Archive for the ‘Excursions Marrakech’ Category

Ali Ben Youssef Medersa – A Must for Fans of Historic Architecture

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

A splendid place to admire traditional Moroccan architecture while unwinding from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Ali Ben Youssef medersa is a must for anyone interested in art, architecture and Islamic culture in general. A medersa, an intricately decorated school building as impressive in its way as any European university, is critical to the culture of Muslims.

A Brief History

Founded in the 14th Century by Abu al-Hassan, the then ruling Marinid Sultan, the Ali Ben Youssef Medersa is Morocco’s largest madrasa. In 1565, a reconstruction of the original building ordered by Abdallah al-Ghalib (Saadian Sultan 1557 to 1574) was completed. Restored again in 1950 before being closed to both the general public and the faithful in 1960, the madrasa was finally reopened to in 1982 following further restoration work to permit visitors to experience this exquisite master-piece of Moroccan architecture and art.

The Madersa

Featuring 130 dormitory cells for students clustered around a richly carved courtyard with its central rectangular pool and two bronze fountains, Ali Ben Youssef Medersa was one of North Africa’s largest theological colleges and was home to perhaps as many as 900 students at a time.

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Notable Occasions in August in Marrakech

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Marrakech, like all other cities and regions in Morocco, celebrates three major public holidays during August. The first of these events, Allegiance Day, takes place on Friday, the 14th.

Allegiance Day

Zikra Oued Ed-Dahab, as this national holiday is locally known, is celebrated to mark the return, by Mauritania to Morocco, of the disputed region of Oued Eddahab.

Thaourat al-malik wa shâab

On August 20th the country celebrates ‘Thaourat al-Malik wa Shâab’, or ‘The King & the People’s Revolution’, an event commemorating King Mohammed V’s return to Morocco after exile in Madagascar. Mohammed V’s return set in motion the negotiations which eventually led to Morocco becoming an independent nation.

Eid Al Milad

Introduced mainly for the youth of Morocco (Eid Al Milad is often referred to as ‘Youth Day’), this public holiday, on 21st August, marks the official birthday of Mohammed VI. Ascending to Morocco’s throne following the death of his father, King Hassan II, in July 1999, King Mohammed is the Alaouite dynasty’s 18th monarch. Intended to reflect the harmonious relationship between the king and his citizens, Eid Al Milad sets the tone for a joyful, festive atmosphere throughout the country.

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Visit the Enchanting Valley of Roses

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

While in Marrakech you should consider setting aside a day to visit the fortified village of Kalaa M’Goun (or Kelaat M’Gouna) in the picturesque, aptly-named and fragrant ‘Rose Valley’.

Kalaa M’Goun and the Rose

Appreciated as a departure point for walks and treks into the High Atlas, Kalaa M’Goun is the rose capital of Morocco. Here, the rose is the symbol both of hospitality (guests are given roses before and after meals), and of purity as distilled rose water is used for ablutions.

The Valley of Roses

Tours through the Valley of Roses start at Kalaa M’Goun and end some 30 km away at Bhou Thrar, location of the impressive, fortified village (ksar) that overlooks a beautiful oasis of calm. Distilleries which convert rose petals into rose water (one litre of rose water from no less than seven tons of rose petals) as well as soap and various other related products can be visited throughout the year. Rose derived products may be purchased on site. [M1] [M2] [M3]

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Exploring the Marrakech Souks

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

To first-time visitors, the labyrinthine Marrakech souks will seem like a bewildering warren of narrow passageways, impossible to navigate. There is, however, some simple advice for negotiating your way round this vast market and, in the process, getting the most from your visit.

Method to Madness

First of all, remember that the layout of the souks, as with every other major market in the world, has some method in its apparent madness. As you look closer, you will notice that there are clearly defined sections within which the respective trades are grouped together making shopping for the various products on offer, from food and spices, to textiles, household goods and souvenirs, that much easier to manage.

Focal Points

However laid out, in a circular manner or rectangular grid system, or just randomly labyrinthine, markets always have anchoring focal points and the Marrakech souks are no exception. Focal points here include, for instance, the vast central square, the Place Jemaa el Fna, and the slightly smaller Spice Square, from which one can access the Carpet Souk, for example. If all else fails, you can always ask for directions back to these anchor-points.

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Themed Break Bargains in Marrakech

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

While enjoying a short sunny break in Marrakech there are many activities you can indulge in, from golf to trekking in the Atlas Mountains and shopping in the souks. But there are many other options for getting the most out of that precious weekend away.

At Les Borjs de la Kasbah, for example, in the Marrakech medina, one can join a cookery class on Moroccan cuisine, enjoy a series of spa treatments including the traditional hammam bath, or visit Marrakech and its surroundings with a series of excursions.

There is even a Romance package with champagne, flowers and more for that special occasion.

The big difference at Les Borjs, however, is that these themed activities are included – i.e. there is no charge at all beyond the cost of a room!

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Tips for a cheap Marrakech break out of season

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

If you’re looking for an off-season holiday bargain Marrakech should certainly appear high on the shortlist of likely destinations. With its wealth of exciting, yet surprisingly inexpensive things to do, combined with the prospect of soaking up some winter sun while enjoying the facilities of a comfortably affordable four or five star hotel, you could say there is no need to look further than Morocco’s tourism capital.

Les Borjs de la Kasbah

Widely regarded as one of the best 4 star hotels in Marrakech, Les Borjs de la Kasbah currently offers rooms and suites at prices ranging between 750 dh (£55) for a single room in low season (December and January, Christmas/New Year excluded) to 1650 dh (£122) for a suite. These nightly rates include local taxes, airport welcome and transfer to the hotel as well as breakfast for one or two.

Bargain Breaks

In addition, this luxury boutique hotel also features regular special offers that are well worth looking out for, not least its ‘Bargain Breaks on a Theme’ deal (where a range of activity options is included in the room price at no extra charge) or the ’4 nights for the price of 3′ promotion.

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Themed Breaks in Marrakech

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

If you’re hoping to embark on a cheap holiday to Marrakech but are looking to experience more than sun and souks alone, you may wish to take advantage of the themed breaks in Marrakech currently on offer from one of the best 4 star hotels in Morocco, Les Borjs de la Kasbah.

What’s included in the Offer

Including a four-night stay for two in one of the hotel’s standard or premium rooms and suites, with airport to hotel transfer, local taxes and breakfast included, this special offer provides a choice of five different themed breaks in Marrakech:

  • Romance Package
  • Discovery Package
  • Spa Treatment Package
  • Moroccan Cuisine Cookery Package
  • Multi-Option Package

Costing between 2150 dh (£159) and 2550 dh (£189) each, these themed options can be enjoyed as part of the hotel’s ‘themed breaks in Marrakech’ offer with no additional charge above the price of the room.

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Visit Terres d’Amanar, an Adventure Park with a Difference

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Bordering the Toubkal National Park’s pristine forests, the Terres d’Amanar estate is situated some 23 miles (37 km) from Marrakech, on the road to Asni.

Nestling in the foothills of the spectacular Atlas Mountains, the estate is an example of Moroccan Eco-tourism based on adventurous activities for all the family.

Terres d’Amanar, a unique Concept for All

Combining fun and sporting challenges as well as traditional Berber crafts and cultural activities in one unique concept, Terres d’Amanar offers visitors a remarkably wide choice of attractions.

Activities and Attractions

In addition to zip wires and Accro Park forest fitness circuits, a children’s play park (Accro Park Junior) and a BMX course for older children, the estate offers horse riding, archery and trekking as well as craft workshops which allow visitors a glimpse into the lives and cultures of local Berber families.

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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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