Medinas & Minarets
Morocco is an intoxicating land of mountains, plains and desert. It’s a land of ancient cultures, dizzying exoticism, bustling medinas, moorish architecture, fertile valleys, snow-capped peaks, desert sand dunes, spectacular surf beaches and crumbling kasbahs.
On this family trip, we give you the very best of Morocco. Begin your journey in lively Marrakech, the enchanted imperial city. Get lost in the souks, admire the palaces and take in the carnival atmosphere of the world famous Djemaa el Fna. Transfer to the Atlas Mountains where snow-capped peaks and sun-baked slopes shelter remote Berber villages. Embark on a guided mule trek or enjoy cooking lessons with the locals. Finally kick back and relax in the ancient fortified City of Essaouira. Enjoy surfing, camel trekking, kite surfing or quad biking then head to the tiny shacks lining the port for freshly-caught seafood.
- Flights: Direct return flights from UK regional airports to Marrakech (RAK)
- Transport: Guided transfers between all locations
- Accommodation: 7 nights in characterful 4* riads, kasbahs and hotels. Accommodation has been carefully chosen to create an indulgent rich, safe cultural experience
- Meals: Breakfasts where stated
- Trip Pack: Key family-friendly information about the country you are visiting with recommended activity links, places to eat and fun facts.
- Haggling in the souks of Marrakech
- Watching the Djemaa el-Fna burst to life with acrobats, magicians and storytellers
- Learning about the life of the friendly and hospitable Berber people
- Spending time in the High Atlas Mountains with views of Mt Toubkal
- Watching fishing nets being mended and traditional boats being constructed in the hugely atmospheric fishing port of Essaouira
- Exploring the ancient kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou
- Seizing the opportunity to try surfing, kite surfing, camel trekking or quad biking
- When can we go? All year round
- What type of tour is it? Private family tour with guided transfers
- Who is it suitable for? For culture vultures, history buffs, those seeking a taste of the exotic and intrepid families with a penchant for mountain treks and water sports.
- What is the minimum age? We would recommend a minimum age of 5 years to fully enjoy the range of activities available.
We publish ‘guideline prices’ for both the high and low season to give a reasonable estimate of what you might expect to pay per person based on a family of four (two adults, two children). To get an accurate price based on your estimated departure date and party size please contact us directly.
Guide Price: Apr to Oct - £985pp
Guide Price: Nov to Mar - £865pp
You will be met at Marrakech Menara Airport and transferred to your accommodation in the heart of the medina. Spend the rest of your day relaxing in the peaceful surrounds of your classic Moorish Riad.
In the evening, all alleyways lead to Djemaa al Fna, the general meeting place for seemingly everyone in North Africa. Your children will be mesmerised by the carnivalesque street theatre with snake charmers, musicians, potters, magicians and storytellers. Introduce them to the art of haggling in the food markets then tuck into plates of calamari or spicy kebabs. Old Berber ladies are usually on hand for anyone keen to get a henna tattoo.
Fun Facts: Marrakech is frequently referred to as the Red City, because of the shade of the walls surrounding its old town district
Exotic Marrakech, with its intricate architecture and bustling squares provides an instant spark for any child’s imagination. Imagine Jedi Knights in the twisting alleyways of the medina or an exiled Games of Thrones princess in the palace tower. In reality, the cobbled streets are no less colourful. Local stalls display mounds of spices, babouche slippers, Berber baskets, artisanal soaps and brightly coloured lanterns.
For the perfect family day, we would recommend starting with a guided walking tour to learn some hidden secrets of the city. Catch a glimpse of opulent mansions hidden behind intricately carved doors and see skilled artisans making things entirely by hand. Afterwards visit the Palais Bahia, a magnificent 19th century palace and relax for lunch in the beautiful Jardin Majorelle. These gardens were gifted to the city by Yves Saint-Laurent and are a tranquil escape from the chaos of the medina with their cooling ponds and exotic plants. In the afternoon the kids might enjoy seeing the city ramparts from a caleche (horse and cart) or splashing around in the water park in the Marrakech Palmeraie. Any parents looking for instant rejuvenation could step into a steaming hamman while the rest of the family enjoy a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or a mint tea.
