Recently two members of the Encounters team spent a long weekend in Marrakech.
Marrakech is a wonderfully vibrant city. It is an explorer's paradise as you can spend days walking through the labyrinth streets of the Medina and never get bored.People are welcoming and friendly, and the food is incredible!
On arrival into Marrakech it is a short transfer into the city, you drive along the old wall of the Medina until a small gap in this ancient fortress allows you to enter the secret world of the old city. This is where many of the traditional Riads are and the main square and shopping area is. The Djemaa El Fna Square at night is a hive of activity, there are snake charmers, monkeys, musicians and storytellers. There are also countless food stalls which serve up the freshest ingredients causing clouds of fragrant BBQ smoke to float through the air.
We stayed in a small riad just off of the main square. It was an oasis of calm from the chaos of the square. It was serene and luxurious and was a great place to relax after the hectic day of navigating through the alleys.
The following day, we went on a guided tour to see the Koutoubia Mosque, Bahia Palace and the Ben Youssef Medersa which were all ornately decorated and gave an interesting insight to the history of Marrakech. We then spent a few hours with our Moroccan guide leading us through the local area of the souks. There were very few tourists along the way, it felt as though we were getting a unique insight into Moroccan culture. We visited leather tanners and blacksmiths, butchers and artists and all greeted us with a smile.
That night we went for dinner in a beautiful restaurant called La Salama, it was lit by hundreds of candles and had traditional music to set the mood, the food was incredible. It was a very busy place and off in a dimly lit corner we caught a glimpse of Elle McPherson, soaking up the same ambiance we were! There was a pianist who played until the traditional music resumed and was turned up as belly dancers flooded the room and danced for everyone’s enjoyment. We had Moroccan wine which was wonderful, we think due to the strong French influence in the country. It was a magical evening!
The next morning we travelled towards the Atlas mountains to visit a traditional Berber Market, they are held weekly and are a chance for the Berber men to travel out of the mountains to do their weekly shopping, see the doctor, get their hair cut or visit the dentist (the dentist and the barber are the same person!) We then drove into the mountains which were covered in snow which was melting down the hills and into the rivers running through the valleys, the river banks were dotted with camels and local restaurants. It was a stunningly beautiful drive.
That evening we had drinks at a rooftop bar, it looked out over the city wall which was covered in stork nests, the silhouettes of the huge birds made the sunset even more beautiful.
We walked into the new city for dinner, the new city is very modern and has huge shopping arcades, entertainment complexes and lots of fantastic restaurants. It is also where Marrakech’s nightclubs are. This is where young fashionable Moroccans party in mini skirts and stilettos, worlds away from the fashion and feel of the people in the Medina.
Marrakech has so much to offer a traveller, no matter what your tastes are, Marrakech will cater to you, whether you love shopping, history, culture, relaxation, cuisine or all of the above, it is a city to get lost in, both figuratively and literally.
All of the Encounters Morocco group tours start and end in Marrakech and include a day tour of the city and loads of free time to explore on your own or book an optional excursion.
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