Archive for the ‘Excursions Marrakech’ Category

Take a daytrip from Marrakech to Ouirgane

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

The pretty little village of Ouirgane (pronounced ‘Weer-gan’) is a Berber settlement situated in the foothills of the High Atlas, on the edge of the Toubkal National Park, some 90 minutes from Marrakech.

The Magic of Ouirgane

Surrounded by pine forests, red-earth hills and splendid greenery, Ouirgane is a great place for mountain biking or hiking trips; horse riding, bird watching and trekking in the national park are also popular. Offering magnificent views over the Toubkal massif, the village is located in a valley on the Oued (river) Nfis and is particularly delightful in spring when the almond trees are in blossom adding breathtaking beauty to the rural scene.

 Nearby Attractions

In addition to the attractions of the national park itself, Ouirgane lies just a few miles from the sanctuaries of Rabi Haim ben Diwan and Moulay Brahim Muslim, close to the villages of Anraz and Asni, 3 km and 15 km, respectively, from Ouirgane itself.

Another well-known village is Imlil, at the foot of Mount Toubkal, the starting point for treks up to the mountain summits with spectacular views en-route.

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Places to visit in Marrakech – Agdal Gardens, the ‘walled Meadow’ of Marrakech

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Situated close to the Menara Gardens and the Marrakech medina, the Agdal Gardens were created by the city founder, Abd al-Mu’min (1130 to 1163), of the Almohad dynasty who also undertook many of the city’s most significant building projects. The gardens, rejuvenated during the Saadien dynasty, were enlarged during Moulay Abderrahmane’s reign in the 19th Century.

Agdal Gardens

The name of the gardens is derived from a Berber word meaning ‘walled meadow.’ Adjacent to the southern edge of the medina, the Agdal Gardens, or orchards, covering an area of approximately 700 acres, were created to function both as the caliph’s private pleasure garden and for the production of fruit.

The Gardens

Featuring rectangular orchards planted with apricot, fig, lemon, orange and pomegranate trees each linked by walkways lined with olive-trees, the gardens are irrigated by water channelled via an extensive khettara (underground network of ditches and channels) from the Ourika Valley.

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The Marrakech Museum of Moroccan Art – Musée Dar Si Said

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Located in a 19th century palace, the Musée Dar Si Said is regarded as one of Morocco’s most eloquent tributes to the skills of its master craftsmen.

Surrounding a splendid courtyard filled with shady cypress trees, flowers, a fountain and gazebo, the museum’s exhibition rooms are filled with a wealth of items showcasing some of the finest examples of Morocco’s rich arts and crafts heritage.

Treasures to be discovered

Some of the most noteworthy items to be admired at the Musée Dar Si Said include a chest, dating from around 1000 AD, heavy silver Berber headdresses and striking High Atlas carpets in innumerable shades of purple. Other items include jewellery, wedding costumes, pottery, leather articles and rugs.

Throughout the museum visitors can see extraordinary mosaics, stucco artefacts and beautifully carved cedar doors embellished with elaborate talismans believed to ward off the evil eye.

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What’s on in Marrakech – March and April 2014

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Springtime is the ideal time of year to visit Marrakech when temperatures average an idyllic 26° with more than 8 sunshine hours per day and just the occasional light shower to keep vegetation fresh before the heat of summer.

As the air fills with the intoxicating scent of flowers in bloom throughout the city, the streets buzz with the excitement of things to come as visitors arrive to experience some of the popular events taking place during March and April.


International Magic Festival

From the 19-22nd March, the squares and streets of Marrakech, as well as the Royal Theatre, will be taken over by street and stage performers participating in the International Magic Festival.

Transmarocaine Challenge

Following on from the magic is the demanding reality of the Transmarocaine Challenge (22-30 March). This year’s running, walking, canoeing and mountain biking challenge, the ninth in the series, will take participants (and spectators) from Essaouira, a pretty coastal town on the Atlantic coast, 150 km west of Marrakech, to Tahanaoute, situated at the foot of the mighty Atlas, in the shadow of Mont Toubkal (4167m), and finally on to Marrakech itself.

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The 7 Delights of a Trip to the Cascades d’Ouzoud

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Situated within the Grand Atlas province of Azilal, some 150 km to the north-east of Marrakech, the Cascades d’Ouzoud are more than simple waterfalls.

Surrounding Region

The journey from Marrakech to the Cascades d’Ouzoud is an experience in itself as the road takes you there via green valleys and the superb gorge of the El Abid River, passing orchards and ageless olive mills along the way to the Berber village of Tanaghmeilt, close by. Seeing the magnetic beauty of this desert region it is easy to understand why much of the area is designated a conservation site by a number of national and local organisations.

Cascades d’Ouzoud

First sight of the Cascades d’Ouzoud explains why they are renowned as one of the region’s most photographed sites. Dropping in a series of wide and narrow steps from a height of 110 m, the falls are at their most beautiful during mid-to-late afternoon when the appearance of rainbows makes the scene even more spectacular, the widest of them appearing towards the bottom of the series of cascades.

