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Trip Report

Short break in Marrakesh and around


by nickAtlasGuru Contributor

AfricaMorocco4 days / January 2020

Highs & Lows



Itinerary Overview

We stayed at a Riad in the Medina. That's the more touristic and charming neighbourhood. Usually, one can climb up to the Riad's rooftop and enjoy the city's view. At night, after having a couscous, we discovered the croweded Jemaa el-Fna Square, its market and its surprising shows. Snake charmers, man dancers, women dancers who are actually man dressed-up as women, storytellers you'll need to speak arabic to understand. It was Saturday night, so we ended-up in modern neighbourhood Gueliz, where most of the bars, clubs and nightlife are. On Sunday, we spent the day visitng the Medina, first by ourselves, then on a free-walking tour. We had a demonstration about argan oil, ate more couscous and delicious Moroccan pastries. Last night of the trip was also in Marrakesh, under the flood; first rain in 5+ months! And couscous again. It often comes in this description, but you'll find it cheap and tasty everywhere.

Everywhere in Marrakesh, including in your Riad, trips to the desert of variable duration are proposed. Price is always negociable. So we went for a one-night experience in Zagoura Desert. Interesting from climatic point of view: we started from Marrakesh under the rain, climbed-up to the mountains under the snow, which made our driver struggle a bit and then went across the palm groves and the unsual mountain-fields-and-desert landscapes under a bright sun. We also had a stop at imposing Ksar Aït Benhaddou. After an 8-hour drive, we arrived close to the camp, where our driver left us. There, some of us took the camel to reach the camp, some others like me preferred a desert walk. After walinkg a bit more, eating the food prepared on the camp and playing cards, stargazing could start. And then, time came to sleep in the extremely cold night.

Halfway between Zagoura and Marrakesh, we stopped at Ouarzazate. It's a small but very famous city, with a magnificient kasbah, that we visited. This way, we noticed it's much prettier from the outside than inside. We also had a guided tour in the citie's historical center. And we ate couscous, what else? Weather was sunny, we could enjoy it on a terace with a jumper and a coat, as it was January. Ouarzazate is also famous for its movie studio. It takes place 5 km away from the city. We were proposed to visit it, but considered it was not worth the price, so we just watched it a bit from the outside. Afterwards, we drove back to Marrakesh under much mildier conditions than the day before. Till the flood described at first location!

  • 3 Nights: Marrakesh
  • 1 Night: Zagora
  • Day trip: Ouarzazate

Q & A

  • What would you have changed?

    A lot. The duration of the trip was not aligned with the activites we planned. We spent most of the time in the jeep to and back from the desert, 8 hours each. For a 4-night-3-day journey, staying in Marrakesh all-time would have been more adapted. However, I strongly recommend to stay longer and spent a few days in the desert. One night there as we did is not enough either.

  • Anything go wrong during the trip?

    On our way to the desert, in the mountains, the snow made it difficult for our jeep, which scared some of us. But no pain in the end.

  • How was the food?

    What was the food? Couscous. How was it? Cheap and tasty.

  • What tips would you give a friend?

    Sleep in a Riad, enjoy the city, enjoy the desert and be sure to stay long enough.

  • Packing tips?

    For the desert night yes, especially if you go there in January. Pack a polar fleece, a hat and warm socks or sleep with two pairs of them. You'll stay in a bungalow and obviously it's not heated.