In the evening you could enjoy a hands-on cookery class in a beautiful farm setting on the outskirts of the city or return to Djemaa al Fna for a second helping of nightly entertainment.
Fun Facts: The name Djemaa al Fna is thought to mean “Place of the Vanished Mosque” as locals believe the name refers to an Almoravid mosque, which was destroyed over a century ago.
Optional Activities: Guided walking tour, cookery lesson, hammam spa treatment, hot air balloon ride
Today you journey south out of the city towards the peaks of the Atlas Mountains. These snow-capped heights are like a scene from a children’s storybook; glorious red-earth summits punctuated with bounteous valleys of olives and dates and Berber mud-brick villages surrounded by gnarly argan trees (often with a token goat). Along the way we would suggest stopping at the excellent Toubkal museum which gives a perfect introduction to the Berber culture or taking a sneaky zipline across the Tahnaout valley.
Your destination today is Ouirgane which sits in the shadow of Mount Toubkal and is surrounded by stunning scenery toward the mountainous Tizi-n-Test pass. This is the heart of trekking country where your young adventurers can enjoy mule safaris, mountain biking (hardcore hill enthusiasts only), traditional drum lessons as well as visiting a local Berber house and learning how to cook a delicious Moroccan tagine. Ouirgane will be your base for the next two nights or depending on your trekking aspirations you could spend your second night in Imlil.
For the remainder of the day we would suggest visiting a nearby Berber market or relaxing around the pool. Alternatively, you could participate in a henna tattoo workshop at a local spa. The area around Ouirgane also boasts some wonderful family friendly restaurants set in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains with imaginative local menu’s. You are guaranteed to eat like kings whilst you are here!
Fun Facts: The Berbers—or Imazighen, meaning “free men,” as they call themselves—are the indigenous people of North Africa. A proud, semi-nomadic group, they have successfully resisted invading forces for thousands of years.
Optional Activities: Mountain biking, ziplining, archery, rock climbing, Ecomusée du Parc National du Toubkal, henna tattoo workshop, Berber markets
Today is a free day for you to take an optional guided trek into the High Atlas Mountains. Pass through an almost Biblical landscape of verdant oases and walnut tree groves, wadis lined with date palms and dark red kasbahs.
Treks are led by experienced guides who will bring a mule for your children (or yourselves) to ride. Along the way you will get an opportunity to drink mint tea with Berber families and enjoy wood fired crusty bread or join in with local children playing football with a well-loved ball or racing an old inner tube with a stick. This is a fabulous opportunity for true immersion into Morocco’s indigenous heritage and you will be warmly greeted and looked after by the everyone you meet (including any flatulent mules!)
Alternatively, if you don’t want to do a full day trek you could arrange a less strenuous visit to a Berber village for a hands-on cookery lesson where you will learn to make a delicious tagine the traditional way and attend a tea ceremony. How grand!
Fun Facts: A ‘tagine’ is the actual cookware rather than the food itself. It is a two-piece clay pot whose unique shape with fluted cone tops, allows it to trap steam as the dish cooks.
Optional Activities: Day trek into Atlas Mountains, Berber village visit & cookery lesson
The road to Essaouira winds through dramatic mountain passes and Argan tree forests where you may stop to visit a womens' cooperative which produces the famous Moroccan oil. You may also get a chance to meet a tree climbing goat. When the sea breezes start to pick up you know you are close to Essaouira which will be your base for the next three nights.
Bohemian Essaouira on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, drums to the sound of a very different beat compared to Marrakech. Life here is much more relaxed. There is a vibrant blue-and-white medina neatly shoehorned into the chunky walls of the Skala Kasbah, jagged palm trees and a wide sandy beach where you can hire camels or try kite-surfing. This is a place where fishermen go out in blue wooden boats at dawn and fat herring gulls swoop overhead as the catch is unloaded on to the quays at dusk. In the evening the tiny shacks lining the port will barbecue whatever takes your fancy from a huge array of glistening fish, fresh from the sea.
