Day-trips from Marrakech

As I promised in the last entry, this one will be about the two day-trips that we did during our stay in Marrakech.

To say this in the beginning, the cheaper a trip like this, the more likely it is that people want to make additional money along the way. There’s a German word for this (of course): Kaffeefahrt. A Kaffefahrt is a trip mostly aimed at elderly people, where every coffee stop is really a sales presentation.

Anyway, we chose to go on a cheaper trip to the Atlas mountains, to Ourika valley, to see some waterfalls and hike a bit.

On our way:

Another tour van in front of us:

Make-money stop 1, would you like to ride a camel?

Make-money stop 3, argan oil factory:

Stop 2 was the traditional house of a family, where we received some tea and where asked to tip the family. An English family traveling with us gave the equivalent to 10€. They were also the only ones that went for the camel ride and bought loads of expensive argan oil and essential oils. While I would have felt tricked with the prices, I think they really enjoyed it (also because friends of them payed even more for the same goods, as they told us). Sometimes I wonder if I would be even happier traveling if I would just not care about paying the tourist prices… however in this case, I really didn’t want the camel ride or the cosmetics.

The hike itself was really nice, however not something for everyone on our tour. Some parts one had to climb a bit and I had a nasty muscle ache afterwards (in my defense, I only recovered from the flu before we left to Morocco, so I was really not the fittest). There were quite some people on the track, therefore I don’t know if I would recommend going there in high-season.

We had the chance to enjoy fresh and rather cool air, sun, and cherry blossom trees along the way.

Cherry blossom trees:

At the lower part of the trail:

View back from the upper part:

Waterfall:

Unfortunately we could not stay at the waterfall for too long because we had to go for lunch (meh). The waterfall we reached was just the first out of seven. The trail to the other six is only for the really adventurous… the first 3 m had to be climbed using a ladder and also the following part looked not too trustworthy. For the time we where there I saw only locals climbing further up.

Because we liked the first trip we decided to book a second. We had to choose between Essaouira at the coast and Ouarzazate, the entrance to the desert. Because the weather forecast showed rain for Marrakech and the coast, we decided to go to Ouarzazate.
In general, I would recommend to do a two or three day trip to the desert (I already read nice reviews about those), but we didn’t want to pay for the room in Marrakech without actually using it.
Leaving Marrakech towards the mountains on a rainy day is also not the best idea one can have. The streets are rather narrow and with bad sight cars have to go very slowly. For the rest of the day we were kind of in a hurry, to stay on schedule. Our first stop on that trip, however, made up for all the complaints. The village of Aït Benhaddou is the realization of all my Aladdin dreams. It is so picturesque, it was already chosen as a film location many times. But see it yourself.

There is btw no entry fee for Aït Benhaddou, even if all the guides make you pay one. So take a little extra money with you…

Literally the most amazing village in Morocco:

Another view of Aït Benhaddou:

Along the street:

From the top (in the back sandy clouds because of the wind):

The next stop was Ouarzazate, the Moroccan “LA” with the Atlas Film Studios and several movie production companies. Highlight is a movie museum. We decided to stay outside. Most people of our group booked a 2 or 3 day trip, so we had to switch to a different tour van. Lucky us that we didn’t visit the museum, we would have missed the car back to Marrakech! With us was a nice Spanish couple and we soon realized that we would also be on the same plane back to Madrid. So we arranged a meeting at Jemaâ el Fna to share a taxi to the airport.

Where we almost got forgotten:

Strong winds:

My overall conclusion: If you have time and see things a little relaxed, go for some of the standard tours in Morocco. If you like comfort and value well educated guides, book the private tour, you’ll regret it otherwise.

Next as promised: Cats and packing tricks.

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