Experience local life and meet authentic mountain communities, fire your passion for Moroccan cuisine or enjoy an exhilarating desert quad bike adventure against the backdrop of the Atlas Mountains. Whatever inspires you, there is an experience for everyone in Morocco.
EXPLORE THE DADES VALLEY
The spectacular Dades Valley is a natural, red rock landscape dotted with mudbrick palaces, waterfalls and canyons that stretches from the High Atlas Mountains in the north to the Jebel Saghro range in the south. Walk at your own pace, taking in some of the most dramatic viewpoints in the valley, and stop for a picnic lunch with panoramic views. The route also includes a visit to one of the many traditional Berber kasbahs (fortified villages) that overlook the valley.
AGAFAY DESERT ADVENTURES
Around 20 miles south of Marrakech, the Agafay Desert makes a fantastic contrast to the bustle of the city. Backed by the dramatic Atlas Mountains, the unique rich-red landscape is made up of mineral (rather than pure sand) dunes. One of the most exhilarating ways to explore is on a quad bike – or alternatively opt for a much more leisurely pace with a gentle camel ride. Either way, fuel your adventures with a gourmet picnic, eaten with the wide skies and desert spread out in front of you.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A BERBER
Immerse yourself in an authentic mountain community by spending a day in a Berber village. Bake bread and prepare a tagine in the kitchen of a resident family before sharing a pot of traditional mint tea while learning about their daily life (a private guide will help the conversation flow). You can also try your hand at clay making in a ceramics workshop, weave a colourful kilim with the local women on their prized ancestral looms and witness the hard work that goes into ancient irrigation and subsistence farming methods in the farm terraces. The final part of the experience is a chance to meet children at the charity pre-school centre, where young Berbers learn Arabic in preparation for starting school.
MOROCCAN COOKERY CLASS
Luxury riad-hotel La Maison Arabe in the heart of Marrakech’s ancient medina is renowned for its excellent cooking workshops. It’s a great introduction to the importance of cooking in Moroccan culture and key dishes such as pastilla, couscous and tagines. During the workshop, you’ll visit a vibrant spice market and a communal bread oven where neighbourhood families bake their loaves, before returning to the riad to cook up a feast in the kitchen. Here, an expert chef will teach you how to make a traditional starter, main course and dessert, which you can then tuck into for lunch.
MAJORELLE GARDENS & BERBER MUSEUM
Perhaps the most famous – and popular – attraction in Marrakech is the Majorelle Gardens, created by the orientalist painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and later owned by the late Yves Saint Laurent. Arrive in style in a horse-drawn caleche before exploring the gardens with a private guide. The plants come from all around the world and include rare varieties of species such as palm trees, agaves and jasmine. These are all arranged like the composition of a painting among ornamental ponds and an Art Deco villa painted in a bold cobalt 'Majorelle blue', named after the artist. There is also an impressive collection of cacti, and 15 bird species, endemic to North Africa have been spotted resting in the trees. While you’re there, it’s worth visiting the beautifully designed Berber Museum (housed in the artist’s former painting studio), which has Yves Saint Laurent's personal collection of Berber antiques, costumes and objects on display.
Spend a day exploring the atmospheric Moroccan capital (it’s 3.5 hours from Marrakech), an ancient walled city, which is steeped in history. There’s plenty to discover, from the fascinating jewellery museum and Andalusian Garden that’s part of the 17th-century royal residence to the Mohammed V Mausoleum, one of the finest architectural monuments in Morocco which was built as a memorial to the iconic king. Over the years, waves of immigration have brought different civilizations to this place; remnants of Roman, Carthaginian, Phoenician and Muslims settlers can all be seen in the Archaeology Museum. Other must-visit sights include the main Bab Errouah gate, constructed in the 12th-century; the Chellah, a necropolis from the time of the Merinid dynasty; and the current royal palace. The palace itself isn’t open to the public but you can pass the royal guards at the entrance and stroll around the pretty gardens.