The Top of the Falls

Refreshingly un-commercialised, with just a few Berber traders selling fresh orange juice and market produce, every section of the falls offers a fascinating spectacle. At the summit you’ll find a dozen or so small mills, the last working examples of the many olive and flour mills believed to have given the site its name, Ouzoud being the Berber term for the act of grinding.

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4 Great Places for Kids in Marrakech

Monday, February 17th, 2014

While historic sites and monuments, stately gardens and the delights of shopping in the souks of Marrakech may appeal to adults, children quickly tire of admiring Berber carpets, sampling spices (however colourful and tantalisingly odiferous!) and learning about ancient history.

So here are just a few great places for kids in Marrakech to keep them busy and, more importantly, smiling.

Le Bowling

Situated in the Palmeraie, Le Bowling is a quaint, air-conditioned bowling alley. Featuring six lanes, it is perfect for keeping kids from going stir crazy in your hotel when it’s too hot to do anything else. A bar and billiard tables are also available.

Kawkab Jeux

Offering arts and crafts, workshops, games and a host of other state-of-the-art activities for children of all ages, the Kawkab Jeux on Rue Imam Chafaï in the central area of Marrakech is ideal for keeping your kids amused while you try your hand at a bit of old fashioned haggling in a nearby souk. There are video games, a mini-train, playground slides, mini foot tables and a snack bar.

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The Place Jemaa El Fna

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Like most of Morocco’s cities, Marrakech has two sharply contrasting personalities, in the shape of the modern, commercial quarter of Guéliz and the original walled medina.

One of five Moroccan medinas included for their architectural richness on the Unesco World Heritage list, the medina of Marrakech, packed with grandiose monuments and an extensive souk, is built around the celebrated Jemaa El Fna, a thronged, pulsating square in the very heart of town.

Shoppers’ Paradise

Surrounded by labyrinthine alleyways amid tightly packed houses, Djemaa El Fna is the starting point for accessing the apparently endless maze of souks selling everything from cheap souvenirs and trinkets and spices to beautiful carpets and finely-crafted wood and metal artifacts, including traditional jewellery. All day long refreshments in the shape of freshly-squeezed orange juice and delicious Moroccan dates are available from a plethora of vendors in and around the central square.

Step back in Time

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Visit the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Amid the frenetic buzz of Marrakech one can still find pockets of tranquil serenity in sharp contrast to the heat and pace of the city all around.

One such oasis of calm is the Majorelle Garden, or Jardin Majorelle, one of the most popular visitor attractions in Marrakech. Named after its French-born designer, Jacques Majorelle, a French painter inspired by the Art Nouveau movement of the early 1900s, the garden in its modern form spans around two and a half acres blending nature and design.

Here, the sound of gently running water from marble pools, fountains and irrigation channels and the constant chatter of birdlife create an idyllic atmosphere of sub tropical exoticism as raised paths lead one through plantations of banana trees and bamboo, coconut palms and bougainvillea and an impressive collection of cactae.

Majorelle spent some forty years designing and sculpting his garden into a splendid piece of botanical art although, following his death in 1962, it fell into a state of neglect.

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Visiting the tanneries in Marrakech – why you should do it

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

The ancient Marrakech tannery where the raw material for fine leather gods is produced is a magnetic draw for tourists because the experience is as fascinating as the smell is pungent.

Some might warn you away from this odiferous quarter of the city but that would be a mistake because, in several respects, the ancient process of producing leather from goatskin and fleeces, having changed little since biblical times, is an absorbing throwback to another era.

Tanners have been around since the city’s founding in 1062 and tanning itself, and the production of leather goods, has remained an important trade ever since. Today, as then, the archaic curing process involves an unpleasant cocktail of elemental liquids (a mix of cow urine, pigeon faeces and acids) in which animal skins are cleaned and cured.

You will see half naked men, standing up to their knees in clay vats filled with this evil smelling mixture, cleaning the fleeces before handing them over to be dyed in different vats filled with other, equally suspicious looking multi-coloured liquids. After this the coloured fleeces are set out to dry in the sun.

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The Saadian Tombs in Marrakech

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

If you’re looking to absorb some history on your visit to Marrakech, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions is the Saadian Tombs, the final resting place of the rulers and other members of the Saadi Dynasty, one of the best examples of Islamic art in Morocco.

The first known burial took place following the reign of Sultan Ahmed el Mansour (1578-1603), sixth sultan of the Saadi Dynasty which held sway from the mid-sixteenth to the late seventeenth century.

When Moulay Ismail (1672-1727) came to power he sealed off the tombs in an effort to remove all trace of his predecessors. They only came to light again in 1917 upon their rediscovery by the French following an aerial survey.

Because the tombs had been sealed for so many years they were found to be in a state of near-immaculate preservation and the Moroccan Beaux-Arts service has since restored the site itself to its original splendour.

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