Best Side Trips from Marrakech

Marrakech is a thriving city in western Morocco. It’s one of the country’s top tourist destinations – and for good reason!

Here are 2 awesome mini trips that you can take from Marrakech:

Ouzud Falls

The Ouzud Falls are a truly impressive site – set in a lush valley with a background of rolling hills, water cascades in dramatic fashion down a total height of more than 100 metres.

Begin by viewing the whole waterfall system from above. A path to the north takes you close to the mouth of the falls, whilst a track to the west loops around the top of the valley. This provides a panorama of the falls and valley all in a single frame.

Top Tip

Visit in Spring!

If you visit in the Spring (March/April/May), the valley will be bursting with colour as the vegetation is in leaf and the flowers are blooming. Temperatures are also comfortable and the water flow will be at its highest – making for a more impressive experience.

Ouzud from afar

After views from the top, take the walking track that winds down towards the base of the falls. Halfway along is a beautiful viewing area directly across from the falling water. Keep an eye out here as rainbows are common!

Rainbowtastic! (halfway down the walking track)

Finally, continue down to the bottom of the valley where you can look up at the magnificent falls tumbling down towards you. Boat trips take you up for an even closer look, whilst a couple of restaurants provide shade and refreshments.

Looking up from the base of the falls

Just 3 hours from Marrakech by bus, you can visit the Ouzud Falls in a single action packed day trip. After an early start and exploration of the falls from every angle, you can be back in the city in time for dinner.

Many tour companies will offer day trips to Ouzud Falls – ask at your accommodation for recommendations or shop around at agencies for the best price.

 

Other African adventures – read where my whole travel journey began (a personal conquest of Kilimanjaro)!

 

Sahara Desert

Another great trip you can take from Marrakech is to visit the Sahara Desert. Popular desert activities include camel trekking, camping and star gazing.

The Moroccan part of the Sahara is located in the east of the country. From Marrakech, this involves a crazy journey over the towering Atlas Mountains – you’ll go from snow-capped peaks to rolling sand dunes in the space of only a few hours!

Imagine being in snowy mountains just a few hours earlier…

Most Sahara tours depart Marrakech by bus, making different stops on the way to the desert. These include mountainous viewpoints and ancient villages. The tour I was on stopped at one of the more famous of these ancient settlements – Kasbah Aït Benhaddou, which was one of the filming locations for the award-winning Gladiator. Another popular stop-off is Ouarzazate – a desert town that’s home to the Atlas Film Studios.

Kasbah Aït Benhaddou – filming location for Gladiator

Once you reach the fringes of the Sahara, it’ll be time to leave the bus and continue your journey by camel. After a 1.5 hour ride – usually around sunset – you’ll reach your desert campsite. Enjoy a freshly cooked dinner, keep warm with a mint tea and enjoy some local live music as the night sets in.

Then, once it’s fully dark outside, you can lie back on the dunes and spend some valuable time star gazing. There’s so little light pollution here that on a clear night you’re even able to admire the Milky Way! It’s in these moments – without the distraction of modern technology – that you’re able to truly appreciate the natural beauty of our World (which is why I love star gazing so much)!

After sleeping overnight in a Berber tent, most tours will include a sunrise camel trek followed by the return bus journey to Marrakech.

Sunrise in the desert

Top Tip

Take a longer trip!

Some companies offer tours longer than just 2 days. If you’re after a true desert experience – with uninterrupted sand dunes as far as the eye can see – then you’ll need this extra time to get deeper into the Sahara. The best dunes can be found at either Merzouga or M’Hamid.

Camels – an integral part of any Sahara tour

 

Conclusion – which trip to choose?

Both, obviously!

However, if you’re short on time or money then maybe you have to choose between one or the other.

Personally, I preferred the Sahara trip over visiting the Ouzud Falls. This is mainly due to the greater variation in sights and activities.

Because it was an overnight tour, the Sahara trip itinerary also felt a little more relaxed; allowing you to enjoy each place you stopped at.

If you need persuading to go to Morocco, check out this short video that I made about it.

 

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