5 of the best day trips from Marrakech

While Marrakech itself is an enchanting and beautiful city, beyond its bounds there lie a host of other attractions that visitors would not want to miss out on. From the breath-taking natural wonder of the Ouzoud Falls, to the historic and artistic seafront town of Essaouria, you’ll find lots to discover and enjoy. To whet your appetite for adventure, here are five of the most popular trips around Marrakech that you can enjoy in a day.

Oukaimeden prehistoric rock carvings and surroundings

Prehistoric cave art may not be the first thing that comes to mind with a trip to Morocco, but the prehistoric region of Oukaïmeden in the Atlas Mountains reveals a treasure trove on ancient carvings and artwork. Visitors can head out to the ski resort of Oukaïmeden, where a local museum gives insight into the variety of flora and fauna in the region, as well as more information about the carving themselves.

Oukaimeden

But by enlisting the aid of a local guide, you can see the artwork first hand – including animal depictions that date back to the early Bronze Age, and scenes of early humans, considered to be celebratory images marking the rite of passage into adulthood.

Essaouria & the Medina

Long considered to be one of the treasures of the Moroccan coast, the 3,000 year old city of Essaouria continues to be a thriving port, as well as a UNESCO listed heritage site. Its winding souks offer an alternative to the pestering stallholders of Marrakech, and you can discover local crafts, textiles and jewellery, as well as a rich variety of decadent spices, that fill the air with their heady perfume.

Essaouira

Visitors should brace themselves for the gusts of winds that permeate the streets of the city however; it’s not for nothing that it was dubbed the ‘Wind City of Africa’, and keen windsurfers will find plenty of waves to enjoy off the coastline. Within the town itself, an exploration of the medieval walled fortress that encompasses the Medina is a must, creating a dramatic, labyrinthine effect that would not be out of place on a movie set – in fact, the historic ramparts of the Medina formed the iconic opening shot of Orson Welles’ adaptation of Othello.

Imlil & High Atlas villages

The mountain village of Imlil, standing at nearly 6,000 ft above sea level, is close to the highest peak in Northern Africa, Jebel Toubkal – and a visit to the small village gives a glimpse of another way of life, a world apart from the bustling streets of the souks below. Surrounded by groves of walnuts, apples and almonds, Imlil and the surrounding villages provide a welcome relief from the heat.

Imlil

Just 2 hours’ drive away from Marrakech, take a guide into the mountains and enjoy a refreshing glass of mint tea, before exploring the nearby hamlets and the beautiful natural terrain. For those who are more adventurous and have previous mountain climbing experience, you can even attempt to climb Jebel Toubkal itself. While the climb is certainly tough – you’ll be rewarded with stunning mountain panoramas, waterfalls and verdant forest.

Ouzoud Cascades

A two and half hour drive into rural northern Morocco gives you a chance to catch some of the most beautiful natural waterfalls in Northern Africa – the Cascades d’Ouzoud. Here, a 100 metre high waterfall cascades spectacularly, amidst dense vegetation, as well as an exotic collection of birds and Barbary apes.

Ouzoud

Explore the rocky pathways and catch a rainbow extending across the bottom of the falls, refresh yourself with freshly squeezed orange juice and locally made Berber fare – you can even take a reviving dip in the cascades, if you feel inclined! One of the most photogenic parts of the country, a trip here is well worth the visit.

Ksar Ait Benhaddou, Tinmel & Onira Valley

The Ksar of Air Benhaddou is an impressive collection of traditional earthen architecture, dating back to the 17th century, forming a Kasbah. What makes Ait Benhaddou so striking however, is the intriguing network of defensive walls, houses and community areas, creating a dramatic backdrop that has caught the eye of many film makers over the years.

Ounila Valley

It’s especially worth making the steep walk to the top, to catch the breath-taking views across the scenic landscape. Further on, the small mountain village of Tinmel provides another fascinating glimpse of the history of the region – take a visit to the Tin Mal Mosque, where you can admire the beautifully intricate architecture, as well as the warm hospitality of local Berber families.

Stéphane Abtan is Director at Dar Ayniwen.

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Comments (3)

  1. Francois says:

    Interesting to read! A good trip could be a 2-day journey between Marrakech and Casablanca. There is so many thing to see and discover on the road.

  2. Merja says:

    Great tips as I’m planning a trip to Marrakech next year. I especially want to experience le Jardin Majorelle but some attractions outside the city as well.

  3. Happy to see Imlil on the list. Great way to get away from the craziness of Marrakech! Particularly fantastic hiking opportunities from just 1/2 day to multiple day excursions.

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