Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Morocco. This adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at around 6 pm on Day 1 – make sure you don’t miss it! Check in with the hotel reception for the exact details before it happens. If you're going to be late, please contact the hotel reception. The trip leader will be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so make sure you have these ready. After meeting your group, why not get to know each other while exploring the city’s main square – Djeema El-Fna – or get lost exploring the city’s spice souqs. For dinner, load up on some delicious street food. The eggplant fritters are super addictive. If you want more time to hang out in Marrakech, it might be a good idea to arrive a day early – Geckos can sort out additional accommodation to help out, depending on availability.
Wake up in the morning and catch a private bus towards the Imlil Valley. Calling dibs on a window seat would be a smart move ¬– the two-hour drive has got some awesome scenery to keep you occupied on the way. Arrive at Imlil, a little village that sits at the foot of North Africa’s highest peak, and then lace-up for a scenic one-hour trek to the mountain village of Aroumd. Tonight’s stay is in a family-run mountain home (gite) in the village. The Berber’s are famous for their hospitality, so make the most of this opportunity to sit down, break bread with the family and learn about their culture. Facilities at the homestay are shared (both the bathroom and sleeping arrangements) but they’re cosy, comfortable and definitely offer an experience that blows hotels out of the water.
Today you’ll hit up some of Morocco’s best surfing locations so make sure you have your swim suits ready. First stop is the appropriately named Paradise Valley, full of gorgeous pools and massive canyons. After a dip in the water, roll on to Taghazout. This scruffy little roadside village might not look like it at first, but it’s quickly gained a solid rep as an awesome surfing location. The waters stay warm from September through to April and the surf is top notch for starters and adept wave riders alike.
Kick off your adventures through this sleepy town with an early morning yoga session, helping you relieve any tension before diving into the water later on. Oddly enough, the skills required for both surfing and yoga complement each other through the principles of concentration, flexibility and balance. Good news if you were planning on hitting the waves later. Don’t know how to ride a board? No stress. Today includes a half-day surfing course to teach you the basics.
You’ve got a free morning in Taghazout, so why not get up early and watch the sunrise, then take an optional yoga class or rent out a surfboard and hit the waves. Later, travel to the old fishing town of Essaouira, a place where the medina brushes up against the Atlantic Ocean. This artists' town has drawn people like Orson Welles and Jimi Hendrix who (according to local legend) spent a lot of time here in the ‘60s. Join your local leader for a walking tour through the old medina, Jewish mellah, port and skala (sea wall). Spend the night in a restored riad, a traditional nobleman's house unique to Morocco. The riad is beautifully designed and decorated in traditional Moroccan style, cosy yet historical. It’s definitely one of the more memorable stays of the journey.
Yesterday’s walking tour should have you well up to scratch with the ins and outs of Essaouria, so go crazy! Get exploring! Grab a traditional Moroccan breakfast, and maybe wander to the harbour and its adjacent fish markets (you’ll have to get up early if you want to see the daily catch being auctioned off). You might like to check out the Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah Museum for a look at its collection of artefacts, woodwork, carpets and stringed instruments. If you feel like something more active, why not go on an optional horse ride along the sandy beaches of Atlantic Ocean.
Chat with locals on a shared bus ride back to Marrakech (approximately 3 hours). Once the bus arrives back in the city, tuck in for an awesome dinner experience at the famous Djemma el-Fna. This square is known as one of the largest public spaces in the world – it’s a truly iconic part of the city. As soon as the sun sets, the square comes to life with henna-painters, performers and storytellers sharing the space with street food stands. The smells of the stalls will lure you in and the tastes will keep you coming back for more. There’s all sorts of excellent pastries, fresh juices, teas and even bowls of snail soup to go round if you’re feeling a little adventurous! As the evening closes in, say goodbye to your new friends over some of these delicious snacks as you dine on a roof-top restaurant that overlooks the square.
Your Moroccan adventure comes to an end today. Check-out time is usually around midday and you are free to leave at any time. Additional accommodation can be pre-booked if you wish to spend more time exploring here. If you’d like to explore more of Marrakech, you can also join one of our in-depth Urban Adventure tours. Just visit www.urbanadventures.com.