Cristian

Cristian

With a passion for travel and particularly Morocco, I co own and manage Sun Trails.

Website URL: http://www.sun-trails.com

Fortress or palace?

kasbah ait bennhadou - Copy

Our day trip from Marrakech to Ait Benhaddou and Telouet is best for Kasbah architecture, Atlas Mountains views and a taste of the Grand Sud.

UNESCO Ait Benhaddou site, Atlas Mountains, pasha's palace at Telouet, Fint oasis and film studios in Ouarzazate can be included in this day tour. 

DETAILED ITINERARY 

Leaving Marrakech behind, our journey encounters beautiful scenery and small villages built in tiers succeeding among oak trees, walnut groves and oleander bushes. The road snakes up before arriving at the spectacular Tizi n Tichka pass. We are now at 2260 meters high. Once over the pass a totally different landscape is unveiled: the lunar landscape of the Anti Atlas and the plain beyond it. Scent of thyme from the bushes around fills the air. 

Just after the pass, our itinerary turns left and we find ourselves on the ancient route caravans used to bring the much sought- after goods at the court of the Sultan. We soon reach Telouet. The ruins of the pasha's palace dominate the village, a fortified citadel that is both a microcosm of an empire and its demise. He had managed to overshadow the sultan by controlling most of nowadays Morocco and decided to erect a palace in the middle of nowhere, where his family had originated from. He had employed the most skilled artisans to build and decorate his main residence and, in its golden age, armies, stables and Christian slaves were confined within its walls while a flourishing Jewish community managed the nearby salt mines.

Leaving Telouet behind, the trip crosses spaghetti western backgrounds to then meet the canyon. The gardens by the river bed melt into a gigantic green serpent imprisoned between the brown ridges, only to escape out into the horizon. The road follows the green serpent and on the other side, carved into the wall of the canyon, grottoes are still being used for keeping the stock or grains over the winter by the semi nomadic people of the area. Here and there, decaying kasbahs stand witnesses of an age soon resolute. 

Late afternoon. Then is the time to visit Ait Benhaddou, the postcard- like UNESCO adobe citadel. A fat, red sun, only underlines the beige tones of the mud and straws mixture and through the covered passages and stone walls, the past filters itself into the present. In spite of the local ‘guides’, the best is to just lose yourselves in its alleyways. There is always a new way to reach its peak, from where the snowcapped Atlas Mountains will steal your breath away. If the climb up hadn’t already. Half hour later, our trip crosses Ouarzazate, made famous by its film studios where recently scenes of 'Game of Thrones'  were shot. With this background, you may want to ride a camel along the kasbah's walls, by the river bed. Further away, the Oasis of Fint is a great example of life within an oasis.

We will then start our way back crossing the High Atlas, this time on the national road, once a camel track that was turned into a proper road suitable for vehicles in the 1030's with the help of the French Foreign Legion. The excursion serpents its way past abrupt valleys and mountain peaks to descend onto Marrakech later in the evening.

You are free to choose your time of departure. However, in order to make the best out of your day out, we recommend leaving no later than 8 AM. Forecasted return time in Marrakech is 7- 8 PM.

PRICE.............................................................................................. 75 EUROS PER PERSON ( BASED ON 2 PERSONS SHARING THE VEHICLE). DISCOUNTS APPLY FOR 3 OR MORE PERSONS.

The rate includes: private ( sole use) of the modern air conditioned Toyota 4x4 and the English fluent driver- guide, entrance fees to all sites and monuments, refreshing drinks inside the vehicle, pick up and drop off from/ to the hotel/ Riad and transport insurance.

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Atlas and the Lake

lalla takerkoust lake

The ideal day trip from Marrakech when spending a few days in the red city, a true immersion into the Berber culture.

Trekking in the Atlas Mountains, lunch at Kasbah Tamadot, tea with a Berber family or 12th century Tinmel Mosque are the highlights of this excursion from Marrakech. 

DETAILED ITINERARY

Leaving Marrakech behind, the day trip follows the tarred road through small villages scattered across the plain. Soon afterwards, you will arrive on the shores of Lalla Takerkoust lake where a small break is recommended to take in the panorama before starting the ascent towards the deserted  Kik Plateau. Time to take out your cameras! Ruins of Kasbahs once property of the local Pacha border the road. The limestone plateau is 1800 meters high and offers spectacular 360 degrees views and, in the spring, a marvellous spread of alpine flowers. From November to May, the surrounding peaks of the Atlas Mountains greet the view. On the other side of the plateau, lies the picturesque village of Moulay Brahim with its shrine where women from all over the area come and light candles, praying for baraka. By the river, camels and restaurants await their clients either for a Berber tagine or a camel ride. Asni is where a very important Berber souk is held on every Saturday and local producers bring fruit, vegetables and livestock to sell.