Spend the rest of your day settling in to life by the sea. Build a sandcastle or watch the kite surfers hone their skills. Visit a nomad shop whose charismatic proprietors dressed in tribal robes sell you things you didn’t even know you wanted or visit a spice shop to ogle over saffron.
Fun Facts: From the time that Essaouira was rebuilt by Muhammad III until the end of the 19th century, it was the main port in the whole of Morocco. It brought tons of goods from the trade routes through Marrakech, to Timbuktu and sub-Saharan Africa.
Today is a free day to enjoy the many family friendly activities on offer in Essaouira. You could board your own 'ship of the desert' and take a guided camel trek on the beach or go horse-riding on Arabian horses through the windswept dunes. Overnight treks are also available staying in a bivouac camp for more intrepid travellers.
Essaouira is also a fabulous spot for water sports and if you’re a keen surfer or kite surfer then you will be in beach break heaven! You can simply hire boards and do your own thing or take a private surf lesson with one of the many excellent local operators. Either way you will be stoked! Alternatively, you could hop on a quad bike and ride over rolling sand dunes on an exhilarating desert adventure.
As evening falls, dine on rooftop restaurants with amazing seafood and soak up the local music scene. Gnawa music, originally brought to Morocco by sub-Saharan slaves, is a part of Essaouira’s soul and serenading buskers and live music are commonplace here.
Fun Facts: Essaouira attracts visitors from far afield with its incredible music scene. One of the biggest events is the Gnaoua Festival of World Music which is held every year in June.
Optional Activities: Camel trekking, horse-riding, surf kite-surfing lessons, quad biking tours
Today we suggest is dedicated to all things Moroccan. In the morning we would recommend joining a popular cookery class where you can master the art of the tajine, as well as pastillas and couscous. It will start with a guided tour of the spice market before returning to a local house to cook and enjoy a bountiful feast for lunch.
Essaouira’s mini medina is far less daunting than the labyrinthine alleys of Marrakech. Tiny passageways and pungent souks splay outwards like fish-bones from a central spine. The shopkeepers here are friendly but not pushy meaning you can browse for souvenirs to your hearts content. Below the Portuguese ramparts in Skala de la Ville are many artisan studios such as wood carvers, painters, potters and stone masons who are happy for you to watch while they work - a perfect way to sneak in a bit of education for the kids.
Enjoy your last evening amidst of the hustle and bustle of the fishing port where the kids can learn how to repair fishing nets and eat fresh sardines, lobster, scallops or sea urchins from little plastic tables.
Fun Facts: Essaouira was prominently used in filming for the Games of Thrones and served as the background when Daenerys Targaryen purchased the army of 8,000 unsullied soldiers.
Optional Activities: Moroccan cookery class, wood carving or pottery workshop
It is a 3-hour drive back to Marrakech for your flight home to the UK. Leave Morocco with a heartful of memories you will treasure long after the school run has started again.
It is also possible to add an extra day to your itinerary to visit Ait Ben Haddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the set of several films including Gladiator, Jewel of the Nile and Lawrence of Arabia.
After breakfast on Day 3, you will travel to Ait Ben Haddou over the stunning Tizi ‘n Tichka pass with its impressive switchbacks and panoramic views (this is not a road for the faint hearted or anyone that gets travel sick). From here the road descends into the desert until you reach Ait Ben Haddou, a crumbling kasbah glory of red hued mud and straw perched atop a rocky outcrop. There are narrow streets where your kids can safely roam, peek through secret doors and enjoy the best game of hide and seek of their lives!
Later in the afternoon you can either relax at your hotel or visit Ouarzazate, home to one of the largest movie studios in the world and sandwiched between the high mountains and the expansive sands of the Sahara. The journey to Ouirgane on Day 4 will take around 3½ – 4 hours.
Wandering Tribe has travelled to all of the destinations that we feature and we like nothing better than talking about them. If you would like further information about these tours or a tailor-made quote then please contact us on 07392 742333. Alternatively you can fill in the contact form and we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.