Should you wish to book a full or half-day tour of Marrakech with a qualified guide or take a chauffeur driven minibus excursion to visit the Atlas mountains or, to the west, the sandy coast at historic Essaouira, we will be happy to make the arrangements for you.
The Ourika Valley and Berber Souk
This entrance corridor to the High Atlas is a fertile green valley situated some 60 kms (just an hour) south of Marrakech where picturesque Berber villages cling to steep slopes above a rushing mountain torrent. In summer, the cool of the mountains marks a welcome contrast to the fierce heat of Marrakech (so the valley is very popular during summer weekends) while, in winter, the Snowcapped summits of the Atlas range provide a truly breathtaking spectacle.
Before the end of the valley the road peters out at the little village of Setti Fatma, at 1500m, where a pretty walk can be enjoyed beside the river to a series of seven waterfalls tumbling down the mountain in the shadow of the highest peaks. Take a picnic for the trip but, if not, you'll find a good choice of inexpensive eating places along the way.
The village of Ourika itself lies at the foot of hills where the road begins its climb up into the Atlas. Famous for its pottery and semi-precious minerals, its exhilarating berber souk (a large country market, one of the biggest in the area), on Mondays, is not to be missed.
Over the Atlas to Ouarzazate
This long, full day excursion takes one across the High Atlas on an impressive mountain road which winds its way up and down the picturesque valleys, past numerous Berber villages and roadside sellers of semi precious stones, to the 2260m Tizi n' Tichka, the highest mountain pass in the Atlas. Looking south beyond these impressive mountains, snow-capped from November to April, a different landscape emerges of semi-desert punctuated, alongside the river on way to Ouarzazate, by fortified kasbahs and small village houses of mud and straw contrasting vividly with the emerald green of the fields around them. A modern garrison town built by the French on the edge of the Sahara, Ouarzazate's visits include the old residence of the Pacha El Glaoui, the kasbah of Taourirt and Ait Benhaddou, an ancient picturesque hill village popular with film-makers. The Atlas studios, just outside town, where many famous films have been made , make for another most interesting visit .
Ouirgane via Mount Toubkal (4165m)
About an hour from Marrakech, this is a magnificent green valley tucked away at the foot of Mont Toubical, at 4165m the highest point not only of Morocco but of North Africa . Visit the souk in the village of Tahanaout (Tuesdays and Saturdays) and drive through the gorges of the river Ghezala en route to Asni, famous for amethysts, where a good choice of eating places can be found, unless you'd prefer to enjoy a picnic contemplating the splendid mountain scenery On finally to Ouirgane in what is known as the "Happy Valley".
Day trip to the Ouzoud waterfalls
Two and a half hours from Marrakech, these splendid waterfalls of the river Ouzoud, which plunge over 300 ft in a series of major and minor drops are one of the most remarkable natural attractions of the Moroccan Atlas. Reached by a well maintained four-mile path from Ouzoud village, with its small shops and inexpensive eateries, the falls are often highlighted by a rainbow halo in the cascades' spray .
One can bathe in the cool limpid waters or cross the river by small boat for a few dirhams, where a number of walking trails begin. The falls allow the river Ouzoud, a mountain torrent at its best in spring but flowing all year round, to discharge into the canyon of the river El Abid. The lushness of the setting contrasts with the red sandstone and desert scenery of the surrounding country.
Excursion to Essaouira and the Atlantic Coast
After an early start and a 3 hour drive you will reach the ancient port of Mogador built by the Portuguese on a narrow peninsula beside a vast crescent of fine sand. Nestled securely within its impressive. French built, 18th century ramparts, the largely pedestrianised town is divided into different quarters by its grid system layout. From the top of the Scala one has a magnificent view over the colorful fishing harbour and walled town with its whitewashed houses, to the defensive ramparts lined with Spanish canons lashed by Atlantic waves .
Apart from its long sandy , uniquely picturesque building and ancient fortifications , Essaouira is also famous for its refined craftsmanship , especially woodwork ( objects in thuya beautifully inset with lemon wood , ebony , mother of pearl or threads of either copper or sliver