Further up, the road splits : straight ahead, the charming little village of Ouirgane with its majestic lake, an artificial dam created using dynamite only years ago. Due to the absence of the shores, the lake seems to have suddenly flooded the steep valley, as the branches of the pine trees almost touch the  surface of the water. 

Our excursion from Marrakech follows now one of the most picturesque routes in Morocco, one which is seldom used by intrepid travelers concluding a tour across Morocco coming from Sahara's dunes and Taroudant. Alas, before long, the impressive 12th century mosque of Tinmel, unveils itself in the distance. It feels almost eerie that this same route used by our day trip from Marrakech would be the same used by the Almohad armies to take over Marrakech centuries ago, destined to become the founders of an empire stretching from Western Sahara to nowadays Libya and all the way up to Cordoba and Seville, in Spain. It is a mosque that can also be visited by non muslims and draws inspiration from the Great Mosque of Cordoba with its beautifully decorated archways, sturdy towers and monumental doors. Once the visit concluded, lunch can be had in a charming inn in the area, by the pool.

If you choose to turn left instead of following ahead to visit Ouirgane and Tinmel mosque, our itinerary serpents along Oued Mizzane, in the shade of nut trees and crossing mountain springs, passing by Richard Branson's Kasbah Tamadot, to finally reach Imlil, the most picturesque trailhead in Morocco. On some days, the clouds descend and pass through the valley at eye level, like the ghost of a slow- moving train. In July and August you are guaranteed to find perfectly cool temperatures away from the scorching Marrakech. Martin Scorsese used it to shoot 'Kundun'and for good reason: Imlil will surprise you with the beauty and drama of the surrounding High Atlas and the local waterfalls are the perfect excuse for an enchanting mountain walk. If you want to catch your breath on the way and sip a mint tea or a coffee, there's no better spot than the roof terrace of Kasbah Toubkal . For those of you that want to try some serious Morocco trekking, a 3 hour trek on foot or mules can be arranged on spot or in advance. Lunch can be had at the exceedingly charming Douar Samra ( Moroccan). Lunch at Kasbah Tamadot is also recommended, for a special occasion. The menu is international and lunch needs to be booked in advance.

HOW ABOUT WATERFALLS AT 2500 METERS ALTITUDE ?

For those fit enough and willing to go totally off the beaten track, the more strenuous trek to the Roulidane waterfalls is worth every stretch. Even in October, after the long hot summer, you will spot patches of snow on the plateau dominating the falls. The walk is long and you will need to stop and catch your breath plenty, but you are rewarded with breath- taking views, lost-in-time adobe villages, remote sheep folds and terraced gardens. The few locals you will cross on your way will invite you for tea. Arrive at the base of the waterfalls in the afternoon and have some great shots to then, descend to the village below. Later, have a Berber lunch with a steamy tagine and freshly baked tafernoute bread while overlooking the peaceful valley. On the way back, we can choose to return the same way or draw a loop to join the Asni- Imlil route and be picked up by our driver. Tip: trekking equipment including ski sticks and boots can be rented locally.

On the way back to Marrakech small villages with their mud- brick adobe houses greet your eye sight, stacked into the hillside or lining the water course shaded by the palm grove. The river gives place to the canyons and gorges and the local Berber granary towers over the landscape, a quiet sentinel guarding the silence of the valley. Past Tahnaoute, the tarmac road follows its course among olive or orange orchards and golf courses to reach Marrakech soon after. 

You are free to choose your time of departure. However, in order to make the best out of your day out, we recommend leaving no later than 9 AM. Forecasted return time in Marrakech is 5 PM.

PRICE.............................................................................................. 65 EUROS PER PERSON ( BASED ON 2 PERSONS SHARING THE VEHICLE). DISCOUNTS APPLY FOR 3 OR MORE PERSONS.

The rate includes: private ( sole use) of the modern air conditioned Toyota 4x4 and the English fluent driver- guide, entrance fees to all sites and monuments, refreshing drinks inside the vehicle, pick up and drop off from/ to the hotel/ Riad and transport insurance.

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The Desert and the Lake

camel agafay desert

Our day trip from Marrakech into the nearby desert is ideal for those short on time to get to the Sahara.

