with this magical city is on a half day guided walking tour of its World Heritage listed medina. The rich history of Marrakech is reflected in its numerous attractions and the wealth of monuments, mosques, museums and palaces this city offers.
The minaret of Koutoubia Mosque is the landmark and emblem of the city and a good start point for a day of sightseeing. Other important quarters within the old city ramparts include Kasbah and Mellah (the Jewish quarter), both in the south and close to the Royal Palaces. Popular attractions include the Saadien Tombs, Palais Badia, the 16th century ruins of the Badi Palace and the Dar Si Said Museum (Museum of Moroccan Arts). Just north of the souks are the Musee de Marrakech, the impressive Ben Youssef Medersa and the Koubba Ba’ Adyin – the remains of an Almoravid mosque built in 1106. The tanneries are located close to Bab Debbagh gate and are well worth a visit to see how animal skins are processed from start to finish.
Day 3 – Day Trip to Essaouira on the Atlantic Coast
From Marrakech it is a leisurely 2.5 hour drive to the Atlantic Coast and the former Portuguese stronghold of Essaouira. Despite seeing an increase in visitors over the years, this town remains one of Morocco’s best-kept secrets. Complete with a bustling historical centre and surrounded by ancient city walls, Essaouira is a delightful destination. With a whitewashed medina enclosed by huge pink sandstone ramparts which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and with a rich Portuguese and Andalusian heritage, Essaouira holds great appeal. Originally founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC, the Portuguese arrived in the 15th century and established the first fortifications and a trading post. The town of Essaouira itself wasn’t built until the latter half of the 1700’s, sanctioned by an Alouite sultan, Mohammed II. It was actually a renowned French architect who designed and built the town, harbour and fortifications in the style of a European fortress.
Day 4 – Caleche Tour of Gardens; Optional Arabia Spa
Today we include a horse-drawn carriage tour of the city walls and famous gardens of Marrakech. Offering a shady retreat from the mid-day sun with towering palm trees, orchards of fruit and olive trees, pools, fountains and abundant bird life, the gardens of Marrakech are a ‘must-see’. You’ll have chance to visit the Menara Gardens and botanical gardens of Majorelle as well as make a tour around the entire city walls. There's also time to enjoy the spa.
Day 5 – To Kasbah Africa in the Azzaden Valley
Leaving the walls of the ‘Red City’ you will travel up into the high valleys of the High Atlas Mountains. En route to the Atlas you’ll pass through the busy little town of Asni which is a buzz of activity as local Berbers ply to sell their produce and goods (Saturday is market day – a particularly interesting day to visit). The final stretch of the journey to Kasbah Africa is on a dirt road which twists and turns up through the fertile Azzaden Valley for 3 km. This afternoon take your time to experience the Kasbah’s breathtaking natural setting. Take tea under the willow trees, enjoy some bird spotting (over 150 species of birds are native to the area) and search for the usually shy “Sanglier” – wild black pig – in the Takerkhort Wildlife Reserve. In Spring, Autumn and Summer months there’s always time for a swim and a laze in a hammock. In Winter, get cosy by your own log fire or in the comfort of the lounge bar. Torort village is just 15 minutes away on foot. Here just 70 families live in adobe houses on the slopes above the Azzaden river.
Day 6 – A Day With The Berbers
Enjoy an excursion exploring the Azzaden Valley and experiencing typical Berber life. You’ll walk to Tassa Ouirgane village, learn about the local agriculture and typical village life in a community of only 40 or so families. In the village you’ll see a demonstration of how local bread is made the traditional way and have chance to sample locally produced organic olive oil, wild thyme and lavender plus yummy organic honey. Lunch back at Kasbah Africa is a leisurely affair, usually taken under the shade of the willow trees enjoying wonderful views of the Atlas Mountains.
Day 7 – Cooking With Berbers or A Day Walk In Ouirgane
Today you can choose your included activity – cook or walk! Moroccan cuisine is exciting, appealing to look at, delicately spiced with subtle blends of flavours, full of fresh ingredients and delicious to eat. In the comfort of Kasbah Africa you can learn to cook some traditional Moroccan dishes under the guidance of Kasbah Africa’s professional local chef, Brahim. Alternatively head out on a day walk in and around the Ouirgane Valley, accompanied by a local Berber guide. There are a choice of trails available from 1 hour to a full day, depending on your ability and interests. A picnic lunch is included.
Optional activities: Mule or Camel Trek, Spa & Hammam, Tin Mal Mosque or Toubkal National Park
If you are considering staying longer you may just want to relax and enjoy the gardens, nature and views at Kasbah Africa. If not, there are several things you can do. Take a ride on an Atlas mule. Sure-footed and generally docile, Berber mules are a part of everyday life. If mules are not for you, then how about a camel? You don’t need to travel all the way to the Sahara – a camel trail exists in nearby Moulay Brahim. Tin Mal mosque makes an interesting destination for a half day Atlas trip, exploring Berber villages with dramatic settings en route to the high Tizi n’Test pass. For the best views of Mount Toubkal (on a clear day), visit the busy trek-base of Imlil and walk to Aremd village.
Day 8 – Transfer to Marrakech Menara Airport
Your holiday ends with a transfer to Marrakech airport (1 hour 10 minutes).
HOLIDAY PRICE PER PERSON
SHARING A ROOM
Private transfers by 4x4 vehicle from/back to Marrakech; two activities as detailed in itinerary with English-speaking guide; accommodation in a double or twin Kasbah Africa suite room & Riad Africa room; four breakfasts, two lunches, four dinners; local tourist taxes.
Tips, beverages, optional activities and items of a personal nature.
It is possible to book this package at any time of the year subject to availability.
Bring walking shoes if planning to walk some of the many excellent trails around Kasbah Africa. We also recommend a camera, sun hat and sunglasses.