Marrakech Day Trips

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After 2 or 3 days of brutal exposure to culture shock in Marrakech, most visitors feel they need to take a day trip to exhale and recharge their batteries.

A much sought after location is Oureka Valley__ a mountain resort, some 46 kilometers away. It's an easy ride into a quiet and green valley. Most travel agents offer a standard itinerary: leave Marrakech at 10 ; drive for 1 hour to visit a day Market (only on Friday and Monday) ; drive another hour to visit a Berber house for some mint tea; follows a steady drive through scenic landscapes to Sitti Fatma waterfalls. There are seven of them but only the adventurous and fit tourist hikes to the top; most will be happy to hike for one hour, assisted by a guide. lunch takes place in one of the hip restaurants in the valley. After lunch departure for Marrakech which you reach at 4/5 pm

However, to really enjoy the trip, I’d like to suggest a different itinerary. Departure at 9 from Marrakech. 20 kilometers later, take the road to Aghmat (see caption) you drive through fertile plains of roses herbs and plants to visit the shrine of Almoutamid Ben Abbad, king and poet imprisoned by a rival king Youssef Ben Tachfine and brought with his own family from Andalusia in chains.

Back on the main road ask the driver/ guide to stop at a typical Berber house not just for mint tea but to get a first understanding of traditional family structure and gender power. If you’ re a fan of herbs an plants, don’t miss the botanical garden (caption ).
Oureka is rich in minerals (amethysts, quartz …) if you’re lucky and know about geology you may come across a million year old fossil . Otherwise you ‘ll be content with buying a tagine__the terra cotta vessel in which Moroccan stews are cooked . Go for the plain unglazed tagine; it provides better flavor and is cheaper. On the way to Sitti Fatma don’t hesitate to ask the driver to stop for pictures. If you’re fit, hire a local guide and hike to one of the waterfalls. Otherwise head back. You can lunch at a good restaurant like Ramuncho (caption) or Kasbah or a cheap one overlooking the river.

Properly organized the trip is uplifting. Just focus on scenery and ignore those trying to sell you silver necklaces, olive oil, rugs and what not.

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