Agafay desert, Lalla Takerkoust lake, the Atlas Mountains, Berber villages and hospitality all make up for a great day tour. If you have 3 days or more, you may wish to consider a tour to the Sahara desert

DETAILED ITINERARY

Our day trip out of Marrakech drives us past the airport and before you know it, the route is shaded by lush vegetation, olive and orange orchards past the occasional village. Off the tarmac and onto off road, the scenery is completely different - barren light brown plateaux, a true stone desert. The locals call it Agafay desert:  this might as well be the Sahara as the feeling of solitude and complete isolation is similar. The land seems to stretch out forever as the impression of being completely disconnected from civilization takes shape. For the next couple of hours, we are submerged in this immensity undisturbed by any sign of life. Civilization finds us again under the shape of a few adobe houses, where we can sample a tea with the locals or experience trekking by camel. 

A few hours later, our excursion from Marrakech skirts past swaths of vegetation and not long after, we are back on the tarmac, sidelined by old eucalyptus trees. We arrive on the edge of Lalla Takerkoust lake built as a dam, where Marrakech gets its electricity from. A great spot for lunch or a tea break, with a superb view over the lake and for those looking for a rush of adrenaline, quad biking or jet skiing can be arranged locally. 

After the lake, our itinerary takes us up into the Atlas Mountains. Ruins of Kasbahs once property of the local Pasha border the road. Kik Plateau is 1800 meters high and offers spectacular 360 degrees views and, in the spring, a marvellous spread of alpine flowers. Scattered Berber hamlets greet the view and it feels like you travelled back in time, perhaps to the age of the spaghetti western. The driver can arrange for a visit of a Berber house for you to witness the  day to day life of these mountain people.

On the other side of the plateau, lies the picturesque village of Moulay Brahim with its shrine where women from all over the area come and light candles, praying for the much coveted baraka. By the river, camels and restaurants await their clients either for a Berber tagine or a camel ride. Further on lie the peaceful village of Asni and Kasbah Tamadot, Richard Branson's Morocco's retreat, in the heart of this lush area covered with apple, cherry and plum orchards sending out their harvest into the city. A very important Berber market is held on every Saturday where producers bring fruit, vegetables and livestock to sell. If you are interested in seeing a Berber souk, almost every village has one on a specific day of the week. Lunch at Richard Branson's can also be arranged but it is best accommodated with our Atlas and the Lake day trip, especially when building a serious appetite after some trekking in the High Atlas. 

On our tour back to Marrakech, small villages with their mud- brick adobe houses greet your eye sight, stacked into the hillside or lining the water course shaded by the palm grove. The river gives place to the canyons and gorges and the local Berber granary towers over the landscape, a quiet sentinel guarding the silence of the valley. Past Tahnaoute, the tarmac road follows its course among olive or orange orchards and golf courses to reach Marrakech soon after.

You are free to choose your time of departure. However, in order to make the best out of your day out, we recommend leaving no later than 9 AM. Forecasted return time in Marrakech is 5 PM.

PRICE.............................................................................................. 65 EUROS PER PERSON ( BASED ON 2 PERSONS SHARING THE VEHICLE). DISCOUNTS APPLY FOR 3 OR MORE PERSONS.

The rate includes: private ( sole use) of the modern air conditioned Toyota 4x4 and the English fluent driver- guide, entrance fees to all sites and monuments, refreshing drinks inside the vehicle, pick up and drop off from/ to the hotel/ Riad and transport insurance.

Better still, why not make staying one night in Agafay desert part of a 2- day private 4x4 tour and discover the diverse area just south of Marrakech ? The desert, the High Atlas, the Kik Plateau, the local waterfalls, Lalla Takerkoust lake – so much variety covered in only two days. Perhaps start along the Ourika Valley, hike up into the High Atlas, have lunch with a Berber family. Walk up to and refresh by the local waterfalls, witness how the argan fruit is turned into oil into a local cooperative. Discover the 12th century mosque of Tinmel, have a tea break by the lake, lunch at Richard Branson's High Atlas retreat or trek in the Atlas mountains. And, after all the lushness of the High Atlas, take in a little bit of desert. Arrive in Agafay desert by the afternoon and, after settling in, have the most romantic dinner by candle light under the starriest sky, out in the open. Spend a night inside a private white canvas tent and explore the surroundings next day by foot, camel, horse of mountain bike. In the afternoon get taken back to your riad in Marrakech or the airport. To arrange such a private tour and find out rates and details, send us an enquiry .

 



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Atlas & the 3 Valleys

landscape atlas mountains2

Our day trip from Marrakech shows you the most diverse of landscapes while immersing you into the Berber culture.

Ourika Valley, visit of a Berber market, camel trek, Lalla Takerkoust lake, tea with a family are all highlights of this itinerary.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Starting off on the road to Ourika Valley and leaving Marrakech behind, the journey reaches Rhmat, to then skirt the river past Berber villages, while the snowy peaks of the High Atlas take shape in the background. Before taking on the Atlas Mountains, we recommend a break in the village of Tafza, to visit a typical Berber house overlooking the area. The house used to belong to a noble local familly and has been restored to its original state by its French actual owner. The traditions and customs of Berbers can be admired throughout the rooms and hallways where the different objects and furniture intertwine with ancient photos, some of them taken as early as 1900's. 

Back on the road, our excursion takes us towards Oukaimeden, one of the few ski resorts in Morocco. But just when you start wondering when was the last time you skied, we turn rightand dwell into back- roads. If so far we were crossing valleys and gorges, we are now immersed in complete wilderness. Slide down the car's window and reach out - you can almost reach the pine trees lining the road. We are not likely to encounter anyone here, except maybe the local forest guard waving his hand as we pass him by or the ladies of the village nearby doing the laundry in the river. Time to take out your cameras- there are quite a few photo opportunities along the way. Starting the descent towards Asni on the other side of the valley, you can admire Richard Branson's mesmerizing Kasbah Tamadot in the distance, tucked between the cliffs and the lush vegetation. Lunch at Kasbah Tamadot can be arranged on request. 

After the impressive landscapes, your appetite might call for some attention too. Lunch can be had either inside a traditional Berber house or just by the road in one of the impromptu snack- restaurants serving succulent, fresh tagines. Each village around the area has its own Berber market a certain day of the week, something to witness if you get the chance.  

After lunch our excursion takes us up onto Kik Plateau, crossing Moulay Brahim, a picturesque village famous for its shrine where women from the surrounding villages come looking for the baraka. The limestone plateau is set at 1800 meters altitude and offers spectacular 360 degrees views and, in the spring, a marvellous spread of alpine flowers. The contrast between the two mountain ranges is nothing short of amazing: a barren plateau with hardly any vegetation, the deserted landscape occasionally interrupted by scattered Berber hamlets. It is certainly worth stopping and having tea in a Berber house.

Starting the descent on the other side, you may be suprised by strange objects flying above you - paragliders shooting off from the cliffs above. We can stop for a moment if the light is right and capture the amazing landscape unfolding in front of our eyes. The vast panorama is only interrupted by Lalla Takerkoust lake, spreading out for miles. In the distance, on a clear day, you can see Marrakech as our day tour passes by the ruins of Kasbahs once property of the local Pasha. We will stop for a tea and a camel ride by the lake before returning to Marrakech. 

You are free to choose your time of departure. However, in order to make the best out of your Marrakech day trip, we recommend leaving no later than 9 AM. Forecasted return time in Marrakech is 5 PM.

PRICE.............................................................................................. 65 EUROS PER PERSON ( BASED ON 2 PERSONS SHARING THE VEHICLE). DISCOUNTS APPLY FOR 3 OR MORE PERSONS.

The rate includes: private ( sole use) of the modern air conditioned Toyota 4x4 and the English fluent driver- guide, entrance fees to all sites and monuments, refreshing drinks inside the vehicle, pick up and drop off from/ to the hotel/ Riad and transport insurance.

If you wish to walk / trek in the High Atlas for a few hours, we can include that with our other day trip, Atlas and the Lake

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Contact Get in touch with us

Sun Trails

14 Avenue Hassan Seghir

Casablanca 20000

Phone : +212 638 636 719/ +212 666 915 384

Skype: sun_trails_morocco

We are open 7 days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM local Morocco time. For any last minute enquiry feel free to call us on the number(s) listed above.

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Boutique tours of Morocco

What better place than Morocco for a private tailor made tour ? It can be a day trip from Marrakech into the Atlas Mountains. Or a 14 day private luxury Morocco tour. And everything in between. With such a different culture and language, a boutique 4x4 Morocco tour with an English speaking local driver- guide guarantees the best holidays in Morocco. Choose one of the many 4x4 tours from Marrakech or another imperial city and you will discover the off the beaten track Morocco. Much more than excursions from Marrakech or Morocco desert tours, our 4x4 custom tours travel all across Morocco, covering Berber villages, majestic Kasbahs, enchanting palm groves or Touareg desert camps. From Ait Benhaddou to Chefchaouen, from Erg Chebbi to Taroudant and from camel rides in the Sahara to hardcore trekking Morocco can only offer. Browse among our 4x4 boutique tours of Morocco and book your favorite today !